It is Halloween and since I have been talking about scary topics like divorce and botox, let’s talk about an even scarier thing… starting a new painting.

Gulp. It can fill ya full of fear. But if the hope is stronger than the weakness in your knees, you can approach your easel with weapons against the poltergeists in your head.

Starting a painting without a plan is like knowing the lady creeping into the haunted shed is gonna get killed. It is just so stupid! No weapon? No flashlight? Yelling “Hello?” (and why the crop-top shirt?) So I feel like not planning out my ideas before even going near the easel is pretty stupid too. My little gem of an idea is gonna get his head chopped off by a weed whacker without some help.

My biggest defense? Composition. Like a battle-ax in Game of Thrones, it can carry a lot of heft to the image. Thumbnails? Yes, pack lots of them in your weapons bag.

Color studies. Yes, a good color harmony with a clear dominant color and a clear accent color will act like Kevlar.  And is good protection against getting overlooked at a show.

Intention. Gotta have it. Or else your poor little painting will start off by wandering around and getting lost down by the weedy railroad tracks. Soon to be run over by a ghost train.

Hmmm… What else can jump out and kill a piece? How about the same texture all over the work? Yep, that will do it. So often in a workshop I can tell which artists are right-handed – the same top-right to down-left strokes appear over and over. (shiver) Flattening out form and telling everyone the forehead is flat. Scary!!!!!

So this Halloween, arm yourselves and your paintings against evil creatures like Boredom, Poor Composition and Uncontrolled Chroma. Fight off Demons from Hell like Weak Drawing and Unplanned Focus. And stand up to the worst villain ever-  The Unplanned Background. Go toward that scary easel with your weapons of choice and your painting will still be standing at the end of the movie.

Happy Halloween!