Loosen Up Your Painting Style: Part 1 | Malcolm Dewey | Skillshare
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Loosen Up Your Painting Style: Part 1

teacher avatar Malcolm Dewey, Artist and Author

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      What you will learn

      2:08

    • 2.

      What Brush to Use and Why

      6:38

    • 3.

      My Brush Selection and Cleaning Tips

      5:47

    • 4.

      Clean Color Notes

      4:57

    • 5.

      Loose Brushwork Techniques

      11:01

    • 6.

      Loose Brushwork Demonstration

      15:20

    • 7.

      Final Thoughts

      2:02

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About This Class

Are you tired of a tight painting style? Are you looking for a more impressionist style of painting? One with the following characteristics:

  1. Thick juicy paint,
  2. Light filled paintings;
  3. Strong, large brushwork;
  4. Lively and impressionist feel

If so then this is the class to start.

We will begin with the critical basics like brushwork, paint application, paint mixing, color and shapes.

Once you are confident with these essentials we can move onto specific subjects and put this knowledge into action.

As always I believe in learning by doing. So there will be a fun assignment at the end to help you make a great start. After all painting is about taking action.

IMPORTANT: Please complete my other class How to Add Power to Your Painting. This class has essential methods and concepts that you will have to know before getting into this Loose Painting class.

Ready to begin?

Meet Your Teacher

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Malcolm Dewey

Artist and Author

Teacher

Professional artist and author. I work in oils painting in a contemporary impressionist style. Mostly landscapes and figure studies. I have a number of painting courses both online and workshops for beginners through to intermediate artists. 

My publications include books on outdoor painting, how to paint loose and content marketing tips for creative people.

My goal is to help people start painting and encourage them with excellent lessons that they can use for years to come.

