Painting Tips

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Preparing for Your Finest Works

The old Benjamin Franklin adage “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” pertains also to creating artwork. As an artist, I have found that there is great value in preparation. Before anything else, preparation begins with drawing. For many famous artists, such as Peter Paul Rubens, drawing was mandatory for creating masterpieces.      … read more


Glazing: the successive transparent or translucent layers superimposed on the support. Each layer of paint applied over another layer, not only modifies its color, but also creates jewel-like brilliance. The light is reflected back to the viewer’s eye, imparting a special depth and luminosity.     An artist friend, Julia Kulish was the Showcase Artist this… read more

Transparent, Translucent, Opaque

An important characteristic of each pigment is whether it is translucent, transparent, or opaque. Knowing this characteristic for each pigment used is crucial for the serious artist to achieve the results desired. Some tubes of paint have this information printed on the tube itself. For pigments that are lacking this information, an easy test can… read more

Setting Up A Series

  Setting up a series of paintings, particularly made up of textured images, is as exciting as painting it. The set-up usually depends on one of two things: one’s mood and size of the wall space. If one has a wall space definitely lacking in personality, try selecting a series that you can play with… read more

Be Bold I am told.

Continuing in my depth studies, I am working on a painting of rods, most of which are colored pencils. Here is a portion of my painting. So far, it is a light value painting. However, to improve it, I get out my trusty red filter  to get another perspective of the painting’s values. *** Ouch!… read more

Color Review

With all the information flowing through the artist brain, serious painters from time to time take time to review their art notes. The reason for this is that the complete process of creating art requires the best we have. Today I have chosen to view a few of my color notes. Perhaps it will be… read more

Fun With Sponge

  Sometimes artists just have to let themselves go and just have fun. Today is this day! Let us grab the textured sponge roll and have a blast. What is wonderful about this textured sponge roll is that the core is not cardboard, as in olden times. This roll has a plastic core, which enables… read more

Un-clutter That Mess!

  It has been a glorious past few weeks, as I have been painting in series. In the last three series of paintings, I used the same color scheme. Subsequently there was no need to clean my palette. I used the same brushes, same paints, same rags, and same space, since they were all the… read more

Gaga on Reflections

Capturing reflections on one’s artwork has always fascinated me. Whether the reflections are on a pond, on a river, or even in a puddle, the truth is water reflections inadvertently draw viewers to one’s artwork. Angles and lengths of reflections are trouble spots for some artists. Because the laws of physics govern reflections, one just… read more

Explore and Discover

The small world of Flat Flat Flat had been my world for the last three years. I had been totally blind in one eye and the sight in the other was fleeting fast. After my surgery, (I now can see and praise God for this blessing every moment!) I have discovered that I need to… read more

Great White Attack!

Whoa! Hold them horses! I am not talking about a great white shark attack! I am talking about the huge 8-canvas conglomeration of white that is staring me right in the face! Here I thought one white canvas was intimidating, and then I put eight together to work in a series. Oh my! However, I… read more

Pool of Pours

Ever look at the white canvas/paper before you and wonder, “Where do I start?” The vivid whiteness is intimidating and often stops even the best artists right in their tracks. Tired of this feeling of not knowing how to start? Be bold and use pours! The fastest way I have found to get rid of… read more

Cherish Depth Perception

In the Marion Heritage Center hang two of my acrylic paintings. One is “Forged Into Steel” which was the last painting I did before my eyesight was restored. Many have asked me how this could be, that I could paint this powerful painting (their words) without seeing. It seems mission impossible, does it not? I… read more


Indulgence…what does that mean to an artist? Many times non-artists envelop artists with the erroneous thought that successful artists are only those who sell zillions of paintings. What occurs is that artists are stifled and made to feel guilty when indulging on a painting that we do actually for ourselves. Non-artists feel it is a… read more


An artist friend in Iowa City recommended that I try Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylic Paint.  He is an oil painter, who has crossed over into acrylics. He likes the similarity of oils and Heavy Body. Nevertheless, having spent many years painting in watercolor, I am finding this Heavy Body consistency to be a challenge compared… read more

Essence of Joy

One of my favorite things to do is just plain ol’ painting, which is a blast of fun. I forget all the pressures of creating art and just concentrate on releasing what is inside of me. My painting may not end up as an abstract or it may not even turn out at all! Who… read more

Behold the Ruby!

