Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How to use Texture Paste and a Stencil for a 3D Painting

This is an interesting an easy technique for using a stencil to make a lovely picture. It is a handy way to add a 3 dimensional look to your paintings.

In my example I used a stencil of a Celtic knot that I'd cut a few years ago. So this is a good way of using any old stencils you may have too.
Celtic knots are usually cut into stone so I wanted a fairly rough looking result. By applying the texture paste and not being too tidy I got the rugged look I wanted. It is simple to do.

Just place the stencil on the painting surface, I used a canvas panel, and use a palette knife to fill the gaps in the stencil with texture paste. You can hold the stencil in place with some masking tape if you want.

Then remove the stencil while the paste is still wet and let everything dry. Be sure to wash the stencil straight away if you want to keep it for using again.

Apply the paint

Once the paste is dry you can paint the picture in any way you want. Depending on the result you want you can apply the paint with a brush, sponge, splatter it on with an old toothbrush, or whatever will achieve the look you want.

In my example I did all the above except using a sponge!

Another use for Stencils – Just Paint

You can also use a stencil and just spray paint through it.

Place the stencil on the painting surface and spray with paint. Thin coats will work best.

Acrylic paints dry quickly so you can build up to a stronger colour by using several thin coats, letting each coat dry before adding the next.

This is a very convenient technique for complicated shapes too.
Stuck for Christmas Present Ideas?

Some people are difficult to buy for but I sell a few items from the Learn and Do website that would be great gift ideas. As a special service to you if you order any of the items below I will gift wrap it and post it with your message to whoever you specify (this will save you needing to send it your self). Most of these items include worldwide delivery, please remember the shipping time and do not leave it too late.

What about...

1. The Learn to Crochet CD has two computer video files as well as four books of crochet patterns and information. The video files are viewed on a computer and so anyone in the world, with a computer, can see and learn how to crochet. This is a wonderful gift

2. The Learn-to-Crochet DVD and Manual shows how to crochet and comes with a 47 page printed manual full of crochet information and patterns. However, this item is only for the United Kingdom due to the DVD PAL format, but it is ideal for anyone who does not have a computer.

3. The Acrylic Painting Course on CD and Acrylic Painting, the First Steps Video CD. This is a two CD set, one with the four part painting course and bonus reports. The second CD has a computer video file that shows the painting equipment, how to load brushes and set up your painting area as well as how to paint two kinds of trees. Perfect for beginners

If you would like any of these items posted to your family or friends please e-mail me when you buy them with the delivery address and the message you would like to include.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Warning about Artist's Paint Brushes

I'd like to tell you about a major mistake I made this summer.

I'd a longer than usual summer vacation and decided that it would be a good idea to “properly” tidy away all my painting equipment (for a change!). I usually leave my paint brushes with their tips soaking in a little water as dried acrylic paint will ruin the brushes.

So I carefully cleaned all my brushes and shaped the tips into nice pointed shapes before putting them handle end down in a jar. All properly done and went away on holiday.

I thought it would be better than just leaving them in water - but this was a huge mistake.

Oh NO...

All my brushes, including all my favourites, are not the same. They look alright but when I paint with them they are different. Instead of going to a lovely point they seem to have a mind of their own. They'll be handy for foliage I suppose. :-(

Needless to say I'm really disappointed. However you can learn from my mistake, and I can learn from my mistake too!

A Better Way

Looking back I should have given them a proper clean and left them in some water. I was concerned that the water would dry up before I came back and the brushes would be ruined.

In hindsight it would have been better to put them (and the container I store them in) into a flat air tight box. Some of the boxes for storing food would have worked well for this.

You can get Seconds?

Anyway I've been to buy some more brushes and found that my local art store sold paint brushes that are seconds. Many of the brushes are of excellent quality with a bash in the handle or a couple of the bristles out of alignment.

I bought a couple of brushes to try and they're really good. I've not seen paint brush seconds before but I am delighted with them. However unlike my old favourites I will need to get used to them.

I hope this stops you from making the same mistake with your brushes!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Painting Tips for Painting Effective Forest Areas

Here's a couple of handy tips for painting forest and woodland areas. Like so many tips once you think about it, and consider the reasoning, it is obvious. I always find that when I understand the reasoning behind a tip or technique it is a lot easier to remember it too.

Forest Lighting

When painting a woodland or forest area the darker shades are towards the centre of the wooded area. Therefore the lighter shades are on the outside trees, which are away from the centre of the forest. This is the obvious part!

When painting a forest scene if you just concentrate on the main source of light (probably the sun) you will usually have a lot of shadow areas all to the same side of the trees. However once you remember that the trees to the outside are lighter it will remind you to paint any trees further into the wooded area in darker tones. It will be murky in there.

