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Learning The Elements Of Painting

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1). Understand the use of lines - The most basic type of line used in art is a contour line; this is the line drawn to outline an object. Some painters include contour lines around their subject, while others only use patches of color to show shapes. Determine whether or not or intend to use very obvious lines (such as contour lines) in your painting or not.

 

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2). Learn how to build up shapes - Every object that can be painted is a culmination of several shapes put together. The biggest issue beginner painters have is trying to see one subject as a single shape, rather than a layering of many shapes. Instead of focusing on drawing the outline of a figure, consider it as multiple shapes that can be connected.

 

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3). Understand value - Value is what color your figure is when converted to the gray scale; how light or dark a certain color is. Value is important when mixing paints, as colors can be deceptive when mixing unless thought of in terms of lightness and darkness. Realize that most paintings will only contain a value range in the bottom third (mostly light colors), the middle section (mid grays/medium tones), or in the top third (mostly dark colors) of a gray scale.

 

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  • Unless there is heavy contrast, the values in your painting should all be similar to each other.

4). Use your space effectively - Because you’re working on a flat surface, you need to create the illusion of distance through the use of space. To maintain a flat surface, keep objects the same size and spaced out. To create depth, overlap shapes and make things further away smaller while things close to the viewer should be larger.

 

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5). Learn how to create texture - For things to look touchable in your painting, you need to create the illusion of texture. Texture is created by using different brush strokes and moving the paint in different ways on the canvas. Short, quick brush strokes will add fur-like texture while long, flowing brush strokes will make things look softer and longer. You can physically build up the paint on the canvas to create texture as well.

 

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6). Create movement with your paint - Movement is like the continuation of texture, but on a larger scale. Movement is created when a texture pattern is repeated over and over on the entire canvas. Not all paintings require movement, but if you are trying to create a realistic painting, then movement is an important element to incorporate.

 

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7). Look at your overall composition - The layout of your painting, the placement of objects and figures, is known as the composition. In order to create an interesting composition, figures must be placed in such a way as to cause the viewer’s eyes to circle the entire painting. Avoid putting a single figure in the center of your painting, as this composition is the most basic. Create interest by putting a single figure on an intersection of thirds, or by adding other interesting objects to the background.

 

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