Good painting is all about opposites. Warm vs.cool, big vs. small, colourful vs. dull, etc. When we use opposites in our work, they play off of each other to create dynamic excitement and heighten the visual appeal.
Warm colours allow cool colours to sing. Big shapes concede to the small shapes, allowing them to dance joyfully. Colours burst when placed in a sea of grey.
The key is to avoid using the same amount of opposition. When you split the opposites into equal parts you negate the effect.
Let’s go down the rabbit hole and explore how all of this works…
How to simplify your subject to produce a better painting.
The busier the scene the easier it is to paint.
I know this sounds odd but a chaotic scene has a way of being easier to paint than something overly simple. Large empty/flat areas with little information can be hard to handle because there aren’t enough visual clues to glean ideas from.
Your subject (nature, photo reference, still-life, figure) can sometimes seem to have so much complex information that it becomes hard to decide what it is you want to paint, but at least there is something to work with. It’s just a matter of learning to read beyond the chaos and find the story that lies within. Here is how:
I recently read Adeline Halverson’s blog post “WHY DO I GET WORSE THE LONGER I PAINT” and because I frequently hear this question myself I asked Adeline for permission to share the article with you. I’m sure you will agree she tackles a lot of painting issues that need to be addressed.
Enjoy our guest blogger Adeline Halverson and don’t forget to leave her a comment below…
I love painting from life. The challenge of rendering what I see in front of me into a painting is one of the greatest joys in my life.
Mechanical means of “observation” such as photography, remove most of the personal experience one has when painting from life. Though a camera is technically brilliant, it feels nothing toward the subject. It has no understanding of what is being recorded. It simply records a flat representation and leaves out the countless stimuli an artist can experience when creating a painting.
"The piano ain’t got no wrong notes." Thelonius Monk
While looking through some old notes I had taken a few years ago I came across this article I had photocopied. There ain’t no wrong way to paint but this version of how to paint really speaks to me. It was penned by Charles Movalli, a fantastic painter and an even more dynamic teacher...
Charles Movalli is one of Cape Ann’s best known painters and teachers. Born the son of artists in Gloucester, MA in 1945, Movalli became an art teacher, influential art editor and writer but above all, he is a painter. His dramatic brushwork creates the vibrant lighting and sense of movement that captures the essence of a scene.
Light colours in shadow & dark colours in light • Art Lesson by Doug Swinton
This art lesson deals with a simple idea which is often under-utilized or overlooked by most artists. It explains how to accurately recognize and render light values living in the shadow family and dark values living in the light family...
Before you even begin, make sure you have a good source to paint from. Without good lights and shadows in your reference the painting will end up looking flat. Now try to separate your scene into the light and shadow families. Accurate separation of lights and darks makes for a more pleasing painting.
Developing superior color sensitivity • by Michael Downs
Sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch… these are the five basic senses that perceive external stimuli which in turn are interpreted by our brains. Each sense can be refined with training, practice, and experience.
Sommeliers train their palettes for tasting the subtle flavors within a good wine; conductors train their ears for hearing the nuance of sounds within an orchestra; and hence, painters should train their eyes for seeing variation of colors within their subject matter.
Creative Process Part 2 • Article by Brian Batista
Pierre-Auguste Renoir writes, “In painting, as in the other arts, there's not a single process, no matter how insignificant, which can be reasonably made into a formula.”
There may not be a single formula for art but there are ways to help you be more creative. In my experience better planning means better playing. I sweat less when I am systematic. This means having a plan before diving in: making lists, researching and sketching. These tools go a long way in helping me follow thru.
The Artistic Method Continued • Article by Doug Swinton
Having a plan is the essence of getting good results in painting. Once you go through your process of systematic preparation it's time to get your hands dirty. Along with using the 5 Dominances of Painting to help in the choosing of your reference and developing preliminary sketches, there are a few other simple ways to keep your painting on the right track.
Below is a set of 5 rules to keep in mind. As you follow these methods with every painting they will become engrained in your process. Planning out your method this way allows your brain to be free from overthinking and thus allows you to stay in the creative zone.