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Transform Your Art with Color

Updated on May 3, 2016
Hollywood Sunset by Sharon Weaver
Hollywood Sunset by Sharon Weaver | Source

Beautiful, Vibrant Color Attracts Attention to Your Art

Using interesting colors is one of the most dynamic ways to attract attention to your art. Complementary colors create drama and add excitement to any art project. The change you will see in your work can be transforming. I will show you three different applications to infuse complementary colors into your artwork. And the great news is, any artist can use these techniques. Whether you paint portraits, landscape, animals or still life: abstract or contemporary.

Painting for Success

How you use color will make your artwork dynamic or boring. Deciding which colors to use and what combination of color can transform your work.

  • Opposites Attract
  • Blog: Reflections of an Artist
  • The Foundation for Dynamic Color
  • Make a Splash with Color
  • More Art Advise
  • Make Your Painting a Multi Tasker
  • Make Your Art Stand Out
  • Digital Artist Use Color Too

Munsell color Wheel
Munsell color Wheel

Opposites Attract

Color is the Key

Complementary colors are the yin and yang of color combinations. To find a color's complement you must travel all the way to the opposite side of the color wheel. I like to use the Munsell color wheel shown here, but the Traditional Triadic Color Wheel can also be used. An example of complementary colors on the Munsell color wheel, would be the opposite of green is red/purple. When you take those two opposite colors and use them together, they cause a vibration which your eyes detect. In color, as in nature, opposites attract.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Under-painting of trees in complementary colors by Sharon Weaver
Under-painting of trees in complementary colors by Sharon Weaver

The Foundation for Dynamic Color

Complements for the Under-painting

As a landscape artist, green is the color that is predominant in many of my painting. Making all that green interesting and achieving color balance in a landscape can be a struggle. How can I introduce warm colors, reds and oranges, into my painting when most of the painting is made up of cool colors, blues and greens? One way is by using the complement of green, which is red/purple for the under-painting. In the detail from my painting Morning Hits the Rocks at the right, I have used complementary colors for the first layout. Initially the painting looks pretty odd but using a warm color as an under-painting for a predominantly cool painting adds needed warmth to the finished work.

Trees with Complimentary Under-painting by Sharon Weaver
Trees with Complimentary Under-painting by Sharon Weaver

Here are the same trees painted dark green on top of the red/purple under-painting. Notice how the intensity of the green is enhanced by the complementary colors underneath. Make sure you don't cover all of the under-painting. Let some of those complementary colors show. Richard Schmid credits his wonderful greens to the red he lays down first. This technique is used by traditional and modern artists alike. Click on the image for more details.

Days End by Sharon Weaver
Days End by Sharon Weaver | Source

Make a Splash with Color

Complementary Colors Next to Each Other

How do you get life into those dark shadows? With most paintings, shadows add depth and form but they can also help your painting stand out by adding color. Infusing a complementary color into your shadows is another way to create punch and interest to your work. In my painting "Days End," the blue and purple color in the shadows on the mountains provide a welcome relief from the sunset coral colors of the surrounding mountains. The color of the shadow also takes on different intensity depending on how far away you are from the painting. The Impressionists understood the importance of the three viewing distances of a work of art. From across the room the shadow looks neutral, almost gray. Closer, about 6 feet, the vibrant blue in the shadow is revealed. Up close you see the under-painting of red show through. The painting engages the viewer at all three vantage points.

Reflections of the Past

Reflections of the Past by Sharon Weaver
Reflections of the Past by Sharon Weaver
Under- painting of Reflections of the Past
Under- painting of Reflections of the Past

Color IS Impact

Achieving interest from across the room to up close and personal

Take a closer look at my painting Reflections of the Past. There is nothing wimpy about the colors I used. The painting sings with a full range of complementary colors. Now look at the underpainting. From far away, the use of complementary colors over each other allows the eye to combine all the colors and read it as a rich neutral. Up close, all the wonderful colors emerge and separate, engaging the audience to take a closer look (click on the picture for more info).

From Impressionists to Modern Art - Using Vibrating Colors

See how this technique is used throughout the art world.

Digital Artists Use Color Too - The Old Fashion Color Wheel Can Help Everyone

For the digitally inclined artists, I am starting a list of posts, articles and lenses. If you would like to add yours, let me know in the comment section.

What do you think of digital art?

Digital art is causing a lot of debate in the art community. Can a computer generated image compare to a painting that is done by hand? Is the creative process less important because it is done on a computer? Isn't concept the ultimate realm of the artists? I can argue both sides to this debate, so what do you think?

