Hello art friends!
This was my third week starting my work days with hand sketches. That means that next week will be the last week I will be doing studies of this subject as frequently as I currently am. I will do my best to close this hand month by creating some paintings that include hands. I also did a watercolor wine glass study and, for the first time, I pushed myself to paint a portrait of a specific person using oils. I needed to find a quality picture of somebody's face that not only I knew well, but others around me knew well, in order to get feedback. Because of this, I decided to go for a picture of a well-known celebrity that I found online.
Thank you for coming by and make sure to visit next week to read more about art tips I have learned as well as my personal progress! I am super excited to announce that October will be the month in which I start selling my work online! Yay!! :) Have a great week!
Hello and thank you for coming by!
In this post I will be explaining how I go about drawing my simple, faster faces. It is essential for the beginner artist to learn about facial proportions and effective placement of facial elements before moving on to a more realistic drawing style. Only after anatomical proportion and proper location of features is understood, should one move on to things like value, shading and texture.
I have included a section briefly explaining how I draw each individual facial element (eyes, nose, lips, ears and hair) and have also included some notes about how features can be modified when drawing either male or female characters. Before we start, it is important to keep in mind that facial elements come in ALL shapes and sizes. So as long as you stay within these general ¨rules¨, you CAN and I actually ENCOURAGE you to experiment by making face shapes, noses, lips, and all the rest in slightly different shapes and sizes.
For this tutorial, you will need:
-A pencil (I recommend an HB)
-Sketchbook or paper of any kind
-Eraser (preferably a gum eraser)
1. Drawing the Head Shape
The way I draw the initial head shape is by starting with a large circle (1). I then make a vertical line dividing the face in half (2) and add a centered, small horizontal line a bit below the circle, which will be the chin (3). The shorter you make this horizontal line, the narrower/pointer your chin will be. The wider you draw this horizontal line, the wider your chin will be. The further down from the circle you draw it, the longer the face will be. The closer to the circle, the rounder the face. It all depends on the facial characteristics you are going for.
Once that is ready, draw two vertical lines down the left and right sides of the large circle (4). At the point at which these vertical lines touch the circle, I draw two curved lines downwards, connecting them to each side of the chin line (5). At this point, you can erase the vertical lines running down the sides of the head, as well as the bottom half of the circle. Leave the vertical line dividing the face where it is.
2. Drawing your Guidelines
As I had mentioned before, when drawing faces, it is essential to be aware of placement and size of facial features within the head shape. In order to achieve this, we will add guidelines that will help us along the way. Aside from the vertical line we already have dividing our face width in half (which will help us place the nose in the appropriate place), we will add a horizontal line dividing our face length in half. This will be the line that tells us where to place our eyes. This line will then be divided into five parts. Five eyes should fit along this line. Eyes should be drawn in the ¨2¨ and ¨4¨ sections of this line. The nose line will be placed halfway down the eye line and the chin. Finally, the mouth line will be placed halfway down the nose line and the chin.
I recommend adding these guidelines LIGHTLY, because they are going to be erased after they have served their purpose.
2. Drawing the Different Facial Elements
We are all good so far, but many of us (myself included) have trouble drawing at least one of the facial elements, whether it's the eyes, eyebrows, nose, lips, ears or hair. Do not attempt to leave something out simply because you think you're not going to be able to draw it properly. Remember, practice makes perfect and if you want to ever be able to create a realistic drawing, you have to start at some point!
I am going to give you a brief description of how I go about drawing simple versions of all of these necessary facial elements. I hope my handwriting isn't too horrible!
Once you have finished drawing your facial elements, erase all your guidelines.
3. Drawing Hair
There are many different ways to draw hair, depending on the hair style you'd like your character to have. It can be long, short, straight, curly, wavy, etc. I cannot go into all the different hair styles here, but I strongly encourage you to experiment with different types of line (curved, straight, wavy, etc.) in order to transmit the characteristics you'd like.
4. Bringing it All Together
By this point, your face should be completed. Here are two examples I have drawn for you displaying the differences between male and female characteristics.
5. Final Details
Add as many details (textures, shading, etc.) as you'd like. I personally don't add many details to this type of face drawing and prefer the sketchy look.
I hope you enjoyed this post and got something out of it. Feel free to download the PDFs below (already in letter size ready for printing) and to use the image files included in this post for practicing as you wish. In next week's post I will be explaining different quick methods of adding shading and value to sketches! Cheers my art friends!
