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Problem Solving For Oil Painters

This is the table of content (TOC) of "problem solving for oil painters", an excellent book that you can also read it online partially here



Because the TOC is publicly available, I take the opportunity to reproduce it and modify it for our purposes: making us a better artist.

These following questions are in fact appropriate for all painters, not only for oil painters.


  • Is there a good abstract idea underlying the picture?
  • What details could be eliminated to strengthen the composition?
  • Does the painting have focus? In other words, what is the focal point?
  • Are the unessential parts subordonated? (keep the picture simple!)
  • Does the painting "read"? (Do you provide the viewers eye with paths to follow?)
  • Could you finish any part of painting?



  • Are the dominat shapes as strong and simple as possible?
  • Are the shapes too similar?



  • Could the value range be increased?
  • Could the number of values be reduced?

Remember also when you draw with a pencil to you all possible value tones and not just 3 or 4, but 10 to give your drawing a realistic look! this advise was from one of my preferred teachers David N. kitler (here).



  • Is the subject effectively lit?
  • Is the light area big enough?
  • Would the light look stronger with a suggestion of burnout?
  • Do the lights have a continous flow?
  • Is the light gradated?



  • Do the shadow shapes describe the form?
  • Are the shadows warm enough?



  • Would the addition of foreground material deepen the space?
  • Does the background recede far enough?
  • Are the halftones properly related to the background?



  • Is the underlying form being communicated?
  • Is the simmetry in perspective?



  • Is there a color strategy? (remember the "keys" in your composition? E.g. color, value, temperature)
  • Could purer color be used?
  • Do the whites have enough color in them?
  • Are the colors overblended on the canvas?
  • Would the color look brighter if it were saturated into its adjacent area?



  • Is your palette efficiently organized?
  • Is the painting surface too absorbent?
  • Are you using the palette knife as much as you could?
  • Are you painting lines when you should be painting masses?
  • Are the edges dynamic enough?
  • Is there enough variation in the texture of the paint?


Related pages

rules of composition

composition in art

learning to paint



Return from problem solving for oil painters back to the elements of art page

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