If you were to asked to choose between an artwork that displayed an amazing quality of realistic rendering or one that captures your attention due to its unique expression of ideas, which would you choose? Are you one of those people that just plain hates all degrees of abstraction in art, praising only those artists who consistently produce work with high levels of realism? On the other hand, do you find photorealism boring and lacking a particular style or unique touch on part of the artist?
``Neither is there figurative and non-figurative art. All things appear to us in the shape of forms. Even in metaphysics ideas are expressed by forms. Well then, think how absurd it would be to think of painting without the imagery of forms. A figure, an object, a circle, are forms; they affect us more or less intensely.´´
In this blog post I will explain the differences and similarities between figurative and abstract art styles, as well as why it is important to make space for both in our artistic journeys. Also, I will be sharing some effective tips and exercises that will help you move towards creating artwork that shows both technical skill AND is also meaningful.
This is not going to be an opinionated post bashing either abstract or figurative artwork or anything in between. This will not be a rant about how much I dislike either style and, much less, a criticism towards artists of any kind. Au contraire, my friend! One of my main philosophies in life is appreciating and learning from all types of things and finding morsels that speak to me so I can create my own unique mishmash of awesome. I believe that there is something to learn from everything, and that if one remains open, there will ALWAYS be something valuable to take that will enrich us as human beings (and consequently improve our work). I believe exploration and the desire to improve should be an intrinsic part of an artist's life, and feel like constricting oneself to a particular style will not allow as much progress to be made.
This said, today I am not going to get into the contemporary kind of artwork that does not really demonstrate any kind of particular knowledge about Art Fundamentals on part of the artist. You know which kind of works I am talking about! Though I do give some of these artists merit for striving to engage with their audience at a philosophical level and attempting to communicate ideas about difficult topics, in this blog post I am only considering work that shows knowledge of Elements and Principles of Art/Design.
In my personal case, it didn't take long to realize that I am naturally drawn towards creating figurative artwork. What HAS been a struggle, however, has been reaching a conclusion about what degree of realism I want my artwork to convey. You see, though I admire and respect hyper/photorealist artists very much, I would like to be able to arrive at some distinctive style that I can call my own someday. Though it requires an immense amount of patience and skill to produce hyperrealism, I want my work to be more than an exact replica of what everyone else is able to see by looking at a picture. I'd like to arrive at an artistic style that demonstrates both skill AND is able to communicate an idea or feeling. I know I have a long way to go before arriving at this point, but simply having reached this conclusion tells me I am making progress as an artist.
What do the terms “Abstract" and “Figurative" mean in Art?
``Figurative´´ and ``Abstract´´ are simply two (very broad) categories in which artwork, be it painting or sculpture, can be divided into. It is important to understand that there are numerous degrees of figuration and abstraction, and this can even occur within one same piece. Though some art can be easy to categorize into either pool, others are a bit harder to decipher. There are a few art terms that are often confusing when learning about figurative and abstract art that I want to touch upon.
The word ``representational" is often used interchangeably with ``figurative´´ but these two terms are not synonyms. Both abstract AND figurative artworks are usually representational. Why? Because, most of the time, even when creating work that is completely abstract, there IS something from the real world that artists are trying to represent. Two artists, one figurative and one abstract, can be creating a painting using the same flower arrangement as reference, and each of their works at the end (though completely different from each other) are going to be a representation of those same objects. Abstract artists simply choose to express what their eyes are taking in in a more expressive and unconventional manner.
Also, it is important to note that the term ``figurative´´ does not solely refer to artworks containing the human figure as subject, though many times they do. This term describes any work that is clearly derived from object (or living) sources, be it a portrait, landscape, still life, etc. In other words, if you are able to instantly recognize what it is your looking at, whether its a house, a flower, or a horse, it can be classified as figurative.
Finally, just because an artwork is figurative/representational, doesn't mean that it has to be realistic! Realism in art is created by the ability to render pictures using perspective, value, proportion, form, texture, etc. to depict subjects as closely as they appear in real life. This type of artwork is created with the intention of representing the subject as truthfully as possible. Realism is also an art movement, but we are talking specifically about styles today. It takes an immense amount of knowledge about Art Fundamentals (form, perspective, shading, proportion, human anatomy, color theory, etc.) and practical experience in order to create realistic artwork. This is not to say that abstract artists know nothing about Art Fundamentals or how to create the optical illusion of three dimensionality! There are amazing abstract artists that are able to combine color, line, texture and shape to create three-dimensionality, movement and many other interesting effects in their work. Consider the artwork below by the great Victor Vasarely. There is simply NO WAY that he could have created pieces like this one without having extensive knowledge of the Elements and Principles of Art, as well as years of practical exploration!
“It takes years for representational artists to develop their skills in mimicking the objects before their eyes."
This term simply refers to artwork featuring subject(s) that retain a fair amount of real-world characteristics. It is always representational and the audience is easily able to recognize what they are looking at, no matter what degree of realism is involved in the creation of the piece. The term ``figurative´´ became a common term to use in art conversation after the arrival of abstract art.
Consider the following two artworks. Sargent and Matisse were both figurative artists, but they had VERY different styles!
For a very long time in history, realism was sought after by artists and praised by art appreciators. From the time the Greeks became obsessed with the human body and began studying its proportions to create beautiful marble sculptures representing their perfect Gods and Goddesses, to the Renaissance, when Filippo Brunelleschi discovered how to transmit perspective and depth on a flat, two dimensional surface, creating true-to-life art was what all artists strived to achieve. Throughout history, mathematical and scientific advances allowed for both greater knowledge on part of the artist, as well as more effective artistic tools and supplies. It wasn't until the second half of the 19th century, with the surge of Impressionism, that realism started to be challenged by artists who wanted to explore further.
``Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot see physically with his eyes...Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an exploration into unknown areas.´´
Contrary to figurative art, abstract art does not attempt to represent subjects in an accurate or natural way. It is not the objective of this kind of artist to achieve realism, but to communicate emotions or ideas. These artists make use of Elements of Art such as shape, color, line and texture to create visually appealing compositions that are meant to express what is in their mind. As mentioned before, this kind of artwork is usually also representational, as the artist has at least some sort of reference to work from. However, there are artists that do not use any particular reference, but apply their knowledge of Elements of Art and Color Psychology in order to very effectively transmit emotion. Abstract art can range from easily comprehensible to entirely geometrical/organic with no recognizable figures. One of the main characteristics of this type of artwork is that it interacts with the viewer in the sense that it calls out for interpretation.
With the arrival of the Industrial Revolution and the invention of camera, artists started seeking new ways to create artwork that went beyond a realistic representation of what they could see. The Impressionists were the first to start exploring use color and paint in new ways that would permit not only the rendering of a beautiful picture, but expression on part of the artist. They wanted to create work that the camera couldn't. It was in this time that the manipulation of color and shape started to occur. Later on, the Cubist movement brought forth an even greater degree of abstraction.
Though the stylized drawings on cave walls and symbolic stone sculptures created by prehistoric people are disregarded by some as simple decoration, they demonstrate that abstraction has been part of human life since its beginnings. Groups of people all over the world used shape, color and line to communicate ideas and created decorative designs on pottery and other tools. This means humans have been creating abstract art since we first had the need to express ourselves. Abstraction is not a completely ``contemporary´´ or ``modern´´ thing, but a style that has been with us all along.
Tips to Explore/Improve Both Art Styles:
1. Practice drawing both from life AND from quality photography. First focus on shape and proportion to create an effective outline drawing. Worry about detail and shading only after you have been successful in this. Once your ready, explore shading in whatever technique yo prefer (you can learn about hatching/crosshatching shading techniques and download free practice worksheets in my "Guide to Shading Techniques: Hatching, Cross-Hatching, Scribbling and Others" blog post).
2. Keep a sketchbook and use it CONTINUOUSLY as a means of exploration. Read about why it is important to keep a sketchbook and how to use it in order to improve in my blog post titled "Why Sketchbooks are Essential Tools for Artists and a Few Usage Tips". Your sketchbooks will be your best friends!
3. Whatever your subject or choice may be (portraits, landscapes, still life, etc.), study the elements involved INDEPENDENTLY. For example, if you wish to be a portrait artist, make time to study only eyes, then focus on noses, then lips, and so on BEFORE attempting to draw or paint a complete realistic face. If you want to do landscapes, make time to study different types of trees, how to paint clouds, water, and so on BEFORE attempting to create a complete realistic landscape. Explore your medium of choice and practice creating different colors and textures with it.
4. Always keep learning and practicing Art Fundamentals. No matter what your artistic style is or even what subject you wish to specialize in in the future, ALWAYS make time to practice things like form, perspective, anatomy and effective compositional arrangement. I created a blog post for beginners about perspective and drawing three dimensional shapes which includes free worksheets to practice with that you can read here. I will be expanding on different Art Fundamentals in the future, so stay tuned!
1. Practice the deliberate manipulation of Art Elements (be it color, shape, texture, etc.) in order to more efficiently transmit ideas or emotions. Maybe for you this will mean simply starting to use colors that are slightly more unnatural, bright or contrasted in order to make your drawings or paintings more impactful. Maybe it means arriving at your own, stylized version of a human figure. Maybe you wish to bring out only a certain part of your drawing or painting by adding more detail to that area. Whatever this may be for you, think about the message behind your work and how you can modify reality in order to impact the viewer. Don't be afraid to break the rules!
2. Try using art supplies that FORCE you to pay less attention to small details. This goes especially if you are naturally prone to want to create high levels of realism. If you paint, try using larger brushes and/or creating a picture using less brush strokes! If you draw, try using a medium like charcoal or oil pastels that don't really allow for high level of detail. Try to discern between what a picture has to NECESSARILY include in order to portray what you want to portray, and what can be left out. Also, try using techniques that will allow you to work faster and looser.
The following pieces have been explorations I have done in the past in order to gain practice at working faster and more loosely. This has been hard for me because I am prone to want to add detail, but I am seeing much progress with time!
3. Experiment and explore with unconventional supplies! Use ready-made things you have laying around in your studio or home like fabric, paper, pieces of plastic, etc. and think of them in terms of shapes, color and texture. How could they complement each other to create one same composition? Make your collection and think, are you drawn to these particular objects for a specific reason? One of the best (and most fun) ways for me to explore shape, texture and color is by creating collages! They are something I start with no particular idea in mind, but new ideas always pop into my head throughout this process!
4. Look inwards and use internal stimulation instead of external stimulation to create your work. Give importance to getting to know yourself and think about what ideas and themes are important to YOU as a human being. Continuously write and brainstorm what comes into your mind. Start works based on these ideas instead of working from images or objects that exist beyond you. How can you use color, shape, texture, etc., to transmit your idea?
Making Time to Explore Both Styles
``What interests me is all the stuff that goes into abstract and abstract-figurative art. Not the styles, but the stuff that, in various combinations, make the styles: mixing and matching painting methods and ideas.´´
As artists, we should make time to explore both figurative and abstract art throughout our journeys because it will enhance the outcome of our work. I believe we should always seek improvement and be willing to step out of our comfort zones. On one hand, it's incredibly important to learn the rules before attempting to break them and to always make time to go back to the basics, no matter what level of expertise we have achieved. This will help us maintain our observational and rendering skills fresh. On the other hand, we should explore new techniques that will enable more effective communication with our audience because, well, isn't that the point? Great art is engaging at a visceral level and makes people feel and/or think!
