I always prefer and I always advice others to use real objects, real scenes and live models for their paintings. It’s not only because camera does not see things as a human eye does, but also because of immediate presence.
When somebody aims only for technically great achievements in arts, they certainly stick with photos because we quite cannot distinguish between tiny details when looking at something with just our eyes. I’m not painting or drawing anything I cannot see or which is too small to see. I prefer to go bolder and not to use any magnifying glass.
It can be tough with flowers time to time, especially in winter, and they generally do not last as long as painting takes from start to finish. Anyway, whenever possible using real things has its advantages. They also cause feelings, admiration, attraction or vice versa. This is also something we are trying to implement in our paintings. Technical ability is great, but technically perfect and emotionally cold art isn’t speaking to me. I’m not saying that I always keep working until I have achieved absolutely everything. There is something great about unfinished paintings, too. For instance, a chance to add imaginative characteristics or continue with one’s thoughts. When painting is small, 16 x 20 inches (40.5 cm x 51 cm) inches or so, it doesn’t feel right to spend a year painting it. I sometimes return to a painting after 2-3 years.
Therefore, it feels great becoming a rose. As we paint any petal, we build it and grow it to our liking. Although, it’s just a rose, it has it all: some hidden attraction, some mystery and some color combinations that do not always find reflection in a photo of the painting, but they do become visible when looking at the artwork in person.
There are lots and lots of objects which can be painted not even leaving our room. People sometimes say: I don’t want to paint still life, it’s boring. That’s totally wrong. That is the best exercise in painting there can be found. People who can paint or draw can paint anything and draw anything from apple to face. Still life is the shortest way to explore values, edges, color transitions and the ways we can create them. It’s the best tool to learn underpainting, sketching and blocking in the main shapes. It’s also the easiest way to learn about lines and their relationships, as well as all kinds of shadows. Therefore, we should never underestimate still life as subject, genre or way of expression.
The lifeschool blog reviews pros and cons of using supplements and synthetic vitamins: https://inesepogalifeschool.com/2017/02/07/are-you-wasting-your-money-for-supplements-and-vitamins-without-experiencing-any-benefits/
I have spent thousands of hours watching how students start out with their paintings and I have also been beginner many years ago. Therefore, I am aware of tough things which we experience when using such a medium as acrylic. Especially, if this type of paint is a completely new to you.
Acrylic paints are very friendly. No smells, no known allergy causing components. I would advise people with sensitive skin to use gloves: they should be thin and match size of your hand.
Acrylic is easy to use because we can repaint, paint over, cover up and restart painting any areas which we assume not good enough, not suitable our intention and not nice enough. We sometimes need to wait until the first layer is dry. Overworking one spot causes to come off all wet paint.
Acrylic paints can be applied thinly, diluted with glazing medium or water and in a thick layer creating almost impasto effects. It’s just so that prices of paints have tripled since 2008 in Canada, so it is obvious that using modelling paste or different materials as a base is better than applying a lot of paint.
The biggest challenges are two. 95% of beginning artists who work in acrylic USE TOO LESS PAINT. A LOT LESS than required, actually. That results in uneven, streaky coverage or there is no distinction in color and value. We have to add the paint we are using most as it is almost gone. Acrylic dries fast, so dipping on it a few drops of water or slightly spraying it with water time to time will help hugely. It might be so that somebody gets overwhelmed with all information they have to absorb in first classes, but still: having just a small drop of paint on your palette is not going to work. USE DECENT AMOUNT OF PAINT! ALWAYS! Keep it slightly wet all the time while you are using this paint.
Secondly, partially covered canvas does not look good. We can check whether the coverage is proper by taking a picture. If the canvas fabric is clearly visible, that part certainly requires more paint, sometimes: much more paint.
By its nature, acrylic acts like a glue. We have to use this feature in our favor and so we do. We start with more abstracted, not that careful layers and move onto something more definite. WE SHOULD NOT START WITH FINAL DETAILS OR ASSUME THAT ANY FIRST LAYER IS FINAL. Apply at least 3-5 layers and then decide what else you do. Never judge an unfinished painting or make unreasonable conclusions about it. We fix and change EVERYTHING as we add more layers.
