Folk Art Tips

When it comes to Folk Art, we've been there, done that, now serving 221 tips in 16 categories ranging from Colour Basics to Top Tips.

How do I overcome the need to paint straight lines?

Getting that nice fine line

I have to share with you my (re) discovery of the old fashioned fountain pen in my painting. I have used this pen in conjunction with FW Ink, a water-based ink and have had the greatest time getting neat writing and line work. The ink comes in many colours including gold, and of course pen nibs come in all sorts of varieties. Fine, bold, broad, left-handed etc. I wouldn't be using ink on a painting but the FW Ink is a waterbased medium that does dry fast and firm - no bleeding. This would be a wonderful tool for those of you needing something more cost effective for pen and wash techniques. A simple quill pen and FW Ink will save you heaps on felt tip pens!

Can I paint on my regular dinner ware?

Dinner Ware

Is dinnerware a good surface? While paints these days are considered non-toxic, none of them are recommended to be directly in contact with food. The paints would also not hold up to the wear and tear of being in use all the time. They are generally excellent for decorative purposes but for daily use lots of care is needed to keep them in good condition. For example, I painted coffee mugs. The paint goes soft when heated - and can be scratched off. They haven't stood up in the dishwasher over time either. If you do go down this path be sure to use paint specifically designed for the purpose: Liquitex 'Glossies', Decoart 'Ultra Gloss', Porcelain 500, 'Vitrail' etc.

painting borders, using arm and shoulder, not hand


Paint substitutions can be successful and can be utter failures. A good rule of thumb is to use the product that was required by the pattern. If you don't you risk something not working quite right. For example, Jo Sonja retarder and having trouble keeping a nice fine straight line? Keep this in mind...whenever you move your fingers you are pushing the brush in a downward direction, make the bristles flare out and the line get thick. To keep a fine line fine lock your fingers and hand in a firm position. Don't move them as you execute the stroke. Imagine they are like a robot arm if you will. Do all the movement from your shoulder and elbow. Try it now while you read this. Pick up a pen. Now freeze your fingers and wrist. Touch the pen to the surface of some paper. Now draw a circle shape using only your elbow and shoulder as your moving parts. Your hand will go around and so will your fingers, but the pen is in the exact same position it up and down movement, no sideways movement. It is locked within your fingers. Now try it with a brush!

Australian Aboriginal Art

Aboriginal Art

Australian Aboriginal art is a vital part of the world`s oldest continuous cultural tradition - as well as being one of the most brilliant and exciting areas of modern art. For an excellent Web site on this topic, visit There are articles about art, culture, language, rock art and prehistory and lots of photographs, including of the people and landscape in very wild and remote areas of outback Australia. But the best part of the site is the great selection of colourful paintings, prints and didgeridoos - first rate!

Waht is perspective?


Perspective is essentially about having the vision lines in a drawing or painting right. It is about having horizon lines and vanishing points in the right places and it can be quite complicated. I won't pretend to know a lot about this because I don't. I probably would avoid even focussing too much on perspective in most of my paintings too.

For the moment all I would like to do is help you to ‘see' what perspective is. Head outside to a quiet straight flat country road sketchbook and a ruler. Stand in the middle of the road and look dead ahead. Notice as you do the road gets narrow. In fact, it narrows to a point at which it meets the horizon. Now look to the side of the road. Is it tree lined? Are there power poles? Is there a fence? Notice now the visual size of the trees, poles and or fence posts near you. Look ahead. Notice the VISUAL size of them further away. They are smaller, and if we could draw a series of lines across the top of them they would all meet at the same place the road does…the vanishing point. Thus, the vanishing point is central to the lines and establishing the perspective of an image.

Ok…let's try and draw this. Draw a rectangle. Place vertical and a horizontal line through the middle. The place where they meet is in this case the vanishing point…the point where all lines meet. Your horizontal line is your horizon. Above it is sky and below it is the ground. Now mark a line that travels from the vanishing point to one inch on the left and on inch on the right of the centre line over the ground area. You have now marked a triangle that is long and narrow. Shade this in. This is the road. Add another line to either side of the road. This line could be marking the top height of the trees, power poles or fences. It must intersect with the same point in the middle – the vanishing point. When you look at a painting that is mindful of perspective, you should be able to ‘see' these lines.

How do I paint a scene?

Have Some More Fun

Frank Clarke uses this phrase to give you some basic direction for beginning a scene painting in watercolour. Have Some More Fun is a phrase you will remember and gives order to Horizon, Sky, Middle ground and foreground. Foe a more detailed explanation from Frank himself try here:

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Tammi Reynolds