In this lesson, I’m going to forgo talking about supplies again to continue talking about successful ways to get rid of a creative block or artist’s block.
Disconnect two parts of your brain:
Get to the gym or get outside.
Take a long bath
Hike your favorite trail
Take a long shower
Clean house or straighten up your art supplies/art room
Clean up the attic or garage
Label all your art supplies and create an inventory
You’re probably thinking these things would take you away from doing artwork or your craft.
Actually, these things often have the opposite effect. By disconnecting your subconscious from your conscious mind during routine, mindless or exercise tasks you are releasing your subconscious to create things.
Try one of these if you’re stuck.
Visit a local museum or several of them throughout the year. Bring a small sketchbook with you to sketch things if you get inspiration.
Welcome back to this series about how to unblock your artist blocks when they show up.
Today I’m going to give you a break from the posts I’ve done lately about supplies. I know they get a bit dry and tedious, as well as probably making you feel as if we’re never getting to the part where you actually get to “do art.” You’ll get to do a little bit today, if you so choose.
Every creative person I’ve met gets blocked from time to time. I can explain my reasons for getting them, and I’m sure you’ll have lots of reasons yourself.
The biggest mistake I’ve made in the past was using excuses for why I couldn’t create, instead of real reasons. Excuses are in the thousands.
Reasons make more sense and come from something inside creative people that happens because we get ourselves stuck.
I’ve gotten stuck when:
I was sick or hospitalized and spent a lot of time on pain pills or recovering for days or weeks. When I got well, my creativity seemed dull and kind of listless. It took awhile to get unstuck from that.
Someone criticized my work, hurting me either intentionally or unintentionally. I have never taken criticism of my art very well, although I’ve taken some brutal training like “Art Instruction Schools,” where the instructors are tough. (Yes, they truly are)
I just finished a very tough project that required a lot of focus and took a large chunk of time. After it’s finished, I always felt kind of lost without a rudder to guide me. It’s like I emptied all my creative juices into one bucket until I feel empty.
These are just a few reasons I’ve gotten stuck in the past. These are not to be confused with excuses.
Reasons make good sense. Excuses are things like “I’m too busy” or “I’m too lazy” or “My family/friends say I’m not good enough.”
Reasons can’t always be overcome immediately, but excuses can.
Here are 10 things I do to get unstuck:
1) Take out my “Drawing For Dummies,” book by Brenda Hoddinott and Jamie Combs and do some drawing exercises in there. Have a sketchbook(nothing fancy) that you call your “unblocking sketchbook” to do these exercises in. Brenda has written some of the best art instruction I’ve seen.
2) Read a book like “Drawing On The Left Side Of Your Brain.” This book has been around for years and taught me so much in the very beginning. Start doing some of the exercises in it. Draw them into your “unblocking sketchbook.”
3) Take a very small sketchbook with you everywhere. (Or a cellphone/tablet you can sketch on) There is another iPhone artist who started sketching around the same time I did my 365 Day iPhone & iPad challenge. He does them on the subway on his way to work. They’re done with an iPhone and the Sketchbook App. Try sketching wherever you go. People. Objects. Animals. Fenceposts. Anything.
4. Try sketching one thing each day in your “unblocking sketchbook” or digitally. Your brain is going to try to give you all kinds of excuses every single day. It’s like exercise. You do it until you CAN’T NOT do it. Many writers like John Grisham and Stephen King have become successful by writing each day this way. They don’t think about it too much. They just do it.
5. I learned a technique years ago by the author of a book called, “The Artist’s Way.” She invented a method called Morning Pages. You sit down and write 4 pages of pretty much anything. Even if you write about nothing, it seems to clear your brain for creativity. This technique has worked very well for me.
6. Read the very excellent book “Art and Fear” to find out more about artist blocks. They’re usually about fear, and they won’t last forever.
