Do you struggle with keeping your art studio as clean and organized as you'd like? Do you wonder how so many artists/creatives manage to keep their working spaces so neat and tidy? Have you ever found the mess around you demotivating to the point that it affects your productivity levels?
Though the act of creating art can (and sometimes downright should) imply making some sort of mess, this doesn't mean we should be okay with our studios being in a constant state of chaos. Of course, people's tolerance levels towards disorganization vary immensely, but our studios are an extension of ourselves and our work, and should be treated as such.
Personally, I like to work in an environment that inspires me to create and helps me be as productive as possible every-single-day. My artwork is important to me (and I hope that your artwork is important to you as well), and staying as organized as possible ensures that it is going to be protected and accessible.
I really enjoy learning tips and tricks from other creatives, and Ali from Cut, Cut, Craft ( www.cutcutcraft.com ) was super helpful to share some ideas with us in the following post!
Hey guys and gals! It’s Ali here from Cut, Cut, Craft! (www.cutcutcraft.com) with some practical and creative ideas on how you can keep your studio organized in order to make the best art you can.
In Erika’s own words, "the environment that surrounds us impacts our mood and creativity". Read her blog post titled How I Find Inspiration as an Artist and Some Ideas to Keep You Going.
This is true for the people you surround yourself with, as well as the sorts of art and entertainment you consume. But it is especially valid in your own art studio, the very place you want to be free to act on your creativity to produce wonderful creations.
If your space is cluttered and disorganized, your mind will spend precious resources distracted by the mess. It will take you extra time to find materials to get started on a new project. Your aim should be to lower the activation energy needed to create art. Spend some effort on organizing your space, so it’s easy for you to dive in when inspiration strikes!
I’ll go through some general tips on how to get your art studio in working order, and give you specific ideas on how to implement each of them.
8 Ways to get (and stay) organized
3. Assess and improve your time management strategies every now and then
“Practice without improvement is meaningless."
As working artists, we generally have to keep up with several different ways of making an income. As opposed to having only one "main" job, we have several smaller jobs that can fluctuate from month to month. It's impossible to know when a new event, commission or opportunity for collaboration will pop up, amongst many other items that may require more attention one month than the next.
Nonetheless, it's important to assess our strategies every now and then in order to pinpoint any improvements we can make. I usually like doing this at the end of each month, especially now that my business is growing and more responsibilities/opportunities are popping up. It's imperative to create at least some level of routine to stay sane and healthy! We must avoid burnout at all costs.
I recommend doing a general weekly schedule assessment every month to two months, so you can create any changes and improve your productivity even more. Think about tasks that would perhaps work better in different time blocks, or maybe activities that need longer blocks than initially planned. I know I personally tend to underestimate the amount of time I need to complete certain tasks, especially when it comes to creating art and planning new projects!
Assessing your systems regularly will allow you to keep improving your productivity levels over time. Improvement is the name of the game when you are building a business!
4. Identify personal time-wasters and cut down on distractions
“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks."
In this world of constant distraction, it's imperative to think about whether those activities that take up so much of our time are actually helping us move closer to our goals or not. Don't get me wrong, it's very important to have time for fun and relaxation, and I think these times should be scheduled in as well so that we MAKE SURE we're enjoying our lives to the max!
However, we should be honest with ourselves! If you find you're wasting hours on end stalking people on social media, constantly engaging in negative small-talk with others, or spending valuable time on activities that bring nothing positive to your life, cut them out!
I'm personally completely unapologetic about cutting activities and even negative people out of my life at this point. I'd much rather be resting in order to be as productive as possible the following day, instead of staying up late and partying constantly. If you find this too hard, at least avoid doing these things at all costs during times that you should be productive. And also protect the time you should be resting because this will affect your productivity levels the following day!
I find it very important to be able to focus and diminish distractions at all costs when I'm in creative mode. Personally, I like shutting off my phone or leaving it in another room when I'm drawing or painting. I also try to diminish multitasking throughout the day as much as I can (studies have found that what we do when we multitask is mediocre at best).
I really recommend giving some thought to what YOUR personal time-wasters are and try to identify when it is that you find yourself getting sucked into them. If there's anything you REALLY enjoy or NEED to do, schedule it!
5. Learn to say NO
“We must say "no" to what, in our heart, we don't want. We must say "no"
to doing things out of obligation, thereby cheating those important to us
of the purest expression of our love. We must say "no" to treating ourselves,
our health, our needs as not as important as someone else's. We must say “no.”
-Suzette R. Hinton
Remember, time is finite resource and every single minute that goes by is a minute you will not get back. Life is short and we have to make sure we're spending our valuable time doing activities that will get us closer to our goals and overall happiness.
