landscape artist original oil on canvas painting

How To Convey Emotion In Art


Your goal as an artist is to replicate feeling, when you are painting, convey it onto the canvas and somehow transfer that emotion to your viewer.

Art should take us out of our workaday life and raise our awareness to a higher level.

Whether we want to convey drama and excitement, a joyful feeling, or peace and tranquillity, our aim should always be to convey emotion in our artwork,  especially if your aim is to sell your artwork - no matter how good the painting you will not move anyone to buy it unless the work makes them feel something. The art has to be more than a good rendition of a landscape or seascape. You have to make your viewer care about the piece as much as you do.

The painting has to be delightful, surprising, expressive. As you paint, think of expressing emotion, not just copying a scene. Expressing  emotion starts with your artistic view, - don’t always think eye-level view, it encompasses the composition, and the colours you select.

Think of the light and atmosphere of the scene more than the objects you want to paint - this will convey the mood of the scene. This is what changes a lifeless painting of an arrangement of objects into a piece of art that expresses a world of emotion.

The colours we use and how we apply them will go a long way to dictate the mood of the piece. Isn't it interesting that the words we use for colour are the same ones we use for mood - light, dark, blue, bright, black - the colour palette we choose will do a lot to convey the mood of the painting

Saturation of colour will also reflect the emotion you are attempting to convey. For drama and energy use highly saturated colours - apply with a palette knife rather than a brush as you will lose the vibrancy and energy if you use too many brush strokes. If you want to create a more tranquil painting then use softer, less saturated colours. Also use blended brushstrokes to produce a more peaceful, calm scene.

Pay attention to your edges. Hard edges convey drama. If you want a peaceful scene then soften the edges and use flowing brushstrokes. The colours of nature tend to be calming - think neutral colours, greens and blues - especially if the hue is toned down. Add a little of the complementary colour to desaturate the colour. For passion and energy think reds and yellows.

 Isles of Scilly oil painting art seascape

The soft edges and neutral colours give a tranquil feel to this seascape.


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