Category Archives: Technique

10 Good Reasons to Paint in Oils

I have used oil paints on canvas for many years and it’s by far my favourite medium to work with. Before you make the assumption that I am being bias. I have have been an artist for longer than I can remember, using many different mediums and I have always come back to oils as my favourite! I am now a full time artist that uses oils about 90% of the time, you can see some of my works here!

Here’s 10 reasons why painting with oils on canvas is the best:

1 – It’s the medium of the masters!

2 – You can mix colours easily. In fact experimenting with colour mixing is a source of endless fun.

3 – Colours will stay true when they dry.

4 – It dries slowly so you  can stop and start without worrying.

5 – If you make a mistake, it doesn’t matter. You can paint over it.

6 – You only need a few basic colours to get started.

7 – Oil paints are very versatile, equally suited to outdoor work, large studio pieces or even miniatures.

8 – The variety of techniques using oils is huge, from layering up thick textures using knife work to transparent washes like water colours.

9 – You don’t necessarily have to frame your work.  Stretched canvasses hang straight on the wall and look great.

10 – Most importantly it’s fun.  Once you start  to work with the thick, buttery, glossy paints you will never go back.


Paint Belt-painting with oils on canvas


Limited Edition Prints now available on Society6 – Prints, Bags, Clocks

The launch of my paintings on the Society6 store was very exciting. For those of you who have not heard about society6 I strongly encourage you to check it out as it is a fantastic website. It is full of artists and creatives expressing and sharing their work with the world.

Being able to produce Society6 prints was the main reason I wanted to join the program however they sell a huge range of things from iPhone cases, laptop stickers, giclee prints, bags, clocks and even pillows. The whole concept  they have come up with is really interesting, and  I will explain the process below!


Colour Lust Society6 Prints-Sara Paxton


It basically works like this….

An artist creates an original work
– > Artist then photographs their work with a high quality camera to ensure the prints are good quality
– > Artist then uploads the images to the correct dimensions for their products (giclee prints, iPhone cases, pillows and more)
– > These products are then on show for anyone with internet access to browse and purchase as gifts, personal use etc
– > Example – someone may purchase a Society6 print
– > The guys over at Society6 then print the product on their huge printing factories (awesome video, click the link)
– > After quality checks it is then sent out to the customer.


Birds Bag-Sara Paxton Artworks-Society6 Prints


It is incredible how easy it has become to send your personal artworks around the world. Of course the prints and other products are not as valuable as the originals however there is a price point for everyone and I would rather everyone have the opportunity to enjoy my artworks!

There are also some discount codes floating around the internet that you can get 15% off so check out retailmenot to see if they have any available at the moment.

Here are a few more examples!


Blue Plate Clock-Sara Paxton Artworks-Society6 Prints

Colour Lust iPhone Case-Sara Paxton Artworks-Society6 Prints


On the other hand I can understand how some people are against this sort of production, as it does effect small businesses and art galleries/stores who now need to compete with companies such as this. I do agree that it takes away from the community feel however it does open up the artist to new opportunities to share their work with people they may not have been able to reach before.

This is a very interesting topic and I would love to hear your opinions on this, please share this post with anyone else who may have something to say about this topic!



3 Artist Motivation Secrets That Work

Artist Motivation Secrets


I have been an oil painting artist for many, many years and times have changed drastically over that period of time. There is now the Internet, social media, e-commence, SEO and all sorts of terminology that I struggle to keep up with. As you can imagine it has been hard at times to focus and stay motivated to produce original oil on canvas artworks. As you know Facebook is a very good tool for procrastination and time wasting!

As a mother of three it has taken many learning curves to get where I am today. As I mentioned above, a lot has changed since I started drawing, painting, printing and creating art as a child. One thing has remained though. The reason for art and how much joy it still brings me to play, create and improve my work.


How I stay motivated – artist motivation secrets!

