Picture Framing Tips: What’s the Right Hardware for Your Frame?

Learn what kind of hardware to use with any kind of frame.Framing tips on hardware may not seem exciting, but understanding the function and limitations of various types of screws, hangers, and wires will ensure that your framed drawings and paintings are properly supported when displayed. Take a little time to tackle the terminology and technicalities. Your art deserves nothing less.

Framing Tips: The Skinny on Screws


A-1: Wood screws have an unthreaded shank below the head.


A-2: Metal screws are threaded, tip to head.

The most basic piece of picture-hanging hardware is the screw, the size of which is based on shaft dimensions (gauge) and threading. To simplify the identification of smaller, more commonly used screw gauges, a numeral designation preceded by a crosshatch symbol (#) has been adopted, with #0 being the smallest and #15 the largest. The most commonly used screw gauges in framing are #4, #6, and #8.

Wood screws (A-1) have a coarser pitch (fewer threads per inch) than sheet metal screws, and often the shafts of wood screws are unthreaded just below the head. Because there are no threads to catch the wood along the smooth portion of the shaft, a wood screw can pull one piece of wood flush against another. Metal screws (A-2, above) have sharp threads that cut into materials such as sheet metal, plastic, or wood. They make excellent fasteners for attaching metal hardware to wood and are preferred for this use because of their fully threaded shafts.


B: Screw head styles and drives: (left to right) pan head with a straight-slotted drive; falt head with a Phillips drive; pan head with a combination straight-slotted and Phillips drive

There are many head styles for screws, with flat head, pan head, and round head being the most common for framing. When countersinking (inserting a screw so the head is flush with the wood surface), choose flat-head screws. Round-head screws have a domed shape, and pan-head screws have a slightly rounded head with short vertical sides. There are also many drive configurations, but straight-slotted, Phillips, and a combination of these two are most common (B).

Why all this talk about screws in an article on framing tips? For one thing, you generally need them to fasten picture-hanging hardware to a frame, which leads us to our next topic.

Framing Tips: Dependability of D-Rings


C-1: Choose a D-ring hanger in a width (narrow-or wide-based) suitable to the moulding of your frame. Sometimes manufacturers designate D-rings as “light-,” “medium-,” or “heavy-weight,” indicating their suitability for lighter of heavier framed pictures


C-2: Here you see a medium-weight, single-hole D-ring with a #4 pan-head Phillips crew and #3 coated stainless steel wire. The wire is mounted with a lark’s head knot, twisted tightly and compressed where it attaches to the D-ring to prevent the wire from slipping.

D-rings, whether of the single-hole, two-hole, or strap-hanger variety, are an excellent choice of picture hanger (see C-1, C-2, and C-3).

When installed with #4, #6, or #8 pan- or round-head screws, D-rings lie flatter against the wall than screw eyes (a popular but poor choice of hanger—more about those below). You may position single-hole D-rings to match the 60-degree angle recommended for hanging wire; D-ring strap hangers usually end up at an angle more vertically oriented.

Heavy-duty D-rings and strap hangers, constructed of doubled steel, are intended for hanging heavy wood frames, large gallery wraps, or cradled boxes, and you can use them with or without picture wire. When using them without wire, align the D-rings or strap hangers vertically at the upper corners on the back of the frame. Then suspend the picture directly on substantial picture hooks or screws anchored into the wall.


C-3: Pictured are medium-weight, single-hole D-rings with #2 coated stainless steel wire. Set the straps one-quarter of the way down from the top edge of the frame and position the straps so the wire will slant 60 degrees when the picture is set on two wall hooks. Make the wire slack enough to reach halfway between the straps and the top of the frame.

Framing Tips: Strengths of Steel Plates


E-1: The two-holed Super Steel Hanger can hold up to 50 lbs; the four-holed hanger can hold up to 100 lbs. When the hangers are mounted on the frame, the arrows stamped into the metal should point toward the =center of the picture.


E-2: Here you see the steel plate hanger properly positioned one-quarter of the way down from the top of the frame and centered on a thin molding (partially covered with the preservation dust cover). The slack of the wire is set so that it reaches halfway between the plate and the top of the picture.

















Another excellent choice of picture hanger is the Super Steel Hanger (see E-1 and E-2). These are steel plates with either two or four screw holes located both above and below a ring, to which you attach the picture wire.

A four-holed, steel-plate hanger easily supports a frame of up to 100 pounds, while the shorter two-hole style holds up to 50 pounds. Mount the center of this hardware one-quarter of the way down from the top edge of the frame, either centered on a narrow moulding or about ½ inch from the inner edge of a wider moulding. Use #4 or #6 screws.

Framing Tips: Hazardous Hardware

Sadly, the two most popular types of picture-hanging hardware aren’t the strongest or most effective. Consider the following cautionary framing tip before grabbing a sawtooth hanger (D-1) or a screw eye (D-2).


D-1: No sawtooth hanger can hold a picture securely!


A sawtooth hanger is a jagged-edged, metal strip, 1 to 2 inches long (D-1). It’s popular because of its simplicity and the ease with which it can be installed, but it has a high failure rate. This is not the result of weakness of the metal strip, but rather of the softness of the frame moulding and selected fastener.

Most sawtooth hardware comes with short 38– to ½-inch tacks that press into the wood of a painted panel or frame. If the wood is soft—like pine—nails can pull out of the frame due to the weight of the framed work and the pull of gravity. Substituting small #3 screws for the tacks greatly improves the holding strength. Snap-in sawtooth hangers, used with metal frames, require no screws and won’t pull out. Even at their best, however, sawtooth hangers should never be used for hanging fine art because a picture can easily be knocked from the sawtooth. Galleries generally don’t accept framed art with sawtooth hangers of any kind.


