Di Alexander's Techniques - 5 Pages

1 Introduction: Planning a Painting (this page)

2 Notes on Preparing Rigid Supports / Panels

3 Scaling up a portrait from a photograph (video)

4 Tips on Artist's Block, Procrastination and Self-motivation

5 Colour Masterclass (PDF)


Introduction: Planning a painting


Crabbing - acrylics on canvas


The reasons why I start to paint a picture vary. I may be inspired by a face, a scene, a photograph taken at a re-enactment event, or an historical television programme.

I change the tonal values and colours using Photoshop Elements and move elements of the around. I always print A4 colour and black and white photographs before doing at least one tonal sketch before beginning a painting. Usually I do several additional sketches using pastel or watercolour pencils in order to decide which parts of the scene to emphasise and which to eliminate.


Vital decisions at this stage are:

1 What is the story being told i.e. what is going on? What are the emotions that I want the viewer to experience?

2 Where is the focal point?

3 Where are the light sources? Is the greatest contract near to the focal point?

4 Where are the lines of the furniture / bodies / folds of clothing pointing to? Do they lead the eye to the focal point?

5 Which colours will be my "wow" colours i.e. the colours that draws the eye and its nearby compliment?

6 Are the warmest colours near to the focal point?