3 Steps to An Instant Art Composition

To Start, You’ve Got to Be Ruthless

You may have found the most beautiful, striking subject in the world for your painting, but if you don’t ruthlessly edit your reference photos, then you may end up with a flat piece of art that just doesn’t work. Ian Roberts will tell you that paying attention to the design of your art composition is crucial for a successful painting. Enjoy his easy three-step method for composing a scene as well as the art composition tips he shares!

After savoring your newfound understanding of compositions, build on this knowledge with the Mastering Composition Digital Collection. It’s the most powerful group of resources that I know of, combining art-making and the how-to of telling powerful stories, which is what every artist strives to do every time they create.


Art composition tips from Ian Roberts | ArtistsNetwork.com

Evening in Maine, study, by Ian Roberts

A Place and a Photo

Last June, my wife, the painter Anne Ward, and I spent the night in Stonington, Maine. We took pictures in the late afternoon and again the next morning as the rising light played over the town, which has been the subject of many photos and paintings, perhaps being the cliché of the picturesque New England fishing harbor.

Normally I shy away from clichés, but I was there and I couldn’t resist. I ended up shooting 100 photos, from which I painted six pictures. That represents an incredibly high percentage for me. Normally if I get one in 100, I’m doing well. Why so few? Well, that’s really what this article is about: how to choose and edit photos that will help you create engaging paintings.

Here are three tips to get you started when you’re painting the landscape, to get a composition you are satisfied with.

+Walk around a lot to find something worth painting and don’t forget to look behind you

+Frame tight, specific pieces of the immensity around you.

+Review in the moment: evaluate and dismiss dozens of possibilities until one jumps out at you. Another option is to go ahead and take the photos. Then you can re-evaluate them when you’re back in the quiet of the studio. I just find you might miss opportunities in the moment if you don’t take a step back then and there.

The crucial step comes during this re-evaluation process: you need to think about design over subject. Most students look for a good subject, for example, a building with a pretty garden. Of course, a representational painting contains a subject, but it’s essential to train your eye to find a strong design. So if you can’t see a distinct and effective composition in a particular photo, dismiss it and move on to the next one.

When you assess your photo references, I would recommend three steps–all of them moving toward finding a main design or composition: (1) cropping to eliminate the deadwood, (2) drawing a road map of the design and (3) eliminating everything that doesn’t enhance that design.~Ian


A 3-Step Method for Strong Art Compositions

1. Cropping

Study your photo to see how many elements and details you can cut out so only the most salient masses remain. (Digital photo programs all have cropping tools.) Everything else is filler and dilutes the impact of your painting.

You need to be ruthless in cropping, asking yourself whether your photo will translate into a painting. Going ahead with a questionable design — thinking you’ll figure it out later as you paint — becomes a low-success-rate proposition and leads to frustration.

2. Drawing a Road Map

This road map isn’t a sketch of the scene; it shows the main horizontal and vertical thrusts of the design on the picture plane. in a landscape the horizon automatically creates a horizontal tension engaging the two sides of the painting, but you need a vertical tension engaging the top and bottom as well to connect and energize the entire picture plane.

You also need a few major value masses to fill that picture plane, some big, some small. Most of the photos I end up using I take in the early morning or late evening, when the shapes of light and dark are more dramatic. That’s also when I paint outdoors, for the same reason.

The road map also helps determine the path you want the viewer’s eye to take through the painting. Often the center of interest falls at the intersection of the main horizontal and vertical. As you paint, the map reminds you where you’re going and when you get there–in other words, when to stop.

St. Hippolyte by Ian Roberts

St. Hippolyte by Ian Roberts

3. Simplifying

Knowing the path you want the viewer’s eye to take through the painting allows you to simplify more easily. You definitely don’t want to just copy your photo. The art comes from extracting and emphasizing the gist of the scene. You can eliminate the rest of the detail. As an experiment, try to see how much you can eliminate in your next few paintings. Ignore detail and let a few major value masses carry your painting.

If you want to paint something from your last trip to, for example, Jamaica, know that viewers don’t share any of your experiences or memories, and those can’t be put into paint. The design itself has to carry the painting. Also, if something looks odd in a photo, it will look odd when you paint it. In the photo, at least the viewer will know it was there; in the painting it will just be distracting.

Dive Deeper with Ian Roberts

This excerpt is featured from an article in Artists Magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Ian Roberts is the author of Mastering Composition: Techniques and Principles to Dramatically Improve Your Painting. He has filmed five instructional videos. Roberts is represented by the Marcia Burtt Studio in Santa Barbara, California, and the Wiscasset Bay Gallery, in Wiscasset, Maine. He lives in Los Angeles. Learn more at ianroberts.com.