Is digital art really art or not to be taken seriously.

Art By Sharon Weaver

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Lake Ediza in the Eastern Sierra MountainsIn the Eastern Sierra Mountains are glacier fed lakesRancher moving cattleRim lit rocks in Joshua Tree National ParkThe Hollywood Sign is a Los Angeles landmarkSunset on the San Gabriel MountainsThe San Gabriel Mountains turn green after a recent rainOcean Cove captures a hidden beach just south of Carmel. The ocean carves out secret coves where sea otters play. 8x16 OilThe Eastern Sierra Mountains around Mammoth Lake are dotted with hundreds of small lakes. Emerald Lake is one of it's gems.Sailboats are docked in the Dana Point Harbor
Lake Ediza in the Eastern Sierra Mountains
Lake Ediza in the Eastern Sierra Mountains | Source
In the Eastern Sierra Mountains are glacier fed lakes
In the Eastern Sierra Mountains are glacier fed lakes | Source
Rancher moving cattle
Rancher moving cattle | Source
Rim lit rocks in Joshua Tree National Park
Rim lit rocks in Joshua Tree National Park | Source
The Hollywood Sign is a Los Angeles landmark
The Hollywood Sign is a Los Angeles landmark | Source
Sunset on the San Gabriel Mountains
Sunset on the San Gabriel Mountains | Source
The San Gabriel Mountains turn green after a recent rain
The San Gabriel Mountains turn green after a recent rain | Source
Ocean Cove captures a hidden beach just south of Carmel. The ocean carves out secret coves where sea otters play. 8x16 Oil
Ocean Cove captures a hidden beach just south of Carmel. The ocean carves out secret coves where sea otters play. 8x16 Oil | Source
The Eastern Sierra Mountains around Mammoth Lake are dotted with hundreds of small lakes. Emerald Lake is one of it's gems.
The Eastern Sierra Mountains around Mammoth Lake are dotted with hundreds of small lakes. Emerald Lake is one of it's gems. | Source
Sailboats are docked in the Dana Point Harbor
Sailboats are docked in the Dana Point Harbor | Source

Books I Like About Color, Composition and Landscape Painting

Here are a few art books that will inspire you.

Order Prints of Sharon Weaver's Paintings

Quality prints in any size on paper and canvas at:

Sharon Weaver Fine Art America

All artists need praise but constructive ideas are always welcome. Or just say hi.

Let Me Know What You Think - All Artists Need Praise but...

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    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @John Dyhouse: Glad you took another look and thanks.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @ConvenientCalendar: Thank you and I appreciate your leaving a comment.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      My second time around, really good advice

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      ConvenientCalendar 4 years ago

      I really enjoyed the pictures!

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @Ben Reed: Thank you. Glad you took the time to leave a comment.

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 4 years ago

      Wonderful - simply wonderful

    • mcspocky lm profile image

      mcspocky lm 4 years ago

      You have such beautiful paintings, I wish I could paint like that.

    • mrdata profile image

      mrdata 4 years ago

      Colors are an important key in art... and congrats for your purple star! Your lens is great!

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 4 years ago from West Virginia

      I like how you shared the importance of the under or base painting, and letting it show through.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @The One Stop Shop: Composition provides the foundation but color provides the excitement. Thanks for stopping by.

    • The One Stop Shop profile image

      The One Stop Shop 4 years ago

      This lens is great and you provide a lot of fantastic information. I find choosing the right colors very important as well in my art.

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 4 years ago from Kansas

      Great lens. I'm a watercolor artist and color is key in my paintings.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @Rosanna Grace: Than you. I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

    • Rosanna Grace profile image

      Rosanna Grace 4 years ago

      I love your work! Thank you for sharing such helpful information, as well as your beautiful works of art! :)

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @takkhisa: Thanks. Nice of you to leave your comment.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      I know you are a good artist and i agree with you that "color is the key". :)

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @shewins: I am a teacher and student because no matter how much I learn there is still more I do not know. Thank you for stopping by.

    • shewins profile image

      shewins 4 years ago

      Thanks for the wonderful explanations about how to use color. Sometimes you think those things should just be instinctive for an artist, but such things can be learned. Beautiful paintings and a very well laid out lens.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @KaraAshton: I have found it to be very rewarding and I have built an entire support group of other artists. I hope you do pursue the arts.

    • profile image

      KaraAshton 4 years ago

      A very interesting lens. One day when I retire I hope to take up painting more seriously.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @ikrave: Thank you for stopping by and I am glad that you found it helpful.

