Are you an artist? Have you always known you wanted to dedicate your life to creating art? I didn't until quite recently.
I've been extremely creative since I was a little girl. Not only did I like to draw, but I also liked to do all sorts of DIY's, collaging and writing. I wrote A LOT. I kept journals, wrote short stories and also poetry in both English and Spanish. I've always had my head full of different ideas and never really paid any mind to doing things the way others around me did them. At an early age I already knew that life is too short to spend doing things that we don't really want to do.
That said, I've also always known that it takes hard work, determination and patience to get to where we want to be in life. Most of us have to be willing to ¨pay our dues¨ and do whatever it takes to eventually get there (within reason). Of course, before any of that happens, we have to find out what our life goals truly are and make sure that they are coming from within ourselves and not external factors that are pressuring us to be specific types of people. This journey, in itself, takes time and courage. It is not easy to find out what will truly make us happy. The lucky ones are able to figure out their goals early in life and start paving their road towards success early on, others take longer. We are all different. Personally, I had to experience a lot of different things before realizing that what truly makes me happy is to create art and to feel the confidence that I can make something of this gift that I have been given.
When I finished High School I decided Graphic Design would be the best option for me because, in my head, it was Art-related and I would have more of a chance to pursue steadier job opportunities as opposed to the Fine/Studio Arts Major. I have a wonderful mother who always supported my decisions and taught me that I could achieve anything that I put my mind and effort to, but I never really saw becoming a ¨Fine Artist¨ per se as a serious option for my future. I guess I bought into the whole ¨starving artist" mentality somehow and thought of it more as a hobby than something that could actually generate an income to life off of.
I maintained a scholarship while in university and went off to work at Graphic Design and Advertising agencies after graduation. I enjoyed it and learned A LOT from very talented people but eventually I started to feel like something was missing. Though I enjoy Graphic Design and will probably always do design work in some way, I discovered through those job experiences that I didn't want to spend all day in front of a computer. I wanted to experiment with supplies, get my hands dirty and create something from scratch. And though I firmly believe that the best Graphic Design work initiates with hand-drawn sketches, in day-to-day agency life the workload, tight timeframes, and the need to use pre-determined style guidelines doesn't allow for much experimentation and creation as I would have liked. So after a while I decided to resign and look for something that would make me happier, though I was completely lost at that point and had no idea what that might be. Sure, I sketched every now and then, but that was pretty much it. I don't regret choosing Graphic Design as a major. What I learned in university and these first Graphic Design jobs will forever be engrained in my head and will probably always influence my artwork in some way. Also, what I learned regarding design software and technology will only improve my work.
After resigning, I spent several months doing freelance work just to keep some money coming in and my portfolio fresh, but I was really confused as to what to do next. Part of me felt like I had wasted 6+ years (between my studies and first jobs) in a field that would end up draining me out. I had a little devil standing on my shoulder telling me that I was never going to find a job that would make me happy and I was simply going to have to accept that work is not meant to be enjoyed.
I was running out of the money I had saved up and, out of nowhere, came this opportunity to work as a First Grade Teacher's Assistant at a great private school. I went for it and I really enjoyed it. Later on in the year I became interested in the Art Teaching position and started learning more about what the job entailed. It seemed like a blast, but I surely didn't have the experience of organizing and managing a functional Art room for over 250 students at a time. A new campus of the same school was opening in a different part of the city and, with it, came the possibility of applying for the job. So I did and that is how I ended up in the position I was in for the last five years. I honestly lucked-out big time and thank my lucky stars for the opportunity I was given!
I quickly learned that teaching Art in a school environment is extremely difficult. I have posted about it before (read my post about Arts Advocacy in the School Environment/My Ideas for Effective Student Art Exhibits here and my post about The Dangers of Striving for Artistic Perfection here). Obviously, when you are teaching its more about what your students learn and experience during your classes that what you do personally, so you firstly have to love children and education. Between class planning, grading, meetings, professional developments, communicating with parents, and organizing/mounting student Art Exhibits, there is little time for anything else. When my work days ended I felt completely exhausted, but fulfilled. I felt like I was leaving something positive in others by using my own gifts and there's simply nothing like it. I was on my feet for most of the day, using my hands to experiment with a wide array of supplies and it seemed like my mind had to be working non-stop throughout the day to solve a million things at once in creative ways.
