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: