Peinture à l'huile: comment devenir un maître

I wish I could say that I always had the words to describe what I see and how it makes me feel. But, there are times when I look at a painting that’s on a gallery wall or my computer screen, and language fails me. My sight is the only sense that I’m aware of for a few moments as I lose touch with my surroundings, my past and my future. The present moment is all that I know, and even that is limited to just what I see in front of me.

Often, this happens when I’m presented with oil paintings that are in the style of the Old Masters. Cindy Salaski, author of Oil Painting With the Masters: Essential Techniques from Today’s Top Artists, is even more passionate about this than I, and it’s my honor to share with you the introduction from this, her new book. It includes 10 step-by-step demos from top award-winning master artists and teachers, as well as a bonus gallery featuring oil paintings from 10 additional contributors. It might just leave you speechless.


Oil painting by Glenn Harrington

Pianist (oil on linen, 18×24) by Glenn Harrington (

Introducing Oil Painting With the Masters by Cindy Salaski

While reading one of my favorite art books, Watercolour Impressions by Ron Ranson, I thought to myself, This is such a wonderful book. Why hasn’t someone written one like it featuring the great master oil painters of today? As I continued to turn the pages, admiring one beautiful impressionistic watercolor painting after another, the thought struck me, Why don’t I write it? Like Ranson, I became interested in painting late in life. I became consumed by the beautiful work of the contemporary Impressionists. Great painters like Albert Handell, Kevin Macpherson and Jeremy Lipking fascinated me. I began to search for more oil painters who had this gift, this magic touch. I sought out the great master oil painters of today, and I found them.

If you’re like me, you aspire to paint like a master. You stand in front of a painting in a museum and say to yourself, If only I could paint like that. You watch a master like Camille Przewodek paint during a workshop and you think, That looks easy. I think I can paint like her. So you try to paint like Przewodek, but you discover that it’s not as easy as it looks.

You try to do another painting. Once again, it’s not as good as Przewodek’s. You might think, I just don’t have any talent. I haven’t been blessed with the magic touch. Thinking like that is a big mistake. Each one of us possesses that natural gift we assume belongs only to the chosen few.

A strong passion for painting and years of hard work are what made the painters in this book the great masters they are today. Unleash your talent by learning everything you can about composition, values, color, texture and edges, and by doing hundreds of paintings following the methods of the masters.

Oil painting by CW Mundy

Portrait of Anne (oil on linen, 36×24) by C.W. Mundy (

I worked at drawing on and off for years. Copying cartoons from the newspaper or comic books was easy for me. My copies looked exactly like the originals. Yet whenever I tried to draw a portrait of a person, it looked like something a child drew.

Then one day I discovered the book, How to Draw Lifelike Portraits From Photographs, by Lee Hammond. That discovery led to a big turning point for me. After studying Hammond’s book and learning how to use pencil shading and blending, I began drawing portraits that looked like real people.

I’ll never forget the day I showed one of my brothers a portrait I did of Pierce Brosnan. He just stared at it and said, “You did this?” And when I showed it to a cousin, she said, “Wow! Cindy, you should be an artist!” My confidence grew by leaps and bounds thanks to that book. I became a bit arrogant after that, though, figuring that if drawing was that easy, then painting should be a cinch.

It’s been five years since I began painting in oils, and I still haven’t reached that “wow” moment yet. Yes, oil painting has humbled me. But I don’t blame my failure on a lack of talent. I blame myself for not scheduling the time to paint every day.

If you’re like me, and you haven’t reached that “wow” moment yet, then I encourage you to keep working hard until you do. Once you reach it, the feeling you experience will be one of the most joyous of your life. I know. I’ve experienced that feeling, that strong sense of achievement, with my drawings, and I can’t tell you how I yearn to experience it with my paintings.

If you don’t aspire to paint like a master but just want to have fun painting, then I’m sure you’ll also enjoy this book. After all, if you want to learn how to do anything and do it well, it’s always wise to seek out the best teachers in any given field. (Share this on Twitter!)

It is my pleasure to present to you 20 of the greatest master oil painters of today in Oil Painting With the Masters. I hope you enjoy the journey you take with them and achieve whatever goals you desire. Keep in mind that persistence and determination are the keys to success. So, work hard. Feed your passion. And you, too, can become a master. ~Cindy Salaski

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