Ask the right questions to progress your painting

Ask the right questions to progress your painting

You might think that it’s important to know what your painting will look like before you start. But I believe that we can make more interesting and original paintings when we don’t know what they’ll turn out like. It’s more important to start a painting with a sense of curiosity and playfulness. Just start by exploring all the different things you can do with the tools you have and incorporate a variety of techniques into your paintings. To have the confidence to do this, you need to understand what questions to ask during each phase of a painting. Here are the questions I ask during the first several layers of my painting process.


Questions to ask at the start of the painting process

  1. Does the surface have enough texture? Are there contrasting smooth and textured areas?
  2. Are there a variety of interesting marks? Do they vary in size and form?
  3. Does the line work vary (straight, curvy, scribbly, outlines, thick, thin)?
  4. Are there a variety of shapes (geometric, organic, solid, outlined, large, small)? Are shapes created using both positive and negative space?
  5. Do I have both precise and messy areas? Have I used methods where I have little control over the outcome?
  6. Have I used a variety of tools to create marks? Have I varied the size and type of my paintbrush?
  7. Have I created an interesting surface that inspires me to keep painting? Have I created something unusual and new?

If you can answer yes to this last question, then you’re ready to move into the middle phase of the painting process. If you still need a little help creating an interesting surface, download and print out this set of prompt cards and us it to guide your next set of marks.

Painting Prompts.jpg

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