Throughout those five years I not only developed both personal and professional skills that are extremely valuable to have, but once more I got closer to what I really wanted to dedicate my life to. I was able to conclude that I enjoyed Art more than I enjoyed Graphic Design. Of course, the art I was making was mostly for class purposes or for school events and I did little to no art for myself probably until my last year teaching. During my first few years in the position I didn't have the usual teaching vacation periods because I was studying to get my Master in Education degree during times off from work (sometimes even simultaneously), so I didn't even have that. Most Art Teachers I got to know (especially school Art Teachers), stopped making Art for themselves because they simply didn't have time to between keeping up with job responsibilities and/or taking care of their families. All of these things started to bother me more and more.
At the end of the last school year I had made the decision to get serious about my art and that I wasn't going to approach it as a hobby or something secondary. I discovered that I adored teaching but, at a personal level, I NEEDED to make art for myself. I YEARNED to have the time to experiment with different techniques, improve my skills and find a personal art style that I could eventually share with the world. I KNEW that if I made time for this, I would not only be much happier, but I would also be able to offer a lot more to my students in the future. I knew that I had to make a decision about what to do soon, especially because I was already over 30.
And thus came my decision to resign from my wonderful full-time teaching position and only teach part time. It took me around 14 years of studies and jobs to discover what is important to me and what I need to do to be happy, but I realize that those years were not lost. I personally needed to go through that time of self-discovery. I also needed to build up those personal and professional skills that will help me pave the road towards success. I can honestly say that my true objectives in life became clear to me until recently and it isn't until now that I actually have the courage to ignore other people's expectations and dedicate my time/energy to becoming an artist.
There are people that live their whole lives and never pay any special attention to what they TRULY want. Many of us are too pressured by external factors (time, money, OTHER PEOPLE, difficult situations in our living environments, etc.) that we simply give in to the idea that life has to be lived a certain specific way. We ignore that little voice in our heads that asks ¨What if I had....?" every now and then, doing what is safe and what is expected. I am extremely thankful that I finally have discovered what makes me happy and that, after a lot of hard work (and perhaps some luck), I am in a position to be able to work towards my dreams.
Thank you for reading this extremely long and personal post. I'd LOVE to hear from you! Did you decide to go for a ¨safe¨ career choice due to external pressures? Was it always clear for you that you wanted to dedicate every available moment to make art and that you wanted to make a career of it? Are you an artist that is struggling to live from your art? Drop me a line and I'll write back!
Hey! Nice to see you!
Here is a little mixed-media piece I just finished today and it is based on one of the pictures I took during my pastry photo shoot last week. Below I will be explaining a bit about the process I followed to get to this.
Here is the initial picture I took and on the right is what I actually used as I was painting. I used my handy-dandy Photoshop skills to clean it up so that my eyes didn't get distracted by the background. I also rotated the doughnut a tiny bit counterclockwise.
Once again, I used a gray water-soluble pencil to create this initial sketch. I like using water-soluble pencils because the lines completely disappear as I am doing the painting. However, a lot of artists like using straight up pencils. At this point, I try to get the proportions as close as possible to the reference picture, but I don't get super paranoid about it being identical to the picture. I also add in shapes that map out where the lightest and darkest values will be. For me, it is still a challenge to leave the lightest areas white since the beginning!
Here is what it looked like after about three layers of watercolor textures/values.
Here is the painting after about 5 layers of watercolor paints. After this I couldn't help myself and I took out my Soft-Core Prismacolor pencils and went in to add more textures/values until I was satisfied.
-Strathmore Cold Press Watercolor Paper Series 400
-Sakura Koi Pocket Field Watercolor Set
-Prismacolor Soft-Core Pencils
-Combination of Rodin and Artify paintbrushes
I just finished this watercolor piece today, which is meant to be the second part of my "Things I Eat Everyday" painting I did some months ago (here's the link to that post). This was fun and I worked on it on and off over the last 3 days. I am very big into health and usually eat pretty healthy.
It may be hard to believe, but I rarely eat things that I paint like fast food and sweets. In fact, this morning I went out to buy some sweet breads to photograph them for future reference images and, as difficult as it was, I saved them all for my husband to take to his friends later. Except a chocolate doughnut that I broke in half because I wanted to have a reference picture of a half-eaten doughnut (these make for challenging paintings!). That one I threw away.
Below are a couple of pictures I took during the process. I wanted to challenge myself and use only watercolors in this one. I helped myself with acrylic paint for final highlights in the first version.
This has been the first week of relative peace after finally settling into our new home and my painting studio/office is in a workable state for me, which is wonderful. I am in the process of establishing new work routines for myself, which I was in desperate need for after all that craziness, though I feel like my brain is in a state of denial because I'm finally enjoying my new home and all its new spaces. I really needed this. I am, however, making sure to make advances towards my goal of improvement and finding my style every-single-day.
