10 Tips on How to Paint With Pastels

Lots of questions confront you as you’re painting in pastel. What effect will the color of your surface have on the finished painting? What sort of underpainting is right for your style and subject? How do you keep things fun and loose?

If you want to learn how to paint with pastels or want to improve your pastel abilities, The Pastel Journal has you covered: Below are 10 helpful tips from our new downloadable eMag Pastel Painting for Beginners. For much more advice from these experienced artists, download the eMag here. (And if you haven’t already, subscribe to The Pastel Journal!)


10 Tips on How to Paint With Pastels

1. Surface color matters.

Many surfaces come in a variety of colors, and the color you choose has a profound effect on the resulting painting. You can choose a color that will show throughout, creating harmony and balance, or you can select a contrasting color that will add excitement and energy. [–Maggie Price, on surfaces for pastel painting]

2. Combine firm and soft pastels.

Try purchasing two pastel sets: one set of somewhat firm pastels and one set of much softer sticks. You’ll find that working soft pastels over hard pastels is a time-tested method that’s a good way to begin. [–Deborah Secor, on materials for pastel painting]

3. Rework when your surface allows it.

An advantage to sanded surfaces is that they can be erased and reworked to some degree. Keep in mind, however, that very soft pastels fill the grain of the tooth rather quickly. [–Secor]

4. Don’t forget the eraser.

You can use a plain white plastic eraser for many effects, depending on the tooth or texture of your paper. They quickly become black with use, so occasionally it’s a good idea to briskly scrub them on a rough surface to restore a section that’s bright and clean. [–Secor]

5. Working wet yields surprises.

One way to loosen up and let go of some control is to create a wet underpainting, allowing colors and values to migrate. When wet, pigments often have a mind of their own, producing interesting unplanned effects. [–Richard McKinley, on underpainting methods]

Marla Baggetta | How to paint with pastels | Artist's Network

So Far, by Marla Baggetta, pastel, 26 x18.

6. Thumbnails are perfect for experimentation.

Each thumbnail on its own isn’t precious, which encourages the willingness to experiment. [–Marla Baggetta, on thumbnail sketches]

7. Try a viewfinder.

By using a viewfinder that divides the picture plane into quadrants, you can duplicate those same quadrants, lightly, on your thumbnail and initial painting sketch, which makes drawing out the elements in your scene much easier. [–Baggetta]

8. Plan now, relax later.

Plan first. Good design—strong values, good composition and a strong underpainting—allows you to relax and enjoy the process. [–Jeanne Rosier Smith, on staying loose while painting]

Jeanee Rosier Smith | How to paint with pastels | Artist's Network

Sweep, by Jeanne Rosier Smith, pastel, 24 x 36.

9. Watch out for overworking.

Saying “the harder, longer and more precisely I work, the better this painting will look,” is a lie that leads to overworked paintings. [–Smith]

10. Use photos selectively.

Use your photos as a way to jog your memory, helping you to remember the beauty of a scene and the colors you saw. You’ll remember what you wanted to focus on, but you won’t feel obligated to include every last detail. [–Smith]

That’s it for now! For more detailed advice on how to paint with pastels, check out our eMag Pastel Painting for Beginners.

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Field Trip! Drawing Animals at the Zoo

Editor’s Note: We know you love Lee Hammond and her books on how to draw. To give back, today we’re giving you the chance to WIN* a copy of Lee’s Lifelike Drawing in Colored Pencil AND Lifelike Drawing. Simply read Lee’s newest guest blog post here and then share a comment below and tell us where your favorite zoo is, and what you’d enjoy drawing there. Good luck! ~Cherie

It’s “FUN ART,” not fine art…

I recently started a new adventure, expanding my art and teaching career. For years, I have taught realistic drawing and painting, showing people how to create framable fine art pieces. There are few things more rewarding than creating a true work of art, and seeing it framed on the wall.

But, not all art has to be so complicated and not all art has to be framed and hung. Art doesn’t have to be so serious! Sometimes, art should just be fun!

