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Art how to - DESIGNING A PAINTING or DRAWING.
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Have you ever wondered how people get their artwork to look just right, perfectly balanced and appealing? Does more often than not your picture resemble a pigs sty rather? The solution may lay in the structure and composition of your artwork? Read on for some tips on how to set up a well structured, balanced picture without overdoing it.
When painting a scene don’t paint everything in that scene. Decide what has attracted you to it (center of interest) and describe it in no more than 3 words. It's helpful to write this down. Concentrate on covering these words in your picture and doing them well. The rest of the scene need not be painted or sketched in such detail or maybe omitted altogether.
Use your fingers or a frame to isolate aspects of a scene.
- Create a small sketch (about 5cm x 5cm) and place all your main elements in it.
- Color your thumbnail sketch and decide where the light, dark and mid-tones will be (notan).
- Sketch it lightly onto your watercolor paper.
- Decide which colors you will use – Use a limited palette by choosing 1x yellow, 1x red, 1x blue and perhaps one or two earth colors.
- Mask out any areas you want to keep white or that you want to protect to work on later.
- Keep paint and water on the RH side if you are right-handed (and coffee on the left).
- Use loose washes first, then add thicker paint, then paint in dry detail.
- Stay with your biggest brush for as long as you can to keep the painting loose and prevent it from becoming to structured and hard looking.
- Moving figures/objects - person, car, boat, bird etc face so there is more space in front of them than behind so they look to be moving into the picture and not out of it.
Create an entry point into landscapes - road, path, creek, river etc
- Block exit points to keep they eye on the painting. Use bridges, trees, people, shadows.
- Angle trees, clouds etc into the painting and towards the focal point.
- Bring roads, rivers etc in at an angle. The human eye will naturally follow diagonals.
- Place yellow to highlight the focal point if you need. Yellow attracts the eye over all other colors.
- Cross horizontals with verticals or diagonals, and verticals with horizontals or diagonals – eg break the horizon line with hills or trees etc.
- Use a variety of found edges (clear , sharp edges) and lost edges (soft edges).
- Use a variety of strokes and brushes.
- Avoid parallel lines unless on a building or other man-constructed element (eg a picket fence). There are not too many parallels in nature.
- Work from top to bottom so you’re not leaning back into the painting and the paint:
- Sky and clouds – bring sky right down behind any trees. Use the sky color to make greens, greys, purples.
- Background – use more blues, greys and purples. Less detail and lighter colors.
- Mid ground – bring the first wash right to the front. Concentrate on shapes rather than detail.
- Foreground – use more warm colors (reds and yellows) and include more detail.
- Focal point. You can paint this first but if you paint the background first it gives you an idea how bold you need to make the focal point.
- Towards the end, make any corrections that are needed (e.g thicker color, lighter color, added element etc)
Now instead of the hoarder's house look alike for your picture you can create beautifully balanced showcases. Remember often the rule 'less is more' applies. Create, Admire and Enjoy!
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Some other great hubs to read on watercolor are
Check out my other hubs on painting and art.
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