Roberts’s book Mastering Composition and his videos, Design: Landscape Painting Techniques for Success, Color: Landscape Painting Techniques for Success, and Plein Air: Landscape Painting Techniques for Success—are available at Artists Network Shop.

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A Display of Excellence | Meet the 34th Annual Art Competition Winners

Introducing This Year’s Annual Art Competition Winners

For the past 34 years, we have witnessed the pursuit of excellence in the form of our Annual Art Competition. Every year brings us new, compelling art from across the globe, pushing boundaries and rendering work that both recognizes the present and honors the past.

We welcome these works of art as part of Artists Magazine for their boldness and their beauty. And we hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Just interested in a specific subject? Click the desired category below to go right to it:


First Place | Sarah Marie Lacey

The title I Am Everything challenges the idea that this woman is a one-dimensional stereotype. She is complex, rich. She contains multitudes. She is everything.

–Sarah Marie Lacey

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

I am everything by Sarah Marie Lacey, oil on linen

Second Place | Brooke Olivares

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

The Orange Mug by Brook Olivares, oil on canvas

Third Place | William Neukomm

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Chomp by William Neukomm, oil on linen

Honorable Mentions

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

K’nea by Sydney Bella Sparrow, oil on linen panel

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

#blacklivesmatter #gaylivesmatter by Justin Hess, oil on linen

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

1915 by Eugene Kuperman, oil on linen


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First Place | Ron Stocke

My advice to other artists is to fail frequently. This is so very important in painting. I’ve learned more from failure in every aspect of life than success.

–Ron Stocke

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Bermondsey, London by Ron Stocke, watercolor on paper

Second Place | Camille Przewodek

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

A Road Less Traveled by Camille Przewodek, oil on panel

Third Place | Marcie Cohen

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Road to Chianti by Marcie Cohen, pastel on paper

Honorable Mentions

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Pink House by Emily Thompson, oil on panel

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Downtown Zurich by Esther Huser, oil on aluminum

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Hell’s Kitchen by Nancie King Mertz, pastel on paper


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First Place | Dale Marie Muller

Let go of fear and be persistent. Listen to your soul and paint with true emotion. Find a subject that makes your heart sing so that your enthusiasm will shine through in your work.

–Dale Marie Muller

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Descend by Dale Marie Muller, oil on canvas

Second Place | Kyle Ma

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Beautiful Morning by Kyle Ma, oil on panel

Third Place | Anne Peyton

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

On His Territory by Anne Peyton, acrylic on board

Honorable Mentions

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Moving On by Jan Stommes, oil on canvas

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

QR Code GLM by Rick Pas, acrylic on panel

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Woven by Linda Besse, oil on panel


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Still Life/Interior

First Place | Mimi Jensen

Roses are alive and complex, so the biggest challenge was painting them as they opened and before they completely wilted. They spent each night in our refrigerator!

–Mimi Jensen

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Family Reunion by Mimi Jensen, oil on canvas

Second Place | Roberto Rosenman

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Artist and Jester by Roberto Rosenman, oil on panel

Third Place | Ann Kraft Walker

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

They Flew Away by Ann Kraft Walker, oil on panel

Honorable Mentions

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Attempted Murder by Kari Tirrell, acrylic on aluminum

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Cuties with the Blues by Martha Cowan, oil panel

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Victoriana by Robert Papp, oil on linen


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First Place | Sally Cooper

My marks are my emotional response to the canvas. They become a visual vocabulary. It’s important that they speak to each other.

–Sally Cooper

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Conversations in Blue Sally Cooper, acrylic on canvas

Second Place | Denise Athanas

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Jazzy Red IV by Denise Athanas, acrylic on paper

Third Place | Sharen Watson

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Apples 4 Apples; Dust 2 Dust; On the Road to Success, Who Should One Trust. by Sharen Watson, acrylic on canvas

Honorable Mentions

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Autumn Abstract by Aili Kurtis, oil on canvas

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Waiting in the Wings by Liz Walker, acrylic marbling and collage on paper

Annual Art Competition | Artists Network

Learning to walk in my own shadow, #11 by Geoffrey McCormack, acrylic on paper


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*A version of this article will also be found in the March 2018 issue of Artists Magazine.

Congratulations to each of the 30 winners of this year’s Annual Art Competition! Why not put your skills to the test? Enter next year’s competition now!

What’s your favorite category in the 2017 Annual Art Competition? Tell us in the comments below. Happy art-making, artists!


The post A Display of Excellence | Meet the 34th Annual Art Competition Winners appeared first on Artist's Network.

A Smart Approach to Urban Sketching (and a Demo!)

Capturing Fall in Full Swing

One of our resident artists, Marc Taro Holmes, delivers a great urban sketching demo to us based on his jaunts out and about in Montreal, Canada. Enjoy the gorgeous fall colors of the turning leaves against crisp blue skies. Marc takes you for a fun “tour” and gives us all the insight we need on how to make the scenes we see come alive through watercolor sketching.

