A few studies – and videos. Painting Tips and Tricks

How to get your painting to show the focal point you want – or how to deal with competing focal points.

Here is a small, 6×6 painting of a couple roses:

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In order to make the front rose into the focal point (actually, if you look at the back roses, they aren’t even roses, just some brush strokes!) I deliberately darkened and muted every single mixture I used for my back roses.  The front is brighter, higher saturation, and more detailed, which is why your eye naturally sees it as the focal point.  Always keep this in mind when you’re having trouble with a busy painting.  I also have the entire process of this painting published on youtube at Los Angeles Academy of Art‘s feed:

These videos show the full, uncut process of how I mix my paints, and how I put them on the canvas in the most easy way possible.  All done on my Edge Pro Gear Paintbook which I adore.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!


Thank you for reading!


Still Life Session – But only One hour!

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This is a rather large painting for me, and I only had an hour to work on it.  I was happy to be invited to my friend’s house for a still life painting session – only to find she had also invited some incredible, well known artists from China!  What an awesome opportunity!  Here is all I finished, I was on a time limit but next time I will have more time to work.  I loved the antique, asymmetrical three legged bowl and the copper vase the most (as you can see, most of the work went there.)

The drawbacks of having so little time – I didn’t get a chance to move this into the style I wanted, I had to focus on putting as much information in as short amount of time as possible.  There’s always next time!

Thanks for reading!

Sean Cheetham Day Two – Portrait Painting Tips from K.L. Britton

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The finished painting!


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Here is step one.  Day two was almost completely painting, with Sean walking around to help individual students with their issues, instead of simply demonstrating.  This is great for most people, because it gets from general, to what am I doing right?  I know I wrote this about yesterday, but it was VERY tough for me to work from dark to light and paint as I put down, I usually block in my lights and darks and then work into them, so it was a struggle!

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Here is with the shadow side of the cheek, not even completed.  I probably could have ended up spending 10 hours on this, frankly, because it was such a challenge.

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One of the main takeaways I got from the workshop was to create huge piles of your lights, darks, and for each area.  I did a huge background tone, and worked all my paint into it.  I did a huge pile of shadow face, and I worked into it.  Awesomely, I could have worked even further into it after I was done, simply because I’d mixed so much.  Same goes with lights, and this was invaluable for me to learn.  I usually paint very thin and end up spending a lot of time re-mixing a colour instead of painting.

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The finished product with some thumb shadow 😀  I am pleased.  It’s quite small, only 9×12, but it took the whole time to finish AND with a migraine the second day.


Here is my set up as I tried to see what issues I had.  There is Natalia Fabia’s setup next to mine.


Me and Natalia’s work in progress


My awesome new friend Marian made this gorgeous painting on the right in such a short amount of time!  It was a very large canvas and so exciting to see her progress as we went along.

I’m glad to answer any questions you might have about the workshop, feel free to leave a comment! Thanks for reading!

Sean Cheetham Painting Day One and Art Tips by K.L. Britton Art

Over Cinco de Mayo weekend, I had the pleasure of painting with Sean Cheetham at his workshop.  I knew I’d be integrating this information into my painting and drawing classes at Los Angeles Academy of Art, so I wrote down detailed notes and got as much feedback as possible.

I’m going to go ahead and present it photo by photo:

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This was the biggest struggle for me in this painting.  If you’ve seen my previous painting posts, you know that I block in large areas of mid-tone first, and then work in from there, on top of an under-drawing.  The way Sean showed his painting was with very little drawing, and absolutely no lay in.  He went straight for each shadow area and light area, starting with the darks so he could get that rich, gorgeous contrast he is known for.  Here you can also see that I had my panel toned for cool light – the warmth would show in the shadows and be covered in the lights.  Unfortunately the model was under a warm light, so I switched plans on day two.  The Edge Pro Gear was well loved and I’m sure a couple people bought it after seeing how convenient it was for me 🙂

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This was very challenging for me, particularly because Sean mixes his paints on his palette, and puts them straight on the panel as is.  I am used to working in the mixes on my panel – I can put straight cad red on the panel itself, and blend it with my huge areas of light and dark to get what I want.  In this case, I had to know what it would look like on the panel before even adding the brush stroke.  I was sweating!  More because it was 90 degrees, though.

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Here is a crop of my finished work.  One thing I started to look at more was also the brush strokes.  I really love the one light indicator under his chin, it is a confident, deliberate stroke that I planned in advance, instead of just painting it in.


Sean’s painting.


More on that.


We had amazing artists in the course, including Natalia Fabia, who just won an award at Portrait Society of America, and Jeffrey Watts, as well as Erik Gist and Ryan Heitman, all from Watts Atelier down south.


Here is a selection of Sean’s work.


I’m a fantasty and RPG addict, so of course I had a close up of this one.

That’s all you get for day one, but day two is coming next 😀

Thanks for reading.