Drawing animals at the zoo | Lee Hammond, ArtistsNetwork.com

A fun drawing of a giraffe. I teach the students how to see proportions, and capture shape. Click here to check out my drawing books at North Light Shop.

I have started teaching at the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, here in Naples, Florida. On Saturday mornings, I guide a group of students through the magnificent zoo grounds, and show them how to quick sketch, just for fun.

I realize that many have some strong opinions about zoos in general. While I totally disagree with roadside zoos and inadequate care for animals, I believe the large state or federally funded zoos have an important place in our world. Many do not realize that they provide much-needed research to keep our earth’s species safe. Developing new medications, offering safe places for injured animals that cannot be returned to the wild and studying the evolution of the species is critical. The larger zoos do a great job of offering sanctuary to animals, in the most natural setting as possible.

For instance, we have a panther at the Naples Zoo that was shot in the face. He was blinded, and found living off of road kill since he could no longer see to hunt. He now is happy and healthy, living out his years in safety.

Drawing plants at the zoo | Lee Hammond, ArtistsNetwork.com

This drawing is what I call “stylized.” It’s more animated than a realistic rendering.

To help people understand the zoo’s importance, I have a zoo employee assigned to me as I teach. Rolando helps me keep my group together, since it’s hard to head-count all of the time in that type of environment. Rolando has worked there for 16 years, and he can answer all of the questions about what people are seeing at the zoo.He has created many of the natural enclosures that the animals live in. He’s also an artist, so he sketches right along with us. I give the students info about drawing techniques, and he gives them info about the animals and plant life.

I alternate two different classes. One is about drawing flowers and nature. Florida is full of beautiful plant life, and the zoo grounds are filled with palm trees, ferns and foliage. Some have gorgeous, huge leaves.

The students carry a small sketchbook and a mechanical pencil. I show them how to realistically and quickly sketch the characteristics of different plants and trees as we walk around enjoying the environment. At the end of the tour, we go to a picnic area, where I share colored pencils and markers to add color to our sketches. None of it is serious art, it’s just “fun art.”

The other class is about animal drawing. I show them how to draw the animals, even when they’re moving. We often take a reference photo of the animal with our cell phones to finish the drawing later. As we walk from one exhibit to another, Rolando gives them the history of all the animals. It’s such a fun and curious adventure.

In memory of Harambe | Lee Hammond, ArtistsNetwork.com

All zoos have a kindred spirit with one another. When something happens to an animal, we all feel it. Now that I am connected with the Naples zoo, I created a drawing of Harambe, the gorilla who was killed recently. This drawing is a gift from myself, and the Naples Zoo, to the Cincinnati Zoo. Through my art, we can show our condolences and compassion and link ourselves together in our love of animals.

What I found by teaching these classes is that we remember things so much more when we draw from life. When we’re drawing, all five of our senses are fully involved. It commits our experience to memory, much more that just looking at things or taking a photograph. When I look at the sketches we have created now, I can remember everything, right down to what we were talking about at the time.

I’m looking forward to this new aspect of my teaching, and sharing with people my love of art, flowers and animals. It is so much fun.

The other neat aspect of this is that it requires no experience. Anyone can do it, and many who have signed up have never drawn before. This is a great way to introduce someone to art and drawing, because the end result has no expectations as with more formal art classes. Many have avoided formal art classes in the past, due to feeling artistically challenged. But in these classes they’re having fun doing “FUN ART,” where there is no fear of failure. But, should a new love of art be born, they can then sign up for my art workshops to hone their skills even further.

There are a thousand different ways to create and teach art. I full intend to create some more, so stay tuned!
Happy drawing…

*Open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen August 31, 2016.

Lee Hammond has been called the Queen of Drawing. That may not be fair these days, since in addition to providing the best drawing lessons, she has also created fantastic books and videos filled with the same easy to follow acrylic painting techniques, colored pencil techniques and more. Click here to see all of the instructional books and DVDs that Lee Hammond has to offer!

