A Loose Painting vs A Big Ole Mess

elements of art how to be a better artist how to be a better painter loose rooster painting tips technical skills Jun 21, 2023

This past week I visited with a longtime friend. We started talking about painting and she said, “I am too much of a perfectionist”.  Let me first say, I’m so glad she is, because, she is a rockstar (like in the running for Employee of the Year for the Florida Department of Education). Yep, the whole state! I feel honored to know her and so glad our community benefits from her many gifts.

But it got me thinking about my upcoming free paint class: The Loose Rooster.

I often hear similar comments from students:

  • I paint too tightly
  • want everything to be perfect
  • I overwork my painting 
  • I want to paint looser….Can I learn to more paint loosely?


I think so.

Those of us who enjoy an impressionistic style of painting yearn to paint looser to achieve this vision of our personal style. We want our work to look effortless, bold, beautiful, and breathtaking to the viewer in a non-fussy way.

But to be this “painterly” we cannot simply throw up some paint and expect brilliance.  I am a firm believer in learning (and relying on) the basic elements of art for every and all parts of the painting process. And I think they can help an artist in this way too.

My first tip to paint looser is to embrace the element of shape.  When I start a painting, I focus on the first 2 elements: line and shape. I draw with line then look for big shapes; only big shapes.  It is this structure that supports what comes next as we continue the build, layer upon layer with patience and precise (yet bold) brushstrokes until we get to the end of the painting. Then we get to add some details and implications of smaller parts of the painting all with the intention of letting the viewer fill in the blanks.

When it is done we might call it one of these words:

  • loose
  • bold
  • impressionistic
  • expressive
  • painterly

Those words certainly speak to me. Do they make you smile too?