I am sometimes asked if I hold workshops or produce intructional videos, and unfortunately, the answer is that I don’t as I am usually busy painting (and blogging). There is so much already available on the internet that I don’t feel I can compete. Others have done it better already!
So I have put together, instead, a short list of tips and links for any one who is interested to help them develop. Please feel free to comment or suggest your own. There are no affliate links in this blog. I have included websites and video clips that I have found personally useful.
My Top TEN TIPS
Paint, paint and paint some more. The more you paint, the more your work will improve. Most artists keep a sketch book and sketch and paint in their spare moments. It is important to pratice without worrying too much about the expensive canvas you are painting. I used to work in oil pastels on paper when I was younger but now I try to paint in oils most days. I have also experimented with water colours and acrylics. It is only by doing and looking that you will develop as an artist
Look at Art. Decide what you like. Look at the works of many artists. Think about what they are doing and how they do it. You don’t have to copy them but you can be inspired by them.
I particularly like pre 1950s artists (especially post impressionists like Matisse, Marquet, Derain, Bevan, Gilman) for their use of colour and portayal of light.
I also like modern American artists such as Edward Hopper, Fairfield Porter, Lois Dodd, Peggi Kroll Roberts, Randall Exon, Mitchell Johnson and Jennifer Pochinski.
There are many fascinating interviews with artists on Savy Painter that are well worth a listen!
It is important to see paintings “in the flesh too”. Van Gogh and Monet need to be seen in real life to appreciate their scale, and how they have used the paint. I once saw a Picasso in Swansea’a Glynn Vivian Museum, and its presence quite blew me away. It was very big. I got a powerful sense of an artist who knew what he wanted to achieve and knew exactly how to do it. If I had just looked at online I would got none of that. I save images of work I like on my pinterest account.
Paint – buy the best paint you can afford. Try out different brands. A paint may have the same name but look very different depending on the brand. Only buy Artist’s oil paints. The student version are cheaper and inferior. They are fine for underpainting only. They fade. My favourite brands include Lefranc and Bourgeois Extra Fine, Lukas 1862 Finest Artists’ Oil Colour, Sennelier Finest Artist’s Oli Colour, Talens Rembrandt Artists’ Oil Colour, Schmincke Norma Professional Artists’ Oil Colour, Michael Harding Artists’ Oil Colours. It took me a long time to really understand what colour opacity and the transparency of paint meant in terms of my painting. I am still learning how to use this knowlege.
Canvas – invest in good quality canvas. I love linen canvas as they are really strong and hard wearing. In my early days, I painted on cheap cotton canvases that years later would tear easily. It was quite heart breaking to realise that I had wasted my creative energy on an inferior product.
I particularly like the natural ones painted with clear gesso. If you buy the white ones, it’s helpful to paint the canvas with a coloured ground before you start painting. Here’s a excellent video on how to do it.
They are wonderful to paint on. UK stockists: Great Art, Cass Art, Loxley Arts, you can also get Loxley Linen canvases at Art Discount and Pegasus Art.
Composition – shapes and how they are arranged, lines and their direction.
I like looking at how photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Vivian Maier, William Eggleston and Harry Gruyaert used light, colour and composition in their work.
“If the arrangement of the big shapes is strong and coherent, it’ll carry the painting. You are 90 percent of the way toward achieving a composition – and consequently a painting – that will work from “Mastering Composition“by Ian Roberts
22 thoughts on “My top tips & resources for artists”
Excellent post with very useful tips and links. I will save this in my favorites for reference. Thank you Emma!
Thank you, Hien. I think I was trying to gather together sources for myself too as I sometimes forget where I looked something up!
Emma, thanks a million! Incredibly helpful information! Love all the links! Ursula
I am so glad you think it will be helpful, Ursula.
I am not an artist but this is such a good post full of good references and tips.
You are a photographer though- I think there’s a lot of cross-over between painters and photographers!
Yes in thinking about it you are right. I did take note of the diagrams of subject placements and thought they related to photos.
I agree and I looked at the subject placement diagrams with interest.
I never saw the connection between your work and Hopper’s, but it makes sense now that you mention him. I knew there was something haunting about your work.
Lol! It does get mentioned from time to time, although he’s not my top favourite artist (that might be David Hockney who I didn’t actually mention, for some reason!
Thanks Emma, these are very useful!
Thank you, Kim
Excellent post and so much good information. I really like the tonal study of Tenby harbour . Thank you.
Thank you Janet, as you can see it isnt 100% tonal as there are a few blobs of colour where I started to add colour – I am so bad at remember to take work in progress photos.
I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to try painting. Now I am in my sixties and have never done it…. guess it wasn’t that important to me! In reality, I think I always knew it would be a lot to learn, and your page here proves that. The information you share on this page will no doubt be of great help to any wannabe painter.
Dear Pam, you are never too old! Look at President George W Bush, he started quite late in life and his paintings now are really good (he did have several expert tutors, which I expect helped, mind you )!
Bookmarked as a useful source of advice, thank you! If any artist is making the transition from a hobby to a business, a most straightforward and encouraging book is ‘Art is My Career’ by Sema Martin. https://www.semamartin.com/artismycareer , and her website and other social media have lots of mutual support for those starting out selling paintings. (To declare an interest, she is my daughter in law).
Thank you for the link Peter (and the declaration) – it looks very helpful!
You have so much inspiration in and around the Gower Peninsula, Emma. Your work is beautiful and you’re generous with your time. I don’t often know the names of artists but I know what I like. Randall Exon appeals very much. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 🙂
I often forget their names too and I helps me to remember them if I put them in one of my blogs!
Really inspirational Emma and will be of great help to many inspiring artists
Thank you, Marion