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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Painting Breakthrough - How to Paint Like an Artist

So exactly one year ago I decided to learn to paint. I've been documenting my progress over at Flickr.

Here, from RNRNRW archives is a post from last year of my second painting I ever attempted.

I have come a LONG way. But just last week (Almost a Year Later to the day!) I finally had a breakthrough that has opened up my painting to a whole new level. I wanted to paint a picture of the now, sadly, fire-damaged Blue Star Diner in my neighborhood. So I took my waterbrush pen over there and sat in the gravel. This is what came out:

Blue Star Sketch

And I was not happy. It doesn't look very artsy. It looks flat. There is no depth, and here is summer time. Outdoor time. Time to paint some citi-scapes, and I have no depth to my paintings.

So I went back to the place I always go when I need a pointer or two: www.sovek.com

I always learn something new there. Lots of good tutorials and old Artist magazine articles that he wrote. I want to paint more like that! I love his paintings, so I follow his tips.

Well I stumbled onto this article titled "Simplifying Your Painting..." and now I'm changed.

The jist of it is, narrow your scene down to just three tones: Darkest, Lightest, and a Mid. And Paint a base layer according to those tones.

And it WORKS!! I sat down with that Blue Star Diner watercolor and reference photo and followed the three-tone idea. Look! It's just a base layer and it looks like a painting!! The Depth is there:

My Painting Breakthough

When you're still learning it means nothing to read things like "Notice the tones in the far away trees." My experience level won't let me translate that sentence onto canvas. But whan I read about just using three tones (a dark, light, and mid) it clicked. I can do that! It's practical and achievable. Too many art teachers I've read or dealt with this past year generalize too much! I'm just going to keep it simple for a while and I'll slowly learn how to add even more tones.

I finished it off last night during Project Runway.:

"This Gap Needs Filled" Acyrlic on Canvas board, by Matthew Cox, July 2006.

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