Friday, November 13, 2009

More Painting Tips from the Gallery Girls

No matter the subject, from landscape to still life to portraiture, the very best way to grow is to paint from life. And it's been said that the foundation of a good painting is a strong composition. When painting from life, carefully plan your composition using a small viewfinder. These are readily available at art supply stores like Hobby Lobby for about $10 (well worth the cost) and are powerful tools for working out a strong composition. They have a sliding section with various painting sizes marked on the side (8 x 10, 9 x 12, etc.) so that you can work out the comp based on the size of your canvas. And, some are a mid-grey color with a small hole in the side so that you can look through it and judge the dark and light values of your scene.

As you look through the viewfinder, move around, squinting along the way so that you simplify the shapes into dark and light objects with a pleasing comp. Decide on a dominant focal point and position that off-center both vertically and horizontally (rule of thirds). Make sure that you don't divide your painting surface directly in half with your horizon line, table surface, etc. It will make for a more interesting composition when segments aren't equally sized. Choose to omit details that detract from or are unnecessary to tell the story of the scene. That's called "creative license".

When planning the view you'd like to paint, learn how to see with your eyes, not your mind. Ask yourself "Do these shapes work together? Is there enough variety in darks and lights to add drama to the painting?" Abstraction simplifies shapes into masses varying in color and value and adds cohesiveness to the scene.

Careful planning before you start your painting will enhance your success and satisfaction.

Posted by Celeste Vaught

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