The new look Loosen Up Your Painting website is ready for you!
The growing membership to Loosen Up Your Painting.com has been great to see. There have been regular monthly lessons covering painting topics in depth. Artists are uploading photos of their paintings for critique and a new Q&A section has been added. You can ask for feedback on whatever painting questions you may have.
Why Loose Painting?
Do you find that your paintings need something extra, but you are just not sure what it is? A touch more life and feeling that would express your idea better? How do artists get that impressionist style to work and not turn their paintings into a muddy mess?
If you have similar questions you know how frustrating it is to get the answers you need! I had this issue for years and it was making me bonkers. Was it a big secret? Why could I not find the answer to that fresh painting style I so wanted? Well the truth is that almost all painting books do not answer these questions. Mostly they cater to artists starting out. Beyond that it is a mist of confusion.
The Answer to My Search
Finally I started putting the pieces together. Learning the language of painting was a huge step in the right direction. This discovery is the basis on my course Learn to Paint With Impact. But there was more to find out. The most common question was how to lose the tight painting style that many artists still struggled with.
This was going to be another step up in the learning curve. Painting loose does not mean sloppy painting. In fact a sound knowledge of painting techniques is required. Plus confidence with colour and brushwork is required. Once again I could not find a dedicated resource on this topic. So I decided to make one where I could share what I learned with other artists. In turn artists could share their journey and help others too.
Membership for a Song
After talking to artists it was also clear that regular high quality lessons and personal feedback would be essential for this site. Of course despite enthusiasm this does take much time and some cost too. This meant that a small membership fee would be necessary. But at only $4.99 per month this should be a worthwhile investment for artists. There is a free 7-day trial too.
You can also select the Annual Option and save 20%.
What Can You Expect?
See video lessons on:
Take if for a Spin
If you are curious, take the resource for a test and see whether it will add value to your painting. I am sure it will. Most importantly to get more value out you can contribute and ask questions that will help others too. You can learn more and sign up here.
I look forward to meeting you and helping you to loosen up your painting.
You love your new oil painting pastime, but replacing art supplies keeps getting more expensive. Maybe you feel a little guilty about the costs. Maybe you decide to paint less often. Another option is to stretch out the paint, but does the end result on the canvas disappoint you?
You are not alone. I have also been through this cycle and it is not fun. Who wants to think about these concerns when all we want is the joy of painting?
True enough, but these costs can mount, spoiling the good cheer. So let us have a look at ways to get excellent results without prompting a call from the bank manager.
DIY for Your Materials
Easels are a potential big cost, but a once off. Still, it is simple to make an easel if you are handy at DIY, or if you have an obliging friend to help. A simple adjustable shelf can hold your canvas too, saving you hundreds of rands.
All leisure industries these days have fantastic choice. Unfortunately, prices tend to be high end and then some. Outdoor painting is popular, but the accessories can mount up and dent your budget. The truth is you need little more than a paint box. I made a simple painting box from an existing sketch box. Total costs? Less than ten dollars. You can see an example here.
Be Creative with Painting Surfaces and Brushes
For painting surfaces, small paintings are the answer to learning how to paint. I am talking about representational painting, not large abstract works of course. How small? The 6” x 8″ or 10” x 12″ sizes are perfect. Instead of expensive canvas try cost effective panels of MDF. Certain suppliers in your town may be able to cut them for you in bulk for another big saving. Panels this size need only be 3mm thick.
If you like, you can paste canvas onto these MDF panels for an ideal painting surface. I prefer to simply prime the panels with acrylic gesso. The hard painting surface is great and paintings on panels sell without any problem. I do use canvas for large paintings, but my bread-and-butter sales are usually the small panels.
Practice on other surfaces too, like matt board offcuts if you can find them. Your local framer may be happy to give them to you. Make sure to prime them of course. Many artists use primed watercolor paper in this way too.
A good quality brush makes a big difference.
It is maddening when cheap bristles fall out and you have to pick them off your painting. A good brush will not do this.
Tip: Got a birthday coming up? Drop friendly hints about the brushes you like. Write them down so your friends or family know to get the correct ones.
The main issue is looking after the brush so that it lasts. Cleaning it with kerosene, in my opinion, improves your brushes’ lifespan. Buy the long flat variety of brush as it lasts longer too.
Don’t Scrimp: Be Smart with Paint
Using good quality student paint to learn your craft is not a bad thing. Artist quality (professional) paint can bring a tear to the eye when you see the bill. I have tried many brands over the years. I find Maimeri’s Classico range hard to beat for value.
Use all your paint if you can. Save the paint left over on your palette by covering it overnight. For longer periods you can scrape up the paint and save it in small plastic jars. Some artists keep their paint fresh in the fridge.
Another big tip is to buy fewer colors. Too often exotic colors are seldom used. It’s far better to buy the primary colors and white. Teach yourself how to mix color and improve your skills at the same time.
Oil painting is wonderful when you paint in layers. Big juicy paint strokes add the magic to a painting. The trick is to keep your paintings small, but generously layered. Put that small painting in a chunky frame and you have a real show-stopper. Beginners often mistake large paintings as better paintings, but then to save paint the artist skimps on layers and ends up with a starved canvas. Not good.
Educate Yourself Online
There are many wonderful resources at excellent prices online. I have a few you can view here. Of course there is YouTube and many other video resources. Once again it is tempting to buy tons of instructional courses and videos. Time spent actually painting is more important, so start with learning the basics well. Practice. The work you do will ultimately save you money as you learn to use your materials effectively.
For pure inspiration it is hard to beat Pinterest. Over time your tastes will develop and your skills will grow. Your Pinterest boards will show you this when you look back over time and see how you have developed your eye. Another bonus: Pinterest is free.
