Debbie Abshear    



Set up an area in your home or workplace that you can leave up. When you have time- practice! You can concentrate on color studies, brushstrokes, sketching. The more you practice, the more you will want to practice and the more you will improve. When you practice, document the pigments you used, the brush, whether you wet the paper first, worked on dry paper…. Later on, you will pick up a piece of your own work and wonder how you did it so the more notes you take the better!


When you see a painting that you like, analyze it- is it the color, mood, composition? Try to put your observations into words. Develop an artist’s language.


Train your eye to see value and composition. Think about working in thirds, one-third sky, one third background, one third foreground. (Instead of splitting the page in half)


Keep a journal, take notes, even when you are watching a DVD, YouTube, artists magazines. Taking notes will force you to slow down and think about WHY?


Learn to self-critique your painting:

  • What is my WHAT? (Why did I want to paint this? What attracted me to this scene)
  • Is my composition pleasing? Did I cut my painting in half? Is my WHAT right in the middle.
  • Are my values strong enough?


Plan your painting before you start to paint!

  • Sketch
  • Value study
  • Keep notes
  • Paint again a different way: positively, negatively, impressionistically, abstract, notan (black and white shapes)


Start visual files, tear out pictures in magazines that you like, take photographs. These can be filed by, seascapes, oceans, buildings, birds, color, composition. File them in a way that will make sense to you. Your photographs and reference materials are a starting point which you can rearrange to make into paintings.

Reference materials from sources other than your own photographs should only be used for practice. Other artists work can be used for practice but if you plan on entering shows, please use your own resource materials. If you learn a technique from someone, you can make it your own by photographing your own references and painting it in that style.