Useful and Simple Painting Tips to Create Interesting Paintings

Are you looking for some painting tips that will help you raise your art from the well executed but missing something level to the powerful and dynamic level? The missing ingredient may very well be composition.

Well designed paintings always capture your attention. Effective composition can lend power to even the most trivial subject matter.

Use these painting tips to help you develop strong paintings that grab the viewer's attention!

Tip #1: Decide on a focal point first, and build the rest of the painting around it
The focal point can be a single object or a mass of combined objects. Simplify the detail within the masses and give the silhouettes interesting and expressive shapes.

For example, if you have a vase for the main focal point, then you can arrange fruits around it as a subordinate unit. Or the vase and the fruit can be the major focal point with some fabric in the background as a subordinate unit. It is important to be aware of what you want to emphasize and what to deemphasize.

Tip #2: Place the focal point in a strong position on the canvas
There are several time-tested 'rules' you can use to place your focus in the right spot. You can

use the golden mean or a viewfinder to help you position your focal point.

Tip #3 : Use a balanced variety of shapes in your art
To avoid boring paintings, it is extremely important to vary the shapes you use in your paintings. Don't add too many different shapes to a single painting, however, as it may actually weaken the composition. You do not want a 'busy' painting.

Composition - Vary the shapes in a painting

Tip #4: Choose an odd number of elements
Even numbers of elements sometimes make a painting uninteresting. If you have two pears to paint, add another one to balance it out.

Tip #5: Vary the spacing between shapes
To avoid visual boredom, place the objects in your painting so that there are different sized gaps between them. Do the same thing with the distance from your subjects to the edge of the painting.

Tip #6: Control the balance of tonal values in your painting
Divide the painting into unequal areas of light and dark masses. For example, you can divide the tones in your painting roughly into three categories: light, middle and dark tones. Then plan the composition so that the area covered by each different category is vastly unequal. So you might have three parts dark tones to two parts middle tones, and then one part of light tones.

Tip #7: Choose a dominant color theme: warm or cool
Not all the colors in your palette will have an equal voice in your painting. You will have to sacrifice some in order to make an interesting painting.

Tip #8: Break the rules occasionally and maybe often
Don't apply the same formula all the time. Don't get into a rut.

Remember the “Don't put anything dead center” rule that everyone is told over and over again in art class?


That's not carved in stone. For evidence, see the painting by

John Sargent Singer shown below. The lady is right in the middle, but the painting works, because the artist understands how to counteract the 'violation' by adding other balancing elements.

 La Verre de Porto by John Singer Sargent

Armed with these simple painting tips of design, you too will begin to find

painting composition a fun and stimulating activity.

Want a composition template to start with? Pick and choose from one of these six true and tried composition structures.

> > Composition Tips

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