• Karen Thomas


Without doubt, the number one question I get asked when people view my art is “how did you get so much movement?” I love this question as it always means people are taking the time to really observe. You’re standing in front of a painting, and if I’ve done my job properly you’re sensing movement. But how exactly did it sneak in there?

They will be as many answers to this as there are artists. When I paint though, I think of it in three main categories.

Firstly, your own movement. Seriously! If you paint small-scale, sitting down, gripping brush tightly in concentration, you’re going to have a hard time transferring any personal energy to your painting. Painting larger, standing at the easel if you can, and moving from the shoulder, not just the wrist is a great start. Holding the brush further away from the business end is a great way to start making more expressive marks. Painting at different speeds changes things up too.

Secondly, taking risks with your own marks. Splashing, scribbling, scratching, slashing, swiping, smearing, flooding, spattering and using unusual tools to make unique marks. These are all time-honoured techniques used by artists down the years to inject some life and movement into their painting. Hardly any of these techniques are fully under the control of the artist. The unpredictable, random marks are to be embraced! Some will work well for you, others might not suit your style. Work to develop your own marks, then choose them to interpret your subject rather than use them in a formulaic way. The only place you want your giraffe to look like your lioness is perhaps a nursery wall! Experiment too with different surfaces and textures. They make a surprising difference.

Thirdly (and I know I bang on about this one), studying colour theory will give you a leg up on creating movement. Some of it is common sense, but making colour theory instinctive will be a great help when you’re trying to send a hind leg back or bring a muzzle forward at speed!

Do let me know if this has been of interest or use. If it has, why not take a moment to let me know what you’d like me to blog about next!