The second challenge is BRUSHING PAINT ALL AROUND. We need to place the paint wherever we want it and leave this spot alone. With that being said, we shouldn’t create strong fat lines with sharp edges for darker areas or road sides, field ends and similar. We want darker areas, not darker frames everywhere. To achieve that, we feather out the outer edge on that area. Just let the brush dance on your canvas and don’t worry about too much blending in the first few layers. By letting the brush slightly touch canvas on one spot we can hold the particular color on that area where we want it. Brushing paint around results in achieving uniformly flat color on the entire canvas or area. We have to use the color we want on the spot where we intend to apply it.
Instructor can demonstrate, explain or show principles, methods and approaches, but painting is still up to you. That means: you have to use the reference, remember to look at the reference whether it is a real abject or scene, or a photo thereof all the time, not only when you start the painting. That does not really happen in reality.
Painting is based on very many decisions we make every second; in fact, we make some hundreds of decisions every second. So, if you only follow the instructor, but haven’t decided anything for yourself, results will not be that great.
Why am I saying: pay attention to reference? I have to repeat that because most people don’t ever pay attention to reference. When we are just beginning the painting, they would have a brief look at it; and I notice after a small while that NOBODY LOOKS any more at the reference. YOU HAVE TO! Reference or value drawing (if you have created such) HAS ALL THE ANSWERS: where to use dark color, where to make strong edge, where to wash edge or lose it, where to place highlights and what exactly the shape of something is. It is extremely important, much more important than what brush to use.
Talking about brushes: always use the ones which you feel comfortable with and which suit the size of the area you are working on. Very simple. We use the largest possible brush for any task. Flat brush has MULTIPLE USES IN ACRYLIC. We can draw thin long lines with the edge of it; we can cover large areas using it flatly, parallel to surface in full width, we can use 2 different shades or colors on each end of the flat brush which simplifies and speeds up painting.
How does the painting or drawing happen? We transform the visually perceived information in the brain signals that eventually lead to our hand movements. Whenever our hand moves accordingly to decision we made, we achieve the desired result. The more decisions one makes and the more one understands why some parts are neutral, some have strong and some have weak values, the easier it is to paint or draw. Blindly following and copying RESTRICTS our ability to analyze, understand and apply creatively our vision.
We develop painting from my sketches. The light barn with pink-red roof was painted by our youngest student Erin who is 11 and attends classes together with her mom. We just started a new project which we are also doing from a quick sketch of mine.
This post was waiting for a long time because I was very busy working on class images and steps.
Therefore, some images are from mid-December classes.
Painting, drawing and sketching manually is THE BEST MENTAL FITNESS EXERCISE. Nothing else can compete or compare to that. Period.
Summer days are running away so fast that it is pretty clear: this summer is completely lost for me. I am usually waiting for summer so much that I do not even live during winter. It is certainly the best time to grab our paint box, some paper and go outside.
The weather isn’t too friendly in Ontario: I cannot recall so many heat waves and so many days without a drop of rain while I am here. My mornings are spent at a clinic, afternoons: fighting fatigue, so I just will have to put off my outdoor painting for some weeks yet.
When people ask: what should I start painting or drawing with, the answer is very simple. Draw and paint anything around you. There is nothing better than drawing from real objects and real scenes. Once you get used to it, you will notice how everything is more vibrant and livelier when we paint from life.
Lots of instructions start with: take a picture. I would love to say, however, if you have something set up or around you, do not take any pictures. I mean, if it is a large work and you are afraid, you’d forget the scene, well, you might also take a reference picture. The problem is that most people want to copy their reference photos instead of just using them. I might sound like an old vinyl, but it’s so silly to copy the photo and then pretend you painted it from scratch.
That’s why we have eyes and brain; we are supposed to use them as intensively as possible.
The next thing which matters is this: once you learn drawing, you are able to draw ANYTHING. This happens because you have exercised your visual perception, developed eye-hand coordination and your hand starts perceiving impulses from your brain.
Is it important to stick with colors which somebody else is using? Not at all. It is much more interesting to explore and develop your PERSONAL color combinations. I also find that paints of different brands act very differently. My favorite watercolor paints are St. Petersburg artist grade paints. I haven’t seen anything else which has such transparency and allows mixing up all sorts of shades that easily. It is almost impossible to get a dull painting with these paints. The secret is the natural and pure pigments they use as opposed to many paint manufacturers who pretty much cheat and replace pigments with filers and binders. That means chemicals which do not enhance color or paint application.
