All posts by Courtney Jordan

Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   


Paint Every Figure With the Power of a Portrait

First Bite, 17 x 16, 2009, oil painting. All works by Michael de Brito. Courtesy Eleanor Ettinger Gallery. Painting the people and places one sees every day can be either a mind-numbing trial or an impetus for creativity that just happens to be homeward bound. For New Jersey-based artist Michael de Brito—who has spent the…


Why Does This Painting Move Me?

Ask yourself that question when you see an artwork you respond to and it might reveal what you strive for in your own artistic practice. In Diego Velázquez’s Kitchen Scene in the House of Mary and Martha, the answer (for me at least) is the psychological intensity of the foreground figures and the layered composition.…


Premixing Your Paints: Pros and Cons

A lot of painters have strong opinions about whether or not it is helpful to premix colors on the palette or ‘set’ a palette before painting. I’m not talking about making your paints from scratch but rather about mixing a few colors, or even just one, after you’ve identified what the main colors in the…

Paris Morning III by Keiko Tanabe, watercolor painting.

A Painting Just Waiting to Happen

I was in Florida a few weeks ago and felt so lucky to be in such a warm, sunny place that I don’t think I spent a minute indoors. I was kayaking, mountain biking, walking on the beach, and swimming in the ocean. And again and again I would look around and think, “That’s a…


Dark Tidings

Sounds mysterious and threatening, right? No worries! It’s just that when Liz Haywood-Sullivan began to create pastel drawings, she was dismayed with the range of dark colors available. “Rich, dark pastels were hard to find,” she says. “Most of the time the darks just weren’t dark enough. Now, fortunately, times have changed and colorful, dark…


Behind Every Good Painting Is a Good Still Life

Yes, that is a complete exaggeration. But my point is that a lot of times in the art world people tend to silo or separate genres of painting to such an extreme that it’s as if they can never come together in a work, when in fact the opposite is true. Many genres dovetail nicely…


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It’s Like Snooping in a Diary

I’ve always thought of a painter’s drawings or pencil sketches as his or her diary. A finished painting is the confident, public face shown to the world, but sketch drawings read like journal entries, where you can see an artist’s preoccupations, struggles, moments of exploration, and sense of play. Historically, learning and executing sketching techniques…

Portrait by Joel Kelly

Always Looking for the "Tell"

I’m from a card-playing family, so when it comes to discussions about artists using reference photographs, I always think in terms of watching for a “tell.” Like in poker—where players’ subtle mannerisms can reveal whether they are bluffing—portrait paintings created by closely referencing photographs have certain giveaways. The work can seem overwhelmed with minute details…

Painting by Alexandra Pacula

Painting to Trick the Eye

The best painters understand that they work to create an illusion. The sleight of hand that comes along with realist fine art oil painting can be especially compelling when it hides in plain sight—when artists take on subjects that are almost diametrically opposed to the flat surface of their canvases and make paintings that resonate…

Landscape by Camille Corot, 1800s, oil painting.

You Have to Lie to Get What You Want

I may have grabbed your attention at the risk of making you think I’m a big fat fibber, but I do think that when it comes to landscape painting, you sometimes have to lie–or at least exaggerate–to get what you want. This is based on personal experience–maybe I’m unlucky, but I do not step into…

Female Posterior by Benjamin Shamback, 2005, charcoal, 30 x 20.

Best Paper for Charcoal Drawing

Artists have drawn on virtually every kind of paper every produced. All types of drawing paper have their own unique characteristics. Some papers, like Bristol board, are more difficult to erase from. Others, like newsprint, are not archival. How a draftsman chooses a paper most often reflects what the drawing is meant to be or…