D-2: A screw eye is only as strong as its neck, the area between the threads and the eye, and therefore creates problems.


A screw with an eye (looped head) and shank is called an eye screw, eye hook, or screw eye (D-2). It’s designed to be an all-in-one piece of hardware; you screw one end of it into the back of a frame, and you attach the hanging wire to the other end. Screw eyes are the most popular type of picture-hanging hardware; however, they create problems.

Installing screw eyes into hardwoods such as maple, oak, or walnut creates stress at the point where the screw meets the eye, thus weakening the hardware (D-2). If you select a screw with too small an eye for the hardwood of your frame, the eye can break from the shaft during installation. What’s more, when inserting a screw eye into soft or reconstituted wood, such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF), the threading, rather than grabbing onto the wood grain, can create sawdust. This allows the screw to pull out.

Large eyes may force the frame away from the wall, which may be visually unappealing and may leave marks where the eyes contact the wall. Screw eyes also create stress on the sides of the frame at the point of insertion, which weakens the wood of narrow frames and can easily split dry wood. The logical replacement is the D-ring.

Framing Tips: Wire Wisdom


F: (left to right) #5 twisted stainless steel, #9 coated copper, 36 plastic-coated stainless steel, #6 multistrand braided galvanized steel, #4 plastic-coated twisted stainless steel


Picture wire threads through D-rings or the eyes of steel plates so that you can suspend the picture. Like screws, picture wire comes in different sizes (also referred to as weights), as indicated by a crosshatch (#) followed by a number. In addition, there are many types of wire, some of the more common being twisted stainless steel, plastic-coated stainless steel, multistrand braided galvanized steel, and plastic-coated copper (F). Galvanized-steel wire is the most frequently used but also the least effective. Plastic-coated stainless-steel wire won’t hurt your hands during installation, mar walls, rust, or discolor. Coated copper is softer and easier to work with but doesn’t have the strength of stainless steel.

As multistrand braided galvanized steel wire increases in diameter, the strands remain constant in size, with additional strands being added to the braid. For example, a #2 braided wire has 12 strands while a #8 braided wire has 36 strands. In contrast, all stainless steel wire contains seven strands that have been tension-twisted, like cable, and as the wire gets larger, the strands increase in diameter. This makes twisted wires (stainless steel) comparatively stronger than braided wires (galvanized steel), but also less flexible.

Determining the correct size of wire is dependent upon the type of wire you’re using. The break weight (also called break strength or break point) of braided galvanized wire should be approximately four times the weight of the frame, while the break strength of coated stainless wire should be approximately three times the weight of the frame. Hence, for a 10-lb. painting, you could use a stainless steel wire with a break weight of 30 lbs., but if you used braided galvanized wire, the break weight would have to be 40 lbs.


Comparative Strengths of Picture Wires: Maximum frame weights vary not only with the style and coating of the wire, but also with the manufacturer. This chart reflects an average of the maximum frame weights given by wire manufacturers for a wire of a particular size. As a rule of thumb, the break weight for braided galvanized steel wire is four times the frame weight, and the break weight for stainless steel wire is three times the frame weight. Hence, stainless steel wire can accommodate heavier frames than braided galvanized steel wire of the same size.

The table Comparative Strengths of Picture Wires (above) gives a more complete idea of the capabilities of different types of picture wire. By consulting this table you can see, for example, that a #3 braided galvanized wire is recommended for a maximum frame weight of 16 lbs., while a #3 coated stainless steel wire is recommended for a maximum frame weight of 20 lbs., even though both wires have the same break weight of 68 lbs.

The larger/heavier the wire, the more the variance between the braided (galvanized steel) and cabled (stainless steel) structures. Accordingly, #8 braided wire is rated at 36 lbs. with a 145-lb. break weight, while #8 stainless steel wire is rated at 60 lbs. with a 170-lb. break weight. Note that the softer, coated-copper wire also has a break weight of 170 lbs., but a maximum frame weight of only 40 lbs.

As an artist, you’ll most likely need wire in two or three sizes to accommodate all your picture-hanging needs. A coated stainless-steel wire probably would be your best choice, and #3 and #5 should handle most of your demands. Keep in mind that it’s better to select a wire that’s too heavy than too light.

This article on framing tips by Chris Paschke first appeared in a past issue of The Artist’s Magazine.

Learn More About Framing Your Art

There’s much more to framing and displaying your artwork than hardware, but to a large extent, the success of your presentation literally hangs on the hardware you choose. A little knowledge could save your art! For additional framing tips, read the following articles.


The post Picture Framing Tips: What’s the Right Hardware for Your Frame? appeared first on Artist's Network.

8 Works of Art You Need to See

Who Is Getting Noticed in the World of Acrylic Painting?

The pace of the art world is fast and operates in so many different ecosystems. We are inundated by imagery, events, exhibitions, new techniques, old techniques, new artists, old artists, gossip, drama, and an energy that pulses non-stop, day in and day out. Even for all of us, whose jobs and passions put us right in the middle of the action, it is, well, a lot. That’s why I celebrate the exceptional when it comes my way. So here’s to the noteworthy in acrylic painting of today–right now. With a smile I write that because I know tomorrow is a whole new beast, but stopping to say, “hey, look at these–they are awesome” is one of the best parts of my job. So, hey, look at these–they are awesome.


