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Tips for Artists to Solve Painting Problems

Updated on September 15, 2015
Desert Orchid
Desert Orchid | Source

Problem Solving Painting Tips

There is nothing more frustrating than progressing very well in your painting and suddenly, you can't paint one specific component. You try every painting technique you can think of, and nothing works.

I don't care how experienced or inexperienced you are, there is always something that you can't get to work for you.

What I would like to do in this lens is give you some painting tips that I have found that work for me when I'm stuck.

For some reason, it took me two days of struggling with this first example before it dawned on me to do what I am suggesting.

Catalina Sunset
Catalina Sunset | Source

Painting Clouds

My favorite example is when I tried painting clouds over the mountain in this painting, "Catalina Sunrise". The original pictures of the sunrise over the Catalina Mountains in Tucson, AZ, were actually a panoramic video.

Catalina Sunrise

From the video, I took the first, middle and last frames and stitched them together to give me one picture, which if I had painted it in entirety, would have been 10 feet long, and the mountains would have been very small.

Because I wanted to get all three mountain ranges in, I compressed the view of the Catalina's. It is approximately what you would see if you looked at them from a different angle than what I had.

I also added water in the foreground so I could have more of the beautiful sky colors reflected in the bottom of the painting.

You might ask where the water came from since most of our rivers are mostly dry. Well, if you go north of the water treatment center along the Santa Cruz River, you will find water, and even wildlife.


Now to the Point About the Clouds

My mind would just not accept the fact that the brightest part of the clouds was on the bottom. My left brain kept telling it wasn't logical.

After two days of painting...and re-painting...and re-painting...I finally quit for the day and closed the door to my studio.

The next morning I woke up with a brilliant idea. Turn the painting upside down. I did that and had the clouds painted in 5 minutes. Amazing, my creative right brain was uncluttered by the logic of the left and I could instantly do what I wanted.

You can see a complete video demonstration of painting some storm clouds on my Hub at:

Painting Clouds

Why Upside Down...

It make you use the creative side of your brain and forces the logical side to step back and be submissive.

I had first gotten this idea from a great book called "Drawing on The Right Side of the Brain". I had read it several years earlier and did many of the suggested lessons, but never really applied it to my paintings until I ran into the problem with the clouds.

I would highly recommend that you read this book and try out the different things it suggests, especially if you are new to painting and drawing. You can get it through this link if you would like.

Are Your Vibrant Colors Dull?

So many times we struggle with what colors will give us the vibrant look that we're looking for. The secret to keeping them from being dull is to never use any color that has the third primary color in it. The color wheel is a good reference to help you pick colors to mix.

For example, suppose you are painting some flowers that are just the most vibrant blue-violet you have ever seen. The complementary color to blue-violet is yellow-orange. The blue-violet is made up of red and blue as their two primary colors. The yellow-orange is made up of red and yellow as its primary colors. Yellow, as the third primary color in the mix will result in dulling down your blue violet.

Of course you want to take advantage of this in areas where you want to make the areas darker. Using the yellow/orange will enable you to create deep and shallow shadows which will give the flowers shape.

Keeping in mind that the third primary color will always dull the mixture of the two other primary colors, you can use this to your advantage no matter what colors you are using.

For more information on color mixing go to my website at

Understanding Color

Betty Edwards has put together a very informative book on understanding colors.

It is a great reference book for beginners and experienced artists. I have several of her books in my library and appreciate having the information at my finger tips.

Watercolor Techniques

If you are not familiar with masking fluid, or frisket. it is the very thing you need for keeping watercolors from going into areas where you do not want that color or colors to go. It is applied over areas that you have specifically planned to be white or other colors that needs to stay clean.

A perfect example is painting a sailboat. If you cover the entire area of the sailboat with frisket, you are able to paint the sky and water right over the boat and the paint will never penetrate the frisket.

Once the paper is dry, you just rub off the masking liquid and you have nice clean paper to paint or not paint as you want.

If you are on a tight budget, you can use rubber cement. It works as well as the frisket and is significantly less expensive.

You can read much more regarding watercolors techniques including how I got the special effect in the background of the Hummingbird card at How to Paint with Watercolors

Cleaning Away a Mistake

It is so easy with watercolors to have colors run where you don't want them. Or, you put down a color, and you don't like how it looks. In other media, you can just paint over it or wipe it off.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser comes to your rescue.

All you have to do is moisten the eraser, gently apply it to the area you want to remove and wipe it away. Some watercolors are very staining so this only partially helps, but for those that are not, it works great.

How to Draw with a Grid - Free Drawing Lesson on Video

How to draw and how to learn to draw can be a challenge for many people. Of course, you need to be able to draw within reason before painting, so I thought this video would be of help to you.

I have produced an 8 minute video demonstrating the steps for using a grid to get a photo you would like to paint ready for transfer to your canvas. After you finish viewing the video, I suggest that you go to for further instructions on how to transfer the drawing to your canvas.

More videos are planned, so if you have acomment about this one or a suggestion for another, I would appreciate it.

Free Painting Lessons - Mini Painting Lessons on YouTube

I have several short lessons on YouTube for Mixing your own colors. I am working on several others to post so you will want to check in frequently

Another Painting Lesson on Video - Mixing Complementary Colors: Red and Green


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      very helpfull

    • Judy Filarecki profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Filarecki 

      4 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      aesta1 I'm glad that you found the information about frisket helpful. I know it has become an invaluable tool for me.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I haven't used frisket before. Thanks for this. I am learning a lot of ideas from my painting class right now and hope to apply these when I get home.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Painting gives me such a high that I feel like a little kid again.

    • Judy Filarecki profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Filarecki 

      7 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @madhulika-bokil: Hope some were helpful to you.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi, i like to learn new technique of paintings.Thanks for tips

    • Judy Filarecki profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Filarecki 

      7 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @JenniferAkers LM: Thanks Jennifer. I have more painting technique tips but just have to find the time to share them.

    • JenniferAkers LM profile image

      JenniferAkers LM 

      7 years ago

      Great painting technique tips! I paint occasionally and love learning more about art techniques.

    • Judy Filarecki profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Filarecki 

      8 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      @CherylsArt: Thanks for considering my lens as part of your art instruction lens. I looked at several of yours and they are really comprehensive. especially your purple star one.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 

      8 years ago from West Virginia

      Cool painting tips. I've added this lens to my Art Instruction lens.

    • Judy Filarecki profile imageAUTHOR

      Judy Filarecki 

      10 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      [in reply to AppalachianCountry] I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm traveling across country right now and in SC while writing this. I'll miss TN this year but have been through it many times. Beautiful country. Once I'm back to the Adirondacks of northern NY, I'll be getting more painting videos posted so be sure to check back in 2 weeks or so. Lovd your bucket of Tips, by the way. Joined your fan club.

    • AppalachianCoun profile image


      10 years ago

      Great lens. I made you a fave because I want to try out the lessons. Thank-you for the tips.

    • BusyQueen profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi Judy_Filarecki,

      I love all types of art! Thanks for sharing your knowledge. It's well done. 5 *****'s


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