Tuesday Painterly Photo Art

Heather Michelle Chinn – AKA “Heather the Painter” Corel Painter Master Elite, Corel Certified Painter Educator, Golden Artist Educator, M.Photog, M.Artist, CR.

Completely captivated!

Came across the first image in this post when I was judging an imaging competition for Professional Photographers of America (PPA). It was obviously in the Artist category, but it was such a fantastic portrait that contained an incredible personality. I loved it! Great skill was needed to make this fantasy piece believable.

I have since been exposed to more of Heather’s work, and she shows why there are so many credentials following her name. Another image, in an entirely different style, cemented the fact I wanted Heather to be featured in this blog about Painterly Photo Art. I won’t tell you which image, but know that “Leo” is one of my all-time heroes in the art world. Here’s Heather.

Learning Corel Painter

Creatives wanting to learn Corel Painter, and traditional oil/acrylic painting often ask what they can study to learn how to produce stronger paintings. Studying traditional artwork in a style that moves you is the key! Look at the same elements used to judge the International Print Competition** and you can see how it translates into a more PAINTING-focused list:

Here we go!

Impact – Does this grab the viewer/collector for a long time and stir emotions by using the following elements?

Technical Excellence – Are your brush strokes varied to a degree where not everything looks like mush, or “matchy-matchy?” How are your shadow/highlight transitions accomplished in blending or laying varying levels of colors next to each other? Is the texture interesting and supportive? Are the brush SIZES supporting and appropriate? Are objects correctly proportionate?

© heather chinn photograph“Letters to Penelope” © Heather Chinn Photography

Creativity – Is this something “new” that viewers/collectors haven’t experienced before? Is it a different take on a theme?

Style – Does your heart and soul show through your art? Is it an accurate expression of the real you? People can tell. If it’s you, it shows.

© heather chinn photograph“Defiant” before/after © Heather Chinn Photography

Composition – Does the layout of choices such as value range, lines, subject shape weights, etc. support your story? Does it keep the interest of the viewer without them knowing why?

Presentation – Is it presented in a way that best supports the painting? IE: Frame choice? Hanging height with lighting choice? I rarely use thin frames, and try to find frames that are at least 4″ in width or matches the subject’s face size. Is it best presented on paper or canvas? Watercolors, pastels, charcoals, and more modern interpretations read beautifully on papers. I’ve found traditional paintings are best received on canvas. It’s up to your style and taste. Is it hung at eye level? Is it well lit?

© Heather Chinn Photography “Elysium” © Heather Chinn Photography Original photograph Tammy Bevins

Color Balance – I believe this is crucial to a painting being successful. If you look at well-known pieces by the Masters such as Monet’s waterlilies, John Singer Sargent’s portraits, or the brilliant works by Vermeer, you’ll see not every color in the spectrum was used. That can be overkill unless it aligns with your style (more modern). The aspect of BALANCE is of paramount importance. Are the colors overall easy to view for a long period, or does the saturation scream at you? Does the harmony and balance of colors playing together work to support the message? If you look at a Sargent portrait and take it into Photoshop and look at the colors used, you’ll find very few super saturated colors are used. Saturated colors were reserved for pops of “surprise.” Limit your “aha!” color moments for a more pleasing, easy-to-look-at-for-a-long-while masterpiece.

This links to an excellent post on color theory: http://www.oil-painting-techniques.com/color-theory.html
© Heather Chinn Photography “Culvarious” before/after marketing piece – © Heather Chinn Photography

Center of Interest – This absolutely has to support your story. What are you trying to say to the viewer? Is it about the portrait of the face, or maybe a secret message about the surrounding props? Leading lines, lighting choices, highlight placement/shadow placement can all subconsciously lead the viewer here. Brushwork can also lead to the center of interest by refining your strokes and intensity of detail into the area you want the viewer to “land” and stay awhile.

Lighting – This absolutely must support your story, again (seeing a pattern here?).  Dramatic lighting on a fresh newborn baby speaks of ominous tones or dramatic backstory. If you study the popular Old Masters paintings, you may notice two things: direction lighting (versus flat lighting), and an element of backlighting make for STUNNING paintings. Flat lighting is harder to paint, in my opinion. There is no clear definition of highlight placement. It works for some artists. For me, I tend to love clear, defined highlights that come with direction lighting, and a backlit/hair lit portrait. Is the lighting the most flattering to your subject?

© Heather Chinn Photography “Divinely DaVinci” – © Heather Chinn Photography (This image ROCKS! ED.)

Subject Matter & Story Telling – These are pretty self-explanatory! What the heck are you trying to convey in your artwork? Is it clear?

Technique – Balance your colors. Balance your brush texture. Varying degrees of blending/hard edges will make for a very interesting painting. There must be some tension of contrast between your elements.

