Art Terms

Basic Painting Excercises

Learn The Secrete To All Painting Styles With These Basic Painting Tutorials

These basic lessons comprises of:

Click any above listed links to read more on it.

Distance and Texture

Distance and Texture

For more instructional videos visit Bill Martin’s YouTube Channel

Distance and Texture is Your Last Exercise

In this exercise we explore form as it appears in heavily textured subjects and the way colors change as they are seen at different distances.

Distance Changes Colors

As the same colors are seen at different distances they change. When matching colors on your palette you will see that all colors acquire their complements when they are seen farther away.

Even in this short distance the middle reds of the tomatoes are different. The farthest one has the most of its complement (green) in it making it look farther away. Also the green tablecloth as it recedes has its complement (red) mixed with it.

Here the intensity of the colors of the leaves creates the impression of near and far. The most intense colors are always in the foreground.

Look For Texture Between Light and Shadow

Textures are most clearly defined at the transition of the light to the shadow. On smooth objects the edge of the highlight defines the degree of smoothness. On rough objects the change from light to dark defines the texture.

Spheres and cones from smooth to rough, the value shapes within the forms create the illusion of three dimensions.

With these things in mind we paint this subject.

The basic shapes and angles are drawn with thinned white paint on a toned canvas.

Landscape paintings begin with the things farthest away in this case the values of the sky.

The three values of the clouds are blended with a Flat and Filbert sable brushes, to create the softest textures.

The ocean values are put in. As colors recede they become less intense so the blue ocean at the horizon has more orange in it than the blue ocean in the front.

All receding colors become less intense. Their complements are added as their distance is increased.

The grass in the distance is the same color as the grass in the on the hill but because it’s farther away it is less intense. The yellow-orange of the grass has its complement, blue-violet, added as it is seen farther away.

Texture begins. The edge of a Flat brush is used to begin the grass.

The darks of the trees are placed first here to further define the drawing. The edge of a Flat bristle brush is used.

Next the lights are placed.

The middle values complete the form.

The lights and darks for the foreground grass are put in.

And the middle value completes the form. Notice the change in intensity of the grass colors in the distance, on the middle hill and in the foreground.

This is the first layer of paint. Oil paint is well suited to working in layers if you want to improve an area or add something else, wait three days for it to dry before adding new paint.

With your review of the basic information and the completion of these four exercises you should have enough different types of painting experiences to be equipped to paint anything you want. So what are you going to do? You can send me a photo if you like.

The Credits Of The Tutorial Goes To: Bill Martin


Color and Form

Color and Form

In this exercise the colored toys provide bright simple forms to practice mixing three values of colors. When you see a colored object you are seeing many values of that color. Because the first step is always simplification, we reduce the values to three, a light, middle and a dark. When these are blended many values are made. Of the three values the middle value is usually the closest to the actual color of the object. The dark is usually the middle value color with its COMPLEMENT added. The light value is the middle value color plus the color of the light, usually white. Highlights, the bright spots of light, are distorted or blurred pictures of the light source.

All forms begin as three values. Shiny forms will also have a highlight.

The dark value will usually have the complement of the middle value added.

Lay out your colors on your palette in this order. On the edge farthest from you, put your white on the left. As a right-handed painter you will have to reach the farthest to get to the white thus reducing the degree of contamination from neighboring colors. Next is cadmium yellow light, then cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, cadmium scarlet, cadmium red, Quinacridone rose, dioxazine violet, French ultramarine blue, thalo blue, thalo green, cadmium green and cadmium green pale. Black may also be added but is so rarely used it is put out only as needed.

If you are using the minimum palette of colors, lay them out as white, cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, cadmium red, Quinacridone rose, dioxazine violet, ultramarine blue and cadmium green. The intermediate colors such as yellow-orange or blue-violet will have to be mixed when needed.

With these things in mind we will paint these toys.

The drawing is made with white paint that has been thinned down.

Starting with the teapot put in the light value first. The blue is a mixture of French ultramarine and thalo blue. For the light we just add white.

Next we put in the dark. The dark is the middle value blue with the addition of blue’s complement, orange. A deep dark is needed so no white is used. In all cases a color’s complement is added to the shadowed part of the object.

The middle value is the true color of the object.

The values are blended with parallel strokes and the illusion of form is created.

Next are the yellows. Three values of yellow are created. The spectrum color is pure yellow. The middle value is Cadmium yellow light with a little white. The light value is the middle value with more white added. Shadows always contain the complement of a color thus the dark is Cadmium yellow pale plus its complement Dioxazine violet. The light value is placed around the highlight. The highlight is a distorted picture of the light source as it is on all shiny objects.

