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3 Very Easy Steps That We Can Take to Learn How to Paint

1. Understand Your Materials

There are dozens of 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 Wilson Bickford in his Oil Painting Basics – How to Paint a Bird DVD as well as  The Absolute Beginner’s Big Book of Drawing & Painting eBook. It has 400+ paged with more than 100 lessons on getting started in painting and drawing so that you will be able to practice the techniques that are the foundation of every great painting!

2. Understand Color Theory

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

If you are looking to learn paint mixing and color theory in multiple media, start with famed artist-instructor Johannes Vloothuis in hisLandscape Painting Essentials eBook, featuring expert tips and advice on how to paint beautiful landscape paintings—filled with color and light–in acrylic, oil, pastel, and watercolor!

3. Understand How to Layer Paints

Acrylic painting 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 theBrushwork Essentials eBook, a resource that shows you how to use a brush properly for effective control and powerful 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

3 Things We Should Know Before Starting to paint with Oil paint

1. Know the Tint Strength of Your Paints

Knowing how to use oil paints starts with discovering the tinting strength of each color on your oil painting palette. For example, Prussian blue and alizarin crimson have very strong tinting strengths: just a small amount of either color added to white makes a vivid tint. On the other hand, terre verte and raw umber have weaker tinting strength and turn pale when mixed with just a little bit of white. A beginner oil painting lesson you can teach yourself right now is adding the same amount of white to each color on your palette to see how each pigment is affected.

2. Understand Impasto

Building up the surface of a painting with thick and loose applications of paint is one of my favorite oil painting techniques, and it is known as impasto. First, there is just such a sensual pleasure in moving the buttery paint around in this way. And the fact that you can also leave behind the marks made with your brush makes the activity an expressive one and one of the most valuable abstract oil painting techniques worth exploring. To practice with impasto, you will want to keep the paint thick enough to stand on its own though many artists will add a little medium so it is slightly more workable. And then you just get in there, applying the paint with a brush (flat brushes are ideal as they hold a lot of paint) or painting knife, and being sure to paint with purpose. What I mean is use impasto to good effect, whether by applying it to visually contrast with smoother areas of your paint or use it on a whole oil painting for a three-dimensional quality.

3. Understand Blending

You might think that blending is one of the easiest oil painting techniques to employ, and it is in that you can practice it starting right now on just about any figure, landscape, or object you paint. But there are specific oil painting lessons on how to blend that are key if you want to know how to use oil paints like a master.

Blending at its most basic simply involves learning how to oil paint by brushing and rebrushing the areas where two different colors meet, so that they seem to merge together seamlessly. But you can also blend by stroking one color over the edge of the next: the brushstrokes are obvious but the blended area is still created. You can also, as a final step in an oil painting, trace a brush over the entire surface of a painting or concentrating in the areas where you want to knock down the visible brushstrokes so that no trace of the brush’s path are visible.

A Secret from a Drawing Perspective Made Easy

Why Knowing How to Draw Perspective Is Important

I will be the first to admit that learning and practicing linear perspective is a little bit like eating your veggies when you are a kid. You aren’t sure about them even though you know they are good for you but, in the end, you learn to love them. But what is really worth remembering about perspective drawing is that if you know the basics, you’ve got all the capabilities of a 3D drawing in your hands. That’s why understanding linear perspective is so important for artists, beginners included.

Linear perspective revolutionized the way artists perceived and incorporated spatial depth in their work. Established in solid, mathematical terms in the 15th century, linear perspective creates the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface.

How to Tell the Difference Between One-Point Perspective and Two-Point Perspective

To create effective linear perspective, artists establish a horizon line, a vanishing point on that line, and multiple orthogonal, or vanishing, lines. The horizon line is a horizontal line that runs across the paper or canvas to represent the viewer’s eye level and delineates the sky meeting the ground.The orthogonal lines, which distort objects by foreshortening them, create the optical illusion that objects grow smaller and closer together as they get farther away. These imaginary lines recede on the paper to meet at one point on the horizon called the vanishing point.