Personally, some of the artwork that has called out to me the most combines both figurative AND abstract techniques within them. This is what I seek to achieve some day with my work!
I hope that you found this post useful! I'd love it if you could answer the quick survey below!
Have a wonderful rest of the week and I hope to see you around later!
Hey there! Thank you for visiting!
This week was kind of rough for me. Not only did I have family staying over at my house, but I also got a bit sick. I'm fine now, thank goodness! However, once I got back to it, I decided to take it easy and paint some fun stuff (thus, the food). I spent a good portion of today cleaning my house and organizing my studio so that next week can be super productive and I am excited for all the things I will be advancing on. Next Thursday's blog post will be about Figurative vs. Abstract Art. It's going to be a good one! Though I don't make much Abstract art, I'll be challenging myself to make some original examples! I will also be continuing with Christmas-related artwork.
I hope you had an amazing and restful weekend! See you around soon!
Are you making the majority of your art marketing efforts via social media and online platforms, nearly ever leaving the comfort of your own office/studio? Do you choose to ignore the possibility of first-handedly selling your work to people or businesses within your city because you find face to face interaction kind of intimidating? Have you avoided promoting yourself and your work amongst people who know you (friends, family, coworkers, etc.) because you are worried about what they may think?
“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear."
“Leadership requires five ingredients--brains, energy, determination, trust, and ethics. The key challenges today are in terms of the last two--trust and ethics."
In this post I will share a bit about where my mind has been in the past few months as I've started to build my art business. I'll also share the short term plans I've set that will help me start building a platform for future success, which includes reaching out to people I know as well as local businesses that could be interested in what I have to offer. Building relationships within your community is a vital part of being a freelancer or solopreneur, especially when starting out, and we should definitely make sure to invest time and effort into creating them, instead of focusing solely on the online world.
What I've Done So Far and Some of My Short-Term Plans
If you have already been following me for a bit, you probably already know that I made the jump from working full-time to starting my own art business quite recently. The time I have spent since resigning from my full-time teaching position until now has been absolutely amazing. I have been making art more than ever before and am finally on my way towards finding my artistic voice and style, which brings me a level of fulfillment unlike nothing I've ever felt. However, though this time of artistic exploration and self-discovery has brought me SO MANY positive emotions, there's also been some amount of anxiety and stress looming over my head because I knew since day one that I had no time to lose in regards to starting my business. Before leaving my last job (which I worked at for six years) I made sure to set myself up as best as I could financially speaking and am still working part-time in order to generate somewhat of an income. Nonetheless, the pressure is on, and I know that I have to keep moving and building something that will eventually start bringing in money.
There's been SO incredibly much to learn in SO many different areas! Though I feel that I have grown so much in the past few months, I know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Some days, quite frankly, my brain feels like it's going to explode with all this information I have to wrap my head around. I WANT to be making art, but learning about the business aspects involved and promoting my work takes up A LOT of my time. Sometimes days go by in which I don't pick up my sketchbook or paintbrush. I quickly learned (and accepted) that creating great art and making sure to continuously work towards improving artistic skills is only a slice of the pie...a very complex pie. Building a business takes large amounts of courage, dedication, and I've found, being one's own cheerleader. If you don't believe in what you have to offer, remain focused on your work, and do something everyday to expand your reach, NOBODY else is going to do it for you. Though you are only one person, it is imperative that you do something every single day, whether it's online or off, to continue getting your name out there.
Read my blog post Self-Doubt as an Artist: How to Stay Confident and Keep Going.
I've been reading a lot and taking online courses, learning all I can about the many elements required to build an art business, from social media platforms (and what works well on each), the do's and don'ts of self-promotion, what to include in an effective website/portfolio, how to create sell-worthy products and opening online shops, shipping products, how to price artwork, TAXES AND ACCOUNTING, the legal aspects of being an artist, creating necessary documents for clients in order for projects to run as smoothly as possible...the list goes on and on. Self-promotion (and more specifically the face-to-face kind) seems to be one of the hardest things for many of us and it is what I wish to focus on today. However hard marketing your work and building connections may be for you, it's important to take the bull by the horns and realize that if you don't do it, nobody else is. Realize that, no matter how amazing your work may be, if you don't constantly work to put it out there and connect with others in positive, constructive ways, people will not want to engage with you.
All this said, I have to admit that most of my marketing efforts have been online and not at personal level. I have decided that I am going to start fixing this situation during this last part of 2017 and use this holiday season in which people have gifts to buy (and seem to be generally more happy) to reach out. First, I am going to make sure that family and friends know EXACTLY what it is I'm doing and what I can offer. Many of them SORT of have an idea but, truth be told, I've put in much more time and effort into learning from and connecting with others behind a computer screen than chatting face to face.
My plans are to start selling Christmas/holiday themed gift cards and greeting cards with original watercolor illustrations to family, friends and coworkers, as well as start offering commissions. I will also start selling some of my finished oil paintings in, at least, one local shop and start cold-emailing businesses. I have printed a stack of business cards and will work on creating postcards to send to agencies and editorials very soon. I am challenging myself to at least start with this during this last part of 2017 so that I can begin 2018 knowing I have already informed all those closest to me that I have quality products to offer. For some reason, I find it a lot harder to talk with my family about my passions and projects than with total strangers. Am I weird?
Local Connections: The Foundation for an Art Business
As artists, most of us tend to spend heaps of time working alone, which makes it even more important to schedule in time for social interaction. We ultimately create artwork for others to view and appreciate, and there's more of a chance that we'll be successful if we are able to orally communicate our ideas and talk about our artwork with self-confidence. Make no mistake, art friend, you are your best salesman/woman. Our art will not sell itself.