See full profile

Level: Beginner

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Transcripts

1. What you will learn: Hello and welcome to loosen up your painting. What can you expect in this course? This course continues from my foundation course called learn to paint with impact. Now we're going to take all that information and learn how to create paintings from start to finish that have that loose and painterly effect. Remember, a loose painting is one that is giving the brush a lot more expressiveness. There's more paint. This emphasis of light and color also, it's about getting that energy in the painting. We don't want something that is drawn laboriously and over painted and overwork to be flat. We want something that is little vibrant, a little more expressive, a lot more energy behind it. Visible brushstrokes, texture, and that essential quality that makes it look like a real painting. When you can admire across the room straightaway and then go up closer and enjoy that texture and brushwork and there's juicy paint color nodes. So start off by looking at some brushwork techniques, the kinds of brushes to use, a painting knife, what you can hope to achieve with those simple tools. And then we will look at how to speed up your painting. A painting that is done quicker but store effectively will have a lot more painterly qualities, will cover different subjects as well. Landscape or seascape, sunset, sunrise, all those things that you love to paint, you'll be able to do with a lot more confidence and with something that is giving you pleasure, more impressionistic, more expressive. That all sounds good to you. Then let's begin with the course and explore how to loosen up your painting. 2. What Brush to Use and Why: In this lesson, we're going to look at the paint brushes that are used. And you may get some tips on what brush could work the best for you as well. Of course, brushes are one of the most important tools in your studio. A lot of artists enjoy using a painting knife, but I always suggest that the brush has the most personality. Although sometimes the painting enough gets a lot of attention. The most complete way of getting an image on your canvas is going to be with the brush. And as you practice more and more with your painting, you're gonna get more and more confident with creating many different effects with the old-fashioned paintbrush. Now one of the most important tips that I give every artist who wants to loosen up the painting is to use a bigger brush. Most artists, especially beginners, or are struggling with confidence, are using a small brush. Very easy to fall into that trap as you're painting along and you're using a small brush, I would say anything from a number four downwards is going to be very small brush. But unfortunately, a lot of artists will try and do the entire painting with a small number four brush. This is number eight. Still quite big. This is a long flat. By contrast, a number four brush looks like this. This one is a little bit worn, but you can see the huge size difference. Now, this brush is fine for creating a small shape, but for loose painting and end an expressive impressionist work, a large brush is critical, especially in the first Three-quarters of the painting. Bring the little brush in at the end for some smaller details. A branch or some small rocks on a road or something like that. You could use the smaller brush, but you know what, You could make those shapes with this brush as well. It's got a thin, flat side and a corner. And you can create a very expressive but smaller shapes that way. So as I said, the most important way and the quickest way to loosen up your painting is stick with a large brush. If you feel uncomfortable with using a brush like this, persist. You will find, you will get accustomed to it and you will enjoy the loose effects that it gives you without even trying this brush is going to save your painting. Now, what size brush to suggest for a large brush? Well, first of all, I'll start off with the idea of use a brush that is so large, you feel kind of uncomfortable with it at first. So a small 10-by-12 painting. You can do half the painting with the size brush very easily and effectively. And you will see me do that in some forthcoming lessons as well. And then when you've got the blocking in them and the second stage where you've refined shapes, you can start looking at those smaller shapes that may be easier with a brush like this. But until you are comfortable with these big brushes, use them for your entire painting if you can, just to see how it works. So start to finish. Use a number eight brush on a ten bar 12 or six pi eight panel. You can use the number six brush as well in the latter stages perhaps, but nothing smaller than that. Long flat brushes or a long, full build. I'll show you those in a moment. These are the brushes that are going to give you that spring you need. And the big shapes. Very versatile. You can make all sorts of shapes with the different ends of the brush. Another important part of the brush is the handle, right? I've already shown you some of this in brush techniques, but use the long handle for as long as possible. You've coded with a long handle and your arm out. You're gonna run a void. Painting those little pen or pencil type shapes. When you holding the brush like this, it's no good. Hold it like this. And along your four fingers like this and held in place with the thumb. Just lightly close your fingers and use the brush, almost like a magic wand. And it'll be just as rewarding. But with those motions using your forearm and your shoulder, to put the strokes down, you're going to get a stroke that is more expressive and looser, not pushing down into the layers of paint and stabbing at your easel to try and get something to happen. It's not the reason I can put wet wet paint without messing it all up is because it's a light stroke gliding across the top of that wet paint. Alright. Just play around with that idea. Just with no pressure. And a blank canvas or something like that. Just practice putting down paint gently and in big shapes. Alright, so that is a critical tip. I can give you a now let's go into the next video and I'm going to just give you a quick rundown of my favorite brushes. And maybe you can stock up on a few of those for yourself. 