10 Tips for Mapping Out the Figure

Don’t Get Lost in Figure Drawing

The mapping out stage of a figure drawing is crucial, whether it stays in your sketchbook or eventually lead to a final painting. It’s vital to consider the small individual shapes you see and also how those shapes line up with other parts of the body. Artist Vincent Giarrano shares his tips for mapping out the figure so that you have a step-by-step process to get you to a finished figure and a road map of sorts to follow so that you don’t get lost from top of head to tip of toes.

Figure drawing by Vincent Giarrano. The Red Room, oil painting.

The Red Room (oil, 16×20) by Vincent Giarrano. Article contributions from Vincent Giarrano and Cherie Haas.

Small Shapes & What to Do with Detail

  1. Look for any smaller shapes that can help you define the larger shapes in the figure: shadow shapes (outline them), muscle shapes, creases and negative shapes (for example, the spaces between the limbs and the trunk of the body.
  2. Try to ignore detail. I find it helps to think of the figure as a flat arrangement of shapes rather than a human body.
  3. With each new shape, cross-check it against the surrounding shapes to confirm that it’s right.
  4. If the shape you see is too big or complex, imagine a line closing off part of it so it’s more manageable.
Figure drawing leads to powerful paintings that have so many narrative possibilities. Stick with your practice to get comfortable with anatomy and form. Work by Vincent Garriano.

Figure drawing leads to powerful paintings that have so many narrative possibilities. Stick with your practice to get comfortable with anatomy and form. Work by Vincent Giarrano.

Corrections, Mistakes, Re-Routing

  1. When you come across something wrong, make a bold correction. Don’t follow your previous lines.
  2. If you get stuck, ask yourself, What am I really seeing? Imagine that you’ve never seen a figure before or that your subject is a pile of dough.
  3. When necessary, use information you have about perspective and anatomy to support your observations—rather than letting this information lead you as you create your figure drawing.

Head, Hands and Feet

  1. Keep hands and feet very simple at first, such as a mitten-shape for hands. Then, when you have initial shapes established, you can break out the smaller shapes you see within.
  2. For the head, use a simplified shape with only a cross to show what direction the head is facing (one for the eyes and one following down the nose).
  3. Just as you did for the figure, map out the head by looking for strong shapes and then pulling out the smaller ones. Resist the urge to draw things you know—the eyes, the nose and the mouth. Just look for and render shapes of value. Squinting can help to simplify what you see.

Now you have 10 guideposts for figure drawing. From head to toe, there is room in the human body for artistic expression and your unique take. We are just here to give you the basic building blocks so you can set that inner vision free. With Brent Eviston’s Figure Drawing Essentials: Anatomy & Form DVD, you will get a giant leap forward–and every step will be easy, engaging and fun. Enjoy!



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Foliage is the Cherry On Top of Your Landscape Paintings

Spruce Up Your Landscape Paintings

Regardless of the season, adding foliage effects can take your landscape paintings to the next level of success. And, when it comes to seasonal foliage, I love it all. I am equally entranced by the lively greens of spring and summer foliage as I am with the rich oranges, golds and browns of fall and early winter.

Although, perfecting the colors of the seasonal foliage you are trying to portray in a painting can be daunting, worry no longer, artists! Below, Albert Handell demonstrates step-by-step exactly how to add some crisp, lush foliage to your landscape paintings.

A Flutter of Foliage

Most of my students, once they begin a landscape painting, will continue to noodle on and on, in an attempt to take the artwork to the finish. My way of working is simpler.

The background portions of the block-in, painted boldly, transparently and without details, I leave alone. The foreground portions of the block-in, which are then painted opaquely, I strengthen a bit, but avoid overworking.

Then I’ll bring the two areas together with a flutter of foliage, creating intriguing rhythms and details while resolving the painting.

Fall foliage | Albert Handell |Evening Glow on Palace Avenue | Artists-Network

In Evening Glow on Palace Avenue, Santa Fe (oil on linen, 30×40)


The following landscape painting demonstration explains how I apply this method to a spring or summer scene. For autumn and winter landscapes, I treat twigs and thin branches in the same way as I do foliage. (See Evening Glow on Palace Avenue, Santa Fe, above.)


Demo Step 1 | Fall foliage | Albert Handell | Artists Network

Landscape Painting Step 1: Establish the Composition

1. Establish the Composition of the Landscape Painting

First I blocked in all areas of the linen canvas, establishing the design and composition of the painting. Notice how the opaque shapes of the rocks and tree stand out from the transparent, scrubbed-on darker colors of the background.

