Oil Painting For Dummies
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As you grow in your art, you may hit a plateau. You may need a kick-start for inspiration or wonder how to improve your art skills. The good news is that there are lots of ideas to push you to the next level. Refer to the following list whenever you need a little spark to get your inner fire going.

Buy better art supplies

Possibly the easiest way to get better is to upgrade your art supplies. A well-cared-for sable brush can last your whole career and produce the same fine lines on its last day of work as on its first. A better grade of paper helps give your paintings depth and texture. More expensive paints produce richer colors.

Practice, practice, practice

Improve your drawing skills. Draw every day. Keep a sketchbook and use it. Set up a studio space you use only for creating art. Paint every day. Paint from life.

Study art experts

Take workshops. Watch how-to videos. Read art books. Visit art galleries. Join an art club. Subscribe to an art magazine. Look up art sites on the Internet. Take a life drawing class. Copy an old master work for study. Explore art movements in history. Read biographies of other artists.

Dig deeper

Observe your subject and really "see" the details. Think of a title that captivates the audience even before you paint. Incorporate symbolism. Tell a story. Communicate. Create mood. Illustrate a cause. Paint what you know. Research your subject.

Make use of composition and design

Design your composition before painting. Plan a color scheme. Plan and use a value pattern. Use thumbnail sketches. Make sure to include a center of interest. Obey the laws of perspective in realistic landscapes. Take the image all the way to the edge of the paper. Use thick and thin and broken lines. Make more gradation. Make no two shapes the same.

Nurture your inner artist

Watch a sunset. Appreciate beauty. Visit local galleries and museums wherever you are. Wonder at the world. Collect art you admire. Listen to Mozart. Travel for new discoveries and perspectives. Buy a new color of paint just because you like it.

Tend to your creature comforts

Make your work area ergonomic and comfortable. Clean your palette before putting on fresh colors. Set up your painting area in a room with a view. Play your favorite music while you paint. Find a painting coverall you like to wear over your clothes.

Spark your artistic creativity

Look for an unusual angle. Try a new tool or technique. Look at the painting in a mirror. Create a series of related paintings. Choose a theme. Turn the painting upside down. Zoom in. Include an element of surprise. Look at the painting from a distance. Create something totally new.

Improve your artistic technique

Layer paint. Change colors every inch. Use economy of brush strokes. Add interesting shadows. Leave some white paper for sparkle. Observe light and shadow.

Pass it on

Teach someone a technique. Show a child how to watercolor. Start a critique group with other artists. Organize a show just for yourself or for your painting group — it's a wonderful motivation to keep painting.

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