Sad paintings are a thing. I know it’s weird, but they really are everywhere. You see them in homes and businesses all over the world. They’re hanging on the walls of people who don’t even like sad things or have anything to do with clowns or little girls in fields. So what gives? In this guide, I will show you some sad painting ideas that you can use for inspiration when making your own sad paintings and ideas that will make you feel better about being alive!
Painting sad things does not mean you are a depressed artist. When I was growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s there was not a single house that we visited that did not have a cheesy painting of a sad clown or a little girl in a field looking sad. I used to wonder why would anyone want sad pictures when all I wanted to see were happy images but everyone is different and there are different reasons why. I am not here to judge, so here is my list of the best sad painting ideas to live by.
What are some traditional sad paintings?
In the old days, sad paintings were called Melancholy paintings and they were quite popular. Even well-known artists such as Edvard Munch, Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée, Picasso, and Van Gogh produced their share of sad paintings.
In popular culture, kitsch paintings of sad clowns or crying little girls were the rage. You can probably still pick up a good printed copy at a charity store for pennies.
There were also sad paintings of lost love, death, or images of people alone looking into pools of water.
We want to do something different so let’s explore new sad painting ideas that are either a re-interpretation of the old ideas or something totally new.
Original sad painting ideas for you
Original sad painting ideas for you to copy or use for inspiration are listed below. You can make sad paintings of abandoned animals, dark weather, dreary landscapes, sad self-portraits, sad animals in the rain, animals no one wants to adopt even though they’re cute and sad clowns that went down a dark path because life is cruel sometimes.
OK here goes nothing!
Your sad painting ideas list:
Paint a picture of yourself
This sad painting idea can be quite powerful but also difficult to pull off unless you are quite self-aware and can channel your sadness using painting techniques such as color and tone. To stay away from cliches try not to place your self-portrait in the typical sad pose and look for a different angle or location. Try to avoid painting tears that are obvious but instead look to incorporate sad imagery in the background or use objects that can symbolize sadness. This was a popular method in the renaissance.
Paint a landscape with an emotion in it
Landscapes do not typically appear on the list of sad painting ideas as they are also hard to pull off. People tend to relate to living things such as people and animals when they look at sadness but landscapes? Yes, you can if you use your imagination and use symbolism in your sad painting. This is how you can convey emotion in landscapes:
- Use shadows or shade.
- Make the landscape dark.
- Use some tonalism techniques to remove bright colors from the palette and stick to one color but use different tones.
- Make most of the painting a grayscale and then focus on one area with a splash of muted color to draw attention to its solitude.
- Blur parts of the image or work fast and apply unique strokes. Think of how Van Gogh applied his paint in his landscapes to convey his own emotions.
Draw or paint something sad you saw on the news
The news is full of sad events of the day, this can be of lost children, accidents, natural disasters, and the like. Your job is to interpret one of these sad stories into a painting. Tell a powerful story using imagery that interprets the words the newsreader has been using.
Re-interpret sad stories from history into your art
One of the things I love to do whether it is sad or not is re-interpreting sad stories from history into my art. These stories can be biblical, they can be from classical literature or folk lore. Add your own spin on the story and paint them. The renaissance was basically artists painting bible stories but they did so using their own imagination and imagery to achieve it. You can do the same but with sad stories. Speak of sad stories, you can paint sad personal stories.
Use sad family histories as inspiration
My family is littered with sad stories from my grandparents during and after World War 2, my mother growing up in an orphanage, the death of her sister aged 3 from an accident, my own brother trying to deal with mental illness.. the list goes on. I could probably focus just on this topic alone and have enough material to paint for the rest of my life.
I am sure you have enough material based on your own family to find sad painting ideas that you can use. Tell a story with these paintings, do the stories justice. I had a friend who committed suicide and I wanted to paint his story but I am struggling to execute the idea even though I have written down all the details. So be careful you may bite off more than you can chew with this sad painting idea.
Copy sad paintings by other artists
Sad children or sad clown paintings are some of the most popular paintings in the world, so what better sad painting ideas could you have than copying one of them but this time adding your own spin on the idea? This is a great way to use sad painting ideas that you really love and recreate them yourself. Paintings are always changed when copied because there are different and you should change them rather than copy them.
For example, if you are painting a sad clown then tell a story as to why the clown is sad rather than just painting tears running down their face without any context.
The same applies to the sad little girl, give her a backstory. Use symbolism and imagery to back up why she is sad.
Paint something abstract and let the viewer interpret it as they please
This may be hard to achieve because you will not be painting a sad idea but concepts such as color, shapes, and lines to convey sadness. Use colors such as black, browns, oranges, reds, purples, etc., or use no color at all.
Sad painting ideas – Wrap up!
Focusing on sad painting ideas can be very rewarding. It’s good to know that you are able to paint sad things because it means you will understand the sad emotion better than most people and it may help you out when you feel sad or sad about something! And remember, even though sad paintings are everywhere they aren’t what define our lives so go ahead and paint them if you want but don’t let sad paintings stop you from having fun with your art!
Thank you for reading through my guide on sad painting ideas. I hope this article has helped you to formulate your next great painting even though it may be sad in nature. If there is anything else I could do to improve this guide then please let me know. Also, feel free to share this article with anyone you know who may be interested in exploring sad painting ideas that are a little different to the usual.
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Joseph Colella is a frustrated artist with over 40 years experience making art (who moonlights as a certified Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience in tech). While he holds a Diploma in Information Technology, in true wasted talent style he spent years trying to get into various Art degrees from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Napoli), and failed to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Western Sydney. His goal is to attend the Julian Ashton School of Art at The Rocks Sydney when he retires from full time work. In his spare time, he writes for the this blog, WastedTalentInc, where he shares practical advice on art, making art, and art materials. Joseph’s art has been sold to collectors all over the world from the USA, Europe and Australasia. He is a trusted source for reliable art and copyright/fair use advice and is committed to helping his readers make informed decisions about making them a better artist.
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