7. Listen to the excellent audiobook called “The War of Art.” You will learn so much from this!
8. Go to an art museum or zoo or aquarium with a sketchbook. Sit down on a comfortable bench and just sketch. Even if you’re a cartoonist, you will feel better afterwards.
9. Check out a book or two at the library about drawing techniques. I love going to thrift stores and looking for art instruction books, craft books or big coffee table books full of beautiful reference photos. Start sketching some of the lessons or use the photos as references for drawing.
10. Try sketching things around the house or outside without allowing the logical side of your brain to name them. Don’t name them tree, chair, dog or whatever you know them to be called. When your brain tries to name something, it then tries to sketch it based on memories of what that object is.
“Just Draw What You See. “
That’s all for today. I hope this post helps you get started sketching daily.
See you here again tomorrow.
Here are the sources I mentioned in this blog post, in case you want to research them:
Hello, back again. This time with some paints that are commonly used by artists. You will most likely try them all at one time or another, then settle on one type of paint you love. My favorite is oil.
These paints are amazing. I’ve always loved the Pebeo brand of just about any kind of paint they make. These are called “Porcelaine” and are fantastic for glass, ceramic, and other hard surfaces. They are not opaque, but are more transparent similar to watercolor.
(Opaque means when you paint with them, they cover the canvas completely and nothing shows through the paint, such as acrylic paints)
Fabric Acrylic Paints:
Acrylic paints are probably the most popular of all paints for artists, especially those who live in humid climates. They are opaque, so they cover the canvas well. They also dry very fast because they are water-based. There are many different kinds of acrylics. Let’s start with my very favorite, the fabric acrylics:
Of all the fabric acrylics, Jacquard is – hands down – my absolute go-to for all my dolls and other fabrics I want to paint. They have many different kinds of fabric paint. The ones in these jars are three different types. I have used all of them to paint clothing, dolls, shoes, and even an art car once! I love them because the jars last a very long time. If they start to dry out, just add the jacquard thinner or plain water. They perk right up.
Another kind of fabric paint I love and have lots of fun with is called 3D paint or puffy paint. It dries very cool and dimensional. It comes out of a bottle with a very small tip on it. Takes a bit of practice, so use it on a scrap piece of cloth first. There are three different kinds of 3D paint here, and the brand I love the best are Scribblers. They dry faster, and they are inexpensive to purchase. Although Tulip is a pretty OK brand, Scribblers is really a head above them as far as how fast they dry and how they look when they do. These paints are really great on cloth like t-shirts and jeans.
Acrylics for painting on canvas come in several types. The tubes allow you to paint similar to oil painting because they usually something called “Heavy Body,” which makes them the consistency of peanut butter. This allows you to paint a dimensional painting to make it look more realistic. You can either paint in them with a brush or a palette knife (more on that later)
There are also squeeze bottles, such as Folk Art, Ceramcoat, Golden Brand and Galeria. I like them both, but Golden is extremely expensive. Up to you, but I would definitely go with something cheap at first like Folk Art or Ceramcoat brand paints.
Acrylics in a bottle tend to be thinner than those in the tubes. The tubes tend to last a whole lot longer, though. They don’t dry out like the bottles do. Some of these tubes I’ve had over a decade and still use just fine. Liquitex is also a very good brand and affordable, too.
These are water-based, opaque, and they tend to dry pretty fast. This is great if you’re not in a dry climate. It’s easy to correct a portion of a painting you don’t like. Just paint over it.
I mentioned before that oil paints are my absolute favorite. Part of this is the fact that the masters used them. The other part is that if you mess up, they don’t dry right away like acrylics do. This makes it easier to start over on a section of a painting you don’t like. Just scrape it off with a palette knife, and you’re good to begin again until you get it right.
I’ll show you more about these in later lessons.
Of these tube oil paints shown, my favorite is Pebeo brand. It dries faster and is much thcker than Daler Rowney, Grumbacher, or others. The last picture is just some cheap oil paint tubes I use for practice. They’re not what I use if I’m going to paint a professional painting to sell or keep.
