Want new ideas of what to paint next?

Addressing artists’ creativity blocks:

Finding new ideas of what to paint  next, isn’t easy. But it can be easy, if you know how to go about it.

Finding new concepts

A5 watercolour: Orange autumn trees in contrast with green and blue of the scene.

What people expect:

People want their paintings to be uniquely special, only one of its kind. They want to know they hold the original masterpiece. Why, because it has greater investment value. And of cause, its brag value, as well.

Artist’s dilemma:

Knowing it’s not wise to re-hash the same scene or subject matter over and over again, it becomes hard to think up new ideas of what to paint next. Especially if galleries are demanding more and more of your paintings.

Artist’s creative block:

  1. Thinking up new subject matter on a regular basis becomes stressful. It’s not long before the artist has a mental breakdown under the strain . Their minds go blank somewhat like `writer’s block’.
  2. Their powers of creativity seems to come to a standstill. And if they do try to paint, their work somehow has lost its spark. It’s scary, knowing they can’t produce what the galley is expecting of them.
  3. It’s like a chain re-action. The stress builds up until they can’t seem to be able to produce anything! This is very worrying for an artist. Especially a renowned artist! People expect so much of them.
  4. Obviously they need a break, a holiday, etc. But when they do get back to work, they still have to keep up with production all over again.

Here are a few tips how to get over their creative block:

Keeping up production:

If you don’t want ‘artist’s creative block’, you have to be always on the lookout for new possible compositions. And to do that, you need to be more observant and keep your camera and note pad handy, for the unexpected panorama ambiance in Nature.

Most people will tell you to paint, what they think is dynamic. Example: panoramic mountainous scenes, dramatic seascapes with clear waves, etc. But it isn’t often you come across the just-right  scenes, with the composition perfectly placed,  in real life! It’s actually the job of the artist to make it exciting and dynamic!

The artist has to have the ability to recognize a good scene. Knowing what he or she can do with it to make it so special.

Let me open your eyes, to be able to recognize those possible scenes:

One: Seeing things in better light:

Play the new game, of looking at life all around you, as if it was for the first time.

  • Even though everything may look mundane, look again more carefully. You’ll be surprised what you see.
  • Do you see the strong contrasts of tones, sparkling highlights and contrasting rim-lights?
  • Do you see the energy in what you are looking at?

Two: Contrasts of colour, make exciting paintings:

The secret is to see contrasts of colours where there isn’t in mundane everyday things. For example:

  • How you can make the mountains in the background bluer. And make the beautiful autumn russet trees brighter against that blue!
  • Or putting magenta or violet in the evergreen  foliage of the dull olive-green trees.

Three: How to add energy to space:

  • By blending subtle tones and intermingling analogous colours in the open restful spaces between objects.
  • By creating smoke or fading mist to contrast with bold shapes of the foreground?
  • Atmospheric dimension of space creates perspective depth.
  • Notice how back-lighting creates rim-lights, haloes and atmospheric auras. Example: around  people shoulders and around the seeds of grass as the sun is setting.
  • Or the beauty of the tiny little specks of dust floating in the rays of light.

Now isn’t the world beautiful? Good enough to paint?

Yes, there is a lot to paint out there.

All it takes is having new eyes. Opening your eyes and seeing beauty in everything. And using your imagination, to make your painting profound.

Now you can see, you don’t have to search for what people consider the right type of picture to paint. It’s up to you to make it dynamic.

Now to paint on a regular schedule:

Remember all those photographs you took on holiday and outings with family? Keep them on a memory sticks. Sort them according to their subject matter.  And when you want something to paint, peruse through them.

But remember photos can be flat and boring.

So you need to liven them up and remove all the unnecessary detail. You don’t want your painting to look like a photocopy!

  1. Look for the boldest shapes and strongest tonal contrasts. Make that your main point of interest.
  2. Where can you liven up the colours with contrasts?
  3. What state are the in between spaces? Can you add energy to those spaces with mingled subtle blends of colour?
  4. Where are the highlights? Can you dramatize them by surrounding them with neutral contrasting shades?

See, even your photos need a new fresh look!

Looking for the possibilities of each photo in turn, until your creative juices are turned on and you are ready to paint!

PS: Hope you’ll take up the challenge and try this for yourself, you’ll be surprised how beautiful your world around you becomes.

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Think again: Watercolor painting isn’t difficult!

Contrary to what people think… Painting with Watercolors isn’t difficult to paint!

painting with watercolor

A5 watercolour: Basically a simple composition. Missed spots and finer details were filled-in and added during the finishing-off process.

Why do people think painting with watercolor is difficult?

When they first tried painting with watercolors, they felt they had no control. For three main reasons I have listed below. Things I have noticed while teaching watercolour beginners:

  1. They get impatient when things don’t happen as they expected and as quickly as they wanted.
  2. And got fed-up when the paint bleds all over the place into other previous wet painted areas. This happened because they wanted to paint a whole painting straight off, first time, without first learning the basics.
  3. So they just charged in, hoping somehow things would just happen miraculously with the switch of their brush.

So why is it that some people become great watercolorists?

  1. They loved colouring-in and drawing so much as a child, that they wanted to learn more about art.
  2. Over time they got the desire to paint with watercolours, because it looked so easy to do, and also that it created such exciting blends and washes of colour.
  3. Their realized even if it took time to perfect, that didn’t matter, because it would be a fun activity, they could and would enjoy doing for the rest of their lives.
  4. The more they got involved and learnt to control the thrilling idiosyncrasies of watercolour, the more they became obsessed with the technologies of painting. The `rollercoaster’ of failure and success to them, became an adventure, they just couldn’t stop!

So what is the secret to painting with watercolours:

  1. Simplify your composition. Avoid complex detail. Desire what is most impressive.
  2. Be patient with yourself. Don’t rush in like a `bull in a china shop’. Think before you act. Plan your moves and the possible stages required to achieve your goals.
  3. Watch what you are doing: Where your brush is going. How close your wet brush is to what is already wet.
  4. Why, because watercolour is liquid. Obviously and naturally water flows and runs more easily where it is already wet!
  5. Make sure you have the right mixture and strength of hue, and check the amount of liquid/paint on your brush, before you apply your brush to your paper.
  6. And observe the wetness or dryness of the paper and paint already there, before putting your brush to paper. Even if it means waiting a few minutes before you can add another colour. This is where artistic know-how and patience comes in.

Artistic know-how:

You can read books how things are done, but trying out those techniques for yourself, is the `proof of the pudding’. The more you practice those techniques the more you have control of them. Theory alone isn’t good enough… your passion and ability to master them is what counts.

Artistic patience:

When you’ve been an artist long enough, you realize art it is an emotional activity. That means using all your senses, to control and create all the things you imagine and desire to paint. Because you can’t reproduce what God created so beautiful, creativity is part reality and part fantasy. Therefore intuition is part spiritual and part knowledge. Something you gain through careful observance and enduring experience.

There are other further tips and free downloads, on how to paint with watercolour:

Check out the free eBooks on this website:

Art: How to Get Gallery Acceptance

Want to sell your art in galleries?

“The gallery is sure to like this painting….” Once we have completed a painting, we think it was such fun to paint that in your estimation everybody will love it too, only to find out:

Gallery acceptance

A5 watercolour: Dynamics of spray as wave hits cliff and rocks.

It isn’t easy to get accepted into a gallery.

