Canvas prints and a copyright reminder for artists

The internet is a wonderful tool for artists and art admirers, and something that’s been indispensable to my business as a self-taught artist.  However, it has its downsides, as it’s come to my attention recently that unauthorized copies of my paintings are being sold overseas.   I don’t want to link to them, but here are a few examples of places my work is being sold without my permission:

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I’ve filed copyright infringement notices with Google, and I heard back from them today that they will be removing the site’s links.

If you’re an art buyer interested in my work, be aware that authorized prints are only sold via my website and my Etsy store, not through any other vendors.  These unauthorized prints are being made with low-res web quality images.  If you see any unauthorized uses of my images out there, please contact me.

For other artists, this is a good reminder never to post the high-res images of your work.  As you can see, watermarks can be digitally removed or changed, so keep your images small on the web, and don’t upload your master copies (fortunately, I never do).

On a positive note, I have really been enjoying the canvas prints made by my local printer in Santa Ana – they keep getting more vivid and realistic.  I bought a few for our house to replace favorite originals that I’ve sold, and I love them.  Check it out:

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These are the two different canvas depths that they make.  My standard prints are in the thicker 1.5″ depth, but I like the shallower depth for small prints like this 11″ x 14″.  Check out canvas prints in my Etsy store.  I’m adding new images all the time, so let me know if there are any you’d like to see as canvas prints, or if you’re looking for a custom size.

Moonlit Sky in Smalt Blue, Finished Painting

This is one of my night sky paintings:

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Haven,  16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals

I like lighthouses, although I wasn’t thinking of any particular place when I painted this.  I wanted the painting to be mostly about the beauty of the sky, overwhelming the tiny symbol on the horizon, a theme I’ve been working with in many forms.  This painting features a lot of Smalt Hue, one of Golden’s historic colors.

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Smalt Hue is a modern synthetic approximation of the blue color that was once made from ground cobalt glass in 16th and 17th century paintings in place of Ultramarine or Cobalt blue, which were made from crushed precious stones and very costly to use.  Blue is a rarity in Renaissance paintings due to cost of the pigments.  The method of making blue paint from cobalt glass was much less expensive, but the colors faded over time.

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Working with modern paints, I don’t have to think much about the relative cost of the colors on my palette (although some still cost more than others) or worry about the lightfastness.  I still discovered Smalt Hue as a beginner artist because it was relatively inexpensive (as a Series 1 color, it costs roughly half as much as Cobalt Blue, which is Series 8) and I fell in love with the slightly purplish shade for skies.  As you can see from the swatch on the tube, it’s very transparent and easy to layer.

The other main colors are Paynes Gray and Dioxazine Purple, with some Titan Buff in there for the moon:

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You can buy this image as a photo print or canvas print through my Etsy store.  The original is not for sale.  

6 Beginner Painting Mistakes that are Easy to Make

This is part of my guide for beginners learning to paint in acrylic, based on my own experiences as a self-taught painter.  These are some mistakes I made when I was starting out, and how you can avoid them in your own paintings.

Mistake #1: Not modifying your photo composition

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I strongly recommend working from photos as a way to improve technical skill.  If left to my own devices, I would probably just paint the same landscapes over and over, but my work doing custom paintings from photos helped me learn new skills and find enjoyable subjects that I never would have tried.  However, it’s important to think of the photo as a starting point, not your end goal.  Many new artists get tripped up trying for photorealism. We have cameras for that.  Move things around, take things out, change the sky, make it your own.

Mistake #2: Cleaning your brush too often

Taking care of your brushes between painting sessions is important, but while you’re painting, resist the urge to clean your brush thoroughly between each color.  Instead of rinsing it off completely each time, just wipe off the excess paint on your apron or a rag, and let a bit of the color stay on your brush.  This will help tie together the colors in your painting, and help you to discover new combinations you may not have tried.

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Acrylic Painting Demo: Blending Colors on your Palette

This is a quick demonstration of my color blending method, for people who are learning to paint.  It seems pretty basic, but as a beginner I had a tendency to overmix my paint, resulting in flat colors. This method will give you a wide variety of closely related shades that will make the objects you paint look more luminous and three-dimensional.

To start, put dabs of paint on your palette a few centimeters apart.  Try to distribute the paint so that the colors you’ll be mixing will be close to each other, but don’t overthink it. Some artists use a circular arrangement of paint on the palette, I tend to just make a few groups of associated colors with some space in between.  For the demo, I’m just using two colors of acrylic paint; yellow and green.

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Begin by adding a little bit of water to your brush and pulling some color out of the side of the paint dab and onto the clean palette area next to it.  Spread the paint around a bit so that you have some room to work. Next, without washing off your brush, do the same to the adjacent color so you have a thin gradient of paint that changes from the first color to the second color.

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Getting Started: Setting up your Painting Space

Welcome to my series for beginners learning to paint, based on my own trial-and-error experiences as a self-taught artist.  

Once you’ve got your paint, brushes, canvases and other supplies, you’ll need a place to set up.

While an easel is great for serious painters, it can take up a significant part of your budget, and you don’t really need one when you’re first starting out.  My recommended canvas size for beginners is something in the 9″x12″ to 16″x20″ range, and this size is manageable for working flat.   If you’re sitting at a desk or the kitchen table, try propping up one end of your canvas on some books (protected with a rag) to see if you prefer working at an angle.  If you do, you might want to invest in a table easel at some point.

