How to improve your painting + 3 tips

What is a good painting and how to improve your painting skills? Here I am speaking about the appearance of a painting. It is the first thing that people, spectators, will notice when they look at the painting.

A good painting has immediate impact. They first will feel the vibration of your work and only then they will take a closer look and start looking at the details. In Art and in painting, like in every branch, there are some techniques, some small things you can do to make your art more interesting, better, more energetic also. And this is what this  article is all about. 

What did i find out to improve my painting ?

For several years I was copying from pictures and looking for new subjects in my painting. I painted flowers, trees, portraits, landscapes (here I also went directly into the fields). In this period I was still learning many techniques, so copying was a good exercise for teaching myself several techniques. Here my motivation to paint always remained the same, trying to captivate the quintessence of all my different subjects.

This was also when I was making portraits in clay. What pushed me in my artistic work was “how can I bring out the personality of my models”, how can I make clay or bronze sculptures that seem to be alive, that are vibrant? 

So I tried many things to improve my painting, worked on all those different subjects, I tried this way of painting, then that kind of painting. But it was hard to find what I really wanted to express and how. Sometimes I worked with a lot of color, but then I switched again to paint in black and white. I really was in search of my “style of painting”

But then there were a few personal changes in my life, which where difficult. These were hard but helped me to grow and get more self confident. I experienced a personal transformation and this reflected in my artistic work.

I discovered new painting techniques and what worked for me and my art,  i also understood better what good painters did to obtain good paintings. I understood better how the whole process worked. From then on painting became much more fun, it was more pleasant, and I felt more free whilst creating.

Sudden Inspiration visiting your mind

3 basic techniques to improve your painting 

Good painters aren’t satisfied with just recreating what is in front of them. An experienced painter knows how to create a successful painting, no matter what’s the situation or the position of the model. Of course, this often comes after years of practise and experimentation. But there are some basic characteristics  that all good paintings have in common. 

If you are thinking about starting your next painting you can keep these three tips in mind. These tips can form the “base” of your work. In the next chapter i will explain these techniques in more  detail.

  1. A strong focal point : a focal point can take any size or shape, it can be subtle or bold, it can be an expression, a gesture, a shade or a light. Anything can be a focal point. But the purpose always should be to engage the viewer or to create an act of momentum  in the work.
  1. Layers of color : in painting, color is an important key to keep in mind. Color gives dynamism to the painting, makes it vibrant or relaxing. This is not only about your color choices but also how you put them side by side on the canvas or how you build the passages between them. 
  1. Changes in direction of the brushstrokes : in a good painting the way that a brush moves the paint around is a technique that you could take advantage of to make your paintings better and more alive.
« Starry night » Vincent Van Gogh (1889)

How does it work? How to work out these techniques?

  1. How to obtain a strong focal point? 
  • Make sure to create a path for your eye to take through the painting. This could be obtained by dividing the surface between filled spaces and more “empty” spaces. Then the eye of the viewer should automatically be directed to the focal point (whether its a hand, a path, a tree, or a shadow, this could be anything) 
  • If you have the opportunity go to exhibitions or read art books to see different paintings and improve your “eye” by viewing lots of artwork. Try to see the focal point in every painting. This  exercise helps a lot to make you understand this better.
  • The composition of your painting helps also to create a strong focal point. With a good composition you should feel a  natural “flow” in direction to the focal point.
  • Symmetry supports the composition and helps to create and build the focal point. 
Artist unknown
  1. How to use color to improve your painting ?
  • The choice of your color palette is very important. This can be very subjective because everybody likes different colors, but you can always ask yourself, “is it a pleasing mix?” Here again it is the first impression of the eye of the viewer that is influenced. You’ll learn in a natural way, by painting, what colors fit together.
  • What I often do is ; I choose one color (the most striking one) and I come back to a few other spots on the canvas. One color = one hero.
  • Don’t hesitate with using contrast, if you use light areas, you can also use dark areas to make contrast stronger. The eye of the viewer likes contrast.
  • Try to learn about complementary color, when you know how they work, they are a valuable element in your composition (I have a video about this that you can find on the blog)
« Sunrise » Claude Monet (1872)
  1. How to use brushstrokes to make your art stronger?
  • The right use of the brushstroke can make a great painting. It gives dynamism and movement to your work.
  • You can do this by following the shape of your subject and by choosing the right brush. Round brushstrokes with a soft brush for the apple, straight brushstrokes painted with a brush with stiff hair for dry grass.
  • Watching an artist work will help you develop your eye and understand these skills.

Some tips for your personal attitude that can improve your painting. 

Your personal intention is important while you are creating.  My experience taught me that creation is something that comes with joy. If you paint with this intention your work will radiate with this energy.

  • Work with subjects that you like
  • Only paint when you really want to, with joy and pleasure
  • Make it fun going into the studio
  • Creativity comes by inspiration, and inspiration comes by doing things you like.

Thank you for reading this article, I hope you learned and were inspired. Don’t hesitate to share your paintings and experiences on the blog.

  • Discover that painting is within everyones reach
  • Get free tips to improve your painting style
  • Learn about the joy and magic of the creative process

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