I varied the background colors with a combination of ultramarine blue, burnt sienna and viridian green. I applied these with just a touch of Gamblin Gamsol on the brush, which diluted the colors slightly.

Then I scrubbed the mixtures onto the canvas, basically “cleaning” the color from my brushes. The colors dried quickly with a transparent, luminous quality — in sharp contrast to the more opaque application of paint in the foreground.

If you paint these background colors on a white surface, they will at first look very dark. But if you scrub them on as I described, they’ll weaken, becoming transparent and luminous.

You can easily see that the background colors are more green and blue above the rocks. Colors under the rocks are warmer and redder.


Demo Step 2 | Fall foliage | Albert Handell | Artists Network

Landscape Painting Step 2: Add Foliage

2. Add Foliage to the Landscape Painting

With the composition established, I strengthened the central rocks and the tree with opaque applications of paint. Otherwise, I left the composition alone. I ended up with the two large contrasting areas, foreground and background.

At this point, I had painted the rocks painted opaquely and the background transparently. How could I marry these two dramatically different areas without noodling them to death?

The answer is the introduction of a third element: foliage. Delicate foliage is all it takes to bring together the two large, contrasting areas. I think of it as the flute that ties together the different dramatic themes of a symphony.

With this in mind, I used warm and cool greens, applied with a palette knife, to simulate a flutter of leaves. The foliage dances with a life and rhythm of its own. When I apply the foliage in this way and leave it alone, I avoid belaboring and weakening the painting.


Demo Step 2a | Fall foliage | Albert Handell | Artists Network

Landscape Painting 2a: Foliage Detail

2a. A Closer Look

Above is an enlarged detail of the foliage in my landscape painting. You can see how transparently I painted the background. This creates a sense of space and atmosphere.

You can also sense the flutter of the foliage, which I applied with different pressures of a palette knife. I began with middle-tone, cool greens, varying the color slightly.

Then I followed up with lighter, warm greens placed sparingly on top as final touches. Although I painted intuitively, I kept in mind a movement from upper right to lower left. I was also careful not to add too much foliage, which would weaken the painting.


Demo Finish | Fall foliage | Albert Handell | Enroute to Kaaterskill Falls | Artists Network

Landscape Painting: En Route to the Kaaterskill Falls (oil on linen, 22×28) by Albert Handell

3. Finishing the Landscape Painting

I added a few touches to the surrounding rocks and tree, but I still left the transparent background alone. Finishing the painting was basically a continuation of painting the foliage.

I was careful not to overdo it. This fluttery element not only stands out as a separate element, but also marries the two large contrasting areas of transparent background and opaque foreground. This resolves the piece without further noodling.


Fall foliage | Albert Handell | The White Pine | Artists Network

In The White Pine (oil linen, 22×28) the foliage is seen as rhythms and movement rather than as individual leaves


Quick Fall Foliage Tip: If you’re ready to break out your radiant red, orange and gold palettes and work on some autumn landscapes? This interactive map tells you when you can expect to see the very best fall foliage this year — perfect for some seasonal landscape painting inspiration.

This landscape painting article by Albert Handell first appeared in the November 2017 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Want more art instruction, insight and interviews? Don’t miss a single issue. Subscribe here.

Paint Realistic Tree Bark Texture

Now that you know how to paint foliage, fine tune your texture painting skills! In this quick video instruction, accomplished artist Johannes Vloothuis demonstrates simple techniques for painting realistic tree bark. Enjoy!


The post Foliage is the Cherry On Top of Your Landscape Paintings appeared first on Artist's Network.

Art Machines: Sunlight

When you get the opportunity to go behind the scenes with paint-makers and manufacturers–you take it! Explore Winsor & Newton’s “Art Machines,” which pull back the curtain to reveal the company’s unique investment in craftsmanship, research and development of premium paints.

Let There Be Light

You’ve created some great work, but will it last? Paint can start to fade over time, leaving colours less vivid, and a finish that doesn’t seem quite so bright.

That’s why Winsor & Newton leave nothing to chance when it comes to a timeless finish. They’ve developed the latest machine testing in order to ensure the paint doesn’t fade. Using precision technology based on extreme exposure to light, their experts ensure the look stays the way you want. You can watch their newly released video, above, showing exactly how they keep their paints in the Professional Acrylic range shining bright.