Two days ago I started what is probably the biggest oil painting I have worked on so far. I decided to re-purpose an old painting that was going to be thrown out (not mine) by gesso-ing it and painting over it. I'm approaching it as an experimentation and will share the process with you later. :)
Thanks for reading!
I've been so busy setting up at our new place and doing errands that it took me three days to finish this face drawing. I had drawn portraits before, but lately I had been practicing the different facial elements separately in my sketchbook so that my drawings could turn out a bit more realistic overall. I think these studies have helped. Later on I am planning on making a post giving some tips about drawing realistic faces.
I haven't been able to get my paints out in a couple of days, but here are a couple of watercolor pieces I did several months ago that I hadn't posted. The first was based on a picture that I selected because I thought it would be a great opportunity to practice hand postures and I hadn't painted a hand in watercolors before. The second painting was a quick warm-up experiment I did before starting a bigger painting.
Thanks for the visit and I hope to see you around soon!
Hey there! Here is a mixed-media painting I finished yesterday, with a couple of pictures I took throughout the process. The bread was probably the most challenging in this one, although the leafy greens came up pretty close.
As I am advancing in my art journey, I am noticing things that I need more practice in and just tweeks in general I have to make in my art. One of the things that I've noticed is that I have to be more careful in order to keep my work cleaner. I regretted adding gray shadow to the background once I finished the sandwich and I decided to clean that up in Photoshop, leaving it completely white. From now on I am going to keep the backgrounds of this type of illustration work with minimal or no background shadow.
That said, I am not a minimalist in any way, shape or form. My other drawings and oil paintings are going to have backgrounds and are going to keep the sketchy/unfinished quality to them because I really like how this looks in art.
Have a great Sunday!
For a creature of habit like myself, adjusting to new living situations can be very draining. I've had trouble getting myself to create art again because I haven't really felt like myself, but I was finally able to do something today despite the constant interruptions and my lack of energy.
The pencil drawing of the fist (below) was the last sketch I created at my last apartment before getting extremely busy with the moving situation. My husband and I have now been at our new place for 5 nights. Yesterday I decided to start with some pencil eye studies in my sketchbook after having tried to create a watercolor painting the night before which simply didn't work out. Today I finally went for a watercolor painting again. At the beginning I didn't like it at all and almost gave up, but I decided to work through it. It's not the best I've done, but I'm happy I decided to finish it. I am trying not to be very hard on myself at the moment and went for a subject that I have been successful at before.
My working area hasn't been set up yet and whenever I think about it I start to get anxious, but at least I can see things moving forward here in the house. I am hopeful that in another week or two, my husband and I will be able to make this new home our own and our routines can go back to normal. In the mean time, I will keep doing whatever I can. Even if it's just studies in my sketchbook or fun sketches, I will continue through these times of transition. I really hate feeling like I lost my creative flow or get set back, especially now that I am determined to start my own art business.
I think it is important to keep in mind that transitional phases are a part of life and that we have to do our best to remain positive throughout them. As artists, we can use times like these to rethink our purpose for creating and think about how these new experiences and environments can add to our artwork.
Thanks for reading and cheers for new beginnings!
Last few days have been rough for me. Yesterday was my last day at the school I worked at for the last 5 years and turning in my room keys and ID card was just surreal, even more after a week of not sleeping nearly enough. Being so tired and trying to keep all these emotions under control is very hard.
My apartment is also a mess because, as many of you already know, my husband and I are working on moving to the house we will be living in for a short while in order to save some money (our monthly apartment rent is more expensive than the house payments will be). We have been selling furniture that we don't need anymore to family and friends so that the whole moving situation is easier. By the beginning of next month we will already be living in our new home.
So with all this going on, I have not been able to draw or paint much at all. Really all I could do was finish up the pencil drawing of the girl screaming that I am posting here and have already posted on Instagram. The watercolor lemon painting and the feet drawing were actually created last week. I decided to not really force myself to produce artwork this week because it has been one of the hardest I've had in a long while. For my mental sanity, I decided to focus on giving closure to this phase of my life in order to start with the next as productive as possible.
Thanks for reading! You can expect much more frequent and useful posts starting next week, as my personal artistic journey finally begins at full blast!
Hey there! My mom is moving away and yesterday I went over to her house to continue looking through my old stuff in order to get rid of trash. I found several high school journals (I used to write A LOT to cope with teenage angst) and some old doodles. Man was I a sour/angsty teenager! I really don't miss those years at all. I am much better now in my adult life!
Here are a few!