Hello! Here are some sketches and paintings I did this week . This was my second week starting my days with hand sketches and it's amazing to see how much I have improved already. I can tell I am getting faster and faster at drawing the initial hand shapes and proportions. Next week I want to focus on creating cleaner and more effective hatching and crosshatching when adding in shadows.
The first painting included here was created with gouache and it is literally the second painting I have done using this media. Gouache is something that I want to keep improving at. The second was created using watercolors and it was a remake of a painting I had done several months ago. This exercise was something I was interested in doing because I wanted to be able to compare two paintings of the same subject created months apart. After that are my morning hand sketches of the week which I post on Instagram and Twitter every morning from Monday through Friday.
Original photo by Jonathan Pielmayer found on Unsplash here.
And last but not least is something I don't usually do much of and didn't know if I should include or not. This is an acrylic canvas painting that I created as a present for my soon to be born nephew. My sister-in-law asked me to create some room decor for him that included a Winnie-the-Pooh inspired quote and I came up with this. Hand-lettering is something I really enjoy so I had fun coming up with nice design. I am also creating some watercolor paintings of Winnie the Pooh for his room but will not be posting those.
Thank you for coming by! Enjoy your Sunday!
Hey there art friend! I'm so glad you're here!
In this post I will be sharing the list of my current favorite and most used art supplies. I am also experimenting with oils and gouache as much as I can, but would like to gain more experience with different brands of these types of paint in order to include them in a future list. For now, let's begin with the supplies I love and can honestly say I've used a substantial amount of so far.
1. Watercolor Paper
I have been able to try out a few different brands of watercolor paper by this point. Though I am far from being a paper connoisseur, I am slowly reaching a conclusion about which brands and varieties I should continue buying and which I shouldn't. Three of the brands I have had a chance to experiment with are Canson, Fabriano and Strathmore. I have had good experiences with the heavier weight varieties of these brands because, even though I rarely do wet-on-wet, I do have a tendency to be a bit rough when painting and enjoy being able to apply many layers. Even though the Fabriano paper I bought was heavy weight and allowed for lifting, blending, and layering, it ended up being way too textured for my taste, especially when trying to add colored pencils. I have liked both the 300 and 400 series of Strathmore paper and hope to try out the 500 series soon. The Canson watercolor pad is my latest watercolor paper acquisition and I have just started using it. What I can tell so far is that its texture is smoother and it can take a beating, which I think complements my painting style.
2. Idea Notebook and Planner
The reason why I've decided to include these two items in the list is because planning and keeping track of ideas has been a FUNDAMENTAL part of my development as an artist. I believe in setting plans and goals when trying to improve at pretty much anything in life and love writing things down. Because it is one of my objectives to improve my artistic skills, I set plans each week for myself. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you probably already know that I start my days with sketching specific subjects I want to improve at (last month it was the female figure and this week it's hands). In my personal planner, along with every other important thing I have to do, I include daily and weekly art goals that I make sure I complete. I also have mentioned that I love carrying a small notebook with me wherever I go so I have somewhere to jot down ideas if I need to. I bought this little red notebook at Target and my planner was ordered through Amazon. You can find the link to order this beautiful planner for yourself here.
I have bought very few individual expensive paintbrushes and am using them mostly for painting with oils. For the most part, I use round and angled paintbrushes from sets that I have ordered through Amazon. I ordered this Artify set a while ago and they are still going strong (even though the ones I use most have chipped handles due to my cat attacking them mid-painting session). Their bristles have also endured my not-so-delicate usage as well. Most recently, I ordered this set of smaller detail brushes and they are working pretty well so far.
4. Small Mixed-Media Strathmore Sketchbook
Almost every sketchbook I have bought so far is of the spiral, mixed-media variety. I like being able to use all sorts of different supplies in them for any kind of study/exploration I feel like doing. I have even used oils in this little sketchbook (having gesso-ed the paper). I love this smaller sketchbook because Strathmore paper has worked for me and I can take it with me wherever I go.
