Practice Makes Perfect

“Practice what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know.”
– Rembrandt van Rijn

When not working, NOAPS Signature Artist Matt Linz spends much of his time outside and with local artist groups sketching with traditional media.  The quick sketches help him practice and work out different painting problems in order to achieve a strong simple statement for each of his art pieces.  And, there is no doubt that he is able to achieve that strong statement through the fluidity of well placed strokes of paint and the virtuosity of the final rendering.

Here are some of the painting problems he has worked on and the results achieved in his own words:

Acrylics versus Oils:

Even though my acrylic work was successful and an article about my work called Acrylic

Jesse in Corset Web by Matt Linz

Jesse in Corset Web by Matt Linz

Highlights was published in the American Artist Magazine, I now work mainly in oils. In the past, I would have said the reason for working in acrylics was the quick drying time which allowed me to make changes more easily. However,   my feelings have now changed. Initially, the change was made because many of the painters I admire the most were oil painters. One of those artists was Carolyn Anderson. I took a workshop with her and it truly changed my whole perspective on oil painting. She has this no nonsense way of painting that really hit home with me. Nothing is formulaic with her approach.  I credit her workshop with getting my feet wet with oil painting and showing me that oils can be just as forgiving a medium as acrylics. Oils have a beautiful richness to the colors and if I need to make a change I can always scrape or wipe the painting down and start again. So the quick changes I could make with acrylics are still there with the oils.

Laundry by Matt Linz

Laundry by Matt Linz

 Paint Consistency:

Paint consistency is an on-going learning process. What works for me is to try to keep the paint a bit drier, thus increasing the consistency. This is important especially in the early “block in” stage of a painting.  I just feel if the paint is a bit drier I have more control over it. As important as the paint consistency is taking time to carefully evaluate what I am seeing and trying to put the correct shape and value down in the right spot. That is really what painting is all about! Getting the right values and shapes in the right spots! Of course, as we all know, this is easier said than done.

A Strong Simple Statement:

Michelle and Vase by Matt Linz

Michelle and Vase by Matt Linz

A strong simple statement is something I am always

searching for. When I do quick life painting sketches I don’t have time to get into the superficial details of the model. By breaking things down into manageable simple shapes you are setting yourself up for a successful painting. I am always looking at ways to connect one shape to another and finding a rhythm or connection between the shapes. It helps getting the painting working as a whole from the start. Once the simple value shapes are established, one can always continue rendering on top of it as much as needed.

Matt’s sketches are done at artist co-ops in his area. When the session is over, the painting is done! “There is a freshness in oil sketches that can be hard to maintain the longer you work on them”, Matt explains.


Matt Linz lives in St. Paul, MN. He earned a BFA from the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, MN in 1997. He is a NOAPS Signature Artist and he exhibited in the OPA National Show in 2012.

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