The Rules of One-Point Perspective Always Stay True

The Chamber by Vincent van Gogh, oil painting. The work shoes one-point perspective, with a vanishing point at the bottom right window pane, roughly.

The Chamber by Vincent van Gogh, oil painting.

You Can Tilt Your Head, Wink, Blink or Rub Your Eyes — It Won’t Change a Thing

It’s nice to have a few things in our changing world that stay constant. The rules of one-point perspective definitely apply. Once you discover what is behind this aspect of linear perspective, you will be able to paint, draw, and sketch anything–from landscapes to the human body to still lifes–to look real and like it actually occupies the space you situate it.

Diagram of one-point perspective, where two parallel lines meet at a vanishing point.

One-Point Perspective–Defined

One-point perspective is a special example of linear perspective in which all receding parallel lines meet at a single point, called the vanishing point. An example often used is the illusion that a stretch of parallel railroad tracks seem to meet off in the distance though we know that isn’t true–but it is how the eye perceives distance. Artists can use this trick of the eye to create spatial depth in their paintings.

All the Parts

We’re all pretty familiar with what the horizon is. When you picture that set of railroad tracks, you can see where the flat land meets the sky; that imaginary line where sky meets land is the horizon. If we were at sea, the horizon would be the line where the sky meets the sea.

In one-point perspective the vanishing points lie on the horizon, so it’s important that we know where the horizon is. If your scene includes flat land or the ocean, you’re set. Finding the horizon is a snap; you can clearly see it. But suppose there are objects in the way, such as hills, and you can’t see the horizon, so you can’t tell where to place a vanishing point?

Scrap the term horizon and substitute eye level. They are the same thing, but while you can’t always tell where the horizon is, you do know where your eye level is: it’s an imaginary horizontal plane passing through your eyes. If you stand up, your eye level rises with you; if you sit down, your eye level lowers.

La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, oil painting, 1886.

La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, oil painting, 1886.

What If You Tilt Your Head?

When it comes to defining eye level, it doesn’t matter if you tilt your head up, down or sideways. You can wink, blink, close your eyes, rub them—no matter what you do, eye level always stays the same. It’s still a horizontal plane passing through your eyes, and that plane is parallel to the ground (which, after all, is what horizontal means). OK, so if you tilt your head to one side so one eye is lower than the other, then what? We’ll just split the difference and say eye level is a horizontal plane across the bridge of your nose, halfway between your eyes!

Keep to Your Eye Level

Eye level is crucial to stay aware of because if you change it midway through a painting or drawing, the space you are creating is thrown completely off. You’ll know it, and your viewer will too. If you want to know more about the strategies for creating believable paintings and drawings, get the Perspective Guide for Artists, a kit that includes video resources, an eMag, and an entire book devoted to the subject written by and for artists. That means the information you get will be relevant to your next artwork and put you on the path to success with ease and without stress. Enjoy!



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Paint Along 37: Make Color Sing! Color & Value Lessons for Landscape Painting | LIVE with Johannes Vloothuis

WEB SEMINAR: Make Color Sing! Color & Value Lessons for Landscape Painting

TIME: 1:00 to 5:00 PM EST
DATES: 3 Saturdays: July 29, August 5 & August 12

WHERE: From the comfort of your home
You do not have to attend the sessions live. Everything gets recorded and can be downloaded at no extra cost.
Register for the Paint Along 37: Make Color Sing! Color & Value Lessons for Landscape Painting LIVE online workshop here now!

Color & Value Lessons for Landscape Painting

When working with photos, artists are often faced with the pitfall of extreme values, either the sky color is washed out and the landscape is too dark, or just the opposite. Because of the camera reading, you may end up with too light of an area, or dull, black areas. Ready to make your paintings sing?

This live online art workshop will give you value and color tools to improve your paintings from photos (or in the field) so you can create paintings that have more realistic contrast and enhanced beauty! Join landscape artist Johannes Vloothuis, and hundreds of other artists, to strengthen your painting skills with over 12 hours of painting fun distributed in three Saturdays. Johannes will guide you through the painting process, starting his paintings from scratch, and finishing them in real time while you watch over his shoulder and learn detailed painting tips as you hear him think out loud. And if you want, you can do the same painting along with him from the comfort of your home!

