I taught myself to paint, which shapes and colours to highlight, look for and transfer over to paper or canvas. With this comes a greater understanding on what you personally are looking for in the subject and want to portray to painting, but it also comes with the downfall of not understanding your materials. Yet it comes with the fun of learning to use them yourself!
My first original pieces were experimental with materials, creating large mixed media pieces with clashing textures and as much movement as possible. My transfer to oils and stubborn independence to learn to use them myself gave me a wider experimental frame. This started with brushes.
I used any brushes that I had, I did not use specific brushes for the purpose of the marks I wanted to make, I made those marks regardless. This went on for a long time, I created the marks I intended to and thought nothing else of it. Until I bought a good quality brush and could finally understood how nice it is to work with a tool that serves its purpose properly…
The thinning agents I used have varied from expensive medium to white spirits. I have found myself coming back to linseed oil. A beautiful gloss and great finish.
Being self-taught builds up your awareness on what you are working on, and a greater understanding of the materials you are using. You get to experiment, get frustrated, accept a huge learning curve and enjoy the process.