Free download! Easy Acrylic Painting Techniques by Lee Hammond

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The Cardinal Rule of Color Mixing

The Exploring Color Workshop kit is one of our newest collections, and includes Nita Leland’s Exploring Color Workshop 30th Anniversary Edition, Confident Color and her Color Scheme Selector (color wheel). Get it today while supplies last!

Also, The Artist’s Magazine’s All Media Art Competition is open for entries through mid-October. Take advantage of the resources above, and apply them to make your best work yet. Winners will receive cash prizes and be published in The Artist’s Magazine.

Scroll down for an exclusive excerpt from Nita’s book on exploring color! ~Cherie

How to master color mixing | Nita Leland, ArtistsNetwork.com

“Don’t overmix,” Nita says. “Keep your colors clean and don’t mix too much. As you pick up color and lay it on your support, you should still be able to see clearly all the colors used in the mixture.”

How to Master Color Mixing by Nita Leland

The cardinal rule of color mixing in painting and drawing media is, “Don’t mix too much.” Even if you’re using the right colors, overmixing can dull a mixture. A good mixture shows the original colors used and the mixture itself–for example, yellow and blue, as well as green. This broken color gives livelier color vibration. Also, you may be courting disaster if you put too many colors into a mixture. For greater control over mixtures, mix colors of the same approximate value and tinting strength.

Fiber artists can make small woven, knitted or quilted samples to mix their colors in warp and weft, and collage artists can make mosaics of small paper clippings. In these applications, colors are mixed by the eye instead of a brush.

Color Mixing Exercise: Combine and Compare
Acrylic Primaries

Which colors should you use for your primaries? Here’s where color theory gets confusing. You can see how different these acrylic mixtures are when I use different paint colors for my primaries. For each sample, I applied a different primary to each end of the strip and gradually mixed them across the space, since acrylics don’t mingle like watercolors when you use high-viscosity paints. The more you explore your paints, the sooner you’ll be able to get the color mixture you want, every time.

Learn to appreciate the unique beauty of different mixtures. Record a swatch of each mixture in your color journal, along with a note about the colors you used. These references will come in handy when you’re painting. Maybe that dusky purple will be just right for a blue grape, or the dull orange might make a good shadow for a pumpkin.

Color Mixing tips | Art by Linda Daly Baker, ArtistsNetwork.com

Nita tells us that pure colors make a bold statement in All in a Row (transparent watercolor on cold-press watercolor paper, 22×30) by Linda Daly Baker. “Baker’s playful watercolor shows an ordinary subject reflecting prismatic colors in sunlight. What is the real subject of this painting? Of course, it’s color.”

Play with color and have fun while you learn.

Exploring Color Workshop | ArtistsNetwork.com

Special offer! get the latest edition with its new exercises, techniques and step-by-step demonstrations that will help you, no matter your skill level, understand and apply color principles.

Easy, eye-opening exercises placed throughout my book are designed to help you expand your color skills. Artists in many mediums can do most of these exercises. Reserve some time every day to do one. Collect as many color samples or paints as you can and use them for the exercises. Share with your artist friends and make exploring color a group project. As you do the exercises, you’ll see that mastery of color is an achievable goal. Exploring color will make you aware of your color preferences and strengthen your color knowledge.

Once you learn how to mix and arrange colors, exploring harmonious color triads and expanded palettes along the way, you’ll have the tools to build a solid foundation for creative color. In no time, you’ll start solving the mysteries of color and be well on your way to becoming a master colorist. That means that, if you love color, you can unlock its secrets–if you work at it.

So, begin your travels now in the wonderful world of color, and have a great trip. ~Nita

Get a free guide to color theory when you sign up for the ArtistsNetwork newsletter for ideas, inspiration and instruction.

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Beyond Street Art | How ArtWorks Helps Artists

In the October 2016 issue of The Artist’s Magazine, we talk with Colleen Houston, the Vice President of Programs and Operations at ArtWorks in Cincinnati, Ohio. Best known for the more than 100 street art murals, the non-profit organization does much more than simply beautify the Queen City outwardly. Read what Houston has to say about ArtWorks and its future projects below, and be sure to subscribe to The Artist’s Magazine.

