New Painting Ideas I Learned on Vacation

  1. You can make a brush out of a plastic shopping bag and some duct tape.
  2. You can paint convincing trees with a plastic shopping bag brush, a palette knife and some spray paint pooled onto a magazine page.
  3. Magazine pages can be used to make textures, when used with spray paint
  4. So can the pages of a disused phone book, but the textures are different.
  5. Spray can art on canvas is easy(ish), fun, fast and you can produce nice results, relatively cheaply, but it’s very messy and you need to mind the fumes – wear disposable gloves, a respirator and some old overalls.  (
  6. A good way to learn spray can painting technique faster is to watch somebody who knows it well make a painting from scratch.  (
  7. Always test spray from your can onto scrap, before going near your painting.  Nozzles clog.
  8. Spray paints warmed up gently in the sun work better than cold.
  9. Different spray can caps make very different marks.  Have a bunch of different ones and know how to use them.
  10. You don’t need a straight edge, when you have a shrink wrapped blank canvas to hand.
  11. The best way to dry a spray can artwork is in the sun and open air.
  12. You can make a waterfall using a piece of thick, scrap cardboard with a furry, torn edge and a pool of white spray paint on a magazine page.
  13. There are other contemporary artists out there that share my sense of colour, texture, balance and abstraction.  (search for Belgian artist Diane Deprest
  14. You can make some pretty wonderful abstractions with oil paint and palette knives, if you know how to work the paint.
  15. A set of “effect” palette knives is on sale at Jerry’s Artarama (on line) right now (  I bought some.
  16. Some people prefer realistic, representational paintings, in watercolour, even if you can paint abstract oils spectacularly well.  Others adore the abstracts, in preference.
  17. If you paint with watercolours, make the colours strong, not washed out.
  18. Purple works great as a shadow colour.
  19. Learning to draw matters a lot, even if you only ever paint.
  20. It’s not a rejection, if you were never even seriously considered.

About tropicaltheartist

You can find out more about me here: There aren’t many people that exist in that conjunction of art, design, science and engineering, but this is where I live. I am an artist, a musician, a designer, a creator, a scientist, a technologist, an innovator and an engineer and I have a genuine, deep passion for each field. Most importantly, I am able to see the connections and similarities between each field of intellectual endeavour and apply the lessons I learn in one discipline to my other disciplines. To me, they are all part of the same continuum of creativity. I write about what I know, through my blogs, in the hope that something I write will resonate with a reader and help them enjoy their own creative life more fully. I am, in summary, a highly creative individual, but with the ability to get things done efficiently. Not all of these skills are valued by the world at large, but I am who I am and this is me. The opinions stated here are my own and not necessarily the opinion or position of my employer.
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2 Responses to New Painting Ideas I Learned on Vacation

  1. susangeckle says:

    Thanks for the list. I especially agree with what you said about purple being a good shadow color, and about how being able to draw still counts if you’re a painter. Someone who can really work the purple shadows is Wayne Theibaud, a wonderful painter.

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