Scrape out the Tree Trunks

Once you've painted in the trees, and the paint is still wet, you can scrape off some of the paint to indicate tree trunks or branches. A cocktail stick can be handy and a good size for this.

It usually is more effective if you only scrape a few trunks or branches. Too many trunks can add too much detail into an area in the distance. Remember there is less detail as you get further into the distance, when things are farther away you cannot see so much detail. So just doing a few scraped trunks and branches will be more effective.

Scraping away the paint will leave a light area; this is particularly good for silver birch tree trunks. You can always paint in some lighter trunks later if you want to as well.

I have heard…

I read that one artist uses a pencil sharpener to sharpen the end of his paint brushes. He uses this sharp end to scrape out the trunk shapes. I can see that it could be convenient but I think I'd end up poking myself in the face. (Ouch!)

Tree Shadows

If you have shadows from the trees that fall onto grassy areas at the edge of the woodland be sure to paint the shadows to show the angles of the ground.

If the land is sloping away from the tree then paint the tree shadow on an angle to show how the ground is dropping away. This is a great way to add interest to your picture as well.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Painting Tip for Checking the Colour of the Paint

This post contains a handy tip about testing paint, to check the colour, before applying it to your picture. I have to admit that I don't always do this, but if you can get into the habit of checking the colour first it can prevent some ugly mistakes.

I recommend testing colours on a spare piece of paper before applying it to your painting. This can save you both time and stress. Mainly because acrylic paint can dry almost immediately, so often you cannot just wipe it off. Here's a tip that you might want to try.


Painting Tip especially for Square Paintings

This is a handy tip for pictures painted on paper. Often you'll be painting a picture that will not fill the size of paper you are using. A good example would be a square picture on a rectangular piece of paper.

Mark off the painting area

It can be useful to draw in a light line to mark the edge of the picture.

When you do this you can use the spare section to test colours on. You'll be trimming the paper once the picture is complete anyway, so you can use this part as a colour testing section.

One of the main benefits of this tip is that the tested colour is very close to the painting and it is easier to see how it will look. Also, as it is on exactly the same painting surface there is be no variation.

Mainly for paper surfaces

Obviously this tip will be best for paper surfaces that are easy to trim. It wouldn't be suitable for stretched canvases. But you could probably use it on a canvas panel if you were going to trim it anyway.

However it's usually easier to trim a canvas panel before starting to paint. When you trim a canvas panel before it is painted you don't need to worry about marking the painted surface.

Try to get into the habit of testing the paint colour, it can save a lot of time and make your painting more enjoyable!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Acrylic Painting Technique - Use a Credit Card

A new way to use your credit card – when you’re painting

Do you remember in the Karate Kid movie the part about Polish On and Polish Off to build up his muscles? Well this technique it a Paint On and Paint Off one.

Trying different painting methods to achieve a good effect is one of the most interesting aspects of painting. So here is another one for you to try.

Paint on

Remember you don't always need to apply paint with an artists brush. There are other options like using a palette knife or even your fingers.

An alternative method for highlights

Try this on a test piece first. You simply apply the paint thickly and then remove some of the paint for the highlighted area. One of the best things to use to remove the paint is a credit card. This is quite a common watercolour technique but it works just as well with acrylics.

Paint Off Example

You can paint some stones in a fairly flat way, they don't need to look particularly three dimensional, and then use a credit card to scrape off the paint for the lighter or highlight area. Some of the paint will be left on the painting surface giving a paler section.

I think that the final result works very well, especially for rocks. It can also be very effective for the texture on tree trunks.

As acrylics dry quickly you need to be speedy! If you want to have a bit more time to work the paint you can add some gel retarder to the paint to slow down the drying time.

I've seen the scraping off of the paint done using a razor blade too, but that's a bit too sharp for me! You could try using a palette knife instead of the credit card; it will give a slightly different result.

Painting surfaces

This technique is most effective when you're painting on a paper surface, particularly a rough textured one.

However you can practice it on any painting surface you're using to see what effect it will give you. Then you can decide if you want to include the effect in your picture.

I found that it was disappointing when used on a stretched canvas unless the paint is applied really thickly.

However on a suitable painting surface it can be very effective and is another technique to add to your painting arsenal.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Easy Way to Mask off an Area in a Painting

There are often sections of a painting that will need a hard edge. Although you can paint up to the edge, keeping a definite line can be difficult.

It is usually a better idea to mask off an area, paint the section that borders it, remove the mask and complete the painting.

Masking Options

When masking an area you have a few choices.

Masking Fluid

You can use masking fluid which is like a liquid plastic and is painted on.

