Mail Watch Wed, 13 Jun 2018 09:26:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Three-Step Watercolor Value Study Tue, 12 Jun 2018 05:15:40 +0000

Lately I’ve been filled with impatience. I’m on a short fuse when dealing with everything from friendships to traffic to stubborn pots of water at dinnertime (can’t you boil any faster?!). One person I am not impatient with is artist Andy Evansen. He’s given me, and therefore you because I share like that, a three-step value study to remove the guesswork—and white outlines—from my watercolor painting process. Finally, someone who understands my need for speed.

Light, Middle, Dark

Through trial and error, you may have already found that the best way to lose detail and paint more loosely is to squint at a scene and view it as three distinct values: light, middle and dark. These three divisions of light are what a value study is all about.

Step 1

Drawing from the reference photo, begin by blocking in the larger shapes. Because it’s a study, it doesn’t have to be perfect. I actually recommend doing several block-in sketches to warm up because the three-step value study can go by fast so if you have several sketches, you’ll experience that much more by repeating the process.

Step 2

When you squint at the scene, you see the sky, the light-struck area of the casino and tents, and the rocky shore as light, so they remain the white of the paper. There are many opportunities for lost edges in this large shape. The trap in this first stage of the value study lies in the fact that there’s a white casino, a sunny day and white boats in the water.

Step 3

When it’s time to add the dark values, begin with the boats to make them reappear. Next, separate the pier from the water with the darks underneath it and its reflection. A few windows, palm trees and flags finish off the little details for interest. Look how much can be accomplished in just three steps. And really sit back and consider how compelling light, middle tone, and dark are for a composition.

Layering Techniques for Expressive Abstract Painting Tue, 12 Jun 2018 05:08:54 +0000 Building a visual rhythm in a painting often has to do with ease of movement as you layer color and texture. A lot of artists call this different things: intuitive, gestural, or freedom. But it all comes down to shutting the mind off — going on creative autopilot — so that the thinking mind does not interfere with the acting hand. Exploring abstract painting can reward you with major gains in this area because free-flowing movement is what it is all about.

At first painting this way can seem awkward. But that’s the unfamiliarity of it. Explore the layering techniques of four skilled abstract painters whose approaches make clear that abstract painting is a gateway for satisfying artistic expression because it entails working with color, form, and texture — all the things that artists hold dear.

Genady Arkhipau

  • Work on the floor. Outside or inside — it doesn’t matter, but I have to have enough room to move around the piece.
  • Warm up for about an hour with drawing, which helps me loosen up, reach that degree of careless confidence and get in the zone.
  • Work on up to five pieces, one at a time, with the one in the middle usually being the best of the bunch.
  • Start with a theme and build out radically when abstract painting. For this work I started with a simple figure and then came an explosion of layering abstract shapes and lines.
  • I get creative ideas while working, and I explore my creative hunches when they come my way.
  • Inspirations: AbEx movement, the color works of Franz Kline.

Anna Wainright

  • Choose a color in an instant. Don’t second guess. Then choose another and another, layering and blending in an intuitive way.
  • Use a representational touchstone. My abstracts usually reflect an image that can be seen as a possible landscape.
  • Give the work a story. Bring your experiences to what you paint. For this painting, it was about the sense of weather and temperature — early morning and sense of awakening to a new day.
  • Let color be the driver.
  • Artists and movements I love: Tonalist painters of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; William Turner, George Inness, Camille Corot, James McNeill Whistler.

Pirkko Makela-Haapalinna

  • Paint without a plan. Sometimes the theme finds you.
  • Combining materials and letting them guide me is essential. I brought together ink and pastels in this painting. Started with the inks, only using water under it. Let it run by changing the position of the paper. While the ink was wet, I used a wooden stick like a drawing tool and the ink ran into those carved lines, giving a graphic effect. Then I brought in pastels for the negative space.
  • All the work doesn’t happen when you are working. I recommend long walks in the woods or along the seashore.

Kari Feuer

  • I don’t trust artificial light when choosing color.
  • If you want to get active with your layering, choose a strong surface. I paint in oils on linen with a palette. The linen is strong and takes a lot of scraping and slathering.
  • It can’t be. Blending and texturing are a little bit out of control — you learn to observe what happens and let go of what you think you want to happen.
  • Inspirations: Hudson River Valley School artists. JMW Turner’s late work. Richard Diebenkorn’s early paintings.
3 Insider Tips to Land the Art Internship of Your Dreams Tue, 12 Jun 2018 05:01:52 +0000 We know how important it is to land an art residency or internship. We also know how hard it is to feel noticed, and we want to help.

