Blank Canvas Blues: How Do You Begin a Painting?

You just finished setting up an interesting still-life. You placed a couple of apples, a vase of flowers, and some grapes on a lovely piece of fabric, carefully making some folds here and there. You’ve arranged your still-life in front of a very dark background. Since you positioned a light source coming in from one direction, there’s an interesting pattern of darks and lights. Your palette is loaded with colors and all of your supplies are at hand. You’ve chosen just the right size canvas for your painting and it’s properly prepared and placed on your easel. Now, you sit down to paint—and you draw a blank. You’re faced with this vast, white canvas staring back at you. You reciprocate with a blank stare back at the canvas.

Now what? At one time or another every artist faces this artistic version of “writer’s block”. Almost every beginner faces it out the gate. The wiring in our brain that has evolved from prehistoric times that protected us from predators and each other triggers our “fight or flight” response when we face fear. And fear is the root cause of artistic or creative mental block.

Many questions race through your mind when you first sit down in front of that blank canvas and are confronted with that vast, white nothingness. A beginner may think “What if I mess this up?” “What if I make a mistake?” or “What if people don’t like it?” An experienced painter—and this does occasionally happen to them—might wonder “Will this painting be better or worse than my last one?” or “What if the selection committee rejects it?” or “Will this one sell?” Sudden fear can set in whether it’s related to failure or success.

There are some strategies that may help you overcome this fear, whatever the cause. Step away from your canvas, grab an 18″x24″ newsprint pad and some soft pencils (4B or 6B) or soft charcoal and begin sketching your subject in very loose, gestural strokes. Cast aside any thought of careful drawing of shapes and detail. This is an exercise to loosen you up and force you to not only see the subject’s overall shape, but the relationships of the shapes within and the shapes between (negative shapes). Spend no more than 1-2 minutes on a series of theses quick studies. You’re not trying to capture a “picture” of what you see, but rather the essence of what you see. Keep your strokes fluid and moving freely around the page. After a few of these quick studies, begin to think positive thoughts about what can happen as you begin your painting like “Creating is a lot of fun!” or “I love making art, making something out of nothing!”

Once you feel fully engaged in the process, sit back down in front of your canvas, and using a number 4 or 6 round brush, mix up a lighter blue, green, or gray color, and begin loosely sketching in your still-life laying it out on your canvas in an interesting way. There are no rules stating that it has to look exactly like what you see. This approach should get you to focus more on the process of seeing and composing. You’ll have time later to think about the finished product as you paint in areas and arrange your colors so they make sense to you.

Christian Art Reflects Christianity Through Paintings

Christian art is a sacred and special art, which uses different themes, as well as images from Christianity. In Christian paintings the kingdom of Heaven meets the culture. It’s actually the point where the artists have the unique and most amazing opportunity, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to be able to translate the Kingdom of Heaven into a language that can be understood by anyone in the most unique way. More specifically, it’s a language that bypasses words or even phrases and goes directly into the human spirit. When people being able to collaborate with the Holy Spirit, it’s the power of God and His Light that merge with people’s faith, as well as desires and creative thoughts.

Whether the art is abstract, impressionist, realistic or anything in between, it’s inspiring to see God being glorified in an amazing collection of art paintings. More specifically, Christian and prophetic art uses images of Jesus, as well as narrative scenes from His Life, which in fact are of the usual subjects and scenes from the Old Testament, which also play an important part in Christian art. Moreover, religious art depicts also biblical themes, such as art abounds, especially from earlier centuries. It also depicts images of the Virgin Mary and the saints, but these ones are more rare. In most of these Christian, as well as prophetic paintings, artists share Jesus in a unique way, by using his God-given abilities to ‘spread the gospel with paint’ among people. In fact, His amazing testimony help people to find their purpose of life in Christ and at the same time to be able to overcome any kind of weaknesses. More specifically, the early Christian paintings were actually wall frescoes of the well-known Catacombs in Rome. The earliest Christian works tend to employ symbols of Christianity, such as wine, bread or the fish symbolizing Jesus.

Don’t Use Water to Thin Your Acrylics: A Review of Acrylic Mediums

If you’re using water to thin your acrylics while creating that masterpiece, it could flake off your canvas before it reaches thousands of dollars in value. In fact, if you happen to be in your 30′s, it could begin to flake off before you reach 50! If you’re wondering why you shouldn’t use water to thin a water-based paint, let’s take a look at why.

Not enough artists—and especially up and coming artists—realize that adding too much water to acrylic paints breaks down the binder (some refer to it as the vehicle) that holds the pigment together. In acrylic paint, that binder is polymer. Polymer is essentially a liquid plastic compound that is comprised of millions of small molecules that are arranged in repeating patterns. These repeating patterns of smaller molecules form larger molecules. It’s this structure that acts to bind the pigment into paint form. When water is used to thin acrylic paint, these molecules get widely dispersed suspending the pigment molecules in water and detaching them from the polymer molecules. Losing this attachment to the polymer molecules, the pigment becomes what is known as “unbound” since the water holds virtually no ability to bind the pigment molecules. Think of the polymer molecules as forming a sort of glue that holds the pigment onto the surface. When this glue, known as polymer, gets thinned by water, it loses its strength to bond. When the paint pigment is left unbound, over time it will release from the surface on which it was applied (usually canvas) and begin to flake off. How well the surface was prepared can also play a role in how well paint binds to it, but even the best prepared surface cannot overcome the damage too much water mixed with the acrylics causes to its adhesion properties.

Thinning your acrylic paint with any of several polymer mediums allows the pigment to bond with the surface as the medium dries forming a very solid structure to hold the pigment. If you prefer more of a wash effect, similar to watercolor, say, to tone down your white canvas, then airbrush medium works very well. It can have the consistency of skim milk and works like water as a thinning agent, but enhancing rather than decreasing the binding of the paint to the surface. Other polymer mediums can perform any number of tasks to change the application and body of your acrylics producing very interesting effects. For example, you can extend the drying time of your paint to be able to work it from hours to days; you can extend the colors; increase the flexibility of the dried paint skin; increase the translucency or even shape the surface or crackle it when it dries. Your paint can also become better for glazing techniques by using the appropriate polymer medium, which can add a matte, satin, or gloss finish depending on which medium you choose. Another important attribute over water is that the UV resistance of your paint can also be enhanced by mixing with polymers.

So, give the multitude of polymer mediums on the market a try to improve the workability, flexibility, and longevity of your acrylics. Use less water. And have fun exploring the creative potential of the many gels, pastes, and other polymer mediums that you can find at better quality art supply stores—a place where you can find a live person to answer your questions and help you solve technical challenges with your art supplies.