Take in all the sketching goodness and be sure to get our exclusive On-the-Go Sketching Collection, featuring many of Marc’s bestselling tutorials. Enjoy and cheers to your next sketch!


Sketching in Watercolor: Urban Sketching Tutorial

Fall is in full swing in Montreal. It’s getting brisk. Hats and gloves are coming out of the closet. Very soon it’ll be too cold to comfortably paint outside. It might be my last chance to take a day off work and enjoy painting the fall colors.

I recently headed out to Montreal’s Île Saint-Hélène. There’s a little stone tower called the Tour de Lévis marking the highest point of the island. It used to be a water reservoir. These days, it’s used for weddings and fancy parties. The view up top is supposed to be great, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see it. I think this simple stone structure will be a perfect anchor for a sketch that’s really all about the trees.

Urban sketching tutorial with Marc Taro Holmes | ArtistsNetwork.com

Above, left: Reference photo. Above, right: Marc’s finished piece. (Pin this demo for future reference!)

Time Is On My Side

In a field sketch like the one I’m sharing today, I’m usually finished in about an hour. It can go much faster if I’m working very small, or if I’m bold with simplification. I’ll aim to do it all in three passes of watercolor–one pass for the large shapes in lighter (transparent) color, then two over the top with darker accents for midtones and tiny dark shadows.

Urban sketching tutorial with Marc Taro Holmes | ArtistsNetwork.com

Skies the Limit

I’ll often start with the sky–it’s usually the biggest, lightest shape. And I can let it dry while I’m moving on to the rest of my first pass. By the time I’ve touched the whole painting once (depending on the weather), it will be dry and ready for more.

But before I paint, I’ll usually do a quick pencil sketch. In the image above, you can see my faint under drawing, with the first sky-wash in place.

In the past I’d make a very detailed drawing, but with more experience under my belt, I find myself wanting a simple outline: just the bare bones. If I let myself get carried away drawing, I know I’ll put in every little thing I see.

Forest for the Trees

This scene is almost entirely trees and foliage. I certainly don’t want to be drawing every leaf and branch. It’s not necessary to create the forested impression I’m after–and it might well distract from the central focus. Neither do I want to get caught up drawing the stones of the tower itself. At the small scale I’m working (10×15), it would get too finicky.

Compositionally speaking, I have a phrase: “The Three Big Shapes: Sky, Ground and Subject.” Sometimes a picture needs more than three shapes–but I try to do it in as few as possible. If I can fuse a forest of trees into one contour line, all the better!

Making Memories

As well, I’ve downplayed some intrusive light fixtures bolted onto the tower, ignored a set of picnic tables and some garbage bins, and many, many small leaves on the ground. We could get into a whole discussion about this philosophy of less-is-more. It might not be for everyone, but my goal is a memory of this place. To be able to say I was here, and I painted this, enjoying my time watching the leaves falling.

I don’t need anything more than this to look back on it later. Instead of making my sketches as a perfectionist, my preference is to keep moving and find another spot. Sometimes I can capture five or six sketches in a day. I’d rather have more experiences and more paintings than spend too much time making any one of them more “real.”

Urban sketching tutorial with Marc Taro Holmes | ArtistsNetwork.com

Edges and Shapes

I like to build each of the silhouette shapes in the composition with fused strokes of color, painted wet-on-dry. Wet color placed right next to a previous stroke–just touching–will merge into a single shape. Every few strokes I’ll adjust the color mix, aiming for plenty of variety within a passage.
I want colors *inside* a wet shape to blend freely, but I want hard edges *between* shapes. I like to say the edges are the drawing, the shapes are the painting.

What to Leave

Within a shape, I’ll often leave small white flecks of paper. These will become sky-holes in the trees or glinting sunlight on upward facing planes.

I like to compare my three color passes to the liquids tea, milk, and honey. Each layer of paint uses more pigment, less water–going from transparent tea-like washes, to a pigment-rich milky glaze, and ending with almost pure pigment in a honey-like consistency.

Urban sketching tutorial with Marc Taro Holmes | ArtistsNetwork.com
So, here’s the first transparent wash complete – the Tea.

I have four, maybe five silhouette shapes here, depending on how you see it. The sky, the tower and two chunks of forest: the more distant trees on the right (with the flash of red leaves), and the wall of forest to the left–which merges with the foreground shape at the moment.

Supporting Your Marks

So, the next step is to look back at each of my silhouette shapes, and see how I can subdivide the basic design with smaller, darker details. I want to describe what’s there, while supporting this pattern I’ve designed.