  1. Taking frequent but small holidays to collect new painting inspiration. Having something new and exciting to paint (photo, magazine cutout or even outdoor environments) will motivate you to actually pick up the paintbrush and put the first mark on the canvas.
  1. Having a painting partner or group to spend time with really motivates you to start a new painting or improve an old one. The second opinion reminds the artist that you can always improve and artists tend to be very supportive of one another.
  1. Following other artists is another way to keep new ideas flowing. This is one advantage of social media, it is a great search engine to find artists that you like and usually their fan pages have a range of their artworks and daily activities.


Even though technology has changed the way artists now produce, collect inspiration and create art, the one important factor that always remains the same is motivation. An artist cannot continue to create quality artworks without motivation and the drive to improve.  That is why a second, third or even fourth set of eyes on your work is important.

After writing this article I thought that it would be a bit hypocritical to preach all of the above without taking some action. So I created a page that I post one artwork at a time and let the general public  be the critic my work. Please head over to this page to see the latest work.


The outcome of pushing through my motivational barriers

Mounting Storm- Oil Painting-180x85cm


Please share this article with anyone who is struggling to keep motivated!



Prevent A Headache After Painting!

Prevent Headache After Painting-Sara Paxton Artworks

Being an artist has many challenges and unfortunately getting a headache after painting is one of them, for me anyway! Many oil painters have an issue with the solvents associated with oil painting, varying from headaches, light-headedness from the fumes or just disliking the smell.  Daler-Rowney may have the answer!

I do not know too much about this brand so would appreciate it if someone who did, left some comments on the quality and their overall experience with the product.

They have come up  with a product called Georgian Water Mixable Oils and you do just that – use water and no solvents at all, not even for the clean-up. This is solving two huge problems for artist so they must be onto a winner!


The paints work in just the same way as traditional oil paints, although they don’t take quite as long to dry.  Currently they come in 40 colours, all with a high pigment load, they mix and blend well and have the same texture as oil paints. I have found once place online so far that sells water mixable oil paints so it might be worth a try.


I would recommend going into your local art store and seeing the physical product if you have never bough these paints before.

If you have any of your own solutions to preventing a headache or light-headedness after painting  please leave them below as I would love to hear them!



Parading Poppies Time-lapse with Oil Paints

After a week or two of painting, video editing and learning how to properly use YouTube, I am finally ready to release my latest time-lapse. This video and written steps features the process, tools and techniques I use to paint my oil on canvas paintings!

This painting, called Parading Poppies, was produced using oil paints on stretched canvas and is 160x60cm in size. See below the video for written steps!



Oil Painting Lesson Steps:

Step 1
First, decide where the horizon line is going. Then under paint the lower half – I used Australian Red Gold, Indian Yellow and Burnt Umber – to create a base layer. This is done very quickly – don’t worry too much about getting this layer perfect.

Using these warm colours as a base will help create a nice glow. I wanted a cooler blue/grey sky as a contrast so used Indigo, Paynes Grey, Phthalo Blue and Titanium White.

Oil Paint_Landscape Background_Sara Paxton Artworks

Step 2
Next sketch in very roughly where the flowers will be going using  pigment sticks. This step is a quick sketch using easy, free flowing strokes. It’s just to get an idea of where the flowers will be placed on the canvas and it’s only an outline.

Pigment Stick Outline_Sara Paxton Artworks

Step 3
Start to block in some colour on the flowers. Begin with darker reds – Pilbara Red, Cadmium Red Deep which can also be darkened with a little black. I rarely use black  on its own, I prefer to mix it with other colours to create more interesting darks.

Remember to use slight variations of the colours which will make the painting a little more interesting. Begin painting the foliage. I started with Indigo and Australian Red Gold to create a warm green, and this was helped by the yellow/orange under painting. I use a combination of quite large, flat brushes and rubber ‘shapers’ to get broad, loose strokes.


Step 4
I now gradually start refining the poppies moving through lighter shades of red to create the brightest flowers in the central area. I still want a whimsical look with lots of movement so I don’t want to make it too ‘perfect’ or the flowers too well formed. Similarly, the grasses and leaves are developed further bringing in the brighter greens around the brighter poppies.

Now I leave the painting to dry a bit before I start on the background behind the flowers. I don’t want the reds to get into the background colours.