Top Tip use an old brush to apply masking fluid as it can be difficult to clean completely from the brush.

Let the masking fluid dry then paint the surrounding area. Once the paint is completely dry remove the masking fluid. Do not leave it on overnight or it can be hard to get off without damaging the painting surface.

Masking fluid is handy for curved and irregular shapes.

Masking Tape

I like to use masking tape. It is especially good for horizon lines in seascapes. The best part about masking tape is that you can remove it once you are confident that the paint is dry enough not to run.

However if you are painting on a paper surface it can sometimes pull the painting surface if you are not very careful when you remove it. Be careful when removing it.

I find it works very well on canvas and canvas panels. In this sketch I used it around the edges to give the finished painting a clear border.

Card Mask

Another method, and probably the easiest one when you are using a paper painting surface, is to use a piece of card. I usually end up using a piece of card from the breakfast cereal packet!

This method works best when you are using a dry brush technique, you do not want the paint too thin or it will flow beneath the card mask.

You could use it for painting in hedges in between fields in a landscape. This makes painting in hedgerows really quick. Just place the card, paint in the hedges, remove the card and paint in the field. Paint in the field while the hedge is still damp and you can blend the bottom of the hedge with the field colour for a lovely effect.

Another good example is using it to mask off the roof when you are painting shrubs and trees behind the roof line of a building. (This is shown in the illustrations).

All you need to do is cut a piece of card and hold it to mask off the roof while you use quite a dry paint to indicate the trees to the rear of the building.

Tip I find that that a card mask works best for short distances, using a large piece of card can be a bit awkward. I prefer to use a shorter piece of card and move it along as I paint.

Both of these examples use a straight edge on the card; however you could also cut the card into any shape you want for different uses. The key is not to use too wet a paint which would bleed behind the card and ruin the effect.

Which is best?

Your final choice will probably depend on the painting surface you are using.

A Word of Warning

Remember that acrylic paints are adhesives once dried. If you use a mask with very thick paint it may be stuck into the painting. Perhaps not the look you were trying for!

This is most likely to happen with masking fluid because it is removed once the paint is dried.

However, masks are very useful when using the paints more thinly and especially when using watercolour techniques.

In this quick sketch I used masking tape around the picture.

I used a card mask (second picture) for the hedges in the fields and for the building to keep the paper where the building will be clean. This is very handy when using the paint in thin washes of colour.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How to Draw a basic Daffodil

I saw this really easy way to draw daffodils and wanted to share it with you.


1. Draw a circle the size you want the flower to be

2. Draw a triangle in the circle

3. Draw a second triangle as shown

4. Draw a circle in the centre

5. Draw around the points of the triangles to give the petals. Use an uneven line to draw around the circle and add a second ring for the outside edge of the trumpet.

6. Depending on the size of the daffodil you may want to add stamens. You would not see these if the daffodil was further away.

If you want to draw a daffodil that is not ‘straight on’ here’s how to do it.

Draw a Daffodil on the angle


1a. Start with an oval instead of a circle. Draw in the 2 triangles as before. Draw an oval instead of a circle in the centre.

2a. Use the top and bottom of the small centre oval and draw short straight lines to form the trumpet. The end of the trumpet is a slightly larger oval.

3a. Draw around the points of the triangles to give the petals. Use an uneven line to draw around the ‘trumpet end oval’ and add a larger second ring for the outside edge of the trumpet.

4a. Again adding stamens will depend on how far away the flower is.

Important Points and Tips

These steps are for a basic daffodil shape. Notice that all the petals of one of the triangles are to the front of all the petals on the other triangle. In other words every second petal is to the front and drawn to the base of the trumpet part.

Daffodils come in a wide variety.
Things you can change for different looks are –

* The shape of the petals

* The width of the petals

* The diameter of the trumpet

* The length of the trumpet

* The colour of the flowers. Daffodils can be white, shades of yellow, orange and combinations of these colours. Have a look at some gardening books or catalogues for ideas.

In my garden

I have some small yellow alpine daffodils open in the garden just now; they have very narrow petals with a round end. There is hardly any overlap of the petals. The trumpet is narrow but quite long.

On the other hand I have some taller daffodils that have short wide petals and a very short wide trumpet. There is a great variety in both shape and size. This makes them easier to draw.

If you wanted to add leaves to your drawing just add some straight narrow leaves with rounded ends.

Top Tip

For a more natural look - angle the flower so that it is ‘looking’ to the ground slightly. The weight of the trumpet usually causes a lot of the flowers to be on this angle.

Try drawing a bunch of daffodils and see how easy this is to do.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Colour Tips and Techniques - Pale Red??

Paler Shades and Highlights.

What about Red?