The fact is, gallery owners won’t take in your art if they think it isn’t sale-able! Obviously they need to steady sales to stay in business. So you need to know what protocol, quality and type of artwork they will accept:

  • Check out what each gallery has in their gallery: Depending on where the gallery is, they have a particular clientele milieu. If you want your work displayed there, your style of work must fit the niche.
  • Prominent galleries chiefly look for unique original works of art. Why, because they want to be THE GALLERY, upfront promoting new trends. Not only can they ask higher prices and commissions, but that their gallery becomes well-known, and thus attract prominent art lover investors.
  • Your personality also plays a big part. And how your portfolio is presented.
  • Some people say you must have membership in a renowned art club to be accepted. But in my experience, this hasn’t been necessary. If your work is fantastic they will be only too eager to have your work in their gallery. But they will inquire resume history to satisfy their curiosity as to the worthiness of your talent.
  • Future business arrangements: Find out what their commission rate is and how you relate to the owner of the gallery. Be aware of deals and contracts that are impossible to espouse or maintain.

It’s wise to assess your paintings before rushing off to the galleries:

  • We need to look at our art work through the eyes of the general public. What would they think of it? What will make impact on their senses? Is it dramatic enough?
  • What is the quality of your brushstrokes? Did you fiddle too much until it looks fussy and overworked?
  • If you plan undercoats and each layer of paint in the first place, you won’t need so many layers to get the right effect. And you will achieve the effect that much sooner as well.
  • Your paintings must have impact. Consider where do you want or need the greatest impact? Use the greatest contrast of tone and colour there to give the painting more oomph.
  • Also ask yourself: Is the subject matter, composition or style, unique? Is it a carbon copy of what’s already out there? And who wants to be judged against another artist’s work as secondhand inferiority?

What about those old paintings you have storied away?

Can you still sell them?

I’m sure when you have look back on your old paintings, you’ve realize your skills have improved since you had painted them. Overtime your technique and style of working has changed somewhat too.

  • Shame, they were your `babies’. And now, they seem somehow to embarrass you!
  • Sadly people tend to recall our talent according to our old `grotty’ creations.

So what could we possibly do about those old paintings?

  • You could destroy them or hide them, so no one will see your amateur attempts.
  • Whatever you do, don’t ever work over them again. It will make them look tired and overworked.
  • On the other hand, you could re-do those same scenes again with your new improved skills. But with the new project, please rethink your composition format and put more oomph into it.

The best thing to do is put all your time and effort preferably on new works of art.

  • Where you can put all your new-found skills and knowledge to better use.
  • Consider what makes people’s emotions, by using profound colour schemes that sizzle and pop everyone senses into buying the stuff.

Conclusion:

Make sure your artwork is of high quality and has unique style and dynamic impact, before rushing off to any galleries.

If you want to see more seascape watercolour paintings or want to know how to paint watercolour paintings, check out: Watercolour Seacape Secrets blogs.

Art: THE BIG SECRET!

So you want to know THE BIG SECRET that sells your art!?

I’m going to tell you the BIG huge secret. I’ve hinted at it and I don’t think anyone has really been listening or catching on as yet!

Your paintings must be  SENSATIONAL, if you want them to be admired and sold!

Why must they be sensational? Because, people buy paintings according to their senses, feelings, emotions and the mood they are in at the time at looking at your painting.

But what makes paintings  sensational?

Paintings are sensational when there is a vibrant bold CONTRAST of warm and cool colours.

Big and bold

A5 watercolour: Lovely sunny day.

Stirring the inner spirit:

To create that type of sensational impact, artists need to draw upon their emotions to see and feel the vibe of the different colours of the thing they are going to paint, and then if their inner spirit is truly excited about it, they’ll translate and transform it into something so exotic and dramatic that it will blow the minds of all those who see it, into buying it.

Therefore we could say art is a spiritual experience. Not just a skillful application.

  • How is your inner spirit? How do you feel about what you are going to paint?
  • Do you see beauty in everything around you? How do you look at the world?
  • How deep do you dig into your emotions to see things on a more spiritual level?
  • What colours or combination of colours do you see, that the `normal’ person overlook and don’t see?
  • How big or bold can you make the shapes of things or areas? What colours can you emphasis or change in those areas.

Have you ever thought as an artist, YOU are touching lives… spirit to spirit! Your job is to stir emotion in people. If people feel the sensation of the interaction of the colours and shapes, their spirit responds to what you are suggesting.

Let me go back to the impact of CONTRAST:

As I’ve already said, the bold interchange of warm and cool colours attracts attention in the first place.

The difference between the BIG bold shapes at your main point of interest and the less cluttered surrounding area, is the fact that the bold contrast draws people’s attention to the main point of interest.

And now let me go back to the word I used earlier as well… SUGGESTING

What is suggestion? To insinuate or put forward ideas to stimulate people’s minds into believing what you are proposing.

In art terms, suggestion is a vague rendition of subordinate subject matter to stirs people’s imagination. Necessary to enhance and accentuates your main topic or point or interest!

Bold things stand out more dramatically when they are surrounded by blurred indistinct things!

Here is a slide show example of watercolour paintings with warm and cool colours:

How do we make un-important things look vague?

  • Reducing fine detail and be selective where you put your highlights.
  • Use analogous colours and/or similar tone levels in unimportant surrounding areas.
  • The interaction and merging of the different colours when they are dropped-in unimportant areas adds mood and emotion.
  • Blurred contour edges create easy smooth visual transitions over things or planes.
  • Your indistinct area can still have stuff in it, but just a suggestion of the things. Such as the use of free loose irregular brushstrokes.

So you see, surrounding your dramatic point of interest with a blurred or understated environment, means you don’t need a lot of detail! Simplicity draws more attention, than complex authentic detailed compositions.

Whether your painting is big or small: simplicity creates the biggest impact.

Detail is the opposite, to the word suggest.

If too much detail is used in a painting, there is nothing left for people to use their imagination on. If you reflect on how people love to use their imagination…. And gossip… that’s using their imagination!

No seriously, jokes aside, people love to look at a painting they have bought and still be able to continue seeing something more in their esteemed purchase, for many years to come.

What I suggest is, consider looking into the matter.

  • What is so grand about the subject matter you want to paint?
  • Which things or areas can you make big and bold in your picture?
  • What colours do you intend to use?
  • How do they relate to one another?
  • Can you use the impact of complementary colours in your painting that are contrasting warm and cool colours?
  • If not, can you change the colours somewhat, to create lovely warm and cool contrasts? Even if the contrast is subtle.
  • And where will your colours have the most impact?

If you want to learn painting secrets click on the following links:

If you’re an established artist:

What do you feel about what has been said? Feel free to add your comment below.

Give Yourself a Break!

What you get, is how much you give of yourself!

If you want better results, you need to give more of yourself. How much time do you set aside to work on your ambitions? How often do you practice honing in on your skills?

Artistic talent is born according to your inner vibes. How you feel about what you are painting. How you react to your environment. What your attitude is. And how you express yourself. And what you do with what you have learnt…

What do you expect from your first art lessons?

Keep in mind your first art classes will seem somewhat vague at first to you. Because there is so much to learn before you can produce a decent painting. The teacher needs to brief you on what to buy and introduce you to art jargon and theory terms, etc.

Give yourself a break

A5 watercolour: Late sunset.