Set your non-negotiables from the start and account for that time EVERY day/week. For me, non-negotiables include time to work out, enjoy home cooked meals, and to get decent rest every-single-day. I also like having time to spend with my husband at the end of each work day. If an "urgent" project pops up from out of nowhere, it has to REALLY be something that will get me closer to my goals in order for me to take it. I rarely say yes to projects brought up by people that give me the impression of not respecting my time. I respect other peoples' time immensely, and expect them to do the same for me.
Similarly, I avoid saying 'yes' to every single social gathering I'm invited to. Needs for social time vary from person to person, and as an introvert, I know that I have a limit. Though it's important to have social time, I also need to rest and take care of myself. Any true friend will understand and respect that.
Another thing I like to do, is letting my loved ones know what I'm currently up to and how my schedule is looking. This way, they are aware of when you'll be available and there's less of a chance you'll have to say 'no' to those you really care about.
6. Make time for organization
“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned."
A lot of time is wasted when we have to look for things. By keeping your work area, supplies and artwork organized you'll not only be able to find whatever you need faster, but you'll also avoid lost/damaged work, accidents and a lot of anxiety. At the end of each workday, I like to spend a few minutes organizing my studio/office so that the next morning I am inspired to start right away.
As artists, our computers, phones and other devices collect a lot of reference image files, scanned artwork, etc. I recommend keeping these digital files organized and labelled appropriately. Create back-ups every now and then!
Being organized is especially important because, being self-employed, you will have to stay on top of client projects, inventory, and accounting! Set systems in place for each of these that will allow you to waste less time doing admin work and more time actually creating.
7. Consider delegating tasks or investing in time-saving tools
“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do."
Like a lot of other work-a-holics, I'm guilty of burning myself out after thinking I'm perfectly capable of doing everything on my own. The fact of the matter is that there are only 24 hours in a day and there's a lot going on that we have no control over. The sooner we accept that nothing will ever be perfect and that we're not superheroes capable of doing everything by ourselves, the better.
Whether it's house chores or business tasks, think of people that may be able to help you out. What do you REALLY have to do yourself, and what can be done by someone else in your current life situation? Is it possible for you to invest in hiring an assistant or in tools that can automize tasks that are taking away time you could be spending creating art?
Once your business takes off and/or you have the resources to get help, I suggest you do it. You can delegate the tasks that don't excite you as much like maintaining your website, cleaning your studio/office, scanning and organizing artwork, etc. This will allow you more time and energy to focus on producing artwork and improving your skills.
Do your best when you can, and learn to let go of what you can't control.
8. Keep pushing and DON'T FORGET to celebrate your accomplishments
“Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best."
-Theodore Isaac Rubin
We usually tend to focus on everything that we have yet to do and don't ever take a moment to realize how far we have come since we started. Just like it's essential to keep moving forward, it's important to look back and take note of everything we've been able to accomplish.
Milestones, no matter how small, are important and acknowledging them will encourage us to keep working hard towards achieving our goals. Do your best daily and stay focused on what is important to you. Be proud of yourself for acknowledging your passions and working towards them!
What are YOUR greatest time-management challenges? Have you ever gone through long periods of time in which you haven't been able to produce artwork due to life getting busy/complicated? How has this impacted you, personally? Let's discuss in the comments section below!
Have you reached a point in your art journey at which you feel relatively confident about your skills but are anxious to find your own style and voice? Are you stuck with your art and feel that your own perfectionism and/or fear of failure is keeping you from moving forward?
"Create your own visual style... let it be unique for yourself
and yet identifiable for others."
There is a point in every artist's journey at which a substantial amount of time and effort has been dedicated to developing artistic skills, but the artist has yet to decide what ideas he/she wants to share with the world and what mediums, techniques and style will set him/her apart from others. It takes an immense amount of work, exploration and introspection to push through this point, but it's important to keep on until the breakthrough happens.
In my opinion, it's exactly THIS desire to push through the initial phase that differentiates a hobbyist from a pro. It's a point at which perfect rendering and technique becomes just as important as (or may even take back seat to) having an artwork transmit the ideas or feelings we are striving to transmit.
In this blog post, I will be sharing five very useful tips that will help you loosen up and express more of yourself through your art. It's this exploration that will help you discover yourself as an artist. If you're at this point, it's time to experiment fearlessly and push your limits!
I wrote a blog post several months ago in which I share an excellent method that you can apply to start discovering your own art style using other artists' work as inspiration. This strategy will be very useful for you in this stage, so make sure to check it out after this post.
How to Effectively Use Other Artists' Work as Inspiration and a Great Method to Start Developing Your Own Artistic Style.
Currently, I'm doing a lot of exploratory work with oils on canvas. If you've been following my work for any amount of time, you probably already know that I love working on smaller-scale watercolor illustrations. However, I've had the pleasure of creating larger decorative fine art for local clients and have really enjoyed it! I'm making time for oil painting as much as I can and am planning on selling my artwork internationally in the near future.
I'm working on a series of five large landscape oil paintings. I will be sharing these with you throughout the upcoming weeks so stay tuned!
