30 Minute Painted Quick Sketch


Improving How You See in 30 Minutes

The Video for the Painted Quick Sketch is Below

A common problem in painting is in understanding color.  There are countless colors in paints, but no matter how many we use, we often still create a flat, convoluted mess.  Paintings often lack harmony, and we can’t quite figure out why.

The Painted Quick Sketch sharpens your perception, and this will show in your art.

There are many techniques I’ve studied and most of them are boring as Hell (not the medieval Hell which is like a thrilling horror movie, but my own personal Hell: very, very, very boring).

In all the techniques, I’ve found something that can combine many aspects of the old tried-and-true methods, but also present other opportunities for strengthening artistic skill.

What Is The Painted Quick Sketch? 

how to paint quicklyThe Painted Quick Sketch is an exercise that helps you see and identify essential information in the visual world more rapidly and more accurately.  Because it is painted in 30 minutes or less, it forces you to focus on key elements of color and value while ignoring distracting little details.

The Painted Quick Sketch will greatly benefit your skills in a short time.  As in painting with only primary colors, painting in only 30 minutes forces you to focus.

The Problem With Photographs.

I paint a lot from photos.  In much of the art community, painting from photographs is paramount to pooping on the Mona Lisa.  I understand the disdain for it because it weakens perception not only for the artist but for the audience as well.  It’s sort of like the over-use of antibiotics. Sort of.

Whatever.  I paint from photos often because I need to, as do many artists, but if you’re one of us, you should be painting from life as often as you can.  When I am painting from a photo, the first thing I do is a Painted Quick Sketch to work out certain color harmonies not present in the photo.

The camera will not recreate what your eyes can see.  Photographs do not address the balance of cool and warm tones in lights and darks.  It only shows the scale of value (the varying degrees of light and dark).

Starting the 30 Minute Painted Quick Sketch

“Any fool can know.  The point is to understand.”  -- Albert Einstein

1.  No Rushing

You are limiting your painting to only 30 minutes in order to focus on a few essential elements.  This will keep the sketch simple and provide you clear information about what you’ve discovered.

If you aim to get as much done as possible in the short time, you’ll lose the opportunity for learning something valuable and improving your skill.

So don’t rush.  Paint methodically.  Paint with intent.  Be clear on your goal and hold to it.  It’s only for 30 minutes.

2.  Clarify Your Goal

In a Painted Quick Sketches, you have a few goals with one as top priority.  The goal may be to establish the cool and warm tones, or to study composition options.  The goal will not be to create a good piece of art.  Focus on discovering key elements and relieve yourself the pressure of making a nice picture.

How to Paint and DrawDepending on your subject matter and what problem it poses for you, your goals will vary.  Whatever they are, choose what you’ll work on before painting, and stick to it.

It’s normal to get through the painting and wonder if you made any sense at all.  If this is the case for you, just put the painting aside after the 30 minutes and look at it later.  You will likely be happily surprised with what you accomplished.

3.  Don’t Panic!

It worked for Ford Prefect and Zaphod Beeblebrox, it can work for you.  Don’t panic!  Do what you can to paint calmly and clearly.

My mind is typically scattering in many directions at once.  It’s not easy to confine my focus to one thing, but when I do, I’m usually amazed with what I achieve.

If this is the same for you, then before picking up the brush, try a few slow breaths counting the seconds of the inhale and exhale.  To clarify the visual world before you, you want your mind clear and sharp.

While painting, I find it helpful to talk to myself about what I’m doing.  It keeps my attention on the process.  It may look strange painting out in public, but at least it keeps away the nice people with lots of comments.

4.  Setting up

You have only 30 minutes and it will fly by very fast.  Set up your easel and clear your surroundings so as not be disturbed.

You don’t need many brushes.  In fact, even one will be fine.  Use a brush that prevents you from getting hung up in details.

As for paints, stick with the fewest you’re comfortable with but more than the primary colors.  You don’t want your precious time wasted in too much mixing.

Choose a canvas you’re comfortable with.  I prefer canvas boards or plain primed canvas strips that I’ll tape to a board.  I have several canvases that I’ve painted over many times with sketches.

Canvas paper is available in pads.  These are very useful because as they dry, they take up less room than a stretched canvas or even a canvas board.

5.  The Squints

Possibly the most undervalued technique in all representational painting is Squinting.  When looking at whatever you want to paint, squint your eyes so that the whole subject darkens down and the areas of dark and light become more defined.

Squinting will help you see the subject as a painting.  It will identify where the shaded areas turn to mid-tone and then to light.  It will identify the value and chroma qualities quickly because you will not be distracted by the many little intoxicating details.

Just don’t squint at your painting.  Squint at your subject.  Look at your painting clearly.

The Goals

You may explore other aspects of painting, but for the Painted Quick Sketch, it usually comes down to one or more of these.

  •      Composition

The arrangement of the subject on the canvas.  This is easily done in a charcoal sketch, but by using paint, you’re also focusing on how the colors will work in the composition.

  •      Value and Chroma

How to Paint the NudeValue is the varying degrees of light and dark.  Studying value in a painted sketch, you will focus first on three gradations: dark, mid-tone, and light.  Once this is established, you go back and work on the light darks, the dark lights, the dark mid-tones, the lightest lights, the mid-toniest mid-tones.  You get the idea, right?

Start at your focus point.  Work on the darkest dark in this area, then move on.  After this is established, you might want to go to the darkest dark of the whole image.

Chroma refers to the intensity of color.  Unless you are painting mono-chromatically, your choice of color and the degree of saturation will be elements to consider while focusing on Value.  To focus primarily on chroma, establish the mid-tone first in a thin layer of paint, and then go back to value.

  •      Color Temperature

Color Temperature is measured by the relative coolness or warmness of the light.  Direct sunlight is warm while sunlight through clouds will be more cool.  Florescent lights are cool while many other indoor lights are warm.

The rule of thumb is this: a cool light creates a warm shadow and a warm light creates a cool shadow.  So, if you don’t know whether the light is cool or warm, just ensure your shadows and lights are opposite in temperature quality.

Choosing the correct color does not matter as much as choosing the correct color temperature.  

My 30 Minute Painted Quick Sketch

My initial focus for this sketch is working out a believable portrayal of the temperature balance.

Watch the video and if you have any questions, please comment below or message me.  I’m happy to offer input or listen to suggestions.

I hope this is helpful to you.