Oil Paint Step 4_Parading Poppies_Sara Paxton Artworks

Step 5
Once the paint is drier, start adding in the lighter background colours using a ‘block’ style. I used vary shades of yellow including Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Cadmium Yellow Light, Napes Yellow, Indian Yellow, together with Titanium White.

The final touches can be added using a smaller brush and the pigment sticks again. Little flashes of colour are very effective. Also, I’ve have left little bits of the under painting showing through. I want to link the sky with the foreground and this is done by taking some of the leaves/flowers across the horizon line. The sky needs to be dry before this is done.

The painting will be varnished when completely dry which will protect the paint but also give it a lovely sheen.

Finished Parading Poppies Oil Painting_Sara Paxton Artworks


Tools used for this oil painting:

– Pigment sticks from R&F
– Oil Paints from Art Spectrum
– Stretched Canvas
– Brushes from Neef
– Rubber shapers, various sizes
Varnish from Winsor and Newton
– You can find good prices on most of these products at Blick Art Suppliers

Oil Paint Tools_Sara Paxton Artworks

Thanks for watching, check out some more of my latest works on my Gallery Page! You can also find a more detailed list of products that I tend to use on my artist resources page.



Fields Edge Painting Time-lapse

I recently discovered a fantastic little device that allows me to catch some pretty good painting time-lapse footage. The device is called Brinno TLC200 and it records in HD and can last many hours on some AAA batteries, which is fantastic for capturing an entire painting as it usually takes me 1 to 2 days painting to complete.

I am still working on finding the right angle and place for the camera but I think I am getting pretty close. Have a look at the video below to see how my oil on canvas painting ‘Fields Edge’ comes to life. I am not sure which gallery will be receiving this painting but I’m hoping that it will already be famous by the time it gets there.

If you have had any experience in recording yourself or others painting in oils, I would love for you to share your experience in the comments below. I have also tried doing phone time-lapse videos with my iphone and some photography applications, however I find that the camera quality is not quite good enough for a youtube video.



To keep up to date with all of the the latest painting time-lapses and more useful art information, sign up to the Sara Paxton Artworks newsletter, it is free! Also if you enjoyed this post and found it useful please do not forget to share it with any others who may find it useful or interesting.



The Truth Behind Giclee Prints

Creating giclee prints from artwork and photographs has become a common way for artists to reproduce their loved works. The advance of  giclee reproduction and the subsequent advances in printing technology, especially in the last ten years. Allows artists everywhere to reproduce the artworks they create and distribute these prints to a diverse and widespread audience.

Giclee prints explained

Giclee Prints AnsweredGiclee reproductions are produced from high resolution scans or photographs. The printers used for these reproductions are most often twelve colour inkjet
printers although some companies use eight colour printers. Archival inks that are light fast are used in these high tech printers meaning the resulting
giclee prints will stand the test of time.


If  proper giclee prints are produced the detail can be identical and of a just as high standard as the original artwork. You can see examples of an original and giclee print in many galleries that sell both options to suit all price ranges, all images on my gallery page are images of my original oil paintings and they are then reproduced into high quality prints. Innovations in the giclee print industry are constant and every year we see new printing possibilities become available. Because technological advances are constant, most artists will look for a company that specializes in making giclee art prints when they are exploring the possibility of making multiple copies of their artworks. While it’s possible to purchase appropriate printers and scanners a larger specialised company is more likely to be able to keep pace with advances and will hopefully be using current, state of the art equipment. As in all things; buyer beware. Researching companies and the scanning/printing equipment they are using is always prudent.

Some substrates that an image can be printed on include

  • Various art papers
  • Photographic papers
  • Canvas
  • Plexiglas
  • Metal
  • Wood
  • Fabrics

Increasing exposure with giclee reproductions

Artists are using giclee prints in a variety of ways to suit their individual art practices. Some simply want to share and sell multiples of one of their popular images. The giclee reproduction artists the obvious advantage of increasing exposure and making their artworks available to multiple buyers, the owner of the original also sees a value add as their art piece is now the original artwork of popular print. In other words, when artist employing the giclee print process they are able to widen the audience for their work by selling an affordable alternative to the higher priced original artwork.