5 Tips That Will Help You Become More Loose and Expressive When Creating Art
"Regularity, order, desire for perfection destroy art.
Irregularity is the basis of all art."
1. Gain confidence in your skills by learning and practicing
In order to draw or paint freely, you need to have a certain level of confidence in your skills. And the only way to truly gain confidence in anything, is by practicing first-handedly. Knowing Art Fundamentals inside and out is going to help you IMMENSELY, and is the basis for everything else.
Things like composition, harmony, proportion, color, perspective, texture, value, etc., have to be engrained in your head so that you can apply this knowledge naturally and organically as you are creating your artwork.
Aside from knowing Art Fundamentals, it's also imperative for you to have some experience working with whatever medium and supplies you're thinking of using. How are you going to paint or draw freely if you feel like you're constantly fighting with the medium?
The saying "Learn the rules before you can break them." applies here!
In my blog post titled Why Sketchbooks Are Essential Tools for Artists and A Few Usage Tips
I share how I personally use my sketchbooks on a daily basis to make sure I'm progressing continuously.
2. Prepare yourself mentally before you begin
It's absolutely essential to start a challenging piece in the right headspace. Once you have arrived at the idea of what you'll be creating, start with positivity and confidence. I've mentioned this before, but our minds are EXTREMELY powerful! Remember, if you think you're going to fail, you most likely will.
Now is the time to embrace experimentation and throw perfectionism out the window! Allow the magic to happen as you work with your medium and tools. Do your best to give up some of your control and allow your medium to do some of the speaking for itself.
3. Paint with larger brushes and, if possible, on a larger substrate
Painting/drawing at a larger scale will not only encourage more arm movement (which in turn leads to more dynamic work), but allows you to focus on larger shapes. Using a larger brush, or drawing tools like chalk or charcoal, also make it more difficult to obsess over tiny little details. This, in turn, challenges you to think about what is actually needed in your composition and what can be left out.
Not to mention, larger pieces are also (usually) meant to be viewed from farther away. At the moment of drawing or painting, step back and continuously remind yourself that the piece is meant to be appreciated from a distance.
If you're creating a painting, remember that your paintbrush is not meant to be held as a writing pencil or pen! Try holding it with your thumb and index finger, and keep the rest of your hand relaxed. Beginners have a tendency to hold brushes very close to the bristles to feel more in control. Try holding your brush farther up the handle, anywhere from halfway up to the tip.
Explore the different types of brush strokes your brushes are able to create, and the shapes and textures their bristles naturally leave behind. Load your paintbrushes with a good amount of paint so that there's more of a chance for interesting "natural" occurrences to happen.
4. Use music
Music can have such a deep impact on our mood and inspiration levels! I love creating a good, long playlist for myself prior to starting with a painting. Music helps keep my creativity flowing and my energy high for hours.
Our taste in music will vary from person to person, of course. Perhaps an artist looking to create an extremely dynamic abstract painting would be inspired by music with a faster/upbeat tempo. Whereas, another artist might find more relaxing, classical music more helpful.
Regardless of your taste in music, create a playlist that will help you stay positive, inspired and motivated to continue.
5. Learn to leave your brushstrokes alone
Do your best to place your brushstrokes (or lines if your drawing) with intention and then leave them alone! Allow the organic occurrences to happen and think of how you can use these effects to your advantage instead of trying to correct them or blend them out.
Stop yourself from pushing forward with actions that are really not really necessary. Try to do more with less and don't obsess over every tiny little accident!
Let go of the mental need to control everything!
I hope that you found this post helpful and that it encouraged you to keep exploring and moving forward with your art! I wish you all the best and remember to enjoy the process!
"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep."
Do you want to go off on vacation, but fear you'll lose your creative streak or even fall behind artistically if you take a few days off? Ever wondered how you can ensure creative progress while away from the studio and regular work routines? Curious to see what happens when you take your art-making on the road but are, perhaps, a bit nervous about working in unusual/public settings?
As artists, traveling is a great way of gaining new inspiration and facing challenges that can lead to substantial growth. It may sound counterintuitive, especially for us workaholics, but putting miles between us and our studios may be just what we need to kick our creative progress into gear.
In today's blog post, I'll be sharing the three things I personally did to prepare for my last trip, which allowed me to enjoy it immensely WHILE moving forward artistically. By preparing ourselves mentally and doing a bit of research beforehand, we can take full advantage of our travels and come back home refreshed, motivated and full of ideas!
To clarify, I consider the incubation of ideas just as important as the act of creating finalized artworks. It's through first-hand experiences that we get to know ourselves as artists and come to conclusions about what messages we want to bring to the world. This, for me, is just as essential as working on our cold artistic skills.
I absolutely loved Toronto! In my last blog post/YouTube video, I shared how there was just SO much to get inspired by! Check that post out HERE. The huge variety in cultures present in the city, as well as the beautiful architecture, music, coffee, shops, galleries and art studios triggered a lot of emotions in me that made me want to create.