It's been hectic guys! Yesterday I arrived from work completely exhausted and fatigued. I am so, incredibly happy that after next week I will not have to wake up at 5 a.m. anymore. I am really looking forward to creating my own work schedule. One more week of work which will include student graduations, cleaning out my classroom and leaving everything prepared for the teacher that is taking over my position. Hello time for personal projects and working on my art full-time! So excited!
Here are some of the studies and pieces I was able to work on throughout the week. I will upload a couple of more studies and paintings tomorrow as well. This weekend I am going to be working on a very special mixed-media piece that reminds me of my childhood. More on that later.
As you can see, I am still making time for more technical studies in my sketchbook. I find these very important and I think that they have helped me improve my paint work indirectly as I find them a great way to practice my observational skills. I will continue to work on faces, body poses, hands, feet, etc.
Thanks for coming by and I wish you a wonderful weekend!
Good morning, afternoon or evening, wherever you are! Welcome to my blog!
I found this video today and it moved me so much that I just had to post it here. It is so inspiring!
Click on the YouTube banner image below the video to check out more from Omeleto's YouTube channel. They have pretty interesting stuff!
Hello! Thank you for taking the time to visit my website.
Last weekend was kind of busy for me. It was one of those weekends that didn't really feel like a weekend because you didn't really have time for proper rest. I fear that the next will be super busy as well, as I am moving all my stuff from my current apartment to what will be my new home for probably another year. It's kind of hectic, but I am committed to improving my art and will make sure to make time for it.
Here are some pencil studies I worked on throughout the week. I also made a couple of smaller watercolors, but will post them later! Cheers, friends! Have a great week!
Hey there! Thanks for popping by!
Today I had a chance to paint and I went for a stack of pancakes. I also had a little extra time and wanted to experiment with painting a simple little landscape, which I hadn't done in a while. I've been watching a lot of Liron Yanconsky's YouTube channel lately and I've really been inspired to paint houses and landscapes containing buildings and such. I think I'll try one soon! If you haven't checked out his channel, please do. I love the way he takes his artwork very seriously and constantly seeks way to improve.
Hello! This was my first piece back after almost 2 weeks of no proper painting. I sketched a bit, but I was too busy for anything else. Whenever I tried to paint, I was just frustrated with the outcome and didn't finish. However, the busiest time of the school year is over now and slowly, but surely, I am getting back into my art.
So last Sunday, after finally having a complete day of rest post-student art show, I sat down to start over. I decided I was not going to be to hard on myself because I hadn't painted in a while and went for a food item in the mixed-media technique that I started with all those months ago. Below I will explain a bit more about the process. For this painting, I used Strathmore Watercolor Cold Press paper (300 Series).
I am usually terrible at doing real preparation before painting. For this, I actually took the time to clean my Koi watercolor box in order to use it as a palette and made the color mixtures for my painting. This picture shows the first phase of my usual mixed-media approach, which is the watercolor phase (by this point the painting already has a couple of layers of watercolor).
Here is the watercolor phase completed (except for the background shadows). You can see how I went on and on with layering until I felt ok with the values. Then, I left my painting to completely dry for a several hours.
This is what the piece looked like after I had already worked in most of the Prismacolor values and textures. I made a point this time to really select only the colors I would be using. Usually I am all over the place. After I finished with my Prismacolor Soft Cores, I went back in with watercolors to add my gray shadow under and around the panini. I allowed this to dry for about an hour.
To finish up, I used some white acrylic paint for final highlights.
Hand drawing practice I started with on Sunday before my mixed-media piece. I want to continue with my basic sketching of things I find difficult, which I started on Spring Break.
Hey all! So nice to have you here! If I could offer you some coffee I totally would.
Here are some pictures of yesterday's event. Another very successful student art show! Everyone was so happy. The weeks of hard work definitely paid off! With this, I end my final year as full-time Art Teacher at this wonderful school I've been working at for the last five years. My work here is done and I am off to start with personal art projects full-time as soon as I turn in my classroom keys.
It's all very bittersweet for me, as I grew SO much, at both personal and professional levels with this job. However, I am eager and excited to get started with so many personal projects that I have! Please enjoy the following pictures and if you are an Art Teacher do not hesitate to take ideas and/or get in touch with me to ask any questions about specific projects or Art Show prep. Simply click on the "About Me/Contact¨ page and write me a message! I'd love to hear from you. :)
In my opinion, an amazing Art Teacher is one who, aside from all obvious teaching responsibilities, makes time and is continuously seeking ways to advocate for the Arts within the community he/she teaches in. It is hard, especially when we work in a society that doesn't give the Arts the importance that they deserve.
