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King Charles Bridge, Prague.

Sometimes it is interesting to give you paintings a new twist.

After a fascinating visit to the wonderful city of Prague, I painted the above Watercolour from a photograph and then added a new dimension. The painting was cut into an appropriate shape to give the impression it was painted through a window likely to be found it that city's buildings. It was then pasted onto a blue background paper.

Is it valid to use photographs for the subject of my painting?

Of course it is. But how much better the challenge if you create a drawing from the photograph, alter it a bit if necessary. From the drawing comes the painting. You will find it more rewarding than a direct copy and understand the composition better.

How important is Mood in my paintings?

In some, not at all.  Try creating mood around a carrot and onion still life. O.K. THAT IS A CHALLENGE. Portraits are transformed by mood. The use of paint to create gloom or spiritual, ethereal light around the subject adds dimension to the character. It describes the person more clearly than the features can.

Do I approach my painting on tiptoes or rush at it? 

I know that sounds like sarcasm.  It is actually a serious question.

Is it a commission for an important client? Can you afford to make a mistake and alter it easily? Have you a deadline to meet? Is it an instinct you are afraid to lose? Are you painting en plein air and trying to capture the feeling before the situation changes?

Sketches are vital to capturing the moment; make written notes for colour, facts, placing, type of tree, light, and anything you may forget and cannot recover from other sources.

Rushing may sound like a mistake, but it can produce a wonderful, fresh result, spontaneous and simple, without fiddling and spoiling it. 

Your approach should always be confident. It may not work this time, but that is not a disaster. You can have another attempt, change things, particularly if using oils or acrylics.

Excitement gives a freshness to a painting. Keep it alive throughout the work if you can.

Never be afraid to try something different; use different tools or colours to your usual pallette. Try collage to apply depth. Impasto paint has a similar effect. Watch how shadows fall against the result at different times of day on paintings with added depth and try obtaining that within your paintings.  Add texture to your watercolours by the use of a grainier paper, thicker, denser paint in places.  Read as may books as you can (borrow them if you can't afford them) on different styles of painting. Use artist quality paints and brushes wherever possible.  Try different supports (boards, card, paper, canvas).  Use a pallette knife for a portrait for a change.

Happy painting!!!