 Art is complex:

There are so many facets to art: The constitution of pigments, how to apply paint, what tools and materials to use for what, how elements in paintings are arranged, how colours relate and mixed, etc, etc.

  • You can’t learn everything in the first lesson. You need to learn precept on precept, from concept to concept, each theory having a different application.
  • Working on very basic exercises at first so you understand what is occurring, how the pigments interact and how to mix and control the paint, before moving onto simple compositions.
  • If you intend to learn how to do huge complex compositions, you’ll get to the point sooner or later in your lessons, that simple compositions have more impact than more complex compositions, no matter what the size of the painting!
  • The important thing here is; if you learn the basics, you’ll have a stronger foundation to stand on, build your talent on. The more you know and experience, the less mistakes you’ll make.

 There are many facets to art.

Professionals will tell you there is always something new and exciting to learn. Your attitude and what you conceive as fact at one time, changes as your knowledge grows and your experience cultivates. When you look back on your past experiences you realize that each exercise had a learning curve. There is always something new to do and investigate. That is why art is so fascinating and full of adventure.

Each theory or skill depends on the medium, style and subject matter employed. It isn’t something you can absorb overnight, because techniques, laws and application skills are diversely integrated. Depending on the peculiarities and intricacies of the medium applied, the support used, whether paper or canvas, the choice of subject matter, your personal style of working, etc has diverse results.

Don’t give up:

Most students give up after just a few lessons because they didn’t know what art really entails, what was expected of them or how to get the best out of their lessons. It is heart breaking for a teacher to see someone give up before they have even begun to enjoy producing fabulous paintings.

  • Skill is something you gain through lots of practice and hard work. Anything worthwhile doesn’t come easy or cheap. Your whole heart has to be in there, to make it successful.
  • You need patience with yourself when your abilities are challenged. Challenges aren’t brick walls. They represent your next step up, another level of achievement, if you only persevere a little longer. And if you are not getting it right at any point, don’t force the issue, relax, reconsider what you may be doing wrong and then try again. Remember you are in a learning curve right there. How you handle each situation, is what makes the difference. You and your attitude are the key to your success.
  • Going to art classes means learning new things, finding new ways of doing things, how to improve your skills. Are you willing to learn new things?

The point is to enjoy painting, no matter what the subject matter is, even if you think it’s an insignificant exercise or not, each and every experience teaches you something.

Give your teacher and yourself a chance,

  • By listening and doing what is required in the lessons. He or she has a purpose or objective to each lesson.
  • Give of yourself. Open up your inner self, so you can express yourself more freely in whatever you are painting. When you relax your brushstrokes flow easier are more artistically.

And when artists THINK they have achieved fame:

Artists, who think they know it all and think they don’t have to learn anything more, stagnate in their isolated groove. They forget new theories, styles and techniques are being introduced all the time out there in the art world. So if you want future sales, you have to produce fresh unique material frequently.

You learn more when you are humble and hungry for knowledge. Therefore there is a need to be committed and enthusiastic enough to do personal research to develop new techniques to advance the chances of your paintings been sold regularly!

Has this blog helped you? Do you want to learn more how art classes are run?

There is more info on art classes. Just clink on the following links:

If you have something important to add what is said here, please feel free to add your it to the comment box below:

How Art Teachers Retain Attendance!

How do art teachers keep their students attending their classes?

What attracts people to certain art teachers?

You may ask: Does the art teacher look prosperous? What is the art teacher’s home and studio like?  Is the art teacher a professional artist? How many attend and who attends those classes?

As it turns out it isn’t how qualified the art teacher is as a professional artist. It’s how vibrant the personality of the art teacher is. How exciting people find their classes, how the teacher presents their lessons, how they treat their students and what they actually provide that sets them apart as fantastic art teachers.

Art teacher

A5 watercolour: Stream flowing down through a valley, with blue flowers growing wild on both sides.

What type of art classes do you provide?

First consider, people have different needs and expectations.

  • Whether they want serious classes or stimulating social art classes.
  • Whether students want to hear the `boring’ stuff about art principles or just go straight into painting?
  • Are they happy to go the extra mile? Take notes and follow through by experimenting with what they have learnt at home too?
  • As a teacher do you observe the personality traits of your students? Considering some students like to steal the limelight! On the other hand, others don’t like drawing attention to themselves or are slow to perform an exercise because they’re scared of making mistakes?
  • Not everyone has the some skills. Some are good at analyzing form and drawing things, and others are better at colour combinations rather than structured form.
  • Some people sum up a situation and follow instruction easily and others need different ways of absorbing knowledge or recognizing things.

So many people desire to attend art classes:

Most say they “want to learn how to draw and paint”. But as it turns out, few have enough enthusiasm to make their desires come to fruition!

Why then, do some people stop attending art classes?

  • Some expect to paint a fantastic painting only after one lesson. Sometimes it’s the need to show their spouses and validate the reason for going to art classes.
  • For others, they don’t feel they are getting their money’s worth.
  • Those taught by a private artist or attend an art group, feel they can terminate fees or their membership at any time because they don’t take art all that seriously.
  • People, who aren’t putting in personal effort, sooner or later get to the point when they aren’t achieving anything and easily give up.
  • Others hit on the idea of taking art classes, perhaps because it’s the in-thing to do. Because they aren’t serious, they tend to while away their time, until something else more important in their estimation comes along.

Why then, do some people keep attending their art courses?

  • You’ll find that those who attend professional art colleges or university, stick it out to the end to receive a diploma, that they can add to their CV. Attending private art classes doesn’t ensure a decent income without a prestige diploma.
  • Have you noticed art teachers with dominant personalities aren’t shy to put out that it’s the in-thing to attend their art group! They keep their followers like mother hens. Their students continue attending their classes because they want to be seen as one of this prominent art group.
  • Bringing in other artists to do demonstrations, specializing in different techniques.
  • Special outings: going on field trips, doing plein-air painting at exciting venues.
  • And because new artists find it hard to get into galleries for the first time, they really appreciate it when their teacher provides a sales outlet for their artworks. Of cause the students need to realize, each painting has to be of high standard to make an impressionable impact on the public.

What makes people enjoy their art classes?

  • They get lots of praise from their teachers. Even for minor efforts, because their teacher knows several little successful steps eventually makes a great artist.
  • Each student likes to know they are important. How do you relate to your students? Do you just hover around and help those who demand your attention? How do those who are struggling feel about it?
  • Have you noticed how positive people put enthusiasm into whatever they do? They put everything into what they are doing. By dressing and acting the part of an artist they start becoming the part!

How can art teachers be more effective?

  • Most people want or need personal guidance often, during class. This means reducing the number of students per sessions. When people work in a close entity they become friends and become united as a group.
  • Sometimes there are problems the students are having and don’t want to discuss it in front of the rest of the class. Ask them to write their problems down and don’t be afraid to add questions. So the teacher can privately analyse them and redirect future lessons. In this way the teacher can reach all the students’ needs.

For extra suggestions:

How do you set out your studio? Is it easy to get around to each person and to follow-up after having given a demon on how things are done?

  • For quick help, have each student set out and label their colours in the same order, so the teacher can select a colour quickly and the student knows what pigment the teacher used in the exercise.
  • Have colour charts hanging on the walls, as reminders of what pigments can use to make up colour mixtures, what are the complimentary colours, etc.
  • Have a file filled with examples of each technique, that you can select from according to each lesson needs and circulate them around the classroom, so each student has something to identify with.
  • Have mobile trolleys on wheels filled with necessary art material and tools. Like hairdressers use, they are easily and quickly wheeled to where they are needed.

