Painting Tips


Book author / illustrator and Urban Sketcher Lynne Chapman has some interesting tips on her blog.

1) Try to travel light, rather than taking every bit of art gear you have. Conversely, a pencil is a bit limiting on its own: take the means to apply colour, even if it’s just a couple of coloured pencils to help your drawing jump off the page.

2) Don’t attempt photo-realism: it’s impossible in the time you have, so be creative. You don’t have to draw everything you see: you can focus in on details; you’re also allowed to leave things out; or you can do a very minimal background to throw forwards what you are really interested in.

3) If your subject moves half way though, you can sometimes create a fun page by starting again and again.

4) Be comfortable: take something to sit on.

5) Consider your sketchbook spread to be a piece of reportage, rather than just creating a drawing: play with different ways of filling the space.

6) You can incorporate little notes in your sketch, or hand-drawn text, to record what you hear as well as what you see, or to note small activities which happen in the location while you are there.

7) It’s easy to get anxious if people come up to you, but just chat to them. Consider them part of the overall ‘I was there’ experience (and try to remember – most onlookers are unlikely to be able to draw as well as you, no matter how disappointed you might be with your efforts).



Art composition guidelines provide a starting point for deciding on a composition for a painting, for deciding where to put things. The Rule of Thirds is the easiest art composition guideline to follow in a painting. Applying the “rule of thirds” to a painting means you’ll never have a painting that’s split in half, either vertically or horizontally, nor one with the main focus right in the centre like a bull’s-eye.

ruleofthirds ruleofthirds2


Horizon line is a confusing perspective term because when you hear it, you tend to think of “the horizon” we see in nature. That is, the horizon as in the line where the land or sea meets the sky in the distance. In a painting, the horizon line might be this if you’re painting a landscape, but it’s best to disconnect the two. Rather, when you hear “horizon line” you want to be thinking “eye level line”. If you draw an imaginary line across the scene at the level of your eyes, that’s the horizon line.



Linear perspective

1. Objects that are closer appear bigger


2. Parallel lines intersect at the horizon (Vanishing point)



Your subject matter is entirely up to you, but remember that you don’t have to paint everything you see; be selective, think about what the essence of the scene is. Focus on what you see. Take your time to decide what you’re going to paint and where you would set up. Look right around, 360 degrees, so you don’t miss the possibilities ‘behind’ you.


There’s something about seeing an artist at work that makes people extremely inquisitive, more likely to talk to a stranger, and prone to giving unwanted opinions. It can be disconcerting, especially if your painting isn’t going well, and quite disruptive if it happens a lot. Considering positioning yourself where people can’t come up behind you, such as against a wall or in a closed doorway. If you don’t wish to chat, be politely non-responsive along the lines of  “I’m sorry I can’t talk right now I’ve only a limited time to do this”.