Mediums for oil:
In order to clean my brushes and make oil paints more fluid, I always use baby oil and/or some kind of mineral spirits. There’s a brand called “Turpenoid” that is supposed to replace the old type of oil painting medium turpentine. I don’t particularly like it because the fumes still stink, even though they’re not supposed to. I can barely stand the smell of mineral spirits myself, but I have used it from time to time.
Gesso is used to prep your canvas. It’s similar to acrylic paint but has kind of a sandy feel to it. You’re supposed to paint your canvas, let it dry, then sand it lightly. Paint again with Gesso and sand two more times. This makes it easy for your paint to adhere to the canvas surface.
I don’t have a preference of the brand of Gesso I use, but I do like to prep my canvas with Black or Gray to give the painting a good start for a background. Your preference will be your own.
Some people use just clear Gesso to start with.
Ok, that’s all for today. We’ll continue with more tomorrow. Thanks for joining me in this adventure. It’s fun so far.
Hello and welcome back to the 365 Day Series of “Kill Your Artist Block.” Today, it’s paint day. I’ll be talking about several different kinds of paint. I won’t get to all of them today, but most. I’m including links to the products I’ve talked about here, in case you need to find them for yourself.
This is a really sweet, little watercolor paint set that is called a Field Sketch Box. You can take it with you on trips to paint “Plein Air” (outside). It comes with a little water container and some wells so you can mix colors. It closes up into a really neat, small box you can tuck in your backpack.
Note: En plein air – French for outdoors, or plein air painting)
If you’re on a very tight budget and just want to practice watercolor painting, this is a great set I found on Amazon for dirt cheap. These and the watercolor set above are called cake type or palette type sets. The colors are in a dry, cake-type style that you have to add lots of water to. [Amazon.com]
These Daler-Rowney paints are great if you don’t have a lot of money and want the tube-style of watercolor paints. These don’t need as much water and don’t dry out as fast on a palette. You pretty much get every color you’ll need or can mix. [Amazon]
Daler Rowney Watercolors
Daler Rowney Watercolors
While the previous watercolor paints are ones I use often for everyday practice painting, when I want to paint a professional work and sell it or keep it, I use one of the next two types of paint.
These paints are liquid and are extremely vivid in color. You don’t need much water at all, and they go a long way. They are called PH Martins.
Grumbacher is also an excellent watercolor product. A little pricey, but it’s worth it for professional work. [Amazon.com]
Also for the budget-minded are these Prang brand watercolors. These are a little different than the cake version mentioned above. These are semi-moist, so you won’t have to add as much water to them. They are extremely inexpensive and a great way to practice. [Amazon.com]
Prang 16 Watercolors Set
Prang 16 Watercolors set
That’s all for this lesson. I hope these watercolor paints inspire you to get working on your next masterpiece.
We’ll be talking a lot more about paints in the next lesson.
See you soon!
Here’s where you can find some of the products from this article:
Hello and welcome back to this series of lessons. Why do I think I can teach lessons on art like this? When I was first starting out about 15 years ago, I decided I was a “know nothing” and began taking as many online art courses and local courses as I could afford. I’ve probably taken between 40 and 50 different classes. Some were fantastic, some not so much. It helped me to get to what was really useful, though. I’ll share most of what I’ve learned from others.
We’re still learning about different kinds of art materials. It just occurred to me you might want to see where I work. It could give you some inspiration. Yikes! What a mess.
Anyway, I thought you might like the shelves and how much space they allow you to have. Before this, my art supplies were always taking over everything.
I do have two more rooms full of supplies, but one is for sewing and the other is for shipping products to customers.
In this lesson, I’m going to talk about some very cool products. They don’t really fit into a category the way previous lessons did, but you will love what they can do.
While I prefer Prismacolor pencils, there are many other brands you might like better. Years ago, I was given a set of them that looks like this: [Dickblick.com or Amazon.com or your local Artists and Craftsman Supply, if you have one]
If you can’t afford a set like this right now, no worries! Buy one pencil at a time at your local hobby store or a place online like Dickblick.com. You can purchase them as you need them.