In the last post, we saw how Winsor & Newton check for ingredient balance. For this post, it’s an opportunity to view the ways they ensure the light fastness of each batch. This “light fastness” is a measure of the chemical stability of the paint pigments when exposed to light. Hence the sunlight machine test is a way of assessing the paint that’s used by artists to ensure their composition won’t fade over time. In fact, the test was initially used by the textiles industry before being adopted by paint and printing manufacturers.

To begin with, swatches of colour are painted on archival paper. These swatches are imprinted twice so a comparison can be made. This makes it easy to check for any changes over each side of the dividing line. Next, the swatches are placed on draws and slotted into a machine called the Q Sun tester. One side is exposed to light; the other is covered up and protected.

A Xenon lamp is switched on, emitting artificial wavelengths over the colour swatches. These light waves closely mimic light that comes from the sun, and can last in this testing stage for up to three months. The level of humidity and UV exposure are strictly controlled at this point. Finally, the swatches are removed and the amount of fading is examined at either side of the line–the part that was covered versus the part that wasn’t covered is compared. This fading is measured on a scale of 1 to 8, whereby 8 is very low fading and 1 means the paint has low resistance to UV–and has faded significantly.

Pigment with low resistance can fade in as little as three hours–but Winsor & Newton look for colours that stay light fast for between 50 and 100 years under normal gallery display conditions.

It’s an intensive process that is carried out in the laboratory under highly controlled conditions by a group of experts, often referred to as “colour men,” based at the Winsor & Newton London headquarters.

These colour men work with an in-house artist to develop new colours and paints. An example of this collaborative approach is Winsor & Newton’s acrylic co-polymer binder. This binder gives an extended working time due to it taking longer for the paint to form a skin on the top. Unlike some other binders, it is also clear, so there is no colour shift when the paint dries.

Winsor & Newton are at the forefront of research and innovation in the development of paints, and the testing, as well as the binder, is an example of how they maintain the highest standards for all products.

This is just one of the ways Winsor & Newton guarantee exceptional quality in their Professional Acrylic range. Check out their other test videos and discover more about their pursuit of perfection.

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Here is How to Achieve Brilliant Color in Pastel

Exotic Splendor with Artist David Napp

How to Achieve Brilliant Color in Pastel | Pastel Techniques | Pastel Painting | David Napp | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Sarial Elegance by David Napp, Pastel, 25 cm c 32 cm. Information provided in this post was pulled from an article written by John A. Parks, featured in a past issue of Pastel Journal.


David Napp’s fills his pastel art with resplendent color and bold mark-making. He expertly captures his real-world adventures, from the bazaars of Marrakesh and the thronged cities of India to the Italian countryside and the cosmopolitan splendors of London and Rome.

Whether it’s London’s Waterloo Bridge at night or an Italian hill town covered in snow, Napp brings a sense of raw pleasure at being in a particular place at a particular moment. His views and motifs are carefully chosen and simplified to a compelling clarity. Detail is stripped away, forms are massed and color is built to achieve a transformative vibrancy.

Heading Down a New Pastel Path

How to Achieve Brilliant Color in Pastel | Pastel Techniques | Pastel Painting | David Napp | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Crackerjacks by David Napp


For the first 30 years of his career, Napp worked directly from life traveling with his easel and pastels in tow. Then on a trip to Marrakesh on 2010, he found it was too difficult to paint his subjects from life.

“The bazaars, or souks, are designed with very narrow streets so that people are forced to look at the merchandise on the stalls,” explains Napp. “And every so often a truck comes down collecting rubbish, or a taxi will push its way through.”

He continues, “There just wasn’t any room to work. And then there were light effects — shafts of sunlight breaking into shadows — that were transitory. I decided to use photography. And of course, it was difficult because the locals don’t really like having their photos taken.”

Still, Napp discovered taking photos allowed him to take on painting subjects in light conditions he’d never have been able to attempt otherwise. “I’d never done a night painting,” notes Napp, “because you just can’t see color at night.” Once he was back in the studio, he found he could adjust the values in his digital photos to make all kinds of nocturnal conditions accessible.

Although he knows taking photos captures subjects that would be out of his reach otherwise, Napp understands the pitfalls of relying too heavily on a camera.

