1. Composition

Take a step back and assess the overall composition of the painting. Ensure that the elements work together and create a cohesive image. Perspective, proportion and shape relationships must be accurate or reasonably so depending on the looseness of your style.

2. Texture & Accents:

Add any final details or touches that will enhance the painting's texture. An impasto stroke in the focal area or that leads the eye to the focal area. Light and dark accents are those marks that add sparkle or a note of interest. Stones on the side of a dirt road, distant fence posts, light grasses against a dark shadow. Just a few will do the trick.

3. Light Effect:

Have you captured the light effect? It's not enough to simply put paint in between the lines. The painting needs to describe light. Direction of light, for example. Nature of light - warm, cool or overcast? Night, morning, sunset, overhead bright light? Consider the use of light and shadow to create a sense of light. This is always a good starting point. Does the painting communicate the light?

4. Vision & Concept:

Compare the painting to your original concept or reference material to ensure that it matches your intended vision. The drama of light, an emotion, the play of color, whatever you intended - that is the most important consideration.

5. Your Focus

Expect occasional frustration. You may go too far and need to remove that extra detail. Keep your emotions in check so that you do not do something you regret. Put the scraping knife down until you have counted to ten. There are times when I will let a night’s rest settle the question. It's amazing how your mind finds the answer by the next day. Trust your intuition and finish off the painting with confidence after a good night's rest.


Trust your instincts and step back to see the painting as a whole. When you feel that the painting is complete, it probably is.


Of course - sign your painting if you have not done so already. Some say you should use the color of your last brushstroke. I have settled on red paint but still small enough to be discreet, but easy to read up close. Don't hide your name away.

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with Malcolm Dewey

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