Paint with Purpose
Far from holding you back these tips aim to help you paint with purpose. The idea of respect for your materials may seem quaint these days, but it is important for your growth as an artist. Costs should not hold you back from having fun and producing good paintings.
Do you have tips for budget conscious artists? What creative ways have you found to stretch your funds? What suggestions do you have for artists just starting out? Please share them below.
I originally published this article in Sixty and Me
So you want to start painting? I am delighted with your decision, because painting is one of the most rewarding pastimes available to us. No doubt you have some time available and want a relaxing hobby? Painting will do that for you. If you want to rekindle your painting talent from earlier days before other commitments got in the way you also have my undivided attention.
You see I intended to follow an art career after high school. But back in the day art and career were two words that did not go together well. Instead I went into the attorney business. Like many other artists before me, including the famous Henri Matisse and Wassily Kandinsky, I did eventually escape and returned to art. Phew! Now I have the pleasure of painting professionally and teaching other artists how to paint better too. I am truly grateful for that.
Which brings me back to you. In this article and ones to follow I am going to take you along a journey of discovery. I hope to show you how to paint with confidence. More importantly how to focus on what is important so that you get excellent results quickly. My job is not to peddle a paint-by-numbers system. You deserve much better. Instead I will show you how to see like an artist so that you can develop your unique style.
First let us make sure you have the necessary kit for painting. I am going to focus on oil painting since that is my first love.
A word of caution here. There is great potential to spend a small fortune then experience buyer’s remorse. Often the precious materials are then stored away never to be seen again. We do not want that to happen. So my list of materials is lean and ripped. Essentials that will not cost a lot, but will give you the results you will be proud of.
A few colors are critical:
1. Titanium white
2. Cadmium red light
3. Cadmium yellow light (or lemon)
4. Ultramarine Blue
5. Cerulean Blue
6. Alizarin Crimson
1. Burnt Sienna
2. Yellow Ochre
So few colors? Yes, it is far better to get good quality student paints than too many colors. I will show you how to mix colors with confidence and you will get better results. Plus your confidence as an artist will soar when you discover how you can mix all the colors you need from the above few tubes. A good student brand is Maimeri Classico for example. Chat to your art shop owner if you can for more tips on the many brands available.
Keeping things real once again means having a few good brushes. When it comes to oils I am a big fan of top quality bristle brushes. The type called “long flats” are excellent. Two of these in sizes 6 and 8 will do. Then a rigger for a few fine lines now and to sign your name.
Also fine hair brushes like the mongoose type are not as expensive as sable. Of course there are excellent synthetic brushes and even combination varieties. For inspiration try Rosemary & Co or brushes by Raphael in France. If you are lucky your local art store may keep them.
A good brush needs proper care. I find that old fashioned kerosene (turpentine) works best to clean oil painting brushes. Take precautions of course. I have a video demonstrating this cleaning method here. Now I do this at the end of the day’s painting only. During painting I simply wipe off the brush with paper towel.
Avoid using cleaning spirits or kerosene while painting as the paint does not benefit from these volatile fluids. Alternatively artist white spirits can also clean your brushes. There are a few eco-friendly products to try as well. Maimeri eco brush cleaner comes to mind.
On the subject of safety please work in a ventilated space and use rubber gloves. Better safe than sorry.
Another potential money trap that I fall into now and then. One good H-frame easel for your studio will do for a start. Later you can add a plein air paint box and maybe a desktop easel for travel. If you paint large scale then a wall mounted shelf may work for you. The cost is nominal. I have promised myself a fancy easel with counter weights and such, but honestly I paint just fine on my humble H-frame. As far as plein air goes my favorite painting box is homemade!
If you are starting out then the best size to work on is 6 x8” and 10 x 12” panels. Larger painting panels or canvasses are not ideal for learning and add frustration. Truth is that you will be tempted to paint a large canvas. Go for it. But do not despair if the results are not as intended. Have fun with it. For learning sound painting technique the small panels will be perfect.
You can get pre-made panels like Gatorboard, or have MDF panels cut to size or even make canvas covered panels. If you need to prime them use gesso or similar acrylic primer. A few coats is all you need. Remember to use a cheap brush for this and not your expensive ones.
Always have a few sketch books, soft pencils, a charcoal stick or two, felt tip markers (wedge shape tip) in black and gray.
Sometimes you may need to add a touch of medium to soften your paint. You can purchase many brand name varieties. But make your own with a 50/50 combination of artist’s white spirits and linseed oil.
A simple tear-off pad is convenient. Or use the traditional wood variety. Glass sheets are also popular. The main thing is use a large palette for more mixing space. A painting knife is handy for mixing paint and for applying paint too.
You are almost ready to begin!
Lastly though you will need a place to paint. Ideally you have a space where you can leave your paints undisturbed. It is a real pain to have to pack up then unpack everything to continue painting another day. This could turn your passion into a chore after a while. Some people have studios, sheds or a corner in the bedroom. It does not matter so long as you can start painting easily when the desire is there.
The above is all the material you need to start painting this weekend. The important thing is to start. Have fun getting your painting kit together. It is exciting, but the best is yet to come. When you have your first painting ready to display I guarantee you will be hooked on this wonderful creative journey.
Do you have any questions on materials? Or any issues about starting your painting adventure? I would love to hear from you.
This article first appeared in my guest post for Sixty and Me
What an awesome response to this year's painting giveaway. Thank you to everyone that took part. There were over two hundred and eighty new entries for the three prizes. One oil painting and two watercolour/pastel paintings were won by:
Congratulations! Your new paintings will be arriving at your door soon.
Be sure to join the Artist and Collector's Circle for the next giveaway. Plus you get all the other gifts and good things when you join.
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