Now-a-days everyone seems to be online, and there's no denying that social media is a vital part of having any type of business. However, when we are just starting out, it is imperative that we build a solid platform of experience and connections to move forward. Once we have achieved a certain skill level and we are producing work consistently, we should begin communicating with the people around us (family, friends, coworkers, etc.). Chances are you already know a good amount of people that could find what you do useful in some way.
Don't ever feel foolish for starting small. Every business started somewhere! However, ALWAYS keep it professional. Always be kind, respectful, and act as a billboard for your brand. Yes, you are a brand! Remember, even when working for family or people who have known you for years, a client is a client, and your art should be valued because you have already put in a lot of time and effort to be where you are at. These smaller jobs will allow you to start building confidence in your artistic skills and you'll learn how to better manage your time as well as how to effectively communicate with clients. Moreover, you'll be able to start building that resumé that will attract bigger clients/projects in the future. Take advantage of the so called `Domino Effect´. It takes one great relationship to start a chain of opportunities. Keep at it and, I assure you, as your network and experience expand, bigger opportunities will arise.
Trust as an Essential Component of Building a Brand and Business
It is a personal project of mine to build a YouTube channel. It's happening! I've even recorded videos and have invested in a DSLR camera, tripod and an arm/mount that will allow me to record my art in process. Why? Not only has YouTube been an invaluable resource in my learning as I build my artistic skills and business, but I KNOW that it is probably the best type of platform out there that will allow my prospective clients to get to know me and trust in what I can offer. In my opinion, it is one of the best things artists can do now-a-days.
Think about it. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and even Twitter, are all awesome in their own way, but they are mostly curated images or very short videos and that's it. While YouTube videos are also highly edited and only show you a snippet of a person's life, the channels that have inspired me most of all are those created by artists and illustrators that try to keep it as real as possible, show how hard they are working to improve and how their life revolves around their work and clients/fans. By consistently sharing their life and passions with us, these YouTubers are able to develop in us a sense of trust. We feel like we know them. This, inevitably, creates fans, as well as diverse opportunities for jobs and events. I know that constantly recording and editing videos entails A TON of hard work, but building a channel and putting yourself out there in this way is, in my opinion, the next best thing after face-to-face marketing. It is a way in which you can start to develop trust in people all around the world!
There's true value in connecting with people at a personal level and building genuine relationships. In a world in which most of our communication takes place behind a computer screen or cell phone, we long for warm connection. We want real-ness and sincerity in this heavily edited/curated world. Furthermore, businesses look for professionals that show authenticity and integrity. If you don't have a solid list of past clients to vouch for you yet, the best way to show others that you can be trusted is by talking with them in person. Once you have that level of experience and solid proof you can be trusted, is when others will make the first move to reach out to YOU.
In my opinion, success is impossible without building solid relationships, and solid relationships require trust. Believe in yourself, work daily on building those relationships (both online and offline) and you will get there! Also remember that opportunities emerge from unexpected places!
Building solid relationships both online and offline is an essential part of starting (and maintaining) a successful business. Never be afraid to put yourself out there! Just think, what's the worst that can happen? Do what you can each and every single day to reach out to other human beings, whether they are people you can learn from or possible clients, always in positive ways. Please, PLEASE, put in time and effort to personally interact with others in your community and NEVER underestimate what you can get from a job that may seem small. Continue working hard on what you love, sharing, and always keep in mind how your skills can help others. In time, recognition and money will grow!
Thank you for reading and talk to you soon!
Hey you all! I hope that you are having a wonderful and restful weekend!
As I do every Sunday, here are a few studies and pieces I was able to complete this week. This week I worked primarily with watercolors and oils. You may have already seen some of these, as I created them specially for my Day of the Dead blog post I published this past Thursday. Read that blog post here to learn more about this wonderful Mexican celebration and how to draw a human skull (for beginners)! I included a free step-by-step .pdf at the end for you!
Next week, I am continuing with the plant/flower studies I promised myself I would work on. I really need to improve in this area! In next Thursday's blog post I will be sharing with you how I am brainstorming and planning for the seasonal/Christmas paintings, cards and tags I will be selling both personally and through my online shops. Just in case you aren't aware, my Redbubble and Society6 stores are now open! I am making it a priority to keep uploading awesome products with my work to sell there, if you are interested!
Thank you for visiting and I hope to see you around soon!
In what ways do you think your society's traditions and beliefs have impacted your work as an artist? How different do you think your artwork would be if you had grown up in a different place in the world? Is there any particular celebration or tradition that you find particularly inspiring?
As human beings, we will always carry with us a certain degree of influence from the countries we have lived in and the people we have lived with, especially during our formative years. I consider myself extremely lucky to have lived most of my life in a country that, not only has produced amazing artists of all kinds, but has a rich and unique culture full of color, symbolism and joy. Mexican Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead has always been one of my favorite yearly celebrations and, this year, I decided to use it as inspiration for a few watercolor illustrations.
In this post, I will explain a bit about this wonderful celebration and the story behind the well-known Catrina character. Also, I will show you step by step how I go about drawing a human skull and why it is so important to have, at least, a general understanding of the underlying bone structure when drawing a face. I've included a free downloadable PDF at the end for you to print if you wish to practice with it! : )
A Day to Honor the Dead and Celebrate Life
The Day of the Dead is celebrated each year on the second of November, coinciding with Christianity's All Soul's Day. This important celebration is a mixture of both indigenous rituals and Christian beliefs. Way before the Spanish conquistadores arrived in Mexico, the native indigenous people living in the area already had ceremonies that revolved around death and the natural cycle of living things. Since prehistoric times, the Aztecs and other indigenous groups used human skulls in rituals to symbolize death and rebirth. When the Spanish arrived during the XV century, they were horrified by the pagan rituals they witnessed and later on sought to spread Catholicism amongst these people. Eventually, customs of the Spanish started mixing together with those of the different indigenous groups.
