Sunday, August 23, 2009

Five Simple Ways to Improve your Paintings

#1. Do not be afraid to experiment. I think that planning definitely has it's place, and it can be very helpful in creating lovely paintings. However, sometimes you just have to loosen up. The painting on the left was a painting that started out as strictly an experiment. I had no attachment to the outcome. I didn't care if it came out well or not. I wanted to play and I wanted to 'see what would happen if...' It was fun and I learned some things from this painting. If you are using super expensive paints and a pricey canvas, then you should do several sketches first and plan your painting carefully. If you feel like you just want to have fun and 'see what happens if...' go to the craft store and pick up some cheap craft acrylic paints (about $.49 a bottle) and a cheap canvas (about $5.00) and just throw some colors on and see where it takes you. Try different brush strokes and paint with different objects. The best way to learn to paint better is to paint, so just get started.
Don't judge your early attempts if you are a beginner. You are learning. You wouldn't judge a baby learning to walk, or a child learning to ride a bicycle, don't judge your self and don't allow others to judge you when you are starting out. Later on you can look for an honest critique - but not until you are confident.

#2. Simple is sometimes better. We sometimes want to add so much to a painting, but this can make it look chaotic. What we are looking for is harmony. The bird in the tree on the left was a small painting. I did several sketches to see where I wanted the bird to be and what colors I wanted to use. The first couple of sketches had trees in the background and other birds and more detailed clouds. It was too much. When I started eliminating all of the clutter a little at a time, this painting started to emerge. I kept everything simple. Simple colors, simple design and it works. It is eye catching because of the contrast and the clearly defined subject.

#3. Keep colors clean. This is truly imperative and some artists don't even notice when their paint is muddy or when the colors are dull. One way to make sure that colors are clean is to literally keep the brushes clean. I have three big containers of water to rinse my brushes in. I change them between paintings. The first has just a touch of soap in it. I swish it in their first, then a second to rinse it and a third for good measure. This ensures that you don't muddy up your colors by adding green to your reds. Another way to prevent muddy colors is to make sure that you only mix three colors from the same family (warm or cool) at the same time and to avoid mixing complimentary colors together. Read more about keeping your colors clean here:

#4. Add emotions to your paintings. There is something about this field, to me this is a very emotional painting. Although others may feel differently I feel like there is a silence and a calm to this painting. I achieved the calm with the blue sky and the direction and position of the clouds. Objects that are horizontal evoke calm feelings and the blue sky is also a relaxing color. However, there is also something a little unsettling about it. Some people may feel differently, but I feel alone and just a little on edge like a child alone in a field. The jagged stalks of grass give the effect of unease and the orange sky gives a subtle hint of danger. I feel like a child because the point of view in this painting is very low. I all works together to create a strange and moody painting. Read more on how to create emotion in your painting here:

#5. Repeat patterns, but not exactly. Repetitive patterns are very pleasing to the eye. However, if they are exactly the same, they become boring. Make sure that you mix it up, as you see in the trees in the painting on the right. They are all similar in pattern, but no two are exactly the same. Something to remember is to continuously vary the pattern. None of the trees are the same height or width, none are the same distance apart and the color (although you can't tell in this photo) also changes from tree to tree. This variety is interesting and pleasing to the eye.


Glitzer said...

Great tips! I wish I would have the skills like yours on painting! :) Fabulous paintings!

Audrey said...

wonderful tips!! I need to experiment more - just not quite brave enough. LOL

Sharon said...

I'm not a painter, but some of what you write surely applies to other mediums as well. Thanks!

Alicia Istanbul said...

Your work is beautiful. I just hearted your Etsy shop. Thanks for sharing all those tips.

Christie Cottage said...

Beautiful paintings!

I love to experiment with paints. It seems the unplanned come out the best!