Tamara Harkavy, CEO & Artistic Director, speaking at the 4th Annual ArtWorks Breakfast in April 2016

“We really started out as youth employment and job training in the arts, and we’ve expanded over the past 20 years. We still employ youth, but we do much more than that now; we’ve grown up a lot. We focus on public art, we do lots of public art throughout the city. We’re probably best known for our murals, and those are large-scale public exterior permanent murals.

The Golden Muse (partial) designed by Tim Parsley

Our goal is for everyone to learn about our mission and how we’re making an impact, which includes giving creative jobs to young artists ages 14 to 21 and have them work in apprenticeship positions, mentored by professional artists and art educators. We also do a lot in the area of health and wellness. One of our signature programs is called Hero Design Company. Our apprentices work individually with children that are facing some sort of hardship. They co-design a superhero insignia that the apprentice then refines and has sewn onto a cape. It’s really all about empowering children facing hardships to think about their own superpowers, think about their best qualities and best traits.

Energy and Grace designed by Kim Krause

Bottom line, we invest in creativity. We invest in individuals and we invest in places to transform our community. What’s so exciting is sometimes artists take that leap with us and they try something new. They start creating larger scale works or public works, and they do it through that support system, through the belief that they can.


Ice Cream Daydream designed by Amanda Checco

We also do works of art that transforms environments, like beautifying examination rooms in maternity care. We’re really focusing more on social awareness issues, like the stigma of homelessness and the reality of gun violence. We also have an area of focus called Creative Enterprise. Creative Enterprise invests in education and provides money to small creative entrepreneurs that are starting or growing their businesses.

We have a 9 week business training program called CO.STARTERS. Over 300 businesses have participated in that program; 50 new businesses from CO.STARTERS that have a creative focus have launched in Cincinnati over the last five years. We also have an amazing event called Big Pitch, where eight finalists get up and give a 5-minute pitch about why they’re in a position as established artists, makers, designers and creative entrepreneurs to really grow. There’s a community vote and a jury vote, and if you win, you can take home as much as $20,000 that night.

The Cincinnati Strong Man: Henry Holtgrewe (partial) designed by Jason Snell

If you think about Cincinnati, it has such a rich history of artisans and makers and entrepreneurs. It’s really just about celebrating the whole spectrum of creativity—and how our entire city is a wonderful place with creativity that’s alive and well.” – Colleen Houston, Vice President of Programs and Operations at ArtWorks.

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Still Life Artist Hariett Shorr: It’s All a Setup


This article on still life artist Hariet Shorr, written by Rick Stull, originally appeared in the January/February 2011 issue of The Artist’s Magazine.

Birdsong-still life by Harriet Shorr | ArtistsNetwork.com

Painted in 2008, Birdsong (oil, 72×46), with its limited number of objects, harks back to the sparseness seen in Harriet Shorr’s still life paintings from the 1970s and 1980s.


Still life artist Harriet Shorr has eloquently written and spoken about her paintings, addressing the knotty issues of form, content and meaning—issues that often raise as many questions as are illuminated during such discussions. Neither do such discussions dispel the mystery of an artist’s work. The ability of a work of art to bounce back after such scrutiny and to give endless pleasure must surely be one of its significant and valued traits. The same is true about discussions of the more practical issues of procedure and technique. When all is said and done, when a painting has been analyzed and, in a sense, deconstructed, its ability to delight should remain. Such is the case with Shorr’s art.


Still Life Objects Without Objective

In my recent conversation with Hariett Shorr, we stuck to the practical issues—how she actually goes about preparing and making her still life paintings. We gabbed about canvas, brushes, stretchers, paint brands and gesso. And, of course, we talked about the strange and disparate objects that inhabit her paintings.

