Personal Map with a Destination

Think of your painting like a personal MAP with a Destination

“Everyone looking at a painting is looking for direction” - Stan Kurth

Most of this may have come via Bob Burridge…

  1. On your surface - Draw, Color, “mess it up” – make the underpainting very rich.
  2. Working “The Grid” – In photography this is four lines – 2 horizontal and 2 vertical that are roughly dividing the image in three from side to side and top to bottom.  As you get better at this you can make your lines less 90 degrees to each other, let them wander, and “break” your horizon line…


  1. The grid is all about 3s – easy to remember, just do everything… in 3s
  2. The top of the middle third “line” should carry the most detail – be sure to choose the focal point – likely at a third or 2/3rds along THAT line.
  3. The bottom third should only be highly abstracted and works only to bring you into the painting.  Do NOT put detail here!
  4. Acrylic or gesso – overpaint in one color modified 3 ways – with white or black or both (or another color) (or 3 different amounts of water)…
  5. “Touch” 3 sides


  1. Respect “the grid” AND the focal point.
  2. Your focal point is the destination on the map!
  3. Make the journey Interesting: edges, textures, shapes, lines…
  4. Use a variety of edges – overlap, fuzzy, hard, expressive,
  5. Think about using patterns – 3 different sizes, visual relationships, repetition with variation…


  1. Reinforce the focal point with image, provocative color, lines, compression
  2. Have you done most everything 3 times in “Mostly”, “Some”, and “A Little Bit” proportions?
  3. Add dimension, collage, or more layers for extra punch – respect the grid and the focal point!


  1. Clean up ALL distractions
  2. Keep evaluating each of these points until there is nothing left to do.


  1. Don’t overwork it by trying to make it something it is NOT – if you come up with a new idea – start a new painting!


Kathleen Mooney