Color and value landscape painting sample from Johannes Vloothuis

Sample landscape painting from Johannes Vloothuis for Paint Along 37, Lessons in Color & Value

What Is Included in this Painting Class

You will receive drawing templates before each class, which you can trace onto your painting surface. And, during each session you will receive verbal techniques, color combinations, professional secrets, and instructions to guide you along the way. One painting demo will be in oils, another in watercolor, and another in pastels. Join us now to add this exciting subject to your landscapes.

Painting demonstrations will include the following landscape subjects:

  • A house with nice angles sitting on the edge of a quiet lake
  • An amazing location at Niagara Falls
  • A secluded spot at the bottom of the cliffs at Zion National Park

You do not have to attend the live courses. Everything gets recorded and can be downloaded at no extra cost.

Register for the Paint Along 37: Landscape Painting Lessons for Color & Value LIVE online workshop here now!

Some Reviews from others courses from Johannes Vloothuis:

  • “I’m new to the online class process and was interested in whether or not any instructor would be able to give personal assistance. Wow! I was happily surprised to find that not only did I get a great class that was loaded with info, but also I asked questions and received answers directed to me. I love these classes. Review by Mary
  • “Excellent class for the Landscape artist.” Review by Mike
  • “There is always something new to learn.” Review by Darlene
  • “I see my work improving.” Review by Mary
  • “Excellent. Jo always manages to come up with new information for us.” Review by Frances

About Johannes Vloothuis:
Johannes Vloothuis has exhibited his work all over the world including Saint Petersburg, Sao Paolo and The National Watercolor Museum in Mexico City. He has won several awards such as the top award in the country of Mexico for watercolor and teaches oils, watercolor and pastel. Johannes has taught over 17,000 artists of all skill levels, including professionals via his online courses. The prestigious, Pastel Society of America listed him under, “Master Artists.”

Missed the previous online seminars? Click here to purchase the WetCanvas Live! recordings from


What is an online seminar?

    • It is a live, online event that you view on your computer at a specific day and time. Think of it as a workshop right in your living room.
    • Our events are scheduled on Eastern Standard Time (EST), so if you are in a different time zone, you will need to take scheduling into account — for example 1 PM EST = 12 PM CST, and so on…

What are the technical requirements for participating in an online seminar?

  • You need a computer and a reliable broadband connection, as well as a Web browser (e.g., Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer).

What can I do during an online seminar?

  • Hear the presenter deliver the workshop (via phone or VOIP)
  • See visuals from the presenter’s computer (e.g., PowerPoint, web browser, or any document they wish to share)
  • Ask the presenter questions in real time

What if I have any technical problems getting into the seminar?

  • We have technical support on hand to help you. Nearly 100% of our attendees don’t have any trouble after we assist them. You can sign on at least 10 minutes before the session is scheduled to begin, giving you time to ask questions if you have any trouble.
  • Our seminar system will work with both Macs and PCs.

What happens if I miss something during the seminar?

  • We record our seminars and offer them for sale at following the close of the course.


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What’s Your Painting Personality?

How Your Painting Personality Affects Your Painting Process

A painting that was done on a failed, washed-off, previous painting; image courtesy of Richard McKinley

For many painters, the process of creating is filled with equal measures of enthusiasm and fear. This strange mixture of emotions comes into play in nearly every stage of a painting and, depending on the personality of the artist, can be either beneficial or detrimental.

The Beginning

In the beginning stages, painters often find themselves excited to start but intimidated by the blank surface. The apprehension to make the first mark can prove overwhelming. Where should it be? What value and color should it be? What if it is wrong? This is fear of commitment.

The crazy little voice in our head forgets this is the beginning and can easily be corrected. As I told a student one day in a workshop who was frozen at the easel pondering every possible pastel mark scenario, “Just close your eyes, pick up a pastel stick from the palette, and make a mark! Whatever and wherever it may be, you will have started the process and you’ll have something to respond to.”

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Middle Stages

The mid-stages of a painting are where we often confront two scenarios: boredom or confusion. For the impatient painter, boredom is a curse that leads to hurried marks. The enthusiasm for the painting has waned and the artist just wants to be done.

Confusion is that point in a painting where we just don’t know what to do. We are driving along, liking what we see, and all of the sudden there is a tree across the road.