Altering giclee prints to make each one unique

Many artists are taking advantage of computer programmes that allow them to manipulate scanned images of their own original before they are turned into giclee prints. In a different vein others are working on top of the giclee prints they have made. They enhance them using a variety of different techniques such as:
  • Adding paint to selected areas
  • Adding texture to the surface by brushing on mediums that become clear after they dry
  • Adding glazes or washes of colour over the entire surface (
  • Embellishing the prints with collage elements
It is important for artists, who go down this giclee print road, to remember that they are selling reproductions, as opposed to original artworks. Even when a giclee print has been hand altered to make it unique, it is still important to state what is not easily obvious. Simply referring to the artwork as being “mixed media”, could be construed as misleading, so make sure you confirm with the artist if the work is a print, original or mixed. By producing giclee prints the artist is able to share their works with multiple people at a more affordable price.

Tell it like it is

Similarly, because a giclee print can sometimes be indistinguishable from the original, it is very important to let the buying public know what you are selling.
Most people outside the art-world don’t really understand the differences between a hand-pulled print, an original artwork and a giclee print. They simply know that they like what they see. Artists need to take the time to educate their buyers, so there are no misunderstandings and later repercussions.


The vast majority of people will welcome the opportunity to purchase an image that “speaks to them” at a price that their budget can handle. I, myself do sell giclee prints of all my original artworks as I think it is important to have something for everyone, I don’t think people should be limit to budget or availability when finding a piece of art they truly love. You can find cards, giclee prints and ink prints in the Sara Paxton Artworks Store.


I hope that this article has been informational and you are now aware of the different types of prints that are available to art buyers. Always remember to ask the artist what you are purchasing as originals and prints are very different and both options need to be kept in mind when finding your own price point.



Painting En Plein Air

Painting en plein air simply means painting out “in open air”. When the weather permits many artists like to grab their painting supplies and head into the great outdoors. It’s not a new practice. Plein air painting became fashionable in the latter part of the 1800’s when oil paint first became available in tubes. Before this artists made their own paints. Once liberated from the laborious process of making paint by mixing pigments, which first had to be ground into a powder, with linseed oil; artists happily packed up the newly invented tubes of paint and headed for the hills.

Find a group to join

The tradition continues to this day. If you are intimidated about being out there on your own, it isn’t hard to find a group to paint with as clubs, associations and informal groups of artists, both recreational and professional, meet regularly for group expeditions into the wild (or tame) “plein air”.

Painting en plein air challenges

For those of you who sometimes feel bound up and tight and are a bit too focused on perfect painting technique, plein air practice affords the opportunity to be less technique oriented and encourages a more observation driven approach to the world that surrounds. Paul Klee once wrote, “Art does not reproduce the visible; it makes things visible.”
Painting En Plein Air dream - oil painting in the outdoors

My dream painting en plein air environment.

Painting in the outdoors creates a sense of urgency for artists, who must make choices about where to focus while at the same time deciding what is essential and what is secondary in the visual splendor in front of their canvas. The French landscape artist Eugene Boudin, 1824 -1898, understood this well and expressed it beautifully when he wrote:


“Everything that is painted directly and on the spot has always a strength, a power, a vivacity of touch which one cannot recover in the studio… three strokes of a brush in front of nature are worth more than two days of work at the easel.”


Do you paint en plein air? If so please share your favourite places.

Stephen Wiltshire: Artist Extraordinaire!

Stephen Wiltshire is a phenomenon. What makes Stephen Wiltshire marvellous is his art. What makes Stephen Wiltshire even more extraordinary is that his methodology is unparalleled in the world of art and artistry.

While most of us have difficulty remembering where we left our car keys, this artist uses memory in ways we would never have imagined. His ability to recall objects and draw them, exclusively using memory as his only aid, is astounding. The size and attention to detail of his many works has made this man a truly gifted architectural landscape artist. Imagine for a moment the actual scope and dimension of his work. One of Stephen Wiltshire’s works is a nineteen foot drawing of 305 square miles of New York City viewed from above. He had only a short twenty minute helicopter ride prior to commencing the drawing process and, of course, his incredible memory to use as a reference.

Stephen Wiltshire diagnosis of autism

Stephen was born in 1974 in the city of London, England, to West Indian parents. During the early years of his childhood, Stephen was mute. He was diagnosed at three years of age as being autistic. Autism affects the development of the brain resulting in an individual with communication issues, delayed social interaction and an inclination to repeat specific patterns of behaviour. Typically, people who suffer from autism have low activity levels and few interests. You can learn more about the extraordinary condition by reading Integrative Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Autism Spectrum by David Moat.

Discovering an interest in drawing and learning to speak

At five years of age, Stephen was enrolled in the Queensmill School in London where he was observed by teachers as having an amazing fortitude for drawing. While the child continued not to speak he soon developed an uncanny ability to communicate through his art. Teachers were able to teach Stephen to speak by intermittently removing art supplies encouraging him to respond to their actions. Stephen responded initially with incomprehensible sounds but finally called out the word “paper” to his teachers in a tone that most likely bordered more on annoyance than anything else. By the age of nine Stephen was able to speak fully.

Wiltshire gains attention and his talent continues to develop

While attending Queensmill School Stephen’s drawings were usually of animals or cars but an interest in London architecture soon developed. Due to the encouragement of his teachers Stephen began submitting his works in art competitions and immediately aroused the skepticism of the press. The media were simply dumbfounded that a young boy of seven could create such intricately detailed drawings. The proof was in the pudding so to speak and Stephen Wiltshire soon became a regular subject for the British Press. At age seven Stephen sold his first work of art. By the age of eight, Prime Minister Edward Heath had already commissioned Stephen to draw the Salisbury Cathedral.

Stephen Wiltshire in his element. Truly an amazing artist.


What has followed since those early years is a continued interest and mastery of architectural illustrations. There was the “London Alphabet”, a series of London buildings drawn in alphabetical order, beginning with Albert Hall, a concert theatre and ending with the London Zoo. This work was done at the ripe old age of ten. Stephen’s work continued to focus on buildings and the cities that housed them. As a teenager Wiltshire met famed literary agent Margaret Hewson. The two instantly became friends and Hewson spent a good majority of her career heralding Stephen’s works in books. Hewson also played a pivotal role in Wiltshire’s life by ensuring that all funds garnered from his art be placed in trust. If you would like to watch a very interesting documentary on Stephen her over here.

Remarkable artist receives prestigious awards

Stephen’s exhibitions have included panoramic views of some of the world’s largest cities all drawn from memory and with viewings lasting no more than twenty minutes. The cities include Tokyo, Rome, Sydney and, of course, New York. Wiltshire possesses the uncanny ability of drawing information from parts of the brain most of us seldom visit. This alone makes this man a remarkable artist.

In 2006, Stephen Wiltshire was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. The award was in recognition of his contributions to the art world.

If you enjoyed this article about the amazing artist Stephen Wiltshire, please share this story as Stephen is truly one of the most inspiring artists I have ever come across.



8 Must Read Art Books

If you happen to be an artist or even the slightest bit  interested in painting or art, you have stumbled upon the right article! Below are 8 must read art books that you can’t afford to ignore. These books range from incredible people, doing incredible things, to the most useful and creative art books available. Please feel free to browse the list below. I am confident you will find some of these books extremely useful.


Problem Solving for Oil Painters1. Problem Solving for Oil Painters | Author: Gregg Kreutz

Some paintings flow easily from beginning to end, while others feel more like a battle ground that one has to struggle through. Painters are often isolated in their individual studios and when confronted by a painting in progress that just isn’t “working”, how to handle these problems becomes an issue. Sometimes, even figuring out what the problem actually is isn’t even obvious.

Kreutz tackles these issues head on with concrete suggestions that help the artist look at their work with fresh eyes. Problem Solving for Oil Painters is a book you will want to keep handy on a studio book-shelf. You may find yourself pulling it out for a refresher when a painting has you stymied and you need a little help.


