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Insider Tips on Painting

Hi there

Today I wanted to share some random tips and techniques that I use to come up with painting ideas and background resource information. Some of these I have figured out through experimentation while others I have found online, watching videos. Given there are literally millions of tips, I wanted to share a variety but in todays post, focus on how I start a painting. I hope you like what you read!

Firstly, about 50-60% of all my paintings come from ideas in my head or oddly enough, in dreams I have. Yes, I will research certain paintings and techniques, but alot of what I do comes from the old “noodle” upstairs.

When I come up with an idea, I will usually sketch it out on two things:

  • A piece of paper or in an idea book ( bound book for painting ideas – legal size)
  • Sketched out on my iPad. (The benefit with the ipad is the fact I can also record colours in my mind)

I also use a number of other tools to help me assemble colours, design layouts, resource images (example: to paint realistic bark). Some tools I use ALOT are:

  • Google Images – I will do a search for “cedar bark” in Google and then I will click on “images” tab to see what they have. From these photos I will look at colour palettes, and textures and patterns specific to that tree.
  • Pinterest – I have learned SO MUCH from participating in Pinterest and collecting “pins” of images. In fact I started researching recently and amassed hundreds of pictures of images for pirate ships. I use it to determine colours, 1800’s clothing styles and even perspective on ships.
  • Adobe Photoshop – I use this program hundreds of ways. I analyze images for layout, design, perspective and point of view. I also will take 4-5 different images and collage them (in layers) to create a picture theme. This helps me keep things in scale. I also use Photoshop for developing unique angles for images / paintings. I can paint the direction that the light is falling and then get a sense of what the colours will be in shadow. I plan to devote alot of future posts to Adobe Photoshop as I can teach people alot of techniques. I have used Photoshop for over 20 years!
  • Old online catalogs of Old Masters Paintings
  • American Artist, International Artist Magazines

Before I go any further, I want to mention that I will be creating two downloadable books for artists that want to use PINTEREST and ADOBE PHOTOSHOP for improving their artwork and creativity. Watch this blog for an announcement soon.

Another great tool I use for keeping organized is BOARDS (aka FOLDERS) in Pinterest ( so I can keep all the Bonsai pictures with other bonsai plant images. I even have boards for PALETTES I like.

My other MUST HAVE program for my business, client info and painting career is EVERNOTE. This program allows you to gather articles, pictures, recordings, video, web articles, photos and hundreds of other bits of information. I have it on my iPhone, iPad, computer and more. If I share some information with my camera on my phone, it syncs with all my systems. Its easy to use and I gather information for many different things. As a painter, I use it for recording ideas, prices on my paintings (and sizes), ownership of paintings, schedule for shows and much more!

One cool APP that I use on my iPhone is Value Viewer. I can take pictures and view them in Black / White or shades of grey in order to establish contrast and centres of interest. Another app I use is POCKET. I use it to store photos and video.

I could go on but thought this would be a good start! Let me know if you have any questions and I can answer in a future email.

Thanks, Gordon

ps. I spend about 3-5 hrs a day painting, as I am currently under employed. When the economy picks up I will be busier. But I want to stay painting and develop my business. That means selling more work, start selling prints, and doing more training of techniques and sharing of tips. I would like to be able to show people how they can learn 10-20% of learning to paint and generate some great work at home! Stay in touch.

About Gordon

Gordon Currie has been painting watercolours and acrylics for over 10 years. His work has been displayed all over Canada and the US in both private collections and displays.

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