5. Prismacolor Premier Soft-Core Colored Pencils
At the beginning of my art journey I was very in much into mixed-media. I still like the idea of combining different media in one same piece, though lately, I am pushing myself to complete more paintings using only one type of media because I think this will help me improve in each specific technique independently. What led me to this conclusion was noticing that I was using colored pencils as a crutch whenever I couldn't achieve the effect I wanted using only paint, OR because I was being too lazy to continue painting layers. However, when a specific subject calls for finer details or specific textures, I do bring them out. I have bought myself a package of white Prismacolor pencils because they finish fast and I find them very handy.
6. Winsor and Newton Cotman Watercolor Pocket Box
This is my latest watercolor acquisition and I really love it! Colors are super vibrant and creamy. However, I have found that I do pull my Sakura Koi watercolor set out when I need specific colors that this set doesn't have (like gray and black). I'll probably go with Winsor and Newton when I finally decide to invest in fancier professional grade watercolors because I am loving them so far.
7. Sakura Koi Watercolor Set (24 Colors)
This was the watercolor set that started it all for me. At this point, I have already bought two. For the price, you get an incredibly wide array of colors of, in my opinion, excellent quality. These are not as creamy as the Winsor and Newton watercolors, but they are by no means chalky or grainy. The color payoff is great. They are great for those who paint outdoors because of its portable design. I got mine through Amazon for $22. Go here if interested.
8. Drawing Pens
Though I rarely mix ink and watercolor myself, I do enjoy creating ink sketches from time to time. I really like Micron Pens (who doesn't?) and have also used Staedtler pigment liners. I tend to reach for .3 and .5 points most. I bought the brush tip LePen Drawing Pen out of whim at my local art supply store and it has been a nice addition to my collection. I am still experimenting with it. Here is a sketch I created using a combination of the Staedtler and LePen pens (this sketch was made in my small mixed-media Strathmore sketchbook).
9. Canson Mix Media Sketchbook
This is the third Canson Mix Media Sketchbook I have bought. I love them for daily studies and explorations using all sorts of media. Though I love spiraled sketchbooks, I will probably be buying more and more non-spiraled varieties as my journey progresses. Even though the paper in these Canson sketchbooks is pretty smooth and it does buckle, I have been able to produce great watercolor paintings in them like the ones below.
10. Blue Scott Shop Towels
These towels are the best. I have used regular paper towels before and end up using so many! I use them throughout my painting process (they are great for lifting and drying when I get sloppy) and also for cleaning. I use them when painting with all different types of media, including oils.
11. Pencils, Mono Eraser, Kneaded Eraser, Charcoal Pencil and Blending stump
I am not a pencil/eraser snob. I create my drawings with anything I can get my hands on. I have a wide array of pencil grades in my studio of both Prismacolor and cheaper brands. In many of the pictures I upload to Instagram and Twitter you can see my used-up ugly erasers that I refuse to replace, for some reason. I enjoy gum erasers very much and these are what I use in my quick pencil sketches. For more realistic drawings that will take me longer, I use kneaded erasers and have also recently acquired a Mono eraser through Amazon that has worked pretty well for me. Mono erasers (or similar) are essential for realistic drawings that require erasing very thin, delicate lines. You can get one here. I bought this set of Derwent blending stumps and my kneaded eraser at my local art supply store that I use like a mad woman in my more realistic drawings (you can see the poor things in the picture below). I also enjoy using the all-graphite pencil and charcoal sticks that were part of this Castle Art Drawing/Sketching set I bought last year.
12. Wooden Desk Easel
Last but not least, I just HAD to include this easel in my list! I ordered it through Amazon a couple of months ago and I have found it incredibly useful so far. It is very inexpensive and its design is pretty practical. The reason I was looking for a desk easel is because I noticed the perspective was slightly distorted in some of my drawings because of the angle I was working on them. Sitting and drawing on a flat, horizontal surface can lead to distorted drawings. Having my reference photo and my drawing/painting at similar angles allows my eyes to better create an initial sketch to move forward from. You can find the easel here if you are interested.
I hope this was helpful in some way or, at least, gave you a few ideas for you to use! Thank you for reading and I wish you an amazing rest of the week! If you have any other great supplies that have made a difference in your own art journey, please comment below! I'd love to hear them!
Hello! This week was a tad busier for me in terms of non art-related appointments and obligations. I have been meeting with different accountants in order to choose who will be helping me set up the financial/tax side of starting my own business. I have finally decided who I'm going with and am super happy because this means I will be able to move forward with my online shops very soon.