The Oil Colour Book: A Comprehensive Resource for Painters2. The Oil Colour Book: A Comprehensive Resource for Painters | Author: Winsor & Newton edited by, David Pyle and Emma Pearce

For artists on a budget, the price can’t be beat! This eBook is a freebie so it would have been silly for me to leave it off the ‘Must Read Art Books’ list. The ebook was published by the well-known art material company Winsor & Newton. While obviously this book is somewhat skewed towards the company’s own products, I include the eBook in this list because it is chock full of easy-to-assimilate and valuable information for anyone interested in learning about oil paint products and basic painting techniques. There’s even a brief history of oil painting included. The 91 page eBook is downloadable in pdf format here.


The Oil Painting Book: Materials and Techniques for Today's Artist3. The Oil Painting Book: Materials and Techniques for Today’s Artist | Author: Bill Creevy

This book is another book that oil painters will want to include in their art book library. While seasoned artists will want to keep this book handy for reference, it is artists who are just starting to experiment with painting in oils who will find the material covered invaluable.

Creevy evaluates numerous oil paint brands and delves into the whole world of mediums in detail. It is a fascinating read.


Cities4. Cities | Author: Stephen Wiltshire

I have actually written a detailed  article about Stephen Wiltshire, who is a remarkable artist. I found some of his feats almost unbelievable. Cities is a book of Wiltshire’s geographical scope, filled with drawings of buildings and cities, whether real or fantasy. If you are looking where to pick up his incredibly interesting book, Cities, it is quite a hard book to track down. So most likely you just have to get lucky in an art book store, or if you can’t find it anywhere local, there is always Amazon which has a copy every now and again. Good Luck finding it!


Colour Mixing Bible5. Colour Mixing Bible | Author: Ian Sidaway

If you work with colours or just looking for a beautiful book to browse through, this is the book for you. Do you ever find yourself wasting time, trying to mix up the right colour to find that perfect fit for your latest masterpiece? The Colour Mixing Bible features endless amounts of tips and techniques for color mixing with oils, watercolors, acrylics, inks, pastels, and pretty much any other art medium you could possibly use.

I personally have this book sitting on the shelf in my art studio and it is completely covered in paint from the countless  times I have drawn upon it. So if you are looking to kickstart your repertoire of art books, this is the perfect book for your new collection. If you are an established artist, I assume you already have this book or you are in the process of running to the store to get it. In other words, you can’t ignore number 5 on the list of “must read” art books–whether an artist or just looking for a beautiful book, this one is a “must have”.


Doing Art Together6. Doing Art Together | Author(s): Muriel Silberstein-Storfer with Mablen Jones

Based on the famous Parent-Child Workshop art classes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MOMA) in New York City, USA, Doing Art Together outlines projects that were set up for classes that included children and their parents or guardians. The children and adults worked side by side each focusing on their own project. This book is aimed at art educators and parents alike. The lessons are beautifully illustrated with students work and include detailed instructions on:

  • How to set-up either at home or in a class-room situation
  • What materials to have handy
  • How to encourage art makers while working on their projects

For parents who want to make art with their children and for art teachers looking for inspirational ideas, this book is a wonderful treasure.


Artists and writers colonies7. Artists and writers colonies: Retreats, residencies, and respites for the creative mind  | Author: Gail Hulland Bowler

For any artist interested in researching North American working retreat centres and artist colonies, this book is a fabulous resource. It is aimed at both artists and writers that are seeking a place to work. It focuses on opportunities that provide the time, the space and sometimes even the money for artists and /or writers to attempt new projects that they may otherwise not be able focus on due to the rigours of everyday life. Many of the opportunities listed are available to artists from around the world.


Art Fundamentals, Theory and Practice8. Art Fundamentals, Theory and Practice (edition 12)  | Authors: Ocvirk, Otto; Stinson, Robert; Wigg, Philip; Bone, Robert; Cayton, David

This textbook was originally published back in 1960. It set the standard for art foundations courses when it first came out and has been required reading for art students for over 50 years in renowned art schools from around the world. Over time, the book has been updated and republished numerous times, most recently in 2013. This latest edition still guides the reader through the essential elements of artistic practice, while placing an emphasis on both knowing and feeling the basic and fundamental ideas of the creative process. This book has stood the test of time and deserves a place on the bookshelves of visual artists everywhere.