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What is an impasto painter?

Learning to see.

The Painting is a bi-product.

The Process is therapy.

The therapy is mindfulness, a meditation.

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form (Buddhist mantra).


This is a technique of applying paint. It’s between using a brush and printing, it’s spreading paint onto canvas with an implement, in my case a plasterers knife or palette knife.


A painter is not looking at colour as this can be altered. A painter is looking at a harmonious arrangement of shapes that creates a good balance of shapes and spaces around the shapes, that are shapes themselves. To communicate the arrangement of shapes or composition, a painter needs to put tonal values into compartments so the shapes are maintained. This is a sort of simplification of detail. It helps to squint to eliminate some of the detail into simple tonal shapes.


The colour has two functions. Firstly to communicate which shapes are in the foreground and which are in the background. Secondly to create a colour harmony. The harmony is when the colour difference is relatively different enough that the human eye can distinguish the forms.

If done correctly the painting will communicate the distance that the painter sees. The distant shapes will have more water particles, suspended in the air, in front of them which elimates colour, warmth and vibrancy. The nearest shapes have less water particle filled air masking the vibrancy so the colour is stronger.

What is a shape?

A collection of tones within similar value create a shape which we recognise to be something with a title, like a boat or a bridge. If a painter Is saying in their painting that a boat is in front of a bridge on a river then the painter must distinguish the boat with a collection of tonal patches, close enough in tonal value so they cluster together to communicate that the cluster is in fact a boat. The tones still need to be different in order to communicate the form of the object, in this case a boat.

The bridge behind must be another cluster of patches of tone. This shape or cluster of patches must be less vibrant and intense in colour to communicate the bridge is further away.


A good harmonious composition or collection of shapes is a design. An important part of a design is colour harmony. Colour harmony is when several colours live together, one complementing the other. Two complementary colours have contrast, different enough to not merge at all. Blue and orange for example or lime green and purple. These colours are more than a quarter of the way around the colour wheel apart. They share less than 50% of the same ingredients. The ingredients that make all colours are yellow, red and blue. To create the impression of distance or air masking, white is mixed with the 3 primary colours.

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Teaching Students at The National Trust.