HOW TO LOOSEN UP YOUR PAINTING STYLE
(Some Practical Tips)
One of the most frequently asked questions at art club demonstrations and on painting courses is: How can I loosen up? The commonly held view seems to be that a loose painting style is the result of a god given devil-may-care artistic temperament. But students who attempt to copy a loose painting style without understanding end up with a picture that looks self-indulgent and slapdash. What follows is a brief list of practical suggestions to help overcome this problem. The purpose of this list to provide a set of useful guidelines which are easy to understand and can be used to achieve what can seem to be a rather elusive painting style. A casual glance at the list will reveal that a loose painting style does not come about by adopting an uninhibited approach. Instead I believe that a degree of self restraint and thoughtfulness is more likely to be successful.
- Before you start to paint try to visualize as much of your subject as you can as a simplified painted image.
- Remember, loose does not mean slapdash or carelessness.
- Use strong, distinct colour.
- Remember you’re painting a watercolour. You want the end result to look like a watercolour, not a mud patch.
- If painting in oil, remember you are representing the appearance of your subject with paint. Aim to get a painterly image by using a variety of paint textures.
- Whatever you are painting aim to “touch” the paper only once with your brush. Try to get the finished result in one go. That is: Go for the final result in the beginning.
- Avoid over-painting darks to make them darker. Get the darks first time.
- When over-painting light passages take care not to disturb the first wash.
- In watercolour, paint from light to dark. Paint from the outside edge to the inside of an area.
- Paint from the background to the foreground.
- Aim to get a variety of edges/boundaries.
- Avoid correcting as you go along. In watercolour accidents are often the best bits.
- When painting in oils go for the darks first. Keep the paint “thin” as long as you can. Don’t automatically use white to lighten tones – think colour.
- If using oil, scrape down when correcting – don’t keep adding more and more paint.
- All brush strokes should have a beginning and an end. Avoid dabbing. Use the belly of the brush.
- Remember, when painting in watercolour, it is easier to add than subtract. Restrain yourself from mindlessly fiddling in the hope that more will improve your picture. Usually less is more.
- Ask yourself, can I leave any areas unfinished? Better to promise more than to disappoint with your effort.
- Stop painting when you find yourself starting to repaint areas.
- Let the viewer see how you made your picture. But remember to preserve a bit of mystery as to how you achieved your effects. And if those last two statements seem contradictory, remember painting is full of paradoxes; don’t be frightened to break any so called rules.
- Finally – loose is how you want your picture to look, not a description of how you feel as you paint.