3. My Brush Selection and Cleaning Tips: Alright, let's have a look at a few of the brushes that I use every day. And you can see if you need to stock up on a few of these brushes for your studio tonight to keep my brushes in a roll-up like this. You can make when you solve if you want to, just held together with an elastic band. Now the typical brushes that I'm going to use will be a long flat like this. It says a number eight. And this is actually a brush made by Raphael called Paris classic. But any number eight brush in this range will do it. If you struggle with finding a brush that looks like this as the number eight, this is probably half an inch wide as well, so that might help you. Some of the numbering can be very different. So this is, as I said, a long flat and our preferred long flats to short flats, because I have more spring that will slow way down and eventually they'll become a short flat, which I use for scrubbing in first layers preps. The long flat gives you a great shape. The next one I'll recommend you get is a full bird that's got the rounded shape. This is a number six and it's very versatile shape, I think probably preferred by portrait artists, but also to make more organic shapes without that distinctive hard edge, the full Bird is great for that. Another important shape that you'll come across is a round. This is a long Brazil around. Or cell number eight are perhaps I use around very seldom comparative, too long flats. But there was a very pleasant to use and without rounded head give you a sort of a softer edge. Painting stroke. And other signs that are recommended for long flat is number six. Brushes that you're gonna be using typically will be a number eight and number six. So if you have two long flats, Let's can handle pretty much most paintings situations I do not recommend. Beginners get involved with very large paintings. Certainly, brush like this would not be easy to use. The smallest brush that I would be using as a general painting brush would be a number four. It says along flat bristle made Bar Pro Arte, also very nice brush. All of these are standard hug, Hey, bristle brushes. And I use those for oil painting. If I'm going to use acrylic paint, our users synthetic hair brush like this. This is a Georgian, it's called cooler. And synthetic. It works much better with water. Brussels. Don't like water, these natural bristles. And it comes to cleaning. I'll use a solvent to clean these. What solvents do I suggest? Well, during my painting process, I will sometimes dip the brush into a pollutant. This is called existed. That's nontoxic or say as a pleasant citrus smell to it. So what mass to use? So what I do during my painting is poor a little bit of that in a container. So as I'm painting, and if I need to give the brush a little bit more of a clean, I will drop the Brussels into that liquid and then put off with some tissue paper and carry on painting. Or don't use turpentine or kerosene or anything like that during my painting process. Because those pollutants are extremely strong, I don't want them to break down the paint color. For the most part, during the painting process, I will only use tissue paper to wipe off paint and then acquire more clean paint and carry on painting. So very little pollutants take, are involved in my painting process for the most part, clean off with a tissue. Carry on painting. Now one other brush that I use, and that's the smallest brush is a rigor. And it's got this long hair, very thin. This is a number to George M. And this I use for your OPT masks for instance, or as the name suggests, rigging, maybe some little twigs shapes. And of course, to sign your name, you need a brush full that on this regular will do that. But this usually comes into the boards. The end of the painting. 90% of the painting is covered with number eight and number six brushes and a rigor. If only just to sign your name. 4. Clean Color Notes : Hello, welcome back to my studio. And this video I'm going to talk about rather vague topic of clean color notes. Now why clean color notes? Well, first of all, what is a color note? When I talk about coming notes, I'm really talking about each mark I make with the brush on the canvas. So every time put on a brushstroke of paint, it leaves a mark, and that is a color note. On a color note relies on the actual color off M6 and how it works next to all the other colors. Like Kim, musical arrangement. Of course, if you put all the notes in the right place, the music sounds great. And you put your color notes in the right place. The painting looks great to know at least the calendars, color notes, or about the Kelly and mixed, but also getting them clean is important. I want each color notes that I've put down to work and be right in the place I've put it. So I've got to mix the color correctly, but I've also got to apply it in a way that makes the color stand out to best effect. So brushwork is critical and something that artists very often ignore, focus on the paint and etc, but the brushwork sometimes just leave to chance. Let's have a look at a painting I've done recently, this painting over here. When you look at it up close, you can see a lot of the brush marks. In fact, you're looking at many, many color modes or arranged. Over here. The yellows are very similar in value, but you can still make out the front. Brush marks, some a little dark, others lighter, a little warmer or cooler. We are perhaps more obvious with a strong value contrast. The color nodes of the blues and the colonists, the orange, more obvious or apparent when you look at it. But what I want is when viewed up-close, you can see interesting brushwork and color notes. All of those individual brushstrokes have given a different color note. Their own day, their own special