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Artist Guide to Achieving a ‘Looser’ Painting Style

I often hear painters say they wish they could have a ‘looser’ painting style – not be so constrained in their style. But, the big questions is, how can you achieve this elusive ‘loose’ style?

Firstly, let’s try and analyse what it actually means. For me anyway, it is a quality of impressionistic spontaneity  – effortless and bold, yet not careless. There is no sense of overworked detail and the painting has free flowing feel.

So I’ve put together a few  ideas to help you achieve a new looser style of painting:


Tips for adopting a Looser Painting Style!


1 — A good way to start is by drawing. Free up you drawing style by doing some quick sketches in a sketch book and then you can move to your canvas. Here you can use paint, or I often use a oil pigment stick, to sketch out how I roughly want the painting to look. Do this quickly, there’s no need to include any details, it’s just to give you a general idea.


Loose Painting Style_Sara Paxton Artworks


2 — Decide what kind of style you are aiming for and how loose you want to go. There are lots of degrees, you can start with just being a bit loose, then go from there as you get more confident. Look at examples of other painters work.


3 — Use bigger brushes than you normally would. Little tiny brushes encourage little tiny details. Be bold.  Try some palette knives and paint shapers as well.


Loose Painting Style Tools_Sara Paxton Artworks


4 — Be careful not to become sloppy in your newly found looseness. It is easy to paint fast and carelessly but you need to maintain the basic principles of painting – colour, balance, light and shade, structure, shape – and then make it all look spontaneous!


5 — If parts of the painting aren’t going well, move on, don’t stop and try to correct. Those bits can be painted over later. It’s important to keep your momentum and flow going.


Loose Painting Style Example_Sara Paxton Artworks


6 — Try not to keep adding details at the end. You are trying to achieve ‘necessary’ brush strokes and every unnecessary addition will take away from your goal.


7 — Probably the most important thing is your own mindset. Approach the painting with confidence and try and maintain that throughout the process. If you start wavering or feeling tired and frustrated, take a break.


Don’t forget, the more you practice the better you will become and below is an example of how I was able to introduce a looser painting style into my artworks.


Example – How to Adopt a Looser Painting Style


I like to use a fairly free flowing ‘loose’ painting style. If you are also looking to introduce a little more flexibility into your painting. Checkout the below example of how I used a loose painting style approach to bring a painting from start to finish. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments area and I will make sure to send a reply!


Step 1

I started with an underpainting using cadmium orange, yellow ochre, raw sienna and flinders blue violet.  This gives me a base to work from – I vary the colours keeping in mind how I can use them as the base for the landscape.  I use a fairly thin layer which will dry quickly.

Loose Painting Style Step 1-Sara Paxton Artworks

Step 2

Sketch in a rough layout of the painting.  Keep the lines quick and simple, it’s just a rough outline to give you an idea on how the painting will be laid out.  I use a pigment stick (indigo) to do this but you can also use paint and a brush.

Loose Painting Style Step 2-Sara Paxton Artworks

Step 3

Start shading in the darker areas of trees and the shadows.  I used flinders blue violet, burnt umber and indigo, then overlaid this with some lighter browns.  I am still using broad brush strokes with very little detail at this point.  I also use a rubber paint shaper to lay down larger slabs of colour.

Loose Painting Style Step 3-Sara Paxton Artworks

Step 4

I now introduce some greens to the foreground using the paint shaper and a palette knife.  Note that there are still bits of the underpainting showing which I will keep as I like this effect.  I am working fairly quickly and not adding any detail at all.  I am more interested in getting the colour balance right.

Loose Painting Style Step 4-Sara Paxton Artworks

Step 5

The final step is  painting in the sky (again, leaving some of the underpainting showing through) and adding some minimal highlighting strokes of colour and detail to the central point of the painting. The idea is to keep the painting simple, loose and apparently effortless.  I have not laboured over detail because I want to create a feeling of spontaneity.

Loose Painting Style Step 5-Sara Paxton Artworks

If you are looking for more painting tips, I would encourage you to sign up to my newsletter and collect the free painters guide.


