Benefits of Mistakes


A few missteps to look out for

Improper cropping of a photograph

Not using enough colour

Edges not rounded

Tonal values all the same


Hi Folks

I assume in a perfect world there would no mistakes but we don’t live in a perfect world – thank heavens – because it is by making mistakes we learn. Or so I’ve been told. First step though is to admit to or at least see you have made a mistake. Ah…. there is the problem you say and it’s true. How do you see what you have painted may not be perfect or correct? To your untrained eye it may look great! So perhaps there in lies an answer. You need to start looking at what is well established great art and really looking at it with a critical eye, seeing how the composition works, how the use of colour keeps you engaged etc. Taking drawing lessons would go a long way in helping you see how design and composition is important.

If you are using photographs make sure they have been taken by a good photographer who knows how to take good photos as they too will be well balanced and have all the compositional elements I talk about i.e. 3 focal points. You will be able to crop a good photograph as well and still have all the elements needed. One thing to look out for when cropping a photo though is to make sure you crop it so it has the same dimensions of your canvas i.e. if your canvas is square you should cropped your photo into a square or if your canvas is a 16 x 20 try and make your cropped area as though it was a 16 x 20. Makes your life so much easier and yet I see all too often a student painting on a rectangular canvas using a square image. Mistake number one! Easy remedy! Matching you photo size to your canvas size.

If I had a penny for the number of times I say to a student , “paint like an artist using your colour knowledge and see more than the obvious colours. The more colours you can use the more natural it will all look.” When that light bulb goes on, the student’s work soars. Mistake number two – not using enough colour.

Checking your edges. Making good use of your secondary colours – orange and purple to round your edges. Mistake number three! Not rounding your edges using your secondary colours especially orange and purple.

Checking your tonal values. Are they all the same? Things far away need to be lighter/ less intense and things closer darker /stronger. Mistake number four! Tonal values need to reflect perspective.

I just heard this phrase and it is so true ‘ real growth comes through taking chances’ ! So take chances, make mistakes and you will grow!

Happy Painting



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