moment. And all of those notes hopefully working nicely together. Don't blend your brushstrokes away. Fiddle with them when you put them down, because then you're probably going to mix in other way to paint and muddy it up and lose the vibrancy you had with that paint that you took all the trouble to mix as well and then lost it on the canvas when you put it down. Let's have a look at master painters, especially the impressionists. Consider the painting is not just about the subject, but how they've applied paint brush strokes while that color is used next to another color. And the shape of the brush stroke as well all play a part. And if you consider each brushstroke and color note as put down with an intention. And you're trying to achieve something, you respect that brushstroke lot more and you'll give it closer attention and ultimately end up with a more vibrant painting and color that really is beautiful, warm or cool or whatever you try to achieve. You got the idea across. And it looks so much more impressive when the colors are working. Clearly a tough subject to explain. Hopefully it's giving you something to think about and apply with your painting and get intentional brushwork into your process as well. Alright, so I've added a few videos at the end of this video for you to look at on the end rolls. So have a look at those. They may also give you some useful information. Excellent, Well, if you enjoyed this video, give it a like if you can, that would be fantastic. I'll see you again probably next week with another video. So if you've subscribed, I hope to see you again in the meantime, enjoy your painting and chairs for now. 5. Loose Brushwork Techniques : The first brushwork technique is one that's very easy and everyone should be using it. And it's using thick and thin paint. The typical situation is if you're painting some shadows, It's good to use a thin paint. So let's say for example, That's our shadow across the road. You keep that nice and thin. It's a cool color and clearly it demonstrates a shadow area because next to it is going to be a warm, light, sun-filled part of the painting. And with that, you can use thick paint. Really get it onto your brush and put that down next to the thin paint. And that contrast between thick and thin hopes to emphasize the shadow. You can go over the light area with more layers and really build it up as well. The other important thing about brushwork is how you actually hold the brush. You've got a nice long brush handle. So use it. Especially when you're starting a painting. Try and hold the brush at the end of the handle, using the arm to move the brush round and get nice big, bold brush marks. When you are developing the painting, you'll find that you may want to hold the brush closer to the head of the brush to get more details, controlled and finer strokes. And that's a good thing. The other thing about holding the brush is done. Hold the brush like a pencil. You're not writing with the brush. The ideal way to hold the brush is simply as if you're holding a baton across the palm. And the four fingers. It's comfortable. It's not a white knuckled group. It's comfortable and loose, but gives you the ability to vary the manner you hold the brush very easily and also the strength of the brushstroke. Loose lines. Try and use as many loose lines as you can, rather than worrying about getting lines perfectly straight. So for example, if I'm painting branches, Let's imagine this is a tree. And I want to get the branches across the face of the tree. I'll use a rigger brush like this and use loose lines. The technique there is simply to hold the brush slightly between thumb and the fingers. And you can roll the brush or twisted as you're doing the line. I'm also using my whole arm. Now let gravity just pull my hand and arm down and at the same time drag the brush, twisting as I go. And that helps to get what we call Lost and Found lines. It looks very organic. This creates a natural break in the consistency of the line and that is quite appealing as well. Another example is if you're doing masks on a yacht. Instead of making the masks perfectly straight as if you using a ruler just to the mask quickly. And you get lovely impressionist view of that master instead. Another important technique is what are called the dry brush scramble. Scumbling is a great way to get light across a darker surface. For instance. Let's imagine this is the surface up some water. And to create a nice impressionistic effect of light across that, I'm gonna get a lot of paint on my brush. Load up the paint nice and thick. Don't dilute it. And make sure your surface is not too thick and weight. Ideally, it's dried a little overnight. And then simply holding the brush parallel, again quite loosely. Just simply drag it over in a confidence stroke and you get this broken light effect. Using the dry brush scramble gives wonderful sense of light across a flat surface. The next technique involves Debs, lines and mass shapes. We've got in a mesh shape here, which is the foliage of the tree. Add some interest. Break up the space by adding dabs, either slightly overlapping of the main shape. Or also creating gaps between the marks and the main shapes. Between these dabs and the main shape. You can still imagine there are joined by thin branches. They're not necessarily viewed by the viewer. But you know, in your mind though all there. Of course, you can also add a few extra lines as well to help the viewer make these mental connections. Also add touches of warm light here and there. To add extra sparkle. Our carving out a shape. Sometimes we're so focused on the positive shape. Let's say the tree trunk that we forget that we can actually create positive shapes by painting in the negative shapes. So for example, the negative shape here would be the sky behind this tree. So why not make some scar halls and at the same time, carve out a few other shapes that might add some more interest to the tree. So I can prep suggest something else. Creating a positive shape between the light shapes