Improve Your Paintings!

4 One-Hour Paintings

Artists need to do the equivalent of playing scales sometimes. I was reminded of that recently when an artist friend on Facebook posted about being frustrated by a plein air painting she had struggled with and then commented on how she wanted to get “looser”, a common wish among painters who are starting to feel trapped by detail.

I recommended a great book to her: 60 Minutes to Better Painting by Craig Nelson, who runs the Fine Art Dept. and teaches painting at my alma mater, the Academy of Art University (but who, unfortunately, didn’t arrive until a few years after I graduated).

The next day I realized that I could use some short study work myself, especially on landscapes. So that’s what I’ve been up to the past two days, doing some one-hour paintings.

I did the first couple with a big round brush, like the kind I generally use on my finished work, but it wasn’t the right brush for this kind of fast painting because I couldn’t get the type of edges I wanted. So I switched to a #6 Silver Brush Grand Prix flat and that was much better. All four are 8×10″, oil on canvasboard.

My main goal for this set was to work on value relationships and light effects.

Ocean View- near our home on the north coast of California (round brush)

Ikh Bogd Uul, the Gobi, Mongolia, July 2010

Stupa, Bogd Khan, near Ulaanbaatar, August 2011

The steppe at sundown, near Bayanuur, camping trip, Mongolia, August 2011

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