Archive for Painting Basics

Composition in Painting

Posted by | June 18, 2012 | 0 Comments
  • Rule of Thumb
    Harmony and Asymmetry Balance. Colors should look harmoniously. Use no more than 3-4 shades in colour.
  • The Rule of Thirds
    The idea is that an off-centre composition is more pleasing to the eye and looks more natural than one where the subject is placed right in the middle of the frame.
  • Focus Point
    The focal point should draw the viewer’s eye to it. Place the focal point on one of the ‘intersection spots’ from the Rule of Thirds. Other elements in the painting should lead they eye towards this point.
  • Dynamic Lines
    There are many different types of line – straight, diagonal, curvy, zigzag, radial etc – and each can be used to enhance our painting’s composition.
  • Alternation of Forms/Shape/Size of Elements
  • Value Composition
    For a strong composition, you want values to be in quite different amounts, not similar. Try this rule to start: “two thirds, one third, and a little bit.” For example, two thirds dark in tone, one third light in tone, and a small area or object that’s mid-tone.
  • Light and Shadow
    Play of light creates all around, both mood and contrast, and also appoints significant.
  • Cropping
    By cropping tight around the subject you eliminate the background “noise”, ensuring the subject gets the viewer’s undivided attention.
  • Rule of Odds
    Having an odd number of elements in a composition means your eye and brain can’t pair them up or group them easily. There’s some how always one thing left over, which keeps your eyes moving across the composition.
  • Element Placement
    Avoid neat and orderly arrangements of elements. Varying the space between the elements in your composition, the angles they lie at, and their sizes makes a painting more interesting.
  • Avoid Kissing Elements
    Kissing means just touching. Elements must either be definitely apart or definitely overlapped. Kissing creates a weak, connected shape which will distract the viewer’s eye, causing a momentary pause as they puzzle it out.
  • Have a Dominant Color Tone
    Either cool or warm, but not both.
  • Unity or Harmony
    Do the elements in the painting’s composition feel they belong together, or are they separate bits that just happen to be in the same painting? Help create unity by glazing over the whole painting with a single color; or by casting shadow; or by a bit of repeated color; etc.
  • Rule of Depth
    Tone of background is always colder than forward to show the depth or distance.
  • Composition Variety
    Don’t get stuck in a rut and use the same composition all the time, no matter how successful it is. Vary where you put the horizon line, where you put the focal point, swap between portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) shaped canvases.

Our eyes search asymmetric decisions and not only under the form, but under color, contrast and rhythm.

Filed Under: Painting Basics

Paint Loosely and Freshly

Posted by | June 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

Here are some lessons I learned recently:

  1. Don’t necessarily fill up one big area with one color, even if it is one color. You can make it much more interesting by mixing different versions/value of one color – as long as they are all the correct value.
  2. While you are painting, remember to squint and step back often
  3. Compare values/colors/proportion/etc in one small area with everything in the whole painting
  4. Paint past the edges (past the lines you have drawn in the first place) then reshaping with the color from outside
  5. In still life where a form shadow meets a cast shadow, the edges tend to be soft or lost – two colors on either side of an edge are similar in value
  6. Painting from inside -> outside will keep your paint fresh and easier to control the edge
  7. Highlights, thin stems, thin rims of cups, small dots can be paint last
  8. Focus on the big picture, not details – only paint necessary details
Filed Under: Acrylics, Painting Basics

How to Paint Fast, Loose & Bold

Posted by | June 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

Currently I spent about 3~4 hours on average on each small painting. Many random strokes produce muddy colors. I found another artist (Patti Mollica) who is teaching people on how to paint fast, loose and bold. Wish I could have chance to join her workshop. She covers the following topics which are areas that I need to improve.

  • How to use large brushes for a bolder paint application
  • How to see distinct values
  • How to create a “road map” to assure a successful painting
  • How to translate realistic colors into bolder, more “fauvist” colors
  • How to determine what detail is necessary
  • How to add necessary detail using large brushes for a more gestural effect
  • How to compose your painting: do’s and don’ts
  • How to create space and depth with color temperature
  • How to work with a limited palette
  • How to create colorful greys
  • How to mix vibrant colors
  • How to create soft edges and value transitions
Filed Under: Acrylics, Painting Basics

Explore, Dream, Discover

Posted by | June 8, 2012 | 0 Comments

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

– Mark Twain

Filed Under: Painting Basics

Lost Edge, Shade Color and Framing

Posted by | May 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

Today I was checking a few paintings that I painted last month and realized that I can improve them. I changed some shading colors, soften the edge and adjust values in certain areas. They look better after all the adjustment. I’ve been improving and I am happy with that.

Currently I mainly paint on canvas panels. I have been thinking how to frame my paintings nicely and economically. Those canvas panels actually can be fit into regular photo frames nicely. Below are some of my paintings in frames.


Filed Under: Painting Basics

How to See a True Color When Painting

Posted by | May 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

As per Mr. Kevin Macpherson in his book, Fill Your Oil Painting with Light and Color:

The best way to see true color is with a color isolator, holding it about six inches from your eyes, close one eye and position the hole so that you can see the color of the subject area you are judging. This isolator is a small piece of color that you no longer see a thing but only a specific color note. When looking through the color isolator, do it fast. Trust your first quick impression. The color isolator will help you visualize without preconceptions.

Filed Under: Painting Basics

Painting Basics to Learn

Posted by | May 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

I’ve seen an intensive painting basic skills building class that offers the following training. I wish I could join such an class. Unfortunately I haven’t found a class like this in my area.

  • efficient lay out of palette and workspace
  • composition and design considerations
  • tips for accurate drawing
  • effective colour mixing of both neutral and saturated colour (with key ideas about how to achieve exactly the colour you are looking for)
  • the importance of being able to see relatively in terms of both colour and value, and how to use this as an invaluable tool to create paintings that breathe with authenticity
  • effective paint handling and brushwork (applying focused, deliberate marks on the canvas rather than a random “figure it out as I go” approach).
Filed Under: Painting Basics

Value and Value Composition

Posted by | May 11, 2012 | 0 Comments

Below are a list of tips I learned from one of my favorite artists, Carol Marine.

In order to be accurate with value you must constantly compare every value with every other value in your subject, rather than just values that are very near each other.

Try to simplify the values into big shapes in your head so they’re easier to deal with.

Work from life (because cameras skew value a lot) and before you begin ask yourself: What is my darkest value? What is my lightest value? Where do the others fall on the value scale? How do all the values relate to each other?

If you look through your viewfinder at your subject and find you have no contrast to speak of, or two values are very equal in amount, try changing something: a different background color (actually change out the paper or cloth you are using); the angle of the light; the objects themselves; the number of objects; crop in closer or further away; etc.

Filed Under: Painting Basics

My Painting Studio – more still life paintings

Posted by | May 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

I’ve been focusing on still life painting lately. From the paintings I’ve done in the last a couple of weeks, I noticed my improvement. Paint on a regular basis, ideally a painting a day, it is the best way to improve your painting skills. I will try to paint as often as possible. 🙂

Filed Under: Acrylics, Painting Basics

My Studio

Posted by | March 23, 2012 | 0 Comments

My studio is in the kitchen area. I use the lunch table as my working desk. It is facing the window. I can see the trees and blue sky when I am painting. I am happy with my little studio – It’s simple and bright! I am adding more stuff gradually.

Filed Under: Painting Basics