Next week I'll be starting to teach my after-school acrylic painting and oil pastel extracurricular classes at the wonderful school I used to work at full-time, which means shifting my schedule around a bit. I am super happy to be seeing my old students again, and also meeting new ones! Teaching classes means having to do plan work and also buying/transporting supplies, so that's something else that I will be having to schedule in as I try to build my business.
As some of you may already know (especially if you follow me on Instagram), this week I started my days with hand sketches. I really want to improve my hand-drawing abilities and will be doing my morning sketches of this subject for probably the entire month of September. Near the end of the month I plan to start painting hands with gouache. I also started a new oil painting this week and will be posting about it soon.
I usually like having reference photos or real life objects in front of me to get inspired by when creating an artwork. Even though I am not particularly interested in taking the hyperrealist route, I use photographs because they remind me of details that I may or may not choose to include in my painting (or drawing), and might otherwise forget. I have found that, at times, it is these little details in photographs that my painting was lacking in order to become great. Perhaps when I become experienced enough as an artist I will have sufficient information stored in my mind to be able to paint anything without needing a reference, but I really doubt it. There are a lot of very experienced people out there that use reference photos and most of my favorite artists in history did as well. Having something to look at, even if you aren’t trying to create a perfect replica of it, is super useful.
This said, I have to admit that I am very much against tracing and even using grids (after you have arrived at a certain level of ability). I don’t even like to print out reference images, but prefer to work directly from my computer screen or from real life. Many artists recommend printing out the picture before starting a painting and working from it in order to ensure colors, values and proportions are true to the image. If you are going for something very realistic or simply believe it will be more comfortable for you, go ahead and print the image. I personally don’t because my style doesn't involve recreating images 100%. Even if it means my version of the reference will end up slightly distorted, have colors that may look a bit unnatural, or certain angles don’t completely make sense, I like this more because there is more of myself in my artwork. I view imperfections and deliberate modifications by the artist as good things. All of this is my opinion and my personal way of working. Finally, tracing doesn't help an artist exercise observational and drawing skills as much as drawing from life or from a separate image does. I really recommend not doing it after you have surpassed that initial level of drawing, no matter how hard it may be at first.
Getting back to photography, making time to take photos of the subjects you are most drawn to is incredibly important for an artist. In a previous post I talked about how sometimes it’s difficult to make time for this. I've shared links to sites that offer free quality photos that you can use to create artwork from and even sell (click here to go to this post). These sites are lifesavers for us who have a full or part time job aside from being artists and don't always have the time necessary to do an actual photo session. I don't think there is anything wrong in using photos that aren't ours in these cases, as long as we have permission to do so. I believe that using them to get daily practice in is SO much better than doing nothing at all. However, there is nothing as rewarding as creating an artwork completely on your own, from start to finish. Going though the process of brainstorming and visualization, finding the actual object(s) you want to shoot, sketching out composition ideas and arriving at the photo that you will later be using to create your artwork, may be a lot of work, but it is totally worth it at the end.
Photography is definitely an art form in itself and learning to take perfect photos takes a lot of learning and practice. I took my first Photography class when I was in High School and later on took a course in university in which we were still actually processing photos in dark rooms (man do I feel old)! It is important to know that simply taking a photo doesn't ensure that it will be able to be used for a drawing or painting. Things like resolution and lighting can make a photo extremely difficult to work with and even result in bad art. Below I am sharing a few key things to keep in mind when taking reference photos for your artwork. As artists, we should spend more time doing drawing and painting than taking photos, so we should make the process as simple but effective as possible.
Things to have in mind when taking reference photos for your art:
Here are a couple of good pictures I ended up with that I will definitely be using to create some paintings. Try not to get too hungry!
Thanks so much for reading! I hope this was helpful!
This week I really felt like painting something different and challenging for me. I went for a bear and a dog, because I love animals and hadn't painted one in a long time. As you can see, I am still practicing drawing the female body in different poses. Next week I will be starting my days drawing hands in different positions because it is something I have to improve as well. I also included here an oil painting of pears that I finished this week. Still have a lot of exploration to do with oils, but I am enjoying them very much! Thanks for popping by and hope you enjoy these pieces!
