About the back of your work... by Angela Bandurka

Ah, the poor back of a painting. It can be sadly neglected by many of us who don't have our work framed. But why not use its valuable real estate for something more interesting?

  • Glue special keepsakes that mean something to the back. When I painted my piece "Don't Be Afraid To Take Chances" I kept the original fortune and glued it to the back of the piece, to one of the stretcher bars.
  • Write down the Title, Size, Medium, Year the piece was created, then add your URL, that'll allow the paintings owners to see other works by you even years later!
  • Paint or Draw something fun on the stretcher bar
  • Cover the back with wallpaper or something creative

And of course, the most important thing: String it neatly and professionally for hanging:

  • DO use strong D-rings, sized appropriately to carry the weight of your painting
  • DO place the D-rings far enough down from the top that the 1-inch or longer hanging hardware on the wall won't show above your work
  • DO consider coated wire: it looks nicer and it doesn't cut your thumbs as you put it on the D-rings
  • DO use a neat knot to attach the wire to each D-ring, then loop the wire around tightly at least 4-5 times and trim with wire cutters as close to the main wire as you can
  • Check out this handy instructional video for attaching D-rings and wire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdU0B8ov2Z0

Neon: Not Just an 80s Throwback by Angela Bandurka

While giving a private lesson to an amazingly multi-talented couple who have taken private lessons with, I discovered a neat little trick that helped me solve a problem I've encountered in the past.

See, I have a confession to make: painting velvety objects that are bright crimson/magenta freak me out. Not because I don't like their colour and texture - I do - but because it's incredibly hard to reproduce. I find it difficult to get the right values at the right intensity. Buying crimson and magenta is the first step, you have to have the right base colour out of the tube. But how can you lighten its value without significantly decreasing its saturation? Adding white makes it more chalky and less vibrant, putting in some yellow just doesn't do it either. And what if all the tubes you bought are transparent?

To attempt to keep the colour vibrant, I added neon pink to the mix; using it to lighten my magenta allowed me to maintain its vibrancy - especially since it was a very transparent magenta that I was using.

Below is the shot of the original flower, and the completed demo. There are no wasted opportunities, people! Get out there and play with your paint!

A gorgeous orchid! Look at that rich colour!

A gorgeous orchid! Look at that rich colour!

And here is what I produced: the highlights all have neon pink added to the colour, which helped me keep the value light but very saturated and vibrant :)

And here is what I produced: the highlights all have neon pink added to the colour, which helped me keep the value light but very saturated and vibrant :)

How to Paint On Location by Angela Bandurka

When the weather starts to improve, I start to get the 'plein air' itch. (Plein Air, btw, is just a fancy schmancy way of saying that you paint outside). There's nothing like getting out into nature and painting! Before I started doing this, I was very nervous about starting: what would people think if they saw me out there? and what kinds of supplies would I need?

I'm going to try to answer that for you, in this blog post!

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The Original Selfie! by Angela Bandurka

One of the best exercises an artist can do is to paint and/or draw their self portrait. You have a free model to experiment with, and you don't have to show anyone what you've done if you don't like it :)

Back in 2008 I had painted my first self portrait since college. It was a part of the marketing effort my grandmother, Barbara Bradshaw; my aunt, Perry Johnston; and I did to promote our three-generation show at the Gibsons Art Gallery in Gibsons, B.C. Canada. We each did one and those three portraits were used on all marketing materials, and were the first pieces you saw as you entered the gallery during our show.

At the time I painted it, I was going through a new divorce, had a three-year-old and was struggling to figure out my future. 

It was time for a new one. This one was in my head for a while before I got around to painting it - selfies are all the rage on Facebook and beyond these days. I thought it'd be funny to do my portrait with those in mind. The Original Selfie

Here are the steps I took, starting with the best possible photo I could get of my reference material - since I was using a mirror to capture my image, this is all I could get ;) Not one to waste anything, I painted over the sketch of another painting that never did get started.

NOTE: This is purely sentimental -but the french easel I used to paint this belonged to my grandmother :)

Drawing with Charcoal Pencils by Angela Bandurka

I love drawing. Always have! And drawing with charcoal pencils on paper is especially fun. (When I draw on canvas, I usually use pastel pencils, but that's another discussion :)

Recently, while at ARTspot, an art supply store in Edmonds, Washington, I noticed two very similar charcoal pencils made by the same supplier: Faber-Castell. They had the same names on them but different coloured grips: one was tan, and said "PITT CHARCOAL" and the other was black and said the same thing on it. Both had Soft, Medium, and Hard options. What's the difference?

Read on to find out!

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The Art of the Critique by Angela Bandurka

One of the most important things we need to learn to do as an artist is critique our own work, and then improve it before sending it out into the world so that everything we put out there is satisfactory to us.

It's also one of the most difficult.

