I have sorted excerpts from Ken Kewley's "Notes on Color and Composition."  The original list can be found on



Suggestion: substitute the word "stitching" for "painting" and "mark."



  • Trust your instincts.  Think…it is up to me.  Dare to jump, to let go.

  • Get back to the joy of painting and trust that all you need to know is within you.

  • Painting is looking slowed down.  Slowness has its rewards.  

  • The unconscious is closer to nature.

  • The life of a painter is a life of exploring.



  • The secret to painting needs to be discovered everyday.   Through work new (secrets) are found.

  • Work  small to do more work.  What it takes to do a large work is contained in that small work.  Like a seed.

  • It is better when things have to be figured out each time.  Getting lost is not a dangerous thing in painting.

  • Work can benefit from a little loss of control.  Delaying order. 

  • …it is a form of communication and one is always trying to say something clearer. 

  • Put down the one color shape that excites you the most, let that color lead you to your next,…

  • The next step must always come before the one that will follow and no matter how planned out, things tend to change.  It invents itself as it goes along…

  • One does not need to fear chaos or losing one's way in art, there is always a way out and often ways that one would never have found without having been lost.

  • Leave out the details for a time.  The danger of details are that they can be used to tie everything together and to finish the painting too quickly.  In the beginning try to limit the number of shapes you are working with.

  • …do one thing after another, until your instincts tell you to stop.



  • Each color needs to be chosen in consideration of the whole.  Color does not become itself until the whole work is completed.

  • If a painting isn't working…there is something that is not needed.

  • …describ(e) something real by other means than illustration.

  • Consider everything equally then use them unequally.  Exaggerate one relationship and downplay others.  

  • There is often one prominent shape in the composition that the eye goes to first and then travels on from there.

  • Sometimes the one object or color in the motif that attracts is the one thing that distracts from the whole.  

  • Some shapes will combine to make a larger, a more dominant…shape.  The edge of one thing is also the edge of another thing.  Expand a shape into a more interesting shape.  

  • There must be variation in shapes and colors and a balance between geometric and/or organic shapes, something beyond pattern, no matter how beautiful, to make a picture.

  • Pick (look for) three spots where a plane of color moves through the painting.  Moving through a painting in process is like dancing, instinctively reacting to the music and to the previous movements.  You are creating rhythms that move through the work.



  • Marks should not be used to represent the object but instead as forces.

  • Composing…is the basis for any style.  

  • Style should happen naturally and not be taught.

  • …everybody has a unity and can find it by instinct   

  • ...through passion and honesty one can create something whole that will speak to oneself and therefore to others.

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