Basics of Representational Art

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The Basics of Representational Art is a blog about the basics of representational art. It covers painting, drawing, and photography, including a discussion of materials, techniques, and theory.

I’m a professional artist working primarily in the field of illustration, with a particular love for portraiture. I’ve been teaching the basic principles of drawing to students ages 6-96 for over 15 years. My goal here is to share what I’ve learned about how to draw with anyone who’s interested (or anyone who has someone they’d like to teach how to draw). So if you want to learn more about how to draw people or animals or monsters or robots or spaceships, please feel free to drop by!

A blog about the basics of representational art. The blog is written by a professional artist, who uses the blog to help new artists learn. The blog is the author’s personal journey, and will take you on a journey of your own as you watch him grow as an artist.

Hi, I’m Jim Palmer and I’m a figurative painter. The blog is about my development as an artist, the process of painting, and the practice of art in general. It’s not a blog about technique or style. I think that’s best learned on your own. My hope is that the blog will be a place where people can come together to discuss, share and develop their ideas about representational art.

At present there are just two main sections to the site: “Musing” which functions like a diary; and “Portfolio”, which is a collection of my recent work. In addition there is a “Resource” section with links to sites I feel offer valuable information for artists.*

I am glad to be a part of this community that is helping one another advance in the art world. I was first introduced to this art blog through a fellow artist, who told me there were many helpful articles concerning various topics within the art industry.

Wonderful blog with lots of insightful information that I have found extremely useful for my own work. I would encourage my fellow artists to visit this site often and explore its wealth of knowledge that is sure to help improve your own craft.

I’ve been following Representational Art for quite some time now, and I absolutely love it! It’s not only a great resource for those interested in learning more about art, but it’s also a great way to discover new artists and gain exposure.

The articles posted are informative, concise and easy to understand, which makes them an ideal source of reference material for both beginners and seasoned artists alike. The blog’s friendly navigation is also very easy on the eyes, making it enjoyable to read through all of the posts.

What is representational art?

In the simplest terms, representational art is any art that represents—that is, it shows us something we can recognize from our own experience. It could be a vase of flowers, a portrait of your grandmother, or a scene from the Bible.

Any time you see an image that looks like something you’ve seen before, whether it’s on a stamp or in an ad or scrawled by a child on the sidewalk, that’s representational art. If it doesn’t look like anything in particular but just vaguely resembles some visual memory you have, that’s still representational art.

Another way to say this is that representational art includes anything that could be mistaken for a snapshot.

There are lots of different kinds of representational art, and they’re all very different from one another. Some are realistic and some are not; some use perspective and some don’t; some are painted and some are carved or constructed; some reflect the artist’s personality and others just try to convey the subject as truthfully as possible. But they’re all based on observation of the world around us.

Representational art is a type of art which attempts to represent reality as closely as possible in the medium that is used. This can include painting, photography, sculpture and other forms of visual art.

These representations can be literal or abstract. In the case of a literal representation, an image will attempt to depict an object or scene as it exists in real life. An example would be a landscape painting which attempts to show a view from the artist’s own window. In the case of an abstract representation, an image will attempt to show elements of reality which are not directly visible. An example would be a cubist painting which depicts the same scene in different perspectives at once.


The representational artist’s most important tool is the concept of gestural line. The gestural line is a mark that communicates the essential character of a particular gesture. The gesture can be a specific action (a movement or series of movements) or a more general characteristic (anger or joy). Gestural line is an expressive, not informational, device. It does not communicate information about the subject but the emotional state of the artist when the subject was created.

Tension and release are at work in gestural line. Think of a musical phrase, with a beginning, middle and end. In each case it is followed by silence; this allows us to appreciate its fullness, its completeness. Gestural line operates similarly: it begins with an action (the thrust of a hand or the dynamic curve of a sinuous back), moves to its highest point (the moment when tension reaches its peak), then releases in space or time to another mark (a palm print on paper, a stroke that begins to curve inwards).

Gestural line, like all marks made by hand (by which I mean any hand-made mark including paint, pencils and pastel crayons), has two parts: what I call “core marks” and “edges.”

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