If you are an Art Teacher, and you are as unfortunate as I am in this department, this means that you will be constantly fighting for time, resources, and validation from students' parents, and even co-workers that seem to think that what you do is easy and/or not as important as their subjects. You may even be the ONLY Art Teacher in the entire school, as I was for several years, which means you are entirely on your own.
My advice? Don't get discouraged and don't let any of this stop you. Continuously seek ways to engage students and educate the rest of the school community about how engaging in creative processes is nothing to joke about. Help both students AND adults understand that thinking of an idea, creating something from scratch, and putting it out for the world to see is probably one of the most difficult things in the world. It is imperative for people to understand that these kinds of classes will help students develop skills that more "academic" classes won't and will be essential for their future success.
Living in a society that sees the Arts as something secondary (or not at all) only means that, as Art Teachers, we should use our position to wake people up. Even if change is slow, I am convinced that through hard work and consistency, you will start changing people's minds about the subject. I have definitely seen a change after five years of working at my school. Throughout these years I have managed to help establish a Fine Arts Department that offers Music and Visual Arts extracurricular workshops after school. Before, it was only offering Sports classes.
I have also really improved the quality of student Art Exhibits and have incorporated different things into them that have helped transmit the importance of Art Education to the school community. These exhibits are what I will be giving you some ideas about today. Student Art Exhibits are amazing opportunities to show everyone about the learning processes that happen inside the Art Room. Moreover, they are a great opportunity to transmit the fact that creating an artwork isn't just about making something pretty, but about planning, experimenting, persistence and communication.
My 5 Main Tips for Creating Amazing and Effective Student Art Exhibits
1. Before starting the semester (or school year), establish and organize what projects you will be working on with each grade you'll be having. Depending on the amount of classes you will have with each grade and the time you have each class, set a tangible amount for you and determine what techniques you will be using for each. I love incorporating a variety of techniques for each grade because this gives them a chance to experiment with different supplies and get to know what types of art projects they enjoy the most. I create combinations of painting, oil pastels, mixed-media, collage and do my best to work on a 3D project with each grade. This variety in techniques and supplies really impacts the audience at the time of the exhibit as well. With all this in mind, be flexible and understand that, even with a laid out plan, thing can change.
2. Give yourself PLENTY (and I mean PLENTY) of time for preparation if you want to keep your sanity, especially if you will be receiving little to no help throughout the organization, project preparation and mounting, like myself. I personally start with project titles a month and a half before the exhibit on my off time from work. During class, I focus on students and continue working with them on their projects until literally the week before the exhibit. But I realize I am an insane person. By this point, I focus on students which require extra attention in order to arrive at the two pieces they will be exhibiting at the event. I like including two pieces per student even though I have over 250 student each semester. Again, I realize I am an insane person. Previous teachers at the school only did one.
3. Presentation is EVERYTHING. I dont know if it is my inner Graphic Designer speaking, but the way you decide to display student projects really transmits the level of importance you give to your students artwork. It tells people that you value your students work and others should value them as well. I decided early on that I would be cutting and pasting selected student projects on colored cardboard to create a margin for them. Yes, this means cutting them all myself in weekends. I pick different colors for different projects. Both the projects and their title (more about them in a bit), have the same color. I try not to repeat colors in one same grade.
4. Find ways to incorporate technology into the exhibit and use it to help get the message across. In my exhibits, each project has a title that includes a QR code leading the viewer to videos of my students explaining a bit about their projects. In them they talk about what they learned before starting projects, parts of the process, etc. Yes, I record these videos during classes. Yes, I edit these videos. And yes, most of this is done on my off time from work. After the event, I set up links to these videos in a blog that I made for my Art classes years ago in which I post pictures of students at work throughout the semester. This way, parents can find them and view them again at home after the exhibit. There is usually a lot of noise during the exhibit and they ask me where they can view them later. *Awesome suggestion: I love sending an email to my administrators with the links to some of these videos so they can see how much students learn in my class.
5. Include brief project descriptions that tell viewers what knowledge students gained from this specific project, what techniques/supplies were used and what part of the Art Curriculum is being covered by it. This helps people understand that, yes, you also have specific curriculum topics to teach and that there is a reason behind everything you do in the Art classroom. I have found that this also helps parents understand that there are specific things that are graded in each project. The more you get the message across about how there are specific, objective things you grade in each assignment, the less you'll have to deal with parents asking why you took of points off from their child's beautiful work of art.
That's it! It's time for me to make time for my own art today. Which, in itself, is another important thing. Share your own projects with both students and co-workers and show them that art is important to you. Show them you take art seriously and are constantly working on improving your own skills.