Enjoy these eight artworks and why they are exceptional, directly from the artists themselves. And if you happen to be an acrylic painter, and love it as much as I do, AcrylicWorks 4: Captivating Color is ready and waiting for you. It features a collection that reminds artists why they paint, and gives art lovers a real appreciation for the breathtaking possibilities of this most versatile medium. Enjoy,



Body Electric by DebiLynn Fendley, acrylic painting.

Body Electric by DebiLynn Fendley, acrylic painting.

Details to Note

I use a standard palette for each of my portraits, with skin tones made of a combination of surprising colors layered in tiny strokes. I use heavy body acrylics and larger strokes for the background and fluid acrylics applied with tiny brushes for the foreground and the hair.


Quiescence by Kevin Kohlman, acrylic painting.

Quiescence by Kevin Kohlman, acrylic painting.

What’s Noteworthy?

I chose to use a subdued monochromatic color scheme. I basically used mixtures of only four colors—Payne’s Gray, Ultramarine Blue, Titanium White and Unbleached Titanium White—for everything except the eye. I feel that this change supported the calm and soothing mood that I was trying to create.


Las Parades de San Miguel by Robert Merrill Sweeny, acrylic painting.

Las Parades de San Miguel by Robert Merrill Sweeny, acrylic painting.


What’s exceptional?

By using acrylics produced here, which dry completely flat, I am able to go into my works with pencil and create the texture effects for which I have become known. I work in layers, finishing with glazes of color mixed with medium and applied with sponges, often ten to twelve layers on a piece, producing a work of great depth and richness.


Morning Glow by Mark E. Mehaffey, acrylic painting.

Morning Glow by Mark E. Mehaffey, acrylic painting, detail.

Timing Isn’t Everything

I took great liberties with both the value (increasing the contrast) and with the color (using the near complements of blue-violet and orange) to add interest to an already visually pleasing scene. Simplifi cation of the value plan and shape relationships was done with pencil in my sketchbook. I tossed local color in favor of violet, red-violet, blue-violet and orange to add interest beyond reporting what I saw. I used a large brush (Rosemary and Co Ivory short fl at, size 10) and heavy body acrylics (Holbein and Golden) and attacked the painting with aggressive brushwork. Start to finish the painting took less than an hour to complete and I think captured energy and essence of what I felt that cold winter morning.



Elder Plant by Marzena Oberc-Habzda, acrylic painting.

Elder Plant by Marzena Oberc-Habzda, acrylic painting.

Paint Choice

My painting medium is Golden OPEN acrylics. They offer slower drying time, therefore an ability to be manipulated with ease to create a desired effect. Colors are brilliant, pure and easy to mix. I fi nd acrylics very compliant and eager to accommodate the approach dictated by the subject and artistic style. Quicker drying time offers instant visual results.


Up by Nadyia Duff, acrylic painting.

Up by Nadyia Duff, acrylic painting.

Solving Puzzles

I feel any given person’s face has an abundance of color, so I paint portraits with the
colors I personally see in the subject. To fi nish off the painting and create emphasis, I highlighted the face with dark and thick neutrals. I chose bright yellow as the background to bring attention to the portrait while giving it a whimsical mood. In the end this acrylic painting came together as a vibrant completed puzzle


Inner-State by Val Robert, acrylic painting.

Inner-State by Val Robert, acrylic painting.

No Rules

I try to use colors that are real in nature, but I don’t always paint in a realistic style. I paint what moves me—sometimes using realism, sometimes surrealism, and other
times abstract, like with Inner-State.


Tricolor Cat Asleep by Yael Maimon, acrylic painting.

Tricolor Cat Asleep by Yael Maimon, acrylic painting.

The Familiar Made Unfamiliar

I celebrated pigments, with the dominance of orange and blue, to create a striking effect with an abstract quality in the end result. Since the subject is sleeping, I didn’t want the painting to be way too overwhelming, so for the background I used neutral tones to balance the painting.






The post 8 Works of Art You Need to See appeared first on Artist's Network.

What to Know When Learning How to Paint with Acrylics



Oil paints had a corner on the art materials market for hundreds of years, but in the mid-20th century, a formidable opponent arrived on the scene. Acrylic paints have since joined oil and watercolor as one of the most popular painting media in the world. If you love to paint, then you’ll love learning how to paint with acrylics.

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Acrylics are water-based, quick-drying, not reliant on any toxic solvents and can be applied to a wide range of surfaces. When dry, acrylics are lightfast and permanent, and the surface becomes strong and flexible. Acrylics clean up with simple soap and water.

In addition to painting with acrylics, you can use these versatile paints for craft projects made of wood, on canvas, on leather and many other surfaces. Acrylics can be applied with brushes, rollers and painting knives; sprayed with an airbrush; poured, spattered or dribbled. You can modify the consistency of acrylic paint with a bewildering variety of gels, pastes and mediums.

Because of the properties of its polymer base, acrylic paint can be used in thick applications similar to oils; the paints can also be thinned with water or medium and used in a manner comparable to watercolors. When used with gels, pastes and mediums, acrylics can create effects unattainable with oils or watercolors. In fact, acrylics lend themselves to so many different acrylic painting techniques, the possibilities are practically endless.

How to Paint with Acrylics, Acrylic FAQs, Aritst's NetworkFAQs: How to Paint with Acrylics

Whether you’re new to acrylics or advanced in this medium, knowing how acrylics mix and mingle with other art materials and mediums is critical for painting success.