When these mid-painting scenarios occur it is best to stop, take a break and divert attention to a new project. This is much easier for pastelists than wet media painters who have to contend with drying. When you come back to the painting, a renewed motivation and clarity is often waiting.

Finishing Touches

For many artists, the finish of a painting is the most difficult stage. As Leonardo de Vinci wrote, “Artwork is never finished, just abandoned.”

This stage is where both enthusiasm and fear can play a major part. While excited to complete and place the signature, there is always that fearful voice, “Is it good? Maybe a little more will make it better!”

This is a tough stage. Many good paintings end up weaker with overwork, and many OK paintings could have been better with a bit more attention.

Individual personality really comes into play here. Some artists need to have the painting taken away, and others need to be encouraged to do more. One thing is certain: Major growth is always accomplished through taking chances and experimentation.

Painting Personality, Pastel Pointers, Pastel Painting, Richard McKinley, The Painting Process | ArtistsNetwork

The Runoff by Richard McKinley

We grow and learn from our mistakes–nothing ventured, nothing gained. Worst-case scenario, you wash it off and start anew.

It seems then, painters are not that different than children. There are those who fearlessly enter into every situation full steam ahead, and those who cautiously wait at the sidelines, tentatively analyzing. Understanding as an artist which personality best defines you can prove very valuable in nurturing creative growth. Just like children, some need to be pulled back and others shoved forward.

Understanding as an artist which personality best defines you can prove very valuable in nurturing creative growth. Just like children, some need to be pulled back and others shoved forward.

Want to learn more from Richard McKinley? Check out the preview below for his instructional video, Three Stages for Successful Pastel Painting, which you can stream at any time on!

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The Beginning Artist’s Guide to Perspective Drawing

Learn to Draw by Putting Things into Perspective

We’ve probably all heard (or even uttered) the phrase, “That really puts things into perspective.” Perspective is all about relativity; when you pull back and look at the larger picture and take a different view, maybe things aren’t so bad, or maybe there’s a solution where it seemed like there wasn’t before.

Learn to Draw Perspective

In the art world, perspective is still about your point of view, and the relationships of objects to one another. Only this time, it’s more spatial. When you learn to draw, you learn the importance of perspective. It’s all about how you look at the world, and that’s exactly what Patrick Connors teaches in his video, The Artist’s Guide to Perspective.

In Guide to Perspective Part 1, Connors shares basic perspective lessons and shows how you can learn to draw by seeing objects in a different way. In Part 2, Connors expands on those drawing lessons, demonstrating how to draw one- and two-point perspective; then, he applies those drawing techniques to complete a still life, step-by-step.

Preview Part 1 below to learn some great instruction about one-point perspective, then head over to for both part one and two, access the materials list and more.

Why Perspective and Perception Go Hand-in-Hand

Although the fundamentals of perspective drawing seem to be rather straight to the point, the possibilities of how you can apply perspective in your art are vast. In fact, perspective is nearly synonymous with perception.

What I mean by this is you can use the principles of this technique to create your own perception of the world around you through your art. You have the power of illusion, the ability to make the viewer see what you want them to see, literally at your fingertips. You can alter how your art is perceived—all by just conquering the basics of perspective drawing. How empowering is that?

If you are thinking, “OK, that all sounds great, but how can I learn how to draw in perspective?” Well, to start, let’s go over a few key terms you should know before delving into perspective drawing pulled from the book, Perspective for The Absolute Beginner, by Mark and Mary Willenbrink.

Linear Perspective Terms

Visual depth is expressed through linear and atmospheric perspective, as well as color use. With linear perspective, depth is achieved through lines and the size and placement of forms. And though compositions can vary in complexity, the basic terms and definitions covered in this section are inherent to linear perspective drawings.

The horizon is the line for which the sky meets the land or water below. The height of the horizon will affect the placement of the vanishing point(s) as well as the scene’s eye level.

The vanishing point is the place where parallel lines appear to come together in the distance. In the picture, below, you can see how the parallel lines of the road recede and visually merge to create a single vanishing point on the horizon. A scene can have a limitless number of vanishing points.

The ground plane is the horizontal surface below the horizon. It could be land or water. In the image below, the ground plane is level. If it were sloped or hilly, the vanishing point–created by the path’s parallel lines–may not rest on the horizon and may appear as if it’s on an inclined plane.

