Art Tips: Painting Loosely

Posted by: phelim

Tagged in: Art Classes

When we start learning how to draw and paint, as with any new endeavour we tend to be very cautious and tight.  With painting, I recommend learning to paint freely and over time to control and direct this freedom rather than starting to paint strictly.  Given that both approaches are necessary at different stages, in my experience those who start loosely tend to find it easier in the longer term to adapt to both approaches.  So, to help this here are a few tips and I've shown below a recent demonstration I did for my students putting these tips into practise:

1) Use a larger brush - this way you cannot be too detailed but rather more suggestive.  Also, you can feel more confident with a larger brush, making more immediate strokes.

2) Simplify your composition - don't feel compelled to put in everything you see.  Focus on what is important.

3) Change your palette - not alone does this allow you to be more experimental with colour but using different colours changes how you see or expect to see your composition.

4) Paint at arms length and if painting from a photograph place it further away so that it is not easy to distinguish detail.  This way, you can focus on tonal shapes, light & dark.

5) Use a painting knife.  Unlike a brush, you don't have the same control.  It is a great way to play with paint and convey liveliness of application.

6) Place a time limit from start to finish.  This forces you to apply only the most important elements