I am going to start out this post with a somewhat embarrassing confession. Until about two years ago, I never had a sketchbook. Pretty much all my drawings were created on loose sheets of paper that ended up in folders (if they were lucky) or lost under piles of junk never to be found again. What can I say? I got busy with full-time jobs that, perhaps were “artsy” and creative, but never really left me the time and energy to explore art for myself. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with daily responsibilities and forget about that one activity that we'd really like to spend some time doing if we could ever find some extra time. Keeping up with demanding jobs, family responsibilities, social commitments and making time for health on top of everything else, can keep us from pursuing activities which we know would bring us a great amount of joy and inner peace, but sometimes loose their priority amongst everything else. I’m sure many of you can relate.
It took me forever to fill up that first little sketchbook I ordered from Amazon two years ago. I moved out of the house I was living in back then, got married and was extremely busy giving my all at my job, working overtime several days a week and arriving home exhausted. I had started trying out some new art supplies in this sketchbook (I think mostly watercolor pencils and drawing pens) but wasn’t really serious about it yet. My priorities were still elsewhere. Finally, last year, I became incredibly inspired by artists I was finding online and I made the decision to make time for my own improvement as an artist. I knew that this would not only bring me personal fulfillment, but would also help me become the Art Teacher I wish I had when I was a student.
So little by little I began investing in more art supplies and, this time, I actually USED them. I started consciously setting aside time for my own art after work and on weekend mornings and it went on like that for months. I began getting more and more excited about my personal improvement and finding my voice as an artist. I can honestly say the elation I felt from creating something and sharing it with the world was unlike nothing I had ever felt before. I started to feel like this big part of me that I had been suppressing for so many years was emerging, like I was finally becoming whole. I had never experienced anything as addictive as creating these little artworks that began filling my sketchbook (by this point it was a bigger one). The part of my days which I looked forward to the most were those moments in which I could immerse myself in my art and slowly peel back these layers that would lead me to discover myself as an artist. I haven’t stopped since.
Later on, as I found myself filling not only sketchbooks quicker and quicker, but creating painting after painting on proper watercolor paper, I began investing in higher quality supplies. I am still in the process of creating my collection and finding those specific brands of paper and paint that I love most, but my persistence and personal drive to become better have brought me far from where I started.
Why sketchbooks are so important in an artist's journey:
How to get the most out of your sketchbook:
``The artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing.´´
Thank you for reading and have a good one!
What sketchbook brands or formats do you love most? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!
Hello everyone! I hope you are having a great weekend!
This little collection includes pencil sketches as well as oil and watercolor paintings. I am pushing myself to continue with drawing one female pose per day. I share these on Instagram and Twitter every morning (Monday through Friday), so if you follow me on there you've probably seen a few of these before. If you aren't following me by now, please do! I'd love to connect!
One of my objectives during this phase of my art journey is to experiment with as many kinds of paint and supplies I can get my hands on. I think this is an essential part of discovering one's personal preferences and style. It is only through firsthand experimentation that an artist can discover which types of media are most enjoyable for him/her and, most importantly, which complement personal style most.
If you've followed my work you probably already know that I have mostly been focusing on watercolor and mixed-media. I have recently started painting in oils and am enjoying working with them very much. I have experience with acrylics and know that I'm not particularly fond of them. After viewing a few very talented artists on YouTube (the great James Gurney being one of them), I became curious about gouache, especially because I heard it being compared to watercolor so much. So I bought myself a set and was very excited to try it out.
What I did for this experiment was to first find a reference image that I could use to paint two separate studies, one with watercolor and another with gouache. I went for an image that wasn't too complex, so that I could allow myself to focus more on getting to know the paint than on creating a masterpiece. I chose this pear image from www.unsplash.com and created the two paintings below. You will see that the styles are very different. Which are you most drawn to yourself? Comment below this post!
Here is a Venn Diagram in which I organized the notes I took throughout the process:
Artwork outcomes will greatly vary depending not only on the type of paint used, but on HOW it is used. Results with either watercolor or gouache can vary greatly even amongst their own kind depending on how ¨loose¨ or ¨tight¨ an artist's personal style is. The quality of paints, paintbrushes and paper/substrate really can affect a piece as well.
I would say that gouache has a greater versatility than watercolor in the sense that it can be used within the same painting to create a mix of transparent, blurred effects and thicker, bolder blocks of color. It's also very useful that one can easily fix mistakes and add lighter values at the end instead of having to worry about protecting the lightest parts of the piece from the beginning. This said, I personally find fast drying paint annoying at times and the fact that gouache reactivates so easily when layering kind of irritated me in the beginning. Also, with watercolor, a large variety of values can be created by simply adding more or less water to a color. With gouache, if one intends to create a more realistic piece, a good amount of time has to be spent preparing colors and values on the palette before starting to paint. Especially because the paint dries so fast. It is important to know that realism can be achieved with both types of paint, provided the artist has enough practice and patience. With gouache, I definitely need it!
