July 18 watercolor workshop pics

Thank you to all who attended my July 18 watercolor pencil workshop!  Informative watercolor pencil workshop.  Derwent pencils and Strathmore smooth Bristol were provided for student use!
See workshop slide show on the workshops and classes tab at


Painters Style? What?

What is it and how to I get some?

As you go beyond the products and the initial mechanics of painting you start running into this seemingly elusive thing called “style”

The word is freely bandied about in the art world when referencing well-known artists (past and present). But what is it and how does an artist get it… AND do you want it!

In brief, an artists personal style is the culmination of how an artist handles the subject and paint on their canvas: i.e. brushwork, proportions, perspective, composition and more. All of these things become unique to each artist and the result demonstrates their style of creating a painting.

A developed artists style is as unique as a fingerprint or individual handwriting. Across any subject or medium the artist uses, the paintings can still be recognized as their work. (sans signature 😉

Your style is there from the beginning, but being a novice, it isn’t completely developed.

Back in grade school, first you learn your letters then words, then you learn to print, then you learn to write in cursive then you write stories! After you are well practice your writing becomes recognizable as yours. Eventually, you or your teacher can find your handwritten paper in a stack just by seeing the handwriting alone. It becomes identifiable as your work. (You also develop a personal “style” for telling stories, etc.)

Similarly, a painting style will develop in a practicing artist. First you learn the basics (composition, drawing, colors, value, shading, etc) Then you learn to apply them to a variety of subject matter. After you have created a larger body of work, you will see that your work is recognizable from another artists painting of the same subject.

Style is usually recognized in a professional artist after they have painted a larger body of works. It then becomes evident that they were all created by the same “hand” Which is as unique as a person’s handwriting.

When I teach, I enjoy having everyone create a painting from the same still life or whatever. The resulting paintings are unique to each artists hand. Their individual styles shine through even though the subject matter is the same. Each person emphasizes the subject matter differently, handles the paint differently, sees color relationships differently, etc. This is part of what creates individual style.

Style can be evident very early on but it usually morphs as an artist becomes more experienced in understanding composition, color theory, paint handling, perception and creation. When a mature or professional artist changes their M.O. from say painting portraits to painting landscapes, their style is still identifiable in the new work.

In the beginning, I recommend picking a genre and sticking to it while you develop your skills. For instance just paint leaves or flowers or landscapes or portraits, etc. If you intend to show in galleries, they like to see a fairly large and consistent body of work. If one of your paintings sells, they want to be sure that you can reproduce the magic and not just be a “one hit wonder”.

The more you practice your painting, the more evident your style will become. Don’t be surprised if others notice your style before you do!

To start recognizing the “style” of other painters – start with the old masters. google for instance “Monet, landscapes” and then click to see images only. then open another window and google for instance “DaVinci, landscapes”
Then google them again with “portraits” or just their name to see all images. Do this with many artists – see how each painters body of works has a recognizable aspect to it.
All words in this blog (in part or whole) are © CJ Rider – CJ@RiderCreations.com –
Please use complete and proper attributions with linkback if you use my writings or images. Thankyou

Artist and Instructor RiderCreations.com

Beginning Landscape tips

 from Cheryl :
CJ, my problem is landscapes… I
never really got into them.
Oils especially….any good
exercises or ideas- 
Help!  Cheryl

Do some research before painting a landscape for
the first time or if you feel you are painting boring or lifeless

*Familiarize yourself with landscape
paintings, compositions, colors, etc:

  1. Check out contemporary and old master
    paintings – decide what type of landscape scenes you are attracted
  2. Do you like more abstracted, impressionistic
    or photo real.
  3. Study what it is you like about your favorite
    landscape paintings and try to get that “wow” factor into your

*Familiarize yourself with your desired medium

  1. practice mixing the colors that you responded
    to in your favorite landscape paintings.
  2. after you can re-create your desired colors – it helps to paint a page of cloud like structures and use all of the colors that you selected.
    *See how they look side by side
    *See how they look slightly intermingled
    *See how they look, one glazed over another

*Practice with the paint until you have good clean color and understand how the colors interact with one another. Don’t think landscape… yet.

*Any good painting begins with a good drawing. Poor composition can ruin a painting with perfect color notes. So understand good composition be it for an abstract or realistic landscape.

  1. Sketch out several thumbnails of possible
  2. if you are painting from photos – have large
    clear photos
  3. Take many photos close up and far away.


  1. Do not slavishly paint from a photo.
  2. Remember that the camera “lies” – i.e. a black  shadow in the photo has loads of detail in real life, that is, when you are actually standing there at the scene
  3. Make sure you understand what distortions the camera creates in your scene as to color, value, loss of detail, point of interest, and more
  4. Make some sketches while taking your
  5. Make note of what you found interesting
    and why you took the photo to begin

was explored for a painting.