If you have any questions or comments, shoot me an email through the About Me/Contact section of my site. I'd love to help you out! Also, if you'd like to view more pictures of past Art Shows, click on the "Art Shows" button in the Categories section of the sidebar. My students' Art Show is next Friday and I will be posting pictures on Instagram all throughout next week of what I am doing in terms of preparation!
Cheers my friends! Thanks for reading!
Hello all! Thank you for visiting.
This past week was intense and I really don't feel like it is the weekend because I have a lot of social commitments to attend and am even going to school to advance Art Show work tomorrow (Sunday).
I had very little time to work on personal drawings and paintings this week. One of them actually frustrated me and I gave up on it. I gave myself a break because I was very tired and, at least, I am doing my best to keep going throughout these very busy times. Small progress is better than no progress!
Have a great weekend!
Hello! The countdown has started for my students' Art Exhibit and these are days at which I usually start disappearing due to so much work. General logistics, project preparation and mounting for my 250 students is done entirely by myself, from project selection, to getting organized with the Systems and Maintenance departments in the school, to designing the invitation and getting it to parents, and SO many other things. I also include QR codes on the project titles which take the viewers to student videos explaining each project. Of course, I get asked for EACH of my 250 students to appear in one of the videos, so this is a TON of organization for me to do when recording, as well as a TON of video editing. This is all done while students are still working on projects. There will be 19 projects displayed in total, 3-4 different projects per grade I have this semester. I will be including pictures of project titles in my next post, as well as some other things which may interest other Art Teachers out there.
Even with all this going on, I am committed to improving my artwork and doing whatever I can, whenever I can in order to move forward with my personal projects. Here are some sketchbook entries I did last week.
Here is a piece that I worked on during the week, after arriving home from work. I decided to do a painting that included a variety of things in it, as opposed to focusing on only one. Even though this may sound more complicated and usually the painting takes longer to complete, I have found it helpful that you can bounce around from one thing to the other in order to let the previous watercolor layer dry. This was something I struggled with in the beginning. I wanted to just keep going! After having understood this, I would rather work on several pieces simultaneously so that I can continue one while the other is drying.
I knew before starting this piece that I wanted to use only watercolors for this (I sometimes add Prismacolor to deepen values and create textures), but I did end up using some white acrylic paint at the end for highlights. Also, people usually ask me if I eat everything I paint (which usually is fast food and sweets) and I wanted to make a painting of foods I actually eat everyday. I want to make a part 2 to this that will include things like avocado, cherry tomatoes, other types of nuts, and perhaps popcorn? I like to eat very healthy, for the most part! I simply find desserts very pretty to look at because I love their combinations of colors and textures!
Thanks for popping by! Here are a couple of pictures I had posted on Instagram of the process. Have a wonderful weekend!
I am naturally kind of an obsessive person. I tend to put too much of myself into everything I do to the point that I have put my own health behind completing tasks to the absolute best of my abilities. And I mean WHATEVER task, not only art-related. I didn't know how to say ¨no¨ and didn't stop working until I was completely spent, always striving for perfection. This is one of the reasons why, about two years ago, I made a commitment to myself to put my own priorities and health first, before anything/anyone else. I know there are a lot of people out there like me.
I also studied Graphic Design in which presentation is a very important part of projects. I remember the first semesters were extremely tough because professors took off points for nearly non-existing pencil/eraser marks, etc. So I learned that, to be a designer, I wasn't only expected to find super creative and highly effective visual solutions to problems, but also that they have to be presented in a professional and organized manner, fully backed up by research and facts. After graduating with a BA in Graphic Design, I worked in agencies and advertising firms for several years. I was surrounded by very talented people that I was able to learn a lot from and I also learned a lot about technology/software. I am extremely thankful for that.
Then came a HUGE shift in my professional life in which, after burning out from working so many extra hours (and not being paid extra for a single one of those hours- Yay Mexico!), I ended up as an Art Teacher at a private school teaching around 250 students each semester. At the beginning, my mind kind of imploded. It is safe to say that neat freaks would not last in this kind of job. Trying to get 25 students at a time to advance their art projects in a period of 48 minutes (clean-up included), while also grading and managing behavior problems, is INSANE. Several times throughout the day, you have another group waiting outside that is expecting to come into a relatively clean and organized classroom and will be working on a project completely different from the group before it (at times I go from 5th to 7th or 8th to 6th, etc.). Those first two years, I taught art to levels Kinder all through to Middle School students with no experience teaching Pre-School and with no assistant at all. Perfectionism, cleanliness and neatness was simply out-of-the-question. There is constant chaos going on and you have to keep calm to make things work. As a teacher in general, I think you have to learn to let go of things. There is so much going on at once, that you have to learn to discern what is most important from what isn't and keep moving forward or you simply will not get through the day. All of this while being patient and always well-mannered. You are an example for your students after all.