You can also get something called a colored pencil blender. They look like these two items:
These are used when you want to blend two colors together or make a color look softer. They’re really great once you get the hang of how they work.
I mentioned in a previous lesson that it’s almost impossible to sharpen Prismacolor pencils with just any sharpener without destroying the lead. So, I always keep a prismacolor sharpener or two on hand. These are two kinds I use a lot. [Amazon.com]
These are just some brands I’ve collected over the years. You can see I had some puppies that loved chewing these. Faber and Derwent are very good brands of regular colored pencils and watercolor pencils.
In a later lesson, I’ll show you a method of using watercolor pencils (and crayons) that you’ll love using.
These are really fantastic to use, also. The Brits call them “Water-Soluble Crayons,” but here in the USA they’re called Watercolor Crayons. They can be used very much like watercolor pencils, and I’ll show you a really great technique for using them in a later lesson. They’re fairly inexpensive for a set like this. [Michaels or Hobby Lobby or Dickblick.com or Amazon.com]
These markers are used widely by cartoonists and comic book/graphic novel artists in professional fields. You can buy them one small set at a time. I bought a very large set once years ago. The only problem with that is if you don’t use them often, they tend to dry out over time. So use them as much as you can right after you get them. They also have blenders like the pencils do, that allow you to blend colors and make them seem softer. There are also some markers called Copic, but they are REALLY expensive compared to these. Try out several brands before you buy a very large set. [Amazon.com or Dickblick.com]
That’s all for today. Hope you will join me again next time.
We’ll be discussing more art materials you might want to consider in the future.
Hello and welcome back. In this lesson, I’m going to talk about the kinds of pens I love and use often and where to get them. I’ll talk about fine point pens, liquid ink type pens, and much more.
These pens are just like drawing and writing pens of the past. They are excellent at getting the finest point you can, and they are often better at not smearing than pens that come with their own ink and say they are permanent.
I like to sketch a picture with a pencil, write over it with one of these pens, let it dry, then paint on it with watercolor. These pens are perfect for that. They use just about any kind of tip you want to put on them, and you just pull on the tip that is already in them. This makes the tip come right out very easily.
What you don’t want to do with these is push too hard on the tip while drawing or writing. Some of the finer tips have a split down the middle to allow them to hold more ink. If you push too hard and make that split too large, the pen won’t hold ink for even a few seconds. After awhile, they start to split anyway but if you can use them gingerly you’ll get a lot of use out of them.
These pens use inks like these. You dip the tip of the pen in the bottle, then wipe the tip against the mouth of the bottle to keep from getting too much ink.
I always have a scrap piece of paper nearby to test the pen before I touch my drawing with it. This is to make sure it doesn’t blot the ink or make a mess. These pens are usually really good at making very fine lines.
As you can see, when I buy a bunch of pen tips I like to keep them in an old medicine bottle so I don’t have to chase them down. They are easily lost.
The bottle in the left foreground is called Speedball pen cleaner. When I clean these kinds of pens, I first run hot water over the tip of the pen in a sink. I then wash the tip with my hands and some Ivory soap or other soap without residue. Rinse it once more, then I dip it in this pen cleaner.
Almost all my brushes and pens are cleaned using just my fingers with a gentle movement so as not to ruin them. I’ve had most of my paintbrushes and pens for over a decade, and they’re still good.
In this picture, you can see there are all kinds of colors of inks. I mostly use black, but I love the indigo blue (rear left of the photo).
I’ve gotten all of these at one place online I really have to stay away from if I want to have any money in the bank.
[Jetpens.com] Jetpens sells a lot of fine Japanese art supplies, and I’m nuts about their selection and pricing. Boy, do they ever have pens for artists and just pen nuts like myself.