It’s time to set aside the suntan lotion and perfect those resumes! Accomplished artist Richard Whitten is here with three steps to get you closer to your dream internship.

1. Research

To start, research your state arts council. These state organizations are partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and collectively represented by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

State arts councils are great sources not only of grant monies but also of information. They provide seminars on artist professionalism, and they keep artist registries which are accessed by organizations across the country.

And, when looking for residencies, try This website is wonderful because it gives a comprehensive listing of residencies by country.

If you are more interested in an internship than a residency, you need to understand most professional artists use assistants. But the manner in which the relationship is made isn’t standardized. I usually cherry-pick students who have or could develop skills I need in the studio. But, more commonly, students write letters to artists offering to work for them.

Fingers crossed you get an interview, but be aware the artist will determine whether he or she can work closely with you. Respect the fact you’ll not be entering just any studio, but the artist’s private world of art-making. You’ll be living with his or her work habits, not imposing your own.

2. Apply

Applications to residencies and even letters inquiring about internships all include the same elements: samples of your work, an artist’s statement and project proposals. Submit the best possible images of your work. The standard number for a set of application images is 10.

Learn basic Photoshop techniques. The full Photoshop application is expensive, but Photoshop Elements isn’t. Take high-resolution images that can be reduced to the specifications of the grant.

Keep your artist’s statement simple and short, under one page. Avoid flights of fancy and poetry and clichés: “I could never have been anything but an artist;” “My paintings are a communion of my soul and yours.” Read your statement aloud, and make sure the sentences actually mean something. Be honest. Don’t brag, but don’t underplay yourself.

The best projects to propose are the ones that are already half finished. If you’ve completed a similar project in the past, so much the better, because you’ll be able to describe the current project accurately. Your objective is to show your project is worthwhile and you’re capable of completing it within the time and budget allotted.

3. Get started NOW!

One final bit of advice: Don’t wait until the last minute! Organize your images and write your three essays. Then the application process won’t be so daunting when an opportunity arises. You’ll easily be able to modify your essays and image selection to fit individual applications.

Painting Tips So You Succeed at Alla Prima Tue, 12 Jun 2018 04:59:58 +0000 It’s exciting to start something new. It’s especially exciting when you succeed at something new. If you are a beginner painting for the first time or someone with more experience who is still trying to find the best way to express your creative side, alla prima painting is the way to go. It is a “jump right in, the water’s fine” approach to art. It is all about creating a work in one live session, working wet into wet. Time is up when the paint dries. Success comes when you step back and you’ve got a finished work of art. You will learn so much if you commit to the process and see it through. It’s an exciting way to work. Here’s how to make that happen.

1. Spend most of your time looking

You’ve got to give yourself permission to sit and absorb. Observe, settle your mind, and develop a very clear mental picture of your subject. That’s the first step for alla prima. Be thorough with your looking. Squint at your subject and observe the light and dark areas. Notice the middle values that exist between them. Still squinting, make note of the general color in these areas. Look for the warm and cool color relationships. If the subject is lit by north light, the light side of an object will be cooler than the dark side. Also pay attention to halation, or how the light values of the subject bleed into the darks and vice versa.

2. Big brush first and most

Apply paint with a large, soft brush in the beginning and gently soften most of your edges. Elaborate on the transitions between the light and dark values, pushing one color into another to obtain the proper edge. Gradually reduce the size of your brushes, painting smaller and smaller shapes and details.

3. Focus on your focus

Start at the focal point of your painting. Don’t save it for last–attack it! Block in the main areas and then work away. That’s not to say your focal point is the literal center of the work, but wherever it is–start there and build out.

4. Don’t lock your eyes to one spot

Staying light on your feet is what they say at the gym. Stay light with your eyes too. Don’t lock into one thing. Constantly compare your subject and try to match the colors as you see them. That means shifting your focus constantly.

5. Be purposeful and stick to your plan

For the best results with alla prima, it’s important to paint deliberately and methodically. That way you can keep the light and dark values from mixing together on the canvas to prevent muddy colors. Use intermediate colors between the values to create the transition from light to dark. I recommend writing down your approach. It will act like your set list, so that you can just refer back to it if you get caught up or confused.

