Learn from Michelle

The Curse of "The Sticker on the Wall"

It's the critique I give most often to novice painters...

"It looks like a sticker on the wall."

This comment is not meant to be mean or unusually harsh.  It's simply the best terminology I can find to describe the one curse that seems to plague all new painters.

Before we go any further, just to be absolutely clear - I painted this image.

I would never post an image painted by a novice painter publicly and talk about it in a disparaging way. Because we are visual artists, a visual example is the easiest way to get my point across so I created the problem in my own image so that I can share with you how to avoid this curse in your own digital artwork.

Let's take a close look at this novice style image...

While the brushwork on the pup is acceptable, there are a few things that make this painting feel "off".  First of all, the dog was masked out of the original photograph (original capture by Barbara Brady-Smith).

Once the pup was adequately masked, it was dropped onto one of Heather the Painter's curated backgrounds (you can find them by clicking HERE.)

A bit of cyan was added to the background to bring it more into color harmony with the dog...

Then the dog was painted, but the background was NOT painted.  Not at all.  While the original background was painted by Heather, no two artists paint alike.

Her brushstrokes will never be your brush strokes.

The first step to avoiding the curse of "the sticker on the wall" is to COMPLETELY re-paint Heather's brushstrokes with your own. This can be done quite simply with my organic chunky background brush (included in the membership).

Let's look at the novice style painting again.  Notice how the pup seems to float above the background. This is partly caused by not repainting the background, but there's another reason...

ALL of the edges are "hard".

When we paint, there are three types of edges that we should use.  Lost, found, and broken. If this is not something you're familiar with, you can view my article on edges by clicking the image below...


In this version of the painting, you can see that I used all three kinds of edges. It makes the painting more cohesive and totally eliminates "the sticker on the wall" feeling...

A further step you can take to completely eliminate "the sticker on the wall" curse is to add little dashes of the background color into your subject.  If you look closely, you'll see the bits of blue and green in the dog's fur.  These are intentional brushstrokes placed very carefully within the painting.

Compare the two paintings side by side and the difference is easy to see...

There is absolutely no doubt which one is "the sticker on the wall" (LEFT)!

It's only paint! And really - it's DIGITAL paint so it's not costing you anything but time!

You have full control of "command/control Z" at your command (that's the undo shortcut if you're not familiar with it).  Don't be afraid to experiment and play with different brushes and techniques.  Definitely, don't be afraid to use all the edge options!  It will take your artwork from looking like that of a novice to more professional almost overnight!

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