    • ikrave profile image

      ikrave 4 years ago

      Beautiful paintings!! I'm still learning about landscape painting but I'm sure it comes with practice. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @Elsie Hagley: Thank you for taking the time to comment.

    • DuaneJ profile image

      DuaneJ 4 years ago

      Thanks for the wonderful tips! Beautiful artwork..

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 4 years ago from New Zealand

      You are a great artist, transforming your art with color, makes a nice painting, and your landscape paintings are beautiful, wish I could paint like that.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @lionmom100: Thank you. I often will push my colors to make more impact with my paintings.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @editionh: Thank you EditionH. A lot of my paintings are plein air so wet on wet is how I love to paint. Even when I paint in the studio I tend to paint wet into wet.

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      editionh 4 years ago

      Hi Sharon, I like your landscape paintings a lot, especially those with lake or sea views.

      Do you paint wet in wet onto yur underpainting or do you use a quickly drying thin layer as underpainting?

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      lionmom100 4 years ago

      Wonderful lens very informative about the use of color

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @WriterJanis2: Thank you Janis. I appreciate your taking the time to stop by.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      You do such beautiful work.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @seosmm: Thank you. Glad that you stopped by and enjoyed my lens.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @dfishbac: Thanks for promoting my lens.

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      seosmm 5 years ago

      Beautiful work and lots of good info about color!

    • profile image

      dfishbac 5 years ago

      Love your work, especially the vibrant color that seem to vibrate. I just pinned your piece above to my site at http://pinterest.com/dfishbac/art/.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @anonymous: Wow! Thanks for the blessing.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @dahlia369: Thank you for the blessing.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Well put together lens. Blessed!

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 6 years ago

      I just Love color and that's why I'm here today - on my color quest. Your paintings are wonderful. Nicely done lens & great resource. ***Angel blessed*** :)

    • artshock profile image

      artshock 6 years ago

      Great work!

    • profile image

      grannysage 6 years ago

      I am a big believer in color. I always try to make my lenses colorful. I also used to do copper enameling with my mother, although I don't have time for it now. I would like to learn digital art someday to see what I could create. Your art feels very peaceful to me.

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      Stotty 6 years ago

      Super lens very informative :)

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @John Dyhouse: Thanks for the link and I am happy that you enjoyed my lens.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 6 years ago from UK

      great lens, have lensrolled this to my lens on the colour wheel for beginners

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @AnnRadley: Thanks Ann for visiting.

    • AnnRadley profile image

      AnnRadley 6 years ago

      This is such an inspiring lens! I love the results you get with complementary underpainting and also that idea of three viewing distances.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      This is another outstanding lens worthy to be *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust and also on Art Supplies.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      Came back to give a ~"Squid Angel Blessing"~

    • FreshSquids profile image

      FreshSquids 7 years ago

      You are one of Fresh Squid May 2010 graduates! Come by and answer few questions to show the way to those who will follow! Wish you many, many more great lenses!

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 7 years ago from USA

      From one artist to another, great work, and BRAVO!

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @BarbRad: Thank you for your support.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @QueSea: Thanks for stopping by. I see you have traveled great travel lenses of CA. I am sure you will get some wonderful shots.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @FreshSquids: I am a happy little squid. Thank you to everyone who voted for me.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 7 years ago from Templeton, CA

      A wonderful lens. I will add it to my discovery tool on Templeton: Day in the Shade, lensroll it, and add it to my favorites. Welcome to Squidoo. I will be reading a lot more of your art lenses.

    • profile image

      QueSea 7 years ago

      Thanks for an informative lens. Just got a new camera and am looking for new ways to conceptualize what I see...including color.

    • FreshSquids profile image

      FreshSquids 7 years ago

      This lens won 3rd place in the Fresh Squid Contest for May 2010! Congratulations!

      PS: You'll get a badge through a mail! ;)

    • Jrich1936 LM profile image

      Jrich1936 LM 7 years ago

      dude your site is awesome. I just learned alot about colors and how there is so much to take in. keep up the good work i like it!

      https://hubpages.com/politics/Solar-Energy-Power-2

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @anonymous: Thanks Terry. I am glad you will use the information in my lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I couldn't delete your email. There's too much good information for me to digest. I can't wait to do an outdoor scene where I can do more with complimentary colors. Thanks.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @dustytoes: Thanks. Painting gives me pleasure, makes me pull out my hair and stretches my creativity.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @James-Falconer: You're welcome. It is a great addition to my lens.

    • dustytoes profile image

      dustytoes 7 years ago

      Sharon, your paintings are beautiful! I have great admiration for painters.