The difference between one-point perspective and two-point perspective is the number of vanishing points and where they are placed on the horizon line. For more on the basics of drawing perspective, consider the digital download of our best-selling perspective drawing workshop, Perspective Made Simple, which breaks down all of linear perspective into simple, focused steps that anyone can learn.

Practicing Your Perspective Drawing Lessons: Where to Start

When first learning how to incorporate perspective into your composition, concentrate on one-point perspective with one vanishing point (two-point perspective and three-point perspective use two and three vanishing points, respectively). One-point perspective is helpful when drawing or painting roads, railroad tracks, or buildings that directly face the viewer.

According to linear-perspective instructor Patrick Connors, “The components of perspective are three: the eye (the artist or viewer), the picture plane, and the figure (or object). The science is about the relationship among the three. An introduction to perspective will enhance an artist’s appreciation for the perceptual underpinnings of the illusions of space.”

Plein Air Painting Outdoor Painting Art

What is Plein Air Painting?

Plein air painting is about leaving the four walls of your studio behind and experiencing painting and drawing in the landscape. The practice of painting outside goes back for centuries but was truly made into an art form by the French Impressionists. Their desire to paint light and its changing, ephemeral qualities, coupled with the creation of transportable paint tubes and the box easel—the precursor to theplein air easels of today—allowed plein air artists the freedom to paint “en plein air,” which is the French expression for “in the open air.”

How Painting Outside Works

Outdoor painting gives artists the opportunity to paint the landscape in an immediate way—from direct observation—responding to changes in light, air quality, weather, and time of day. Many advocates and artists who have taken up plein air painting are committed to creating stirring landscape paintings that are derived solely from nature itself, in an alla-prima style (which means producing a painting in one session outdoors). But practitioners can also find it useful to work from a variety of sources for a plein air painting, including initial pencil sketches, photographs, and research.
Sketches allow painters to improve the overall design of a painting and quickly capture color notes in the landscape. A plein air painter can also use photographs to help design a painting, though they usually come into play after the artist has left the outdoor painting site for the comforts of the studio. An artist often utilizes photographs to capture details—like the particular texture of grass or the shape of a river bend—but most painters stay away from using photographs for color and value indicators.

Why Try Plein Air Art?

Today, plein air painting is a flourishing trend in our art world, popular in no small part because it’s just plain relaxing. Artists come together for “paint out” excursions, workshops devoted to the practice occur all year-round and coast to coast, and landscape painters are finding that plein air painting is as rewarding and powerful an experience as it was for the first plein air painters all those years ago.

To ignite your plein air art excitement, first delve into one of the most in-depth resources on the subject, Plein Air Painting—where 30 top plein air painters give their take on the outdoor painting experience and the hard-won advice that allows them to enjoy every minute of it.

5 Important Things to Learn How to Draw

1. Find the Best Drawing Tools for You

The first step of learning to draw is figuring out what drawing tools you want to work with and gaining an awareness of what your chosen drawing medium is capable of. Working with a graphite pencil is quite a different experience and utilizes a completely different process than working with a stick of charcoal, oil pastel, pen and ink or colored pencil. Drawing Secrets Revealed by Sarah Parks and the video download Top 10 Art Techniques can really help you reach your fullest potential by giving you an understanding of the different drawing techniques used with different drawing media. For example, if you want to really work on your mark-making with an emphasis on hatching or cross-hatching, you’ll probably want to work with graphite. For more expressive marks, reach for charcoal.

2. Use Mistakes as a Lesson

When you start to draw the first thing you will want to do is loosen up—literally. You want to draw fluidly and spontaneously, so the first thing I was always taught to do is warm up with exercises like drawing circles or cubes. This gets your hand and eye working in concert and can bring about a certain level of focus that you’ll need as you start to sketch.

Another of our drawing tips that I’d like to share is to be mindful that as you learn to draw you don’t have to erase. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you must. Oftentimes, “incorrect” marks can be guidelines for you as you zero-in on the right way to draw the curved shape of a vase or tilt of the nose. Leaving those marks—known as pentimenti—is something that master draftsmen have done for centuries, so you can too.

3. Use Negative Space

Drawing for beginners also means learning to see and to draw negative space as well as positive space. In other words, spend time drawing the shapes of the space around objects as well as the objects themselves.

