Monthly Archives: October 2013

Benefits of Mistakes


A few missteps to look out for

Improper cropping of a photograph

Not using enough colour

Edges not rounded

Tonal values all the same


Hi Folks

I assume in a perfect world there would no mistakes but we don’t live in a perfect world – thank heavens – because it is by making mistakes we learn. Or so I’ve been told. First step though is to admit to or at least see you have made a mistake. Ah…. there is the problem you say and it’s true. How do you see what you have painted may not be perfect or correct? To your untrained eye it may look great! So perhaps there in lies an answer. You need to start looking at what is well established great art and really looking at it with a critical eye, seeing how the composition works, how the use of colour keeps you engaged etc. Taking drawing lessons would go a long way in helping you see how design and composition is important.

If you are using photographs make sure they have been taken by a good photographer who knows how to take good photos as they too will be well balanced and have all the compositional elements I talk about i.e. 3 focal points. You will be able to crop a good photograph as well and still have all the elements needed. One thing to look out for when cropping a photo though is to make sure you crop it so it has the same dimensions of your canvas i.e. if your canvas is square you should cropped your photo into a square or if your canvas is a 16 x 20 try and make your cropped area as though it was a 16 x 20. Makes your life so much easier and yet I see all too often a student painting on a rectangular canvas using a square image. Mistake number one! Easy remedy! Matching you photo size to your canvas size.

If I had a penny for the number of times I say to a student , “paint like an artist using your colour knowledge and see more than the obvious colours. The more colours you can use the more natural it will all look.” When that light bulb goes on, the student’s work soars. Mistake number two – not using enough colour.

Checking your edges. Making good use of your secondary colours – orange and purple to round your edges. Mistake number three! Not rounding your edges using your secondary colours especially orange and purple.

Checking your tonal values. Are they all the same? Things far away need to be lighter/ less intense and things closer darker /stronger. Mistake number four! Tonal values need to reflect perspective.

I just heard this phrase and it is so true ‘ real growth comes through taking chances’ ! So take chances, make mistakes and you will grow!

Happy Painting



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Tips on Marketing Yourself and Your Art


Hi Folks


I must admit I am guilty of having done this! It’s so embarrassing but it happens. It is especially annoying if you have had it professionally framed and even worse if it is behind glass. What to do? Well, there is no simply solution except take it out of the frame and sign it. It is something that should be on your ‘ to do’ list , to always check your work before it leaves your studio or home.

Practice your signature before you sign your painting, placing it in the lower Right hand corner. No need for a date.


As students you may think this is not necessary but it is for a few reasons:

1. It is a good way to keep track of how much you have improved.

2. One day you may be in a position of mounting a retrospective of our work or applying for a grant and you will need to provide images of past efforts .

3. Placing these images in a portfolio is a excellent record of what you have done and what has sold.


A portfolio is not just for professional artists! As I’ve mentioned above it is an excellent way to keep a record of your work. When you are part of an art show it helps clients see what you have done and if you add a red dot on those pages it shows what you have previously sold. All this makes potential clients realize you are serious about what you are doing.

In setting up your portfolio find a good leather binder, using heavy plastic pages to insert your written pages and images. The first page should be your Cover Page with your name at the top in bold letters, under which list the medium(s) you work in , then your style and lastly perhaps place an image. Leave nothing for the client to assume. The next page should be your Resume, listing your achievements, art
shows, exhibitions, gallery representation, number of years you’ve been painting etc . This page can be a problem for some if you have not done much so you may need to keep it simple listing art programs you’ve taken. The next page can be reserved for an Artist Statement. When you write this page , again keep it simple and not too ‘artsy’. I’ve read too many of these and then wish I hadn’t. They can be a turn off for clients as well, so I often suggest for artists to skip this page all together. Mount the photographs of your images a single one per page, under which place it’s title, size, and medium. Place a red dot on the page if it has sold.


Again this shows potential clients you are serious and business -like. All in an effort to help sell. Your cards do not have to be fancy, in fact keep them simple. Use a clear large font, listing your name, title – i.e. artist and contact information i.e. phone number and email address and website if you have one. No need for street address.

Happy Painting

Cheers Georgia

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Starting a New Painting


Hi Folks

Now my fall classes are in full swing I am hearing comments like the following over and over again:

“I think I’ve forgotten everything”

” I did nothing over the summer”

” where do I begin”

” I’m confused and feel anxious”

This is more common than one may think so how and where does one start?

There is no simple answer except jump right in. Start with something small and simple. Work on a small canvas and find a simplified image. You don’t want to over whelm yourself. You want to build your confidence back up and nothing succeeds like small and simple.

You may find you are over blending and so you need to resort to the Rules of Three:

Three brush strokes and stop

I have stood behind students as they paint and asked “how many brush strokes do you think you just used?” Their answer is usually ”around 10″. They are always amazed when I tell them ….. 36… or some number that is well above and beyond their expectations. No one should take more than 3 – 4 brush strokes with one tonal value or colour before mixing and using another.

Three colours only – mixed together to create a new colour

Again students are very successful at making ‘mud’ or nasty greys. All because they used more than 3 colours.

Three Focal Points

You need to move the eye around in your painting and so you will need 3 focal points and one rest spot. This can be in the shape of a triangle, the letter Z and in some landscapes you can stack your 3 areas.

Remember to keep your brush strokes consistent and this is important to remember when painting a landscape with lots of sky. We tend to want to blend the sky colours and then resort to a more painterly approach for the fore ground, giving the impression that perhaps two different painters have painted the picture.

Talking about skies, the best way is to use a criss cross brush stroke and work it fast, painting one corner first and then move on to the next. When it dries you will be amazed how blended it appears yet still allowing some brush strokes to show. Often times it takes 3 – 4 attempts to get the completed look, colour and tones that you want. Don’t despair, skies can be tricky. You need patience and a strong arm. I always say this is how I keep my arms toned – at least my right arm!

Happy Painting

Cheers Georgia

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