6 Steps To Take Your Painting To The Next Level Easily And Have Fun At The Same Time

Deb Webb Art - take your painting to the next level

6 Steps To Take Your Painting To The Next Level Easily

Acrylic paints are so convenient to enjoy. They are water based and so clean up is a breeze! They dry quickly, so if you want to layer work, it is easily done. Here are some steps to take your acrylic painting to the next level.


Step 1: Colour

As art is so visual, I feel that this is one of the most important facets. If you’re still learning the ropes, so to speak, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the technical terms of art. I prefer to keep things simple as I have no need to impress.

Here’s my take on colour. You can create with just the primary colours of red, yellow and blue and then use white and black for contrasts. This is one of the best ways to understand colour and how to work with it.

Here’s what really helped me in understanding how to blend. Each colour has a pigment code eg PW6- titanium white, PB15.1- Phthalo blue or PO20- Cadmium Orange.

These codes are found on artist quality paints. So then you can think of colour mixing as a recipe by combining certain pigments. It also helps if you find a beautiful colour at your art shop, you can then either make your own or when you purchase, you know that to blend it with another colour might not work! It helps to avoid muddy colour mixing.


Art by Deb Webb
Deb Webb Art


An easy rule of thumb is to know which colours are primary and which are secondary. Primary- red, yellow, blue as mentioned earlier, and secondary – green, purple, orange.

Now, the complementary colours are the ones opposite on a colour wheel. So red/green, yellow/purple, and blue/orange. When those colours are mixed together they make various shades of brown – or mud if you’re going a bit nuts!

So, have a play with colour and find beautiful variations that make your heart sing.


Step 2: Create strong contrasts

Contrast in painting is essentially what is termed value. When you look at a painting and it doesn’t grab you or have any depth, this is what it needs.

To create contrasts use a variety of shades of the same colours to give depth. Use some really dark shades next to really light shades to see things pop.

If painting intuitively or abstractly, this is particularly important to give your painting interest as it has no specific topic for our brain to identify. If this puzzles you, take some time to look at many paintings to identify the contrasts in each one.


Art from Deb Webb Art
Art contrast – Deb Webb Art


Step 3: Design and composition

This area is not very strong in me! Here’s what I did to help myself. I went onto Pinterest and looked up these words above to see what came up. It was a fascinating and also a bit confusing!

The thing that really helped me here was, in fact, looking at many successful artist paintings to help myself work out the flow of the painting. This is what it essentially is.

Look at the painting and see where your eye goes first and does it want to go anywhere else or is it simply stuck in one area. If it’s in one area, then the composition needs some work.

So when looking at your idea, create areas that the eye can move to in a fluid way. I like to have things that are either circular in movement or triangular. Once you have your design, the colour and contrasts are what will play a pivotal part in bringing it together.


Step 4: Variety

Linking with design, variety is important. If you’re creating a vase of flowers and every flower is the same size and colour, it’s going to be quite a boring painting.

So the trick there is having larger, smaller and buds for flowers. Have them situated in varying heights and then of course adding contrast and different shades. Now your painting is going to show great variety using all the different methods at keeping things interesting.


Step 5: Balance

This links with composition and variety. When standing back and looking at your painting, check to see where your eye goes, where it rests. Are there any parts that completely distract you? Is there something you notice immediately and it seems to keep you looking back there?

What we are aiming for in our painting is that the eye keeps moving slowly and easily around the painting making it a beautiful visual experience for the viewer.


The Rose Garden by Deb Webb Art
Deb Webb Art – The Rose Garden painting


If you want to evoke a strong response in the viewer, then learning to get the viewer to focus on where you want them to focus is key.

An example of that would be; if you’ve painted a full body of a young woman showing sadness, then allowing the viewer to move around to the most expressive parts is important for you to convey your meaning.

Sadness is normally quite closed in body language, so creating someone standing with their arms open and looking up, will definitely give mixed messages.


Step 6: Texture

Lastly, if you want to make your acrylic painting a bit more interesting, allowing there to be some textural elements will definitely create interest.

An example would be when I create my funky birds; I often make them have messy feathers. This isn’t necessarily textural in the tactile sense but certainly in the visual.

It gives the impression of fluff and maybe even some wind! In this instance though, I would always check to see if the texture makes sense.

I have done paintings in the past where the texture was just there for interest, not sure I’d do that again, but there is definitely no rules in art, just suggestions of what you can do that will make your art sing.


So, in conclusion, think about these steps, check out other people’s art and see if you can identify what it is that makes their composition work.

Putting all this together will definitely help you to take your art to the next level of awesomeness.

Hope this helps you to look at your paintings in a different light and explore other ways to make them work. Most of all, have fun.

Take care

Deb x

6 Steps To Take Your Painting To The Next Level Easily And Have Fun At The Same Time

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