“The objects I initially choose for a painting may not necessarily coincide with what I’m thinking and feeling at the time,” says Shorr. In fact, she consciously tries not to look for objects with a specific agenda in mind. Nor does she question what makes them “click” together. “I find a lot of the objects in flea markets and while walking along the streets of New York,” says Shorr.

still life La Tasse Rose C'est Moi by Harriet Shorr | ArtistsNetwork.com

The name of still life painting La Tasse Rose C’est Moi (oil, 40×60) translates as “The Pink Cu[p Is Me,” indicating Hariett Shorr’s identification with the cup in the center of her painting. After completing the work, Schorr noticed that the arrangement of objects around the cup implies protectiveness.

When she feels that she has gathered all her “stuff,” she arranges (a term Shorr prefers to “composes”) the items on a table in her studio (located in her Manhattan SoHo loft for most of the year and in the Vermont countryside during the summer). This act of arranging still life objects, though basically intuitive, is something Shorr does with a degree of self-consciousness. Shorr explains that when she arranges objects on her table, she usually tries to vary the spaces between them. “But my idea has always been that if the paint is really working, any compositional relationships can be made convincing.”

still life "Brocade" by Harriet Shorr | ArtistsNetwork.com

“The meadow in the background of still life Brocade (oil, 60×50),” says Harriet Shorr, “resembles the cloth—a brocade field.”

Proceeding in this casual yet alert mode, Shorr chooses a canvas, size and orientation governed by her arrangement of objects. She uses stretched canvases, typically covered with a single coat of gloss medium followed by two coats of gesso. She prefers canvas to linen because “linen is expensive and is harder to stretch perfectly.”

still life Persephone Returns by Harriet Shorr | ArtistsNetwork.com

Persephone Returns (oil, 60×90),” says Harriet Shorr, “is a still life painting about spring.”


Straight to the Paint

One might think that a certain amount of drawing or sketching would be the next step, but this is not so. Shorr does no preliminary drawing for her still life works: “Many people think,” she says, “that there’s a necessary connection between drawing and painting, that is, you have to understand something by drawing it before you can paint it. I don’t believe this.”

Of course, this isn’t the whole story. Using bristle brushes for the larger areas of color and longhaired sable brushes for the more precise modeling, she creates the different shapes, their shadows and the spaces between shapes as she paints, maintaining the fluidity of the painting. Shorr developed this fluidity and the practice of painting wet-into-wet after studying with Alex Katz at the Yale School of Art and Architecture in the 1960s.

still life After Ensor by Harriet Shorr | ArtistsNetwork.com

Prompted by a James Ensor composition, Harriet Shorr took advantage of two large shells already in her collection and created the still life After Ensor (oil, 40×64).


Practical Extravagance

On the subject of paint, Harriet Shorr waxes adamantine. “You must be extravagant with your materials.” And she is. Using Old Holland oils, she mixes her colors specifically for one painting and doesn’t keep any paint from one piece for work on the next one.

“I derive my colors from my perceptions,” says Shorr. She adds, “I don’t have any real interest in color balance. I just paint the color I see. If it shifts, I shift with it.” She uses a different brush for every color and for every gradation within a particular color.

still life "Pony" by Harriet Shorr | Artists.Network.com

Pony (oil, 36×36),” says Shorr, “has no particular narrative. It’s a still life painting about color and light.”


Led by Light and Sight

Shorr typically begins working at 9 or 10 in the morning and usually stops around 3 in the afternoon. This is surely in keeping for an artist who attends so closely to the effects of light. She is, after all, the person who, while describing how she completed a still life, once said, “As I worked on the painting, I would wait until the shaft of light fell in the same spot to paint the particular passages influenced by that light. Each day I painted the same parts of the painting at the same time.”

still life "Sailing Away" by Harriet Shorr |ArtistsNetwork.com

About the landscape elements in still life works such as Sailing Away (oil, 60×50), Shorr says, “I’m not interested in landscape per se. Everything is a setup.”