*This post contains affiliate links. I receive small commissions for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. These commissions help me keep this site up and running, in order for me to keep providing you helpful and inspiring art content. If you're considering buying art supplies online, and you're finding my content useful, I'd be extremely grateful if you'd consider using my links. :)
3 Hacks to Apply Before and During Your Next Trip
1. Give some thought to what supplies and promotional items you'll be taking with you
The supplies that you choose to take with you will vary depending on your artistic medium(s) of choice, as well as how comfortable you are drawing or painting in public (or rushed) situations. I love watercolors and immediately reached for my smallest/most portable set to pack up. However, I knew that I would probably have limited time and space to create, so I also made sure to take a few pencils and drawing pens with me.
I recommend sticking to the basics and taking only what's truly necessary when selecting your art supplies (unless you're deliberately traveling to a drawing/painting event). Take your most portable sets and supplies that allow for easy cleaning, making sure they aren't the most expensive or even your favorite. Things get lost and damaged during trips, and you want to avoid sad situations. Also, consider what bag you'll use to carry your stuff in while walking around.
I knew since before my husband and I started preparing for our trip, that I didn't want to pressure myself or take away from fully enjoying the experiences Toronto had to offer. I wanted to focus more on taking note of moments, feelings and thoughts that popped up. The few sketches I created were quick, but I made sure to take lots of reference pictures that I could work with when I got home.
If you're up for the challenge, however, traveling is a great opportunity to practice plein air painting, drawing settings, objects and people! You can also set timers for yourself to practice creating faster drawings and/or paintings, which will help you become more expressive and efficient!
Supplies I took on my trip (Amazon links included):
1. Red "Imagine" notebook from Target
2. Canson 90lb. drawing sketchbook 5.5x8.5 in.
3. Winsor & Newton Cotman Pocket Sketch 12 Color Set
4. Sakura portable/re-fillable watercolor brush
5. Milan rubber eraser
6. Turquoise drawing pencils in HB and 2B
7. LePen drawing pens in 0.3 and 0.5 points
8. Metallic sharpener
9. Small pencil pouch
Are you a professional artist? I REALLY recommend taking time to create unique promotional items that you can give to awesome people you meet while you're traveling! Instead of giving out a regular business card, think of items that people will actually want to have around and/or use. Be practical about it, of course, as you'll have to make space for them in your suitcase and there's always a risk of things getting damaged throughout the journey.
I had some notebooks made with my artwork on the cover and contact information on the back and people loved them!
2. Use social media to reach out to locals working in areas related to your niche
A couple of weeks before my trip I got the idea of using social media channels to send out a message to artists actually living in Toronto. It's one thing to get recommendations from friends or family who've visited the city/town before, and quite another to get insights from actual local artists!
I created a nice-looking JPG using Canva calling out for Toronto-based artists and posted it on Instagram and Twitter (a few appropriate hashtags included). I honestly didn't know if I would get any responses, and should have posted it at least a couple of more times. Fortunately, two very helpful locals got back to me with their recommendations! I even got to meet one of them during my trip, which was awesome. :)
Using your own research, as well as suggestions from local artists, create a list of places that you want to make sure to visit during your trip, always taking into account their distance from the hotel you'll be staying in. Think of experiences that YOU find particularly enjoyable, instead of spending your whole trip running around from place to place visiting the usual tourist-y locations just because that's what everyone tells you you should do (unless you actually WANT to).
3. Stay open to inspiration coming from EVERYWHERE (not only the visual arts)
Think about things and experiences that usually trigger YOUR inspiration/motivation. If you're an artist, of course you're going to find museums and galleries enjoyable. However, what other things do you find inspiring? Is it history? Architecture? Fashion? Food? Nature? Music? Clubs? What is it for you and how can your personal interests translate into activities that you can experience in that particular city?
I understand how for people it may be important to check off ALL of the tourist attractions in specific cities, especially because you never know when you'll be able to go back to that particular place. However, try to also incorporate your personal interests into your trip. I often find quaint, lesser known establishments/areas just as enjoyable as the bigger attractions, and I also LOVE getting to know what life is like for locals. Having the opportunity to chat with locals is very inspiring because you get to know perspectives of people living in cities different from your own.
In my blog post titled How I Find Inspiration as an Artist and Some Ideas to Keep You Going, I talk about the mentality I've adopted as an artist that allows me to be constantly inspired to create. I also give some useful tips that you can apply to keep your creativity flowing steadily.
Supplies and inspirational items I bought during my trip:
1. Black back-pack and pins: Sonic Boom Records
2. The Starving Artist Cookbook, written and illustrated by Sara Zin: Sonic Boom Records
3. Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook: Art Gallery of Ontario Museum (Gift shop)
4. Emily Carr and Lawren Harris Art Magnets: Art Gallery of Ontario Museum (Gift shop)
5. AGO Museum Tote Bag: Art Gallery of Ontario Museum (Gift shop)
6. Emily Carr- An Introduction to Her Life and Art: Acadia Art and Rare Books
*Book can be acquired through Amazon HERE.