On and around the second of November each year, Mexicans remember their deceased family members in a variety of ways. Graves are visited and decorated with flowers. Elaborate altares (shrines) are created in homes to invite the souls of the dead back into the world of the living. Also, beautiful parades are organized in which entire communities are invited to celebrate together. On this day, death, which is usually something that is feared and associated with negative emotions, turns into something joyful. Mexicans pay homage to death with both respect and humor, celebrating both the past and the present simultaneously. Even though the whole idea of inviting the dead to visit us, and celebrating death in general may seem like a pretty morbid idea, the point of this day is to understand that death is an eventual part of life and to use this as a reason to enjoy ourselves while we are still here. El Día de Muertos reminds us to not only be more appreciative of life moments but to take advantage of the time we have.
The Day of the Dead and Halloween are often compared, but there is a fundamental difference between the two celebrations. Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve was a festival created to mark the end of harvest season and the beginning of the “dark half" of the year. It was thought that, on this day, the walls between our world and the spirit world became thin enough to allow ghosts to pass through and damage crops. Halloween focuses more on our fear of mortality and the spookiness of the unknown. On the other hand, the Day of the Dead is more about remembering loved ones who have passed away, celebrating their memories instead of mourning their loss. Instead of treating death as something dark and frightening, it is about seeing the positive aspects of the living cycle and laughing in the face of death.
Shrine for the Dead and Symbolism of Objects
When a family sets up an Altar de Muerto for a deceased loved one, there are certain things that have to be taken into account. Each object included symbolizes a particular element and the location of the objects within the shrine also has a meaning. Usually, an altar is made up of objects that call to the senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing). Because the objective of an altar de muerto is to lure the deceased back home, it usually includes objects specific to that person, so that he/she feels the desire to make the long and hard travel back from the underworld.
Here is a general list of the things that are usually included in an Altar de Muerto:
1. Levels (steps): Altars usually are made up of two to seven levels. The lowest levels represent the underworld and the Earth, while the higher levels represent celestial dimensions.
2. Arch: An arch symbolizes the entry to the underworld and is adorned with flowers and fruits.
3. Symbols for natural elements: Papel picado, which consists of cutting intricate designs out of delicate and colorful paper, represents wind. A glass of water is placed to represent this element and also to calm the spirit's thirst after the long travel back home. Candles are placed throughout to represent fire and to help light the way back home. Finally, seeds and fruit are included to represent earth.
4. Variety of aromas: Prehispanic cultures used to burn a type of incense created from the resin of Copal trees in their rituals. The smoke and aroma produced from burning Copal was thought to purify environments and keep away evil spirits. People now-a-days use either Copal or other kinds of incense in their shrines. Other aromas are produced by herbal infusions and flowers like the Cempasúchil (Marigold). The Cempasúchil is a bright yellow flower commonly used to help guide the spirits back home through both sight and smell.
5. Food: It is common practice for the family of the deceased to prepare his/her favorite dishes to place on the altar. Typically, it is a Mexican dish like mole or tamales. Candies are also placed throughout the altar, which can vary from sugar skulls, chocolate and/or amaranth. Pan de Muerto , which is a special seasonal bread, is also included. This bread is made differently depending on what area of Mexico you are in, but the shapes created within it usually represent skulls and bones.
6. Salt: Salt is thought to purify the body and to strengthen the spirit when traveling to and from the underworld.
7. Personal belongings: Photographs and personal belongings of the deceased are usually placed somewhere within the central levels of the altar. Usually, family members choose to include specific favorite objects that will lure the deceased back home.
8. Religious symbols: Crosses and/or other religious symbols are usually placed on the higher levels of the shrine. It is common practice to include saint figures, virgins, and angels.
Who is Catrina?
The original Catrina character was created by José Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican illustrator, printmaker and engraver, and was called “La Calavera Catrina" or “Elegant Skull". However, it was made popular later on by artist Diego Rivera in his mural Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon Along Central Alameda), completed in the historic center of Mexico City in 1947.
Even though Posada and Rivera created these artworks at different moments in history, they both used this character as a symbol to transmit social and political messages to the public during times of transition in the country. In Posada's time, it was common to see skeleton characters in newspaper illustrations humorously criticising both the actions of politicians as well as the hypocrisy found within Mexican people as the blood and social ranks of the Europeans and indigenous mixed. Posada stated once: “La muerte es democrática, ya que a fin de cuentas, güera, morena, rica o pobre, toda la gente acaba siendo calavera.” / "Death shows a sense of democracy because, at the end, blonde, dark-skinned, rich or poor, everyone ends up being a skull.”
Over time, Catrina stopped being as political and became an important Mexican symbol representing death. Today, she is known all over the world and is widely used during Day of the Dead celebrations at parades. All sorts of artworks are created by Mexican artisans that specialize in this subject year-long.
Many tie Catrina to the the Aztec's Goddess of Death Mictecacihuatl, who was considered the keeper of the bones in the underworld. This goddess was a vital part of the Aztec's month-long festivals honoring the dead. However, Catrina differs greatly from the serious Mictecacihuatl and the bloody rituals of the prehistoric peoples. This character is always smiling, dressed in colorful clothes and is unmistakably humorous.