 Please share with any other artists!



Questions About Framing Artwork

Framing Artwork-Sara Paxton Artworks

Need help framing artwork? Do you have a special painting you would like frame, or are you just putting the finishing touch on one of your own masterpieces! If yes, then here are a few tips on how to get it right.

The Frame:
Choose a frame that will suit the painting rather than the decor of the room it’s going to hang in.  Often a simple black, white or light oak frame will look good, you don’t want to overpower or detract from the work itself.


The Mount:
You will need to use a mount for a pencil, pastel or watercolour work, just to create some space between the paper and the glass. The size of mount will vary but generally it should be bigger than the frame, around 60mm-100mm depending on the size of the work.

The work always looks more balanced if you leave a little more space  at the bottom of the mount than the top.  It’s a bit of a visual illusion but if it’s right in the centre it almost looks like it is slipping off the bottom!   The mount should complement the painting in colour, so it’s often best to stay neutral, after all the painting is the focus.


The Glass:
You don’t have to use glass if you are framing an oil painting, but works on paper need glass to protect them. You can use ordinary glass in most cases, although non-glare glass is better if pieces are in front of windows.

The downside is that some clarity is lost. An increasingly popular and contemporary option to glass is perspex which is lighter and more resilient than glass and can be used with clipping mechanisms rather than a frame.


Acid Free:
Always use acid free materials when framing, otherwise your beautiful artwork will discolour over time.


If you get the presentation right, your work will look 100% better. Guaranteed!



How To Make Oil Paints Dry Faster

How To Make Oil Paints Dry Faster

Waiting for oil paint to dry can be one of the pain points of painting.  Waiting for the bottom layer to dry to then apply the next, or waiting for larger slash thicker sections to dry so you can transport or finish a painting can be frustrating. There are also many other reasons why people are constantly searching for ways to make oil paints dry faster!

So this is why I have put together a list of methods I use to speed up the drying process of my oil paintings.  Every artist I have ever come across wants to know the secrets for how to dry oil paint faster!

So, lets answer the infamous questions on how to dry oil paintings quickly.  Oil paints, by their very nature, don’t dry with any speed at all.  They are very slow, and you have to be patient – it takes months for thick paint to fully dry (it doesn’t actually ‘dry’, it oxidises which is why the process is slow, read more about it here). However, there are a  few things you can do to speed it up.


5 Solutions on How to Make Oil Paints Dry Faster

ONE – Leave the painting to dry in a well ventilated open area where air circulates (a fan helps).  Also, paint is slow to dry in a cold environment, so a warm room is preferable. Avoid extreme heat like hairdryers as this will only make the process worse!


TWO –  Paint using thin layers and washes which will dry reasonably quickly.   If you use very thick layers of paint, a ‘skin’ will form on top but the paint underneath will still be soft to touch.  A painting shouldn’t be varnished until it’s all completely dry which could be several months.


THREE – Under paint your canvas with acrylic paint – this dries almost instantly and then you can go on to use oil paints on top. This works very successfully and is a method I use quite often. This can also save you some money as acrylic paint is more affordable than oils!


FOUR – Certain colours dry much faster than others due to the pigments.  You will work out which ones as you go along (reds/oranges for example are notoriously slow) and you can avoid these if you want your painting ready quickly.


FIVE – There are various drying mediums which can be used to speed up the process, such as Liquin, and you should research which would work best for you.  You can also use turpentine to thin the paint for a base layer (I find using it in subsequent layers results in ‘dull’ patches of paint, so not advisable) and this will dry quickly.


I have heard of artists that bake paintings in the oven, or spray them with hairspray! However, I’m not prepared to try either due to the potential cracking issue further down the track. There is no point painting a beautiful oil painting then ruining it in the final step!

I suppose the issue is really quite simple – if you want to use oil paints because you love the colours, the vibrancy and texture, you have to accept that the lengthy drying time is all part of that process. If you are setting expectations for a gallery, exhibition or person, keep this in mind. If yo explain the drying complications most people will understand!


Do you have any of your own tricks or tips on how to speed up drying time?



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.