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…..

Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading

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! 

Continue Reading

Getting Started: Choosing a Painting Surface for Acrylics – Getting your Absorbency Right

“A great artist can paint a great picture on a small canvas.”
Charles Dudley Warner

Your choice of what to paint on can alter the working properties of the paint and give you a different painting experience but it needn’t be a mystery, if you follow a few simple rules.

1.  Acrylics straight from the tube are the most flexible medium, so can be painted on anything – paper, canvas, cardboard, metal…literally anything.

2. Oils are more tricky, so have to be painted onto a properly prepared surface (see: The Trouble with Oil) I recommend a prepared canvas or prepared board.

3. Watercolours work best on paper, I recommend Cold Pressed paper (confusingly also referred to as NOT paper meaning ‘Not’ Hot Pressed). It’s ideal for less experienced painters as it’s more forgiving. (There is a huge range of Watercolour papers see: How to choose Watercolour Paper).

Continue Reading

8 Tips to Help You Make a Killer Bespoke Canvas

bespokecanvas

Off the peg or bespoke? The dilemmas of a modern man.
Choosing a canvas is much like deciding between Savile Row, the high street or knitting your own!

With Bespoke you get:

Neat edges on the back, staple free sides, a choice of fabric, a choice of finish (unprimed, sized, oil-primed) an exact choice of size, a choice of stretcher bar thickness and a skilled craftsman making it for you, all coming with a premium price tag.

High street you get:

Neat edges on the back, less robust stretcher bars, not as heavyweight canvas, machine-made but a very reasonable bill.

Knitting your own:

Can be a bit of a headache! But you do get a choice of fabric, choice of size, choice of stretcher bar and it’s a very economical way to achieve what you want, if working on a lot of canvases the same size. Huge flexibility in finish mixed with the glow of satisfaction when stretching your own canvas…

Continue Reading
Close Menu
×
×

Cart