Painting Tips and Techniques: How to Paint a Background


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How do you paint a background?

Whether it's a still life or a portrait of a person or pet, having a relatively simple or clean background allows the focus to fall entirely on the subject. Often, however, novice artists paint the subject first and then don't know what to do with the background. To avoid this problem, paint the background first. If you do this, you won't have a hard time figuring out what to paint in the background or worrying about accidentally painting some of your carefully painted subjects. Then when you paint the subject, you can work a little color from it to the bottom to help even the paint together if necessary.

This sequence of photos by artist Jeff Watts shows an effective way to paint a background that is simple but has visual appeal and impact.

Decide the direction of the light

Art license means you can have the light come in any direction you want. Just decide where you want it and then paint with the most saturated colors, those closest to the light and the weakest in the light.

Jeff said, "First, find your light source. In this painting, it comes from the left. So that's where I started with the darkest color, the black, and crimson alizarin, using intersecting lines."

Paint with the direction of light

Don't paint with random brush strokes, use them to enhance the sense of direction of the light. Your brush strokes don't need to line up in a stiff row like new fence posts, but they can be a bit messy like a fence that has weathered a few storms. Think of them as dancing instead of walking.

Jeff said, "By moving across the canvas in the same direction as the light, lighten the paint mix with cadmium red."

Lightens the color

Remember that the effect of light is not constant, it changes as you move away from the light source. Exaggerating this change a bit when painting the background can be very effective as it provides contrast in tone.

Jeff said, "I continued to clarify the mix by adding white when I got to the other side. It's the lightest part of the background because that's where the light shines." Dark where light begins, light where the light goes "is a good way to remember this.

Then I added the foreground, which is just a light gray and a Naples yellow. I left it a little lighter where it is closest to me. I don't really clean my brush during this process. At most, I will clean up excess paint when changing color. "

Add shadow

Add an anchor shadow to the subject. Without it, things seem to float in space too easily. For this background style, you're not looking for a detailed shadow, just a darker shade where the largest shapes on the subject cast a shadow depending on the direction of the light you choose.

Jeff said: "I blurred the horizon line and added the shadow of the cat. I think the blur of the horizon line is the 'magic' of this type of background."

Start painting the theme

Once everything is working to his satisfaction, it is time to move on to painting the subject. Don't worry if it is totally "correct", you can adapt and make adjustments later.

Jeff said: “Painting a background in this way creates atmosphere and perspective in your painting. It also places the light side of the subject next to the dark side of the background and the subject's dark side next to the lighter side. bottom side This contrast of light versus dark makes for an interesting painting.

With the background and foreground done, I hit the cat himself. "

Redo the background

Jeff said: “The next day I went through the whole background with different colors (changed my mind, that's all). When I finally finish painting the cat (this is not the case yet, pictured), I will go to the background again. I can very well change some colors again. Sometimes I do this because I forget what I used in the first place, and sometimes because I like to work the skin on the wet bottom.

This background style works well for portraits or still lifes. You can mix it as much as you want. I find that short strokes work best. You can use whatever color you want, although I'm trying to put some of the subject's color in the background (and vice versa). It is not always noticeable because it is fading, but it is there. "

Enjoy The Video Tutorial about How to paint a blended background!

Source: Painting with Canvas

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