Monthly Archives: December 2015

Become an Expert in Color Theory and Color Mixing

Become an Expert in Color Theory and Color MixingReaders are always asking for more instruction and painting methods surrounding color, which is not surprising considering how crucial color, the color wheel, and mixing colors are to a successful work of art. That’s why I’ve pulled together three top color resources on the market right now and what they can do for you!

Expand Your Art Knowledge: Understanding the Color Wheel with Color Theory Made Really Easy

Color Theory Made Really Easy is the one-of-a-kind resource for conquering color! It’s a 60-day course that you take in the comfort and familiarity of your own home, which is great for me because I am able to master color theory on my own timeline. What lured me to this way of learning was the focus on how to mix colors that aren’t muddy, which is something I feel like I do time and time again! And you’ll find the attention instructor Sandra Angelo pays to teaching the “secret” formulas that the Old Masters might have once used is really appealing. It sealed the deal for me and is definitely worth the investment of time and money because the payoff is so huge and important to the development of my art!

Discovering What Your Art Colors Can Do with Color Mixology

Learning how to see and mix colors is crucial. But there are so many color schemes out there, and the color wheel has so many variations that I can start to feel overwhelmed. But Color Mixology is a video download that is really hands-on. I get a sense of the practical aspects of color and, more importantly, how to manipulate the characteristics of color so that when I look at my composition, I know how to mix colors that will get it up on my canvas!

PowerColor : What Every Artist Needs to Know About Mixing Colors

You know how there are some resources that you never let out of your sight in the studio? For me, PowerColor is definitely in that category. From basic color theory to knowing how to create a color mixing chart to more complicated color mixing, it is a book that has it all. Covering optics and physics as well as how to mix colors successful and without waste, to pigment properties and even demonstrations from established artists, I feel like ‘comprehensive’ is the best way to describe it, but ‘top-notch’ works too!

Painting for Beginners Learn How to Paint

Painting for beginners and painting for more advanced artists do not involve totally different processes. Only the familiarity with basic painting instruction and the ease of executing those technical steps is what separates a beginner painter from an advanced one.

To learn how to paint—right here and right now—start with three easy steps that will allow you to grow in confidence and skill as an artist.

1. Learn Oil Painting Step By Step: What Your Materials Are All About

There are dozens of beginner 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

For more painting lessons and essentials, learn from best-selling painting instruction artist Johanness Vloothuis in his Essentials of Painting Series as well as Donna Dewberry’s Essential One-Stroke Painting Reference, featuring 60 “learn to paint” demonstrations created using the artist’s popular one-stroke technique.

2. Painting Lessons for Beginners: The Basics of Color

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. Learn to Paint with Dimension: Layering with Acrylics

Acrylic painting lessons 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 Brushwork Essentials, a resource that shows you how to use a brush properly for effective control and 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. –Hugh Greer

Photo to Painting: How to Use a Photo Reference in Your Art

Photo to Painting  How to Use a Photo Reference in Your ArtUsing a photo reference is a convenient and rewarding way to make drawings and paintings if it is done right. But there are a few pitfalls to avoid, so if you are interested in ways to go fromphoto to painting, these six tips on painting from photo references are for you along with our editor picks of the top resources for painting from photographs as well!

  • Don’t forget that when you want to transform a photo into a painting, first look at the scene, person, or composition with your own two eyes if possible. Take in the view, make mental notes, and memorize the scene. Only then take out your camera and photograph your composition carefully.
  • As you turn photo into painting, remember that consistency in your treatment of the light source is key to a convincing painting. So look at your photo and ask yourself, where is the light coming from?
  • Shadows are crucial to study when you are going from photos to paintings. Often times you can lose the light in the shadows with a photograph, so be sure to interpret these hidden areas when it comes time to paint them.
  • Even when using a photo reference, it is important to squint. You will see patterns in your reference and avoid unwanted patterns on your canvas.
  • Painting from photo references can make you forget that thoughtful cropping of the scene you want to paint or draw is necessary. This will help you reduce a lot of work composing on the canvas. If you take the picture with this in mind, you significantly cut down your workload.
  • You don’t have to paint from photos that are large, with high resolution. Instead, use small photos of low resolution. It will help you to not rush into the details. And small, indistinct reference photos force you to simplify and reduce what you depict.

There are several resources that can help you learn to successfully go from photo to painting. The first is a unique photo-painting guide full of landscape photography reference photos. Photo Reference for Artists : Landscapes is full of images that will allow you to create art from photo references that are significant to you. There are over 400 images to choose from so you are sure to garner strong results with whatever image you pick.

One of our editor’s top resources on painting from photographs is the video download, Painting from Photos: Pastels with Maggie Price. In this video workshop, Maggie reveals how to correctly use a photo reference to make artwork that is not just about copying static images but instead gives you convincing and lifelike paintings as a result of careful observation and understanding.

And to capture the ever-changing water and skies you see and so want to depict in your landscape paintings, use Photo References for Artists : Water and Skies to help you.  You’ll find compelling images to draw and paint from and more than 400 photo painting references to choose from.

Learn How to Draw People : 7 Tips from Professional Artists

It’s no secret that learning how to draw people is an essential, timeless lesson in an artist’s development; figurative drawings continue to be among the most popular subjects in art schools and among professionals. But it takes more than just knowing how to create the contour lines that form a two-dimensional drawing of a person; one must have an understanding of anatomy, including muscle and bone structure, and of movement and balance to render the three-dimensional human body.

There are also the various body parts that have unique qualities to consider; the texture of the belly may be soft as a flower petal, while elbows and knees speak a different story. And the hands, poetically expressive and complex–they’re often thought of as the hardest part of the anatomy to depict accurately, and they can make or break a drawing.

In this exclusive collection of advice from top figurative artists, we share seven tips on how to draw realistic people.

7 Tips: How 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.~from Walt Reed (author of The Figure)

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.~from Carrie Stuart Parks and Rick Parks (authors of The Big Book of Realistic Drawing Secrets)

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.~from Robert Barrett (author of Life Drawing, now available as an ebook)

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.~from Robert Barrett (author ofLife Drawing, now available as an ebook)

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.~from Jeff Mellem (author of Sketching People)

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.~from Jeff Mellem (author of Sketching People)

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!~from John Raynes (featured in the video Drawing & Painting People: Anatomy of the Body)