Every day that I do another figure start I learn a little more about what works best for me. Today I learned that starting out with thin paint works very well for me.

I’m thinking that art is all about simplification. What I’m mostly learning here is to take a very complex subject and simplify it. First with the drawing I focus on simple contours. Then the block in is simple shapes. I simplify the value into two main areas, light and dark. I simplify the colors into mixtures of no more than 3 colors. Even the composition of a painting is best when it is simple and has the most clarity.

Of course, all these things can eventually become complex. But, they are all built on simplicity.

Figure Start: Thin Paint, setup

Yesterday I worked as Steve Huston did in his video by putting down a large amount of paint on the canvas right at the beginning. What I found is that a large amount of paint like that is too hard to deal with at the start of a painting, especially in the shadow areas.

Today, I started differently. After getting the drawing down I mixed up a dark umber like color and started scumbling that into all the shadow and dark areas. I kept all the shadow shapes simple and made them all the same value, but always keeping the paint thin. I should get an older brush while doing this though because the scrubbing was really wreaking havoc on the brush I had. Then I did the same for the light area. Simple shapes, simple values, simple colors and kept it thin.

After the thin paint was in and some of the background done I felt like I was almost done with the painting. Well, not done, none of the details were there but at this point in the painting I could see the rest of the course fo the painting. All there is left to do was put in all the details, all the fun stuff.


  • Session: 1403
  • Work: 1186
  • Width: 11"
  • Height: 15"
  • Medium: Oil
  • Location: Home
  • Art Time: 2
  • Creative Time:



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Chris Beaven

I am an Artist and a programmer currently living in the amazing state of Washington. I have a passion for art, but I'm stubborn as hell with it. My day is complete only when I do some piece of art each day, no matter how small. "There was a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish, it was so fragile."