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Monthly Archives: January 2017

3 Easy Steps You Can Take to Learn How to Paint

1. Understand Your Materials

There are dozens of oil painting lessons out there. But the first, and most crucial, step of painting instruction is coming to know your materials. All oil painting lessons start there because knowing how your paints respond allows you to fully understand how to exploit them to their fullest potential, and how to avoid any big mistakes.
Traditional oil paints consist of ground pigments combined with a drying oil, such as linseed, walnut, or poppyseed oil. A “drying oil” is one that absorbs oxygen from the air, which causes it to dry and harden over time, forming a flexible and resistant surface. Each pigment requires a different amount of oil to reach the consistency needed for painting. The amount of oil absorbed by a pigment directly affects its drying time, which can be useful for an artist to know as he or she works in the studio to learn painting.

When applying layers of oil paint most artists follow one of the most popular oil painting lessons known as the “fat-over-lean” rule. ‘Fat’ oil paint contains more oil than pigment, which increases the length of time it takes to dry. ‘Lean’ oil paint is oil paint mixed with less oil, or with a solvent such as turpentine. When creating an underpainting, painting tutorials often advise artists to avoid using colors with high oil contents, because subsequent layers of paint may crack if the layers contain less oil than the previous layer. Many artists prime their canvas accordingly to make this easier. “I work on oil-primed linen, so the ‘fat to lean’ qualities of the ‘paint to surface’ are an integral part of the painting process,” says still-life painter Ellen Buselli.  –Naomi Ekperigin

2. Understand Color Theory

A painter can learn how to paint nearly every color with just three pigments. Exact hues vary from one manufacturer to the next, but an artist could go far with any company’s Indian yellow, naphthol red, and ultramarine blue.
Secondary colors, such as orange, green, and purple, are made by mixing primary colors. Tertiary colors are those made by mixing a secondary color with a primary color. Other colors are made by adding a bit of white pigment (a process called tinting) or adding a bit of black (a process called shading).

When you start to learn painting, it helps to understand the vocabulary used in discussing color. Hue refers to the arbitrary name given to certain colors on the color wheel, for example, red, orange, blue-green, mauve, etc. Value refers to the degree of lightness or darkness in a color. This can be adjusted by tinting or shading the hue. And chroma, or saturation, is how pure the color is compared to its corollary on the color wheel. If a color is close to how it appears on the color wheel, it is said to be “high chroma.” Colors have less saturation or chroma when they are created by mixing two colors. This is because we experience color as light that is reflected off a toned surface. When we see green paint, we are seeing pigment that absorbs all the other colors in light except green. (White light has all the colors of the spectrum in it.) When two pigments are mixed, each color absorbs its own share of light, so the resulting mix is duller than either of the two mixing colors would be alone. The more you mix, the less saturated a color will be. This is often a good thing–colors straight out of the tube usually make a painting look garish and unnatural. –Bob Bahr

3. Understand How to Layer Paints

Acrylic painting lessons will usually include the basic techniques for manipulating washes of acrylic paint to develop detailed paintings of landscapes, figures, still lifes, and the like. This process sounds more complicated than it truly is, as there are just three essential steps to learning how to use acrylic paint to give objects depth and dimension. Here’s a painting exercise to show you how.

First, Apply a Thin Wash: Use either a wash or glaze of red oxide combined with a small amount of titanium white and diarylide yellow. Apply one thin wash to your surface to create a few shapes. (If you are still learning how to handle your paint brush, consider theBrushwork Essentials eBook, a resource that shows you how to use a brush properly for effective control and powerful expression.)

Second, Apply a Second Coat: Using the same color as in step one, mix a wash or glaze using slightly less water or gel. This value will be darker because there is more pigment. When the first coat is dry, apply a second coat to the areas to give the initial shapes more dimension. For example, the second coat could be applied to the front and side of a cube.

Third, Apply Shadows: After the second coat is dry, apply a third one of the same color to the areas where shadows from other objects could be. You may need another coat after this one dries to further delineate shadowed areas. All of this was done with the same color and shows how successive layers of a single color can easily add dimension to a basic painting sketch.

Top Three Resources on Mixing Colors

1. Color Theory: For Oil and Watercolor

Best for: An all-round resource for painters specializing in oil and watercolor media, but want theory they can apply to other media too.

Color Theory: For Oil and Watercolor is the one-of-a-kind resource for conquering color. It’s instantly accessible and I can take it wherever I go—in the studio or out when I am doing color sketching, so I am able to master color theory on my own timeline. What lured me to this eBook is how it teaches me how to select the perfect hue every time—no matter where I am, what the lighting conditions are, or what I am painting. That means when I mix colors, I do it with confidence and the results aren’t muddy or off! And that means finding the joy in color and discovering the ability to make your colors “sing,” according to artist-instructor David Gallup, who compares color theory to musical composition. What could be more appealing than that? And because it is just a click away, I didn’t hesitate to make it mine– the payoff is so huge and important to the development of my art.

2. Color Concepts

Best for: Pastel artists, those looking for a quick read, and those on a serious budget.

Learning how to see and mix colors is crucial, and doing it with pastels is a reward in and of itself because my colors come out so strong, so bold, and so right! That’s the power of Maggie Price’s instruction in Color Concepts, proving that big rewards for art can come in very small packages. This pint-sized resource has become my secret weapon for basic color theory because Maggie tackles practically all the key color concepts, from hue and intensity to value, contrast, color temperature, and more.

