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Why Adding Words to Paintings is the Ultimate Inspirational Tool?

Luuk Lijten

Sometimes, all it takes is a single word, like “determination,” to spark our creative fire. Other times, motivational quotes, such as the one above, seem to ignite an unceasing flame in us to achieve our goals.

We all have them: words, phrases and sayings that inspire, motivate and drive us to be better people and artists. And, we most likely all have a favorite artwork that equally fuels our passions. So as artists, why not combine our favorite words with our paintings for the ultimate inspirational tool?

Lettering with a Brush

We each have a unique signature that carries a powerful weight along with its message. Lettering is your natural mark marking. When you combine your script with your artwork, you bring tremendous meaning to your painterly expressions.

In this demo, you will choose a strong a word to use as a continued theme and reminder of what’s meaningful to you. Here’s what you will need to get started:

  • Acrylic paints
  • A marker
  • Paintbrushes (small with clean, crisp tips)
  • Water

1. A Helping Hand

You may want to have a friend or family member write your own word or a quote on your hand to fully embody the word(s).

2. Tiny but Mighty Tools

Using watered-down or fluid acrylic paints (sometimes I use water-resistant black ink), start writing your word or words with a small brush.

3. Writing Words in Style

Begin the script, adding calligraphic elements like curves to the words. Think about where compositionally it works to paint the word in the painting — if there’s a perfect clearing for the word or if you want to create one before you begin with a swath of paint.

4. Through Thick and Thin

It’s helpful to vary the width of the letters from thick to thin for visual interest.

5. Carrying On

Continue lettering in a fluid, cursive way.

6. Attention’s in the Details

Go over the script multiple times. And treat the lettering as a word, but also as a painting by paying attention to the curves and varying the lines.

7. Adding the Final Touches

Finish your word, making sure it reads well and takes up space beautifully.

If you want more words to inspire your next creative project, here are a few paintings made by Mary Wangerin. She often uses exquisite hand-painted lettering in her art, inviting the viewer to experience words in a deeper way.

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