It sounds easy, but oftentimes this basic drawing idea is hard to truly understand until you actually do it. But once you capture a few angles, the negative space will take as much prominence in your drawing as the object you are drawing.

4. Practice by Working with Lines Only

Take time as you work through drawing tutorials to work only with line. Create simple drawings using hatchings and crosshatchings alone. Discover how you can layer line, or use different sides of your implement for smooth and crisp marks or smeary strokes. Decent drawing tutorials will tell you the same because drawing basics like this are what allow you to really command the best from the medium, be it graphite, charcoal, pastels, or any other implement you choose to draw with.

5. Don’t Use Symbols

One of the best drawing exercises you can practice involves symbols or, actually, resisting the temptation to use symbols. You see, when you start to learn drawing, there is always the urge to draw objects or figures as shapes, ovals for eyes for example. But in reality, the structure and shape of eyes is nothing like an oval. Instead, you must use light and shadow and proportion to truly capture a person’s eyes in your drawing.

To practice this, sit in front of a mirror with a lamp tilted over your face to create strong light and shadow shapes. Practice creating a basic drawing of the abstract shapes of light and shadow on the features of your face. Creating a drawing step by step in this way frees you to see abstractly and that is the secret to drawing art. You learn to draw what you see, not what you think you see.

Steps to Landscape Drawing Imagine Where, When, and How You Will Be Drawing

John Singer Sargent may have been able to start painting landscapes in any location or during any hour of the day, but the rest of us need to select a contemporary landscape painting location based on the time of day, season of the year, and conditions that prevail. One spot might be inspiring in the morning and boring in the afternoon; or the location may require more time to paint than is available. It is therefore important to take into account what the landscape painting conditions are likely to be at the various locations you are considering. Most professionals take note of the locations they pass and try to remember the best vantage point and the optimal time for returning.

Artist Thomas S. Buechner says, “The older I get, the more attractive the subject matter that is closest to the bathroom becomes.” He was joking, of course, but he does try to avoid spending too much time searching for the “perfect” landscape artwork location because there are always a variety of choices available, some more convenient than others.

Artists Matthew Daub and William Hook had much the same advice when they cautioned against the expectation that the landscape would be greener or more picturesque on the other side of the hill, or down the road, or on the other side of the stream. Honored landscape artist Clyde Aspevig, a man of intense personal motivation, picks locations where he can create several good paintings without having to pack up and move his equipment.

If you are looking for more in-depth landscape painting approaches, consider the Oil Painter’s Solution Book on Landscapes, with answers on everything from materials, to brush techniques, and what to paint first.

6 Photography Tips and Tricks for Creating Artwork for Life

1. Memorize the scene before you paint

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.

2. Identify the source of light

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?

3. Illustrate the shadows

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.

4. Don’t forget to squint

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.

5. Crop the photo thoughtfully before you start painting

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.

6. Low-res photos are better than high-res ones

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.

Our Best Photo Reference Guides

For Landscape Reference Photos

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.

For Improving Photo Reference Techniques

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.

For Water and Sky Reference Photos

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.


This is our Most Popular Book on Color Theory & Color Mixing

1. Color Theory: For Oil and Watercolor

Color Theory: For Oil and Watercolor is the one-of-a-kind resource for conquering color. It’s instantly accessible and I can take it wherever I go—in the studio or out when I am doing color sketching, so I am able to master color theory on my own timeline. What lured me to this eBook is how it teaches me how to select the perfect hue every time—no matter where I am, what the lighting conditions are, or what I am painting. That means when I mix colors, I do it with confidence and the results aren’t muddy or off! And that means finding the joy in color and discovering the ability to make your colors “sing,” according to artist-instructor David Gallup, who compares color theory to musical composition. What could be more appealing than that? And because it is just a click away, I didn’t hesitate to make it mine– the payoff is so huge and important to the development of my art.

2. Color Concepts

Learning how to see and mix colors is crucial, and doing it with pastels is a reward in and of itself because my colors come out so strong, so bold, and so right! That’s the power of Maggie Price’s instruction in Color Concepts, proving that big rewards for art can come in very small packages. This pint-sized resource has become my secret weapon for basic color theory because Maggie tackles practically all the key color concepts, from hue and intensity to value, contrast, color temperature, and more.

