TIPS AND TRICKS!
Get the benefit of advice from working artists - tips and tricks to make your painting journey a smoother path.
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Drawing on October 22nd.
oil on canvas panel
7" x 5"
Click the image to enlarge
When you have limited time, you want every painting to be a masterpiece—unfortunately it doesn't work that way. However, there are some things you can do to maximize your progress in the time available. These painting tips are directed toward beginner painters—they might not be as useful for an experienced artist, but they'll help a newbie overcome some obstacles faster. (Be aware that I paint in oils; tips may not be applicable to acrylic or watercolor paints.)
|If you use oils paints, you need to be aware of spontaneous combustion. It's a real thing, and a major cause of house fires. I'm not an expert, so consult those who are, and find a safe way to dispose of rags or paper towels that have oil paint or mediums on them.|
1) If you cut your own panels out of Masonite™ (or similar material) as I do: you need to seal ALL the surfaces, including the back and sides. Painting the back will prevent bowing; painting the sides will prevent moisture infiltration, which is very detrimental to hard board like this. I use a craft-grade acrylic paint on the back.
2) I make a little hanging device out of card stock, and Elmers-glue it onto the back. The hole is made with a paper punch. This is super useful to hang the painting to dry, and it lets your customer hang the painting immediately upon purchasing, even if they don't get it framed.
3) Come up with some sort of unique identifier for your paintings. It may not seem like it now, but in a year or two you'll have so many paintings you can't keep them straight in your mind. It might be a simple consecutive number system, it could include the date—just make sure you can identify each painting uniquely.
Speaking of serial numbers—establish some sort of tracking system for all your paintings. It can be a notebook or a document on the computer. I use a simple Microsoft Word document. Include the serial number, the title of the painting, where it is offered for sale, and its status (for sale, sold, gifted, etc.).
|Premix all (or most) of the scene's colors on your palette before you start painting. It may seem tedious, but it's MUCH easier to compare the colors right next to each other than comparing paint already on the canvas with paint on the palette. You can read more about this here.|
• Simplifying a photo to a limited number of greys in Photoshop (value, again).
[Before I write about editing photos on the computer, I have to say this: Adjusting your image with software can be a priceless learning tool. But make sure it's a limited tool: use it to build your chops, for a limited amount of time or limited number of paintings. Don't become dependent on it.]
This technique can be really useful when you're overwhelmed with a complicated scene. Value is everything, and if you get it right, the colors don't even matter. See some good examples of that principle here.
|This is a photo of a town in Bulgaria, from the Virtual Paintout's April location. To me, this is a fairly complex scene with a lot of shapes and planes. This technique is also useful for a photo where the lights and shadows aren't obvious, such as an overcast day.|
Open the image in Photoshop. Then, Duplicate the Layer so you're working on a copy.
|Make sure you've selected the new layer before you start. You can tell it's selected because it's highlighted with blue.|
|From the "Image" menu, choose "Adjustments: Black and White..." You'll be presented with a dialog box where you can try out different presets for different effects. Or, just click the "OK" button to use the default.|
|Then, from the "Image" menu, choose "Posterize..." You can set the number of greys to use. I generally use 3 to 5 levels; more than that isn't helpful.|
It's so much easier to see the lightest and darkest parts of the painting now, and to make comparisons between shadowed areas.
A caveat: Photoshop will make the lightest parts of your photos white and the darkest parts black. In real life, the scene (and your photo) may not have that extreme of a value range. Maybe there's nothing in the scene that's as light as white or as dark as black. So remember that you're looking at a relative range, and adjust accordingly.
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Email: see the About section of my blog.