I got myself a basic set of oil paints a couple of months ago and working with them this past month for our figure and portrait class has been a dream. I had been working with acrylic paints before simply because my mother had given me a big lot of colours barely used, and being much cheaper than oils and thinking it was more ecologically sound continued on with them. But after many, many attempts, I found I didn’t like working with them because they’re just not suited to the way I work. I’m very slow, and take a long time mixing colours, looking at the model, thinking about what I’m doing, getting distracted and whatnot, so usually by the time I’m in the middle of painting a section, my paints have started to dry up and no amount of retardant seems to keep them nice and smooth. On our first class, the teacher said I looked like I’d worked with oils forever when he saw the way I was using them, and it did feel completely natural. I’d been a bit nervous about making the switch, so it was a real treat finding that this medium felt so natural to work with considering I’ve only used oil paints once in my life before. This was for a large painting of an Alberto Vargas pin-up I did some 20 years ago; it was a commission for a local café which had a successful run but is now closed. I remember that painting in my mind’s eye as being quite a good interpretation, but have nothing to show for it; the canvas is lost to me and I have no pictures of it, but I remember it was a lady in a red costume who had an intimidating smile.