After five years on this beautiful roller coaster, I have learned many things at both professional and personal levels. For one, I learned that perfectionism is not as good as I initially thought it was. It is not good because, in life, one of the most important things is to keep moving forward and perfection hinders our progression. Think about it. Life goes by fast and, once we have decided what it is we truly want, we have to use our time wisely in order to get there. Perfectionism comes together with anxiety and fear and, in my opinion, is a complete waste of time. Whether something is perfect or not, it doesn't matter. What matters is that we are learning and improving. Once we understand that and the fact that EVERYONE else is also a work in progress, it becomes easier to put ourselves and our creations out there for the world to see, even if it is scary. I think this is an essential part of being an artist.
I am also extremely thankful for having the opportunity to teach Art because I have learned that I love Art and Illustration perhaps even more than I like Graphic Design. Throughout these years teaching, I have drawn, painted and experimented with different types of media much more than I ever did before. I have discovered my passion for traditional media and working with my hands. I have learned that we, as humans, are imperfect and it would be, therefore, ridiculous to expect constant perfection. Finally, I have learned that we should embrace life as an opportunity to progress towards who we want to be and what we want to create, always remembering (and not being ashamed of) the work we put in to get there.
Here is a little something I worked on yesterday. I felt like painting something fun and thought of a garden gnome (they've always brought a smile to my face). For this painting, I started by making the drawing with gray watercolor pencil in order for the sketch to disappear completely once the painting process begins. Then I did an initial tracing with watercolors in the color of the area I would be painting inside. I don't always start my paintings by tracing my sketch but I thought that I would like some visible outlines at the end because this was going to be more of a ¨cartoony¨ style, so I just went for it. After that was just adding different layers of values. I made sure to jump around throughout the painting process in order to allow the layers to dry. This turned out pretty kitschy! I kind of like it!
Have a nice day!
Hello friend! So happy you popped by!
It is 8:00 p.m. here and I just got home from work about an hour ago. I would like to squeeze in some sketchbook work tonight, as it is my rest day from my evening workouts.
Here is the final '59 Corvette watercolor painting that I finished yesterday. After I finished this, I thought of maybe painting the Cadillac from True Romance (one of my favorite movies) at some point. Any True Romance fans out there?
This is the second car I have ever painted (the first was the Challenger I posted about before). It took me a long time, especially since I used masking fluid and took my time with it after the pencil sketch was completed. Once I was satisfied with the watercolor, I added some white acrylic paint details. Here are some pictures I took throughout the process.
This is what the painting looked like after I let the masking fluid dry (you can notice the rubbery/transparent areas) and painted the first few layers of watercolor paint. By this point, I was already adding darker red values on areas with shadow in them, and I even started using a blue for darkest areas.
I used my Pocket Field Koi Watercolor Set and used Cadmium Red and Ultramarine Deep. I also used pure black for the tires and other sunken areas in the car.
After I was satisfied with the initial layers of watercolor, I let the painting dry over night and removed the masking fluid the following day. I didn't like how the white lines appeared so thick and obvious, so I took a wet brush and carefully went over these areas to soften them out, using the same paint that was already dry on the paper. Then I messed around with the values a bit more using the same paint colors I mentioned before and also started adding more black details. Can you tell something is missing? I decided to get rid of the car seats and then I ended up regretting it...
Here is the finalized painting with the acrylic paint details. I opened up this picture in Photoshop, cropped it and contrasted it a tiny bit. :)
Hello! Thanks for visiting!
Today I went back to work after Spring Break and I am just getting home now. Tomorrow I will have an extra long day as I will be staying to teach acrylic painting classes after school.
To hold myself accountable for the continuous sketchbook studies I have committed to doing, I am posting them here. Here are some feet drawings I worked on last weekend. I still have a long way to go and will make sure to practice anatomical elements whenever I have a chance. Honestly, I hadn't drawn feet in years. I don't even know if I had ever actually tried to draw feet in any realistic way. I'm pretty happy I did.
I am currently working on a watercolor painting of an old Corvette and will be posting pictures I am taking throughout the process. Stay tuned for that! :)
I want to start this post off by saying that I really enjoy taking photos myself. Most mornings I take my Nikon D60 with me as I go off about my day. However, most of the time I end up taking photos of my students or of work-related things that I don't post about in here. I rarely have time to take pictures for my own art projects.