Many artists use the red filter as one of their vital tools in creating values. My red filter, the Ruby Beholder, is among my most valuable art tool treasures. Using the Ruby Beholder enables the artist to magnify the principle of values even further. What does a Ruby Beholder look like? This is a Ruby… read more

Valuable Values

In preparation for my painting session today, I had previously painted a faint, or weak in color, acrylic painting of a waterpot. This technique suffices as a light sketch. In my studio, before I did anything else this morning, I created some valuable value scales of each of the colors on my painting. The value… read more

“Free as a Lark” Painting

Today I am free to paint all day! I look forward to these complete days of painting! When I paint, I usually start out with a composition in mind. This morning I decided to use the Checker Board composition, which I call the “H Checkerboard.” The opposite corners match in value, color, or pattern.  For… read more

John Marin Part 3: Charcoal IN Watercolor? Oh My!

  Adding my observations from viewing the artist John Marin originals in the Art Institute of Chicago to what I gleaned from studying John Marin’s Watercolors – A Medium for Modernism, I have a revelation about the substances Marin added to his watercolors to achieve his improvisational expressions. He was not concerned about traditional watercolor… read more

John Marin: Part 2 Double Elephant

If you are assuming that the double elephant title of Part 2 might refer to John Marin’s artwork titled “Circus Elephants”, I say “Good guess.” Wrong, but a good guess. Although an indirect connection between the title and the painting may exist through the paper. “How so?” you may ask. To begin, I have been studying… read more

John Marin: Part 1

Recently I was fortunate to view 46 originals by artist John Marin at the Art Institute of Chicago with Creative Artists, a fun group of artists. As always, the Art Institute provided an extremely informative exhibition. I have been asked to share my notes. John Marin: Part 1 will be my first impressions and observations of Marin’s… read more

Tom Lynch WC Canvas Guru

  Tom Lynch is well known and an excellent demonstrator of art techniques on watercolor canvas board. However, after participating in his workshops, I left with these deeper maxims. Whether one is a realist or an abstract painter, watercolorist or an oil painter, these maxims concerning the way artists portray images would apply.  First… read more

Fun With Frames

Framing for watercolor paintings and acrylic paintings are as different as night and day. For my watercolor artwork, I usually stayed with a white or off-white mat and a simple metal frame, because of the many art contests’ requirements. For example, the Iowa Watercolor Society specifies such mats and recommends a simple frame for its… read more

Crowing Time

There comes a time when an artist has to do some crowing. Well, I feel like crowing! I am ecstatic to have found a framing company with good products and good prices. That is a great blessing in itself; however, that is not what I feel like crowing about. Do you know that feeling an… read more

Interactive Illumination

  I am finding these Atelier Interactive Paints are a hoot to experiment with when painting. Atelier is pronounced as a (as in fat) – til’ – short i – long a. Here is what I have discovered so far in my quest for different effects of Atelier Interactive Paints when painted together with traditional… read more

Great Balls of Fire! Watercolor-Acrylics!

  Recently at a celebration party at the Dick Blick Art Store in Iowa City, Iowa, I won a tube of Atelier Interactive Acrylic Paint. I had never heard of it; but after listening to the clerk, an artist herself, I was excited to try it out. She just discovered these acrylics herself, after seeing… read more

Killers of the Creative Spirit

  Wednesdays are my paint days; every Wednesday, an established day, when friends and family know to leave me alone because I am painting the whole day. It is a peaceful time for me and the creative juices flow freely. But today I had a disruption, the funeral of a dear old neighbor.   I… read more

Economical Good Ventilation System

  I discovered another interesting and useful tidbit about varnishing, something my artist friends will appreciate.  I was having a dilemma finding a place to varnish with a good ventilation system, since it is impossible to varnish outside in the winter.  Then it came to me. I do have a room with an exhaust fan-… read more

Experimenting With Varnishes

  As I have said before, there are many good tutorials, articles, and videos on varnishing. I needed to see the effect directly on my artwork. The varnish process consists of three levels. Top layer: Final Varnish Coat Middle layer: Isolation Coats (gloss, satin sheen, or matte) usually two or three coats Bottom layer: actual… read more

Is Varnishing Acrylics Necessary?

  Previously I had thought it wasn’t necessary. But I changed my mind after viewing the artwork of Winslow Homer that was exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in April of 2008. It was the museum’s eye-opening “before” and “after” photos of Winslow Homer’s artwork after cleaning that convinced me. What dramatic changes the… read more