The orthogonal lines are lines which are directed to a vanishing point; the parallel lines of railroad tracks, for example. The word “orthogonal” actually means right angle. It refers to right angles formed by lines such as the corner of a cube shown in perspective.

The vantage point, not to be confused with the vanishing point, is the place from which a scene is viewed. The vantage point is affected by the placement of the horizon and the vanishing points.


Perspective for The Absolute Beginner | Perspective Drawing | Drawing for Beginners | Mark and Mary Willenbrink | Artist's Network


One-Point Perspective. Linear perspective with just one vanishing point is one-point perspective. The vanishing point will typically appear in the center part of the scene.


Perspective for The Absolute Beginner | Perspective Drawing | Drawing for Beginners | Mark and Mary Willenbrink | Artist's Network

From this vantage point, you are looking across the ground plane to the horizon in the distance. The parallel lines of the railroad tracks converge at a vanishing point on the horizon. If the lines of the box were drawn to go back to the horizon, they would converge at the same vanishing point as the railroad tracks because the lines of the box are parallel to the railroad tracks. Notice that all of the lines in this scene either converge at the vanishing point or are vertical (perpendicular to the ground plane) or horizontal (parallel to the horizon).


Two-Point Perspective. Linear perspective that uses two vanishing points is called two-point perspective. Scenes in two-point perspective typically have the vanishing points placed at the far left and far right.


Perspective for The Absolute Beginner | Perspective Drawing | Drawing for Beginners | Mark and Mary Willenbrink | Artist's Network

Here is a two-point perspective scene looking across the ground plane to the horizon in the distance. The parallel lines of the railroad tracks and box converge at a vanishing point at the far right on the horizon. The other lines of the box that are parallel with the railroad ties share the same vanishing point on the far left. All of the lines of this scene converge at either the left or right vanishing point, or are vertical lines (perpendicular to the ground plane).


Multi-Point Perspective. Linear perspective doesn’t have to be limited to one or two vanishing points. A scene could have multiple vanishing points depending on the complexity of the subject. For example, three-point perspective is similar to two-point perspective; it has left and right vanishing points on the horizon. Additionally, there is a third vanishing point either below or above the horizon.


Perspective for The Absolute Beginner | Perspective Drawing | Drawing for Beginners | Mark and Mary Willenbrink | Artist's Network

Besides having vanishing points on the left and right, this scene has an additional vanishing point below the subject. With this drawing, the horizon is above the subject, giving a bird’s-eye vantage point to the scene. Every line of the subject is an orthogonal line and goes to one of the three vanishing points.


With two-point perspective, these vertical lines remain straight up and down perpendicular to the ground plane. With three-point perspective, the vantage point either looks down or up at the subject. Instead of vertical lines, it has a third set of orthogonal lines that converge at a third vanishing point.


Perspective for The Absolute Beginner | Perspective Drawing | Drawing for Beginners | Mark and Mary Willenbrink | Artist's Network

Peters Cartridge Factory, watercolor on watercolor paper, 8″ by 11″. The vanishing points of this three-point perspective scene can be located by continuing the lines of the buildings and windows beyond the perimeter of the scene to three places of convergence.


Atmospheric Perspective

Atmospheric perspective, also called aerial perspective, conveys depth through variations of values (lights and darks), colors and clarity of elements. Foreground elements in a composition have greater value contrasts, more intense colors and greater definition of details. With distance, the values and colors become neutral, the details are less defined and the elements take on a dull blue-gray appearance.

Atmospheric perspective occurs because particles in the air, such as water vapor and smog, affect what is seen. Forms viewed from a distance are not as defined and have less contrast because there are more particles in the atmosphere between the forms and the viewer. Likewise, the wavelengths of color are affected by distance. Blues bounce around, whereas the longer color wavelengths are not affected by particles in the same way. The result is that the blues remain more visible than the other colors in the spectrum.

The values are the lights and darks of a composition. Intrinsic to atmospheric perspective, values can influence the impression of depth in a scene. Highly contrasting values tend to appear forward of values with little contrast.

The lighting of a scene affects shadows and values of forms. It can also affect how those forms are perceived.

When drawing, depth can be expressed through both linear and atmospheric perspective as well as through the use of color. Combining all three will produce optimal results.


