On How to Paint > “Feeling overwhelmed is not an exclusive state of mind reserved for only those new to painting,” says Johanne Mangi, who explains why you should use these painting basics, no matter what your experience level is.
Just One Thing
BY JOHANNE MANGI
Feeling overwhelmed is not an exclusive state of mind reserved for only those new to painting. Experienced artists can also feel behind the curve at different points in their development. The difference is they have gathered tools along the way to get them back on track.
The one thing you want to prevent is feeling stymied, which can keep you from the sheer enjoyment of putting paint on canvas. It’s with this in mind that I thought I’d offer a tip or two.
Advice on How to Paint: Back to the Basics
I used to play competitive tennis and as much as I knew after years of playing, there were times that I just needed to get back to basics. Forget putting spin on the ball. If your form falls apart you get farther away from where you want to be. So back to easy, fluid strokes. No fancy stuff. Concentrate. Look at the ball. Follow through. BASICS. Sounds simple enough, but I have to constantly be on alert for signs of regression. Most of the time I’m moving ahead so fast that I’m actually behind!
Cooking is another analogy I like to use. When I was younger my best friend’s mother was an amazing cook. I used to marvel at how she could put it all together with ease. A little spice, some herbs and voila! She made the ordinary extraordinary. It seemed so far off for me to get to that point. I could barely load the dishwasher. I was uncertain and unsure of myself in the kitchen.
After learning some very basic stuff like roasting chicken and vegetables (vegans insert your own favorite foods) I thought it was time to kick it up a notch with herbs. But which ones? I was overwhelmed by the choices! So what did I do? I picked one and only one, like thyme, and stuck with that for a week or two until I knew every which way I could use it. I might have thrown something else in but my main focus was that one herb. Only then did I move on to the next one. Having confidence with one gave me a boost to try others. I felt like a pro and became an accomplished cook. Of course, now I paint everyday so please don’t interrupt me and expect me to cook. That’s another story for another time.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. My learning curve with cooking. Painting is similar. Instead of scattering yourself around trying to learn everything at once choose one thing to start. But first, forget it all and just get comfortable putting paint on canvas. No expectations. No “do this,” “do that.”
All the rest doesn’t mean anything unless you get a brush, dip it in paint, and then transfer it to canvas. Pick a nice, juicy color (why wait?) and go at it. One color. Hey that’s monochromatic!
Take a paper towel and wipe out a form! Wow! Look at you go! And to kick it up a notch (I like that expression) and make the experience the best ever, I would recommend that you pay attention to what you are putting that paint onto. If you think it doesn’t matter, you are dead wrong.
When I started out I had no idea as to the difference a surface would make. I know price is always a consideration, HOWEVER, go too cheap and you will destroy the beautiful experience awaiting you. So if you can’t get it out of your head to buy the cheapest (inexpensive is OK, but cheap will disappoint you every time) then buy Winsor Newton Oil painting primer or Gamblin Oil Painting Ground and put a coat or two on the surface.
Either one is around $20 and will last you forever unless you become (WARNING) a painting maniac. You’ve now just stepped up your experience tenfold.
Or, you could just buy a better support. Paint will travel and flow across the canvas better, you’ll feel like a pro, and you’ll use less paint because it will be easier to push around instead of sinking in. Hence, the warning. Of course, our goal should always be “More Paint!” But, I’ll leave that discussion for another day.
Good luck and good painting!
Related Article > On Painting Horses by Johanne Mangi
Learn more from Johanne Mangi, including how to paint horses and dog portraits, in her art video workshops. “The Fine Art of Painting Dog Portraits” and “The Fine Art of Painting Horse Portraits” include over 11 hours of in-depth instruction! (Preview them below)
There are plenty of painting tips, techniques, and strategies to be uncovered in this training, which will help you create beautiful, emotionally impactful portraits of dogs and horses. Click here to learn more about the Johanne Mangi Combo Set.