How to Balance Warm and Cool Colours

warm and cool acrylic painting colours

Your colour choices can make or break a painting.

Understanding warm and cool colours can instantly give your paintings a sense of harmony.

In the above Titian painting ‘ Bacchus and Ariadne’  Titan has almost split the colour wheel in half in his composition. If you were to put a diagonal line straight through the painting, the cool tones of the blues, greens and purples would be dominant on the left and the warm tones of reds, oranges and yellows on the right.

If you squint your eyes at the picture the general colour scheme is based on blue and orange which are opposite each other in the colour wheel so are known as complimentary colours

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The Importance of Contrast in Painting

contrast in painting

Contrast is really important when you’re starting to learn how to paint.

A good knowledge of contrast in drawing helps significantly because you will have learned the value of light and dark.

If you are coming from a non-drawing background, you will have to be more aware that to make a dramatic painting “contrast is king”, rather than trying to add a bright colour to lift the painting…

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Getting Started: Facing a Blank Canvas

Getting Started: Facing a Blank Canvas

“An artist’s career always begins tomorrow”
James McNeill Whistler, Artist

Starting art is like starting a diet; you buy a new gym kit…your canvas
You sign up for the gym, … your new brushes
You sit down and have a cup of tea and slice of cake because it’s all been too much.
Sound familiar??
If you think you’re the only one struggling, think again…..

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Getting Started: How a Prepared Canvas can Drastically Improve your Painting

Getting Started: How a Prepared Canvas can Drastically Improve your Painting

The number one mistake all beginners make is buying a pre-stretched canvas or canvas board from a discount bookstore and not unwrapping the cellophane from it.

The number two mistake is leaving the canvas white when they start painting.

The first technique I always teach in painting (and a technique I use on 99% of my work) is to cover the white canvas with one solid paint colour which is called a ‘ toned ground’.

This is short for ‘toned background’ and is No. 1 of my painting principles.

It can be called a ‘toned ground’ or ‘coloured ground’ as it can be used in drawing and painting.

Using a coloured ground does a number of fantastic things that are not to be underestimated when starting to learn how to paint.

It can transform your paintings by making them look more professional, increase the speed in creating your paintings and give you a fool-proof method of creating a tonal mood in your work…

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Getting Started: Throw Away Your Small Brushes

Getting Started: Throw Away Your Small Brushes
Start with a broom and end with a needle.

It’s an exaggerated way of saying start with big brushes then end with a small one.

When starting painting, choosing brushes in this way can really help because it stops you focusing on the ‘interesting detail’.

Using large brushes to lay down bold and decisive strokes, helps to alleviate self-inflicted pressure to make the painting look finished too early on, in reality this never happens it’s like trying to re-landscape your garden without digging up the soil, you have to make the mess first to finish with the flowers.

How big is big?

If you use large brushes to begin your painting, you’ll develop brush handling skills, techniques and a huge variety of marks that can be achieved with one brush rather than relying on another specialist brush to fix the problem.
For example, if I was painting a 30 x 40cm canvas, I would start with a brush 2-4 cm wide.

What type of brush should I use?

One of the biggest stumbling blocks is indecision, if you only have one brush and two colours you’ve got no option, you just have to start.

I love filbert brushes, they are so flexible to use the hairs are quite long, arranged as a flat head and tapered to a rounded tip see: A quick way to understand brushes.

It’s always better to start with fewer brushes than to amass a whole drawer full and not start at all! 

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