6 Tips for Drawing Faces Tue, 12 Jun 2018 04:55:29 +0000 Drawing techniques in general are very repetitive. Artists can basically use the same procedure to draw anything. Those of you who have taken classes from me or have read my books, know firsthand that I use the same approach to drawing, whether it’s a face, an animal, or a tennis shoe.All things hinge on the five elements of shading, and the dreaded sphere exercise. You can clearly see this in every book I write. But this information, while not hugely exciting, is your answer to realism. If you can’t draw a good sphere that clearly looks like a 3-dimensional ball on a table, your chances of drawing a good face is next to none.

I took note of the most asked questions throughout this week’s class. Most of the questions were about my “Hammond Blended Pencil Technique,” and how I make the tones look so seamless. You can’t tell where one tone ends and the other begins. Most beginners have a very difficult time getting the smoothness that I achieve in my drawings. Don’t worry if this is true for you. It takes practice, practice, and more practice to hone this skill. Always remember, I’ve been doing this daily for more than 35 years. While everything about this is already there for you in my books, let me give some quick pointers here.

1. Practice using value scales and drawing the sphere repeatedly, so they become second nature

2. NEVER attempt to draw portraits unless you’ve practiced drawing each of the facial features individually first. (Learn how to draw a nose and how to draw lips, practice drawing hair and drawing eyes, etc.)

3. Take your time to achieve accuracy. Speed should never be your goal.

4. When blending, go from dark to light, just like you do when drawing the value scales. Fade into the light gradually by lightening your touch. Go lengthwise into the lighter areas, following the contours. You can’t control the fade into the light areas with individual strokes going in.

5. Practice everyday to perfect the “feel” of your pencil and tortillions. This takes time, like anything else. A concert pianist still does the basic scales to keep in musical shape. And, they don’t attempt a sonata too soon. Chop Sticks comes first!

6. Love your subject matter! If you’re drawing something that you aren’t emotionally connected to, or a face you don’t like, your art will reflect that. Draw something that makes you smile.

Look at what great work one of my art students did in just a few days. The “before and afters” always crack me up a bit, for the students come in with them believing they are pretty darn good. I love the look on their faces when they surpass even their own expectations. I never tire of seeing someone smile at their own abilities, especially when they’ve doubted themselves.

How To Garnish a Dish Tue, 12 Jun 2018 04:51:17 +0000 Transform an ordinary meal into a feast for the eyes and taste buds with these ideas for fast finishing touches.

Spiff Up Your Soups and Salads

Croutons can be made in minutes to add a crunch to soups or salads. Cut slightly stale bread into small cubes and fry them with a little olive oil and a few slivers of garlic for extra flavour.

Fresh herbs like basil, parsely, and rosemary can add flavour and colour to an ordinary soup. If you are putting herbs in your soup, reserve a few sprigs of the herb to place on top of the bowl.

Do Up the Main Course

Watercress makes a bright, peppery garnish, and is more unusual than a sprig of parsley. A handful of watercress can take the place of a separate side salad, and tastes especially good with grilled meat as it blends with the juices on the plate but retains its crispness.

Breadcrumbs can be quickly fried in very little oil or butter until golden, and used to top a vegetable or pasta dish, adding both flavour and colour. They are easily made in a food processor.

Nuts and seeds such as flaked almonds, pine nuts, or sesame seeds, dry fried or toasted for a few seconds until they turn golden, add a pretty speckle and rich flavour to many dishes, and they also provide a good helping of protein in vegetarian recipes.

Onions can be sliced and quickly deep fried to add intense flavour as a garnish over the top of rice or egg dishes.

Bacon, fried until it is crisp and dry, can be crumbled over salads, grain dishes, and creamy soups.

Orange and lemon rind, finely grated or taken off with a zester, can add a splash of fast colour to grills and fried meat, and looks pretty on creamy desserts. If you like, blanch the shreds, or put them in a sieve and pour boiling water over them, to make them less bitter.

Dress Up Dessert

Cookies, nuts, and citrus rind all make an attractive topping for ice cream.Use crushed almond praline, peanut brittle, macaroons or any almond cookies, raisins soaked in hot rum, toasted nuts or the thinly cut rind of an orange, lemon or lime. Curls of dark chocolate shaved off with a vegetable peeler are also very effective.

A fine dusting of icing sugar or cocoa, sifted gently through a tea strainer is an elegant way to decorate dessert. Because so little sugar is used, it will not over sweeten the dish, but icing sugar does melt quickly, so make sure you add it just before serving. Fresh fruit, such as sliced mango with a squeeze of lime looks appetizing frosted lightly with icing sugar.

