Creating Mood

When you hear the term “mood” used to describe a fine art painting most often (at least for me) I visualize a grey, stormy emotional scene.  Illustrators on the other hand always have to create a mood in order for their art director to please the client. This mood will sell the intended product.


But as fine artists we can choose the mood and decide how to execute it. We are in full control of the outcome. No art director hounding us at all.  Creating mood can be achieved many different ways. For example: take a mountain scene you may have painted many times. But imagine the mood you could create if a quarter of the mountain was encased with fog or partially covered by a cloud. Or what if you played up a strong light source reflecting bright onto one side of the mountain or down low near the base each of these details would create a completely different mood.

What if your painting’s foreground was in full light or in complete shadow this would make the background sing even more.  If the painting has an architectural structure what if appeared in half shadow. If you start experimenting with your ideas while keeping in mind the overall design so you don’t end up with chaos the possibilities could be endless.  Those average reference photos could be made into exciting, mood driven, finished works.  

The point here is to experiment and don’t always stick to the story portrayed in your reference. Create your own. Nature shows itself in many forms. There is no such thing as a wrong light source, only a misplaced light source in relationship to the overall design. Use technology like Photoshop to start putting ideas into action. I will tend to push and pull values and colors around on my computer before I even touch it with the brush if I am unsure of the outcome.  You may have watched videos I have posted on my blog where I show you endless possibilities you can achieve while using Photoshop. Here is a great video post where I demonstrate how to play with shadow on shapes all while being on my computer.

If you are technically challenged, no problem. All of this can be done using pencil and paper.  Once you feel and see you are in control of your own paintings mood the possibilities will hopefully excite you to be adventurous and create something new. These unknown paths I believe are how we grow as artists. So enjoy the journey!

Summer Tips


I want to start this post, since I haven't written one in a while, by saying: How appreciative I am of everyone's continued support. Thank you! I really enjoy sharing what I have learned over the years. I put a lot of thought into every video tutorial and written post to make sure I deliver information that will hopefully help the aspiring painter all the way up to the seasoned ones. Please keep your comments coming and I will be sure to answer.

SUMMER is Here!

This is the season we wait for. As painters this is the time to head outdoors, set up our gear, and enjoy what nature has to offer. 

Depending upon your geographic location the sunlight stays longer above the horizon line, and for us artists this means longer days to learn from direct observation just like our masters did in the past. This is the season, so get out there. It only comes once a year. There are no filters between your eyes and the subject. Outdoor painting is just like working out to stay in shape. When working from life, our time in relationship to the sun is limited, so completing a piece can be challenging. We have to work from instinct and passion without thinking of detail. This is one of the best ways to become a looser painter.

 We all know adding to much detail into our paintings will not make it better, it can actually hurt it. Remember for a true artist painting outdoors is meant for observing and painting these notes on your canvas. It is not about painting a masterpiece. If you can, great, and I know many that do, but this is because they have always painted from life and going back to the studio was secondary. Usually I only to paint larger pieces from outdoor studies. Without these outdoor, smaller, observation pieces my larger studio work would lack light and atmosphere. We all know when we see these large or small beauties on museums walls. We are immediately drawn to them. It is the light that is shining in the the paining!
I hope all of you will get out there and enjoy this amazing season. Have fun observing without the pressure of creating a finished piece. When you have many months this winter, stuck in your studios, and you refer to these pieces you will no doubt have a great reference to work from.  Plus, the memories only will guide you through those long dark days without sunshine with a smile upon your face. 

PS: Here is a link to a previous post where I explain the importance of having the right outdoor gear can make the difference in how often you take the time to paint from life.