Check out this link too, on art classes: 12 BASIC FACTS about ART CLASSES

Please leave a comment below:  Let us know what you think about this topic. There are so many artists out there that would like to hear what you think too.

Facing FEAR !?

Facing FEAR:

I’m always anxious for artists, especially beginners. If their confidence is shattered, their potential talent is lost forever. Locked away in the capsule of fear!

That is why I’m concerned about people who are scared to paint with watercolours, because of its fluidity. To me, that is very sad.  If they would only take the time to play with their brush, watch how the colours blend and go with the flow, they would see its fluidity creates the most beautiful blends of colours that no other medium possesses.

Facing fear

A5 watercolour painting: Autumn colours.

Handling the fluidity of watercolours: It’s a matter of:

  • Watch what you are actually doing. Where are you putting your brush hairs? Do you want to touch (tip) the previous wet paint and let it blend, or not.
  • Remember liquid runs easier where it is wet.

The effects, you make, depends on:

  • How much liquid, water and paint is on your brush.
  • How wet, damp or dry your paper is.

As simple as that!

When people learn to control FEAR, they learn how to use it to their advantage!

  • Amateurs tend to think they are the only ones who experience FEAR when painting. “Will people laugh at their attempt?”
  • And starting with a blank white canvas…. can be intimidating.

Everyone experiences this fear to some extent.

If anyone tells you proficient artists don’t face fears, they’re telling lies. When starting a new painting there is always a certain amount of trepidation, “What if this painting turns out a flop?” because at the back of their minds they know that not every painting is a success.

I can hear beginners say, “Wow. Does every artist feel and think that way?!”

And that’s not all!  Even, after having started on a painting, there comes a moment when that FEAR has the cheek to come back. “So good, so far… But what if I spoil what I’ve done so far?”

How does that FEAR feel deep inside? Just sort of scary?  Very scary?

Remember fear is a natural reaction:

  • Have you ever thought: brave courageous deeds usually occur during the time of horror and trauma?!
  • Fear also comes with the unknown, what may or may not happen in the future.
  • When starting any new job, there is less fear when you know what to do and how to do it.
  • In planning compositions, artists need to anticipate possible problems beforehand, to be able to handle any unexpected occurrences that may or may not happen while painting.

So when you start on a new painting, ask yourself:

  1. “Can I learn anything from this experience?” Knowing mistakes are usually learning curves.
  2. “What is the worst thing that could happen?” What are you so worried about?
  3. And if it should happen, “How will I recover from it” Always have another contingency plan of action that you can adapt to if need be.
  4. On the positive side, think: “What could be the best thing that could happen?” This question helps build courage to go forward, even when you feel scared.
  5. “How am I feeling? Can I control this feeling? How can I turn it into a good feeling?” Possible solutions: Soft gentle music, and absorbing the beauty of another artist’s work that inspires you.

Reflect on the consequences of your actions:

Remember fear is a motivating catalyst, when you consider that fear generally precedes success. As time goes on with more and more painting experience, you’ll begin to realize consequences of courage: usually happens to people who proceeded, in spite of what may have happened.

Have you ever thought of why and what makes people successful in life? They have learnt how to overcome fear. They actually appreciate the feeling of fear, because they know it’s part of being stimulated into doing something that could achieve greater success.

If you don’t do anything –nothing ever happens:

Progress and success comes with courage and wise anticipation.

As artists, one has to practice your skills often, in order to reduce mistakes and the feeling of trepidation. With each successful painting, your confidence is built on the knowledge you can do it.

  • It also boils down to, how strong your ambitions are.
  • With each small success, builds more love for what you like doing. When you love what you are doing, it takes away fear.

Solution to fear:

If you haven’t painted for some time, whether it’s three months or three weeks, I found it’s wise to loosen-up by doing a little bit of doodling first, before going onto attempting to paint something that’s important.

That is, take a piece of paper (not expensive paper) and slash paint on, will-nilly, nothing serious or complex. Anything, that gives you pleasure. This helps to free-up your brushstrokes and your mind, and allows your imagination to flow freely.

Putting passion into your brushstrokes, takes away the feeling of fear and trepidation! You feel more in control.

The reason why I said not expensive paper is because often fear comes with the thought you don’t want to waste paper and paint. Once you confidence is built through doing, you feel brave enough to paint on that more expensive paper.

Remember you make the difference, not the cost of the paper, paints or whatever other people may or may not think of you. What is important, is that you never give up on yourself, express yourself freely, in the moment of pure creativity.

For more insight into handling fear:  Check out Darren Rowse at ProBlogger.

Art: Exciting WOW Moments

WOW  moments for artists:

I was listening to a podcast by Darren Rowse (from ProBlogger) who was talking about light-bulb moment experiences, and that got me thinking about artists and how they are affected by WOW moments too.

Art & Wow moments

A5 watercolour painting: Soil erosion.

The Aaah-Aaah moment of discovery:

Often we have known of a certain principle or theory for a long time, and thought “Oh I know all about that!”  Then suddenly one day you hit on how important and fantastic the concept really is. Just something about the concept just ‘jumped out at you.’

It seems to have a greater meaning for you personally. It’s such a Wow -moment that you want to go out and tell everyone. Oooh, but they’re still in the `impassive mode’ you had been in, that they look at you blankly, much to so say, “What’s so significant about that” look on their faces.

Considering that people absorb and learn things differently, sometimes when something is expressed in different words, the concept becomes clearer, has a different connotation to it. You see it from a different angle… That’s the moment you whole life seems to come alive with new expectations. You can’t wait to try it out for yourself.

When teaching new art students, they don’t always understand the things you tell them. It all goes over their heads… as they continue doing their thing. It’s only when they have experienced something, that a WOW -moment occurs, and then they get really excited.

In fact: Wow -moments actually are fundamental aspects of art.

Why Wow -moments are important to artistic creativity!

  • Wow -moments stir artists’ imagination. Without imagination you can’t create fantastic masterpieces.
  • When expectant things occurs while painting, you need inspiration on how to fix the problem or how to run with what’s happening on your ‘canvas’.
  • An artist, who doesn’t experiment with new concepts, theories and techniques, doesn’t grow as an artist. Working in a rut, is to stagnate and turnout boring stuff, day after day!
  • Artists need Wow -moments, if they are going to WOW people who view their art.
  • Wow-moments enable you to see the inner beauty of a scene, so that you can give your painting more impact and Oomph!

WOW-moments often occur when:

  • You have a problem to solve.
  • When thinking about what you have heard or read somewhere.
  • Doing research and `reading between the lines’.
  • Immersing one’s self in the concept you’re researching.
  • Gathering more info on your topic you are researching.
  • Happens when taking down notes, making lists, drawing diagrams, summarizing facts, etc, making it possible for the bare facts to stare you in the face, trigger off a light-bulb concept.
  • Sometimes you need to ask yourself `silly’ way-out questions and letting your sub-conscious takeover. Looking at the problem from a different angle helps to see beyond the norm.
  • When you weed-out the rubbish that doesn’t apply to the circumstances or fit the equation, you are able to adjust or shift the concept into its rightful slot.

When the WOW -moment actually occurs:

It injects into your mind such powerful suggestions, that it blows you mind.

