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Art Articles: Misconceptions about Art, Painting, Color, Shape and Balance in Art. Painting tips for artists.

Misconceptions about Art, Balance, Shape and Color:


by Gina De Gorna

Art has an enemy called ignorance.
Ben Jonson

The underestimation of one’s ability to reproduce lines, shapes or forms is considered the biggest obstacle of preventing a person to ever try to draw, paint or sculpt. Not everybody has the sense of Colors, Proportion or Perspective of things but everyone can learn how to use them.  The great secret of the artists is that they convey emotions.    They do not think of what the objects are but what shapes and colors they see. Once a person realizes that, he/she will start to perceive the world as a construction of colorful shapes, forms, and lines  -  just like all Artists do.


Art is a visual concept. Not true. Art is more of a combination of ideas, feelings and meaning expressed with artistic means.

Art depends on the talent and imagination of the artist. Talent is a myth. Inspiration, practice and enjoying art process result in producing quality artworks.

Art rules need to be followed. There’re some basic rules in Art, but as a matter of fact, many great artworks are exceptions. There are no formulae for creating art; there is no right or wrong way either. 

Art is a patient and hard work. Not true. Neatness and speed do not count in art. Art is enjoyment and freedom.

Individual Artists’ Style is difficult to accomplish. Establishing style means becoming and being yourself. It just needs time.

Not everybody can understand art. Understanding art is like understanding any other thing in life - it requires questioning and learning. There is no limit in learning; it is a life-time process. 

Art have to be in track with the fashion. Not true, Artists are not supposed to follow the fashion, rather make new ones. 

The more expensive an artwork is, the better quality it is. Not true. The historical value of a piece of art and/or the popularity of the artist has nothing to do with the quality of the artwork. 

Art Subject matter is limited. The truth is that subject matter is all around us; it is in the whole universe; it is in every interpretation of any object or idea. There are as many variations and viewpoints as there are human beings. Subject matter is actually    unlimited.

The purpose of art is mainly decorative. Not true. Although most of the artworks are used to help in both interior and exterior decorating, many art pieces are created as a result of different inspirations: personal feelings, emotions, passions; political or religious reasons or in honor or memory of people and events. An unhappy artist may create a stunning work of art but there may be no one to wish to decorate with a depressing looking picture or a revolting sculpture.

Kitsch is not Art. As a product of the human mind and hand, Kitsch exists like a form of tasteless, not so esthetic bad Art. Sometimes the line between Art and Kitsch is very close and the decision in each favor is totally subjective.


Some people think they can never become artists because they find it is very difficult to mix paints to produce the desired colors. Not true. Playing with colors, understanding and experimenting is the answer. Anybody can mix paints. 

Another misconception: “I neither can’t tell a color, nor understand it’. This could be true only if a person is color-blind and cannot really distinguish colors. We need to observe in order to understand color. Then we will see the value and saturation of a particular hue. Perception means an awareness of things, obtained directly, through the senses, through keen observation, or by intuition. Some people are naturally aware of colors; others make an effort to see and study them. As in all fields, perceiving color is probably a combination of natural abilities, observing skills and, with the greatest artists, intuition.

Color prejudice is misconception about particular colors. Developing color prejudice is usually psychological and emotionally attached to some belief, event or person of the past. Every one of us has preferred color/s and color/s that we do not really like. We all have a tendency to use colors that are our favorites and exclude the rest. Color preferences however always change; the reason may be a trend, a person, age or another event. Trying colors and combinations of colors could be a very enjoyable venture if we stay open and not superstitious.

Colors are not enough. This misconception seems true only for the inexperienced artist who struggles to achieve balance and harmony but is not aware of the qualities of the colors and especially, their color values. To have a great picture you do not need millions of colors; limiting the palette and experimenting with value is the best solution. Making small samples and mixing combination will help a lot. Also, sometimes even a spearing use of color give results that are like color accents, vibrant, exciting and not overwhelming.

If Artists use nice colors they’ll definitely result with nice pictures. Not true. Sometimes using just one or two colors could make a wonderful painting. In Fine Art colors are important but there are other things like drawing skills, composition, message and impact, which are a significant addition to the whole picture.

Colors of objects do not change. Yes, they do! - every time when the light changes, the colors of the objects change too.

All objects keep their local colors. Not true. Colors change according to light and shade. Also in art objects may be in any color, for example we may see a green horse, a purple dinosaur; Seascapes could have the sea not only in blue but in red or gold colors. 


Shadows are not important in Fine Art. This is absolutely not true if you are trying to depict a realistic three-dimensional image. In this case missing or added shadows look bewildering.

The shadows are dark spots next to the objects. The cast shadows have specific shapes depending on the object’s form, the nature of the surface it has been cast upon, and the direction and intensity of the light source/s.

The shadows have the same shape as the object that makes it. Not true. The direction of the light and the point of view define the shape of the shadow which may even be a line or a dot.

Cast shadows are always in purple color. Not true. Cast shadows could be in any color/ hue/ tint. 

Cast shadows of black or very dark objects are lighter. Not true. Lighter shapes are not shadows. They are a result of illumination which means that the objects are sources of light by themselves. 

Each object has only one cast shadow.  This is true if there is only one light source. Many light sources produce multiple shadows. When there are several sources of light (as in a street scene at night) each light affects everything in its own way, and each item has as many shadows as the number of lights hitting it.There is no light without shadow, but people usually think of shadows as something unavoidable rather than pleasant. Good observation and practice show that shadows may be beautiful and exciting, colorful, mysterious and even amusing or monumental. 


Solid objects never change their shape. Not true. All things change their shape in perspective. Shapes disappear in the Vanishing Point in the distance.

Water has shape. Not true. Although we have to paint curved rivers and particular shapes of the waves in the sea waves or waterfalls, water itself does not have a shape; since it is liquid it always takes the shape of the container it is in. While in move we just try to capture the result of the forces which cause its movement.

 All lines are straight. Not True. Lines can be curved as well.

The Silhouette is a Cast Shadow.  Cast shadow may look like a silhouette because of its dark outlines of the shape of the object that makes it, but it is not an actual silhouette. The silhouette is the object itself lit from its back side.

Proportions are not important. Although some artists like Picasso, deliberately disregarded the proportions of things and parts of the human face and body, this statement is absolutely not true for the realistic artists.

Horizon and Horizon Line is the same thing. Not always true. Since the Horizon is the visible junction of earth and sky, it may actually be lower or higher of the straight Horizon Line.

There is always one vanishing point on the Horizon Line. Not true. There may be two vanishing points in the Horizon Line.



The Composition of an Artwork involves only the placement of the objects. Not true. Composition engages all elements of an artwork, including color.

Balance is Symmetry. When thinking about balance some people connect it with the instrument for weighing: as the beam that is supported freely in the center and has two pans of equal weight suspended from its ends. Such people would easily put the focal point of a picture just in the very center of the canvas and that would look quite natural and even perfect for them. Sun located in the center of the picture torn half across by the horizon line looks boring and amateur. Great artists entertain themselves and the viewers with something different and attractive.

Balance of an Artwork should not affect reality. For the purpose of balance and a pleasant composition artists always make their version of reality. They do not copy exactly everything they see from a photo or nature. They freely change, omit or add elements of a scene, shapes, colors or interesting textures.