8 Essential Painting Tips

Lists Are Great Things for Artists

Early Autumn by William Cather Hook, oil painting.
Early Autumn by William Cather Hook, oil painting.

Sometimes I get list fever, and today this is one of those days. I have made a grocery list, a list of gifts I need to buy, and a list of artists I want to look up. The only list I haven’t made yet is my list of lists!

But lists are great things, especially when you are like me, learning painting techniques and trying to apply them consistently and properly. Sometimes, a list of essentials helps me keep it all together in the studio.

So here is yet another list, this time of eight essential art painting tips gleaned from artist William Cather Hook, whose landscapes are some of the most well-favored in contemporary art.

1.      Sketch carefully and solve compositional problems first so that when you are painting, no drawing issues crop up.

2.      Paint the middle ground first when learning how to paint. From there you can better assess where your center of focus should be.

Sonoran Palette by William Cather Hook, oil painting.
Sonoran Palette by William Cather Hook, oil painting.

3.      Resist the temptation to vertically expand a scene, especially if you are painting a landscape. You’ll lose the effect of a vast area if you do.

4.      Use a big brush so that you can’t obsess and niggle with unnecessary details.

5.      Consistency in your treatment of the light source is key to creating a convincing painting.

Valley Road by William Cather Hook, oil painting.
Valley Road by William Cather Hook, oil painting.

6.      Paint negative space late in the process and use this time to define and alter previous brushstrokes.

7.      Triangulate spot colors in a painting; that is, place a high-chroma accent color in three places to create a sense of balance.

8.      Simplify, but also vary, your brushwork.

If you are interested in more in-depth art painting tips and paint techniques, look no further than The Essentials of Painting Series from Johannes Vloothuis, which is a video collection that features top-rated painting guides that give you all the facets of painting from lauded and legendary instructor Johannes Vloothuis. From painting waterfalls and mountains to skies and snow, this master series could be exactly what you have been searching for. 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.   

2 thoughts on “8 Essential Painting Tips

  1. You mentioned a list of artists you wanted to look up. I’ve been looking up the painting techniques of Jan Mankes of late, but haven’t had much luck in finding out his color palette, although it looks like he drew his subjects extensively prior to painting them with glazes in oil colors.

    I love the still and dreamy quality of his work (here’s one of my favorites: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ky5viw85NR1qznt2yo1_500.jpg) and I want to infuse my upcoming pieces with this by implementing his techniques. If you come across any information on his palette or the palette of his contemporaries, I’d love to hear about it.

  2. Here some steps to make an honest Painting

    =>Engage Your Senses
    =>Identify the task of Your Illustrated direction
    =>Select a direction
    =>Build Your construct
    =>Set Up Your File
    =>Layout Your Page
    =>Choose your Fonts
    =>Create & Illustrate
    =>Evaluate Your Illustrated direction
    =>Post and Share your direction