5 Tips From Top Artists

Top Artists Share Painting Tips

In this painting, Gambrel Barn, artist Camille Przewodek's colorist leanings are clear in the broad swaths of pigment she uses to create form. The overall effect is subtle and atmospheric.
In this painting, Gambrel Barn, artist Camille Przewodek’s colorist
leanings are clear in the broad swaths of pigment she uses to
create form. The overall effect is subtle and atmospheric.

If I have a single regret about attending a workshop weekend or painting event it is that I can’t be everywhere at once. Multiple times throughout an event, I find myself asking other participants something like, “You did what? Where?!” Because while I am watching a riveting painting demonstration by Quang Ho or listening to a group of artist-instructors discuss the future of realism, other great workshops and lectures are going on as well. I just can’t be everywhere I want at once.

To make sure I am in “the know” on art instruction no matter where it happens, I did a little archival digging from artists coast to coast. Discovering and rediscovering artists dedicated to sharing their teachings, artwork, and resources as top traditional art practitioners. I’ve been flipping through these resources again and again, finding new ideas and enlightening takeaways just about every time I open them.

I wanted to share some of these tips with you, so here are my top five highlights from top artists working today—things I could learn in person if only I could figure out how to clone myself.

#1: Painter Jeremy Lipking’s palette is a piece of glass resting on unfinished pine. On it he has warms and cools of the primaries, plus a few helpful additions, including compose green and a light-blue he mixes from ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, and titanium white, which he uses to depict cool natural light.

Jeremy Lipking's palette is relatively simple, including cool and warm hues of the primaries.
Jeremy Lipking’s palette is relatively simple, including cool and warm hues of the primaries.

#2: Artist Camille Przewodek traces her painting lineage all the way back to Monet via Charles Hawthorne and Henry Hensche of the Cape Cod School of Art. “Hensche kept the Impressionist movement alive during the Abstract Expressionist period,” she says. “But he modified the Impressionist method by using big, flat color notes to create form, instead of laying notes of stippled colors next to one another.”

#3: Esteemed artist Philip Pearlstein started painting the nude a radically new fashion in the 1960s. He evaluated the figure with a dispassionate eye, employing offhand poses and hard-edged linearity with no trace of sensuality.

#4: Daniel Graves, founder of The Florence Academy of Art, finds that when painters are being trained and learning their craft, they should eschew photographs. “Realist painting is inspired by nature,” Graves says. “By using photos and removing yourself from direct observation, I believe you are making things more difficult … But making art is a different matter; artists should use whatever means are at their disposal so long as it supports their ambition to make great paintings.”

#5: Susan Lyon tells students that if a model’s face is not directly level with yours, the nose will be foreshortened. Artists often don’t take this angle into account, then they measure incorrectly and draw the nose too long.

And here’s a bonus tip I came up with after all my digging: artists warm up in a major way. Whether it is sketching before painting, making thumbnail drawings, or even writing calligraphy before picking up a stick of charcoal for a more fluid hand gesture.

Maybe I’ll skip the body-doubling and just keep digging for more great info from artists working today. And if you are especially interested in doing the same, consider Richard Robinson’s Painting Workshop DVD. It is an informative and useful resource with everything we need to progress through a painting project using reference materials and photographs, with plenty of tips and technique troubleshooting to ease our way. Enjoy!

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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.   

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