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Essential decisions to make before you start a painting.

I found this article and thought it might be useful for those of you that want to start painting....

Is it necessary to plan a painting in careful detail before you start, or should you let it evolve as you go along? Planning a painting can be a help as you know exactly what you're going to do, but it could also inhibit spontaneity. Letting a painting evolve as you work is very free and lets you be spontaneous, but also leaves you open to the possibility that the painting won't go anywhere and you'll end up with a mess.
Ultimately the degree to which you plan out a painting depends on your personality, some people find it essential and others a hinderance. But regardless of how detailed you like to plan (or not), there are several decisions that have to be made before you to start to paint.

Decide On a Subject
Deciding on a subject is the logical first step as it influences the format of the support, the type of support used, and the technique you're going to use to create the painting. 
If you've only a vague idea of what to do with an appealing subject, such as a glorious landscape, sketching or doing small studies rather than a full painting will enable you to see whether the composition and selection of elements works well without wasting time or materials. A pleasing study can then be used as the basis or reference for a full-scale painting. 
But if you find that doing a study makes you stiffen up when you come to do the large-scale painting because you're focusing on replicating it, rather than it reminding you sufficiently of the original scene, consider doing only quick sketches to see if a composition works and taking reference photos to work from back in your studio.

Decide On the Format
Having decided on a subject, you need to decide what the best format for the support is, whether it should be landscape or portrait, or perhaps square. What shape of the canvas will best suit the subject matter? For example, the very long and thin canvas used in Altamaha River Delta by Curtis H Carter adds a sense of drama and wide-open spaces. 

Decide On the Size
The size the support will be should also be a conscious decision. A painting shouldn't be a particular size simply because that's the size of the sheet of paper you have. If you buy primed and stretched canvases, have several in various sizes to hand so you've a choice. Think about how the subject would look if it were painted small, or perhaps very large. Are you going to work lifesize or oversized? For example, portraits which are oversized are very dramatic.

Decide On a Medium and Technique
If you only ever use one medium then you don't have to decide which one you think is best for this particular subject. But what about the technique you're going to use? For example, if you use acrylics, are you going to use them thickly or thinly, like watercolours, are you going to use retarders to slow down the drying time? If you use watercolours, are you going to use masking fluid to keep areas white?

Decide On the Type of Support
Are you going to paint on canvas, primed hardboard, or paper? Will it be a canvas with a fine weave, such as linen, or a coarse weave that will show through? Will it be a smooth, hot-pressed paper or a rougher watercolour paper? This is a decision that not only influences the texture of the final work, but also how you work, for example canvas will stand heavy impasto being reworked repeatedly. 
Alternately, the technique you're wishing to use will determine the best support. 
If you are using oils, acrylics, or gouache, will you be using a ground and what colour should it be? How about using a complementary colour to the main colour in the picture? If you are using pastels, what colour paper will you use? And will you lay down an initial layer of complementary colours?

Decide On Colours
Are you going to use colour realistically or not? Are you going to use whatever colours you've got or select out a few to make up a palette just for that painting? Working with a limited range of colours can contribute to a sense of unity in a painting and great a sense of identify or unity between paintings.

This morning I put together a small video for my friend Fleur. I know she wants to paint her sea view and I wanted to show her how easy it can be to start painting....

My card for the day was Sensitivity
it said....As you've purified your inner world of thoughts, actions, and intentions, it's natural that you seek purity in your outer world as well. This is to acknowledge your heightened sensitivity, which is as real as it seems! You've stripped away the outer protective layers of unneeded defenses, which blocked your psychic and spiritual awareness. Now you're on the path of ascension, which calls for your heightened awareness. And with this awareness comes new levels of sensitivity to the impure and harsh. Your body is a trustworthy instrument of measurement of your tolerance level. Steer clear of that which your body signals you to avoid. Take extra care of your body, and it shall serve you well. 


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