Friday, April 17, 2009


I find that getting your perspective correct is key to having a painting "sit" properly and feel real. (Remember those perspective rules, and vanishing points from grade school, well they work!) I noticed when painting this 11x14 boardwalk scene on Balboa Island, there were a couple more little tools I like to use for added believability. 

First, when faced with a pathway, I usually have it enter the painting from at least two sides of the canvas. I chose to put the base of the red wall about a half inch up from the bottom left corner. This gives me a big entry for your eye at the bottom of the canvas. If the wall was extended down, and off the bottom of the canvas, the path would be too narrow and not as inviting. I try to do this in most of my paintings with roads or paths.

Next, I made sure all elements, even the little things were in perspective. The bench was tricky, but if you think of it as a box first, then cut out the negative space, it was much easier. Same goes with people, a little tip I learned was to line up all of your heads on a horizontal line. This keeps it so some people don't look like giants, or gnomes. Not everyone depicted plays in the NBA.

Lastly, I gave the background plenty of atmospheric "graying". This gets the work to have lots of depth and creates another avenue to move your eye down the path. Enjoy!


  1. very nice presentations of art. You have a real feel for your subject.
    God bless and keep up the good work

  2. Ah, it makes sense to think of the bench as a box! That would really help keep it in perspective.

    Dori showed me photos she took of one of your demos at her first workshop with you. In that painting you had a car on the side of the road in perspective. When you blocked it in you literally painted it as a box. It wasn't until near the end of the demo. that you added the details that turned it into a car. I really wish I could have seen you paint that!

    It looks like in this painting you've got very rich saturated colors on on side of the path and high key colors on the other. Was that part of your overall plan in order to keep the eye at the focal point?

  3. Dude, you're giving away trade secrets! (and I'm taking notes!) That bit about the pathways cutting into two sides of the canvas is a good one- I'd never thought about it that way before, but now I'll be more aware.

    I just have one question. Is Camille alive?

  4. Thanks Gary, Kim for the note.
    To answer Kim's question on the color saturation ... It wasn't my plan, but It definitely helps lead your eye. That's just the way the scene was, but I am conscience of where I set up my easel and how my composition will play out. I do try to use elements like that in my favor when I can and that's probably why I was drawn to the scene in the first place. Greg

  5. Hey Terry
    Trade secrets!?! I don't know if I have any! But I'll tell you what ... when you're trying to think about what to say in these Blog entries, it really gets you analyzing your work even more. I've found it extremely helpful to my own artistic growth. Each time I do one of these I learn something, and I guess it's not only helpful to myself, but to others as well. It's like the saying goes: if you want to remember, write it down!

    And yes, Camille lives (just barely!) .... Greg

  6. Excellent commentary. I really appreciate your detailed commentary. So instructive. A successful, lovely painting with lots of depth! (and, um, I'm afraid to ask...who's Camille?)

  7. Greg, this is so great! Feels like i am in a workshop and that is really great. Your ability tell all is a real gift. Thanks so much.

  8. Thanks, glad it was helpful ..... And for those wondering, Camille was the name of a toy that ended up on a painting trip last summer with Terry, myself and friends.

  9. After I read about the cutting in two pathways, I checked some of mine out and found I was doing it most of the time this way kind of instinctfully, but wasn't really aware of it until I read your blog. I'll be paying attention even more now, thanks... so where's the DVD (remember email_no pressure - lol). I'm sure I'm not the only one that would love 'several' of your DVD's. Worth waiting for I say. Thanks Greg!