A Little “Painterly” Fun


When I first heard that term, I was confounded by it. What exactly did it mean? I didn’t have a clue. I simply thought that anything painted in oil was painterly in some way or another, but no, it seemed to refer more to a style, or was it a method?

Finally, I learned a bit about being painterly.  It means using impasto techniques, thick textures, visible brushstrokes. It means putting down shapes and colors, and, in effect, creating illusions and impressions.

Lately my art studies have taken me in two different directions. I’m learning to be more precise and detailed, and at the same time I’m learning to be more free with colors and the application of paint. I’ve been using palette knives. I’ve been putting more paint on my canvases. I’ve been playing with brush strokes.

Not that I’ve deliberately set about to become more painterly. It’s just a result of some of the different practice areas I’ve been working on, and some of the paintings I’ve done have been truly awful. Oh, well. It’s all a learning experience.

But what did I have to show for myself? What paintings could I share here on this blog? I have several promising works on my easel now, but what finished projects did I have?

I glanced around and saw a little “Morning Mountain View” painting I’d recently completed. I didn’t care much for the painting. It was just another little practice piece, another opportunity to play with shapes and colors.

The result wasn’t great. But… maybe I could play with the painting and make something interesting out of it. How? Digital manipulation. Filters. Graphical effects programs.

I took a photo of the painting, loaded it into GIMP, and chose a filter to give the painting an even more painterly look. I played with the colors a bit, too. It was fun, and I came away with something I actually like.

Painterly View
Morning Mountain View

What I like best, I think, is that seeing this with the GIMP filter — and the adjusted colors — gives me ideas on how I can use my paints and brushes to create more painterly effects. By looking at this, I can see the possibilities of what could be. It makes me excited by the idea of using these broader shapes and brighter colors.

So in between the detailed work I’m doing, I’m going to have more fun with this new painterly approach.



  1. This is kind of goofy, but I’ve always thought (lacking a precise definition) that painterly means the artist applied the paint in an unobtrusive manner that nevertheless allowed the paint to naturally display its inherent properties in a manner pleasing to the eye. That is to say, the paint enhances the painting, rather than competing with it or distracting from it. I guess we can chew on that one for a while…😊

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