7. Wanderlust and Wildflowers Colored Pencils: Kid Icarus Gift and Screen Print Shop
8. Green Ink Pad: Kid Icarus Gift and Screen Print Shop
9. Schoolbook Lowercase Alphabet Stamps: Kid Icarus Gift and Screen Print Shop
Artusiasm is an amazing art gallery that was recommended to me by an artist/designer kind enough to respond to my calling through Instagram! I'm so thankful for this recommendation because the gallery and its owners are truly amazing people! Thanks Ben!! :)
*Click on the images below to visit Artusiasm's site.
To end this blog post, I want to remind you to try to find a balance between enjoying life, taking care of yourself, and staying productive. If you're lucky enough to travel, enjoy the experience as much as possible, remain open, and most likely, inspiration will happen naturally. Don't pressure yourself and focus more on recording your thoughts, feelings and ideas!
I wish you the best of luck in your art journey and lots of opportunities for traveling!
Do you frequently experience phases of low creativity? Are you currently unmotivated to continue pushing your artistic skills forward? Does a lack of inspiration stop you from creating and progressing as an artist?
"Inspiration and work ethic, they ride right next to each other."
- Jack White
All artists are bound to go through some kind of creative block from time to time, no matter how talented or experienced they may be. This makes it absolutely essential (especially for us working artists) to have some sort of effective system set in place to keep us productive and moving forward consistently.
Though we may consciously decide to take breaks from our art from time to time, being an artist is synonymous with constant creation. Keeping creativity levels high day-in-and-day-out can certainly be exhausting, and it's impossible to be in the perfect headspace for creation ALL of the time. However, taking long breaks from our art will most definitely affect our progress.
In today's blog post, I will share the method I personally use to re-engage with my art in difficult times. This strategy will help you whenever you're feeling uninspired, unmotivated, frustrated, or even just bored with your current art routine. The goal is to ensure that you're moving forward, even when you're not at your best. You can make the exercise as easy or difficult as you'd like at any given point in time. I'll explain in a bit.
But first, there's something we have to touch upon!
I find there are two main reasons that we can hit creative blocks as artists:
1. We may not feel like creating because we feel insecure or simply bored with our current art routines. In these situations, we have to learn to suck it up and get to work. Sometimes we have to be okay with just showing up and doing what we can.
2. We can be mentally and physically drained by everything we have going on in life, and will very likely hit a wall even if we DO show up. Each one of us is in a different situation, but it's imperative to make time for self-care. It should be our priority above all else.
If you're in the first camp, I encourage you to power through. The more you push yourself to create in these times of low inspiration, the easier it will become. If you're in the second, I really recommend you take a few days to plan out how you'll be prioritizing your mental and physical well-being from here on out. I truly, 100% believe that if you're not taking care of yourself, EVERYTHING else will suffer, including your artistic progress.
Read my blog post titled How I Find Inspiration as an Artist and Some Ideas to Keep You Going. There, I share the mentality I have adopted that helps me stay inspired and keep creative blocks at bay!
*This post contains affiliate links. I receive small commissions for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. These commissions help me keep this site up and running, in order for me to keep providing you helpful and inspiring art content. If you're considering buying art supplies online, and you're finding my content useful, I'd be extremely grateful if you'd consider using my links. :)
Practical Life Tips to Get You Back Into the Flow of Creation
Before we actually get into the creative exercise, I'm going to give you a few general tips that you should try. I find when I apply these in my daily or weekly routines, I'm less likely to get into an art block to begin with.
1. Clean and organize your working area
I don't consider myself a neat-freak by any means. However, I have to admit that when things start to get messy around me, it starts affecting me mentally (and thus my productivity suffers). By staying organized, there's much more of a chance you'll feel like getting to work.
2. Get moving
Guys, I cannot stress the importance of physical exercise enough. Some of my best ideas come up when I'm moving! Not to mention, as artists/illustrators, we sit and/or hunch A LOT of the time and it's absolutely IMPERATIVE to stay healthy and work on our posture! Exercise has brought me a level of mental clarity and energy that I didn't have in my younger (and most sedentary) years. At the VERY least, make sure you're taking stretching breaks throughout the day!
3. Go be social or get out of your usual environment
As artists, it can be easy to stay holed up in our studios all day long. Although we primarily work by ourselves, it's important to remember that our inspiration comes through actually LIVING experiences first-handedly. Sometimes, just going out for coffee with a friend or taking a walk around the block will do! Keep in mind you never want to get to a point at which you forget how to talk to other human beings!
