Monday, May 5, 2014

Top 10 Painting Tips

Painting is a lot of fun most of the time, but once in a while it can really ruin your mood. Whatever you try, nothing works. You're stuck and you don't have a clue how to get back on track. Here are 5 of my Top 10 Painting Tips to prevent that from happening. I hope you'll find them useful!

1. Spend More Time Designing Your Painting.

Do you know that feeling, when it seems a painting is painting itself? From the first to the last brush stroke it's smooth sailing. Some people think there is magic involved and maybe that is true, but it's probably the magic of a good design. When comparing a few of my paintings where I've had this feeling I came to the conclusion they all had one thing in common: a good design. I know it's hard to define exactly what that is, but for now, lets just say you'll know a good design when you see it. Don't settle for less.

2. A Great Photo Doesn't Always Make A Great Painting.

A lot of painters use photo's in their work. Nothing wrong with that. Painters have always used the technical possibilities of their time to make their images more convincing. But you can't just copy a great picture and think it'll automatically turn into a great painting. A painting often needs a little more than that. It needs a clou, a focus point. 
I use Photoshop as a design tool for my paintings. If you want to find out how that works, please take a look at my Youtube video 'The Computer Is A Painter's Best Friend'.

3. Make An Oil Sketch Before Starting The Real Thing.

When you're planning a large size work, it can be useful to make an oil sketch first. Somehow the transition from pixel to paint tells you if it's a good idea to turn the design into a painting. Plus you can solve some problems in your sketch, that you otherwise would have to solve in the final work.

For more oil sketches, please check my online sales page.

Ocean With Clouds in Backlight, oil on paper, 15 x 20 cm

Ocean With Clouds in Backlight, oil on panel, 120 x 160 cm

4. Make A Plan.

A fellow painter once said to me: "Failing to plan is planning to fail". I don't know if that's always true; if you work in a spontaneous abstract expressionist style, you may want to avoid planning alltogether. But if you make realistic landscapes like I do, planning is pretty important. For example: I often have to make a choice between painting the clouds on a dry blue bottom layer or leave them white and paint them while the blue of the sky is still wet. I applied the latter in my Painting Clouds Video, but both approaches have their advantages. 

5. Learn Linear Perspective.

Linear perspective is an age old way to make a 2D canvas look like it's 3D. Dates back to the second half of the 15th century, but it's still a very powerful tool. It is mainly used for buildings and stuff, but for a landscape painter it can be very useful too. Check out this great YouTube video by Kenney Mencher and learn all about it.

 I'll be back with the second half of my Top 10 Painting Tips in about two weeks.  

Till then, please post your comments or mail me at

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