Can you intermix oils and water-based acrylics?

No—they’re chemically incompatible.

Can you paint oils over acrylics?
Yes, but the painting’s layers may become unstable because the oils may not adhere adequately to the acrylic beneath. Also, the oils and acrylics will respond differently to environmental conditions such as humidity and temperature, which could cause the layers to separate.

Can you use traditional oil-painting techniques with acrylics?
The quick drying time of acrylics will require you to modify your oil painting techniques somewhat. Wet-into-wet techniques (wet paint applied to or blended with wet paint) are more difficult with acrylics, but scumbling and drybrush techniques are easier.

Can you use traditional watercolor techniques with acrylics?
Most traditional watercolor techniques can be used with acrylics since both media are relatively quick-drying. Just as watercolors of the same name by different manufacturers produce different staining or granulating effects, acrylic colors will differ from traditional watercolors. Also, unlike watercolors, acrylics can’t be rehydrated once dry.

Are acrylics less permanent than oils?
Although research on acrylics is less abundant, the medium seems to be as permanent as oils. Acrylics are chemically stable when cured, but, as with all paint media, they’re only as permanent as the surface they’re painted on.

Acrylic Mediums, Pastels, Gels and Additives

When learning how to paint with acrylics, keep in mind that most brands of acrylics come in a range of viscosities or “bodies.” Soft or medium body is fluid, creamy and smooth; heavy body is thicker, buttery and retains brushstrokes; extra or super heavy body is very thick and ideal for impasto applications. The following products can be used with acrylics of any viscosity to create an almost limitless variety of effects.

Pastes, Gels and Additives | How to Paint with AcrylicsMediums are mixed with paint for thinning and glazing, and can be used as an adhesive for collage and mixed media work.

  • Matte medium—dries flat without a glossy shine
  • Gloss medium—dries with a glossy shine
  • Blending medium—thins the paint while increasing open time (the time the paint is wet) to aid blending
  • Flow improver—makes the paint flow evenly and quickly

Pastes and gels are mixed with paint to add texture or to increase or retain thickness of the paint while adding transparency and lengthening drying time.

  • Gel medium—thickens and adds transparency
  • Heavy gel—adds texture, allowing the paint to hold its peaks
  • Modeling paste—a very thick additive that allows the artist to create highly textured effects that dry to a flexible film

Retardant is mixed with acrylics to slow the drying time and is useful for wet-into-wet techniques; too much may result in a film that never dries properly.

Varnishes are applied to finished acrylic work to provide a protective, dust-resistant film; some reduce damage from ultraviolet light. Varnishing with a nonacrylic material, such as mineral spirit acrylic varnish, allows you to remove the layer later, if needed.

Many other additives are available, offering the artist a lifetime of experimentation and discovery.

  • Iridescent colors
  • Metallic colors
  • Interference colors
  • Glass bead gel
  • Pumice gel
  • String gel
  • Natural sand
  • Pouring medium

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Must-Have Acrylic Tools | How to Paint with AcrylicsUseful Acrylic Tools and Supplies

Brushes: Synthetic materials such as nylon are the best choice for acrylic paintbrushes. Stiff brushes are good for applications of thick paint; soft and supple ones are good for applications of thinned paint. Acrylics are harder on brushes made of animal hair, which can swell and lose its spring when soaked in water.

Palette: The acrylic painter needs a palette that’s flat and impervious to water. Plastic palettes designed for acrylics are available; some have lids or sealable compartments to prevent drying. Enameled butcher trays, thick glass, and plastic cutting boards also work well. Aluminum pans from frozen pies and melamine plates can work in a pinch. Avoid wooden palettes, which absorb water.

Surfaces: One of the advantages to working with acrylics is that you can apply them to almost any stable, nongreasy surface. Water-absorbent surfaces, such as wood, need to be sealed beforehand. Preferred painting surfaces include artist’s canvas, hardboard, fiberboard and heavy (400-lb) watercolor paper that has been prepared with a good quality acrylic dispersion primer. Using prestretched “gessoed” canvases saves time, but they’re often not of archival quality.

Water container: A large, unbreakable water container is a must. Change the water frequently so you don’t contaminate the colors on your palette.


All paint is made of pigments, a binder and usually some other additives. The binder is what locks the pigments in place when the paint is dry. In the case of acrylics, the pigments are suspended in a synthetic binder that forms a film when the water evaporates. (Oils use organic binders such as linseed oil; watercolors use gum arabic, another plant product.)

It’s the properties of the binder that make acrylic paints so different from other media. The acrylic binder is quick-drying, making acrylic paint ideal for layering, applying thick impastos, glazing and scumbling. Because the acrylic dries quickly through evaporation of the water, a film will form within a matter of minutes, though a thick layer of paint may take months to dry completely. Once the drying process is complete, the paint is chemically stable.

The acrylic base is a milky, translucent liquid when wet, which can make acrylic paint appear a bit lighter wet than when dry (see images below). Some critics say acrylics lack the brilliance and purity of oils because of the murky polymer emulsion.

Most pigments used for acrylics are the same or similar to those used in traditional oils or watercolors, except for a few that are incompatible with the polymer emulsion binder. Acrylics are completely intermixable and compatible within a manufacturer’s product line; most brands can be intermixed, but their properties, such as gloss finishes, may be altered.

Acrylic paint becomes porous when dry, so a final application of varnish is recommended after the painting has dried for several months. A mineral spirit acrylic varnish is a good choice, as it can be removed later if needed. Storage of paintings in cold temperatures is not recommended; the paint will become fragile.