How to Draw a Human Skull
Practicing drawing the human skull is very useful for beginner artists that are starting to draw faces. By understanding the underlying bone structure of a face, we are able to better understand proportions and locations for facial elements within the head, as well as forms and planes that will give a drawing a sense of three-dimensionality. I really recommend finding a good picture of a skull and studying its form. This will help you discern where shadow and light naturally falls within the face and your drawings will be much more effective and realistic.
Use the steps below to create an outline drawing of a skull. Once you have this down, step up the challenge by searching for a good picture of a real skull online and try placing shadows, lights and midtones in the areas you see fit. Remember I have the downloadable PDF at the bottom for you to print out and use!
Thanks SO much for visiting my site and reading this post! I appreciate it very, very much! Whether you celebrate Day of the Dead or not, I wish you a wonderful day and a fulfilling and joyful life!
Hope to see you around soon!
Hey there! Here are a few drawings and paintings I worked on this week. I've been very much into watercolor face sketches lately! I've decided that, starting next week, my quick daily sketches/paintings will be of flowers and plants. I will be practicing these subjects for the entire month of November and am excited to see how much I can improve. I was also able to start a new still life oil painting that I am hoping I will be able to finish next week. Thanks for coming by and stay tuned for next Thursday's blog post! It's going to be related to Mexican Día de Muertos artwork and I will be painting something inspired by this interesting celebration!
How to Effectively Use Other Artists' Work as Inspiration and a Great Method to Start Developing Your Own Artistic Style
Are you constantly trying to find inspiration by admiring other artists' work and find yourself copying more than you'd like? Do you feel like you are making no progress towards finding your own artistic style? Are you simply unable to produce as much original artwork as you'd like?
“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing."
In this post I will explain one of the methods I use to make sure I produce original artwork while getting inspired by other artists. This strategy is an amazing way to work towards finding and developing one's own artistic style. Plus, it's very fun!
The act of copying is a very delicate subject in the artistic field and just the word seems to put many of us on edge. I say, let's try to relax and admit that each one of us has been constantly inspired throughout his/her life by people, experiences, artwork (and by “artwork" I mean movies, music, theater, books, etc.), the environments we have lived in, advertising, and pretty much everything around us. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, has a conscious or unconscious effect on us and, therefore, on the work we produce as artists.
We have all been influenced by a combination of different things and have different likes and dislikes. This is not to say that two different artists are never going to produce similar work. There are bound to be similarities amongst us in terms of technique and/or subject matter because there are only a certain amount of techniques and subjects to work with. However, if we put in the effort to discover ourselves as artists (what techniques/supplies we enjoy working with most, what our own distinctive abilities as well as areas of improvement are, what ideas we want to put out into the world, etc.), we will eventually get to a point at which our work will be a direct representation of ourselves. This is, in my opinion, what matters most and what I am personally working towards. At this point in my artistic journey I allow myself to admire and analyze other peoples' work, but make sure that the bulk of my time goes towards looking inwards and doing my best to apply what I have learned in my own way.
Having said all this, let's begin!
The Artist Mishmash Exercise
The purpose of this exercise is to start pinpointing specific characteristics of other artists' work that you are drawn to, whether it's related to subject type, technique used, general mood of the piece, etc. Afterwards, you will explore how to use characteristics found in different artists' work in one same piece!
To begin you will need a phone, computer, or any other device on which to search for existing artwork, a few pieces of blank paper and a pencil. Make a list of three artists that create work you greatly admire. If you have already created a Pinterest inspiration board like I have, go ahead an use it! If not, now is the time to investigate. I really recommend keeping it at only three and trying to select artists that produce very different types of artwork. Once you have finalized your list, and perhaps read a bit about each artist if you don't know about them already, analyze several of pieces of each, and write down four to five specific characteristics that you have found in each artist's work.
a) Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
French artist Toulouse-Lautrec was both a painter and an illustrator. He is known for his provocative paintings and drawings depicting the decadent Parisian nightlife, that he was a part of himself. He created many posters and advertisements for nightclubs including the Moulin Rouge, and elevated advertising to a fine art status. He was a skilled Post-Impressionist painter that experimented with a variety of techniques and supplies. In his posters, he made use of bold, flat shapes of color.
Characteristics of his work I really like:
-Roughness/raw quality of his work in both subject and technique
-Bold use of color, perhaps unnatural at times
-Variety of mediums and substrates used in his sketches and paintings (charcoal, pastels, oils, lithographs, graphite, crayons, canvas, paper, cardboard, etc. )
-Hand-lettering in posters
b) Hannah Höch (1889-1978)
Höch was a German visual artist that is considered the pioneer of the photomontage technique. Her work transmitted deeply rooted social and political messages regarding issues that were occurring at the time (sexism, war, etc.). Though she also worked with oil paints, she is primarily known for her bold collages created with images taken from fashion magazines as well as illustrated journals. Her work conveyed strong, important messages, but were humorous at the same time.
Characteristics of her work I really like:
-Collage/photomontage technique (I think it's quite interesting how we can take bits and bobs of already existing images and create a whole new meaning for them by combining and rearranging them)
-Charged with deep meaning about political/social issues but humorous at the same time
-Incorporation of popular elements into artwork
c) Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Hopper was an American artist that started his artistic career as an illustrator and turned into a fine artist later on. He is considered to be one of the most important realist painters of the twentieth century. His enigmatic artwork depicts the loneliness of modern urban life in America. The arrangement of elements within his compositions, as well as his amazing use of light/shadow and detail, create very visually striking pieces that very effectively create tension and emotion in the viewer.
Characteristics of his work I really like:
-Realist style but not literal copy (certain degree of interpretive rendering that makes artwork more expressive)
-Artwork tells a story or makes the audience think
-Use of color and contrast creates very striking imagery
-Feeling of mystery and solitude
Alright! Once you have your three artists, and you have listed a few characteristics of each person's work, start brainstorming ideas in which you could incorporate most of these into one same piece. Create several different sketches! You don't have to use ALL of the points you've written down, but make sure to at least use one characteristic of each artist.