Perspective for The Absolute Beginner | Perspective Drawing | Drawing for Beginners | Mark and Mary Willenbrink | Artist's Network

Dulling with Distance: By putting atmospheric perspective to use, forms in the foreground will have
greater clarity than background forms. The hazy blue-gray appearance of the tree on the right, with its dull colors and values, suggests that it is the most distant of the three trees.


Create an Internal Box

Now that the basics have been covered, here’s a fun step-by-step demonstration on perspective drawing, which plays into the power of illusion. This tutorial involves sketching squares with lines that recede to a single vanishing point. The depth in the finished drawing is implied through linear perspective and the use of values.


Perspective for The Absolute Beginner | Perspective Drawing | Drawing for Beginners | Mark and Mary Willenbrink | Artist's Network

Internal Boxes, graphite pencil on drawing paper, 8″ × 8″


Materials needed to complete this demonstration:

  • Paper: 8” x 8” medium texture drawing paper; 8” x 8” medium-texture sketch paper
  • Pencils: 2B and 4B
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Lightbox or transfer paper
  • Ruler
  • Triangle
  • T-square

Step 1: Sketch the Squares

Perspective for The Absolute Beginner | Perspective Drawing | Drawing for Beginners | Mark and Mary Willenbrink | Artist's Network

Step 1


On a piece of sketch paper, use a 2B pencil to form a large square that is 8″× 8″ (20cm × 20cm). Sketch smaller squares inside the large square using a ruler to mark off the lines. The measurements should be the same from both top to bottom and left to right: ½”, 2″, ½”, 2″, ½”, 2″ (1.3cm, 5cm, 1.3cm, 5cm, 1.3cm, 5cm). Draw the lines using a T-square and triangle to ensure they are straight and accurate.

Step 2: Add the Vanishing Point and Orthogonal Lines

Perspective for The Absolute Beginner | Perspective Drawing | Drawing for Beginners | Mark and Mary Willenbrink | Artist's Network

Step 2


Place a dot at the center of the paper for the vanishing point. Begin adding orthogonal lines from the corners of the squares to the vanishing point. Avoid sketching the lines over the forward surface that is to remain white.

Step 3: Add More Orthogonal Lines

Perspective for The Absolute Beginner | Perspective Drawing | Drawing for Beginners | Mark and Mary Willenbrink | Artist's Network

Step 3


Continue adding lines that converge at the vanishing point.

Step 4: Trace or Transfer the Image

Perspective for The Absolute Beginner | Perspective Drawing | Drawing for Beginners | Mark and Mary Willenbrink | Artist's Network

Step 4


Use a 2B pencil to lightly trace or transfer the structural sketch onto a sheet of 8” x 8” (20cm x 20cm) drawing paper. Leave out any unwanted lines.

Step 5: Add the Light Values

Perspective for The Absolute Beginner | Perspective Drawing | Drawing for Beginners | Mark and Mary Willenbrink | Artist's Network

Step 5


Add the lighter values with a 2B pencil. Make the values darker as the internal forms recede.

Step 6: Add the Middle Values

Perspective for The Absolute Beginner | Perspective Drawing | Drawing for Beginners | Mark and Mary Willenbrink | Artist's Network

Step 6


Add the middle values. Continue to darken the tunnel-like forms as they recede into the distance.

Step 7: Add the Dark Values

Perspective for The Absolute Beginner | Perspective Drawing | Drawing for Beginners | Mark and Mary Willenbrink | Artist's Network

Step 7


Add more darks and details with 2B and 4B pencils. Lighten any areas with a kneaded eraser, if needed.

Don’t forget to sign your work!

Because your artwork is a unique expression of yourself, sign and date each drawing. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and also help you to track the progression of your artistic skills.


Article contributions by Mark Willenbrink and Mary Willenbrink, Vanessa Wieland and Maria Woodie


Want more free drawing lessons? Check this out!

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Translate Value to Color in Watercolor Painting

Value to color in watercolor painting. The Ruins of Hankar, Ladakh by Michael Reardon, watercolor painting.

The Ruins of Hankar, Ladakh by Michael Reardon, watercolor painting. Article contributions by Kelly Kane.