Safety and Clean Up

Acrylics are very safe to use, but certain pigments used in artists’ paints are toxic regardless of medium, so basic precautions should be taken:

  • Keep the paint out of your eyes, mouth and lungs. Not eating, drinking or smoking while painting will help you avoid accidental ingestion.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after use.
  • Use eye protection if there is a risk of splashing.
  • As with all art materials, acrylics should be kept away from small children, and young students should be properly supervised. Check for the AP (approved product) seal on paints for children.

When painting with acrylic paint, rinse brushes in water while using them and clean them with soap and water at the end of a painting session. Don’t allow acrylic paint to dry on your brushes; the dried paint can be removed with solvents, but it’s a chore worth avoiding. Remove dried paint from a palette by scraping or peeling it off or by letting the palette soak in water.

Acrylic Techniques, Chris Cozen, ArtistsNetwork

Image courtesy of Chris Cozen

Acrylic Painting Tips and Techniques

Don’t over-thin acrylics with water. Over-thinning results in a deposit of pigment without enough acrylic binder to create a stable paint film. Acrylics shouldn’t be thinned with more than about 30 percent water.

Use professional-grade supplies. Less expensive grades of acrylics by major manufacturers are good choices when first trying acrylics, but as your skill improves, move on to professional-quality paints. Don’t put high-quality paint on poor-quality surfaces.

Start out with just one manufacturer. Get to know one manufacturer’s line of acrylic paints and related products well so you know how they work together; then experiment with other brands.


This Mediapedia article, by Greg Albert, first appeared in a past issue of The Artist’s Magazine.


Want to learn more? Expand your acrylic painting knowledge with these great acrylic painting books & videos:


The post What to Know When Learning How to Paint with Acrylics appeared first on Artist's Network.

Splash 19 Winners Announced

Congratulations to the 126 artists selected for North Light Books’ 2017 watercolor competition Splash 19: Illusion of Light! If you see your name below, please check your email for instructions on next steps. You will receive an email from us with the subject line “Splash 19 Winner Notification” no later than Friday, May 19th.