The dark is next. The sequence of light, dark and middle is used. Light is used first to minimize contamination from the wet paint. Dark is next because it is easy to see. The middle value is last and unifies the form.

If an area it is not light or dark it has to be the middle value.

Parallel and curved brush strokes are used for the blends.

Red-red-violet is the spectrum color for the monkey. White is added for the middle value.

More white is added for the light value. The shadow color is the red-red-violet plus its complement yellow-green.

The dark value is placed.

The middle value fills in everything else and is blended.

The colors for the bell lyre are violet-blue-violet with a trace of its complement, yellow, plus white. The mixture is already dark so white is added for the middle value. More white is added for the light value.

The penguin’s feet are orange-yellow-orange with a trace of blue. White is added for the light value. More blue is added to the middle value to make the dark value.

The black for the penguin is actually blue with orange added. Additional white is added for the penguin’s belly values and for the teapot’s top and bottom.

The values are blended.

The background values are placed. Three values of white with yellow and violet will create the flat receding surface of the floor. One value of white with more violet and yellow added creates the back wall that is parallel to the canvas.

The values are blended.

Last the cast shadow values are placed. The color of a cast shadow is the complement of the color of the light. The orange (with some blue) cast shadows indicate a cold light.

The blends finish the painting.

So now you have learned to mix your colors. You know how to create shadow colors and highlight colors and all the transitions in between.

The Credits Of This Tutorial Goes To: Bill Martin’s


Values Within Colours

Values within Colors

Seeing Values Within Colors is Important

In this exercise the colors are seen only as lights and darks (or values). This painting will teach you to paint more complex forms than the previous exercise and it will teach you to see a color’s value. Print out the source photo or create a colorful still life of your own to paint from.

Value is the relative lightness or darkness of a color.

A color’s values create our perception of three-dimension.

Because we create form by first dividing a color into it’s light, middle and dark values it is important to recognize each color’s values.

value scale

For identifying particularly difficult color values a VALUE SCALE is useful.

The value scale is placed over the questioned color.

value scale with blue

You then determine which value it isn’t. Clearly the value of the blue is not # 9 or # 1. It’s not #’s 8,7 or 6 because the blue is darker than these. The true value of a color will be between too light and too dark on the value scale. The blue is lighter than #2 and darker than # 4. Its value is #3.

value scale with yellow

Which is too light and too dark here? (It’s a #7 value)

With these things in mind we will paint this subject. Using only black and white mix several values of gray on your palette.

The drawing is made with thinned white paint on a toned canvas. White is used because it will create the least contamination of subsequent colors. The drawing should remain simple because a complex drawing would soon be painted over and lost.

The pure white patches are the highlights. They are put in first here to keep them as clean as possible. The highlight on a shiny object is a distorted picture of its light source. The light value for this pepper is placed around the highlight and wherever else the light value appears.

Next the darks are placed.

If it’s not the light and not the dark it’s the middle value.

The middle and light values are blended with a Flat brush.

The pepper is blended using parallel and curved strokes with Flat bristle and Flat sable brushes.

The first pepper was the lightest in value. This second pepper is the darkest in value. In the three values we use for this darker pepper the light value is the same as the middle value of the first one. Once again the light value is placed around the highlight.

The darks are put in. They are darker than the darkest darks of the first pepper.

The middle values are put in wherever the lights and darks are not. A Flat bristle brush one inch wide was used.

The blends are mostly made with curved brushstrokes using a Sable Flat.

The right hand pepper is a value between the first two. Each of these peppers has its own set of three values.

The cabbage is begun. Its value shapes establish the form first.

The cabbage is loosely blended to strengthen the illusion of three-dimension.

The texture of the cabbage leaves is then established working wet paint into wet paint. This is one of the advantages of a slow drying paint.

The other cabbage is a different set of three values but it has the same form.

The texture is applied to the second cabbage using wet paint into wet paint.

Cast shadows are the absence of light so their values are dependent on the surface value and the strength of the light. Bright light makes dark shadows.

The background cleans up the edges.

Thus you have seen the importance of the values within the colors and how they alone create the illusion of form. Plus you have used the paint in new ways.

The Credits Of This Tutorial Goes To: Bill Martin’s


Basic Forms

Basic Forms

For more instructional videos visit Bill Martin’s YouTube Channel

To use these exercises duplicate the various stages of the painting on a canvas of your own. If you choose to paint your own subjects pick ones similar to those here. For this one you could paint your own black and white subject or print out the source photo and paint from that. Follow the steps. Try out the brush strokes.