When I get home from work and want to get on to practicing drawing or painting, I mostly look for reference images on the following free stock photo sites. I am extremely thankful that these kinds of sites exist and wanted to share them. All of these offer a large amount of high quality, attractive images that can be searched for by category. Some of them may require you to register, but images can be downloaded for free.
It is important to keep in mind that if you are serious about pursuing an art career and this is more than a hobby for you, at some point it will be essential to start a bank of photos taken by YOU. I am SO anxious to finish this school year and be able to dedicate more time to my art career.
Focus Fitness presents us with not only a great health/fitness related stock image site, but an informative blog for people interested in living a healthier lifestyle. Images offered are free for commercial use and require no attribution.
Pexels offers free pictures that can be used for personal or commercial projects. Images can be modified, copied and distributed without even asking for permission or linking to the source. Attribution is not required.
Pixabay offers free images that can be copied, modified and distributed, even for commercial uses, without asking for permission or crediting the photographer.
Freerange Stock also provides free images for commercial and non-commercial use. They give their collections away hoping that ¨they will be useful and enjoyed.¨
These photos can be downloaded and used for both personal and commercial uses as long as the user gives credit to the source. It is suggested to share the site with friends.
Kaboompics offers free photos for bloggers, website owners, small businesses, freelancers, etc. for non-commercial and commercial use. No attribution required. Whenever possible, photo credits and sharing the site with others would be nice.
Free Images is a resource for photography that is free to use on websites, printed materials, design work and anything else. They do, however, ask for a link back to their site.
FancyCrave offers free images to designers, small businesses, students, bloggers, and online marketers that can be used for both personal and commercial projects. Every single image is free of copyright restrictions.
In their own words, they offer: ¨Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos.¨
I hope this list was useful for you. Remember that it is extremely important to respect and give credit to other people's work. Most of these sites ask for donations to keep them up and running, so don't hesitate to give some love to them in order to show your gratitude.
Two examples of how I used the reference image to create a little artwork!
Lately I've been making sure to dedicate some time every day to do sketchbook studies of things I consider challenging to draw. I started by making a list of four things I wanted to focus my faster studies on, making sure to narrow down on subjects or things that I usually try to avoid so that I can force myself to improve in these areas. For me, my list included: faces in different angles, the human figure in more dynamic poses, hands and feet. After I made this list, I decided on the time of the day I would be dedicating to my sketches. Since I am currently on Spring Break, it made sense for me to start my days with my sketchbook studies and later on in the day continue improving my painting.
Next week my sketchbook/study situation will change because I will be going back to my full time teaching job. However, I have committed to continue with these studies as frequently as I am able to. I am thinking of maybe scheduling in at least three blocks of 30 mins to an hour every week starting Monday until the end of the school year (this will be aside from painting). This will be challenging because coming back from Spring Break I will have super long days as I will be preparing my students' end-of-year art exhibit. But I will do the best that I can.
Even though it is very important to choose a subject or topic to specialize in as an artist, I am convinced that we have to make time to step out of our comfort zones and improve in other areas. We may find that we keep producing things that come easy to us. I think this is fine in situations in which we, perhaps, work full time in jobs that don't allow us time to continue with our art practice. I understand that, at times, we may have very little time left at the end of the day and simply want something fun to do. This is SO much better than not doing anything at all. However, if you REALLY want to improve, it is very important to MAKE time and put the work in. And, even if an artist is already amazing at what he/she does (not that I personally am anywhere near that point), it is important to dedicate time to stepping out of our personal comfort zones so we don't get stagnant and keep things fresh.
In my opinion, once an artist decides on the specific subject(s) or technique(s) he/she will be focusing on, about 70%-80% percent of actual producing time should be dedicated to improving on that particular field and the other 30%-20% should be spent experimenting and studying other interesting and challenging things. This way, we can make sure we are always working towards improvement.
In previous posts, I have included pictures of my studies of heads in angles and dynamic figure poses that I have drawn lately. Here are some drawings of the third point in my list, which are hands.
Thanks for reading and have a great day! :)
Tomorrow I will be posting a list of my favorite free image sites and how I use reference images in my artwork.
Here is a little something I started last Sunday which I finished last night. I used the mixed-media technique I posted about before, combining watercolors and colored pencils to add final values and textures. I also used a bit of white paint pen at the end.
These are my last days of Spring Break and I have a lot of things I have to get done before getting back to work on Monday. I will be a bit more busy with doctor appointments, Canada application documents that have to be sent, apartment cleaning, starting with student art exhibit prep and other important things. I am going to do my best to keep my art journey going throughout the craziness. Have a great one!
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