Having trouble? Consider these tips.
-Start with the artist that uses subjects or styles that you have a bit of practice in already and then see how you can incorporate characteristics of the other two.
-Instead of wasting too much time thinking of the overall idea you want your drawing/painting to transmit, start drawing ONE object/person/animal/shape and add to it as you go. You'll start making connections between the elements you start adding.
-After you have learned a bit about your favorite artists, think of an idea that is personal to YOU and YOUR LIFE, and then think about how one particular artist might go about representing that particular idea.
Once you have selected an idea to work with, go ahead and start with your final piece! Remember, this is an exercise and is not meant to produce a finalized artwork. As with all types of explorations, try to have fun with it and not pressure yourself to create something perfect. If a great idea for a final piece, awesome! If not, at least you learned something new!
My final exploration piece:
After having sketched out a few different ideas, I selected one and created a composition in Photoshop using five different pictures. I used this (digital) collage as reference as I drew and painted. In this piece, I used a variety of supplies and techniques including watercolor pencils, Prismacolor Soft-Core pencils, Gamsol, watercolor paints, black gouache and even a bit of charcoal. Some areas in the painting are purposely made to look more realistic and polished than others. Finally, I did my best to create an image that propelled the viewer to think about and interpret what he/she is seeing.
Thank you so much for visiting and reading! I'd ABSOLUTELY LOVE it if you took a minute to comment below about what message/idea you took from my exploration piece! Let me know what you come up with yourself! Cheers, friends!
Hello! This week I experimented with watercolor faces quite a bit. I found it very fun, which was surprising because a year ago I had a super hard time painting faces with this type of paint. I also finished up the still life oil painting I started last week and a watercolor painting of exercise equipment/accessories.
I am excited for next week's helpful blog post! I will be writing about three of my favorite artists and how to get inspired by others effectively, in order to produce your own original artwork, and slowly (but surely) arrive at your own style! Stay tuned for that! :)
Does fear of failure and criticism constantly stop you from producing or sharing your art? Have you ever tried to create a specific art piece only to become increasingly frustrated with yourself after failing multiple times? Have you ever just wanted to give up creating art at all?
I am going to start out by saying that I am by no means the most confident person in the world. I struggle with bouts of insecurity as much as the next person. However, I vehemently believe that consistent hard work and dedication produces results. Thus, ANYBODY can be or achieve ANYTHING they set their hearts and minds to, whether it's becoming an artist, building a house or losing thirty pounds.
While I agree that it is necessary to be realistic in life and that a particular person's life situation might lead him or her to faster recognition or results, I 100% believe that consistent steps in the right direction, no matter how small, will eventually get you to where you want to be. Nothing truly rewarding in life comes easy, but keep in mind that the more difficult the climb, the more one grows along the way, and the greater the victory. Even if you aren't beaming with confidence 24/7 (which is completely normal), if you know what you want, are willing to prioritize your goals over everything else you have going on in life, and put in the consistent hard work, you'll get there. Period. You have to believe this in your bones.
This post is mostly for those who have found that art is their one true calling, wish it to ultimately be their way of making a living, and have been working at improving their skill for a considerable amount of time. If this is you, and you are seeking to pursue art professionally, you do have to acknowledge that it's not only going to be hard work to get there, but to keep creating consistently once you do. Artists need to have a natural curiosity and desire to challenge themselves, to be willing to make mistakes, and to constantly analyze their work in order to set new goals. We are also, many times, completely in charge of getting our names out there effectively in order to get clients and/or sell our work. All of this means believing in ourselves and what we have to offer. On top of everything else, we need to be able to take criticism constructively and not let it demotivate us.
For me, being an artist means to be inherently courageous. We need to be courageous to choose the artistic path in life while everyone around us tells us this isn't the “safe" route. We need to have the courage to believe in ourselves and our work in a sea of amazing and talented artists. We need to be brave enough to share our work and thought processes with the world which, in most cases, was created by us and us alone. We need to be brave enough to price on our work and take criticism. The list goes on and on. If you have already decided that you are going to be an artist and have been working at improving your skills for a while, it already means you are brave enough to have taken a challenging path.
Keep in mind that we are all human and it's normal to struggle with phases of insecurity and frustration every now and then. If you have come to know yourself well through whatever experiences life has put you through, and you have 100% concluded that NOTHING in the world brings you as much happiness as creating art (high five!), you need to find a way to manage the negative thoughts and feelings that may arise and find a way to keep going. Next, I will share a few strategies that help me stay happy and productive.
Key Ideas to Stay Happy & Productive as an Artist
1. Don't rush your process
Creating an amazing artwork takes time! The creative process can (and should) involve a phase of study and preparation before even starting a final piece. Do whatever practice you feel you need before starting with the final artwork! Resist going straight to the canvas, paper or whatever it may be. Enjoy the process of studying subjects and exploring supplies (sketchbooks are AMAZING for this!). Remember it's about the road and not the destination. For example, when I am preparing to paint a portrait, I first practice drawing (or even painting) individual facial elements that I know are difficult for me. I also make sure to sketch faces in the angle I am going for several times before actually starting my final painting. Something else that you can do is plan and prepare your color palette. Many things can be done to ensure an overall better outcome.
I have found, at times, I tend to get a bit anxious to finish my work after already having spent a considerable amount of time on it. This anxiety makes me do things too fast without actually thinking of what I am doing and many times I end up ruining a piece or simply not doing as best as I could because I tried to rush it. I need to remind myself that great work requires concentration and patience.