4. Set aside some "me time"
I don't know about you, but I feel like life gets so busy sometimes that if breathing wasn't absolutely automatic and necessary to continue living, I think I would forget to do it. Understandably, there will be periods of high stress in our lives, but these should be the exception and not the rule. Make sure you're setting aside time to do what you want to do in life and ENJOY IT! Make time for proper rest and to be alone as much as you feel you need to.
5. Start taking notes
I carry a small sketchbook or notebook everywhere I go. I got in the habit of doing this a while back because ideas randomly pop up in my head throughout the day and I don't want to end up forgetting something that could lead to a good artwork or creative project in general. It's awesome to have a little bank of ideas in the background because, even if you don't use them immediately, you can come back to them when you can't find anything to work on.
Check out my blog post titledWhy Sketchbooks are Essential Tools for Artists and a Few Usage Tips.
6. Get inspired by the other art genres
Don't limit yourself to only getting inspired by the visual arts! Reading good literature, watching movies/documentaries, listening to music, and even cooking can lead to amazing ideas for new art pieces! Finding ways of mixing and matching things we love all across the board can lead to the most personal and unique art pieces!
7. Create a Pinterest Inspiration board (or a folder on your desktop)
Collect artwork that appeals to you and use it as inspiration. However, never EVER compare yourself to other artists! Try to target and make notes of specific characteristics you like (maybe it's the colors the artist used, the line work, how effectively emotions are transmitted, etc.) and try to implement it in your own way.
Check out my Pinterest inspiration board here.
Read my post titled How to Effectively Use Other Artists' Work as Inspiration and a Great Method to Start Developing Your Own Artistic Style to learn about my personal approach of getting inspiration from artists I admire, while making sure I'm creating something truly original.
8. Ditch the perfectionist attitude
Many times, we keep ourselves from even starting because we're afraid of wasting supplies and/or producing something that won't measure up to our expectations (or the expectations of others). I honestly believe that being a perfectionist is one of the worst mistakes an artist can make. It wasn't until I understood that creating art is more about the process than the end product that I started to really improve my skills and make progress towards finding my style. Not everything is supposed to be a masterpiece!
My Secret Tool for Staying Creatively Inspired and Challenged
As artists, we should embrace exploration and challenge. It is through exploring different techniques, supplies and/or subjects that we not only expand our abilities, but are able to learn about our personal likes, dislikes and areas of improvement.
I like taking moments of low inspiration or motivation to step out of my comfort zone and do something that will challenge me in a way that I haven't been in a while, whether it's a shorter pencil sketch or a painting using mediums or styles I haven't explored.
See, even if you've already discovered your artistic medium of choice and are set on your subject or technique, stretching your boundaries is a great way to stimulate your creativity, reinvigorate yourself and reignite your passion for art. Through explorations uncommon to you, you're able to arrive at ideas you wouldn't have thought of, ideas that can later be applied in your larger pieces.
When I'm truly in a tough mental state, I don't pressure myself to generate an amazing product at all, but focus much more on the exploration and journey. I disconnect from my inner critique and focus on enjoying the feel of my supplies, each individual color, line and shape. I allow things to happen naturally. This is what I decided to do on the day I filmed the video included here.
What's important, is to keep moving forward at least in a small way, and not give up altogether.
Once you've concluded where you usually stand, pick one in each group that you generally don't explore much. Try not to think about it TOO much or second guess whether you'll be able to create something "effective" or not!
Finally, get to work! Your art piece can be anything from an exploration in your sketchbook to a more finalized illustration or painting. Remember, the goal of this exercise is to stay productive artistically, have fun, and explore.
Download your PDF by clicking on the green button below!
Here are a few examples of illustrations and sketches that I've worked on during tough times
You'll notice how I'm using a different medium in each and how the subjects vary greatly. Each of these little projects helped me rekindle my love for art.
I've come a long way since the time I made the decision to get serious about my art and I really believe that the reason why I've been able to improve so drastically in such little time is due to the fact that I challenge myself on a regular basis, give HUGE importance to exploration and am slowly learning to embrace imperfection.
At the same time, I go into each drawing or painting knowing that not everything is meant to be a masterpiece. Sometimes what your soul needs is to create lightheartedly. The trick is to keep moving forward consistently, even in the smallest way, and keep your end-goal in mind, always.
What's the longest period of time you've gone through without creating art due to a lack of motivation/inspiration? Do you have any mechanisms set in place to help you stay productive? Let's share in the comments section below and help each other out!
I'm almost embarrassed to say that I have kind of neglected my sketchbook studies the last couple of months because I've been so busy. I've been doing plenty of paintings, but I honestly believe that drawing is the basis for everything else.
If you've read my blog post titled Why Sketchbooks Are Essential Tools for Artists and a Few Usage Tips, you're probably already aware of how much I believe in keeping a sketchbook as a means of exploration and finding one's personal artistic voice.
I HIGHLY recommend continuing with your drawing practice, no matter what your artistic medium of choice is. It's essential to keep improving your drawing skills and to ALWAYS remember that the journey is just as important as any of the final pieces you create.
