Learning How to Paint in Oils by Elaine Ostroot


I am a child of my time.  Born at the start of the ”Great Depression” (l932). Early childhood during the “Great War , the war that was to end all wars”, rationing – coupons and the like.  My mom was divorced and raising two little girls alone.  Working long hours and finding it difficult to find someone to care for us during the day.  Most people were doing defense work in factories for a great deal more money than mom could afford.  So – her only option was catholic girl’s schools (no day care yet), therefore, my early years (until high school) were spent in several girl’s schools.  The last one, freshman year, in a “finishing” school where I rubbed elbows with the more privileged of my contemporaries.  One thing for certain, catholic girl’s schools gave one the best educations available.  You were taught how to learn.  Researching a subject is not a difficult thing.  You were taught how to dig it out for yourself.

Let’s fast-forward a bit – a failed marriage and children (a girl and a boy) to care for.  In my mother’s shoes, I learned to fend for my children and myself.  More fast-forward.  Children are grown and pretty much on their own and I discover the world of art.  I read voraciously every book on art I could find and painted, painted and painted some more.  Then 35 years ago Gerry walked into my life.  At the time I was painting, in pastel, children’s portraits.  Gerry bought my first set of oils.  We bought colors I didn’t need or use, as I didn’t know what in the world I was doing.  I hope to save you all that cost. 

I will be 80 my next birthday (which is coming up fast!).  I have a lot of hard earned experience and the work to prove it.  My favorite student is one who can’t wait to learn it all.  One who will work at home.  One who is excited about learning.  It does not matter their age or experience, they love the work and it shows. Let me close this look into my life with this.   “Into the Light”

One Sunday morning I was standing in front of my bathroom mirror getting ready for church.  Suddenly, I “heard” (or felt) a voice that said, “There’s my pretty girl!”  I stared into the mirror in shock – awe – gratitude – joy – and many other feelings that I cannot even begin to name.  I had never known my father and had never heard those precious words until that moment.  But, I do have a Father; a heavenly one and He has just told me that He loves me and approves me in terms that only a loving father uses toward his much loved child.

This painting shows that child.  My Father does not see me as an ageing woman with painful knees.  He sees the heart and the inner beauty in every one of us.  So, to Him, I am still that little girl that looks to Him, loves Him and  feels so secure in His love.  May you too, come ” Into the Light”  and be His much loved child.


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