Often there is a flooding and swirling of ideas around in your mind, that you feel you can’t catch it all in a `net’, all at once. You fear you may forget something in the process of trying to contain and remember it all!

Have you ever had that experience?

And also, scared someone may come by just at that moment and interrupt your digesting of those new vibrations of thought and cause them to vanish completely (like a puff of smoke) before you’re able to fix them in your mind or record them fast enough on paper?

Have you ever had that experience?

So now you have these exciting new concepts of thought, what are you are to do about them?

The concept of what you have just learnt is a new tool in your hands.

  • Try them out, experiment with them?
  • Re-organize them to suit your project?
  • Have you the courage to use them?
  • Has anyone else thought of it?
  • Can you employ and exploit it?
  • What will people think? As long as it improves your skills and the quality of your art, then do you care what people think?

So why do some people not have WOW -moments?

  • Obviously they don’t take time out to dream a little, think more deeply about things or investigate a concept that intrigues them.
  • Or they think brainstorming is a waste of time.

Let me tell you, all the great inventors did it. Michelangelo did it. And so did Leonardo da Vinci do it!

So, if you want to be a great artist, you can do it too! It’s the power behind creativity!

What to have more WOW moments?!

This website has many more art tips and painting secrets, just check on the different down the left-hand side bar on the menu pages.

How is Artistic Talent Born?

Everyone thinks artists are born with talent! But in fact artists are self-created.

Here are SIX basic ways how an artist is born:

Firstly: by the inner makeup of the person:

Artists are created, by their own very inner deep emotional desires and conceptions.

  • It’s usually people who love colour, the contrast, blends and certain combinations of colours that make artists, out of ordinary men and women.
  • And how light creates sparkling highlights, rim-lights, auras, atmospheric conditions, reflections and filtering of light, etc.
  • They are people who see beauty in Nature and the sounds of Nature.
  • They don’t just see things, they see exciting shapes: how those shapes interlock with one another, perhaps how one dark shape opposing a lighter area, etc.
  • They don’t take things for granted. They are deep thinkers: what if I did this or that, how would it look then?
  • The excitement of looking deeply into things, for example how colours contrast or blend etc, is what stirs their imagination, the emotional side of their personalities.
How talent is born

A5 watercolour: Simplicity of shapes within a composition. Notice the colours within the shapes are mainly blurred and there is very little detail.

Secondly: possibly their background:

  • The environment of where they lived as a child.
  • How their mother or father introduced them to Nature and the deeper understanding of their surroundings.
  • Who taught them to think for themselves and experiment with what they had learnt. That is, how to make and invent things for themselves.

Thirdly: finding joy in living in the moment:

People who always worrying about the past or what’s going to happen in the future: but don’t always enjoy the present…. whereas artists are inclined to live in the present and value the present.

  • Active artists live and create in the moment of creation. But if distracted, the inspiring vibe they are working with or train of thought is broken; the whole concept of the painting suffers.
  • Not only is concentration important, but the emotional impact the artist is enjoying while painting. That is: what he or she is feeling, about the mood they are creating in their painting.

Fourthly: No one achieves anything without practicing their craft:

  • You won’t like doing something, unless you enjoy doing it.
  • And you only like doing it because you had some success doing it.
  • And you only have success when you persist in learning how to do it.
  • Successful artists are those who never gave up on themselves.

Fifthly: Starting out with simple concepts:

No one becomes an artist overnight. All the old masters and renowned artists of today started out as babes! They learnt stage by stage, concept by concept. For example: you only get to standard 10 or grade 12, by starting in grade one and progressing from year to years until you get to grade 12:

  • In grade one: children learn simple basic facts and how to write the alphabet! That is how great artists first learnt their trade, by copying simple shapes and colouring them in.
  • Because people first appraise art by assessing the basic symbolic shapes they see in art, you’ll find that the most popular paintings are based on simple compositions!
  • Notice even negative areas are shapes interlocking with the outlines of object shapes. And that all contour lines are outlines of shapes whether positive or negative.

 So what does all that tell us?

That the outer edge of a shape speaks volumes symbolically! For example, that is a man and that is a tree shape.

 Sixth: Art is based on emotional skill:

How the artist relates to his concept.

  • The quality of the outline edges of the shape suggests the circumstance of the situation and how the object relates to its environment.
  • And what does appeal to peoples’ emotions symbolically is how and what the colour of the inner part of a shape, was applied. That is: if the outline is a tree shape and the inner part of the foliage area is green, it shows its spring or summer time.

Conclusion:

The quality of any artist’s art is based emotionally on shape, the quality of contour lines to that of the objects surroundings and inner colour format. Simple as that!!

Notice there wasn’t much said about detail. Any detail that is included is confirmation that the object is authentic in its setting.

Do you agree with that?

  • Do you agree we all have potential to become artists if we apply ourselves to our ambitions?!
  • Would very much like to hear your opinion, so feel free to leave a comment.

Want to learn more about artistic talent:

For more stuff on using your inner creative powers, check out the Art & Fame page and also the other categories listed on the sidebar of that page.

How to Fix Basic Composition Problems

I can hear you now, saying to yourself,

“Oh yeah, it’s all very well my learning to paint with watercolours ….but my first attempts turned out a flop! It looked like a jumble of colours. Why was that?”

That is a composition problem. Nothing to do with your articulate skills! The following advice will show you how to  create more effective paintings.

How three tonal areas creates impact.

A5 watercolour: “Muddy road ahead” was painted basically in three basic tonal areas: Sky- light toned; middle ground- dark toned; and foreground- medium toned. Also notice: to make pathways and roads show up, use contrast of tone.

First: Drawing attention to what’s important and giving your painting dimension.

Most beginners paint everything on one tone level, some intensity of colour and tone value, making their paintings look bland. There needs to be contrast of tone and colour somewhere in your painting, to make things to stand out and be recognizable.

 “How do we do that?”

  • It is important to give prominence to your main topic of interest, by giving it strong contrast of tone, colour and sharp edges, thus giving it a bold `bull’s eye target’ treatment.
  • But if everything has strong contrast of tone, colour and sharp-edges, your painting will look over busy and confusing too.
  • There needs to be variation of tone, colours and types of contour edges to make your painting interesting.
  • Why, because perspective and diminution is regulated by difference in tone intensity. That is, things in the distance have light tones and are blurred without fine detail, even misty. Whereas things nearer to you are in focus, depending of cause on their importance.
  • Things around the outer edges of your painting are generally out of focus, so as to draw more attention to the main point of interest. This is called tunnel vision.
  • Round curved things generally have blurred graduated contour edges, eg: balls and rolling hills.
  • Whereas detailed and sharp things generally have sharp-edges, along contours and outer-edges, eg: knives and sharp rocks.
  • Selecting detail and keeping detail to a minimum, keeps the eye on what’s important, thus reduces confusion.
Where and how to place your focal point.

You don’t have to use only the position depicted here. You can use any of the four overlapping lines junctions as your focal point.

Another shot at tone format: Three basic tonal areas.

If you divide your painting horizontally (or vertically) into three main tonal areas or planes, it makes the painting easier to `read. It also creates bold impact. For example:

How to compose with 3 tonal areas.

Three possible tonal areas.