Thanks so much for dropping by and I hope you enjoy these drawings!
Are you getting a bit tired of always drawing stiff, flat faces looking forward? Do you enjoy portraiture and would like to learn how to draw faces in different angles? Do you frequently find something is a bit ``off´´ when you finish your portrait drawings?
In this blog post I will explain why it is important to have a basic understanding of the underlying structure of the face (the skull) in order to draw more believable portraits, and will be reviewing basic facial proportions/locations of individual facial elements within the head shape. Then, I will move on to explain how to draw a face at a 3/4's angle, which is one of the most-used angles in both painting and photography portraiture.
I will share my own 4-step method for drawing portraits and also a video time-lapse demonstrating how I do my quick face sketches. This blog post includes several free downloadable PDF's that you can use for practicing, so make sure to check those out at the end!
I'm going to start off by saying that drawing portraits is hard! The main reason being that what we see most everyday are the faces of those around us. This means that most people, artists or not, will be able to notice if something is ``off´´ when viewing a portrait, even if at first they can't pinpoint exactly what it is.
With a portrait drawing being ``off´´ I don't mean small differences in eye sizes or eyebrow shape. Human faces have natural imperfections and aren't 100% symmetric (most of the time). What I'm referring to is shape, proportion and location of facial elements within the head shape. Most of the time something looks off, it's due to an ineffective placement or proportion of any (or all) face elements.
This is why it is very important to understand and keep these things in mind when attempting to draw any type of portrait (unless you are intentionally going for an unrealistic style). Though I don't particularly go for high levels of realism with my work, I do like starting with a concrete foundation in order for it to have a believable aspect to it.
*This post is intended for those who have already had some amount of practice drawing faces at a forward-facing angle. Still need a bit more practice with drawing faces in a forward view? Visit my blog post titled How to Draw a Face (for Beginners). There, I offer free downloadable PDFs explaining to do draw a basic head shape as well as individual facial elements.
Understanding the Underlying Structure of the Face
When an artist is trying to get better at drawing any part of the human anatomy, it is important to devote some time to studying its underlying structure. Understanding what is underneath our skin will allow us to create more believable form and three-dimensionality in our artwork, which is key when trying to achieve any level of realism. The structure beneath the face is....you guessed it! The skull!
Sorry to get a little morbid here, but let's take a moment to analyze the following images:
The human skull is made up of two separate parts, the cranium and the mandible. Notice the natural holes, and diverse nooks and crannies all over its structure. It's important to note that the cranium is not a perfect sphere! And though artists usually start their portraits off by drawing a circle or an oval (depending on the perspective/angle of the head), this initial shape usually gets refined along the drawing process.
Observe the human skull and take note of its main characteristics:
-Large eye sockets (our eyes are placed deep within our heads)
-The mandible is connected to the cranium and is the only part of the skull that can move (aside from our eyeballs)
-Our teeth and the bones onto which they are attached actually jut out a bit, creating a curved effect where our lips usually fall
-Our brow bones and cheekbones create very visible bumps
-Our temples (sides of our heads) sink inwards
I've made studies of skulls like this one to the left, and have found them extremely helpful. They've allowed me to gain information that I'm later able to apply in my drawings or paintings without giving it much thought at all!
I really recommend making time to create a few sketches of skulls or even paintings like I have!
As previously mentioned, most artists start off their portraits by creating simple shapes much like the ones below. These shapes and lines allow them to visualize where the facial elements will be placed.
Understanding Basic Proportion and Location of Facial Elements
While there is an incredibly vast array of face shapes, as well as shapes and sizes of individual facial elements (eyes, nose, lips, ears), there will always be general guidelines to follow in terms of their placement within the head shape.
By this point, you've probably already seen something like this before:
By seeing the diagram above, we can conclude the following:
-For drawing purposes, the head can be divided into three parts
-Drawing vertical and horizontal lines down/across the head shape will allow us effective placement of facial elements
-Effective proportion and placement of facial elements calls for some degree of measurement
-The hair line is BELOW and not ON or ABOVE the head shape
-The width of approximately five eyes should fit along the main horizontal line
-We can use the inner corner of the eyes to define where the curves of the nostrils should end
-The lower part of the face (from end of the nose to tip of the chin) can also be divided into three parts
So how does this information translate into a head at a 3/4's angle?
In a sense, we are distorting facial proportions when drawing a face at an angle. We are no longer looking to create symmetry, as we usually do when drawing someone facing forward. We are now dealing with certain levels of foreshortening, depending on the angle of the head and what perspective we're seeing it in.
When viewing a face at a 3/4's angle, we are able to see much more of one side of the face than the other. We are able to see one eye completely, but perhaps only part of the other one. Usually the eye on the side opposite to us is at least a tiny bit smaller! We are able to clearly see one half of the person's nose and mouth. All this means we have to be able to draw believable facial elements that are skewed!