One set of pens I always get from Jetpens is the Hi-Tec-C Pilot pens. They’re black and come in several point sizes. I like the .5 and .25 sizes very much. These are very, very fine point pens and are permanent. Great for writing and drawing. [Jetpens.com]
If I’m looking for pens that do all kinds of colors, I like pens like these. They’re also permanent. The Gel pens on the back right have all kinds of sparkly effects, and I love them! [Amazon.com]
The Arteza pens are like watercolor brush pens and make some really beautiful paintings. [Amazon.com]
The Hi-Tech-C Maica colored pens on the right in the foreground were a Jetpens purchase and are also very fine points with permanent ink. [Jetpens.com]
The pile of pens you see in the foreground on the left are various kinds of gel pens and fine points with different colors. [Amazon.com]
These pens are painting pens and dry permanet. They come in large, medium, and small point. I’ve actually painted my dragons on a car with these, believe it or not. They great for painting shoes, surfboards, skateboards, and other hard surfaces. I hear they’re not great for painting t-shirts and other soft clothing. [Jetpens.com]
I painted an art car once with these for a Day of the Dead parade in Albuquerque in 2014. It took me about 9 months to do it. After having it clearcoated by a professional, it lasted to this day. A friend tells me she still sees it driving around town!
The car was a dedication to veterans.
I’ll stop here and pick this back up tomorrow, when we’ll talk about art materials like watercolor pencils and crayons for paintings.
Thanks again for joining me. I hope this series helps you as much as it’s helping me. The key to doing art is doing it. Every single day. We will talk about that a lot more in the days to come. I hope you’ll spend a whole year with me on this. I want to see you succeed.
In this lesson, I’ll show you some of the materials I’ve found to be invaluable for all kinds of artwork. We will cover sketching pencils, sharpeners, and erasers in this lesson.
I really love pencils, and there are so many to collect, but my very favorites are the 3 pictured in the first picture here.
I buy all of these favorite pencils by the box. (sources in brackets)
Ticonderoga Pencils Size 2 and 4 – 2 is a darker, softer lead, while 4 is lighter and better for sketching under a painting. [Amazon.com]
Blackwing Drawing Pencils – These are high quality pencils for the serious artist. They are ones I don’t use often because they are a bit expensive. They also have their own, specialized sharpener.
Prang – Affordable and high quality drawing pencils. Love these as much as any other.
Image 2: These are various pencils I’ve collected over the years. Some are meant to write on glass, paper, and other materials. I don’t particularly prefer any of these over the others. Some of them come in boxes of different hardness or softness. In image 5, I’ve tried to show you some of the numbers these pencils come in.
HB means a hardness of point, while a pencil like 4B means a soft pencil of a certain type. Most pencil sets you can buy for drawing come in several numbers of soft or hard lead. The higher the number, the softer the lead.
Image 3: This is called a Col-Erase pencil and can be erased from a sketch after you finish inking or painting over it. It’s used for all kinds of architectural art, also.
Image 4: This pencil is called a stabilo and lets you draw on many different surfaces like paper, glass, and several others.
Image 5: If you look closely at this image, you can see the different types of pencils I mentioned earlier, such as 4B, HB, and so on.
I like many different types of erasers, and it doesn’t really matter which ones you use. The staedtler brand tends to be a bit expensive, but it rarely leaves any residue behind. I love the traditional Pink Pearl eraser (you can buy a box of 12 on Amazon.com), but it does leave little pieces of eraser behind. You can use a brush to remove them. You can find one of these brushes in a craft store, and they are very inexpensive.
I use a lot of different sharpeners for different purposes, but the one thing I will say about this is that I always use “Prismacolor” brand sharpeners for my Prismacolor brand colored pencils. They are the only ones that really seem to work. For the rest of the pencils you’ll use, you can use whatever you feel comfortable with. Some artists actually use Exacto knives because they think it preserves more of the lead to make the pencils last longer.
Do what gives you the best point. I will also note that I’ve bought several kinds of electric pencil sharpeners, but this Royal has been my favorite for not tearing up pencils like other sharpeners sometimes do.
