The Three H’s for Artists & Photographers

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris
The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When it comes to producing a successful piece of art or a stunning photograph, there is a little formula which works every time – it’s the three H’s:

  • Head
  • Heart
  • Hand

The first one, Head, means you use your brain to formulate your ideas and the message you want to relay into a pleasing composition.You decide which format, which medium, which viewpoint etc would best portray this message in an art piece – it’s the planning stage of the project where thinking is required.

Then you use your Heart to determine the best possible way to relay that particular message. It’s the feeling stage – aspects such as the mood and colour and lighting are decided upon, through sentiment towards the subject. Another “H” comes into play here – Hunch – where the creator follows his or her gut-feeling and intuition of what to reveal and how. It’s the stage where the creator feels the excitement and anticipation of the actual doing, as well as visualizing the emotion of the viewer when he or she will lay eyes on the finished piece. It’s the stage where the creator internalizes the very soul of the objects or subjects relevant to this specific message, which they can then display in the execution.

Lastly, comes the Hand, which is the actual skill in rendering those Head-determined and Heart-felt ideas and brings them into being. Many people think that this last stage is the most important in creating an art piece, but I feel that without the first two H’s being thoroughly thought and felt through before starting to render the work, then no amount of technical skill will result in an evoking piece. Yes, it will portray the talent of mastery in the craft, but it risks falling short of stirring any reaction from the viewer and that’s the most important reason for creating the work at the onset, isn’t it?

Consider these three H’s before you start your next project and I’m sure you’ll be able to add a fourth “H” to the mix – Happiness!



3 Replies to “The Three H’s for Artists & Photographers”

  1. Karen — You’ve summed up beautifully a very effective approach to use in doing alla prima painting. I’ve also started doing alla prima work and it has so much more life, is more fun to do, and the responses I’ve had have from viewers have been much more spirited. One example that is a case in point is if you go to and see on the home page “Wood Stork Watch” — I quickly sold the original and had a commission from that one painting. I’m going to be doing a lot more in short choppy alla prima strokes vs blending, blending, blending! Please do keep up your observations and thoughts on alla prima approaches and related matters. -Anthony

  2. Thanks Anthony for your kind comment. I am delighted you enjoyed the post and doing Alla Prima painting as much as I do. Congratulations on selling a painting and got a commission as a result – I think this technique enables artists to create vibrant and expressive paintings from life and it is this that speaks to the viewer and becomes a “must have!” keep up the good work and please keep me updated with examples of your work – I’d love to see them!


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