She paints what she’s looking at: objects, cloth, mountains seen through the windows of her Vermont studio, building facades seen through the windows of her SoHo loft. This might seem a strange procedure for an artist who includes Barnett Newman among her major influences. It becomes less bizarre, however, when you consider the structural frontality and whispers of Color Field abstraction in her paintings.

still life "Objects of Use to Me" by Harriet Shorr | ArtistsNetwork.com

“The inspiration for Objects of Use to Me (oil, 70×135)” says Harriet Shorr, “is a photography by Henri Matisse captioned “Objects which have been of use to me nearly all my life,” for which he assembled his favorite items.

What one notices when gazing at a Shorr still life painting such as Objects of Use to Me (above)—the abstract traits aforementioned aside—is the care and attention she gives to ensure that every square inch of the canvas has equal importance. No one particular object or section of cloth or landscape draws the eye. The viewer gazes fixedly at the whole as one might do when staring into a sun-dappled section of forest or across a stretch of desert. Or the eye can travel over the surface, delighting in the juxtaposition of rich colors, the shape-giving illumination of light, the varying hues and the darkened shadows of Shorr’s worlds. It is a high form of pleasure that sails the meaning of the painting’s title from the utilitarian toward the sublime.



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Art Workshops with Lee Hammond

I’m so excited about my upcoming teaching schedule. Moving to Florida has made me approach my teaching differently, and in doing that, I have created all new, interesting art workshops.

My five-day drawing and painting seminars will begin this October at the Rookery Bay Learning Center. Now that I am here full time in Naples, Florida, I have been able to expand the types of classes I offer. Each of these classes are medium and subject specific. Now you have the ability to really focus on a certain type of art you want to produce. I hope you will find the new lineup as exciting as I do. Here’s the official schedule:

How to draw portraits with Lee Hammond | ArtistsNetwork.com

Learn how to draw realistic portraits

Five-Day Art Classes, 2016-2017
Rookery Bay Learning Center
Naples, Florida

Realistic Graphite Drawing 
October 17th-21st, 2016

Learn how to realistically draw all subject matter in graphite. This class is based on the “Hammond Blended Pencil Technique” from Lee Hammond’s books on how to draw. In five days, you will learn everything you need to draw anything proficiently in pencil.

Drawing Birds and Butterflies in Colored Pencil
November 14th-18th, 2016

Learn how to realistically draw all kinds of beautiful birds and gorgeous butterflies in colored pencil. This class is based on Lee Hammond’s best selling books. In five days, you will learn everything you need to know to draw proficiently in colored pencil.

Portraits in Acrylic
December 5th-9th, 2016

Create beautiful portraits in acrylic with Lee Hammond. Based on her painting books by North Light, she will show you how to achieve beautiful skin tones, hair and clothing.

Portraits in Graphite
January 9th -13th, 2017

Create realistic portraits in graphite with Lee Hammond. Based on her best selling books, Lifelike Portraits from Photographs and Drawing Realistic People and Clothing, Lee will guide you to drawing all of the favorite people in your life. You will learn all of the facial features, as well as hair and clothing.

Portraits in Colored Pencil
January 23rd-27th, 2017

Create realistic portraits in colored pencil with Lee Hammond. This class is based on Lee Hammond’s best selling books. In five days, you will learn everything you need to know to draw people and portraits in colored pencil.

Realistic Drawing in Colored Pencil
February 6th-10th, 2017

Learn how to realistically draw all subject matter in colored pencil. This class is based on Lee Hammond’s best selling books. In five days, you will learn everything you need to know to draw beautifully in colored pencil.

Colored pencil art workshops with Lee Hammond | ArtistsNetwork.com

Learn how to draw flowers in colored pencil

Drawing Flowers in Colored Pencil
February 20th-24th, 2017

Learn how to realistically draw beautiful flowers, leaves and nature in colored pencil. This class is based on Lee Hammond’s best selling books. In five days, you will learn everything you need to know to draw beautifully in colored pencil.

Acrylic art workshops with Lee Hammond | ArtistsNetwork.com

Learn how to paint landscapes in acrylic

Basic Acrylic Painting
March 6th-10th, 2017

Learn everything you need to know about painting with acrylic. This class covers all subject matter, and will help you hone your painting skills. Based on her painting books by North Light, she will show you how to achieve beautiful results.

