top of page
  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Land

Let’s Get Practical

“There is only one true thing: instantly paint what you see.  When you’ve got it you’ve got it.  When you haven’t you start over. All the rest is humbug”                                                                       Edouard Manet

Thinking about what to write today, I remembered an incident from many years ago. I was asked to give a talk. When I asked what they wanted me to talk on, they said any art topic.  Well now, that covers a lot of territory, and was not by any means a helpful response.  So, giving this talk topic some thought, I started a list of all the important things I had learned about art through the years. I  went through workshop, class, and lecture notes. I compiled a list of the things that I repeatedly used and meant the most to me.  In the end, the list became the presentation. “Some of the Most Meaningful Art Advice I Have Been Given.” I am sharing that list, in part, today. Anyone of these could be expanded upon at length.  Some I have written about previously, but, I will mention them again because they are so important.


It should be a joy ride!  When the artist emphasizes the joy of creating, rather than the achievement of results, they are more successful in their endeavor to communicate their personal message to the viewer.  Just remember – the subject itself does not communicate with the viewer; you do.

There are four parts to a painting:

  1. The spirit – the most important

  2. The hand – the artists line and mark

  3. The eye – seeing a subject and interpreting it

  4. The design and composition – the execution of the work

#1 and # 3 are personal choices.  #2 and #4 can be learned. How you make your line and mark, and approach your work, represents your interpretation of the subject, expresses who you are as an individual, and so it carries your spirit, to the viewer. Therefore, practice and develop these skills with care.

Mixed Media Painting by FL artist Carolyn land

Break Through


Never take a workshop or class to learn how to paint like someone else!!! Take it to learn a technique, then make it your own.

“If I did what has already been done, I would be a plagiarist and would consider myself unworthy…”         Paul Gauguin           


  1. Value is King. Have good dark’s!!

  2. Burnt Sienna + Purple + Phthalo Blue

  3. Quinacridone Gold + Turquoise Phthalo + Quinacridone Crimson

  4. Rich bright colors should be used sparingly with muted colors because, they make them pop.

  5. Most interesting colors are produced when mixing opposite colors.

  6. Never paint on a white paper, put a light wash of a warm or cool color underneath.

  7. For a strong painting, you should have a dominant color

  8. When thinking of adding a color try it first on another a piece of paper.

  9. Remember colors look different depending on the colors around them. “Simultaneous Contrast”

  10. Light colors recede, warm colors come forward.

  11. There is always the most color in the sky at the top, because the sky at the horizon is furthest away.

  12. Zinc white is the transparent one!

Pasrel painting by FL artist Carolyn Land

Along the Path

Before you start any project ask yourself:

  1. What is it about this subject that I like? What is the best way to express it?

  2. What would be the best understructure on which to place this subject?

  3. What shape will it be, square, wide and short, tall and narrow?

  4. What mood will I create for this theme…high energy, middle, or low key?

  5. What shapes will work best – organic, geometric, or linear?

  6. What would I like to be dominant, and where will I place it?

  7. What colors are best suited to express the mood and energy level of this piece?

  8. What format would work best for this subject.

When Checking Composition:

  1. Hold your painting up to mirror.

  2. Use a red acetate sheet to check value.

  3. Look at the painting in all directions to see if you move to and from your center of interest.

  4. Look at your painting from a distance. It should say, “come look at me”.

Last: Quotes I love, but don’t know who authored them:

“Soul speaks to soul in the collective unconscious.”

“Desire should be your driving force.”

“Rather create than recreate.”

“All great paintings are done with joy.”

“Don’t carpet your rut.”

“When you change mediums, change style”

“Less is more”

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts”

“Painting is a portrait of your spiritual being.”

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page