Adding Interest to Your Painting

For many years in decorative painting I have struggled to find ways as an artist to add interest to my paintings. Interest can come in many ways. Rosemalers use the power and movement of the acanthus scroll. Your eye follows the line of the design and thus you find that line of movement “interesting”. In recent years as I added more painting genres I have added new ways to create interest in my work. Studying the floral impressionists of the 19th century introduced the power of the lost and found edge, movement through the design through visual differences in the objects. This became my favorite way to paint for the past few years. I present paintings for my students and customers that take your eye on a visual journey through colors, form, and edges. The redpoll above is an example of this type of movement. The flowers in the center show more definition than flowers on the outside. How much detail and how “real” you paint the redpoll also adds this visual interest. Reducing the edges, softening the effect pushes objects back and thus creates a visual journey for your eye and interest.

Adding moving water to add interest.

This last month, I step into new areas for me. I have always learned an artist adds interest through light and dark, warm and cool, tonality of colors etc. But I never thought of adding interest through movement. This takes me to the water photo. When I painted this I got several emails from students saying they loved the water. It is the movement of the water. It is adding a different type of interest and thus a different type of appeal. Hmmm… so I went back and watch some videos and read some books from artists that inspired me through the years and low and behold I heard new things. One artist made the statement… “most artists add interest through the uses of light and dark colors, I do it through action.”

Action? It is true, I looked at his paintings and saw that everyone has some type of movement. It also had ways to tie the elements together that I never thought of before… so that is another post…   more study…. Action…. His subjects were doing things. He has tonality to the colors, but then action in the painting. Movement. I guess this is why I like seascapes. The power and movement of water has always been a great subject for artists, but learning just how to control that movement and place it within the painting takes some study. My eyes are now really opening. I have thought interest as color, technique, contrast, subject and now action!

Charles Marion Russell adding action to his painting for interest.

Charles Marion Russell as with most western genre artist added tremendous interest to his paintings with action. Movement of the subjects. Lots of movement. Lots of interest. Sometimes so much that you don’t travel the landscape part of the painting and stay mostly focused in the front.   One artist I read said one of his paintings just didn’t have enough movement for interest, so he added rain to the scene.   Thinking of natures movement rather than color movement.   My eyes are opening further. I know not everyone will appreciate all genres and styles, but as a painter I find the “seeing” amazing.

As I travel through the various styles and techniques I learn more and more about art and how to “see”. There are many reasons we all paint and create. Most do it for personal pleasure and fun. That is how I started. Later, I became interested in techniques. I found that I loved to “try” things, experiment and increase my understanding. As I try new things, I become more and more excited about my painting. I certainly don’t like all the genre and some I will never master, but I so love trying new things. Adding new things also broadens my appeal as an artist. For example, Dave Parmer who works in our business. A quiet, gentle, rock musician who takes care of our customers. He works, quietly editing our videos and packing orders. Only a couple of times in the last 7 years has he said he would like a painting I did, until this last week. I painted several commissioned wildlife paintings, using a different type of movement in the scene for interest. He came into the studio, saw them and said “MINE”. I said which one is your favorite…. “ALL OF THEM”…. LOL…. I was so happy. I reached him, a new generation. I said, I can teach you how to paint these, to which he said.. “that would be so cool!”.   Now… that is why I paint and create. I just created something that appeals to someone and makes them want to give it a try. It is the greatest feeling in the world to create something that makes someone what to paint it. Your art is appreciated, and I have discovered over the years that you have to explore all types of interest to reach all types of people. Expand your techniques and types of interest and watch what happens….. It is fun!

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