Figure This Part Out and You Will Paint Anything Beautifully

If you want to really enjoy watercolor painting and sync to all of its wild, flowing, fluid possibilities, you have to understand one thing and one thing ONLY–how to break down your compositions into values, and then how you translate value to color in watercolor painting. It is really is as simple as that, and yet this one focus can definitely turn into a long-term pursuit for many of us. That’s where the instruction and incredible artistry of Michael Reardon comes in. Reardon breaks down value clearly, quickly, and understandably, so we can go quickly from value to color to finished artwork.

Value to Color in Watercolor Painting

Values are a range of tones that span from pure white to pure black. On a scale of 1 to 10, white has a value of 1, while black has a 10. Values 1 to 3 are considered light; values 4 to 7 are mid-range; and values 7 to 10 are dark.

In watercolor painting, the water-to-paint ratio creates the value range. The more water added to the paint, the lighter the value. Conversely, the more paint in the mixture, the darker the value is.
I use a set of dairy analogies to determine the ratio of paint to water I need for each value. For the lightest values, 
I think of non-fat milk (1-2) or a 2-percent milk consistency (3-4). For the medium to dark values, I imagine whole milk (5-6), cream (7-8) or yogurt (9-10) consistency mixtures.

value scale for art

The Value of Color

None of the primary hues possess the full value range of 1-10. Yellow, for example, rarely gets beyond a 3 in value. Reds and blues have a greater range, but never get to 10 on their own. They must be mixed to reach a true black. Generally the staining colors have the greatest range. For example, I make black by mixing Phthalo Green and Carmine.

Cobalt Blue is strictly a mid-range hue. No matter which colors are mixed with it, it will never get very dark. It is very important to understand which colors have large value ranges, and which don’t. Since watercolors dry so much lighter than when wet, it is very common to think you have painted a rich dark color when in fact it’s a mid-range value when it dries. Here are some tips for how to translate value to color in watercolor painting.

value to color in watercolor painting

Bismuth Vanadate Yellow

All yellows have a limited value range, from 2 to 5. Bismuth Vanadate Yellow, a relatively strong yellow, reaches a value of 3 at full strength. Some yellows, such as Aureolin, are very weak and have a value range of perhaps 2. You can never make a dark yellow.

value to color in watercolor painting


Generally reds have a scale of 2-8. These include the powerhouse reds, such as Carmine and Alizarin Crimson. There are some weak reds, such as Rose Madder, that only reach 2 to 5 or so.

value to color in watercolor painting

Phthalo Blue

Blues have a similar value range to the darker reds, with some variations. Phthalo Blue can go as dark as 9 on the value scale. Cobalt Blue and Cerulean Blue only achieve about a 6 or 7.

Translate Value to Color in Watercolor Painting | An Example

Ponte Sant'Angelo by Michael Reardon, watercolor painting.

Ponte Sant’Angelo by Michael Reardon, watercolor painting.

Take note of the values of the deepest blue shadows in the painting above. On a value scale, they achieve about an 8, even though they are painted at almost full strength.

The color base is Cobalt Blue mixed with a bit of Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet to increase the value range and give it a slight purple tint. I often use this mixture in place of Ultramarine Blue, which granulates more than this mixture.

True black areas are a mixture of this deep blue with Phthalo Green and Carmine, also close to full strength.

The red tile roofs in the distance are painted with a dense mixture of Cadmium Orange. You will see that the same Cadmium Orange is in the plaza foreground, almost fully diluted. Note that the water to pigment ratio is key to achieving the correct values in your painting. By knowing the range of individual colors you can mix the values you desire.

Watercolor Painting Tip

Watercolors dry lighter than when they’re first applied. You usually have to apply the paint in a value higher up the scale to get the tone you want in the end.

More On Value, Color, Shadow and Light

Take these lessons and turn your attention to creating dramatic light filled and shadow drenched watercolor paintings. To get inspiration and myriad approaches from 130 of the best contemporary artists practicing in the medium, you have to get your hands on Splash 18–Value: Celebrating Light and Dark. Nuff said. Enjoy!










The post Translate Value to Color in Watercolor Painting appeared first on Artist's Network.

How Rejection Will Make You a Better Artist

Your assignment: Face rejection 10 times, for a start that is. You’re likely thinking that sounds rather unpleasant, but we’re serious. Acrylic Artist magazine has found a common thread running through most artists’ stories—they faced rejection, and overcame it, on the road to artistic success.

Rejection advice for artists |


Remember when blogs first became the rage? People wondered what the point was of writing and posting our words if no one would ever see or read them. The same holds true for our art.