  • These basic tonal areas don’t have to be in same order as this. Example if there is a storm the sky may be dark.
  • And there must be a contrast of tone on one of the tonal planes to emphasis the main point of interest. For example: if it’s a seascape the rocks are generally dark with white foam for contrast.
  • The tonal areas aren’t necessary `striped’ vertically or horizontally either. They can be subtly interlaced, but each area is distinguished by its overall tonal level.
  • The three different tone vary in size and shape, depending on the subject matter.

Second: Symbolic forms and colours.

First we will start with tree examples:

  • “Why does my tree look like a fan?” Trees have branches and leaves all around, not just on the sides.
  • “Why does my tree look like an ice-cream cone?” The brown tree trunk is too wide and solid-looking. There is no hint of branches. The out perimeter of the green foliage is confined to a neat ball shape. There are no loose leaves blowing in the wind. And there are no ‘pinhole’ openings in the foliage for birds to fly though with freedom.

 This proves things have symbolic shapes and colours.

  • Generally you don’t get bright red, blue or purple lollypop trees! Tree trunks are usually brown and the foliage different shades of green.
  • Grass is acceptable as grass when it is green in summer and earthy yellow or russet in winter.
  • Skies are generally depicted as been blue with white clouds. Skies been acceptable in the upper section of your painting and cloud shapes differ according to the weather.
  • Men and women’s body shapes differ, eg: as seen as toilet placards.

These are all things we learnt and observed since childhood. Anything different or foreign isn’t acceptable.

This is where artists can play with their imagination, creating moods and dimensions that evoke our attention. Even though you may add unusual colours to create mood, don’t push you luck too far that people reject what they see and become confused.

 Third basic problem: Been over-neat and precise.

There should be a variety of blurring to that of fine detail.

 Action:

You want to know how to put action in your paintings? Remember moving things are blurred, and live things breath:

  • Painting blurred feet is acceptable. It shows they are actually walking.
  • Car and bike wheels are blurred when the bike or car is moving.
  • Bird’s wings look blurred when they are flying.
  • Grass blowing in the wind is blurred.
  • Oblique angles depict action, and wavy lines and contours suggest motion in your composition.

 Style:  Sharp-edges verses soft-edges:

Active paintings are better than static painting!

  • Static things have sharp contour edges. So if all your objects in your painting have all sharp contour edges, your painting will look stiff and contrived.
  • Blurred and out of focus things create mood and mystery. It makes your painting forever fascinating. That is why people like to gossip, they like to use their imagination.
  • There is more emotional impact in a painting that has a greater amount of blurring and gradation (out of focus) to that of a painting which has an overdose of sharp-edges and strong contrasting tones (distinct focus).
  • Freedom of expression in your brushstrokes and freshness of your washes is more appealing, than small fussy brushstrokes.
How out of focus things have a romantic appeal.

A5 watercolour: “Deep in the forest there is a glade with a stream running through it” How out of focus paintings have a romantic appeal.

Concluding remarks:

After all that, it’s wise to prop you painting up a few feet away from you to see if it looks okay from a distance. When you working close up, you think all is well until you look at it from a distance.

Even turning your painting upside down is a good tip. It helps you to see how the composition holds together or not. It’s amazing how this trick shows up any flaws there may be in your painting. I sometimes double-check by looking at my painting sideways as well.

There are many more problems, but these are the most probable composition problems novices have to begin with. They are easily overcome with a little more observance and patience. And as people say, “Practice makes perfect!”

 Want to know more?

  • If this is the first blog you have read in the series, I suggest you go back in the archives and check out from the beginning of the “Watercolour Secrets” category.
  • And also download for free, the three watercolour books on the Free Art Books” page.

How to mix colours

How colourful.

A5 watercolour: Contrast of colour and tones. Notice how colourful the dark tones are.

Why discuss how to mix colours?

It is very important. The quality of your watercolour paintings depends on how you mix your colours.

 And it may surprise you,

but most people don’t know how to mix their colours!

I can hear you say to yourself, “Surely they learnt the basics while at school. That:

  • Yellow and blue makes green,
  • Yellow and red makes orange,
  • Red and blue makes violet!”

No, they don’t even know that when then come to art classes and have to make a colour wheel!   Besides that they often ask “How do you make brown and black?

  • Brown mixture: An equal mixture of the primary colours (yellow, red and blue) make brown.
  • Black mixture: Theoretically an equal mixture of the secondary colours (orange, green and violet) make black. Note there is less yellow in this mixture. Strong intense pigments make the darkest freshest blacks, eg: translucent reds and Winsor thalo blue and green. 
Note: how colourful blacks are. More beautiful than pure black out of a tube (see illustrated watercolour painting above)

 Neither have they ever noticed the difference between cool colours and warm colours.

  • That blues and greens are cooler than reds and yellows.
  • That one red is cooler than another red, eg: alizarin red is cooler (slightly bluer) in hue than Cadmium red.
  • That there is a difference in blues too, eg: Winsor (thalo) blue is cooler than French ultramarine blue.
How to see the difference.

The difference between cool and warm pigments of the same primary or secondary colour.

First secret:  Making beautiful natural greens

Often you see people using their watercolours like they were colouring in with crayons. That is: using their colours straight from their paint box pans.

For example Winsor thalo intense green:

It looks very garish mixed only with water, especially over large areas. Greens look better when mixed with more neutral colours, for example:

  • Violet and green (makes teal green)
  • Orange and green (makes olive green)
  • Burnt sienna and sap green.
  • Raw sienna and Hooker’s green.
  • Burnt umber and thalo green or viridian green.

Note: And some artists don’t believe in mixing browns with green. But I do whatever it takes to get the effect I require as long as the quality of the painting isn’t compromised.

How to make green.

Example of green mixtures.

For more interesting greens:

  • A yellow with cerulean blue or indigo blue.
  • Indigo blue with viridian or sap green.
  • Blue-violet and chrome oxide green.
  • Sap green and French ultramarine.

Note: These last colour combinations, have the best results when the additional colours are lightly brushed in. That is: not pre-mixed in your palette plate.

 Second secret:  Keeping your colours clean and fresh.

On the other hand you get people trying mixing their colours on their painting, because they were not happy with the colour they have already there. Once started, they keep adding more colours, in the hope they can fix the problem. This is a recipe for disaster. The more colours added, turns your painting into murky `mud’. Why, because now all three primaries are involved in some form or other.

How do you prevent this?

  • First: Don’t mix your colours in the paint box pans. It’s wiser to pre-mix your colours in your palette plate reservoir wells, where you can judge intensity strength and hue against the whiteness of the palette.
  • It is wise to reduce the amount of pigments involved in your mixtures. Where possible keep it to two pigments only. Or involve only analogous colours (those sitting on one side of your colour wheel)
  • If you want to add another colour to a former wet wash, don’t fuss and stir in other colours. Rather drop-in (tip-in) another colour and watch while it spreads naturally.
  • To prevent soiling of colours, keep light colours away from dark colours in your paint box.
  • And to keep washes fresh, rinse you brush well before choosing another colour in your paint box.
  • It is easier to get your paint out of the pans quickly and cleanly, if you finely spray your paint box pans with water before you start to paint.

Third secret:  Colours affect people emotionally:

  • Paintings that consist mostly of cool colours (like blue & green) makes people feel cold. Cool coloured paintings have no impact emotionally.
  • To make your watercolour paintings exciting and more sell-able, play warm colours against cool colours. The pest results are when there are more warm colours than cool colours.
  • If all your colours are bright in your painting, they compete with one another, like they are all shouting at once. Tip: the contrast of neutrals to natural grays enhances your bright colours.

