How to bring depth and three dimensional reality to your painting with a few simple washes/glaze

Hi Everyone
I am often asked by artists how they can stop their paintings from looking flat.

There are many reasons why a painting can look flat – but one of the common issues is easily corrected with just a few washes!

In this example I have used a floral/still life study to show you how you can bring wonderful three dimensional reality to your work!

No matter what medium or style you wish to painting in – AND no matter what skill level you are at!


Take a look at my watercolor painting ‘The Bird Feeder’. You can see how both of these roses look as if they are on a similar focal plane.
Why is this?
It is because both of the roses have a similar amount of:
~ light and dark (tonal value)
~ they also have similar colors
~ and a similar color temperature

All of these things have allowed me to let each of them attract a similar amount of attention. They both draw the eye don’t they.

Now look what happens when I use a simple wash to push the top one back into the painting!

Can you see the difference!

Our attention is taken by the lower rose. The upper rose sits further back into the painting.

What does this do to the painting?

It helps us lead the viewers eye to the beautiful statue. Our eye initially goes to the lower rose which then brings our attention to the little bird feeder which is further back in the painting.

We have created a path for the eye and attention to follow.

For this method to be most effective, our previous washes need to be absorbed into the paper. The best way to ensure this is the case – is to paint the previous layers using my fabulous Priming Method. You can learn all there is to know about my Priming Method and all of the invaluable hints and tips and painting breakthroughs in my DVDs.

What colors can we use for this wash (or glaze if we are painting in oils)?

There are many colors we can use to do something similar.

Generally I use a red with a touch of blue and a touch of yellow. I adjust my color mixes according to how far I want my subject to sit back into a painting.

I often use these colors:
– Alizarin Crimson (or Antharinoid Red – Daniel Smith)
– Phthalo Blue (this is a very strong color so only use a tiny amount)
– Aureolin Modern (Schmincke)

For instance:

I allow my color mix (above) to favor more:
~ Red – if I want my subject to sit in the middle ground
~ Slightly less red and which will make the mix a little more Blue/yellow – but still have just a little redishness – if I want my subject to sit further back into the composition.
~ Even less red again – and a little less yellow too. This will mean your mix will be a little more Blue with just a tiny amount of red and yellow – if I want my subject to sit much further back into my painting.

You can see that YOU are in the driving seat. YOU decide what story to you want to create and how you want to tell it.

It is very easy to push/pull your supporting subject matter in and out of attention so that supporting subject matter grabs attention or is a beautiful foil that allows your main subject to be the leading lady in your work. You can create a path that leads the eye to your main subject and supports your vision and story!

You can see how to create these things and so very much more – in my DVDs which are full of all the hints and tips, breakthroughs, lessons and extension to help you bring a professional edge to your work.

You can view free video previews and explore all the in-depth information about my DVDs and art instruction videos here:

All of my DVDs are rated 5 out of 5 stars. We have sold in excess of 30,000 DVDs around the world. That is the very best recommendation I can give! The volume of purchases and repeat customers speak for themselves.

Have fun!

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