Try to keep your most used supplies within easy reach, so you don’t set yourself up for back or shoulder pain.  This is my current setup in my garage where I paint:

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How to Use Photo Editing to Help You Paint Details

I’ve been working on a painting for a family member, based on this photograph I took in Oregon.

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That’s my husband and three year old son standing in front of Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach.  I made a post earlier on using masking tape to make horizon lines, and I’m picking up where I left off there to show you another one of my favorite tricks.

As a self-taught artist, most of my art education has come from doing custom paintings for clients from photographs.  This has been a fantastic way to get out of my comfort zone and discover new technical skills through trial-and-error.  Continue reading

Getting Started: Your Supply List

Welcome to my advice series for beginners learning to paint, based on my own trial-and-error experience.  These are the basic supplies you’ll need when starting on a budget.  

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Paint

Buy small tubes of professional or “artist” grade paint in these colors:

  • Ultramarine blue
  • Cadmium yellow (or Primary yellow)
  • Cadmium or Naphthol red (or Primary red)
  • Carbon black
  • Titanium white
  • Consider adding Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Magenta, Phthalo Green and Zinc White if you can

Brushes

  • Large flat or filbert
  • Small round
  • Medium angular bright

Canvas

  • Buy 5-6 canvas panels (recommended size 9″x 12″ or larger) to start
  • Then buy back-stapled or gallery wrap canvas (not side stapled) when you’re ready

Other Supplies (buy or find at home)

  • Masking tape
  • Disposable palette paper
  • Old apron or button down shirt
  • Rags
  • Big water jar or bucket

You’re ready to paint! Leave any questions in the comments or send me a message.

Next: Setting up your Painting Space

Getting Started: Other Painting Supplies

Welcome!  I’m posting a series of tips for beginner artists, based on my own trial-and-error experiences as a self-taught painter. 

1. Paints   2. Brushes   3. Painting Surfaces

4. Other Essential Supplies

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Most of your supply budget should be spent on good quality paint, brushes and canvas, in that order. You don’t need a lot of other stuff, but here are some essentials that you should have before you get started. (Again, I’m posting examples and pictures from dickblick.com, but I am not affiliated with them in any way.)

1) Water bucket

There are a lot of fancy artist’s water pails out there, but you really just need a big jar or tin.  Don’t use a coffee cup or drinking glass or you’ll end up drinking the paintwater when you’re not paying attention!  Change your water in your jar often and never let your brushes sit in the water.  This brings us to…

2) Rags and Apron

I like to have a dedicated painting apron (and sometimes an old button-up shirt as well) to cover my clothes.  Acrylic paint will permanently stain clothes if it dries on.  Again, it doesn’t have to be a special painting apron, but you should have something.  I also like to keep a few rags on hand (old t-shirts work well) to keep under my water bucket to absorb drips and provide a place to rest wet brushes or wipe off excess paint.

3) Palette or palette paper

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You’ll need a place to mix wet paint.  I personally never liked using the traditional hand-held wood or plastic palettes because they’re a pain to clean.  To save hassle and water, I recommend using disposable palette paper (or in a pinch, glossy magazines) when you’re starting out.  When you’re done painting you just peel off the top layer and throw it out.  Disposable palette paper is ideal when you’re just getting started, but see my recommendation #7 below when you’re getting more serious. Continue reading

Getting started: Painting surfaces

Welcome!  I’m posting a series of tips for beginner artists, based on my own trial-and-error experiences as a self-taught painter.  

1. Paints  2. Brushes

3. Painting Surfaces

I’m continuing my series on acrylic painting for beginners.  Once you’ve chosen your paint and brushes, you’ll need something to paint on.

As a beginner, it’s difficult to decide how much to spend on your painting surface. On the one hand, your painting is only as durable as what it’s painted on, and it makes sense to spend a little more money on ensuring your time and effort aren’t wasted on a poor quality surface. On the other hand, you might feel more free to experiment if you don’t have a big expensive blank canvas staring you down.  It’s up to you.

I do feel that it’s more important to invest in good paints and brushes, so most of your money should go towards these. You can always start out with a few canvas panels and work your way up as you get more comfortable.  (I’m showing examples from dickblick.com but I am not affiliated with them in any way.)

Canvas Panels

Blick Canvas Panels

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Getting started: Brushes

Welcome!  I’m posting a series of tips for beginner artists, based on my own trial-and-error experiences as a self-taught painter.  

1. Paints

2. Brushes

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I’m continuing my series on acrylic painting for beginners.  Again, you should be spending most of your budget on a small number of artist grade colors and brushes, avoiding the large “student” sets and unnecessary extras.  Quality paint and brushes will make the biggest difference in your results.

Plan on spending $5-10 for each brush. You’ll be tempted by the large, cheap, 12-piece bristle set for students, but don’t buy it. These brushes are not usually very good quality, and you won’t use all those sizes.  Nothing can frustrate you faster than bad brushes.

Brushes for heavy texture paints like acrylic and oil are stiffer than watercolor brushes, so make sure you’re shopping in the right section. You can choose from a range of natural (animal hair) or synthetic fibers.  Both work well in my opinion, but I really like the Princeton Best synthetic series for overall value.

My 3 Essential Brushes for Acrylic Painting

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