Sketching and Learning Flowers – Daily Painting Tips from K.L. Britton

As you may know, I’ve been reading about an interesting style of sketching called “dynamic sketching.”  It’s more for illustrators, but I’ve found it to be very great to help improve my regular paintings and works as well – instead of just copying what I see, I can make more decisions about form, and even focal point.

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Here is a flower.  Normally, I’d try to be exact to the original flower, and spend a tedious amount of time to get this much information in.  But here, using kuretake clean color real brush, copic wide, white chalk, and staedtler pigment liners, I’ve drawn something in 5 minutes that has form and shape, and comes off the page.  This is an important technique I teach my illustration students during class, as it helps them not only work quickly from life, but make changes and guesses when they’re drawing from their head.

That’s all for today!

Sketching in Chinatown Los Angeles Academy of Art

It was a gorgeous Sunday, perfect for finding fu dogs in Chinatown for the new art school losangelesgalleryofart.com

Waiting for things to open (other than rainbow bakery, where I got the most delicious egg tart) means sketching in action.


View from the only shady bench.


A sketch from the morning.

Both done with Procreate on the iPad with the apple pen, which I have many complaints about, mostly regarding the battery draining when not in use.

Thanks for reading!


Sketching at Getty Villa

It was a gorgeous Saturday so I stopped by the ocean and the replica Greek palace, the Getty Villa.  NBD, just another weekend in Cali.

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Getty Villa

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The marble is cool and shady.

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A little sketch of some trees and columns and roofing.  Kuretake clean color real brush and staedtler pigment liners on toned paper.  Out of all the things I am allergic to, I have the highest allergy to olive trees.  They are, however, super gorgeous so I sketched them anyways.

“Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” said the Sloth part 2

Here is part two of my roses so far.

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In my next step, I’ve gone ahead and filled in some major shadow shapes.  Keep in mind that *white* roses (or cream here,) are very, very light.  Their darkest form shadows, which is the shadow on the rose itself caused by the light being turned around the rose, is never going to be as dark as the form shadow on the much, much darker stem or leaf.  Because white is inherently a higher value than rich greens, it is impossible to think that if an object is white and laying in the same light as the green, unless painting deliberately chiaroscuro, it will get as dark as the green will.

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This is what I’m working on now, starting to really start to detail out the flower itself.  Each rose takes almost as long as a small portrait to me, because of each shadow plane and light plane.  It’s very interesting work!  I love to think about the edges and how they might guide my viewers eye around the rose itself, keeping in mind how that rose’s light and dark will relate to the others.

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That’s all for now, until I paint some more on this!

Thanks for reading.

“Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” said the Sloth part 1

I’ve been working on a painting of roses for the past couple months.  I know that sounds long, but it was really just “one two hour session,” and now, one more “two hour session” so it’s really not that long.  Cleaning up afterward has taken longer than the actual painting.  Just kidding, kind of.

Here is a neat look at some of the process of painting traditional roses in oil paints.  I use Lukas 1862, Michael Harding (yes, I swing both ways ;)) and some Williamsburg and W&N thrown in there.  Sap green is what really made my florals go from “ok” to “ok!” since before the only green I had pre-mixed was vridian.  I have now come to the conclusion (subject to change!) that vridian is easier to mix from my basic paints, and since it’s very expensive, I doubt it will be showing up as often as it was before.  It is still fantastic for skin tones, though.

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Step 1 – I really had an idea of where to place these, and of course it’s simply based on how they were arranged on the table.  You can see me watching My Lottery Dream Home in the background.  I admit right now it’s my life goal to be on that show.

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In step two I get more detailed about what I want this to look like.  Which roses do I want to be brighter? Which ones do I want to be darker?  This helps divide the space between them, with the brighter and higher contrast roses making the viewer feel as if it’s closer to them, and the darker, shaded, less contrast and less detailed making the viewer feel as if the rose is toward the back.

Rembrandt painting tip: Only one area on your canvas should be hit with the brightest highlight.  Since there will only be one plane closest to the light itself.  Not that I’m Rembrandt, but I try to keep this in mind.

That’s all for part one.  Tune in next time for part two!  Thanks for reading.

Sketching in Pen

I have, in fact, been around and drawing lately, getting supplies and references together, as well as learning from books and other references.  Particularly, I am looking at a method of sketching called Dynamic Sketching, and so far, this is my result page.  Other than starting list after list of reference for my studio, this is what I’ve been doing with my life.


Each sketch is really, really fast.  Like 5-10 minutes tops.  That may sound long, but it’s not, not to get a semi-accurate, instantly readable sketch.  This has been really great to learn.  Here is a look at some of the steps it took to get here.



^ Yes, that’s a pasted T rex.  There is also an Aurora Optima Sole Mio pasted somewhere in my sketchbook to remind me of what I want 😀


Thanks for reading!