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© Helen Elliott

Painting ESSENTIALS -part one

Hi - This Autumn I'm hosting a seven week artists workshop, focussing on building, week by week, skills that I have found useful in creating the art I like. The workshops are taken from my recent book "Creative Me" (Graffeg 2017)

I'm sharing the content of these workshops on a weekly basis here on my blog, and on an Artist's Mentoring Group which I host via FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/groups/ArtistMG - which you're very welcome to join.

You can also follow my work on my web site at www.helenelliott.net

Thank you & enjoy



Do This:

Using narrow (about 1”) masking tape, mark off your sheet of paper into 9 squares. (See photo examples.) We used Carbon Black and Titanium White to mix a range of VALUES, from 1-9. (see photos) Understanding value, and learning to use it, is one of the main building blocks to creating great design, and so great paintings. These design elements apply not only to paintings, but to home, garden, dress... everything. The more you can practice this elusively simple exercise the more the use of value will be come second nature to you, so that you will reach for value in your paint box as much as colour.

About black. We used Carbon Black and Titanium White for the initial value chart row. Carbon black is great, but it can be a bit flat. (Incidentally - did you know that when you mix it with cadmium yellow and a little white you get the most gorgeous pastoral greens - yes indeed. That’s because Carbon Black is a blue black - the blue shows itself when mixed with the cad yellow to make green).

On the second row we used one of my favourite dark darks, a mix of Ultra Marine and Burnt Umber. We used this dark to make another value range again of 1-9.


Think About This:

I suggest that you do all these exercises, the paint ones, and these - the process ones, in your sketch/scrap book. This is a great way to keep all your learning and insights together. By using as a sketch/scrap book. This is a great way to keep all your learning and insights together. By using as a sketch/scrap book it takes any concern about having to produce great sketches away. Just use it as brain dump.

Now, take some time to think about what being an artist means to you. What are your preconceived ideas? Make a note.


This is the home work.

Make your own value charts with the colours suggested. Find three images that really interest you, that draw your attention, that you love. Have them printed out and ready for next week. Keep a note in your scrapbook of why these images resonate with you - try to identify specifically what attracts you to them - line? colour? content? size? ..... Don’t censor yourself…. You don’t have to to show this to anyone. These exercises are about starting to find our artistic voices. Have fun exploring.