Thursday, September 19, 2013

Miss Young's 10 Tips for Better Art

One of my students is moving out of state. She's been one of my top students since I began teaching at this school. Of course I'm going to miss her! I hope her next art teacher is supportive, enthusiastic, and creative. But no matter what her situation at her new school is, I wanted her to leave Indiana with the tools to create amazing art on her own. So, I typed this up for her, and I decided to share it with all of my blog readers:

Miss Young’s 10 Tips for Better Art
1.     Contrast. If the picture is black and white, the darkest spot should be pure black, and the lightest part should be pure white. This goes for photography and pencil/charcoal.
2.     Composition. Put things in the picture in an interesting way. Don’t make it symmetrical!
3.     Completion. Make sure you’ve finished the whole picture. There shouldn’t be any white spots, except for things that are supposed to be white.
4.     Texture. Unless something is supposed to be smooth, avoid coloring it in solidly. For grass, Layer dark green and light green. For a furry animal, use pressure (pushing hard or pushing gently) to vary the value.
5.     Color. Consider making things more bright and beautiful than they are in real life. Or, use color to show a mood; for a raining day, everything can have a hint of gray in it; for night, everything could be a little blue.
6.     Value. Anything that is not perfectly flat will usually have shadows and highlights. Adding dark spots and light spots will make your art more realistic.
7.     Emphasis. Something needs to stand out in your art. The viewer should be able to tell what is important in the picture.
8.     Space. If your art has a background and a foreground, it should be obvious what’s close and what’s far away. Close objects should have more details, and should be bigger. Far away objects can be small, blurry, partially behind a closer object, or placed higher on the page.
9.     Unity. Everything in your picture should match. If you draw one thing very realistically, and one thing very abstract, the art won’t look unified. Use a similar drawing or painting style throughout the piece.
10.                         Balance. If we fold your picture in half any way (top-bottom, left-right, or diagonally) and one half of the picture is empty, your artwork is probably unbalanced. Balance isn’t the same a symmetry; it just means your art isn’t lopsided.

And lastly, you don’t need to use every tip in every piece of art J.


  1. I would add one more about color: I'd remind students that sometimes a limited color combination is more effective. You don't need to use every color there is! Select a color combo for a reason and stick to it!

    1. Thanks, Phyl! That's a really good point. I have some students who definitely need to learn to stick to color schemes :). And others who need to be encouraged to use any color at all!