Mastering the Art of Measuring: Euan Uglow and Precision in Art

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Euan Uglow

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Mastering the art of measuring is a fundamental skill that lies at the core of precision in art. Examining the meticulous works of Euan Uglow, will provide you with valuable insights into the techniques and strategies that can be employed to hone this valuable skill!

Who Was Euan Uglow?

Euan Uglow was one of those rare artists who dedicated himself fully to the meticulous craft of painting. Born in London in 1932, Uglow was a British painter renowned for his rigid painting process and remarkable precision. Unlike many artists who may use photographs or sketches, Uglow worked entirely from life. This dedication allowed him to study and measure the geometry and color relationships of his subjects more deeply and accurately.

His work is heavily influenced by the idea of color spot painting. A subject that I speak about quite often as it is foundational to painting. As his work so clearly shows spots of color working together, his work provides invaluable examples for us to look at.

Measuring Marks: The Visible Painting Process

In this detail of Euan Uglow’s painting we can see all of his measuring marks and lines. The artist left them visible as they were a natural part of his process. Notice how everything is measured with great precision.

One interesting aspect of Uglow’s paintings is the visible measuring marks on the canvas. These marks serve as a testament to his process. It is almost like a behind-the-scenes look at how he constructed his paintings. For Uglow, these marks were not mistakes to be erased but integral parts of his work, illustrating the labor and thought behind each decision.

Each mark Uglow makes is a calculated move toward capturing reality. His attention to detail was so profound that every line and shape had to be measured and re-measured until it was perfect.

Nectarine by Euan Uglow. Notice the measuring marks as well as a ruler that is at the bottom of the painting. The artist would use multiple tools to be able to measure his subject matter to see what areas line up with one another.

Measuring Color: Precision Beyond Shapes

But Uglow didn’t stop at measuring lines and shapes; he extended his precision to the realm of color. For Uglow, every hue was subject to scrutiny. He would carefully observe the color in his subject, comparing different color temperatures to achieve the perfect mix. Each shade was meticulously chosen and blended to ensure it represented what he saw before him.

Detail of a still life by Euan Uglow “Skull”. Notice in this painting how every color spot is measured and compared with one another. The artist doesn’t just focus on the main subject but pays equal attention to the background and foreground. These parts of the painting are just as important as it plays a major role in creating good color harmony.

Specific color mixtures

Consider the complexity of mixing a specific shade of red. Uglow would compare that red with all the surrounding colors, adjusting it again and again until it reflected the same kind of color relationships that he saw.

Euan Uglow’s “Curled Nude on a Stool”. This painting illustrates color relationships in a very clear way. Notice the color reflections on the figures body – specifically the lower leg and arm. We can see how the red of the ground is reflecting onto the person’s skin. All colors are related to one another in some form or another. It is therefore very important to observe the colors you are seeing very carefully.

This is also a big aspect of how to create color harmony in a painting. As it is all about getting the colors to work together in a particular way. It’s akin to tuning a musical instrument until it plays in perfect harmony with the orchestra. This level of dedication to color precision makes his work not just paintings but visual poetry.

Learning from Euan Uglow’s Painting Process

A detail of Euan Uglow’s “Still Life”. An enormous amount can be learned from just observing the artist’s paintings and studying his process. No matter if your style of painting appeals to your or not, it will be beneficial to you to take a second look at his work. His painting process is grounded in the fundamentals of painting – which you can apply to any kind of painting.

Whether or not you love Euan Uglow’s style, there’s much to learn from his approach. His paintings are an example of how large, clean spots of color and meticulous measuring can transform the visible world into real art. Even if his style doesn’t resonate with you, his process offers valuable lessons in discipline and precision that you can apply to your own painting practice.

Applying Euan Uglow’s Lessons to your own work with color

“Is it a Tart, or is it Ayers Rock?” by Euan Uglow. Notice here how Uglow really only pays attention to the abstract visual elements of his subject – color, shape, geometry and value. All of these things are expressed in the form of color spots. What the object or subject is, is not important. This is already alluded to in the title of the painting.

