Friday, December 10, 2010

New WIP, and one of my favorite painting tips

watercolor work in progress 10 x 14

First of all, can I just say how much fun reading all your comments from my last post was? Cuz it was, like BIG time. :) Thanks to each of you for the encouragement, your kindness and just generally for being all-out-fabulous Rock Stars. You are the best blogger buddies in the world.

I promise that I'm working on my landscape. I may be procrastinating a little, or a lot, but that's only because I'm a little intimidated. It's a bit easier to paint emotion when you're dealing with a face or figure than when you're dealing with a tree. . . or a barn. Right?

I'm working on it, I promise. I'm going to be posting some of my sketches on Monday. Along with a new Motivational Monday post because it's been a while and I could use a good dose of motivation right about now.

I started this painting yesterday just because I love this beautiful face and the golden colors of her coat that just glowed in the sunshine. But let me tell you that the harness is making my eyes cross. It's tricky to keep all the lines straight. It's a good challenge, a lot of negative painting which is SO fun.

Turning the painting upside down to work on the harness has helped me focus on the shapes that really are there instead of the shapes I just 'think' are there. That's been one of the best tips about art that I've ever heard. Paint upside down. It really helps to get you to see what's really in front of you.

But I think my all time favorite painting tip I've ever received was when I asked an artist I admired, back when I was a wee watercolor newbie, how she got so good. Very tactful question don't you think?

She told me that she had to paint an acre of bad paintings before she got to the good ones. I love that. And I have to agree with her. I had to paint an acre of horrible paintings before I started to figure out how this watercolor game worked. I still have them too, just to remind me of how far I've come. 

Thinking about this tip makes me curious about you guys. What's the best tip you've ever received about art or anything else that's creative?

I hope you all have a great weekend! See you Monday. :)


  1. Greatest tip was when someone said, "not you upside down, dummy!" :lol:
    I'm being silly, of course - its one of those days :)

    Greatest tip for me, honestly,
    "buy the best paper you can afford."

    Its surprising how much difference paper makes to even a beginner's efforts.

  2. I LOVE that tip! lol! :)

    But honestly, the paper tip is the BEST. It makes a huge difference doesn't it? :)

  3. I found some cartoons I drew back in 2nd grade a few months back. They are locked away in a very deep dark safe.

  4. Your horses are always so beautiful, Crystal. One of the best tips I got was to paint every day no matter what it is.

  5. I really like!
    The advice that I receive most often is"trained,trained and trained" :-))



  6. I was so surprised just this week when my instructor told me to turn my painting upside down. (I was kinda whining that my vase looked funny.) I was amazed that I could see the error immediately! What is it about our brains that that works?

    Acres of bad paintings is a wonderful phrase. I've always liked "miles on the brush", but I think yours is better.

  7. May I add that using really good brushes is essential as well as good paper! If it looks like a smashed toothbrush, old used up broom, or a dog's tail it's going to act like it and no matter how deft you are it will frustrate and override your best intentions! I paint in oil mostly and keep my brushes scrupulously clean - some I've had for years and it has really paid off. NIce, nice, NICE horse portrait (but then I'm a sucker for horses - I used to draw nothing BUT horses as a child!).

  8. Hi Crystal. Your work is totally amazing.

    I had 2 very good tips.
    1.Buy the best paper you can afford
    2. Practice Practice Practice.

    Thank you for visiting my blog.

  9. Apart from all the sensible tips above, I'd add DON'T BE FRIGHTENED OF THE DARKS - it makes the lights lighter!!

  10. There is a fantastic quote by Picasso...

    'To finish a work? To finish a picture? What nonsense! To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul, to give the coup de grace for the painter as well as for the picture.'

    Now I just have to follow his advice!

    The horse is so beautiful :0)

  11. I am not a watercolorist, but, my favorite tip....You have to learn the rules before you can break them! So true!

  12. Crystal, that was the sweetest comment you made about my niece, the model. Thank you!!

  13. Crystal, Another fabulous painting in the works:) You masterfully paint horses, I'm afraid that's one subject I will probably never tackle. My in-laws went to see my art in an exhibit this weekend and there happened to be a horse painting (not mine) and my father-in-law, who is a horse guy, said that's not right, his legs can't do that I think they got them on backwards. My MIL said she almost died because he said it rather loudly, she really hopes the artist wasn't nearby. I had to laugh, immediately I thought of you and how beautifully you paint them. Two tips or words of advice that I take to heart are: 1) Make the decision to be and artist and do it. (As simple as that) and 2)If you don't win an art competition the judges were just not the right judges for your work. (Again pretty straight forward) Hope you have a great week.

  14. Great WIP. Some of my best tips from others I learned from:

    -Draw the best you can, it will show in the painting too. (draw, draw and draw some more)

    -View your work from a distance, upside down and in a mirror.

    -In watercolor, paint like you are a millionare. My pile of bad paintings is reaching 15" high.

    -Paint what you love and know.

  15. Crystal,

    this is going to be fabulous just like all the rest. I think that to practice is the best advice anyone can get or give.
    As for your painting below "Please" it is absolutely fantastic, you have a way with capturing those expressions perfectly... beautiful :)


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