Fourth secret:  Natural greys:

Natural greys made of complementary coloured mixtures (colours opposite on the colour wheel). Natural greys are far more beautiful than pure blacks and grey pigments straight from the paint box or tubes. Black added to your mixtures will make your watercolours look dull and dead because black is non-reflective colour.

Typical natural grey mixtures:

  • Mixtures of green and red or magenta.
  • Mixtures of blue and burnt umber.

 Note: Watercolour mixtures differ from oil paints. You won’t get the same mixture blending results as you get in oil paints. Watercolour washes are more mottled and interesting.

It’s over to you what you make of this information:

Have fun experimenting with these colour combinations. You don’t know what effects they can really make until you mix your own stock of pigments.

  • For example, make swatches like my ‘green mixture’ illustration and label them to remember what pigments you used, for future use.
  • Your results will depend on how much water was involved in tinting the intensity of the colours.
  • Also you won’t get such beautiful washes of colour and special effects, if you aren’t using Artist’s Quality watercolour pigments. Cheap watercolour pigments haven’t the same constitution eminence.
  • The tine of colour and shade of black or grey depends on which primary pigment is more dominant.

See How Watercolour Paintings Evolve

  • Paintings evolve stage by stage, layer by layer.
  • Each layer is planned to get the best results.
  • Watercolours start with light washes of colour.
  • Tips on how and when to apply paint.
How watercolours evolve

This watercolour was painted, starting with the sky and trees.

Watercolour procedures:

With watercolours you work from light to dark. That is: you start with light washes of colour and with each additional layer of paint the painting gets darker and darker. So it is wise to control how many layers of paint you use and what you intend to do with each layer.

You can start with a light imprimatura undercoat or be selective of what area you wish to start painting in.

Imprimatura wash:

An imprimatura is an overall wash, first layer of paint that works as a background colour. It helps to link and unite all the objects within your composition. The tone-level and colour you choose for your imprimatura wash is important.

  • If the imprimatura wash is too dark, your painting will turn out dark and look depressing.
  • The colour you choose to use as our imprimatura wash is the overall undertone colour of the scene you wish to paint.
  • Imprimatura washes have an impact on how your painting is perceived. For example, if you use a light wash of raw sienna it will radiate up through the topcoats as through the sun is shining through your painting.
  • Imprimatura washes are usually warm colours. A cool colour will make you painting look cold and uninviting.
  • If your imprimatura wash is a complementary colour to the topcoats, the end result will be a grey picture, eg: Green over pink makes grey. So to keep your painting fresh be careful which colours you are using over others.
  • If your imprimatura wash is covered by another primary colour, the result will be a secondary colour, eg: Blue over yellow makes green.
How paintings evolve.

Example of starting with separate areas.

Examples of selective painting:

  • You generally start at the top of your watercolour paper and work down. That is, starting with the sky, then the background hills and lastly the foreground. This prevents smudging and the sky sets the overall tone level of the land below.
  • When painting clouds, you paint the blue of the sky first, leaving the white of the clouds. And while the paint is still wet soften the lower edges with a light grey underbelly. The tops of the clouds usually have sharper edges than the bottom edges.
  • If you are painting a bowl of flowers you generally start with the centre flowers and work outwards. Then paint in the background and vase. Lastly the foreground (table top).

Dry-to-dry procedure creates too much detail:

If you start with dry paper you’ll get neat sharp-edged brushstrokes. And once you have neat detail, it restricts creativity. It’s not so easy to soften or change anything later as most pigments stain the paper.

But, if you start with large wet blurred mass shapes, you can alter the shape of things somewhat. That is: soak up and blot paint or add paint as you wish. Working this way, working wet-in-wet, gives you more leeway for your paintings to evolve.

The wet-in-wet procedure:

  • Start by wetting (finely spraying) your paper with water before painting with colour. Wetting your paper allows your brush and paint to flow easier.
  • Add an imprimatura wash, or apply separate washes of colour that blur and create mass shapes on the wet paper.
  • As you work always watch the drying process, so as to know when to add (brush-in) more colour and shapes to build up the basic composition.
  • Also always watch your brush behaviour. So that you not only apply the brush to the right place, but how the hairs of your brush are spreading the paint on the paper. Should you level your brush horizontally or use the tip. Roll or twist your brush to make the right brushstroke shapes, etc.
  • As you add more colours, take time out to watch how the colours merge and blend. How are they interlacing with each other? Decide whether you should you tilt the paper and control where the liquid colours are running into or not? Warning: don’t interfere too much before the paint starts gelling and drying. If you leave it too late your painting will look tired and overworked.
  • Starting out with big undercoats and blurred mass shapes allows you to create atmospheric contours that are easier on the eye than sharp edges.
  • As you proceed you are defining shapes, until your painting is complete.

TIPS:

Before applying paint:

  • Always consider what your colour scheme you intend to use, before mixing your colours on you palette, so that you get the correct shade and tint. This saves many a dramatic mistake.
  • Always watch the consistency of your paint before applying it. Will the colour be too dark or too light? Is there too little or too much liquid on your brush?
  • What is the state of the paper? Do I want this application to blur in a wet spot or make a sharp-edged brushstroke in a dry area?

 While applying paint:

  • If you want to paint next to something and don’t want the colours to touch run and mingle, make sure the paint of the object concerned is dry before applying more paint next to it.

Planning your composition:

Because paintings evolve layer-by-layer, stage-by-stage it’s only obvious if we want our watercolour painting to be successful that we should plan the format of our paintings beforehand.

Unsuccessful watercolour paintings are generally due to starting out willy-nilly, impatiently adding more and more paint, hoping by chance the end result will be great.

If you plan your moves you’ll know what to do at any given moment. If you understand procedures and the constitution of your medium it reduces so many problems. You won’t have to force issues or make so many corrections later.

  • First take time to analyze and digest the scene you wish to paint.
  • Decide how you are going to compose the composition and how that will affect each layer of paint.
  • Whether you are going to start with an imprimatura or work selectively areas by area.
  • Investigate and think what possibilities there are. If you did this or that, what do you think will be the outcome?
  • What is the mood? What is the overall undertone colour?
  • What colour scheme should you use? How do the colours relate? Can I change the colours to make the colours more dramatic and vibrant?
  • What basic shapes are there? Take note of the main symbolic shapes, the flow of gestures and angles? How objects, forms and space relate to one another.
  • Sharp strong contrast of tone and colour shouldn’t be scattered all over your painting? That’s confusing. Where you place it is important. It should mainly be at the main paint of interest.
  • Be selective with detail. Simplify what you see and eliminates unnecessary detail. Where possible group small things together and make mass shapes out of them.
  • What possible bright highlight spots are there? If there is bright highlights, which ones do you need to use and retain the white of the paper? And if there are light fresh green leaves, start with a light green wash in that area and darken around them as you proceed to give them their mass shape.

For free downloads:

For more info, go to the page that has free manual books on painting watercolours.

 

 

How people learn to paint

  • How people learn and absorb things differently.
  • Attitude and enthusiasm is important.
  • Knowledge and research is awesome.
  • Success depends on your input.

Things get really exciting when you put your heart and soul into painting. You can’t stop yourself. All you want to do is paint. Painting is like exploring the world around you: Been part of it, enjoying God’s creations. Forever fascinating!