How Watercolor Works: 4 Quick Tips for Beginners Tue, 12 Jun 2018 04:48:31 +0000 Watercolor has always been perceived as a very unforgiving medium that offers very little control,” says O’Connor. “This can cause a lot of frustration. But the effects and luminous washes possible with watercolor are unrivaled. In order to take advantage of the way watercolor works, there are some basic things you need to know.”

In addition to gesso, you can consider applying an all-over tone to your to instantly set a mood in your painting. For instance, a bright white might not be conducive to a moody, stormy painting, but a coat of a light bluish-gray can give you a more moody surface for creating your desired look.

Certain brushes are better for painting than others. For instance, your delicate watercolor brushes will get eaten alive on the sturdy surface: they’re too soft and delicate to apply paint assertively. In general, specifically designed acrylic or oil paint brushes will be a better choice, with longer handles and stiff bristles which both hold and spread the thicker paint better on .

Find the Proper Materials

Using brushes that are too small or a poor grade of paper are paths to frustration.

Think Backward

Instead of beginning with the darks and then adding the lighter colors, begin with the lighter areas and then move toward the darker colors.ven small can prove unwieldy when wet. Be sure before you even start painting that you have a safe spot for the to dry. Be very mindful if setting it to dry on newsprint or paper, as even the slightest touch to the paint can cause sticking and messy cleanup. A non-stick surface is great, if possible.


As a self-taught artist with years of experience, I have found that it is most important to simplify. I have tried to convey this through my articles, books and DVDs. You’ll get a feel for my techniques with the very simple step-by-step demonstrations included in Watercolor in Motion.

 Use Enough Water

Once you have an understanding of how to really use water and color to your advantage, the rest is up to you.While oil paints will dry about the same color as they look when applied, acrylic paint will dry slightly darker than it looks while you’re painting. Adjust your color mixes accordingly so that the finished piece isn’t darker than you want it to be. You can test the end result before you take paint to by painting a little bit of a color a piece of scrap paper and seeing how dark the swatch dries.

Ways to Turn a Canvas into an Abstract Masterpiece Tue, 12 Jun 2018 04:45:21 +0000 Have you tried abstract painting? When you look at an abstract painting, it’s easy to say, “my 5-year-old could paint that.” But when you actually get down to painting abstractly yourself , it can be a bit intimidating. You don’t have the conventional rules to follow, and your subject matter is wide open to interpretation. So where do you start?

1. Watercolor Spray Painting

One unconventional painting method is to use watercolors on canvas! A canvas primed for acrylics and oils is not very absorbent, so the watercolor paint flows and mixes a lot on this surface. You can buy a watercolor ground and apply it to your canvas beforehand if you prefer a less runny situation, but I highly encourage you to try it the messy way first.

To make an abstract spray painting, fill several old spray bottles with water and mix a different watercolor in each bottle. With your canvas laying horizontally, spray colors on top of colors and watch how they react to each other.

2. Watercolor, Glue & Salt On Canvas

Experiment with some watercolor paint repellents in a mixed media piece. Clear glue and Epsom salts push paint away from themselves and create beautiful textures.

First, lay some washes of watercolor paint on a primed canvas, then squirt some clear glue on top. Then sprinkle some salts on top while the paint is wet and let it all dry.  The salt can be rubbed off later. The glue can be left on or peeled off too.

3. Drippy Abstract Watercolor Shapes

Once you’re comfortable with watercolors on canvas, you can try something a little more representative.

Try some actual shapes with watercolors on canvas.  You can paint ovals and loose floral shapes for an abstract cactus painting.  Put lots of paint on the canvas and tip it a little and let it run.

4. Stamping

When working with acrylics or oils on canvas, you can use ordinary objects such as stamps to create an abstract painting. This Craftsy member used caps, cups and sponges to stamp the paint onto the canvas. Gorgeous!

5. Acrylic Mixed Media

If acrylic is your thing, get creative with acrylic mediums! Acrylic modeling paste can be combined with acrylic paint to create a thick, moldable paste that goes right on your canvas. Gel mediums canenhance or diminish the gloss of your paint or make it more transparent. There are so many possibilities here!

Create a texture-filled abstract painting by combining acrylic paint with modeling paste, gel medium, gel skins and colored pencil like this Craftsy member did.

How to Paint Complex Reflective Objects Tue, 12 Jun 2018 04:42:39 +0000 Painting shiny things can be a daunting prospect. After all, just look at all the tiny reflections and shadows that they cast! These types of subjects require a little more time and finesse, but they’re easier to draw and paint than you might think.