Thanks for asking!

Critique of photo for a painting

images are copyright protected to the individual and are not for use other than in this post as a learning tool.

Desert Scene: Working out a composition

(above) Original Photo of desert area with wheel dominating the scene. Wall blocks viewers eye from easily passing through to the upper portion of the scene.

Artist would like to paint this historic scene and does not have the opportunity to re-shoot image – So here are a couple of options in keeping with the integrity of the sceen.

This artist only inquired about composition for this critique session
CJ Rider

Create value in your paintings!!

Do you find it difficult to differentiate color change from value when creating a portrait or other artwork?
One way to create a vivid map of value is by using the “posterize” feature your photoshop type program.

To begin, change your image from color to black and white in your photo program.  [in Photoshop cs2: image>mode>grayscale]. Simply referring back to the black and white image can also be a great help if you do not have the ability to posterize!
(the posterize application can be applied to a color image as well – I recommend experimenting with it! you will have fun with the results!)

Use the posterize tool to accentuate the values. To posterize in Photoshop cs2,  click on “Image” then “Adjustments” and then “Posterize”.  Make sure the “preview” box is ticked so the changes show on your image as you change the number in the box.

Print out a spread of 3 or 4 posterized studies: ie: one original plain black and white, and subsequent images with the posterize number increased by slight increments from 1 to 5 or so. Also print out your original full color image – all printouts should be the same size. (the closer to the size on your canvas, the better)

When you paint from these, begin with the image reflecting the lowest posterize number (like 1 or 2) then very accurately add details from each subsequent image with a larger posterize number.  You will notice that the higher the posterize number, the more the image will look like the original black and white photo.

So to get accurate results, posterize three or 4 copies of your image perhaps set at levels 2, 4, 5, 6  – Try it out and see what best suits your visual needs. At first, you may need may variations, later you may only need 2 or 3 or less…or more… –  it is an individual thing- no right or wrong answers here.

Carefully and accurately paint large areas of similar value and then move forward to the more detailed printouts in subsequent painting sessions.
A gentle hand and an eye for detail is needed when painting the value masses so take your time – the underpainting is a very important phase and will greatly affect the finished painting. The underpainting must be completely accurate. 
To keep from creating an underpainting that is too harsh, perhaps use variations of raw sienna or similar instead of black – try not to paint harsh lines where the value will later transition from one to the other – study the transitions – if needed, print more variations and transitions using the posterize tool.

You can finalize this piece via glazes of color (matching existing values in underpainting) or just keep it as a study.

The idea behind this is to see the value changes in your photo stripped of color and detail. This will result in more accurate paintings – no matter the subject.  If you play around and posterize a color image, you will find that you have probably seen this style of painting before!  Try it!


If you choose not to paint a Grisaille, the posterize tool is still very helpful in seeing value changes in your photos! 



A fine artist, arts instructor and arts advocate

I teach monthly Encaustic workshops, and great weekly open media art class at Arizona Art Supply.
Beginning artist friendly – 

Check my schedule at www.RiderCreations.com and sign up for a class or a workshop today!  CJ

– Bio
CJ Rider is recognized for her Custom portraits, Western scenes and more.
A strong Multimedia artist, CJ Rider teaches a variety of arts programs at Arizona Art Supply.
Among her offerings are Encaustic, Watercolor, Oil, Pastel, Pencil, Acrylic and mixed.

Coupled with creating her own artworks CJ’s desire is to give something back to the community and to help artists develop their skills. As an artist’s advocate she has introduced new artist opportunities in the form of permanent artist display areas, public shows and events.

For the children, CJ founded an outreach program entitled “Budding Artist” which teaches art to children referred by the Save The Family Foundation in Arizona. http://www.BuddingArtist.Info

As well as working on commission,


Encaustic Demonstration

Check out a few pics from my latest Encaustic Demo= we had fun!
Everyone participated in experimenting with the wax.

check my website for a series of Encaustic Workshops and more!  



Tip on acheiving VALUE balance in your art

Many paintings fail due to poor value balance.

If a painting is nearly all one value, it will lack life even if it is correct compositionally.

One way to see value is to:

Open image in photoshop
At the top of the screen select: Image/mode/grayscale
At the top of the screen select: Image/adjustments/posturize
set for around “5”
with experimentation of the numbers in step #3 and 4 you can see that the higher the setting the more detail shows up.

the idea is to not have the detail and only see larger shapes of value (light and dark).
You can do this as a pre-painting step – run your image through this process and then reference this print-out to make sure you preserve proper values as you paint.

You can also take a photo of a completed painting and run it through this process to see if you have the needed value changes within the piece.

If you have difficulty discerning subtle color changes – You can also use this idea on a color photo to isolate or enhance an area of color


double chicken

Image Posturized to view light and dark patterns

Previous Older Entries