Urban sketching tutorial with Marc Taro Holmes | ArtistsNetwork.com
I begin by building up smaller bushes and hedges with darker foliage, and bringing leaves in the canopy over the sky. As well, I’ll start breaking the yellow-green forest silhouettes up into individual trees. It’s important that the first pass has dried. Sometimes I’ll need to take a break, setting the painting in the sun. I want to use my richer pigment over top of dry washes so I can control the hardness of edges.

I still resist trying to paint every tree trunk or branch, but aim to create the impression with broken brush strokes, allowing the underpainting to show through the gaps.

In my three passes, each one touches less and less surface area of the painting. The “tea” floods everything. The “milk” is about 25% of the paper, and the final touches of “honey” are only tiny adjustments. In this manner the sketch is completed very quickly and each layer builds on what went before.

Urban sketching tutorial with Marc Taro Holmes | ArtistsNetwork.com

Parts to Savor

I’ve been waiting for a while to put in these raking shadows across the grass. They’re one of my favorite parts of the scene. The long shadows describe the slope of the earth, adding depth while at the same time making a subconscious set of steps leading up to the tower. I had seen these cast shadows when I first arrived on location, and had made note that I’d get them in, even if the light changed. It had indeed gone by the time I got to this stage, but if you look back, they’re lightly indicated in the drawing. Just enough that I’d remember them.

I did, however, downplay them–they were darker in real life–but I want the viewer’s eye going toward the tower, not to be drawn to the ground. So they’re a favorite part, but they can’t be over stated.

Urban sketching tutorial with Marc Taro Holmes | ArtistsNetwork.com

Now it’s just a matter of smaller and smaller details, such as looking at the shapes within shapes, and seeing where any tiny shadows can help define the foliage. These small touches are scattered all over. They’re only a tiny percentage of the surface area, but in a way they change the entire painting. Each one refines a silhouette edge or grounds a form with a cast shadow.

Urban sketching tutorial with Marc Taro Holmes | ArtistsNetwork.com

In the final painting the three (well, OK, five) big shapes have been enriched with details. There are now many overlapping forms, but they’re organized by that underlying plan. At the same time, the dark accents have been designed to reinforce the composition.

Free download! Drawing Sketches: Free Sketching Techniques and Expert Tips

Urban sketching tutorial with Marc Taro Holmes | ArtistsNetwork.com

The dark ridge line of bushes on the left and the diagonal passages of darks and lights on the right all direct the eye toward the front door of the tower. The tiny door itself is a bullseye pattern of concentric dark and light, placed directly over the rule of thirds–an unavoidable eye-catching target.
Everything in this simple sketch has been building up my story of discovering this romantic stone tower in the woods. The perfect postcard of a blustery fall day.

Urban sketching tutorial with Marc Taro Holmes | ArtistsNetwork.com

Marc Taro Holmes is the author of the instructional handbook: The Urban Sketcher: Techniques for Seeing and Drawing on Location. He has recently released four video demonstrations on ArtistsNetwork.tv about sketching on location in pen and ink and watercolor; Sketching Birds, Travelling with a Sketchbook, Painting Panoramas and Sketching Street Life.

Marc blogs at CitizenSketcher.com, offering regular free updates featuring painting demos like this one, interesting experiments with art tools and materials, art book reviews and stories from his own travels with a sketchbook.




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14 Pastel Paintings From PastelWorld 2017 You Have to See

Must-See Pastel Paintings

Unconventional landscapes. Contemplative portraits. Quiet interiors. Bold marks. Confident color. It’s all here in this selection of 14 pastel paintings — just a few highlights from an incredible pastel exhibition.

Every two years, when the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) meets for its biennial convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, pastel lovers are treated to the PastelWorld Exhibition — an inspiring display that combines the IAPS Annual Juried Exhibition and the IAPS Master Circle Exhibition. This year, the result was a showcase of 184 exceptional works of pastel.

You’ll find 14 of my personal favorite pastel paintings from the show. If there’s a common thread to my choices, it may be a strong sense of story. These are pastel paintings that not only caught my eye but also grabbed my heart. Some were award-winners, but most were not. This only proves the considerable talent that was represented in this exhilarating exhibition.

—Anne Hevener, editor-in-chief of Pastel Journal

Light Drama

The Ancient Houses by Boxin Zhao, China Pastel Network: In spite of the age and deterioration of the buildings Zhao depicts, the artist’s true subject here is beauty — brilliantly enhanced by his dramatic use of light and shadow.

Pastel Paintings | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

The Ancient Houses (triptych; pastel, 15×32) by Boxin Zhao

Streetside Beauty

Hell’s Kitchen by Nancie King Mertz, Pastel Society of America: I felt that Mertz’s streetscape had a number of invitation points and lots of interesting elements to keep me in its grip.

