From Brush to Palette Knives–Lesson One

Lesson 1: Drawing and Composition, Key foundation elements

Homework assignment: 
Select your reference photos to be used for this lesson. (If you would like to paint along with Linda using her photo reference, you may request the image from her at You may paint from life if you like. If you do decide to paint from life, please do not move too quickly. Choose objects that will withstand the four week course. It is suggested that you convert your photos to an 8 x 10 inch photo by enlarging or printing out the digital photo to that size.Please print out three copies of the photo reference. If you are working from life, please photograph the still life set up and crop the photo so that only the still life objects are in the photo. Please print out three copies for this first week’s lesson.

In this lesson, we will focus on drawing, composition and design of the painting.Take two of the reference photos.As discussed in How to Paint From Brush to Palette Knives instruction ebook (Drawing and Composition-Key Foundation Elements),take one copy of the reference photo and grid out the 8 x 10 photo into one inch squares.Use the second copy of the reference photo and divide the photo by using the Rule of Third as shown art instruction ebook. Keep the third photo reference clean with no marks to use as color reference in our future study.If you are working from life, you will use your still life for color reference.

Referring to the How to Paint From Brush to Palette Knife instruction (Chapter Two-Understand Form and Creating Shape with Light and Color), study your reference photo or still life determining which basic shapes (cube, cylinder, sphere, or cone) each object resembles. For example, trees are spheres (leaves and branches) and tree trunks are cylinders.The sphere of the leaves and branches can be drawn as a sphere.The sphere can be cut into with negative shape to create a more pleasing shape.Simplify your photo into large shapes and to aid in drawing reduce each object to its most basic shape (sphere, cube, cylinder, cone or a combination of basic shapes. For example:a pear is a sphere with a cylinder.The sphere is the bottom larger area that tapers up into a cylinder.)

In your sketchbook, create 3 four-inch by five-inch squares or boxes in the same orientation as your reference photo (the ten inch side of your photo is the five inch side of your four by five inch squares).Using no detail at all, draw into these squares simplified shapes creating a very abstract design of the photo reference as shown Mini Composition Video and discussed in Chapter 1 of the How to Paint From Brush to Palette Knife ebook. Decide which design is strongest.

Choose whether to use the one-inch square grid (if your drawing skills are weak) or the Rule of Thirds drawing method. Do not free hand your drawing. If you want to do a free hand sketch, you may, but please do not skip using the grid or rule of third method. Referring to the design squares and the photo reference as well as the composition information shared in this lesson, in your sketchbook, draw and design the painting you will paint with palette knives. Do not shade or place any values.This is just a line drawing.

Please send your reference photos, a photo of your four-by-five inch mini-compositions, and your line drawing for review to Linda at Please add any comments or questions you may have. Tell Linda why you choose the design sketch and what changes you made to achieve the final design. Also tell Linda any observations you have made during this process. Linda will be looking at your drawing skills and strength of design and composition. Suggestions may be made to strengthen composition, design, and drawing.

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