One of the most profound lessons from Uglow’s work is the use of color spots. These are large, precise areas of color that come together to form a cohesive image. They embody simplicity and sophistication, adeptly conveying the subject’s essence without unecessary complexities. In addition, they are also the foundations to all of painting used by the old masters of the past.

Think in spots of color

To apply this to your work, start by breaking down what you see into large color spots. Instead of getting lost in the details, focus on the broader color relationships. This approach can simplify your painting process and bring a new level of clarity to your work. The more you practice it, the more intuitive it will become for you.

“Evening Light at Yesilirmak” by Euan Uglow. Notice in this painting how it is very simple in that Euan Uglow focused on large spots of color. At the same time it is incredibly complex in that he captures the essence of his subject. The color and value choices he made were very specific and precise so that the viewer could feel the time of day represented in the painting.

It is important to make certain that you accurately represent the values you see. It is most important to first get the light and dark values right before thinking about color. If your value isn’t right, then the color will never work.

Once you have your large areas of color then you can break down color spots more and refine what you see. Starting with broad colors doesn’t mean that you can’t get detailed and specific. In fact, if you want to paint something that is very detailed, then it is all the more important to start out with large areas of color and value.

Detail of “Root Five Nude” by Euan Uglow. Uglow gets more detailed in this painting by breaking down color spots in to smaller areas of color. For instance, observe how color spots on the hand are used to depict different planes.

Measure Geometry

Precise measurement is of paramount importance, and Uglow’s work serves as a perfect example of this principle. When painting, it’s easy to overlook the importance of capturing exact proportions and measurements of your subject. However, adhering to precise measurements can significantly enhance the realism and integrity of your work.

Drawing of a stool and seated model by Euan Uglow. Here we can see how the artist thought when working without color. He would focus intently on measuring and the geometry of his subject.

In your practice, make it a habit to measure and re-measure. Use tools like a plumb line, stick or a simple ruler to ensure that your proportions are accurate. This disciplined approach can be particularly beneficial for observational painting, where the goal is to capture the subject as faithfully as possible.

Detail of “Curled Nude on Stool”. Uglow would continually recheck his color mixtures and measurements. If something was off, he would get rid of it and repaint it. Don’t be afraid of making changes to your painting – even if they are significant.


Euan Uglow’s dedication to measuring and precision in both form and color offers invaluable lessons for artists of all levels. His meticulous approach transforms the act of painting into a study of relationships and comparisons, making his work a masterclass in observational painting. By incorporating his methods into your practice—thinking in spots of color and measuring geometry—you can elevate your art to new levels of precision and beauty.

Detail of “Shrunken Tangerine” by Euan Uglow. Looking at Euan Uglow’s works will help to remind you of thinking in terms of color spots. This is one of the single most important things in painting.

So, next time you set up your easel and palette, remember Uglow’s own painting process and mindset. Let it guide you to create your own visual poetry, where every color and line is a testament to your dedication to the craft.

By embracing the principles that guided Euan Uglow, you can not only enhance your technical skills but also find a deeper connection to the act of painting itself.

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    4 thoughts on “Mastering the Art of Measuring: Euan Uglow and Precision in Art”

    1. Geoffrey Matthews

      I speak as very much someone who has always enjoyed art and particularly drawing. But at the tender age of 71 to be now indulging in painting, has taken ,even me, by surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed your introduction to Euan Uglow, causing me to research him even deeper. For that gentle stirring I thank you.
      Your heading painting of the nude with blue necklace inspired me to have a go at using his techniques as noted from the visible sketch marks. I found it all very helpful and therefore must thank you.

    2. Welcome Home!
      Your willingness to bring this “new to me” artist you so thoughtfully engaged with in London…to us is another way you have deepened your commitment to help us become more aware if the possibilities & gifts of enrichment painting makes possible in our lives.

      Thank you again,

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