  1. Alexander, Kathleen – Mangos and Japanese White-Eye
  2. Amsellem, David – Bliss
  3. Angelos, Mina – The Dining Room
  4. Barnum, Joanna – Escape Velocity
  5. Becker, Marnie – Maggie
  6. Brabec-King, Cindy – Nets Cast on the Other Side; Perk Up
  7. Bratton, Robert – “Hello, is Someone There?”
  8. Brown, Cara – Hallelujah
  9. Case, Lana – Anointed
  10. Chandler, Marsha – Blueberries and Lemons
  11. Chang, Chaio-i – Windmill
  12. Chen, Jia Ling – In Rain, Sandiaoling
  13. Chew, Marvin – Red Floor, Bedok South Wet Market
  14. Chien, Chung Wei – The Last Sunshine is Still Warm
  15. Collins, Kathy – River Bend
  16. Cox, David – Summer Nastrurtiums
  17. Creel, Carol – Marbles in Crystal Bowl
  18. Cretney, Brenda – Eye On the Ball
  19. Cyrex Ducote, Denice –Party of Three
  20. Dentinger, Ric – Comfort Tractor
  21. Dorsey, Jackie – Georgia Theatre
  22. Eldridge, L.S. – Tooled Up
  23. Espinoza, Juan José – Windows to the Soul
  24. Fenton, Sandra – Griffin, Iggy and Chloe
  25. Ferris, Lynn – Slow
  26. Flatt, Graham – The Vista
  27. Fogel, Susan Hope – 68th Street
  28. Fox, Ryan – Old Town Philly
  29. Fry, Cheri –Lionell and Old Blue
  30. Gauthier, Carla – What We Worship
  31. George, Kathie – If This is Wrong, I don’t Wanna Be Right
  32. Goldman, Ken – Life Class
  33. Granger, Michael – Duveneck House at Hidden Villa, CA
  34. Habets, Peggi – Dawn
  35. Haley, David – Bee No. 6
  36. Harkins, Nancy – The Porch of the Ash Mill Farm
  37. Haverty, Grace – The Soloist
  38. Haywood, Kerry – “Tosh”
  39. Hedderich, Tom – Old Plymouth
  40. Heidler, Karen – Silent Light
  41. Henry, Mike – Morning Ride with Mr. Hastings
  42. Hicks, Joyce – Sunday is a Day of Rest
  43. Hillsbery, Carole – Morning Paper
  44. Holscher, Pat – The Lunch Bunch
  45. Holter, Michael – Putting Up Her Hair
  46. Hopf, Mary – Night Heron
  47. Huang, Jasmine – Yellow Roses
  48. Hunkel, Cary – Stripes…and More Stripes
  49. Hunter, Lance – Ephemeral
  50. Jablokow, Peter – Scissor Bridge
  51. Jefferson, Lisa – Willow Reflections
  52. Josloff, Marc – Boy on a Scooter
  53. Jurick, Kristina – Midday Heat, Morocco
  54. Keith, Susan  – Catching the Morning Rays
  55. Kho, Choon Lee – Pull and Push
  56. Kim, Youngran – My Daughter Ayoul
  57. Kingdon, Ona – A Penny for your Thoughts
  58. Krupinski, Chris  – Illumination
  59. Lamothe, Marie – Passionate Penoy
  60. Lang, Karen – September Roses
  61. Larkins, Kathryn Keller – Mirage
  62. Larsen, Valerie – Paddock Walk
  63. Lawruk, David  – Fleurieu Gums
  64. Lee, Hyoung Jun – People on the Street
  65. Liang, Wendy – Winter
  66. Mack, David Neil – St. Bernadette; Lost Horizons
  67. Maimon, Yael – Feral
  68. Matsick, Anni  – Sweet Dreams; Girl in White Hat
  69. McCracken, Laurin – Silver Cherries, Pears and Magnolia
  70. McDermott, Mark – The Art Lover
  71. McEwan, Angus – Tea Break
  72. Meuse, Kimberly – Cream Peonies
  73. Mimura, Muriel Elliott – Alma with Monarchs
  74. Misencik-Bunn, Christine – Emmerson
  75. Morgan, Diane – I Coulda Had a V-8
  76. nichols, r mike – Urban Study 4
  77. Nishino, Akihiro – #01
  78. Nunno, Judy – Lemon Cello
  79. Ohara, Setsuko – First Museum Visit
  80. Oliver, Roberta – 5th Avenue Carousel
  81. Oliver, Tim – Out on N. County Road 2000
  82. O’Neill, Catherine – Just As we Left It
  83. Ong, Kim Seng – Temple Street, Singapore
  84. Paratore, Gay – The Duesenberg
  85. Pate, Monika – Grapes and Glass
  86. Perez, Luis F. – Heading East
  87. Plucker, Anita – Snowbound
  88. Qualey, Erica – Melting Into Spring
  89. Reynolds, Colleen – Old School
  90. Rider, Judy – Made in China Town IV
  91. Ridge, Michael – Ascending
  92. Rifkin, Dorrie – BBKings
  93. Rimpo, April – Lunch with Champagne
  94. Rogone, Anthony – Batik Blossoms
  95. Rotach, Marlin – Shared Hearts
  96. Roush, Kimberly – Gracie
  97. Rowland, Charles – In the Port of Marseille
  98. Saltzman, Judy – Back in Time
  99. Schaller, Thomas W. – Memorial Day
  100. Smith, David R.  – Autumn Light
  101. Spann, Susanna – Jewels of Coquina Beach
  102. Spino, Frank  – Citrus Squared
  103. Stephens, Richard – Stone Creek Ranch
  104. Stetz, Ken  – Heading Home
  105. Stickel, Sean – NYC Drive-By Color
  106. Stickel, David – “Room with a View – Duomo of Milan”
  107. Stocke, Ron – Morning Light Prague
  108. Strohschein, Sandra – “Afternoon on Lake Michigan”
  109. Suz Chiang, Tan – Song of the City #3
  110. Swenson, Brenda – Joshua
  111. Thomer, Susannah – Blue Rain
  112. Tianya, Zhou – Ritual
  113. Tough, Brittney – Between Shadow and Light
  114. Towle, Sharon – Tulip Shadows
  115. Tse, Rainbow – After Work 2
  116. Tunseth, Dee – Escalera a La Villita
  117. Turner Beletic, Anne – Seattle Girl
  118. Vessellii, Al – Wet
  119. Waller, Carrie – 5 o’clock Shadow
  120. Wang, Wen-Cong – Old Man in the Sun
  121. Ward-Wolford, Lois – Checking Out the Show
  122. Warren, Soon – Southern Magnola and Teapot
  123. Werneck, Daniela – The Girl With the Popcorn Dress
  124. Witte, Bob  – Sun Kissed
  125. Wood, Anita – Red Rider
  126. Yasuoka, Keiko – A Special Night

Splash 18: Celebrating Light and Dark will be available for pre-order soon!


Cover image: The Moscow Nocturne No. 3  |  Chien Chung-Wei |Transparent watercolor on 140-lb. (300gsm) rough Arches, 11″ x 15″ (28cm x 38cm)

Visit the North Light Shop to collect other books from the Splash series!

Splash 17 Splash 16 Splash 15 Splash 14 Splash 13 Splash 12


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Painting the Landscape: 11 Questions Answered by Johannes Vloothuis

Learn how to paint the landscape, for beginners

A painting demo by Vloothuis.

Landscape Artist Teaches Thousands & Shares His Tips with Us

With landscape artist Johannes Vloothuis guiding the way, thousands of artists from around the world learn how to paint. His teaching methods are geared toward those who are new to landscape painting (maybe you or someone you know) and to those who are experienced. Starting as a mentor on WetCanvas.com, he now has instructional DVDs and teaches online workshops. In fact Johannes is now accepting students for his 34th Paint Along Workshop that covers creating visual paths in your paintings.

To pay homage to his beginning endeavors, here are 11 questions (from Johannes’s own students!) answered by the landscape artist himself, dealing with all walks of painting life, from color to composition and reference photography. Enjoy!


P.S. In celebration of his 34th Paint Along, Johannes is putting on a free live web event tomorrow on the topic of The Golden Brushstroke. Tune in and enjoy!


On Color, Cloning, and Photoshop

Q: Is there ever an appropriate time to use “cloning” or repetition in a landscape painting?
Repetition creates rhythm, which is good, but there should be variances in these repetitions–not cloned repetitions. For example, if we have a deep forest scene and we see several long vertical tree trunks, we should vary their diameters, colors, angle, and the distances between them. The repetition of these vertical movements creates a rhythm, but the tree trunks should run parallel to one another.

Q: Should we modify a reference photo with Photoshop filters?
We should use as many tools as possible to end up with the best end result. What counts is the final artwork, not how you got there. I believe there’s no such thing as cheating in this.