“A photograph is only a starting point for me,” he says. “I’m quite prepared to make all kinds of alterations. If you looked at my reference photos, you’d see that they’re very different from the final work. I don’t think I’d have been able to do any of these pieces if I didn’t have all of those years of working directly from life under my belt.” 

Pushing the Limits of Color in Pastel

How to Achieve Brilliant Color in Pastel | Pastel Techniques | Pastel Painting | David Napp | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Grand Designs by David Napp


Napp’s color choices push the outer limits of naturalism. In Grand Designs, a mud brick wall in Morocco becomes a glowing, saturated orange on which palm trees cast brilliant red shadows.

The sky behind the vast Battersea Power Station in London becomes a heavy green overlaid with powerful red strokes in Tower Station.

The excitement of these scenes is matched by the thrill of Napp’s pastel strokes, which he applies with a take-no-prisoners approach. A sense of movement takes over, helping to sweep the eye around the image and confer a sense of joy and vitality.

“I really assault the paper,” says Napp. But for all its energy, his work is underpinned by accomplished draftsmanship and a sophisticated sense of design and composition.


How to Achieve Brilliant Color in Pastel | Pastel Techniques | Pastel Painting | David Napp | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Tower Station by David Napp


To aid the composition process, Napp will use a cardboard square or make his fingers into a box shape to frame his subject. If he makes preparatory sketches, he may grid them to ensure the composition is transferred accurately. The very orderliness of the composition enables the freedom of attack that’s so enticing to the viewer.

Working Fast

When it comes to building his pastel surface, Napp explains, “You have to build pastel like oil paint, starting with the darks and building up to the lights. Also, like oil, you have to work from thin layers underneath to heavier layers on top.”

After he has established his composition in outline, Napp relies on a big set of Rembrandt pastels to start building active color layers without putting too much loose pastel on the surface.

Darks are massed in, and basic color areas are established. He frequently skews the color in the early layers of pastel, putting down red-oranges on areas that will eventually be green, or placing greens in areas that will be red.

“For the final layers, I use a soft pastel, usually Sennelier or Schmincke,” says Napp. “The hues are much more vibrant with these brands, but a lot of the color work already has been done by the harder pastel layers underneath.”


How to Achieve Brilliant Color in Pastel | Pastel Techniques | Pastel Painting | David Napp | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

The Burning Ghat, Varanasi, by David Napp


Like many pastelists, Napp wrestles with the consequences of going back and reworking a pastel. “In the end,” he notes, “my most successful pieces are the ones that are done the fastest, when everything comes together in a rush, and there’s no reworking.”

After he has completed a piece, Napp has one final ritual. “Since I never fix anything, I have to tap the work quite sharply on the back to ensure that any loose pastel falls away,” he says. “Otherwise, it will drive my poor framer crazy.”

If you’re intrigued by Napp’s approach to color in pastel, read on for a quick step-by-step demonstration!

4 Steps to Colorful Pastels

A strong underlayer of pastels often skewed in color serves as the foundation for many of Napp’s paintings. Here’s how he achieves brilliant color in pastel.

1. Transferring the Image

Napp begins by using a grid to transfer the image from a sketch to a piece of toned pastel paper. The pencil grid is visible lightly here.

The outline is drawn carefully in pencil, and the darks are massed in with a deep blue. The pink laid in the sky will provide considerable color action when blue is placed over it.


How to Achieve Brilliant Color in Pastel | Pastel Techniques | Pastel Painting | David Napp | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Step 1

2. Applying Sure Strokes of Pastel

The broad masses of the subject are laid out with clean, sure strokes of pastel. The blue now sits over the pink in the sky, while the trees are established in an unlikely brilliant orange in preparation for a later layer of color.


How to Achieve Brilliant Color in Pastel | Pastel Techniques | Pastel Painting | David Napp | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Step 2

3. Establishing Layers of Detail

Greens are laid over the orange of the trees to create active, vibrant color. The sky has been built further. And, some of the complexity of the lights and shadows of the bridge are put into play.

Napp includes a full account of the railings on the bridge, a meticulous counterpoint to the freer strokes elsewhere.


How to Achieve Brilliant Color in Pastel | Pastel Techniques | Pastel Painting | David Napp | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Step 3

4. Adding The Final Touches

The last strokes are added to the rippling water in the foreground and the buildup of the swan in the middle ground. The pastel exhibits extraordinary freshness and directness; there’s no evidence of fussing or backtracking.


