Adding “Life” to a painting is easily achieved by adding living objects or even non-living objects such as wagon wheels, carts or benches to an almost complete painting. Follow along in this step by step tutorial to see just how easy it is to bring you art to life.
So you have finished that landscape painting and have decided that it needs something more. Step back, take a look and ask your self, “What would I like to see if I were in my own painting?” It sounds silly, but it works.
Life in a painting could be as simple as painting in some simple daisies or flowers. Colorful plants are the essence of springtime and are simple to do. Another very easy addition could be to add distant birds. Use a gray color and paint in a few little v’s in the sky. Practice first and remember to add them in a manner to not distract from the painting itself. By this I mean, in general do not make them too large.
If you feel you cannot paint animals or people, then just paint the suggestion of them! What I mean by this is to paint in shapes that make the viewer fill in the details. Like the example of birds. You didn’t really paint a bird, you painted a V, but the viewer thinks – bird. Another example – a distant person would not have any detail in the face, so just get the general shape and colors and dab in the idea of a person. Remember to keep them in perspective. Always keep size in proportion to the surroundings. This is crucial or you may ruin your painting. Think of a size of a person compared to a house for example. If you painted them in the background and they were the same size as the roof top, it would throw off your entire composition. I suggest penciling them in first.
You can create the illusion of life by adding non-living objects as well. Paint in objects that suggest movement or activity. A sled leaning against a snow covered front porch suggests play, or a water pail next to a well pump suggests chores or work activity.
One thing that I love to do with my landscapes is to add a path. A nice worn down dirt path really leads the viewer into the art. The path itself is not alive, but it adds illusion that people have wandered upon it. Paths can be added to any season painting. If your painting is a winter scene, just add blue and or purple to the white snow to create instant shadows where the snow has been worn down.
Shadows cast from trees, buildings, and objects add life because we think of the time of day and the setting and rising of the sun. Ripples in the water make us think of wind and movement of the living earth. Animals tend to add peace and tranquility.
Adding life to any painting is not difficult. Take a look at most paintings and I think you will find that you are drawn to those that have some indication of life. Don’t be afraid to experiment and I think you will enjoy learning to paint.