there, another branch. But it's quite an interesting shape simply by using the negative shape to carve that art. And we're not carve out these positive shapes. I like to use a fairly good amount of paint on the brush and keep the brush straight, fairly short and make a deliberate brush marks. The point here is don't always be fixated on the positive shape. Also consider carving art, or sometimes referred to as cutting in. So you can make a shape smaller by cutting in, reducing it in size and getting a generally a more interesting shape. Another handy thing to remember, the brushwork is to use direction lines, for example, on the road. Another example is if you're drawing a hill, you may want to use brush strokes to indicate the or a centroid, the direction of the hill. Like this. The natural contours and curving shapes are given better effect when you use the brush. Descriptive brushwork. Something similar. But for instance, here it can use soft flowing lines to suggest grass, perhaps moving in the direction of the wind blowing through the grass. Other animate things and inanimate things all have characteristics which you need to keep in mind. So think about what it is you're actually painting and trying to adapt the brushwork accordingly. Another example would be if you painting rocks, clearly, a rock consists of a hard surface, hard edges, and therefore strong hard lines will accentuate those as well. But if you're painting something soft, Let's say a dress or lines of a dress that's, that's flowing. Soft lines, the left softer edges. And you can drag the brush in a sort of direction that suggests a moving or flowing lines. Other ways I like to hold a brush or applied paint is using a twisting motion to put the paint down and then leave it alone. Let's say you put on a good amount of paint. You don't have to smooth it all out and flatten it. What you can do is apply, twist the brush, get the pan off and liftoff. Put the paint down. Loved. And this way, you create a lot of texture and you don't lose all of that thick paint. You just put down. Getting that nice and juicy thick paint. And that all helps to create an exceptional painting that has good brushwork. And it's interesting to look at not only from far off, but also close up. 6. Loose Brushwork Demonstration: Now let's put the brushwork techniques into effect. With this exercise. I'm using number eight, bristle brushes only. I've got a number of them ready. And I'm going to try and get this study done in a loose and impressionist fashion, just using the big brushes. So starting off with the ultramarine and a bit of burnt sienna to get the shadow family soaps or blocked him first. As you know, the process basically start off with your darkest darks. And from there you can go into middle values or the lighter slides very often go straight into the lightest lights off towards. But as long as you get your dark mass shapes in first, It's much easier to relate to other values to that darkest dark. What I'm cutting the horizon line and related the wall to that horizon line or the eyeline which is the road at the end of this path. I'm putting a little blue into the mix here to get the dark green Store working with the darks. Slight values shift but not much. Now a little bit more color, just where the lights are going, but it's not the lightest lights yet. Stall in the shadow family for the most part. Now, the Buddhist cerulean just to cool those shadows down a little. So this is important. I'm not bringing any white paint in as yet. So the blocking in is strictly with color. Getting these first layers in. And then I will go over these layers and adjust values or temperature. But any value adjustment in the shadows or the lights is going to be relatively slight. Remain within the light or shadow family. Colors. What you've learned to sing, learn to paint with impact, perhaps already. With a bit of yellow and yellow ocher. I'm gonna do the light hills at the back and also the path in the front. Appendage here is pretty much my standard palette, except I have put in a cadmium yellow deep in addition to the cadmium yellow, lemon. For the rest, ultramarine blue, cerulean, red light alizarin chromosome, yellow, ocher, and burnt sienna make up the palette. Now I've swapped brushes for these lighter colors. Just to start bringing in the green color notes. Although there is some mixing at this stage. I got the white paint or titanium white, and I'm going to start with the lighter colors. Cerulean and alizarin in this white paint. And more or less where that house is gonna go. It's gonna be pretty much consisting of two shapes, the side of the house and a roof. And you may say that is way too little information to suggest that horse, but you'll see as I get the positive shaping and then cut in with the negative shapes around it. It will read correctly as a house in the distance. No details required. But of yellow ocher into that cool mix. Just cooling it down a little more to get a gray for the wall that is going to be in front of that house. Little yellow, yellow ocher and white. And that will be the road which is quite light. But because it's some way in the distance, are still need to make it less light or less warm than the foreground lights are going to be. The perspective is very much a centroid ID in the reference photo with a relatively wide angle photo. And I'm getting a little more. I'd say creative with the perspective in the painting to get some perspective certainly, but not down that long tunnel effect. Now going over this yellow ocher with mostly cerulean and little white. And therefore I'm getting a cool wall color. And basically the two. Colors, cerulean and yellow ocher, creating a cool yellow for the wall. The sky, very simple, just some white and a bit of yellow ocher for a warm sky is not enough sky there to really make much more of it. So it's simply there as a light shape, the extreme light, loosely carved in now around this. The mountain. Helping to describe the mountain as well as the scar or with one stroke. But of cutting in around