3. Color Essentials: A Painter’s Guide

Do you want to reach the next level of sophistication in your painting? Top artist and instructor Lea Colie Wight gets you there! In Color Essentials, your creativity and spontaneity come to the fore. You are handed the tips and strategies of how to mix colors and adjust new color combinations, mix colors that are vibrant, and create color studies that will be the making of great painting after great painting. Color-mixing mastery is at your fingertips with this video download, and it is the gateway to expert color approaches that are completely your own.

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 ofSketching 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)

Is There in the Market for Western Art in Asia?

In the wake of major auctions in Hong Kong, Natalie Hegert asks whether the West’s favorite artists can become big-hitters in Asia

Recent headline-grabbing auction results have demonstrated a clear demand for Western masterpieces among Asia’s big-spender collectors: In 2015, Modigliani’s Reclining Nude was purchased for $170 million by Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian and, more recently, Basquiat’sUntitled 1982 painting went to Japanese collector Yusaku Maezawa for $110.5 million.

Until now, however, Asian collectors couldn’t expect to find these works on their home turf, but would have to bid in auctions in New York or London. This May, an experiment at Christie’s Hong Kong sought to change that: in Hong Kong, the auction house offered a selection of Western works along with the usual cadre of Asian artists in the saleContemporaries: Voices from East and West.Rebecca Wei, President of Christie’s Asia, touted the event as “a true union of Western and Asian works in one single sale.” Artists included Cecily Brown, Willem de Kooning, Adrian Ghenie, Gerhard Richter, Rudolf Stingel, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Wayne Thiebaud, Cy Twombly, featured alongside major works by Hong Kong auctions regulars — from Sanyu and Yayoi Kusama, to Zao Wou-Ki, and Shozo Shimamoto.Phillips Hong Kong also introduced more “international flavor” — as described by Jonathan Crockett, Head of 20th Century and Contemporary Art and Deputy Chairman for Phillips Asia. Its 28 May 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale featured artists including Sean Scully, Peter Doig, George Condo, Keith Haring, Ed Ruscha, François-XavierLalanne, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, and KAWS. The sale was preceded by a special auction of Andy Warhol photographs, taken during a trip to Hong Kong and China in 1982.

This foray into Western art at Hong Kong auction houses produced encouraging results, but few fireworks. At Christie’s, many works by Western artists sold at or below their low estimates — with a Cy Twombly failing to find a buyer. As art market commentator Enid Tsui commented in the South China Morning Post, the auction house’s sale “didn’t exactly whip the Wan Chai convention center crowd into a frenzy,” noting the tepid response to Western paintings in Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction earlier in April.

Post-sale, Christie’s appeared keen to justify the sale. For Wei, the results reinforced Hong Kong’s position as “a truly international platform for art, breaking all political boundaries,” demonstrating that the house is “on the right path to broadening the spectrum of art categories we offer in Asia.” Deputy Chairman Eric Chan added: “The success of this inaugural evening sale, epitomizes the growing trend of Asian buyers gravitating towards Western art and vice-versa.”

The Western works offered at the Phillips sale, on the other hand, produced some genuinely exciting results, with a new record set for a sculpture by the American graffiti artist anddesigner KAWS, and top prices for works by Sean Scully, Fernando Botero, and Peter Doig. Crockett described the results as “outstanding,” relating that the “electric pace was set with fierce bidding for the opening lot by Jonas Wood, selling for three times the estimate.”

The Warhol sale that preceded Phillip’s auction also achieved strong results, undoubtedly spurred by the subject’s connection to the region. As Charlotte Raybaud, Head of Sale for Warhol in China, summarized: “It was particularly meaningful to bring the works back to the Asian region, coming full circle to where they originated. The narrative as told through the lens of the master of Pop Art resonated with collectors from the region.”Both Phillips’ sales seemed to tap right into the desires of the market in Asia, with collectors participating from regions including Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore. Of course, however, besides finding buyers, one of the key issues in developing a market for Western artists in Hong Kong is convincing consigners to sell beyond the major markets of New York and London.