10 Secrets About the Arts and Painting No One Will Tell You About

After having ruled the academic world for decades in the previous century, the art field has again scrambled its way up in the list of top professional industries in the world. School and college students today consider arts as a better career choice than other popular fields like engineering and medicine. Blame it on artificial intelligence or automation, professions that involve writing, painting, visual arts, photography, and filmmaking are finding a lot of takers among the younger generation.

If you are a student who is pursuing a major in arts, you would want to know the secrets and useful tricks that the regular coursework won’t teach. Your professors probably know these secrets, but won’t disclose unless you ask them. So, here’s a list of top ten secrets about painting and the arts field in general that I think every art student should know.

10 Top Secrets about Painting

These secrets are tips in disguise that will help you become a master in painting.

Buy High-Quality Materials
Some professors may suggest you to spend less on your brushes and paints as you start, but we differ on that opinion. It is always best to invest in three to four high-quality brushes (of different sizes, of course), professional grade paints (rather than less expensive student grade), and industry grade mediums. Understand that painting is a high-end profession and your initial investment is going to decide how good a painter you become.

Prime Your Board
It’s a no-brainer, but I have to mention it because a lot of students fail to prime their painting surface before the main activity. I recommend gesso, a hard glue-based compound that protects the surface from acid (found in paints), prevents paint from seeping in, and gives it a toughened coat for better strokes.

Get Rid of the Dust
Have you ever left a painting to dry and then come back to discover that dust has found its way on it? Well, worry no more. There’s a secret that top painters and art designers use to protect their work from getting sabotaged by dust and dead skin cells. After you are done painting, you just have to turn your work towards the wall and leave it for slow-drying. This gives your work the freedom to dry itself and come out as a masterpiece.

Photograph Your Work (in Progress)
Our eyes can be deceiving sometimes. So, it is better to give your work the camera treatment: while you are in the painting process, photograph your work to see how it looks digitally. Do you think the mountains need an extra set of brown strokes? Maybe that tree in your scenery needs a repaint? (Where’s your smartphone?!)

Turn the Reference Upside Down
Are you using a reference (an image or another piece of art) to paint? If so, then turn it upside down to get a fresh, new perspective on the objects and shapes in the reference.

Use Your Brush to Sign Your Work
The mark of a master painter is that he uses his brush to sign his canvas. But, how do you get a thin stroke? Use a pencil sharpener on the edge of your old brush and use it to sign your painting. There’s no better way to do it.

10 Secrets About Painting by Kerrie Haynes

Go Monochrome
Students believe that they have to use all the colors in the palette if they want to be good artists. The opposite is true, actually. A good artist should not only understand color mixing, but also be capable of painting using a single color. As a beginner, your first assignment should be to use a single hue and its shades. You will learn more about painting with this activity than anything your teacher tells you.

Exploit Medium
Using medium – a mixture of oil and solvent – is highly recommended if you want your paint to behave in a specific way. Want it to glide over the surface so as to give it a thin wash, try adding more medium in your paints.

Use the Palette Knife
If you are at the intermediate level, you already know about the palette knife. You may be using it for color mixing, but experienced artists secretly use it to create strokes that otherwise would be impossible to pull off. Want a thick stroke of green over that white wash? Get hold of a knife!

Use Negative Space
I know what you’re thinking. This is not digital graphic design for you to use negative space in your work, but trust me when I say it is important. Especially when you are going monochrome, it is essential to use negative space for your benefit. Use of too much color will only make your work look less professional. If you plan to blow your audience’s mind, use negative space and show some creativity in your paintings.

These are the top 10 lesser-known tips that I would recommend to any art student. Whether it is oil painting or acrylic painting, you have to get the basics right to be a master.

Kerrie Haynes

Author: Kerrie Haynes

Kerrie Haynes is a freelance painter with over ten years of experience in oil painting. She is known in the art world for using innovative yet subtle techniques to narrate stories through her works. She sometimes gives lectures to art students on a variety of topics.


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