Here are some basic ways to draw facial elements in both forward and 3/4's angles:
How to Draw a Face in a 3/4's Angle in 4 Steps
-Pencils (I recommend HB-4B)
-Quality reference pictures (you can use your computer or print them out)
-Paper or sketchbook
*Optional: Tracing paper
*If you wish to use the same images I have, download them for free by clicking on the portraits in the instructions below.
*You can also download and print the free PDF's I've attached at the end if you'd like to use the face maps I've created. Use a piece of tracing paper to transfer the face map onto the paper you will be drawing on and move on to the next step!
1. Find a quality picture to use as reference
I thoroughly recommend using reference photos when starting to draw portraits. Even if you're not intending to create a full-on realistic representation of the person in the image, having a reference will give you a solid foundation to work from.
It's always awesome to take your own pictures to use as references, so never hesitate to take a photo of your own face to study from!
Really observe your reference image and compare the facial elements with each other in terms of size and shape. Notice the distance between them and where they rest on the head structure. Compare one side of the person's face with the other and pinpoint differences. Pay attention to the silhouette created by the brow bone and cheekbone of the side opposite to us. Analyze the shapes of the eyes, the nose, mouth and ears, as well as those created by the shadows within the picture.
For the purpose of this tutorial I will be using the following two images found at Pexels and Unsplash. If you wish to use them, simply click on the photos to get to their original sources and download from there.
Pexels, Unsplash and Pixabay are great options if you need free quality images to use as references for your artwork. To find a list of my favorite free image sites visit my blog post My Favorite Free Image Sites & Two Examples of References with Finished Illustrations.
2. Create your initial face ``map´´
Using the information you already know about facial proportions and locations of facial elements, create a ``map´´ using vertical and horizontal lines. Usually, these lines are going to be slightly curved, as opposed to the straight lines created when drawing a map for a forward-facing portrait. It'll depend on whether the person is looking slightly upwards or downwards.
If you take a moment to observe the image of the woman I used, you'll notice that her chin is pointed slightly inwards. This was probably a deliberate choice made by the photographer, as it emphasizes her eyes and makes them seem bigger. Even though the photograph is cut and we can't see the top of her head entirely, there is a bit of foreshortening happening for sure! We are able to see more of the top of her head when compared to the picture of the man, who has more of a leveled head.
*If this is your first time drawing a face at an angle, I highly recommend printing out your reference photo (preferably letter-sized) and using a piece of tracing paper to create your face map, then transferring it to the paper you'll be drawing on.
3. Start placing individual facial elements
Once your face ``map´´ is set, start drawing your eyes, nose and mouth LIGHTLY (this will allow you to erase mistakes). I usually start with the eyes because they fall in the center of the face and allow me to visualize the other facial elements.
Look at your reference photo CONSTANTLY and try to replicate the shapes you see. Drawing eyes, noses and lips on heads at different angles is a lot harder than drawing them on a head that is facing straight forward. This is why practicing individual face elements is so important!
As previously stated, the elements on one side of the face are going to look different from the ones on the other side. We are no longer trying to create perfect symmetry! However, they DO have to look like they are all part of the same face.
Draw lightly and don't get discouraged if you need to erase a lot! The following image will help you get an idea of how to draw eyes, noses, lips and eyebrows at a 3/4's angle. At this point, focus on achieving adequate shape, size and proportion. Don't even think about starting with your shading yet!
*I love using a desk easel when drawing so that my surface angle is more similar to the angle of the image I'm looking at. When I draw faces on flat, horizontal surfaces, I often find that my drawings end up distorted! If you're having this problem, I can't recommend a desk easel enough!
4. Once your initial sketch seems on point, move on to creating values
Take a final look at your initial outline sketch and make sure that the location and proportion of facial elements looks correct. Don't worry about your drawing not looking like the person in the picture, just focus on making things look believable.
Afterwards, decide how you will be creating your tonal range throughout your drawing. To learn about crosshatching and other ways to create shadows/values in your drawings, visit my blog post titled Guide to Shading Techniques: Hatching, Cross-Hatching, Scribbling and Others.
Having a picture to work from provides you with a solid reference of where to place your darks, lights and mid-tones which will later lead to believable form and three-dimensionality. Pay close attention to your reference image! If you're having trouble discerning lights from darks, I recommend opening the image in a photo-editing software and desaturating it so that you're working only with grayscale.
Personally, I enjoy leaving my face drawings sketchy and unfinished-looking, but this final step is where your personal style comes in! I love to create values using hatching and crosshatching, and give a lot more emphasis to the face than I do to the hair or anything else, which is were I want to draw the viewer's attention towards.
Take your drawings as far as you'd like and remember to have fun with it!
What do you struggle with most when drawing or painting portraits? I've love to know! Leave a message in the comments section below.
In my blog you'll find information and resources to help you improve your art skills. I also share tips that will help you stay happy and productive as your journey progresses.
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