Artist Helen Vaughn presents a collection of her paintings that masterfully capture the landscape in different seasons. View more of her realistic oils on her website.
Recently, a friend visited my studio and asked, “How long did it take you to paint that?” She was looking at a large canvas that I had completed a few days earlier. “Forty-five years and three weeks.” I answered.
I’ve been at this a long time! I have drawn and painted since I was a child growing up in a small town in south Alabama. Art became a serious pursuit when my own small children started school. They are now fifty-something.
I work in a studio situated under the trees in my backyard where I paint three things—the landscape I live in, the objects I live with and my women friends. The works shown here are from my landscape portfolio.
What follows are tips that I’ve picked up along the way in my journey as a visual artist. None of these observations are original; rather, they have been gathered from years of working at my easel, reading and studying. Because I am a painter, the language reflects a painter’s vocabulary. However, these tips work no matter your discipline. They have lasted through the years because they work.
Show up for work every day. There is no substitute for miles on the brush. You learn to paint by painting. After forty-five years, I’m still learning to paint.
Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.
Don’t limit your ideas. The creative process begins in the brain. What you can see in your mind, you can create on the canvas. While there may be a model, an engaging vista, or a still life set-up, your brain must solve creative problems. The painting you envision in your mind, your hands will try to accomplish. Remember, your brain will always be ahead of what your hands can do.
Learn to enjoy the process of painting as much as the end results. Give yourself permission to fail, to experiment. You will get better in direct proportion to how much you practice.
You don’t know what you don’t know. I encourage you to study with different teachers, take workshops and watch videos. Take what works for you and your vision and leave the rest. There is no right or wrong way to paint—there are only results. Paintings either work or they don’t.
Better quality materials will generally yield better quality results. Buy the best paint, brushes, and canvas that your budget allows. When you consider the time and thought you’ve invested in your work, you want it to last. Good materials make that more likely.
I continue to be engaged, excited and invigorated with the process of painting. I wish you the best on your own journeys.
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