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Painting Tips

The Artist's HandbookOf Materials And Techniques
by Ralph Mayer
Is a reference that I find to be indispensable. I keep mine on my bookshelf, and believe that every artist should have a copy handy.

The Elements of Color
Johannes Itten
An excellent analysis of the properties and psychology of color.

Perspective for Artists
Rex Vicat Cole
The Practice and Theory of Perspective As Applied to Pictures With a Section Dealing With Its Application to Architecture

Paintings by
Stanley Beck
Painting Tips from the Artist

Tips to help you with your paintings
Dark Colors Don't Have To Be Ugly
Dark colors are often ugly, all resembling black. They don't have to be ugly. You can bring out the rich beauty of these colors in your paintings, and let your work resemble those of the "Old Masters."

One frequently overlooked attribute of painting is the advantageous use of the transparency and opacity of your paints. Often, paintings end up with areas of thick dark paint that is almost devoid of color. Artists frequently say, "If only the paint on my canvas could look as good as it does on my palette!" It can.

If paints such as Phthalo Blue, Prussian Blue, Viridian Green, Hooker's Green, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber and Black are all painted thickly, they will become dark, dull, and lifeless when they dry. They will look almost alike, sort of like black. The secret is to scumble the paint onto the canvas, applying it thinly in such a way that you achieve a transparency.

The transparency becomes obvious when the light passes through the paint to the white canvas, them out again. Controlling the transparency of paint can still yield a very dark value, but with brilliant color. Properly applied, the colors take on a bright, almost "stained glass" look, and the richness of the color is achieved.

Opaque paints, such as Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Reds and Yellows, White, etc., look the same, whether applied thick or thin. Save the impasto for the opaque colors. They provide a beautiful contrast to thin, transparent dark paints, and your colors will be vibrant.

You can perform the experiment yourself. Squeeze out some of your dark colors (oil or acrylic) onto a scrap of canvas. With your brush, work out some of the paint very thinly, just enough to cover the canvas, while allowing light to reflect off of the canvas below. Now, let the colors dry. The results will become obvious (over night for acrylics, and in about a week or so, for oils).

Additional Reading:

The Elements of Color
Johannes Itten
An excellent analysis of the properties, physiology and psychology of color.


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