Tips from a self-taught artist

I’m still learning as I go and there is a LOT that I’ve had to learn the hard way. For example, I recently got a painting out of storage to photograph and left a little indent with my fingernail because I hadn’t let each layer completely dry. I don’t know how to fix it and don’t even know if I can.

SO Tip # 1; If it’s drying let it dry.

What I’m discovering is that oil paint may stay workable longer than acrylic but if you’re working in thin layers (like I do) it can still start drying overnight. Also, don’t forget; Fat over Lean! 

Tip # 2; Don’t start a large section if you have to stop soon.

Because of #1, my advice is to not commit to a large area or project if you don’t have a lot of time. Want to work on that painting but only have 15 minutes? Fiddle with a small section that isn’t going to require you coming back to it and remix paint for.

Tip # 3; If you think you mixed enough paint, mix some more.

This may be due to my inexperience but I have yet to mix the exact same shade of paint twice and, when the color is just a little off in an area it shouldn’t be, it can be a little distracting to look at. Mix more than you think you need. Better to have some left over.

My final tip for today is; Take care of your brushes! Clean them now, not later.

I have a hard time following this advice but the best thing to do is clean your brushes after each session. Wipe off excess paint, swish in solvent to clear out those harder to reach paint particles (like the ones close to the ferule) and clean with gentle soap and water. I use Masters Brush Cleaner soap. If you let the paint dry on it you could end up with paint stuck at the base of the brush causing the bristles to splay apart. While these older brushes still have their use (Don’t toss them unless they are coming apart on your canvas!) you won’t have the fine control  anymore.

Those are my tips that I hope are helpful. I’m still learning that the more I know about painting, the more there is that I don’t know.

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