Tools for this Tutorial

When painting reflections, I find it helpful to use acrylic paint. I like this material because it can be easily thinned with water, and it also layers nicely. When it’s time to add highlights or thin shadows, you can apply the paint on top of other colors if necessary.

I’m painting a spoon on a wood surface, so my acrylic colors are minimal: black, white, yellow and burnt sienna. I’ve also included my favorite liner brush. It helps make the tiny, fine marks you see in reflections.

Step 1: Start with a Detailed Drawing

My most successful paintings have come from a carefully planned drawing. Since there are so many small details when creating reflections, it’s best to have them all down on paper or canvas beforehand. A pencil is much more forgiving than paint! Think of this as your “roadmap” that we’ll use to the finished painting.

Begin with a general outline of the subject. Then, go section by section and record the shapes you see — every glimmer and shadow. Some reflections will be inside of reflections!

Tip: I break things up into smaller bits to avoid feeling overwhelmed. The head of the spoon, for instance, is one section, while the handle is another. Focus on drawing what you can see in that area before moving on to a different section

Step 2: Start Painting in Shapes

The hardest part is over! As long as you’ve carefully drawn your subject, noting every shape, we’re now just filling in the blanks. Again, start at one section of your painting and work from there. I find that it’s easier to work on each small shape individually, painting its color and tone before tackling the next one. Before long, the little contour forms will begin to look cohesive. Save your highlights and fine shadows (the ones you see on the edge of the object) for later.

Notice the colors and lighting that surround your object. Are they warm lights? Cool lights? What kind of walls or tables? All of this will affect your color mixing.

Since my spoon sits on a wooden surface, its edges have a brownish-yellow tint to them. As the reflections gather in the middle of the utensil, though, they appear cooler and are affected by the white light that bounces off of them.

Step 3: Finish with the Highlights and Fine Shadows

Now is the time to refine your painting. Dip the thinnest brush you have into the darkest darks and apply them to the deep ridges and edges of your object. This will make the other colors pop and give structure to the overall piece — it will look like everything is coming into focus!

Afterward, dip your brush into white and/or very light pigment. Then paint them on the glimmers and highlights. It will give your object the feeling of a roundedness and dimension.

How to Mix Brown Paint in Acrylic Tue, 12 Jun 2018 04:39:12 +0000 Mixing brown paint is an extremely easy process with acrylic paint. While there is more than one way to mix brown paint, this method, which employs the primary colors, is ideal for beginners because it is easy, utilizes painting supplies that are likely already in your supplies, and allows for a lot of refinement and customization in your mixing.

You’ll Need:

  • Acrylic paint in red, yellow, blue and opaque white
  • A palette
  • A paintbrush
  • A work surface for testing mixed colors
  • Water for washing your brush
  • Paper towels for cleaning off palette between mixing colors

Note: I used Cadmium red, Cadmium yellow medium, cerulean blue and Titanium white paint. You don’t have to use these exact hues, but try to use a fairly classic-looking version of each primary color and an opaque white paint.

Step 1:

Set up your palette. Place approximately equal-sized dollops of red, yellow, and blue on your palette, with plenty of space between each color. Add a dollop of white too.

Step 2:

Combine an approximately equal portion of each of the primary colors.

Mix together using your palette. It will progress from being three distinct colors to a muddy mixture to brown. Your results may vary slightly, especially if you were using a different hue of any of the primary colors than I used.

Step 3:

This step is something I personally like to do, and think you may like, too. Once you’ve mixed this “primary” brown, add in a touch of white to the mixture.

This can be a smaller amount than the other colors that you added to make the brown. It is not meant so much to lighten the color as it is to enforce  it. The opaque white paint will make your brown color more opaque, giving it more bang for your buck in terms of canvas or painting surface coverage.

Step 4:

So now you have a basic, fairly soft brown color. Is it the exact brown you’d like to use for your painting? Awesome; you’re good to go.

However, often times in painting, you need a more specific version of a color to fit your vision. This brown can be refined by adding more or less of your primary colors and white to make it perfectly suited for your needs. Here are some basic moves to alter your brown. Play with these methods, adjusting them to suit your needs.

For a Lighter Brown

Lighter browns work well for painting highlights, coffee with milk and light hair colors. For a lighter brown, you can add white paint a little at a time until it has reached your desired tone. Adding a touch of one of the primary colors can also be nice, keeping the color from becoming too beige and bland. Adding red or yellow will make for a warmer light brown, and a touch of blue will make for a cooler light brown.