Hard to believe it’s been ten years of writing for Muddy Colors. We took an inkling of an idea and fleshed it out into one of the all-time best artist sites anywhere.

That’s what nearly all of these “10 things…” posts are about: building and striving toward success.

It’s difficult to say which posts are best. Instead of listing my personal favorites, I thought of them as a portfolio of posts. Which ones are practical and which ones are philosophical. I thought about what responses I got for many of them and coupled those with what I might want to know as a painter working to get better.

When I started these ten years ago there were many list posts on the web. I wasn’t treading fresh ground. But in the art community there didn’t seem to be any that spoke directly to the new artist that wanted to grow into a career. Like me, starting out. In many ways, I’m still a 19 year old learning to paint, each and every time I paint.

That’s what I’ve realized over the past ten years of writing about learning. Since we never stop using the process, we never stop learning to improve. Each time we approach the canvas (or screen) we are re-energized, re-afraid, re-excited. We face all the same hurdles, yet with better and better insight.

And that’s just the way it’s supposed to be.

Let me know if you have a personal favorite I left out, or even a favorite item from any of the lists. If there’s a theme or aspect of painting I haven’t touched on yet, let me know that, too. I’ve enjoyed writing every one of these posts over the years and I’m still planning to put them all together into a book about painting in general. You’ll be the first to know about that here.

But I just keep writing these dang things. Sheesh.

10 Things…Edges

I’m about to cut years of struggle off your painting skills.

10 Things…Failure

Our great institutions of art are not interested in dealing with this most precious teaching tool as they are all about discovery, and not about the process of finding.

10 Things…Procrastinating

Nothing is solved or expressed until I throw down a perimeter and draw within it. Nothing.

10 Things…What’s In the Picture

“The first sin is to confuse the audience.”–Stephen Sondheim.

10 Things…Overlap

Overlapping elements in a painting create intriguing, thought-provoking space.

10 Things…Value

Think graphically. Bold paintings are controlled by value. The best graphic paintings have subtle values played against striking, edgy values.

10 Things…Contrast

By controlling contrast you control interest.

10 Things…Crumping

Breaking up the space in a composition creates a rhythm for the eye to follow.

10 Things…Cropping

Move things around in the composition; cover things to see what can go or what must stay. Less is more.

10 Things…Color

Doesn’t matter what color you have, even if the color you mixed is correct to your eye, if you don’t capture the value you lose the depth.