How to Achieve Brilliant Color in Pastel | Pastel Techniques | Pastel Painting | David Napp | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

The Blue Bridge, St. Jame’s Park, London, by David Napp

About David Napp

David Napp, born in Kent, England, studied at Canterbury College of Art. He has since lived in France and currently resides in Italy.

He has won many awards, including the Elizabeth Greenshield Award for Young Artists (twice) and the Pollock Krasner Award. His work has been exhibited widely, including one-man shows in London and around the U.K., 10 exhibitions in the U.S., and shows in Holland and France.

Napp has participated in many mixed exhibitions, including The Pastel Society UK, the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of British Artists. He also teaches pastel workshops in France, Italy and England.

Learn more about Napp and his art by visiting his website, DavidNappFineArt.com.

Create Glowing Pastels

Want more ways to create beautiful color with pastel? Check out this quick how-to video from pastelist Christine Ivers to learn how to create neon and ambient lights in your pastel paintings. Enjoy!

How do you like to apply color in pastel? Share your favorite tips, tricks and techniques in the comments below!

The post Here is How to Achieve Brilliant Color in Pastel appeared first on Artist's Network.

The Power of Suggestion

Understanding how to paint form--often without line--is the way to create without bogging down in detail in pastel landscape painting.

Understanding how to paint form–often without line–is the way to create without bogging down in detail in pastel landscape painting.

Painting What You See in a Pastel Landscape

The power of suggestion is a strong tool in the hands of an artist. For example, when a landscape painting is viewed, visual bits and pieces are processed and assembled into a recognizable image by the viewer. But not all that visual information has to literally be there. Truly! Often with only an indication, a viewer will be able to finish what the artist suggested and ultimately believe that there was more detailed information portrayed than was actually there.

Richard McKinley is a great believer in “less is more” and here he breaks down the strategies we need so that every painting we create with pastel say a lot without getting ruined with detail. If that sounds as good to you as it does to me, Alla Prima Pastel Painting with Richard McKinley is your next step. The video puts all Richard’s popular teachings for graceful, lovely pastels all in one place for you! Enjoy!


What Is That?

From childhood, humans internalize knowledge about what they see. This becomes stored in the “what we know” area of the brain and allows us to quickly identify things. Conversely, when a young child sees something for the first time, they ask, “What is that?” Left unchecked, this internalized knowledge of what things are can get in the way of painting what we truly see.


In Glenna’s Spot (pastel, en plein air, 12×16), Richard McKinley uses the power of suggestion, rather than line, in his portrayal of trees.

The Use of Line

Painters rely upon shapes of color, tone and value to represent what it is they are portraying. These form the visual bits and pieces that make up a painting, but there is another mark that the artist is capable of making that in reality doesn’t exist in nature – line.

From the time that humans were capable of picking up a stick and making a mark in the soil, they have relied upon line to represent things. These marks evolved into text that could be read and contour shapes that symbolized specific things. But, in reality, it is really the contrast of color and value that makes something stand out and become recognizable in a scene—not line.

Painting the Essence

While line may have its purposes and, in the hand of a competent artist, is capable of representing a style of painting, it can also become detrimental to the representational artist when used to portray such things as blades of grass, tree branches, hair, and various other things that are often associated to line. I witnessed this at an early age while learning to paint portraits.

After spending meticulous hours placing every strand of hair on a head, the instructor pointed out to me that I couldn’t really see all of those hairs, especially from root to tip. Instead, I was putting in what I knew about hair, instead of what I was capable of seeing.

Essence vs Line

By showing me that the texture of hair was more evident where there was contrast, facilitated by the presence of intense light, I was able to let go of what I knew to be true about hair and paint what I was capable of seeing, which was the “essence” of hair. I could relate this lesson, then, to the grasses in a field and the limbs and branches of trees.

A pastel stick makes it easy to draw lines. To avoid what is contemptuously referred to as “The Spaghetti Phenomenon,” it is imperative to vary the pressure of application. This is true especially when the pastel marks are intended to represent things that have depth and form yet are associated to line.

Artful Example

My en plein air pastel painting “Glenna’s Spot” offers an example. Instead of overly defining the individual tree limbs, I chose to use hit-and-miss pastel marks that indicated a directional thrust yet were not a constant line. The suggestion of the limbs is minimal. Hopefully it is just enough to allow the viewer’s imagination to be engaged, allowing them be a part of the painting.