    • James-Falconer profile image

      James-Falconer 7 years ago

      Great lens, and thanks for your link to my "beautiful fractals" lens!

      JF

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @Mickie Gee: Thank you and I am glad that you found my lens interesting.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @WindyWintersHubs: Thanks Wendy. It is quite a feather, star, in my cap.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 7 years ago

      Ditto on the purple star! Well deserved! I learned a great deal from this lens. I never knew about painting in layers and how a color under another one influences the way the final piece of art looks.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 7 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Congratulations on your Purple Star!

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @Tarra99: I love purple so I have to be careful I don't add too much and you're welcome.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @ElizabethJeanAl: We artists need to be appreciated so thanks for the praise.

    • profile image

      Tarra99 7 years ago

      Sr. Dorothy my high school art teacher always said to me "add purple add purple!" ;o)

      Thanks for commenting on my fruit smoothie lens...I appreciate it! 5*

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 7 years ago

      Awesome pictures!

      Thanks for sharing,

      Lizzy

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @ZenandChic: WOW!! Thanks. I like that purple star and thanks for the blessing.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @MatCauthon: I should have thought, "Lens designers use color too." Thanks for stopping by.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @myraggededge: Thank you, the raggededge for your blessing. I know, I know, I am starting another lens and it will be out soon (I hope).

    • MatCauthon profile image

      MatCauthon 7 years ago

      I need this color wheel in designing lenses.

    • myraggededge profile image

      myraggededge 7 years ago

      Absolutely stunning - we want to see more, please! What's that sparkle in your painting there? Must be a touch of Angel dust :-)

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 7 years ago

      Great lens! Congrats on the purple star! Blessed this lens!

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
      Author

      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @Shades-of-truth: Thanks 4U2C. Maybe a Vulcan mind meld, that way I'd pick up your talent too.

    • Shades-of-truth profile image

      Emily Tack 7 years ago from USA

      Well, great lens, and here is a constructive idea. Find a way to teleport your gift for art, int my brain. Quite a talent you have!

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @anonymous: Thank you pogfrond(cute green frog) and puzzlemaker(I love puzzles) for stopping by and taking the time to make a comment.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Great and interesting lens! I liked your "Morning Hits the Rocks" and "Reflections of the Past" paintings the best because they are very sharp and detailed looking.

    • puzzlerpaige profile image

      puzzlerpaige 7 years ago

      I'm very impressed by your artwork. I'm glad you added the gallery so I could see lots at one time. Faded door is probably my favorite, but I really do like them all. Your style reminds me of a famous artist - I forget his name at present, but I'll be back as soon as it comes to me. Fantastic article here. Love it and I will take the advice as soon as I make time to paint again.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @HorseAndPony LM: I appreciate your blessing. Thank you very much.

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 7 years ago

      Great lens. Thanks for all the info. Your art is beautiful. Blessed by The HorseAndPony Angel, http://www.squidoo.com/horseandpony-squidangel.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @anonymous: Thanks. You are right and I am thrilled. My first month has been amazing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      2 angel blessings and a purple star within days of each other - WOW! I love your 'Fog on the Coast' painting.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @delia-delia: This is great. Thank you d-artist. I am thrilled to receive a second angel blessing.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @Bellezza-Decor: Thank you GonnaFly and MiaBellezza. I hope people will come back often as I refine and add things to my lens.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      back to leave a well deserved ~"Squid Angel Blessing"~

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image

      Bellezza-Decor 7 years ago from Canada

      Your art is beautiful. This is my second time back viewing your art!

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 7 years ago from Australia

      What a stunning lens. Beautiful paintings. Congrats on your purple star too.

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
      Author

      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @aka-rms: That is fantastic. A purple star is more than I could ask for. Thank you rms.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 7 years ago from USA

      Today is Purple Star Day here at Squidoo and Giant Squid lensmaster Geeve nominated this wonderful lens for a Purple Star. Congratulations!

    • profile image

      Sibelius 7 years ago

      Terrific lens about color and how to use it. I love the colors in the artwork you've pictured, particularly "A Friendly Sail" . . . very evocative

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
      Author

      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @norma-holt: WOW! Thank you skiesgreen angel for your blessing. I am thrilled.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      Wonderful resource for budding artists. Blessed by an angel and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust. Well done and also 5*

      Norma

    • Sharon Weaver profile image
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      Sharon Weaver 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      @FlynntheCat1: I am going to start a list of articles and blogs for digital artists too. Thank you for the idea.

    • KarenTBTEN profile image

      KarenTBTEN 7 years ago

      I like how you illustrated your point by making the same picture over again in different color combinations.