Q: Do you suggest pushing colors to make a painting more interesting?
If we listen to nature and its sounds–such as a crashing wave, the roar of wind, or the birds singing, we realize that all this is beautiful. However, we humans want more and we want to express ourselves and communicate with each other. We create songs that are more beautiful than nature, don’t we? Think of your painting like that. It’s a personal poetical message. Color, just like musical instruments, is our tool to convey this wonderful message. Nature produces many dull monochromatic colors. If we add more flavor to this, it will be like hearing a crashing wave in the background while listening to instrumental music.

Out and In, Light and Dark, and Clouds

Q. Does a good painting look better when you stand back from it than up very close?
For your final outcome, keep in mind that paintings are normally viewed from 5 to 10 feet away. Some artists joke that they wish they could attach their brush to a broomstick to get the right view. Some instructors place a chair between their students and their easel.

Q: Do you need to show the lights and darks in a landscape, including the trees?
Many top artists are leaning more toward an overall mid-value. I’m following this as well and I feel my paintings improved dramatically when this was revealed to me.

 A painting demo by Vloothuis.

A painting demo by Vloothuis. Adapted from original article by Cherie Haas.

Q. A lot of photos contain few clouds… do you like to add clouds? Or, when should you add clouds?
The rule of thumb for me is that if the sky portion is small we leave clouds out so it won’t get busy. The bigger you make the sky, the more interest you need to add. The only thing we can do to make a sky interesting is to add clouds or different colors. However this isn’t because of what’s in the photo; it’s because I want it that way in the painting. The photo is not my boss. On an 18×24 inch painting, for example, if you have more than 4 square inches of nothingness, you’ve created a dead spot.

Q: Could a strong skyscape have three planes of clouds within the sky and the sliver of land as foreground?
Yes, great question. The sky is a dome and as such would have a recession into the distance. The following principles apply:
• The fluffy white part of any cloud gets warmer as it goes further back. In the painting that would be near the horizon.
• The reverse is true regarding the shadowy blue-gray areas of the clouds. They get lighter and cooler into the distance.
• The blue sky (not considering the fluffy white clouds) is darker and cooler at the zenith and this blue sky becomes warmer and lighter (more greenish, pink or orange) as it gets closer to the horizon.
• Finally, due to perspective, clouds get smaller near the horizon and bigger at the zenith.

Q: I can easily distinguish values when in black and white but have difficulties with color. Is creating underpaintings the secret to learning this?
That’s a fantastic question. We all have problems determining what value a color is because the chroma throws us off. That’s why most artists think in six values but plan their masses into three predominant values. An underpainting in the correct grayscale value (usually a warm brown) is an excellent way to start with a good value plan.

Photos, Details, and Cropping

Q: Do you collect photos so when you’re working on a piece and need to add an element, you have something to go to?
Yes! I have a hobby called shape collecting and use a landscape model agency. I have trees, rocks, bridges, and more subjects as super models.

Q. Since things that are closest show the sharpest detail, is it okay to put sharp detail at the bottom of the painting?
No; sharp detail belongs where the eye is focusing. Do the test yourself. Hold two pens, one in each hand. Stretch your arm out as far as you can holding one pen and bring the other pen closer to you. Stare at the pen that is farther from you without moving your eyes. See if you can see the detail of the pen closer to you. It’s a revelation–to make the painting agree with the human eye–and this concept is rarely taught. I actually emphasize that the immediate foreground should be left alone.

Q: I would like to know what you do with things that are cut off by the picture’s edge, like a bush or tree.
My policy is to crop the tree by either one- or two-thirds; never in the middle.

And there you have it–I hope that you’ve found inspiration or knowledge from these pieces of advice. Get even more when you check out Vloothuis’s 34th Paint Along Workshop. Join us!










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Break Your Inhibitions and Learn How to Paint: A Proven Method

Painting Tips: Quick Studies | Craig Nelson, ArtistsNetwork.com

Restful (oil, 14×18) by Craig Nelson; completed in 40 minutes (Pin this!)

How Painting Quick Studies Lead You to Becoming a Better Artist

It’s all fun and games to joke about being a procrastinator, but overthinking some things, such as how to paint a subject, can be a serious roadblock. Sometimes it’s best to just jump in and see what happens when you begin sketching your composition or start putting paint onto the canvas. Craig Nelson, who filmed four ArtistsNetwork.tv DVDs on how to paint, explains that painting quickly is the best way to practice—and improve—your art.

“After teaching at two prestigious art schools for the last 26 years, I’ve realized that one avenue of improvement is studies done in short periods of time–quick studies,” says Craig. “Quick studies allow for no overworking or overthinking, but bring basic knowledge to a more intuitive state.

From Craig Nelson’s book, 60 Minutes to Better Painting, the following infographic highlights six ways to quickly enhance your artistic skill sets.

Become a better artist, better painting, Craig Nelson, ArtistsNetwork.com

Break Inhibitions

Painting is often intimidating. The concept of taking a blank surface and creating a finished, pleasing image on it can be overwhelming. It may paralyze the painter and lead to a tentative approach without confidence.

Deal Confidently with Mistakes

Whenever doing anything, you will make mistakes. In sports, music or any other endeavor, you must go through some growing pains in order to become proficient or to excel. To be afraid of making mistakes should not keep you from attempting something. That is how we all learn.

Discover the Differences Between Line and Mass

From our earliest memories, we have all drawn with pencil, crayon or pen. Generally when we draw anything, we start with lines. This, however, is not how we see. We see mass and form; therefore, we must paint mass and form. Lines are a shorthand for painting.