The post The Power of Suggestion appeared first on Artist's Network.

Why Adding Words to Paintings is the Ultimate Inspirational Tool

Hearing Your Inner Voice: Words in Art

Inspirational Art Quote | Vincent van Gogh | ArtistsNetwork

Sometimes, all it takes is a single word, like “determination,” to spark our creative fire. Other times, motivational quotes, such as the one above, seem to ignite an unceasing flame in us to achieve our goals.

We all have them: words, phrases and sayings that inspire, motivate and drive us to be better people and artists. And, we most likely all have a favorite artwork that equally fuels our passions. So as artists, why not combine our favorite words with our paintings for the ultimate inspirational tool?

After all, “painting is a visual language and, when paired with words, becomes even stronger in communicating our inner world,” says artist Mati Rose McDonough. She is the co-author of Painting the Sacred Within, along with her friend and fellow artist, Faith Evans-Sills.

Choosing a strong word to include in a painting can bring together the “theme” of that specific art piece and what you are trying to communicate overall through your art and in your life. Below is a fun demo pulled from McDonough and Evans-Sills book, so you can start getting your words and brushstrokes on the same page (pun intended). Enjoy!

Lettering with a Brush

Adding Words to Paintings | Calligraphy | Words in Art | Writing with a Brush | Mati Rose McDonough and Faith Evans-Sills | ArtistsNetwork

We each have a unique signature that carries a powerful weight along with its message. Lettering is your natural mark marking. When you combine your script with your artwork, you bring tremendous meaning to your painterly expressions.

In this demo, you will choose a strong a word to use as a continued theme and reminder of what’s meaningful to you. Here’s what you will need to get started:

  • Acrylic paints
  • A marker
  • Paintbrushes (small with clean, crisp tips)
  • Water

1. A Helping Hand

You may want to have a friend or family member write your own word or a quote on your hand to fully embody the word(s).

Adding Words to Paintings | Calligraphy | Words in Art | Writing with a Brush | Mati Rose McDonough and Faith Evans-Sills | ArtistsNetwork

2. Tiny but Mighty Tools

Using watered-down or fluid acrylic paints (sometimes I use water-resistant black India ink), start writing your word or words with a small brush.

Adding Words to Paintings | Calligraphy | Words in Art | Writing with a Brush | Mati Rose McDonough and Faith Evans-Sills | ArtistsNetwork

3. Writing Words in Style

Begin the script, adding calligraphic elements like curves to the words. Think about where compositionally it works to paint the word in the painting — if there’s a perfect clearing for the word or if you want to create one before you begin with a swath of paint.

Adding Words to Paintings | Calligraphy | Words in Art | Writing with a Brush | Mati Rose McDonough and Faith Evans-Sills | ArtistsNetwork

4. Through Thick and Thin

It’s helpful to vary the width of the letters from thick to thin for visual interest.

Adding Words to Paintings | Calligraphy | Words in Art | Writing with a Brush | Mati Rose McDonough and Faith Evans-Sills | ArtistsNetwork

5. Carrying On

Continue lettering in a fluid, cursive way. 

Adding Words to Paintings | Calligraphy | Words in Art | Writing with a Brush | Mati Rose McDonough and Faith Evans-Sills | ArtistsNetwork

6. Attention’s in the Details

Go over the script multiple times. And treat the lettering as a word, but also as a painting by paying attention to the curves and varying the lines.

Adding Words to Paintings | Calligraphy | Words in Art | Writing with a Brush | Mati Rose McDonough and Faith Evans-Sills | ArtistsNetwork

7. Adding the Final Touches

Finish your word, making sure it reads well and takes up space beautifully.

Adding Words to Paintings | Calligraphy | Words in Art | Writing with a Brush | Mati Rose McDonough and Faith Evans-Sills | ArtistsNetwork

If you want more words to inspire your next creative project, here are a few paintings made by Mary Wangerin. She often uses exquisite hand-painted lettering in her art, inviting the viewer to experience words in a deeper way.


Adding Words to Paintings | Calligraphy | Words in Art | Writing with a Brush | Mati Rose McDonough and Faith Evans-Sills | ArtistsNetwork

Art by Mary Wangerin


We asked her how she chooses the works she works with. “I love to incorporate words or quotes into my work. Often, the words I choose tend to reflect how I’m feeling that day,” says Wangerin. “They serve as gentle reminders, inspiration and guides. I believe in the beauty of imperfections and messes, so almost all of my lettering mirrors this. I grab a small-tipped paintbrush and go for it, rarely ever using a pencil first. The process is so freeing.”


