Category Techniques and Tips


Techniques and Tips

Plein Air Palettes

Michael Chesley Johnson knows plein air painting, and as a contributor to Magazine and an instructor for ArtistsNetwork.tv, he often shares his expertise with students of pastel and oil. Preview his art workshop videos here (USE CODE WINTER30 FOR 30 OFF AT ARTISTSNETWORK.TV THROUGH JANUARY 31, 2016, and see what he has to say about plein air palettes in this excerpt from Magazine.
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Techniques and Tips

Want to Paint Realistic Portraits?

4 Pro Tricks for Painting Accurate PortraitsAn agreement among top painters of portraits is that a person’s likeness is dependent on the proportional relationships between facial features, not the specific shape of the nose, mouth, ears or eyes. That is, the location of the eyes is more important than the color or shape of the eyes.
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Techniques and Tips

What Is Aerial Perspective?

There are two types of perspective that artists use when painting and drawing. Aerial perspective is one and is described as the use of gradations in color and definition to suggest distance. The other, linear perspective, is what we call the use of parallel lines converging on the horizon to convey depth.
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Techniques and Tips

A New “Old” Fixative

Whether or not to use a fixative is one of the most discussed issues in the pastel community. As I discussed in the 9/16/08 blog post, this is a very personal issue that can affect technique, appearance and conservation.Historically, fixatives were made of natural resins suspended in alcohol and blown onto the surface.
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Techniques and Tips

Mounting Pastel Paper, Part 2: I Can Do It Myself!

Mounting pastel paper to a strong backing board is something that most artists can accomplish on their own if they spend some time practicing and acquire the proper materials. The process has the potential of becoming a messy undertaking, so it’s best to allocate a day or two to the task—preparing the required materials and then mounting as many surfaces as possible.
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Techniques and Tips

Moving From Oils to Pastels

Q: I’m an oil painter who has purchased a set of pastels. What are the similarities between these two media and what tips can you give me to start me off in the right direction?Pastel and oil share a strong kinship; they complement each other well. My first paintings were oil and after a few years I was introduced to pastel by one of my mentors—an introduction for which I’m eternally grateful.
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Techniques and Tips

Which Color Wheel to Use?

As discussed in the previous blog, understanding color theory and how it applies to our paintings is invaluable. I’m not going to attempt to explain every theory associated with the study of color. What I would like to share is an explanation of the basic artist’s color wheel and how it can be used to strengthen our paintings.
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Techniques and Tips

3 Things a Painting Cant Live Without

Common Characteristics of Good PaintingsGood painters don’t merely recreate what is in front of them. An experienced artist knows how to create a successful painting, no matter what situation or model he or she is presented with or the materials being worked with.Of course, this often comes after years of practice and experimentation — as well as the development of a unique artistic voice.
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Techniques and Tips

How to Organize Photo Reference Material: Part 1

I’m going to address the issue of working with and organizing photos and slides in two parts.I’m never happier than when I’m out painting directly from nature, but that’s not always possible—especially living as I do in Oregon. Since I often work on many paintings at once—in different stages—youcan imagine how difficult t would have been to keep organized without asystem in place.
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Techniques and Tips

Washing Pastel to Produce an Underpainting

Producing a wet underpainting with pastel is something many paitners have experimented with. Personally, I enjoy doing a watercolor underpainting when working en plein air, because of the immediacy and simplicity of opening a small watercolor palette, dipping a brush into a little water, and letting it go.
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Techniques and Tips

What It Means to Be an Artist

Being An Artist: Is it Just About Mastering Art Techniques, or Something More?What does it mean to be an artist? I know I don’t have to explain it to all of you; but when I am in situations with people who aren’t as passionate about art, I find myself trying to explain and justify my commitment — to painting, drawing, sculpture and all the art techniques that go along with them.
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Techniques and Tips

Fix It or Forget It?

Q: I’ve studied with a couple of different pastel artists and one of them sprays throughout the building up of the painting, and blends until no dust comes loose, then ends with a final spray. What is the most common and preferred method?A: To fix or not is one of those ongoing pastel dilemmas: color shift, a slight darkening and dulling, will occur to some degree when fixative is applied to a pastel painting; however, a thin layer of fixative makes for a more stable pastel surface.
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Techniques and Tips

Pastels and Planes

Traveling by air with precious pastels can be a problem. Even the strongest pastel case in the hands of someone unfamiliar with their fragilenature can lead to a disaster. Even when buried inside a large suitcase, surrounded with clothing as padding, the pastel case could still not always hold up to rough handling.
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Techniques and Tips

What Can I Do With the Leftovers?

Following the Thanksgiving festivities, most of us are probably rather tired of leftovers, but there’s one kind of leftover that pastel artists should always be interested in: the tiny bits and pieces of “leftover” pastel. Over time, our precious sticks wear down to tiny nubs and become unusable (unless you’re one of those talented artists that utilize little pastel pearls in your technique).
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Techniques and Tips

Creating More Luminosity

Creating a luminous effect with pastels can be achieved through the fracturing of local color while retaining value consistency. Pastel, being a dry medium, allows us to utilize clean bold pigment applications with less of a concern for the fussing that often leads to a muddied effect in wet mediums.
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Techniques and Tips

Light As It Falls on Form

A classical art training has many advantages, among which is to learn to see and understand light as it falls on objects. Identify these areas: the highlight (the shiny spot of light); the area of illumination (the shape that receives the direct light from the source); the halftone (the point where the light begins to bend into shadow); the core shadow (the area where light can’t reach); the reflected light (the place where the light travels beyond the object and reflects back); and finally, the cast shadow (the shadow being cast from the shape of the object).
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Techniques and Tips

More Umbrella Advice

In the last blog post, I discussed the issues faced by ever-changing lighting conditions when painting on location. Having an umbrella setup that helps to provide consistent shade while working for a few hours can make the situation less stressful.A few years ago, when there were fewer of us dragging our pastels out on location, we had to improvise to make everyday umbrellas work.
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Techniques and Tips

Painting Magic with Sfumato

Painting is a magic show. As the painter, you have utilized the tools of your craft to express your impressions, ultimately communicating your intentions to your audience.One of those tools, which can be traced back to the Renaissance, is the principle of sfumato, a Latin/Italian word derived from fumare, meaning “to smoke.
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