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Fundamental Painting Techniques for Artists

I have compiled an overview of some classic painting techniques that you can experiment with to develop your painting skills. Learning about these fundamental techniques and styles will help you to evolve your artistic practice and creative voice.Whether you are using oil, acrylic or watercolor, these skills will give you a strong knowledge base that you can build upon.


If you are just starting out as a painter I have also compiled An Essential Guide to Artist Materials for Painters which you might find useful.



#1 Alla Prima



Impasto example: Starry Night over the Rhone, by Vincent van Gogh, 1888, Image Public Domain
Impression, Sunrise, by Claude Monet, 1972, Image Public Domain

This technique was made famous by artists such as Monet and Van Gogh. It is the skill of painting ‘wet on wet’ in one sitting, hence the name Alla Prima – an Italian phrase that means ‘at first attempt’. Artists often like to use this technique because it brings a certain spontaneity to the painting process and can capture a unique sense of energy and essence of the subject.


#2 Impasto



Scumbling example: Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth, by J.M.W. Turner, 1842, Image Public Domain
Starry Night over the Rhone, by Vincent van Gogh, 1888, Image Public Domain

This is another Italian term meaning ‘dough’ or ‘paste’. The Impasto painting process uses thick strokes that are applied using a brush or a palette knife. Each mark of the tool is clearly visible in the finished piece which can be used to reflect the light in a certain way, it can also add a sculptural dimension to the painting and cast shadows. Be aware that it can take a very long time for these paintings to dry, especially if you are using oil paints! This technique was often used by Van Gogh, Matisse and Cezanne.


#3 Scumbling or Dry Brushing



Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth, by J.M.W. Turner, 1842, Image Public Domain
Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth, by J.M.W. Turner, 1842, Image Public Domain

By using a dry, stiff brush to apply thin layers of paint you can bring more texture to your painting. The idea is to let the first layer of paint show through the applied dry brushing layer. Usually the bottom layer is dry before applying the dry brushing layer, otherwise the paints can mix which would reduce the effect of the technique. Originally the technique was developed for oil painting but it can also be used with other mediums such as acrylic and watercolor. Turner often used dry brushing in his masterpieces to emphasize stormy, raw atmospheres and to add depth to his paintings.


#4 Drip Painting



Pollock is the first artist you think of when describing the technique of drip painting. By using often unconventional tools like sticks and hardened brushes, paint is dripped, poured, splashed and splattered onto a flat canvas or surface. This can be done in one sitting or built upon over time. You can use pretty much any type of paint for this.  


#5 Glazing


The Procuress, Gerard van Honthorst, 1625, Image Public Domain
The Procuress, Gerard van Honthorst, 1625, Image Public Domain

The process of glazing is when you apply thin transparent or semi-transparent layers of paint mixed with a glazing medium onto a painting. Usually a wide, square tipped, soft-bristled brush is used. Each layer must dry before applying the next so they don’t mix. Painters alter the tone of a glaze by varying the amount of pigment used. The idea is to build up layers to produce different effects: to unify and create a balance between tones and contrasting colors, to create darker and luminous areas. During the Renaissance period the technique of glazing was widely used by the old masters such as Titian and Rembrandt.


#6 Chiaroscuro


The Procuress, Gerard van Honthorst, 1625, Image Public Domain ]
The Procuress, Gerard van Honthorst, 1625, Image Public Domain

This technique was famously used by Renaissance artists Rembrandt and Caravaggio. By creating contrasts between lighter and darker zones of a painting you can produce a dramatic focus and push other features into the foreground. This dynamic creates a sense of depth and drama.


#7 Pointillism


A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, by Georges Seurat, 1884
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, by Georges Seurat, 1884

One technique I really like is Pointillism. Small circles or dots of unmixed paint are methodically positioned to create a larger image. Often a fine paint brush is required for this. This style was primarily created by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. 

 

There are many more techniques for you to explore such as: Underpainting, Stippling, Washing, Blocking In, Dabbing and Sgraffito.


Comment below to share your favorite painting techniques.


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5月07日
5つ星のうち5と評価されています。

Useful for any painter whether for narrative, abstract, decorative faux-finishes on just about any surface.

いいね!
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