Pastel Paintings | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Hell’s Kitchen (pastel, 18×28) by Nancie King Mertz

Quiet Serenity

Owens Valley Clouds by Ann Sanders, Pastel Society of the West Coast: Sanders’ lovely landscape may be quiet, but it has the power to stop viewers in their tracks and demand that they soak in the serenity.

Pastel Paintings | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Owens Valley Clouds (pastel, 16×20) by Ann Sanders

Interior Stories

The Cuban Carpenter by Ray Hassard, Pastel Society of America: I love an interior, probably because they seem especially suited to storytelling — in this case, Hassard’s depiction of a modest workplace and a deeply focused artisan, working at his craft.

Pastel Paintings | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

The Cuban Carpenter (pastel, 11×14) by Ray Hassard

Master Impressions

The Other Side by John Philbin Dolan, Pastel Society of New Mexico: Between the pose and the uniform, there’s a striking formality to Dolan’s portrait that evokes the Old Masters, an impression that’s enhanced by the expressive, light-struck face that bends toward the heavens.

Pastel Paintings | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

The Other Side (pastel, 31×25) by John Philbin Dolan

Delicate Contemplations

The Girl in White by Shuhui Long, China Pastel Network: Long’s portrait felt so delicate and yet so confident at the same time. In addition to the strong draftsmanship on display, the painting possesses an emotional core that can’t be forgotten.

Pastel Paintings | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

The Girl in White (pastel, 32×22) by Shuhui Long

Hitting the Mark

Red Shirt by Janice Wall, Northwest Pastel Society: I love how much Wall was able to accomplish with each and every mark, turning a simple scene into an engaging picture.

Pastel Paintings | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Red Shirt (pastel, 9×12) by Janice Wall

Bold Tracks

Down By the Tracks by Carol Strock Wasson, Chicago Pastel Painters: Strock Wasson uses the power of design to direct viewers through her painting. The subject isn’t an obvious choice, which is a big part of the painting’s appeal.

Pastel Paintings | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Down By the Tracks (pastel, 18×24) by Carol Strock Wasson

Unconventional Feel

Making the Final Approach by Diane Reed Sawyer, Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod: The tilt in Sawyer’s unconventional composition adds to the impression of immense space. The painting captures well that odd feeling of detachment you can have in flight when you’re aware of not being earthbound.

Pastel Paintings | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Making the Final Approach (pastel, 24×36) by Diane Reed Sawyer

Playful Composition

Napster by Sally Strand, Pastel Society of Southern California: I love a pastel that looks like a pastel. The variety of Strand’s mark-making, the playful vantage point and the delicious color add up to an altogether delightful composition.

Pastel Paintings | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Napster (pastel, 16×24) by Sally Strand

Delightful Contrast

Transience of Innocence by Rita Kirkman, Pastel Society of America: Between the creative design, scrumptious color, dramatic contrasts and delightful model, I don’t know what’s not to love about Kirkman’s piece, which — incidentally — was selected for the cover of the IAPS souvenir program.

Pastel Paintings | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Transience of Innocence (pastel, 26×19) by Rita Kirkman

Powerful Simplicity

One Way by Deborah Quinn-Munson, Pastel Society of America: I found Quinn-Munson’s simple but striking design utterly arresting. And lest we think that intriguing bike shadow is the main idea, we actually have an arrow pointing to our real subject. Love it!

Pastel Paintings | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

One Way (pastel, 17×18) by Deborah Quinn-Munson

Figurative Glow

Bartender by Aline Ordman, Pastel Society of America: Ordman sets the perfect stage for her figure with a glow of light in a boozy background. There’s not an extraneous mark to be seen in this loose and lush pastel gem.

Pastel Paintings | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Bartender (pastel, 16×12) by Aline Ordman

Ethereal Expressions

Hearty Girl by Bo Wang, China Pastel Network: I’m in awe of Wang’s exquisite rendering of the girl’s skin, as well as the somewhat ethereal setting, and the serenity of expression. If I could, though, I’d like to re-translate the title to Girl With Heart, which I think expresses the emotional power of the portrait.

Pastel Paintings | Pastel Journal | Artists Network

Hearty Girl (pastel, 15×11) by Bo Wang

For more remarkable works of pastel, interviews with top pastelists, step-by-steps, techniques and tips, subscribe to Pastel Journal.

Paint Your Own Great Pastel

Below, discover the secret to successful pastel paintings from award-winning pastelist Dawn Emerson. And, learn more from Dawn by streaming her video workshops series on pastel painting innovations at ArtistsNetwork.tv!

The post 14 Pastel Paintings From PastelWorld 2017 You Have to See appeared first on Artist's Network.