[Most of these sharpeners I’ve found on Amazon.com or they come with a pencil set I’ve purchased]
See you tomorrow, for more discussion about materials. Soon, we’ll be sketching our first piece. Thanks a lot for following along. My wish is that you’ll find these lessons help you to feel more confident and comfortable with your artwork.
Welcome to Day 1 of our 365 Day Series of “Kill Your Artist Block.”
This course is for beginning artists who want to get started but don’t know how to begin or most of all are afraid to begin.
Pssst! Don’t worry, we’re not going to draw today so please don’t get all wrapped around an axle and nervous about it.
I thought I would start out with something very simple at first. This lesson is so critical to the rest of your art career, though.
When I first started, my ability to choose colors that went well together was sorely lacking. I always seemed to pick colors that clashed with each other, and my drawings or paintings just didn’t look very good.
Don’t get too nervous about color theory. It’s really very simple.
Different colors cause us to feel certain ways. Here are some examples:
Blue: A relaxing color. …
Brown: This is an organic, earthy color. …
Green: This is the easiest color for the eyes to focus on for long periods of time. …
Orange: This color is friendly, relaxing and ambitious.
Pink: This is a youthful, feminine color. … (BUT in my case I tried to work in a room painted pink, and it just was impossible to work in there!)
Purple: This color is often associated with royalty.
Yellow: Often looks good in sunny places like a kitchen or breakfast nook.
Tip: I really think different colors make different people feel differently, so don’t depend totally on a list like this.
The problem lies in what colors are complimentary and which ones are not.
To understand this, it’s best to look at something called a color wheel.
Types of colors:
Primary colors: Red, yellow, blue
Secondary colors: Orange, green, violet (these are made by mixing two of the primary colors)
Red and yellow = orange
yellow and blue = green
red and blue = violet.
Tertiary colors: 6 of them by mixing one primary color with an adjacent secondary color:
Blue – green
In fact, you could have only the 3 primary colors and make almost any color you needed for a painting.
I created this color wheel so you can see what I’m talking about. When you mix a color next door with another color, you get a lot of variations. The general rule is to choose colors to go together that are directly across from one another on the wheel. Those don’t normally clash with each other. These are called complimentary colors.
Experiment with color to see what I’m talking about when I say complimentary colors. See how the arrows point straight across in this example?
If you add white to a color, you get a different tint.
If you add black to a color you get a shade of that color
If you add grey to that color, you get a tone of that color.
I mentioned in my previous post that in 2011 and 2012 I performed a 365 Day Challenge to draw something every single day on the iPhone or iPad to cure a terrible case of artist block I had at the time. What developed from that was my Amazing Dragons series of books, cards, and art prints for children.
I’ve decided to start a “Kill Your Artist Block” Exercise series here for anyone going through the same thing I went through for many years. It happens to everyone – I promise. I’ve never met an artist/writer or other creative who didn’t have the same issue once in awhile or for long periods of time.
Beginning on Jan 15th, 2018, I’ll be teaching one lesson I’ve learned about how to get rid of artist’s block. I’ll start out talking about supplies that are available so you can choose your favorite. Then I’ll talk a little about my favorite techniques for jump-starting my creativity. After that, each lesson will contain one, simple sketch you can practice yourself to jumpstart your inner artist. Included will be a simple technique for how to cure your case of artist’s block if you have it or if you ever experience it in the future.
I hope you’ll join me starting tomorrow for Lesson 1. Let’s do it! It’ll be fun, frustrating, scary, and many other things you won’t expect. But it will help you, if you stick with it. Let’s discover how much better we can become together.
If you joined us later in the year, you can always start with Day One whenever you meet up with us. We’ll be waiting for you.
Note: You don’t have to have an iPhone or iPad or other digital drawing device to do this because I’ll be presenting each day as a conventional art sketch. If you wish to draw digitally, that’s totally up to you.
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