I will be occasionally posting tips that have been useful to me, but if you have a question for me or a tip of your own, use the contact page to get in touch.
Tips for Artists
If you decide to reuse a canvas and are having trouble sketching the new subject on top of the old image (or "shadow" image if you have rubbed away most of the paint), simply flip the canvas upside down. This will destroy your perception of the old subject and help minimize the distraction of those old lines. If you have covered the canvas with a new ground color, and can still see a faint image, turning it upside down will help.
Buy the best materials you can afford, but if you can only afford to splurge on one thing make it paper, for watercolorists or brushes, for oil painters.For the watercolorist: using cheap paper will severely handicap and you will find it hard to turn out anything worthwhile, especially if you are a beginner. Brushes come in second, and third are pigments. For oil painting, and to a certain extent acrylic painting: good brushes seem to make the biggest difference (for me), with pigments coming in second , and the support is third. This is a lively debate among artists and you may find it is different for you.
To speed up completion time for an oil painting you can do the initial layout in thin washes of acrylic paint which will dry in an hour or two. You can even use acrylic paint to block in basic shapes and colors if you keep it thin. Finish it up in oils. This is perfectly fine to do, but don't reverse the order. Acrylic on top of oil does not work and if you do that you will find your layers of paint separating and falling off the support! It won't happen immediately, but eventually it will happen.
Don't wear out your expensive brushes laying on the first wash of ground color in oil or acrylic. Save a bit of money and use a cheap housepainting brush purchased a the local hardware store. One of those inexpensive foam brushes will work, too. Rinse and dry it well when you are done and it will last quite a while.
If you are using good watercolor paper (140lb. or higher) don't forget you can paint on the back side, too. If your first attempt on the "right" side fails, flip it over onto the back and do another. Lighter papers warp too much, or sometimes bleed through and so they usually don't give you a second chance at a good painting.
Use a small mirror to check your composition and balance during all stages of your painting. By seeing your artwork in reverse you can more easily spot problems early on. You can suddenly see lines slanting that you thought were straight, colors massing in an area you thought was balanced, and more. If you don't have a mirror with you (a little compact mirror is all you need) just flip the painting upside down. That works, too!
Help to keep your natural bristle brushes in condition by washing them with Murphy's Oil Soap when you are done for the day. It cleans the bristles and conditions them at the same time. I've used it for years with good results!