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I am an artist painting in oil and watercolor. I work from my home based studio in Georgia.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Few Pointers For Beginning Painters

I recently received another request for instruction DVDs on how I paint in oil or in watercolor.
Unfortunately I haven't found the time to actually produce one.


In the meantime I may have some beginner suggestions:

Painting in watercolor... pros, you don’t have to deal with solvents.
Dries quick, great affects with fluid colors, travels easy, just to name a few fun aspects of painting in watercolors.

Downside is that it can be intimidating because you feel like you can’t make a mistake. It’s harder to fix a mistake. I myself go wild with my watercolor painting style and have no fear “anymore”. That happens with time.

Mistakes happen and can be great learning opportunities. For instance if you apply some color and it runs further then you wanted it. Stop and look and work with it. Have paper towel handy to pick off color and access water.

Learning to draw in pencil is a confidence builder. One word to stick in your mind is “loose” as in don't get uptight in your drawing. Hold your pencil long and with ease. The other word is "practice" every day. Draw and doodle all the time. The other thing I would recommend is... Don’t ask family if they like something or not. It really does not matter.

Now if you ask them and you’re like me, where you know their answer really is just an opinion that you can easy put away, that is fine, but if you take it to heart if they criticize, then don’t ask them. Most family or people that are close to you, will probably say it’s great to just about everything you do, so asking their opinion to get good advise for making you a better artist, is really pointless.

That may sound harsh but when you draw, paint, or create you want to discover “you” your style is supposed come come out of “you” “Your” imagination and your skill that will develop over time. You don’t want to be like some other artist.

When you first start out, some people tell you this and that about your painting, especially non-artist, that may make you insecure in what you’re doing and you lose your spontaneity.
You 2nd guess and try to correct, often at the cost of destroying your original vision to please someone else.

You lose your inner child like fun motivation. You don’t want that. It’s OK to listen to others that are in the field of painting and have something to teach as far as technique and theory, about watercolor, oil or what have you, soak it in but don’t try to just copy what they do.

Apply technique to get your own vision on paper, whatever that vision may be. Always paint what you understand and love. If you paint abstract I can't tell you much I am not an abstract artist. But as far as landscape, paint where you live or were you go or have been. If you have a garden, paint what's in it. If you have objects you love, set up a still life and paint that. Try to do something fresh and unique different from the same old you may have seen lately.

I've once took a pear and placed it on top of a tall candle stand. I really liked that painting. It's in oil but the same applies to watercolor or any other medium.
Coming up with your own unique set up in still life is part of the fun. The objects are like actors in your play. In all of this composition comes in to play.


I don’t think I read one book on how to paint in watercolor or oil. What I did do is study paintings, look at them for a long time, look at detail close up pictures and try to envision how the painting was done. I have a few large books with great pictures of some of my favorite painters. From Manet to Cezanne, from Singer Sargent to Picasso, looking at their work teaches you a lot. Chose those artists’ who’s’ work interest you.

Here is a great resource http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/ or find art by style and era
I studies brushes, tried them out, painters knifes (for oil painting) and used them. Now I use both brushes and knife depending on what I paint.

There are some web site where lots of art people, artist etc. hang out and they can be good places to get feedback from peers, one is WetCanvas.com
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Your tools can be limited to 3 brushes (watercolor brushes), a watercolor block, a size 18 x 24 is great, go smaller if that seems to much space to fill for you.

You can get a good start with 6 or eight colors
Must have
Ultramarine Blue
Cadmium Yellow Medium
Cadmium Red Medium
Cad Orange
Magenta
Sap Green
Neutral or Sepia
White
I personally also love Rose Madder & Indian Yellow


I would suggest for any painter to learn about color theory and color mixing.
You can find endless information on this on the net.
Here is a good page outlining and explaining color mixing
If you can mix colors you have lots of ways to use a basic set of colors and made wonderful hues yourself.

Mixing colors is one of the best parts of painting.
While I have Black paint I prefer to mix my own black. When you use Black and mix it with other colors it is easy to get a ugly muddy mix, so I try to stay away from store bought black.

Black is great if you want to do just a gray scale monotone and use black and white to make a quick gray scale.

Don’t buy every color in the book.

Your painting must have a coherence and the best way to get this as far as in colors is by using a limited palette and mix them to create your different areas in the painting. Don’t add a new color halfway through your painting it will throw your color harmony off balance.

Decide at the beginning of your painting which colors to use, squeeze them out and stick with your palette. So planning your palette is important.

You can create stunning pieces with just 3 colors.

Also learn about the Golden Ratio.

Everything plays together, color, composition (Golden Ratio) and contrast and the originality of your idea.

Well this is it for today. I'll have some more in a few days and in the meantime if you have a specific question... please don't hesitate to post it here I will answer to the best of my ability!

Different stages of an oil painting of mine

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