Boring Subjects!  All artists have times when faced with rather dull and boring subjects. And this photo Qualifies!

It could be that one shot you were able to get of your trip to Mt. Fuji was grey and murky, not really in focus.

Or the flower arrangement you’ve set up just isn’t very exciting today.  Maybe you’re at the beach to paint and the day has just gone flat.

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Turning Dull, To Lively


Boring, but with …possibilities

I don’t know why,  but it does happen, and the subject you chose is less than stellar in your eyes.

You could quit. You could, but you don’t. But you are very frustrated!

Its happened to me. Often enough for me to have figured out some techniques to make things Appear Different, to look better than the reality.

I’m going to share what I do to help make the subject brighter, more ‘engaging.’    To work around the boring bits and Livening Up the lovely parts.

Saying goodbye to boring and hello to Lively.




Number #1

  1. The first thing I remind myself:  I am the artist, the creator of this art work.
  2. I am the one to choose everything about it.
  3. I can do with it, exactly what I choose.
  4. In no way am I required to paint exactly, precisely what is there As It Is.  No.  I am free to change things.
  5. I am the artist, creating or altering just as I choose.



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Turning Dull, To Lively



The Landscape Photograph

The photograph of the sky, the rock quarry and the cliffs white and colored.

Its not a great shot. It is very dull, out of focus,  with no focal point and poor design.

As with many ‘happy snaps’  this too was taken in a big rush with an automatic point and shoot.

Just about everything design-wise is awry.

However, I am very drawn to those cliffs that are so white against the deep sky.



5 Alterations To Liven It Up

  1. Cropping and changing the design format
  2. Changing the saturation, the boldness of color intensities
  3. Erasing details where I don’t want them
  4. Changing the colors as I choose to
  5. Placing the main emphasis and Focus, where I want


I’ve cropped and altered the photo several ways in order to get a feel for what might be  possible solutions.

The computer is really a great tool for this kind of thing.  Playing around with saturation, tones, design etc……  before the paints come out.

It doesn’t mean that I am definitely going to use that design,  but it gives me additional Ideas.   I like that.



This was one of the ones I came up with.

The format now is a long vertical, with the sky so much stronger than the original shot.

Its still divided a bit too much half and half though, which is not good at all.


I’m liking that deep sky, wondering how to really emphasize it a lot more.

The foreground is proving too much of a distraction. It has to go.




If the reality was a bit boring, spice it up

I’d like to focus more on the whiteness of the cliffs.


In the photo, you can’t see this.

But I had walked right up to them.  And some of them were so dazzling white, it was beautiful.

The photo of the cliffs from the distance shows them being quite orange all over.

But you can see in the foreground the color and tone is very much of a light pale buff and white.

This. Is what my artist’s hand and mind wanted to zero in on.


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Making Changes, creating… something fresh!


I’ve formed a  loose and vague plan by now.

Its loose and free, and one that I feel comfortable making changes as I go, if thats what is called for.

My Idea is to create a nearly all white about 80%  for the cliffs.

Then to  pack a punch with the sky,  in a very little amount of space left (20% of the paper area.)  We will see what happens.


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White Bluffs, Blue Sky abstract in oils


The Painting

I’ve used a limited palette (white, umber, sienna and cobalt) in oils on medium sized sheet of oil paper.

I suggest,   that about every 3rd brushstroke,  you return to the 5 points of  Number #1   and repeat these to yourself.

I do.   It Helps!


The Brushstrokes were kept fairly big, loose and sweeping.

Trying not to get bogged down in minute details, but to allow the design and movement of the work to create the energy.




I confess I was……. thinking of a few artists whose work I love.

Edward Seago.   John Olsen.  Fred Williams.  John Coburn.  Arthur Boyd.    John Singer Sargent.




Toko Shinoda.

“The air in motion, my heart in motion.”    A beautiful quote by Toko Shinoda.




Mastering white space in your paintings   –  Toko Shinoda

John Olsen 

Fred Williams 

Abstracts  a definition