Unless you’re truly only making art for your own enjoyment, then this advice is not for you. But you’re still reading so likely you want your art to be seen by others, to be appreciated and purchased.

We’ve learned that the road to successfully selling art frequently travels through a lot of rejection. Fortunately, persistence and learning lessons from those experiences will serve you well on the journey.

Acrylic artist and author Konni Jensen, who’s featured in the Spring 2017 issue of Acrylic Artist, shares that even after working in sales in her first career, selling herself to galleries is no simple task.

“Selling yourself and your art is harder than selling for an established business because they already have a name,” she explains.

Jensen continues, “Also, I’m Danish and we are raised to not brag about ourselves, it’s considered rude. I have a hard time throwing myself in someone’s face to promote myself.”

Rejection for artists | Randy Van Dyck,

The owner’s car and house were the inspiration for Car Hop (acrylic on hardboard, 18×14). “The gentleman built cars and had an incredible collection of bronze frogs, they were everywhere in the house. So I had to add a frog to the hood of his car,” Van Dyck recalls. “When he saw the finished piece, he loved it.”

Get Out There!

Rejection advice for artists |

Acrylic Painting, Bell of the Ball by Randy Van Dyck

But getting in front of prospective customers is exactly what you have to do if you want to create income with your art.

You must remember, not everyone will like your art—not every buyer, gallery, juried art show or publication. But more importantly, many will.

It’s your job to put yourself and your art out there, face possible rejection and keep creating art you believe in.

Jensen doesn’t let her insecurity get in her way. Rather, she has found ways to put the focus on her art, not herself.

“I’m far more comfortable making small talk and then organically steering the conversation into talking about what I have done and what I would like to do,” she says. Once the conversation has shifted to art, she pulls up her website to let her art speak for itself.

She also recommends creating a look book or catalog for galleries that explains the pieces and shows the art in a living room setting so people can imagine the work in a home or gallery.

Embrace the Rejection

Randy Van Dyck, another acrylic painter also featured in Acrylic Artist’s Spring 2017 issue, embraces the idea of rejection. His inspiration: an artist friend who saves her rejection letters and treats them as something she has earned.

“Rather than focus on the negative aspect of being rejected, I’ve adopted her attitude of seeing these rejections as accomplishments,” shares Van Dyck. “By setting a number of rejections to receive in a year, and reaching that quota, I’m assured that I’m putting my art out in the world and taking risks. It’s quite easy to achieve your set number of rejections, but infinitely harder to shed the emotional baggage they bring.”

An artist’s willingness to face rejection has a silver lining, says Van Dyck. “Along with the rejections will inevitably be some acceptances. We’re all quite vulnerable as artists because what we create is a representation of who we are in many ways,” he continues. “Rejection is just part of the process and we all struggle with how to deal with it. This is just one way of putting a positive spin on it and taking pride in your own perseverance.”

Think Like the Gallery Owner

As you prepare to pitch your art to a new gallery, Jensen says it’s imperative to see your art from the gallery’s point of view by asking yourself these six questions:

  • Do my pieces go together?
  • Is the collection cohesive?
  • Does the collection have a theme, and do the pieces tell a story?
  • Is it an interesting story or have they seen it before?
  • Do you have enough pieces?
  • Why should they show you and not another artist?

Give your elevator speech when visiting a gallery (that succinct explanation of your art and what you can do for them). Be ready to share pictures of a proposed line you want them to display in the gallery. And of course, tell the exciting story about your artwork.

Do your homework and research galleries to see if your art is a natural fit for them; don’t waste their time if your work clearly isn’t something they show. For example, galleries specializing in classical fine art are not going to accept modern abstract.

Taking risks has value. You’ll hone your presentation skills, discover what works when someone says yes and gain confidence. Get out into the art community, visit gallery openings, see what’s being shown, and make it a goal to meet new people. Introduce yourself and ask to book a follow-up meeting where you can more fully pitch yourself and your art.

To learn more about these featured acrylic artists and to read about techniques and tips you can try today, peruse through the Spring issue of Acrylic Artist.

Do you need more motivation to start showing your art? Check out this inspirational story from acrylic artist Nancy Reyner about how she felt seeing her paintings hanging in a gallery.

The post How Rejection Will Make You a Better Artist appeared first on Artist's Network.