3. Color Essentials: A Painter’s Guide

Best for: Visual learners who prefer to watch a video over reading a book, and those looking for a clever gift for an artist friend.

Do you want to reach the next level of sophistication in your painting? Top artist and instructor Lea Colie Wight gets you there! In Color Essentials, your creativity and spontaneity come to the fore. You are handed the tips and strategies of how to mix colors and adjust new color combinations, mix colors that are vibrant, and create color studies that will be the making of great painting after great painting. Color-mixing mastery is at your fingertips with this video download, and it is the gateway to expert color approaches that are completely your own.

Tips to Draw People

1. Drawing Hands

Keep in mind the bone and muscle structure beneath the surface. In some places the surface is influenced by the angular bones, in others by the soft muscles. Don’t round off all the forms or the subject will look rubbery.

2. Drawing People and More

A classic way to draw something with correct proportion is to create a grid and place it over your reference photo, then draw a grid on your paper. Erasing these lines can be a pain, so a lightbox (or window on a sunny day) can be used instead. Place the grid on the lightbox, tape it down, then place your paper over the grid. You can see the grid through the paper and there’s no erasing later.

3. Drawing People

A useful device is a shaft or midline, which is a line drawn through  the middle of a human form to see how it is supported. A midline acts like the armature underneath movement and direction. It also simplifies the process of seeing and indicating the angles of specific forms.

4. Opposites Attract

An essential principle of design that also relates to the human figure is the concept of opposites. The use of opposites, or contrast, exists in all the arts to create interest. In the human figure, a contrapposto position, where the weight is on one leg, is usually more interesting than one where the weight is equally balanced on both legs or throughout the figure. Each opposite helps strengthen and clarify the other.

5. How to Draw a Person

The muscles are the body’s substructure. They are a big part of what gives the figure its shape and form. Understanding what goes on beneath the surface will help you see important details that might have gone otherwise unnoticed.

6. How to Draw Characters

For a visual artist, choosing how to depict an event–what parts are emphasized and what are downplayed–is done through staging. If there are enough clues through the interplay of body language, setting, costumes, props and even artistic style, the viewer will understand the story and the meaning behind it.

7. Make the Most of Your Time

Don’t necessarily add more detail in a longer study–spend the extra time observing the overall pose more carefully. You may want to choose a less familiar viewpoint. This figure, for example, is foreshortened because it’s seen from a high eye level. There are some surprising correlations of different parts of the body. Note how the fingers of her right hand appear to reach her calf and are even in line with the toes of her left foot!

5 Essential Tips for Learning How to Draw

1. Find the Best Drawing Tools for You

The first step of learning to draw is figuring out what drawing tools you want to work with and gaining an awareness of what your chosen drawing medium is capable of. Working with a graphite pencil is quite a different experience and utilizes a completely different process than working with a stick of charcoal, oil pastel, pen and ink or colored pencil. Drawing Secrets Revealed by Sarah Parks and the video download Top 10 Art Techniques can really help you reach your fullest potential by giving you an understanding of the different drawing techniques used with different drawing media. For example, if you want to really work on your mark-making with an emphasis on hatching or cross-hatching, you’ll probably want to work with graphite. For more expressive marks, reach for charcoal.

2. Use Mistakes as a Lesson

When you start to draw the first thing you will want to do is loosen up—literally. You want to draw fluidly and spontaneously, so the first thing I was always taught to do is warm up with exercises like drawing circles or cubes. This gets your hand and eye working in concert and can bring about a certain level of focus that you’ll need as you start to sketch.

Another of our drawing tips that I’d like to share is to be mindful that as you learn to draw you don’t have to erase. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you must. Oftentimes, “incorrect” marks can be guidelines for you as you zero-in on the right way to draw the curved shape of a vase or tilt of the nose. Leaving those marks—known as pentimenti—is something that master draftsmen have done for centuries, so you can too.

3. Use Negative Space

Drawing for beginners also means learning to see and to draw negative space as well as positive space. In other words, spend time drawing the shapes of the space around objects as well as the objects themselves.

It sounds easy, but oftentimes this basic drawing idea is hard to truly understand until you actually do it. But once you capture a few angles, the negative space will take as much prominence in your drawing as the object you are drawing.

4. Practice by Working with Lines Only

Take time as you work through drawing tutorials to work only with line. Create simple drawings using hatchings and crosshatchings alone. Discover how you can layer line, or use different sides of your implement for smooth and crisp marks or smeary strokes. Decent drawing tutorials will tell you the same because drawing basics like this are what allow you to really command the best from the medium, be it graphite, charcoal, pastels, or any other implement you choose to draw with.

5. Don’t Use Symbols

One of the best drawing exercises you can practice involves symbols or, actually, resisting the temptation to use symbols. You see, when you start to learn drawing, there is always the urge to draw objects or figures as shapes, ovals for eyes for example. But in reality, the structure and shape of eyes is nothing like an oval. Instead, you must use light and shadow and proportion to truly capture a person’s eyes in your drawing.

To practice this, sit in front of a mirror with a lamp tilted over your face to create strong light and shadow shapes. Practice creating a basic drawing of the abstract shapes of light and shadow on the features of your face. Creating a drawing step by step in this way frees you to see abstractly and that is the secret to drawing art. You learn to draw what you see, not what you think you see.