Rotating Instructional Series

Each week there will be an unannounced topic of interest to help my Gold – Apprentice Level members expand their knowledge of the principles of painting and how to be a better artist. These will linger for three weeks as new topics will emerge.

When I was a young artist, learning my craft, one of the few tips that was given was that, “One good art book is worth two years in any art school.” I began to buy art books like a fanatic and would often rate them by how much highlighter I used. Sometimes one book would have a single sentence that made the whole purchase worth it. I spent between $10.00 – hundreds of dollars for single books. I have a collection today that has cost me thousands of dollars. Now, I plan to share my in depth knowledge with YOU, so buckle up and enjoy!

October 3, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 12.30.39 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 12.24.59 AM

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 4.54.08 PM


I remember as an art student always hearing professors refer to poor painting color choices as:


As a young artist, this baffled me. Are they saying the color looks like mud? Muddy color is simply placing a warm piece of paint next to another warm piece of paint or the opposite—a cool piece of paint next to another cool piece of paint. The result is always flat, uninteresting color. If you keep this in mind as you paint and fix it, your color will “sing”. You can approach the problem in two ways. You can either work warm, cool, warm, cool, always being sure the stroke that follows over the top of the previous stroke has an opposite temperature. Or you can go back to an area of a painting when it is finished, find the mud and lay insome opposite temperature paint.

Learning to see mud in your paintings is the first step in mastering the principles of color. There are two scenarios where mud will usually occur. One is where you have a dominant warm light next to a dominant warm shadow. Or a solid shape where the color is completely warm. The same is true for cool colors as well.

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 4.54.27 PM

Do everything you can to not have a square inch of mud in your painting.

Usually color is not laid out that simple. Colors will be blended or stroked on top of each other. But, you must learn to recognize muddy color when you see it.

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 4.57.03 PM

Notice how the shadow and the light side of the house are both warm colors. The sky was simply lightened with white. All the colors are very cool with the exception of the bricks. The values are good, so the color feels OK, but the painting lacks vibrancy and feels flat. If your value is right, your color will be good. But if your color is right, the painting will glow!

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 4.57.11 PM

Here we have beautiful color. Notice the notes of cool on the bricks. A blue gray in the shadow of the bricks and a soft cool gray in the light. Everywhere in the picture there are warms and cools side by side. There are warm tones on the green rose bushes, warm yellow-white highlights in the clouds and more warmth in the shadows. If you look closely you can see the orange jewels of color between the light and shadow on the bricks. If you can understand this principle you will take your paintings to a much higher level of professionalism.

Next week I’ll talk about “Jewels of Color.” Feel free to email me questions and I’ll post the answers on the website.