To finish up, gouache is an excellent option for those looking to create very stylized, more painterly artworks. It can also work great for lettering, visual journaling, and quick sketches. Artists who like bold color, outlines and expressive styles should definitely give this type of paint a try!
Lately I've been trying my best to absorb as much as possible about what it takes to succeed as an artist. I am SO incredibly grateful for all the artists and experts out there willing to put out information for us to learn from and apply in our careers. As artists, most of us are responsible not only for continuously producing good art, but of promoting it as best as we can and dealing with everything else that comes from selling a product (numbers, money, taxes, etc.). There's just SO much! Is it worth it in order to do what we love and living life on our terms? Totally! Nonetheless, there's a lot of learning involved and if it wasn't for all of these incredible, helpful people putting all that information out there, the learning curve for us new artists would be a lot steeper. I love listening to these talks as I work (yay for multitasking!).
The following five podcasts are by far my favorite. They all offer large libraries of episodes to choose from and their topics range from motivational to practical. I hope they will help you as much as they have helped me.
1. Accidental Creative
Accidental Creative is a group dedicated to helping creatives thrive by providing workshops and many other useful resources.
Click here to listen to the episode released yesterday titled ¨Avoiding the Comparison Trap¨.
2. Creative Pep Talk
I find Andy J. Miller extremely inspirational and I quite enjoy his more intimate approach to podcasts. He combines interviews and personal stories in his episodes.
Click here to listen to the last episode titled ¨You Are More¨.
3. The Jealous Curator
105 episodes of inspirational interviews with artists and creatives.
Click here to listen to this wonderful episode titled ¨If It Scares You, Do It¨.
4. Art Marketing Action Podcasts from Alyson B. Stanfield (ArtBizCoach.com)
As artists and freelancers, we have to be our own promoters. Alyson Stanfield is an expert at Art Marketing and puts out a lot of useful information for us.
Click here to listen to choose from 189 different episodes on iTunes.
5. Artists Helping Artists
This is also a very helpful podcast in which artists talk about the business side of art as well as other practical tips.
Click here to listen to the interesting episode titled ¨20 Lists Artists Should Keep¨.
Hello! Here is a collection of pencil sketches and watercolor paintings I have created in the past couple of weeks. Thanks for popping by!
"You want to make an omelette? You've gotta break some eggs."
-Tyler Durden (Fight Club)
In today's post, I will be taking you through the process of preparing an old canvas painting in order to reuse it to make a new artwork! I am a firm believer in using what we have and in being as resourceful as possible in our explorations. Because, as most of you already know, us artists explore a WHOLE darn lot and we have to be smart about how we spend our money.
First and foremost, a bit about the original painting. This canvas was a part of an artwork composed of three separate panels (three long rectangles meant to be hung vertically side by side). The paintings are 35 years old, at least. Probably more. Another important note is that these artworks seem to have been created using very thin applications of acrylic paint. It is definitely not oil. And they don’t have much texture to them at all. I took all of these points into consideration when I decided to use them in my explorations. I knew resurfacing them was going to be easy and that they presented good opportunities for me to work on a size and format I had never worked on before.
Secondly, I used regular Gesso I had at hand in order to resurface my canvas. There is a lot of debate whether or not it is ¨safe¨ to use oil paint on a canvas prepped with gesso. A lot of folks believe that it should not be done because it is just a recipe for cracking, peeling and an overall less durable painting. Other artists believe that a good quality Gesso can serve as base for practically any type of paint or medium. I think it is up to you to figure out if this will work for your specific type of artwork or not, and the only way of finding this out is through first-hand experimentation. Perhaps your just experimenting and learning like me, and aren't really looking to create a masterpiece that will be passed on from generation to generation. In this case, it doesn't really matter. Something you DO have to keep in mind is that if your goal is to resurface an old oil painting, a whole new set of rules apply. Regular Gesso cannot be used for this purpose. You would need an oil-specific ground and/or primer (I will not go into this process today because it is not something I have personally tried). So, once again, you CAN create an oil painting over traditional Gesso, but you CANNOT apply gesso over an oil painting. Are you with me?