10 Ways to Tell You Are Ready for Something New

cold wax art explorations

Hot Trends — Cold Wax

For most of us, the time we spend making art is the time we hold most dear. It is those special hours reserved for exploring our creativity that make us the happiest. In the studio, we are our best selves. That’s why we want to let you know that if you are being beleaguered with “artist’s block” and aren’t finding your ease and rhythm in the studio quite like you used to, you might be ready for a change. Cold wax medium might be part of the answer.

10 Signals That You Need a Studio Change-Up

Cold wax art by Ezschwan Winding

Ezschwan Winding

Here are 10 ways to tell you are ready for something new in the studio…and what that “new” might be…

  1. You love your oil paints but are tired of being tied to rules like fat over lean and the need to use varnish.
  2. Want a new painting path where there are no rights or wrong to worry about?
  3. You don’t want to have to buy a ton of new equipment or prep your studio for extra ventilation needs.
  4. You’ve got the urge to experiment with new materials.
  5. Enjoy creating texture on the surface of your painting, from subtle to strong?
  6. You are looking for ways to get rich, complex and luminous color in your work.
  7. As an oil painter, you are looking for quicker drying times and fewer restrictions.
  8. You’re a painter but oil paints have always seemed daunting to you.
  9. You are an encaustic painter but want a less toxic wax method that doesn’t require extra equipment or additional studio set-ups.
  10. You’ve heard about cold wax medium and want to know what the excitement is all about.

If any of the above strike a chord, you can suss out a new path for your creativity with cold wax. Cold wax medium is used in every style of painting, from realism to pure abstraction. The medium is liberating for artists as new and innovative approaches are discovered pretty much every time you work in the studio.


See What Cold Wax Art Is All About

With art-making, sometimes it is just best to say nothing and watch it all unfold.

In this first video, see what kind of work is possible with cold wax. Learn how you can combine it with other art mediums including photography, oil painting and encaustic. Be sure to watch to the end to see stunning contemporary examples of cold wax art!


See what cold wax is really made of, how to use it–and what NOT to do with it. Learn what rules you can break when combining cold wax with oils and what special benefits (namely, amazing texture) come with incorporating this medium into your studio process.


Learn where you can get your hands on cold wax for artists. See what kind of paints to reach for in concert with the use of the medium. Discover the simple tools you can use with it. You will also discover the surfaces that work best when working with cold wax.


Ready for Cold Wax Art

If your appetite for freedom and versatility with oils and cold wax is whetted, take the next step with the most thorough and talked-about book on the subject: Cold Wax Medium–Techniques, Concepts & Conversations. The book is an all-in-one resource on the subject. It ushers you from inspiration to creative exercises to art techniques to try in the studio.


Reviews of the book

“The authors’ guide is almost impossibly comprehensive. They manage to treat the proper lighting of an atelier, the utilization of cradled panels, and glazing all in one volume. The writing is helpfully lucid and refreshingly shorn of the kind of pretentious, postmodern jargon one expects to discover in a work about contemporary art.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“Whether read from cover to cover, perused for its beautiful artworks, or brought into the studio as a reference, this book will inform, delight and inspire you as you develop your own work.” –John Seed, The Huffington Post

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These Winter Landscapes Could Change The Way You View the Season

Winter Landscapes Full of Wonder

Sometimes, I feel like a walking contradiction living in Ohio with its often harsh winters. I am not “built” for cold weather, and the thought of going outside to be one with nature when the air is frigid makes me slightly panicked. But, nonetheless, I love the season. See where the contradiction comes in? I love rosy cheeks, snowmen, snowball fights, holiday lights and, of course, hot chocolate. But what I love most of all are winter landscapes.

Although not as vibrant as spring, as breathtaking as the changing leaves of fall or as invigorating as summer, winter landscapes are just as awe-inspiring with strong textures that seem to perfectly complement the subdued earthy color palette this season brings — from bare branches against a fresh snowfall to the heavy glow of an overcast sky at night.

In celebration of the fast-approaching season, discover — or rediscover — the beauty of winter landscapes with these six remarkable artworks featured in Strokes of Genius 9. Enjoy!

Chilly Cityscape Strolls

Winter Landscapes | Drawing | Strokes of Genius 9 | Artists Network

Step by Yifan Xu, graphite on Rives BFK paper

Step was created from a photograph I took of my friend near the Washington Monument in Baltimore. Graphite on paper seemed to best represent the detail and mood of the day. It was extremely cold and the snow on the road made it muddy.

I want to show the interaction of the girl with the dreary chill of the scene. Also, the distance between her right foot and the ground is slight and delicate as she takes her next step. The choice to use gray instead of colors reinforces the atmosphere of the scene.

–Yifan Xu

Serenity in Silence

Winter Landscapes | Pastel | Strokes of Genius 9 | Artists Network

Silence #2 by Kathleen McDonnell, pastel on Wallis sanded board

Living in a rural area, I observe the patterns, shapes and textures in the landscape daily. One morning walk, the fog was so dense that it was hard to see beyond the immediate trees; the silence was overwhelmingly beautiful. I quickly did an on-site sketch and took some photos.