Landscape Painting in Acrylic Painting
March 20th-24th, 2017

Learn everything you need to know about painting beautiful landscapes and seascapes with acrylic. This class covers skies, water and trees, and will help you hone your painting skills. Based on her painting books by North Light, she will show you how to achieve beautiful results.

Drawing Animals in Nature
April 3rd-7th, 2017

Learn how to draw realistic animals in graphite. Based on Lee Hammond’s popular book of the same name, you will learn in five days everything you need to draw awesome animals.

As an author for North Light Books and a part of ArtistsNetwork, you can always come here to see what’s new in my art-related blogs and classes. I also have a brand new web site: pollyleehammond.com is up and running, with motivational blogs based on my book REACH!, as well as classes, a gallery, information and more. And, you can always find my class schedule at the Rookery Bay web site as well. To register for any of my art art workshops, click here.  Of course, things change, so keep checking in case new class opportunities are added. I am adding things on a regular basis!

See you soon!

Lee Hammond has been called the Queen of Drawing. That may not be fair these days, since in addition to providing the best drawing lessons, she has also created fantastic books and videos filled with the same easy to follow acrylic painting techniques, colored pencil techniques and more. Click here to see all of the instructional books and DVDs that Lee Hammond has to offer!

Free download! Easy Acrylic Painting Techniques by Lee Hammond

The post Art Workshops with Lee Hammond appeared first on Artist's Network.

The Power of Vertical Paintings with Acrylic Artist Steve Wilda


Since last we spoke with acrylic artist Steve Wilda, he’s been chosen as one of the featured artists to appear in North Light Books’ forthcoming AcrylicWorks 4: Captivating Color! An in-depth look at his selected painting, Honed to Imperfection, can be seen here. Today we talk with Wilda about his new work and the power of the vertical painting.

The Chosen One acrylic artist Steve Wilda

Acrylic Artist: Congratulations on being selected for the upcoming book.
Steve Wilda: It’s always exciting to receive an acceptance letter. Having Honed to Imperfection chosen for publication in the AcrylicWorks 4 edition is fantastic, yes. The North Light Books series offers such a variety of art styles from representational to abstraction.

AA: What advice do you have for artists entering work for the first time in a competition?
SW: It’s timing really, and chemistry, entering competitions, the right picture, and right juror. Artists shouldn’t be discouraged if their work is not accepted. Remember that juried shows are subjective, and are only that particular juror’s taste. What is not accepted in one exhibit could win an award in another. What is most important is that you like what you’ve created.

AA: The Chosen One, another of your paintings with a vertical orientation, certainly exhibits your hallmark style of meticulous attention to detail and a celebration of aged things. What inspired it?
SW: It’s another instance of that immediate, flash reaction and desire to paint something when first discovering it. The Historical Society in my town had the gnarled feather and inkwell on display. The actual feather was whiter so I aged it—I had to put my stamp on it. The concept quickly evolved to include a pile of feathers, plus the cracked eyeglasses to create a narrative painting. I eliminated one of the lenses entirely, giving the impression the owner’s vision was greatly impaired, and incorporated an inkwell—the one that was the ‘worst’ of the litter into the composition. The title The Chosen One certainly wasn’t in my consciousness backlog, it just appeared, from somewhere.

AA:  Why the vertical layout instead of horizontal?
SW: This one had to be a vertical so the main feather’s flamboyant character would be displayed upright. The vertical metal latch of the wooden milk carton (upon which the objects were placed) emphasizes the vertical format of the painting, and leads the eye upward into the composition—it adds interest.

AA: What can a strong vertical painting accomplish that a horizontal one cannot?
SW: A vertical format gives the painting stature and an elongated grace. By leading our eye upward, it can imply that there’s more we’re not seeing, and can appear to extend beyond the top (or bottom) edges. A horizontal painting tends to be more framed, more enclosed by its borders, certainly in height. It seems more finite by its cropping and composition.

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