I personally didn't worry much about creating an impeccable surface for this project because, as previously stated, I knew since the beginning that this was mostly an exploration for me. However, if it worries you, a solution is to apply Lindseed Oil prior to starting the painting process. Simply brush this all over the previously dried gesso and allow it to soak for about 24 hours. Afterwards, wipe off the canvas with a dry cloth and let the games begin! The idea is that the gesso will absorb some of this oil and it is less likely to make the painting crack later.
How to Reuse an Old Canvas Using Gesso:
You will need:
-Old canvas painting/print/pretty much whatever as long as it's not an oil painting
-Thick used up/cheap brush
-Glass containers for water
-Linseed oil (*Optional)
1. Wipe clean the old artwork. Make sure it is clear of dust and other particles.
2. Sandpaper the surface using light pressure and focusing on highly textured areas. Don’t fret so much about getting the surface super even if the painting has a lot of texture to it. Wipe surface using a cloth.
3. Apply first layer of Gesso as evenly as possible and allow to dry for a couple of hours. If your Gesso is too thick and this bothers you, you can add a bit of water to it. Make sure that first layer completely dries before continuing with the next step. If it feels damp to the touch, this means you should wait longer.
3. If you want to start off with a textured surface, simply apply a second layer of Gesso. If you don't want so much texture, sand your surface gently once more, wipe to remove particles, and apply second layer of Gesso (you can sand it once more after it dries).
At this point it should be ready to be painted on! But if you are still a bit nervous about not having a quality surface to work on, use the Linseed Oil suggestion I mentioned before. I will be trying this out on the next one!
To end this post, I would like to encourage you to always keep learning and not be afraid of devoting time to a process that might not produce the most amazing of artworks. Keep experimenting and be proud of yourself for simply going through a learning process. I firmly believe that the process matters more than the final outcome in both life AND our artistic journeys.
After I have devoted a solid amount of time into any artwork, I like to analyze it and make notes about what I learned throughout the process. In this case, here is what I wrote:
The past weekend I decided to go back to basics and do some human figure studies in my sketchbook. I want to get quicker at drawing the female figure in interesting poses because, for the longest time, I drew very stiff and boring bodies. I really admire comic book artists because they have to know how to draw pretty much every pose imaginable super fast!
I initially started learning about human body proportions around six years ago, when I came up with the idea of giving a Fashion Sketching Extracurricular class at the school I was working at. Even though back then I was focusing much more on creating templates that my students and I could use to design clothes on, I learned as much as I could about proportions of the human body and how to go about drawing one. I learned that even though in reality there are a million different body shapes and sizes, there are certain measurements that have to be kept in mind when drawing a believable human figure. Usually, realistic (adult) figures are around 7.5-8 heads tall whereas the fashion figure is elongated to around 9 heads tall. There are also other measurements that have to be considered like arm length, shoulder width, feet size, etc.
With this information in mind, I took out my ruler and created templates that I could use to start practicing an over-simplified skeleton of the human shape using simple lines and shapes. You can find a lot of different ways of drawing this skeleton, and in my opinion it doesn't really matter how you do it, as long as it represents realistic proportions and it allows you to visualize your drawing so you can eventually work from it.
By taking time to practice drawing this skeleton and (when your ready) using it to flesh out your humans, you'll eventually be able to develop an eye for what looks right in an artwork and what doesn't. After some practice, you'll be able to draw any pose that you see in pictures or real life and you'll become faster and faster!
The sketches below are recreations of what I used to start practicing all those years ago and an empty template that you can use to practice yourself! If you have never tried this before, I suggest beginning with the forward view. When you've got that down, start moving that skeleton around more and more! What would it look like dancing? Sitting down? Kicking a ball?
Once you can do this, it will be time to look into how to draw each bodily element!
Drag these .jpgs onto your desktop or download them below to use them as you'd like!
I am enjoying this time of experimentation with different supplies very VERY much. I had the opportunity this week to play around with oil paint, which I am totally a beginner at. I have not finished the large canvas landscape painting that I am working on, mostly because I am making sure to allow each layer to dry completely before applying the next. I will share that as soon as I am done. Today, what I will be sharing is this grayscale oil paint portrait which I finished last night. It is the first portrait I have ever painted in oils.