the trees. Just watch out for picking up any paint that's going to contaminate your lights. Make sure you wipe that off. You can see that just keep those colors clean. Alright, now, second layer over the road colors. Getting the value but more accurate. But nice and light and warm. Much warmer than the road in the background. But of course, this exercise is about getting yourself familiar with big shapes and big brush marks. It's not about that perfectly completed painting. But I can assure you that if you follow this procedure with the subject through to the end, you will get an attractive painting that is loose, vibrant, full of light, and pleasing enough with sufficient detail to satisfy the viewer. Because the details consist of big shapes of light and dark and warm and cool color. Not pebbles and leaves and twigs and a 101 little insignificant details and a painting. Those are insignificant details because they don't add to the effect of light. We are painting light and atmosphere. And how those things affect the big shapes. Be looking at some mostly cadmium, yellow, lemon, and little bit of blue. To make these atmospheric greens. The darker greens get ultra marine. And cool, lighter greens get more cerulean. And that's how our vary between colors. The relative warmth or coolness of a color. Ultramarine is a bit warmer, Syrians, but cooler, cadmium yellow lemons cooler, cadmium yellow, deep, warmer, titanium, white will always cool things down further. As far as rates are concerned, cadmium red light is warmer. Alizarin crimson is the cool red. Right? Getting variety with these poplar trees behind the wall simply by making more shapes. Now the hill at the back gets adjusted with a second layer, lots of juicy paint on the brush. Calvin there to suggest that roof of the house. Try and do these shapes with as few brush marks as you can. And there'll be more expressive and interesting. Carve into the tree is little to add a little variety, putting a few scar holes, just dab of the brush. And that's it. Going over that wall there, making a little more of a cool yellow ocher. The main wall on the right gets touched, more lights, knows where it's filtering through the tree is hitting the top of the wall. The greens down the middle of the path are warmed up with a bit more yellow. Cut in again. Just to get a little more interesting. Very few straight lines in nature. So let's a little bit of cutting in, make things a bit more erratic but more interesting. Slightly orangey colors on the top of that tree and the distance. Although there's a lot of warmth and color in the scene, I'm not using colors straight out the tube and straight paint onto the canvas. I do break the colors a little, either with white or another color to desaturate a little straight from the tube, it's simply too saturated. So in nature, most colors are slightly gray or even substantially grey. Could be a cool or warm gray, but nevertheless, you need to adjust the colors a little or a lot depending on what you are looking at. Side of the house getting just a little more definition with a cooler gray made up of cerulean white, and alizarin. So this is pretty much already done as a blocking or a quick study, maybe. Just with one size brush, lots of paint, big shapes. And isn't that surprising how much can be suggested with large shapes like this? Remember, I'm painting on a small surface as well. This is an A5 size piece of paper that I've just sewed. So what's that more or less a six by eight panel perhaps. And that's all you need, ten by 12 at the most. Small surface, but in big shapes and generous brushstrokes. And that's a lot of fun to get a quick Alla prima painting like this. So practice this practice, these quicker study is working a little quicker. This could perhaps take you an hour to do no more than that. And try and work with vigor. Intuitively. Look at your subject, squint a little. If you need to isolate a shape, it makes it put it down as say. So what do you need to adjust the values slightly, or the color temperature must be warmer or cooler. Work accordingly and you'll get that looser look. Helped a lot by your brush. And of course, an attitude of adventure. And you'll be avoiding that tightening up where you're sweating over little details and getting more and more anxious. You don't want to be anxious, you want to be free and easy and having fun. I've left the shadows at the base of the wall, as you can see, pretty much untouched. As the ultramarine, thin and transparent compared to the thick light colors tape off. Let's have a look and have a go yourself. 7. Final Thoughts: Well done. You've reached the end of this course and you've learned a lot. I hope you're feeling inspired to try a few different things with your painting. Make a few changes. Try a bigger brush, whatever it may be to try and get some progress or stimulate a new direction in your painting. But remember, it's not all plain sailing. Painting is a lifelong passion for all of us. And to get the best out of this course and your painting, you need to work regularly every month. At least try to complete one or two paintings. Ideally, you painting a couple of times each week. More the better practice. These lessons, do, the demonstrations more than once. You'll find, each time you'll learn something new and there will be some improvements. By practicing the exercises and doing the demonstrations. You will cement all the information and things become more second nature. You get that muscle memory going and you'll find it much easier. As you go. Dd, you're going to find your own references and scenes to paint and look for scenes that you particularly love and enjoy. That will certainly help your painting process and help you connect to the subject a lot more. Well, enjoy the journey that doesn't end at keeps getting better. So have fun. Remember to share your progress and your painting results in the learn to paint community as well. And let me know any ideas or questions you might have. I'm happy to help. Thanks for joining the course. And happy painting.