There are a couple of ways to get a paler colour when you are painting. These pale colours are normally for the highlighted areas or areas where the light is hitting the object you are painting.

1. You can paint a thin layer of paint and let the white of the painting surface show through. This works well as long as you are painting on a pale surface. Generally speaking you will be. ;-)

2. You can add white to the colour to make a pale version of it, called a tint. This works well except when you try to do it with red. Adding white to red will give you pink, which is probably not what you wanted!

Highlights when using Red

When you are painting on a non-white surface you can paint the area of the highlight white, let it dry and then over paint with a thin layer of red to get the same effect as in Point 1 above. (This will work with other colours too.)

If you are trying to add a highlight, for example, to an area that you have already painted then let the paint dry before adding a thin layer of white to the area for the highlight. Use quite a watery mix if you want some of the red to show through. White is an opaque colour in acrylics and the area can look a bit chalky if the white is applied too thickly.


An alternative method is to apply further layers of red to the darker areas of the object. When you add extra layers of paint the colour looks richer and deeper. These richer coloured areas will enhance the highlight effect in the area with just the one layer of paint.

Try this on a spare piece of paper; it is a very good effect. The highlight area has just the one layer of paint, and the middle and darker areas will have more layers of paint to give a richer colour.

If you go on to add shadow shades of red as well you will be able to achieve good results.

Shadow colours for Red

The shadow shade for red will depend on what you are painting. It could be a purple made by adding some blue. However if you wanted a more neutral look try adding a little of the complimentary colour (for red that would be green) to dull the colour down. We looked at this use of complimentary colours in a previous posting.

Maybe try using several techniques?

Of course you could use a mix of these different options too. Maybe a thin layer of white for the highlight, plus some extra layers of red to the middle tone areas and then some darker shadow tones. It will really depend on your subject and the effect you are trying to paint.


Ready to Learn to Paint?

Beginners Acrylic Painting Report and Video File on CD

The Acrylic Painting Tips and Techniques for the Beginner Report tells you

* What equipment to buy
* How to set up your painting supplies
* And there a couple of easy projects to start you off

And there is more

As well as the Acrylic Painting Tips and Techniques for the Beginner Report there is Acrylic Painting Equipment and Techniques computer video file that runs for about 19 minutes. It shows how to set up your palette, how to load artist brushes and a bit of colour mixing too.

Both these items are sent to you on a CD so there are no downloading worries.
Visit the link below to find out more. (This will only be available for a couple of months.)

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Different Way to Paint Trees, Ideal for Beginners too!

I was watching a TV programme where the man was painting trees, or tree shapes to be more accurate. It was a technique that I hadn’t seen before so I thought you would find it interesting too.

He started by painting in the trunks and some branches then added the leaves using a piece of towel. Just a normal fabric towel, the kind you dry your hands on. He bunched it up in his hand and used a smooth section, not a crumpled part.

As you can imagine by dipping the surface of the towel into the paint and then just touching it onto the painting surface gives a random texture. The result was very effective too.

The key point is to keep within a tree shape with the towel texture. You can add some detail with a brush to tidy it up if necessary.

Be sure to try it on a spare piece of paper with an old bit of towel or an old face cloth to see if you like the look before you add it into your painting!

Making Green for the Trees

We discussed this before but it seems relevant to revisit this handy colour mixing tip here.

If you have mixed up a blue and yellow to make a green, or used a premixed colour, you can often find that it is too bright. Try adding a little red to the green to make it more subdued.

Why this works

When you mix two complimentary colours together you get a neutral colour. A complimentary colour is the colour on the opposite side of the colour wheel, to your original one. An example would be yellow and purple.

So by adding just a touch of red to your too bright green you are making it more of a neutral colour and therefore less bright.

This type of colour mixing information can be found in the Colour Mixing Tips and Thoughts Special Report at the Learn and Do website. At present it is a bonus with The Acrylic Painting Course. :-)


New Beginners Acrylic Painting Report and Video File on CD

I have a new item on CD that is suitable for anyone ready to learn how to paint.

(If you already have The Acrylic Painting Course this is NOT for you.
You will have all this information in the course.)

The Acrylic Painting Tips and Techniques for the Beginner Report tells you what equipment to buy, how to set up your painting supplies and there a couple of easy projects to start you off.

And there's more…

As well as the Acrylic Painting Tips and Techniques for the Beginner Report there is Acrylic Painting Equipment and Techniques computer video file that runs for about 19 minutes. It shows how to set up your palette, how to load artist brushes and a bit of colour mixing too.

Both these items are sent to you on a CD so there are no downloading worries.
This information will be available for the next month or two before I remove it.
Visit the link below to find out more.