Get Art Smart | Challenges to Enrich Your Painting Practice

The life of an artist has its share of challenges. In the December 2010 issue of The Pastel Journal, artist Sally Loughridge describes 13 healthy art habits that artists can adopt to nourish their practice of painting. Here she offers additional help with a list of challenges designed to enhance your painting or simply get the mental gears moving. Pick and choose challenges to fit your needs, goals, level of artistic development and lifestyle.

Observation Skills

  1. Analyze color temperature in the same locale twice a day for several weeks.
  2. Assess your own wardrobe in terms of hue, value, intensity and temperature to get a clearer sense of your preferences.
  3. Take daily notes on your visual response to a particular scene for at least a week.
  4. Visit galleries, museums or art history books to consider paintings in terms of your emotional response and analysis of composition and color relationships.
  5. Draw daily for at least 10 minutes from your surroundings.
  6. Develop a daily or weekly habit of observing a scene or natural element without mark-making for five minutes or more, and once inside, drawing or painting it from your memory.
  7. Cultivate a habit of reflecting upon the specifics of why you like a particular scene (e.g. value contrasts, temperature range, color palette, emotional resonance, etc.) or painting

Painting Process

  1. Spend at least 60 minutes daily in your studio space, painting and on art related tasks.
  2. Sketch for at least 10 minutes a day, using charcoal, grayscale markers or graphite to create value sketches.
  3. Plan your compositions through value sketches proportionate to surface size.
  4. Simplify each composition to no more than five value shapes.
  5. “Paint” in the air with large fluid arm movements for at least one minute  prior to putting any marks on a surface.
  6. Develop all areas of the painting to the same level simultaneously.
  7. “Complete” your painting before it is perfected or overworked.

Color and Value Relationships

  1. Select a color that you don’t like as the dominant color in a painting or the tone for your surface.
  2. Tone a surface with a color you love and paint from your imagination.
  3. Do a painting with neutrals and created grays with only the focal accent in a warmer or cooler hue.
  4. Do a monochromatic painting (using values of one hue) of an evening scene.
  5. Do a monochromatic painting of a very colorful scene or still life.
  6. Consciously structure your palette around a particular color relationship (e.g. complementary, split complementary, triad, or tetrad) and select the pastels ahead (several values of each hue).
  7. Paint the same image simultaneously on two surfaces differing only in tone; use the same palette of colors on both surfaces.
  8. Plan several compositions from black and white photographs, so that you can focus on the value range and not be distracted by local color.

Get Art Smart with 13 more tips
by Sally Loughridge
in the December 2010 issue
The Pastel Journal.



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