Here are three suggestions for those beginners out there looking to start painting portraits. Most of these can apply for gouache or acrylics as well.
1. Always use a good reference photo and take a few minutes to really observe it. Try to find one that has a good image resolution and interesting lighting. Even if your goal is not to create a painting or a drawing that looks like a specific person, it is always going to be helpful to have an image to look at throughout the process. This will help you establish realistic values and proportions.
2. It is ESSENTIAL for you to have a good amount of practice drawing realistic faces before attempting to paint a portrait. The only reason why I did a semi-decent job in my first portrait oil painting is because I have studied facial proportions for years and have a relatively good amount of practice drawing them. Only through time spent observing and practicing will one start developing an eye for what looks good and what is off. I once read that, since we humans look at faces probably more than anything else on a daily basis, anyone would be able to tell if something is slightly off with a portrait when they see it, even if they can't exactly pinpoint what it is. You NEED an effective sketch to start a painting off with. Or be such a pro that you have realistic proportions/angles engrained in your head so well that you can go in with your paintbrush right away. I wish to get to this point someday!
3. Once you feel ready to try your luck at your first portrait painting, do it in grayscale. This takes away the need to create realistic skin tones if you are not yet at this point. It is better to take the learning process step-by-step! Keep in mind that, aside from facial proportions, the other important element behind creating realistic art is the effective use of color values. I recommend focusing on setting up a palette with a variety of gray values, from lightest or darkest, and then making sure to place the different tonal values in appropriate places. I used odorless mineral spirits and Gamsol to thin out my paints and do blending. I really recommend this grayscale exercise. Once you succeed at this, go ahead and go for the color!
I am going to travel to the U.S. to pick up a few Amazon art supply orders very soon. I've ordered a set of gouache paints which I am super excited to experiment with!
Have a wonderful weekend and I hope to see you around soon! :)
Here are a few little paintings I did last week in my efforts to step out of my comfort zone. I felt like it was time to challenge myself with new subjects that I don't usually choose to draw or paint. I think it is essential for artists to schedule in time every now and then for experimentation with different types of techniques, supplies and/or subjects because throughout these we are able not only to expand our abilities, but we are also able to learn about our own likes, dislikes and possible areas of opportunity. In my opinion, an artist should never stop learning and improving. We are creatives and most of us are innately curious creatures. We should use this curiosity to propel us to learn.
Here are my five suggestions to break out of an artistic rut:
1. Try drawing/painting an object, person, landscape (or whatever it is you usually create) in a different perspective. Do you always draw things from side view? Try doing a top view! Try doing extreme close-ups! It's impressive how much we can learn when we try to draw or paint a subject we've done a million times before, only in a different angle or arrangement!
2. Use different supplies to create your artwork. Do you usually create pencil drawings? Try a drawing with pens or charcoal sticks! Do you usually paint with watercolors? Try acrylics or gouache! You can even create a mixed-media artwork with a combination of supplies! You'll notice that in the boat and sofa studies I used my LePen Drawing pen which I had never used with watercolors before.
3. Pick a different subject all-together. Are you usually drawn to painting faces? Create a landscape or a still life piece! How can your current style translate into an artwork with a different kind of primary subject?
4. Plan and prepare a limited color palette that includes colors you wouldn't normally use. Take a look at the work you have created lately. Do you mostly use warm colors? Try using mostly cool (or vice versa)! Is there a specific color you usually leave out? Try creating a palette that includes it! Do you usually like a lot of color in your paintings? Try selecting a triad or analogous colors in the color wheel and only work with those! You can also try to select one color and use it as undertone for all the other colors you use in your painting.
5. Create Pinterest boards (or a folder in your computer) to collect artwork that calls to you for your own reference/inspiration. Check mine out here! You can then go back to it in times of experimentation and pinpoint specific things you'd like to try out. You feel attracted to these artworks for a reason! 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 original artwork.
Lastly, just do it! Don't sit there hours on end trying to decide. Just take action! And remember, these studies aren't meant to be masterpieces. It's more about what you learn during the process than the end product. I suggest trying your best to power through the drawing or painting so that your study reaches some form of conclusion. Make notes of what was difficult, what you have to make sure to do differently next time, or any new ideas that you'd like to try.
I leave you with a great quote by French artist Eugene Delacroix:
“The artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing."
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!