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6 tips to become a better artist

6 things I learned about painting on ARTiful, painting demos by Sandrine Pelissier
Inspiration / Thoughts / Tips

6 tips to become a better artist

We all learn to become a better artist with each painting we make and over the years we start to do certain things differently. Here are a few tips that helped me, and I wanted to share them as they might help other artists. I would also love to hear some of the ways to improve you discovered in the comments.

Tip 1 to become a better artist: Take the time to think before starting to work

If you are like me, you can sometimes be very eager to start moving the paint on the canvas and tempted to skip or rush all the preparatory sketches and thinking. But it is also important to realize that mistakes done in the first stages of the painting are usually the most difficult to fix. So when elements like composition, color palette, style have been decided before starting to paint, the rest of the process will usually go smoothly.

take more time to think to become a better artist

It is worth taking the time to work on preparatory sketches before starting to paint. This might save you a lot of trouble later down the road.

Tip 2 to become a better artist: Has it been done already too many times?

Maybe this can be a bit controversial, but as a person who has seen many exhibitions and Artists works, I  get easily bored when the Art is very safe and un-imaginative or very repetitive. I also realize that it is very difficult to come up with something totally unique all the time, but it can be interesting to think about what makes your Art unique and what makes the next painting a bit different from the previous one. This is also a bit of a fine line because Artists are usually expected to be very consistent so their work can be recognizable. So the difficulty I guess is to stay on that fine line where you keep the work exciting and varied while still being consistent and recognizable.

find your own style to become a better artist

What is making your Art unique?

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Tip 3 to become a better artist: Composition is a must

There are many aspects of a painting that can be overlooked but usually composition is not one of them. Try to think about the localisation of your focal point on the painting. You can apply the rule of third or not, but usually the focal point is not in the middle of the painting or not alongside the edges.

Of course there are exceptions, the following example is one of them.

use a good composition in your paintings

I also like to think in terms of repetition with variation, that means having elements that are repetitive but will differ from each over in the painting. The focal point can sometimes be the place in the painting with the most details and the most contrast.

Tip 4 to become a better artist: Color, Repetition and variation

Repetition with variation works also when thinking about color. Usually a color that goes somewhere on the canvas is also found in over places on the canvas, that is the repetition. That color can also vary a bit when painting an area so it is not totally flat, this is variation.

use repetition with variation for colors

Repetition and Variation works also for color.

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.


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use repetition with variations for composition

Repetition and variation can be seen in the rhythm of the trees and in the colors. 

Tip 5 to become a better artist: Consistency of style

I like to experiment and have fun trying on different subjects and styles, and I think it is important for Artists to give themselves the freedom to experiment from one painting to the next. Nevertheless within one painting, it usually works better if the style stays consistent. For example of you are painting a landscape with a body of water in a realistic style, don’t paint just one area like the reflections in the water in an impressionist style.

consistent style in mixed media flower painting from imagination

Try to keep the style consistent in the whole painting

In Paris, mixed media on yupo paper mounted on board

Tip 6 to become a better artist: Take a distance to help evaluate your painting

evaluate your own paintings art

Sometimes when we keep looking at something we end up not seeing it anymore, or even worse we end up focusing only on what we think went wrong. That is when we need to look at the painting with a “fresh eye”. There are a few ways to do that, you can stop painting for a while and come back to it later, look at the painting in a mirror to see a reversed image, look at it upside down, you can also take a picture and look at it on a smaller scale.

More techniques to evaluate your painting here: Getting a new perspective, how to take a distance to better evaluate your painting

Do you have any tip that helped you improve you would like to share?

5/5 - (2 votes)

Comments (5)

  1. Louise

    Planning and thinking ahead do not work for me. The more I do it, the less the painting pleases me. What is working best for me is to let go of any expectations and simply plunge, fully opening myself to the present moment.

    1. Yes, while I was writing this post I was also thinking about Artists I know who are working in a very different way and will enjoy a totally spontaneous and direct approach to painting.
      I guess it depends on your style. I love spontaneous paintings too, they have a special kind of energy.

      1. Louise

        The medium chosen also influences our way to work.

  2. I find that taking a black and white photo helps me to see the tonal values in my painting.

    1. Thanks Victoria, that is a very good tip!

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