Learn Brushwork

The way in which a painter wields his brush is much of the beauty of a painting. It may be energetic, careful, soft or crisp. Brushwork often is like handwriting—very distinctive.

Understand How to See

You must learn how to see in stages. You must not see the detail first but must see the larger, more basic images before studying the smaller, and often more interesting areas. It is important to train your eye to see in the proper order so your subject can be approached as if it were a painting.

Get Started

The evil word “procrastination” is the constant enemy of all painters. That blank canvas and the concept of a finished painting can be a burden. The study, as opposed to a finished painting, can eliminate any burden. It’s stated as a study; to learn, to improve, to try something, not a precious final piece of art! When procrastinating on what to do, how big, etc., do a study. ~Craig

Scroll down to read Craig’s advice for deciding what to include and what to edit when you’re practicing how to paint with your next quick study.

Whether your advanced or beginning your oil-painting journey, everyone can benefit from going back to the basics! Check out this free ebook download on fundamental oil painting techniques!

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How to Paint: Deciding What Is Important by Craig Nelson

Painting tips - quick studies | Craig Nelson, ArtistsNetwork.com

Photo reference for Venetian Laundry

The most important aspect of a quick study is the editing that each artist makes. This requires rapid and confident decision making. You must decide what is important to the subject as well as what is important to you. For example, the accuracy of shape and size may be important to the subject, while the mood and lighting may be important to you.

How important is something within a given setting? In a quick study, if something is not essential to capture the subject, then it can be left out. When painting in this abbreviated style, you must leave out unnecessary details. The best way to approach this is to think of your strokes as rapid indications of shapes, values and colors—not details.


Simplify the Scene

The powerful design of sky and architecture is simplified from the photograph. Within the short time frame of the study, enough detail is indicated to give believability to the scene. In the study, the perspective is important and relatively accurate while much of the detail is understated or deleted.

Painting tips - quick studies | Craig Nelson, ArtistsNetwork.com

Venetian Laundry (oil, 16×12) by Craig Nelson, in 60 minutes

**Written by Cherie Haas, former senior online editor for ArtistsNetwork.com, with contributions by Maria Woodie

Want More Art Instruction from Craig?

In the video, below, Craig shares different characteristics of acrylic and oils. From comparing scumbling techniques to washes and thick to thin lines, learn how to use these mediums to achieve a layered look.

About the Artist

Known for his figures and landscapes, artist Craig Nelson’s art hangs in several public and private collections. He teaches numerous workshops and has won more than 200 awards, including the Grand Teton Natural History Award. Learn more about Craig and his artwork by visiting his website, craigzart.com, and stream his video workshops at ArtistsNetwork.tv.




The post Break Your Inhibitions and Learn How to Paint: A Proven Method appeared first on Artist's Network.

Artful Books to Celebrate World Book Day

World Book Day — Books That Come Alive with Art

Happy World Book Day! There’s no better time to share our favorite books inspired by art and artists and, of course, books that inspire us to make art. We’ve got recommendations for everyone and we encourage you to share your favorites with us. We’re always looking for a good read!

world-book-day-The_goldfinch_by_donna_tartBooks about Specific Artworks

For those of you who love spending time getting to know a painting really well (even if part of what you get to know is fictitious!), these reads are for you.

  • Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
  • The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt


world-book-day-DaVinciCodeFor mystery lovers

No list of books inspired by art would be complete without mention of Dan Brown’s mystery novels. You’ll visit the Louvre and the Palazzo Vecchio between the covers of these two.

  • The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  • The Inferno by Dan Brown


About Working Artists and Their Lives

world-book-day-swansCovering artists both real and fictional, contemporary and historical, these novels look at the everyday lives of working artists. From family issues to dealing with rivals or mental health issues, the characters balance art with life just like we do.

  • The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
  • The Great Man by Kate Christensen
  • How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall
  • Vanessa and Virginia by Susan Sellers
  • A Seahorse Year by Stacey D’Erasmo


world-book-day-monuments-menFor History Buffs

When one stops to consider how destructive humans have been in the past 100 years alone, it’s astounding how much artwork has actually survived. These two books share the lengths several men and women went to in order to hide, save, and rescue artwork during World War II.

  • The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel
  • Saving Italy by Robert M. Edsel


For Sci-Fi Fans

world-book-day-willisEven “ugly” art is meaningful to someone as you’ll discover in this time-travel novel in which researchers from Oxford go through great lengths and several centuries to rescue a supposedly atrocious piece of art.

  • To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Ellis



room-with-a-viewThese classics could have easily fit into other categories on this list but come on, they’re classics!

  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • A Room with a View by E. M. Forester
  • The Horse’s Mouth by Joyce Cary


Bjourney by moonlight coverooks That Feel Like Art

These books may not be about art per se, but the descriptions of the settings and feelings of the characters beg for painted interpretations. The Enchanted April and Journey by Moonlight inspired me to create a watercolor travel journal for a trip to Italy.

  • The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
  • Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb
  • The Waves by Virginia Woolf


Books to Inspire You to Make Art

And of course, no book list from ArtistsNetwork.com would be complete without books that will enchant and encourage you to make art.

Don’t forget to share your favorite books about art and artists in the comments section below. And Happy World Book Day!

Art Journey Abstract Painting

The Art of MistakesJohn Salminen: Master of the Urban Landscape



The post Artful Books to Celebrate World Book Day appeared first on Artist's Network.