My idea was to recreate that quiet beautiful feeling, contrasting the smooth texture of the snow with the linear textures of the background trees. On an underpainting of hard pastel and a turpentine wash, I used dabs of cool white pastel, long linear strokes and the broad side of my pastel as well as the sharpened point of a hard pastel for the textures.

–Kathleen McDonnell 

Moonlit Wonder

Winter Landscapes | charcoal drawing | Strokes of Genius 9 | Artists Network

Cosmic Reluctance by Jac Tilton, carbon and charcoal on 140-lb. paper

This is from an ongoing series of drawings. Beginning with a circular element, the composition is developed by adding and subtracting elements, lines, values and textures until an interesting image emerges.

Various techniques including incising, spraying and dripping, abrading and scraping are employed, in addition to smudging and erasing the surface. Because of the nature of the process, each one is an exercise in discovery. The final result is unknown until the image seems complete. Many of the drawings, in turn, suggest techniques and imagery for use in succeeding drawings.

–Jac Tilton

Flower Power

Winter Landscapes | colored pencil | Strokes of Genius 9 | Artists Network

Frozen Light by Nichole Taylor, colored pencil on watercolor paper

My four-year-old daughter was so excited to plant her first giant sunflower seeds in the spring, to water them and to care for them until they reached well above her head. In the autumn when the petals dropped, the flowers drooped and the leaves fell to the ground. We thought the magic was over.

Snow came one night, and as we looked out in the morning light the dried flowers were covered in frost crystals. The magic had returned. Soon, little snowbirds arrived with the winter. We observed for months as they ate the seeds from my daughter’s sunflowers. A flower that bloomed a few short weeks later became a discovery to last a lifetime.

–Nichole Taylor

Strength in Contrast

Winter Landscapes | Pastel | Strokes of Genius 9 | Artists Network

The Sentry by Kathleen McDonnell, pastel on Richeson’s premium pastel surface

In the winter months, many trees are without foliage, exhibiting their silhouettes against a contrasting white or gray sky. While I was snowshoeing in a local park, this tree caught my attention. The strength in the limbs and the stature of this tree were such a contrast against the misty white background.

Working from several photos and remembering my observation, I developed a value sketch. I had been experimenting with Richeson’s premium pastel surface and had found that with a light touch I could drag the pastel stick across its very textured finish, resulting in a texture resembling snow clinging to a tree. Voilà! Layering warm and cool grays helped to develop the textures of the snow as well as the background trees.

–Kathleen McDonnell

What do you love most about winter landscapes? Tell us in the comments!

And, if you enjoyed these wintry works of art, check out the rest of the incredible artworks featured in Strokes of Genius 9. From striking still lifes to realistic animals, this latest addition to the Strokes of Genius series is all about creative discoveries!

The post These Winter Landscapes Could Change The Way You View the Season appeared first on Artist's Network.

Must-See Portraits by True Master Artist Daniel Greene

Celebrating the Life and Art of Daniel Greene

As a trailblazer of figurative realism and one of the United States’ most accomplished artists, Daniel Greene is truly a master of his craft. From the beginning, the artist has vowed to create work distinct from the work of his peers — to make art that is truly original. And, for several decades Greene has accomplished just that.

Daniel E. Greene by Peter A. Juley, photograph, 1964

Daniel E. Greene by Peter A. Juley, photograph, 1964

Below are some of Greene’s iconic portraits featured in his new book, Daniel E. Greene: Studios and Subways. From the movers and shakers of his day — including Ayn Rand, Eleanor Roosevelt and astronaut commander Walter M. Schirra Jr. — to art students and passersby, these portraits almost effortlessly portray the expressions, mood and personality of their subjects in such a skillful way only a true master could capture.

“As each country’s language reveals its culture, particularly the structure of relationships, a nation’s attitudes toward portraiture reveal what it values and how it interprets the past,” states Maureen Bloomfield, art critic and co-author of Greene’s new book.

The vast ways portraits are important to specific cultures throughout history are clearly not lost on Greene. And some of his portraitures almost offer a tiny time capsule to the trends and styles of decades past, such as Mary Ann and Mark with Cap.

We hope you love this roundup of this artistic pioneer’s awe-inspiring portraits as much as we do.

The Power of Portraits

Daniel Greene | Portraiture | Portraits | Artists Network

Pictured above is Greene painting astronaut commander, Walter M. Schirra Jr. at his studio in Greenwich Village, New York City, in 1963.