Along with paints and brushes (I usually use just large round approx. size 12 and one size 6 brush for any medium size up to 20 x 24 in watercolor painting) an extremely important thing for watercolor is paper. When I am asking a student: why are you using this really thin and bad paper, they’d normally say, they are just learning and it’s not worth to spend money on a good thick paper. This is profoundly wrong assumption. Every paper will act differently. The thinner and lighter papers do not even absorb paint: it floats on a surface and creates ugly marks. It is also quite easy to lift paint, but not that easy to add more. My most favorite paper is not Arches. I do not like how paint keeps traveling through layers of paper even quite a few minutes after its application. I am using other heavy, cold press papers whenever possible.
My lovely old fence post
If you practice on a bad paper, you won’t know how much easier it is to paint on a good paper. Watercolor paper is definitely the most important part of all supplies for watercolor painting.
I haven’t done much recently because I am trying to recover. It’s already a month after surgery, but it seems like I will need a lot more time.
The current lifeschool blog post tells a story about the ugly side of success and how this can destroy lives:
I would appreciate more than anything else a purchase of any of my paintings. After such a long period of time not being able to work, any financial support would mean a lot. I can certainly offer very good deals on originals, and prints and other products on Fine Art America site are inexpensive anyway. Since people rarely read these posts, this might go unnoticed, but anyway, I hope I can get something sold, there are about 600 paintings of all sizes.
When reviewing some reports from trend analysis about home decor, gift and luxury item retail, I was very pleased seeing that anything hand-made and crafted was given the deserved attention. The real, the genuine, the one of a kind and hand-made things are predicted to become more and more important for our living environment in order to regain the personal touch which was lost in the long run towards the globalization. I believe we can go only so long with low-quality mass-made products which only fill up the space, but do not really contribute to the interior environment of our living and working spaces. The hand-made things have double value which is not always the cost which is put into this item in the way of materials and tools, but the added value resulting from our personal input, energetic vibrations and the esthetics of our creation. Such things are also unique, and always carry some special flare because of person who created them. There is no comparison between some inexpensive Wallmart or similar print which looks cheap, has no real value except for cost of paint and piece of plastic or sadly looking artificial canvas and self-made, hand-made or crafted original item or painting. No surprise many people express their interest in learning how such things are created. There is huge interest in DIY arts and crafts. Fun and pleasure acrylic painting workshop Sponge is a great tool for acrylic painting Autumn trees painted with brush and sponge Sponge is very helpful in achieving effects Acrylic painting for beginners Lots of fun Attendees of pleasure painting workshop Fun and pleasure acrylic painting workshops have usually more than just one goal. We learn how to apply new techniques, how to implement unusual elements, how to use new tools, and we also explore some subjects which are well-known, but always offer potential for personal approach. Trees have found their reflection in paintings and decorative art (decorative art is what actually makes minimum 50% of all available art) for as long as humans exist. We are not making a discovery of a century, but we are learning how to make painting within 3 hours without too much effort and sweat. It’s obvious that such paintings can be still enhanced after the workshop which outlines the basics; students can add more detail and more layers or highlights afterwards. The principle is what counts. This time we were applying sponge. Sponge has huge potential with acrylics, and the use of this approach is actually not limited to trees or forests. It is impossible to paint so fast with brush and the created textures make these works look loose, naturally attractive. Sponge can be applied in multiple layers starting from darks and moving up to lights and highlights. Sponge can be used for the entire painting, just adding some smaller details with a brush. This technique is a bit under-appreciated, but over time I intend to present for your attention more subjects which can be successfully painted with sponge. For beginners and for artists who would like their painting to look somewhat abstract, it is of a great value. Everybody can practice using sponge on their own because it is such a relaxing and easy painting technique. The only threat can be overuse of a particular color and paint colors which do not present strong contrast. Other than that, it is pure fun! This is one of my quick demos for sponge application with acrylic. Try it! It’s interesting and you could be very satisfied with results!