Early spring, watercolour.

Early spring, watercolour.

But everyone learns to paint in different ways and progresses differently.

Not everyone comprehends in the same way:

Even though I had always shown people different ways of doing techniques, I naturally thought everyone understood my simple terminology. Until I had an art student, a woman of about forty years of age, who asked me what the word `composition’ meant?

I was shocked at first and rather speechless. Surely I thought, `at her age she should know that!’ But the whole class was sitting there looking at me, waiting for me to say something. What could I say? I had to say something.

What ran through my mind was: at school we were told to write a composition. A musician composes music, etc. Then it dawned on me, not everyone absorbs facts the same way, and that each trade has their own jargon, ways of doing things. Yep, that is right, artists are another breed!

Here was a woman who needed a different approach to what was said and demonstrated. So that is why I try to explain art terms where possible in my blogs.

 If you are still wondering what a composition is:

A composition, in artists’ terms, is the arrangement and placement of objects within the framework of your watercolour paper (or canvas).

If you want to paint a really good watercolour, the trick is to simplify your composition by selecting the main distinctive objects and eliminating the unnecessary detail. Why and how does this work? People unconsciously take in the biggest dominant objects first (symbolically).

  • You only need a few details to confirm your statement. Unnecessary extra details are what I call the ‘fills and baubles’.

 Attitude is important:

People who aren’t serious about their ambitions, are never successful. Why? Because their heart and soul isn’t in it, to make it work! Someone once said `a faint heart never won what’s expected’.

So how do people learn to paint?

From experience I’ve noticed the following when giving art classes:

  • Social group: These people generally expect fun time out with friends and are inclined to ignore theory. The demo looked so easy and exciting, that all they wanted to do is get into painting straight away, and do `their thing’. So it isn’t surprising they forgot the instructions they were given and got disheartened when things didn’t turnout the way they expected.
  • Myth Group: They stuck to myths and their old ways of doing things, never growing or expanding their potential.
  • Teamwork group: Demonstration and theory time was interlaced. They were quite happy to work as a group and asked for additional advice as they worked. They learnt new things but didn’t ever paint at home. Their progress was slow.
  • Extramural work group: They kept records and their class exercises in a file for revision. And they did extramural work at home. They often came back with questions. These people advanced quickly.
How people learn tto paint

Learning curve pyramid. How groups of people learn to paint.

 Knowledge and research:

Success of any kind is grounded in knowledge. And knowledge without action is useless. It is therefore necessary to understand theory, principles and laws governing art, so you can understand what is involved when painting. That is:

  • Making personal colour charts helps you understand how colours are mixed and how to devise composition colour schemes.
  • Personally analyzing and turning theory into simple diagrams: Helps make things easier to understand and stick in your subconscious, until it becomes intuitively second nature to you while you are painting.

When I first started painting I didn’t want to make charts. I thought it was a waste of time. Can you believe that?!

I made notes from library books and then experimenting for myself. Yes, I learnt a lot, but things didn’t really gel until I made charts and diagrams.

It was only when I analyzed theory and made simple diagrams and colour charts and swatches, that I understood why academic institutions make art students do all the `boring stuff’ first.

 Doing research is awesome:

I’ve really enjoyed doing research. It’s so exciting delving into theories, interlacing facts and discovery new theories.

The `moral of the story’ is: ‘What you put in, is what you get out’

What happens when you learn something new?

You may hear or read something over and over again but not fully comprehend the full impact of the statement or principle, until one day something happens and a `new’ fact stands out like a clear revelation.

The import of the fact hits you –wham. It could be just a little thing or fact you read, heard or saw, but what a difference it makes to the quality of your work and life style from that moment on!

I recall `light-bulb’ experiences, which some people call `WOW moments or Aaah moments’.

 It isn’t wise to stick to old ways:

If you stick to the old ways of doing things you get in a rut. Your creative powers and style goes stale.

We may think we know it all, but there is always something new to learn in art. Today professional artists are breaking boundaries, challenging traditional concepts and conventional theories to get them in the limelight. Why? Trends are changing all the time. Galleries need to look for originality to keep ahead of the demand.

 If you agree with this, let me know, I would love to hear your input.

Want to know How to Change Your World?

Why do what people expect of you? Have you ever wanted to do your own thing? You can you know.

Want to know how to change your world?

All it takes at first is to put a smile on your face. Why take life seriously? Frowning only makes you ugly! Opening up your heart and mind, changes your attitude.

Checking the beauty of the world around you:

For starters, what did you find so profound? Did you check the different colours of trees and grass? How blue the sky is. How the clouds ride the sky. How water shimmers and ripples in the wind. And when the sun is setting, the brightness of auras around grass seeds and delicate flowers, etc.

From this experience you will see how the energy of light and colour transforms your attitude, giving you a feeling that you could attempt anything, if you so wished. All you have to do from now on is make time for yourself and put your plans into action.

Artist doing her thing.

People love watching artists doing their thing.

If you’re an artist:

You soon learn that you can’t copy exactly what God so perfectly created. Nor do you want to paint mundane scenes that no one will buy. So what do you do? You suggest reality by translating and transforming what you see into something more dynamic and sensational.

Yeah it’s fun to be an artist. You can play around with facts and theory, and use the power of imagination to change the world into a whole new whimsical world! Isn’t that great?

Emotional impact:

With first impressions, people usually buy things with their senses and emotions, seldom with reasoning. It’s the impact of colours and boldness of shapes that first attracts them. Why, because people like drama, using their imagination and need something to lift their spirits.

You can take a tip from Walt Disney on how to change your world:

His films have a dream like quality. The key influence is simplicity and the emotion of gradation of colour. Flow of movement and contour lines created action. Some of the colours of reality were transformed by the interaction of warm and cool colours. Also Walt Disney films inspired your imagination.

Photo of meander scene.

Photo of a scene in the Natal Midlands Meander.

Looking beyond reality:

I got this photograph of a scene in the Natal Midlands Meander from a friend who recently spent as week there.

Watercolour of meander scene.

Fanciful watercolour impression of the Natal Midlands Meander scene

As you can see I didn’t use the whole of the photo’s content. I couldn’t paint every leaf and blade of glass, so I did my thing and changed the colours to give it a romantic Walt Disney effect.

  1. Changing the colours of the photo on my computer gave me another dimension of the scene. Helped me see the scene from another point of view.
  2. Wanting to keep my colours fresh, I refrained from applying an overall imprimatura as my first wash.
  3. Because I the colours of my highlights to be bright, I used liquid masking.
  4. When the masking was dry, I first applied warm colours: Lilac and violet for the background trees, and yellow grass and gold bushes in the middle-ground.
  5. Once that was done I painted the dark shadow areas of the foliage. And French ultramarine blue for the sky.
  6. The sap green foliage was applied, before adding the colours of the pool.
  7. Rubbing off the masking, I finished off by filling in yellow-green to the highlight spots.
  8. Last of all I propped up the picture some distance away to check what I had achieved.

People who have taken art classes with me have often said I have changed the way they see the world around them. Now that you know how artists see their world, you can take time out too, to look at your world through your own rosy `tinted glasses’?

If you want to see more of how I transform photos into paintings, check out the ‘Photo Demo‘ page and blog category.

Please leave a comment:

How profound is your world? I really want to know if this blog has changed the way you see things, and the way you paint from now on?