Adding Words to Paintings | Calligraphy | Words in Art | Writing with a Brush | Mati Rose McDonough and Faith Evans-Sills | ArtistsNetwork

Art by Mary Wangerin

Touch Up on Your Lettering

If you’re new to calligraphy, or just want a refresher, then check out Jen Wagner’s new North Light Book, Happy Hand Lettering. This book is filled with lettering tips, techniques and tutorials to help you bring your words to life.

Intrigued? Enjoy this teaser trailer for Happy Hand Lettering before getting started!


The post Why Adding Words to Paintings is the Ultimate Inspirational Tool appeared first on Artist's Network.

How To Show Your Work at Art Fairs Like a Pro

Fair Well at Art Fairs

How to Show Your Art at Art Fairs | ArtistsNetwork

Photo courtesy of Getty Images. The information featured in this article first appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Acrylic Artist.


Outdoor art fairs are an ideal way to get your work in front of a new audience, meet with other artists and sell your creations. Never participated in an art fair before? Have some questions? We’ve got you covered.

Here are some pointers and tricks of the trade to help make your art fair experience a successful one. Enjoy!

Fun in the Sun

art fairs ArtistsNetwork

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


Don’t let the sun wreck your work. Always use quality materials. Most major manufacturers contribute to the efforts of the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) — the organization that devised a series of standards for evaluating pigments for lightfastness.

Quality manufacturers select pigments with an ASTM lightfastness rating of 1, or excellent, to make their products. Look for companies that display or cite light fastness ratings for their products. Examine products that provide the chemical name of the pigments they use along with the binder and any other additives.

Displaying work outdoors is never ideal. If you must, use acrylic glazing or UV glass when framing your work. Hang weighted, white fabric on the sides of your tent to create a sun shield. The weights prevent the fabric from moving in the breeze, and white is preferable over fabric with colors that will reflect onto your art.

On The Move

You may be wondering, “How do I move my work from my studio to an art fair?” The outdoor art community has a variety of durable painting carriers from which to choose — even those for transporting wet paintings. These are simply boxes with fixed dividers to keep the paintings, often ¹∕8- to ¼-inch thick, separated from one another. However, this system is not suitable for framed art.

If you can, recreate the same type of box but space the dividers farther apart to accommodate framed works of art. Another solution is to use a large, heavy-duty cardboard box as a container and double-thick cardboard as dividers. Cut the cardboard sheets to fit

Cut the cardboard sheets to fit snugly within the interior of the box. Place a painting in the box lying on its side and insert a layer of cardboard on top of it. Repeat until all paintings are secured and fill any void within the box with additional sheets of cardboard.

Used with care, these boxes will last a fairly long time. Spray paint the exterior of your boxes makes them more durable and potentially water resistant. Outfit the boxes with thick cords and handles to make them easier to carry.

Attracting Clients to Your Booth

art fair ArtistsNetwork

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Consider creating new work in your booth during shows. It’s a great way to engage clients about your process and inspiration, as well as draw them to your work. However, you should keep in mind a few essential steps:

  • Painting with acrylic, for instance, assures fast drying, but you should still wait at least 48 hours before assuming the painting is completely dry.
  • Warn customers that fresh paintings can appear dry but may transfer paint to clothing, skin or the interior of the car.
  • Consider making disposable shadow box frames out of cardboard to protect the painting when placed in a clear bag. Not only will this help safeguard your hard work, but your potential customers will greatly appreciate the precaution.

Hands Off

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Keep your work safe from curious hands. Signage is the best way to convey your wishes. Explain to your customers that acrylic paint is prone to attracting dirt from fingers that touch it.

Applying an acrylic solvent-based varnish will protect your artwork. It provides a tougher barrier than clear acrylic mediums or dispersion 
varnishes, and it’s less prone to 
retaining finger marks.

If marks do appear, it’s easier to wipe them off than those left on unvarnished work or those varnished with an acrylic medium or acrylic dispersion 
surface coating.

With these essential guidelines in mind, you are well on your way to enjoying productive, and hopefully profitable, art fairs!

Do you have any tips for ensuring success at an art fair? Tell us in the comments below.


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