9 Small Adjustments for Better Oil Painting Results

9 Small Adjustments for Better Oil Painting Results - CashArtBlog

9 Small Adjustments for Better Oil Painting Results – CashArtBlog

Sometimes it just takes a small adjustment or two to improve your oil painting and not a complete overhaul. I am certainly not the only one who looks back on paintings from years past and says “If I had handled that part differently or this part over here another way, the entire painting would have been a lot better.”

9 Small Adjustments for Better Oil Painting


We all make adjustments in our lives outside of oil painting all the time without thinking anything of it. We adjust our budgets and our schedules. In football if the game plan isn’t working there will be adjustments made at half time. Small adjustments in technique for an Olympic athlete can mean the difference between a gold medal and crying in a bowl of Wheaties. When economic situations call for it, money managers make adjustments in multi-million dollar portfolios with just a couple of clicks. I could keep going, but I know you are getting what I am saying.

Below are nine topics for you to consider if you think that your oil painting could use a tune-up instead of a complete overhaul.

1. Pre-Painting Planning Sheet. Spontaneity is beautiful. But what about considering a plan in advance for your oil painting? Writing down what and where the focal point will be, as well as other elements such as: mood, light source, values, texture, edges, color, abstract shapes and anything else that you feel is important for your painting to succeed.

2. The Right Tools for the Job. How much easier life and oil painting can be with a plan and the right tools for the job. Got enough paint? Canvas, lighting, easel, paper, the proper brushes etc?  Make sure your materials don’t waste your precious time and let you down.

3. Focal Point. Are your paintings featuring a focal point? Is it clear where and what the focal point in your painting is? The focal point is where you can really engage the viewer and present the essence of your idea. The focal point is not where the eye goes and just stops however. The focal point can be bold or subtle. Look for different ways and locations to put forth your focal point in your paintings.

4. Composition. A good design is a great foundation to build your paintings upon. A good design with fantastic subject matter is rock solid. A poor design with a great subject matter is not a way to create a great oil painting. Break all the rules you want, but your work must have a good composition.

5. Brush Strokes. Don’t be afraid to show the world your unique brush strokes. A beautiful. bold brushstroke here and there never hurt anybody. Maybe parts of your paintings could “live” on the surface more. Or maybe not. Think about the way light hits those vertical and horizontal brush strokes and determine if they could improve your oil painting. Let the viewers of your work get to know you a little bit more with your unique brushwork.

6. Values. Is there a dominate value in your work? A dominant value will allow for stronger paintings and better design. A dominate value can be either dark, medium or light. How about doing some small value sketches in pencil before you start your next masterpiece?

7. Edges. A small adjustment in the variety of edges can really strengthen your work. Lost and found edges for example. By placing a hard, crisp edge in a key area, you indicate to the viewer that this particular edge is important and that they should take notice. By losing or softening an edge, you can attempt to accomplish the opposite. If you are making all of your edges the same throughout your oil painting, you are risking a lost opportunity for exploring form and depth in your work. Experiment with different brushes, palette knives, and/or anything else that you find helpful to achieve some variety in your edges.

8. Use More Paint. Yes I know oil paint is expensive. Using more paint allows for more visible brushstrokes and additional surface quality to your oil painting. If you make a mistake in an area and you have extra paint already mixed up, you can get correct the mistake quickly and get right back at it. There is a certain freedom and boldness that comes from not worrying if you are going to run out of paint. This, just like everything else in oil painting will come with more experience.

9. Continually Check your work in a Mirror. Always have a mirror handy when you are painting and keep checking your work as you go. Get into the habit of this. Using a mirror will help you see errors and help you tweak and improve your painting as you go, instead of getting all the way to the end and finding a misteak. There are no guarantees, but this one thing can really cut down on those Oh s**t moments.


 Improve Your Oil Painting One Piece at a time


If there were a number 10, it would be for you to find for yourself. There are so many great teachers, workshops and tools out there to learn from. As you paint more you will probably discover your own tips that hep you, and then you will be able to help others. This article just scratches the surface of trying to make each new oil painting better than the last.

Hope the helps…I’m going to go paint now…


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