Getting feedback from others can help, as well. It's gratifying when you hear positive feedback, and can be downright depressing when there is a negative comment, piercing your heart and popping it like a balloon. It can also make you second guess your decisions and change your vision based on others' opinions. A lot of these points can come in handy when you get unsolicited advice, as well ;)

Below are some guidelines I've come up with for myself when asking for a critique from others:

The two kinds of perspective that artists use are linear and atmospheric (or aerial). Linear perspective uses lines and vanishing points to determine how much an object’s apparent size changes with distance. Atmospheric perspective deals with how the appearance of an object is affected by the space or atmosphere between it and the viewer. Italian Renaissance Master Leonardo da Vinci noticed this latter phenomenon and dubbed it ‘the perspective of disappearance.
— Anthony Waichulis

DO ask your peers or betters for an honest critique of your piece.

DO, if it's 'finished', start by having them critique your piece without making any statements before. No excuses, no hemming or hawing. Just put it in front of them and ask them to critique it. If you still have work to do on it, explain what you're going to do on it and that you'd like a critique on the work done so far and how they might proceed if it were their piece.

DO listen quietly while they critique your work, adding your thoughts if they are constructive only.

DON'T make excuses or get defensive for any reason.

DO write down or make mental notes of the points that you really believe will improve the work, and then actually apply them to the piece!

DO thank the person critiquing your work, even if you didn't agree with them.

DON'T feel like you have to apply everyone's opinion to your work. You don't want to make your creation a Frankenstein.

DO stay true to your own vision! And you don't have to say that to do it - it'll only ruffle feathers.

DON'T ask your loved ones to critique your work unless they are a legitimate peer. Your Mom will love anything you make. It doesn't count. This also applies to Facebook friends as a whole. You can single out specific peers online through Facebook or other venues to give your constructive feedback, but be careful that you're not just looking for personal gratification, it is fleeting and not necessarily constructive (even though it feels pretty good!)

DO consider starting a critique group of a few close peers that meets regularly to help each other out!

NOW: How do I go about critiquing my own work? The checklist below is one I use regularly to determine if a painting is "done" or not:

Sometimes when I’m having a colour moment I think to myself, okay what would be the most disgusting colour to add here? Sometimes that ‘disgusting’ can turn out to be ‘surprising’ and ‘completely gorgeous’.
— Angela A'Court


Viewpoint & Composition

  • Do you need a thumbnail image to see the best design for the piece?
  • How is your negative space?
  • Are you happy with the viewpoint? Should you try getting down low, cropping in close? Experiment.


  • Are your relative distances/sizes about right? 
  • Does it look right when you check it in a mirror?
  • Try drawing it upside down and looking at the shapes more closely.
  • How is the perspective?
  • Are any horizon lines straight? Do they need to be?


  • Do you like the texture of your surface or do you want to embellish it?
  • Have you properly prepped any raw surfaces (like untreated wood)?


Value and Depth 

  • Try using a B&W version of your resource to see your values - photocopy or revise your image using a photo editing tool (or red acetate if you're painting plein air)
  • Is the background light enough to push backwards?
  • Are your foreground darks standing out?
  • Is your focal point an area of high contrast? That’s where the eye will go first!


  • Do you have visible brush strokes - and do you want them there or not?
  • Are your final highlights thicker than all other layers? Would it add or detract?
  • Is the most detail mainly in the area you want people to focus on?


  • Have you put your most saturated colors in the foreground?
  • Is the background (things off in the distance like mountains) less saturated?
  • Are the warmest colors in the foreground?
  • The receding shapes colors cooler in temperature?
  • Do you need to break the temperature rules? Does it still work?
  • Are all the values of each color right? (do you need to darken/lighten?)
  • Have you isolated the color to verify? (Using a pinhole)
  • Try using a funky color - like a yellow sky. Check the values and if they're right, it'll probably work!!

Painting Carnival Glass, Step by Step! by Angela Bandurka

Yesterday I was painting with a friend, Bonnie Black, and noticed some really cool, iridescent yellowy glass bowls on her counter. She said that there were called "Carnival Glass" and were given out when you went to the movies during the earlier half of the century. She sent me home with a glass and bowl to borrow and paint; and so last night I decided to take the challenge of this glass online. Setting up the scene in my studio with the glass, a rose, and some greenery, I decided to post my progress on facebook for my friends and followers to watch.

Here is the full night's work - from just after quarter to 7pm until 11pm or so:

The set up - it was on my right side, lit with a strong spotlight on the left that clipped to the table. I painted from life, and this is a great example of why that's important - you just can't get all the richness and variety of value and colour when you paint from a photo!

And so it begins:

 And throughout the process, my 18-week Miniature Pinscher puppy, Oliver, slept in his ex-pen!

The final painting, to be named soon! If you want to help me name it,

become my facebook friend and enter your suggestion!