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Mark Twain was onto something when he wrote this.

Many people struggle to make circular forms when sketching in their subject matter. Here I have illustrated a number of ways to deal with this problem. The center image illustrates an easy way to get more uniform round forms and is as simple as letting gravity do the work. By drawing your lines from top to bottom, left and right (A to B), you are putting less stress on our arm and hand. After all, it is easier to make a downward movement than an upward one and let the law of physics help you out.

It also helps to build your circle within a basic structure that gives you guidelines to work off of, such as square or hexagon shapes. It is much easier to make a box (straight lines) than a circle and will give you a form to work your circular magic within.

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How do I know what the true color of the object that I am trying to paint is? Where do I find that color since there are so my variations within the object?

A simple thing to remember is that when deciding what the color is, simply look for the middle value. It's not the dark or the lightest part of the object. Rather, the true color resides in the middle where the color is not affected by the bright light or the darker shadow.

Everyone instinctively looks for the middle value to register color, but most people are not aware that it is in the middle that they naturally locate it as the color of the object.

Once the color is determined the artist can then use that mixture as the base color to work off of to make the variations need to build the three-dimensional form.

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I encourage my students to not use a graphite pencil when sketching in their subject matter on the canvas or other painting supports for oil and acrylic paintings. Using a small brush with very diluted paint/solvent mixture to block in your forms is my suggestion. Remember that painting is drawing and if you can become more prolific at using a brush, your brush work and mark making in general will greatly improve.

The diluted paint that you use to "sketch" in your subject matter will dry very quickly and will not taint your paints like graphite will. If you must use a "pencil", I would suggest drawing in your subject with a neutral color watercolor pencil, which gets dissolved in your paint and will not cause any discoloration of the oil or acrylic paint.

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