5 Ways to Kickstart Your Art – #4: Take Control of Your Palette

(If you missed the previous blogs, catch up on the whole series here)

Tip #4: Take Control of Your Palette

Your palette is the console in the spaceship of your studio, and you can’t get to the destination of your finished painting without it. A lot of the time when you end up lost (in space), the problem stems from your paint mixing and management skills. Knowing how to choose and organize colors, how to get the most out of your mixtures, and some technical tips on tools go a long way to make painting more intuitive and productive!

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5 Ways to Kickstart Your Art – #3: Make Drawing Part of the Process

(If you missed the previous blogs, catch up on the whole series here)

Tip #3: Make Drawing Part of the Process

There seems to be a lot of resistance to – or at least avoidance of – spending time drawing before painting, but I’ve found that one of the biggest ways to make my paintings better is to spend much more time drawing. A big reason I feel there’s hesitation to spend more time doing it is that we see the process as separate from painting, but I want us to re-think how we see drawing!

Do I Have to Know How to Draw to Paint?”:

This is probably the most common question I get from beginning artists. I usually shake my head and say, “Oh not at all.” …then, the first day in class, I teach them to draw with a brush. 😉

Why do we all think we dislike drawing so much? I think a lot of the problem comes from a misconception of what drawing is. We all think back to using one of those horrible yellow school pencils to doodle and being frustrated when our drawings don’t look how we want them to look. Or, we think of an illustration class with tedious (though valuable to learn!) perspective drawing, or a “right side of the brain” class where we do a contour drawing that helps us to see differently, but doesn’t really lend itself to creating a painting with depth.*

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5 Ways to Kickstart Your Art – #2: See the Abstract!

(If you missed the previous blog, catch up on the whole series here)

Tip #2: See the Abstract

We often get so focused on the subjects and objects in our painting that we forget to see the entire composition objectively. It can be very useful to learn to see our painting abstractly, as shapes or puddles of painting held together by similar colors, values, and saturation.

We See Abstractly:

Whether we realize it or not, we see the world abstractly and only “name” the objects and subjects that matter to us at the moment. When we’re walking through a park, do we notice every dandelion and clover, or do they blend into a general “grass mass”? Do we notice all of the upper leaves of the tree, or is everything above our eye level categorized as “sky”? If we noticed every object and detail, we wouldn’t be able to be anywhere more complicated than a white room without going crazy!

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5 Ways to Kickstart Your Art – #1: Value is King!

(See the whole series here)

Tip #1: Value is King!

What is Value?

For the purpose of this blog, value is the lightness or darkness of any color on a scale from pure white to pure black. Some people will refer to it as tone, and you may see light and dark versions of a color referred to as tint and shade respectively, but we will simplify everything under the heading of value.

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New Painting Series: Whitetail Suite

I’m excited to finally debut this foursome of paintings! I first sketched out the idea for them in February 2016, and have been painting them on and off since last August. For a few years now I’ve wanted to do a series of paintings in the vein of an Art Nouveau series – especially those by Alphonse Mucha – where some aspect of nature is personified. Rather than using figures as Mucha would have done, I of course wanted to use animals.


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