Daniel Greene | Walter Schirra Jr. Portrait | Portraiture | Portraits | Artists Network

Astronaut Commander Walter M. Schirra Jr. by Daniel Greene, pastel on paper, 1963. Collection of Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

It’s important to note Shirra’s expression in the actual photograph and how expertly Greene was able to portray this strong gaze in the portrait. I also love the attention to detail in Schirra’s uniform.

Daniel Greene | Portraiture | Portraits | Pastel | Artists Network

Wendell Niles Jr. by Daniel Greene, pastel on paper, 1958. Private collection

The subject of this portrait, Wendell Niles Jr., is the son of famous radio announcer for “The Bob Hope Show” and ” The Milton Berle Show,” Wendell Niles. He was in the Publicity Recruiting Center on Governors Island with Greene during his stint in the army.

“The Army’s Publicity Recruiting Center was home to actors, singers [and] announcers,” recalls Greene in the book. “It was considered the Army’s art department.”

Daniel Greene | Portraiture | Portraits | Oil Painting | Artists Network

Mary Ann by Daniel Greene, oil on canvas, 1959. Collection of the artist

This portrait is of Greene’s first wife, Mary Ann, who was an aspiring opera singer. The artist met her while she was performing at a club in Greenwich Village.

Oil Painting | Daniel Greene | Portraiture | Portraits | Artists Network

Spin the Ball Kelly by Daniel Greene, oil on canvas, 1962.

Greene, by his own admission, is no stranger to the night and pool halls. The subject of this portrait, “Spin the Ball Kelly,” was certainly a character and a little bit of a hustler, too, who used his hand instead of a cue.

Pastel | Daniel Greene | Portraiture | Portraits | Artists Network

Portrait of Ayn Rand by Daniel Greene, pastel on paper, 1960. Collection of Leonard Peikoff

While still in the army, Greene started this striking portrait of Ayn Rand. He finished this piece at his 31st Street studio, which is deemed an “artist’s studio” by virtue of its north skylight — through which you can see the top of the Empire State Building, a view very much enjoyed by Rand.

Oil Painting | Daniel Greene | Portraiture | Portraits | Artists Network

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt by Daniel Greene, oil on canvas, 1962. Collection of F.D.R. Library, Hyde Park, New York

In response to a request made by McCall’s, which was a monthly American women’s magazine, Greene referenced photos of Eleanor Roosevelt to paint this artwork overnight. Mrs. Roosevelt has been captured as the subject for more than one of Greene’s portraits. In fact, the artist has admired her since he was a child.

Daniel Greene presenting portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt to then First Lady Hillary Clinton on May 26, 1994, at the White House

The biggest house in Washington, D.C., even recognized Greene’s love for Eleanor Roosevelt. Here, the artist is pictured presenting his pastel painting, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, to the then First Lady Hillary Clinton at the White House on May 26, 1994.

Oil Painting | Daniel Greene | Portraiture | Portraits | Artists Network

Mark with Cap by Daniel Greene, oil on wood, 1965. Private collection

Always interested in painting what was around him, Greene was drawn to the clothing styles of the 1960s and 70s. He would often paint his art students in whatever they were wearing as they would walk through the door. In this portrait, you truly get a sense of the style during this era.

Oil Painting | Daniel Greene | Portraiture | Portraits | Artists Network

John Mack Carter, Editor in Chief, Hearst Corporation by Daniel Greene, oil on linen, 1972. Collection of Hearst Corporation, New York, New York

In this portrait of then editor-in-chief of Hearst Corporation, John Mack Carter, you can’t help but wonder what the subject is thinking. Maybe he’s contemplating big decisions to come.

The oil painting captures so many minute details, it almost leaves you questioning if it is indeed a painting or, perhaps, really a photograph.

Pastel | Daniel Greene | Portraiture | Portraits | Artists Network

Richard Pionk by Daniel Greene, pastel on paper, 1977. Private collection

The Pastel Society of America named Richard Pionk (1936-2007) a Master Pastellist in 1984. He was a monitor for Greene’s class at the Art Students League and later went on to become the president of the Salmagundi Club.

Want More from Daniel Greene?

Oil Painting | Daniel Greene | Portraiture | Portraits | Artists Network

Self-Portrait with Palette by Daniel Greene, oil on linen, 2011. Collection of Seven Bridges Foundation, Greenwich, Connecticut

Did you enjoy this roundup? Be sure to check out Daniel E. Greene: Studios and Subways, which features more than 200 of Greene’s best oil paintings and pastels, from the underworlds of pool halls, carnivals and New York subways to classically posed nudes and the elite culture of auction houses.

What is equally as impressive is the inside look into Greene’s personal journey from his early days in Cincinnati, Ohio, to now. This book is a “definitive study of this legendary artist, full of insight and inspiration for artists and art lovers alike.” Enjoy!

The post Must-See Portraits by True Master Artist Daniel Greene appeared first on Artist's Network.