© Heather Chinn Photography “Oil Interpretation Marketing Piece – © Heather Chinn Photography

Heather’s Extra Tips

I would recommend getting lost in art museums, gallery showings, Pinterest, Behance, and playing with paint! Take screenshots of images that move you. Put them in a single folder, and then go through this list trying to find similar elements between your favorite artwork? Do you find you’re drawn to more monochromatic paintings? More bold colors? Flat lit? Directionally lit? Strong lines, or soft, blended, peaceful scenes? Is there similar brushwork? Is there a dominant color family consistently used? Is there a consistent subject matter?

Maybe if you can find similarities, you can apply those to your masterpieces! Even if you don’t paint in your studio, when applied, these elements will grow your portraiture.

© Heather Chinn Photography Heather’s Headshot – © Heather Chinn Photography

Happy painting, Heather


Heather Michelle Chinn was born with a paintbrush. From early on she would paint anything with any medium within reach from food to nail polish. Her earlier masterpieces were painted inside closet walls and eventually translated into professional murals in Fredericksburg, Virginia. For several years, Heather painted whimsical watercolors for the international stationary company Mon Petite Chou.

Heather is an experienced presenter in live and recorded demonstrations. She has been teaching Corel Painter and mixed media at multi-day workshops, live seminars and webinars, and PPA affiliate schools all across the country for the last eight years. Known for what is consistently called her “calming” manner of speaking, being graceful under pressure, concise and thorough, with easy-to-follow Corel Painter tutorials. Heather is a natural educator across multiple platforms.

Two of her ethereal paintings of children, “Little Miss” and “Not A Girl, Not Yet a Woman,” were featured among 135 artist’s work out of thousands of entries in Ballistic Publishing’s first Painter book. Heather’s masterpieces are consistently featured in the prestigious, annual PPA Loan Collections where only a small percentage of the world’s best photographic artwork is selected among thousands of entries. Interviews and artwork have been featured in multiple Showcase Collections, French Photography Magazine, Digital Photo Pro UK, After Capture and the Official Corel Painter Magazine. Recently, Heather’s work and collaborative efforts have been published in Painter Showcase, a collection of several worldwide digital artists’ masterpieces available at Amazon.com. Her belief that anyone can easily use Corel Painter to create their own keepsakes led her to a speaking platform at the beautiful Phoenix Symphony Hall for the Professional Photographers of America’s International Convention in Phoenix, Arizona in January 2014. Heather made her television debut on Lifetime Television’s “The Balancing Act” in April of 2014.

When Heather isn’t creating oils and mixed media paintings for her photographer clients, or retail collectors on the easel, she travels the country inspiring and mentoring the budding or professional creatives in mixed media and figurative expression. Her time is devoted and divided between painted commissions, and education. It is said that Heather’s “soul” is often very clearly seen in her work. Her elegant brushwork and transcendent color harmonies capture the ethereal essence of the subject and evoke an emotional dialogue between viewer and painting.

To learn Corel Painter, please visit Corel’s vast library of free tutorials at www.Youtube.com/PainterTutorials

Please subscribe to my Youtube channel at www.Youtube.com/HeatherThePainter

Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter at www.HeatherThePainterStore.com for updates on webinars and workshops! There are in-depth tutorials of step by step training on www.HeatherThePainterStore.com. Heather is available for digital painting and acrylic/oil embellishing private and group workshops, private online training, and speaking.

The top two tutorials that help people who have never used Corel Painter, or have never PAINTED before are the “Intro to Painter” and “Portrait Box Set” available for immediate digital download at www.HeatherThePainterStore.com

Deals for Successful-Photographer readers from Heather until September 1st, 2016

“save25” saves $25 off the new Classical Remixed Backgrounds Collection (even if it’s on sale)
“successful” saves you 20% off any tutorial training (even if it’s on sale)

www.HeatherThePainterStore.com  and www.HeatherThePainter.com

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

** PS – Heather’s post comes at a great time and talks about the twelve elements as used in International Photographic Competition (IPC) Judging starts this Sunday and you can watch the process live. Fabulous education even if you haven’t entered images this time around.
International Photographic Competition
Welcome to IPC Live, streaming July 31 – August 4, 2016. Everyone is welcome to watch! If you are a PPA member, login with your username and password. If you are not a member, create an account below, and enjoy the show! Here are the showtimes:

IPC Judging Live Stream: Sunday, July 31, 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm EST; Monday, August 1 – Thursday, August 4, 8:00 am -6:00 pm EST

IPC Live hosted by Booray Perry, Cr.Photog., CPP: Monday, August 1-Thursday, August 4, 10:15 am & 2:15 pm EST