Basic Forms

You will learn how to paint the five basic forms, the cone, cylinder, sphere, cube and torus. These forms are the foundation of all the objects you see. To be able to paint these then is to be able to paint anything.

All forms begin with shapes of light, middle and dark values. Each value shape is unique to its form: parallel stripes on cylinders, triangles on cones, gradual blends on the faces of a cube, crescents and ovals on a sphere and crescents and stripes on a torus.

Each form uses different brush strokes. Triangular strokes on cones, crescent strokes on sphere and torus, curved strokes for sphere, torus and circular blends. Parallel strokes make cylinders and the faces of a cube.

With these things in mind we paint this subject. The only colors are black and white.


How much paint do you put out on your palette?

You need to mix enough paint to cover the area of canvas you want to paint. The one inch mixture above brushed out to a four inch square. I always mix twice as much of a color as I think I’ll use. It is far better to have some paint left over than to run out. You’ll want more of a mixed color because it’s unique than you will of one from the tube.

Mix up several values of gray on your palette.

The drawing is made with Titanium White with the addition of thinner to make it flow easily and dry quickly. Note the internal guidelines in the cone and cylinder.

Starting with the lightest mixed value, the value shapes are painted in. Use triangular brush strokes for the cone, parallel brush strokes for the cylinder and cube, crescent strokes for the torus and curved strokes on the sphere.

Place the darkest of the mixed values. Note the identifying value shapes and how they define the forms.

The top of the cylinder is flat and is therefore painted in the same way we would paint one of the faces of a cube, three values evenly spaced and then blended.

Brush in the middle values wherever you don’t have light or dark values.

Blend the transitions between values. The direction and shape of the brush stroke appropriate for the form is also used for the blend. Use curved strokes for the sphere, crescent shaped strokes for the torus, triangular strokes for the cone and parallel strokes for the cylinder and cube. If in blending the values you blend too much and loose contrast re-introduce, wet paint into wet paint, the lights and darks even, if necessary, to pure black and white.


Put in the background values. Use the background to sharpen edges. The tabletop recedes and is therefore a blend. Three different values are used to set up the blend. The wall is parallel to the canvas and is seen as a single value.

Blend the background. Use a Round brush to paint the proximity shadows. These long dark lines will be easier with a little medium added.

You have now experienced using the paints and brushes in the different ways necessary to create the basic forms.

The Credits Of The Tutorial Goes To: Bill Martin’s



Texture is the perceived surface quality of a work of art. It is an element of two-dimensional and three-dimensional designs and is distinguished by its perceived visual and physical properties. Use of texture, along with other elements of design, can convey a variety of messages and emotions.

TEXTURE IS MOST CLEARLY SEEN AT THE TRANSITION OF THE LIGHT TO THE SHADOW. On smooth objects the highlight is a distorted picture of the light source. The sharpness of focus of that picture defines the smoothness of the object. The glass bottle is smoother than the aluminum bottle, which in turn is smoother than the wax candle. We know this from the focus of their highlights.

On objects without a highlight the texture is most clearly seen and depicted at the transition of light and dark values.

These ten objects are arranged in the order of their degree of texture. Notice where your eye goes to determine their textures.

The transition of light to shadow is where we look to see how rough something is.

Texture in Diffused Light

Direct light Diffused light

Objects in DIFFUSED LIGHT seem to have LESS TEXTURE than the same object in direct light. The log and the towel appear smoother and softer in diffused light.  Objects appear less textured in diffused light because their transition from light to shadow is longer.

Credits Of This Article Goes To: Bill Martin’s



CONTRAST is the relationship between the lightest light and the darkest dark on an object or in an environment.

This depiction of the values from black to white is called a VALUE SCALE.

For more instructional videos visit Bill Martin’s YouTube ChannelThe farther apart on a value scale the values are, the greater their contrast. The closer the values are on a value scale the lower their contrast.

When objects have a HIGH CONTRAST of values they appear close. When their contrast is low they appear farther away. The distant cliffs have a smaller range of values and therefore less contrast than the near cliffs.

The gradual increase in the contrast of objects brings them into the foreground.

An object’s cast shadow can be used to indicate distance by its contrast to its environment.

Low Contrast

Objects in diffused light have the lowest contrast.

Objects within a cast shadow are always in diffused light. If objects have values from middle to dark, they appear to be in a cast shadow.

If objects have values from middle to light, they appear in a haze or a mist.

CONTRAST CREATES THE TYPE OF LIGHT. High contrast equals bright light. Low contrast equals diffused light, distance, shadow or haze.

Credits Of This Article Goes To: Bill Martin’s