5 Ways to Make Your Paintings Better

5 Ways to Make Your Paintings Better

There are 5 easy things to think about to help make your paintings better. It takes some analysis on your part to look at your work and determine what is good and what is lacking. Often it’s a matter of doing the opposite.

I’m a big fan of the show, Seinfeld, and there is an episode where George Costanza is encouraged to do the opposite to help turn his life around. A friend of mine, Kevin Beilfuss, (who is an amazing figurative painter known around the world) and I have a similar approach in doing the opposite. In Kevin’s workshops he calls it What Would George Costanza Do? WWGCD. I love and use the idea, and it can often be used to positively impact your work.

  1. Look at the Shapes. As you probably know, everything in a painting is a shape - a flat two dimensional shape. Those shapes should be a variety of sizes (small, medium, large), should overlap and should interlock with neighboring shapes. Maybe the shapes could link together to create a large dominant shape that is more interesting than a series of smaller shapes. So look at the shapes in your paintings. If they’re all the same size, then do the opposite and make them different sizes. If they don’t interlock, then do the opposite and make them interlock with their neighbors. Simple, right?

  2. Look at the Values. Do you have a variety of values ranging from light to dark? If not, then try to get a full range in there to help separate your shapes. Are the values weak and anemic? Then add some punch by creating some darker values for more contrast. Is there enough contrast to make your painting interesting? Does the contrast allow the center of interest to pop?

  3. Look at the Color. Is your color muddy? Then try to not mix complementary colors equally. Are your colors harmonious? If not, then use the color wheel to determine a harmonious color combination for the painting before you paint. Randomly choosing colors for a painting is like going to the hardware store and randomly purchasing multiple colors to paint the walls of your house. Just because they are colors, doesn’t mean they go together! Are your colors anemic? Then add some pops of color here and there to add interest and some color contrast. Does the color help the center of interest pop? If not, then maybe you should increase the intensity of color there, or the color contrast.

  4. Look at the Edges (of the shapes). Do the shapes all have hard edges? If so, then the viewer’s eyes can’t easily move through the painting. Add some blended edges to allow the viewer’s eyes to easily move through the painting. Does your center of interest have the hardest edge in the painting? If not, then add a few hard edges there for contrast to make it pop. Do you have a variety of edge quality? If not, then vary the edges. Hard edges will come forward and softer edges will recede - use that to your advantage.

  5. Look at the Center of Interest. Do you have a center of interest? Is it more important than any other area of the painting? If not, then add some contrast there, either with color, value or edges to make it pop. The most successful paintings typically have areas that are more active, and areas that are more restful. Everything in your painting shouldn’t be treated equally (a typical mistake most abstract painters make).

Use these 5 topics as a guideline for analysis of your work. In each of these topics, doing the opposite is often a very helpful approach to assist in making your work stronger.

If you'd like to learn about abstract painting, then please join me for a painting workshop: (You can view a list of 2019 workshops HERE)

  • January 25-27, 2019 Daytona Art League, Daytona Beach, FL. SOLD OUT-Waiting List

  • February 6-8, 2019 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. For information and registration Click Here. Only 1 seat left!

  • February 15, 2019 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. This 1-day workshop is on Acrylic Monoprinting - all supplies included - just bring yourself! For information and registration Click Here.

  • March 5-8 Cultural Arts Alliance, Santa Rosa Beach, FL. For information and registration contact Bonnie Loman. Email: pghsteeler1@icloud.com.

  • March 15-17 Helen Day Center, Stowe, VT. For information and registration contact Danielle Naylor. Email: education@helenday.com.

  • March 27-29, 2019 Amarillo Art Institute, Amarillo, TX. For information and registration contact Rachel Flores, Email: director@amarilloartinstitute.org.

  • April 12-14, 2019 Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, Florence, AL. For information and registration contact Christi Britton. Email: cbritton@florenceal.org.

As always, thanks so much for your support!


P.S. If you you'd like to learn more about Abstract Painting in the comfort of your home or studio, I have a great course called Abstract Painting Academy available for you:

Abstract Painting Academy is the next best thing to a live workshop event. You can find out more by Clicking Here.

Lafayette Bleu 4.jpg

Subscriber Painting Discount. If you are a subscriber to my email list, one of the perks is a 50% discount on all paintings on my website over $300 - like the painting shown here. You’ll also get a free ebook just for signing up.
You Can Sign-Up and Become a Subscriber Here.
You Can View My Paintings Here. Use the Coupon Code: EMAILDISCOUNT at check out.