2. Work on Art Fundamentals and take classes
Being a professional artist requires becoming an expert on the Fundamentals of Art (Form, Color, Perspective, Composition, Value/Lighting, and even Anatomy). The more knowledgable and experienced you become in these basic topics, the more confident you will become overall. No matter what your subject or technique of choice is, keep making time to study and practice Art Fundamentals throughout your artistic journey. By doing this, you will feel more capable of taking on different subjects and compositions.
Look up resources online, buy books, invest in classes or workshops in your city! Being able to talk with professors and getting feedback from others is very useful. I also highly recommend continuing to develop your observational skills by using references and drawing from life. This will REALLY improve your work! I personally believe that, no matter how skilled an artist has become, he/she should always make time to study the basics.
3. Know when and who to share your work with
To be perfectly honest, I think beginner artists should wait a bit to start sharing work online. I think if someone is just starting out, he/she should first try getting feedback from people he/she knows at a personal level, perhaps family and friends. Afterwards, seek feedback from art or design professors or people more knowledgable in art that can actually critique your work. Start getting a feel for people's reactions to your art and how to deal with other peoples' criticism in positive ways so that you can actually grow from it. Following this natural process will ensure that your abilities are already at a specific level by the time you start putting yourself out there for the world to see, and you'll have developed a bit of confidence in yourself. I feel like the online world can be quite harsh and can be potentially discouraging to someone just starting out.
Once you feel more confident and have gained some knowledge about Art basics, by all means, start sharing! All kinds of art, whether its visual arts, music, literature, acting, etc., is meant to be appreciated by others. We create so that ultimately, our work can be seen. We create for an audience. Due to this, if we ever want to pursue an artistic career, the sooner we are able to put ourselves out there and open ourselves up to constructive criticism, the faster we will grow.
4. Learn how to take criticism constructively
As artists, we simply have learn to take criticism. This can be very hard because art is so personal and it takes a lot of energy to create. Harsh criticism can be hurtful and/or discouraging, no matter what point an artist is at. It is, therefore, imperative to develop a somewhat thick skin and/or positive coping mechanisms in order to move forward.
Accept that anyone who is willing to put him/herself out there is going to get criticized at one point or another. Not everyone will like you or what you do, nor is it your job to make everyone like you. The sooner you realize that it isn't your job to please everyone, the better. It is important to keep in mind who the comments are coming from. If you are being harshly criticized by someone who has absolutely no experience in what you are doing, take those comments with a grain of salt. Sometimes people are mean just to be mean and their actions/words say more about them than they do about your work. All this said, PLEASE learn to accept peoples' praise. Be proud of how far you've come and thank them for admiring your work!
5. Use other artists' work as inspiration but never compare yourself
As I mentioned before, every one of us is different. We all have different levels of expertise depending on the amount of time we've been at it, different likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and have lived/are living totally different life situations. No matter how much you try, your artwork will never look 100% like somebody else's. And you SHOULDN'T WANT it to look like somebody else's! The only thing you should be focusing on is on developing your own skill and style.
Don't get me wrong, admiring and getting inspiration from viewing other artists' work is perfectly fine as long as we are in a good headspace, but thinking you'll never be able to get to that level is damaging and unnecessary. Study other artists' work to start realizing what kind of styles you are drawn to and get specific ideas from them to apply in your own work. Don't try to copy unless it's for specific studies you will be keeping to yourself.
Never compare apples to oranges!
5. Kill the perfectionist inside you and turn into a curious explorer
In my blog post titled How I Killed My Perfectionist Demon and Why Perfectionism is the Worst I talk about the dangers of perfectionism. As with any other aspect of life, we should be striving for progress and not perfection in our work. Perfectionism and fear of failure are two of the greatest enemies of any creative being and can attack at any moment in the creative process, even when one is a skilled artist. Sometimes fear of failure attacks before even starting a piece, as we stand in front of an empty canvas or paper, totally intimidated by the blankness. Or maybe we begin an artwork happy and confident only to grow more and more frustrated with ourselves after making a few mistakes. Or it can even happen after we're done! Sometimes we finish our work and are perfectly happy with its outcome, only to come back to it a few days later to find that you don't like it very much anymore. All of these experiences are very normal. The point is not to let any of this stop you from keeping at it!
Realize nothing is EVER going to be perfect and there is ALWAYS going to be more progress to do. And even if you succeed at creating what you think is perfect NOW, I assure you, in a year from now you'll look back at it and notice all the ways that you could have done better. Your standards are going to keep moving higher and higher, which is great and means that you are holding yourself accountable and are moving forward. Keep exploring and producing large amounts of work. Never, EVER let fear paralyze you!
6. Prioritize your mental and physical health
As artists, we are generally passionate people and we love what we do, so it's common to be a bit obsessive when it comes to our work. At times, it's easy to forget about taking care of our minds and bodies. Some of us may even suffer from anxiety disorders or high levels of sensitivity, which make it even MORE important to check in with ourselves and be mindful of our well-being. It is imperative for us to assess whether our work rhythm is allowing us the time we need to rest and recalibrate. If it isn't, put serious consideration into how long you'll be able to keep this up. Going through super busy phases that have you working long hours is normal at times, but if you find this is always the case for you, you need to make necessary adjustments.
It is a priority of mine to make time for my own mental and physical health EVERY SINGLE DAY. The daily actions I take make me a happier and more productive person which, in turn, leads me to create better work. I want to continue making art until I am very, very old, and I hope this is a goal for you as well! Let's take care of ourselves!
7. Set feasible goals for yourself
It is important to constantly set goals for yourself. SMALL, SPECIFIC, and FEASIBLE goals. I personally have a tendency to want to to it all and get overwhelmed because my focus is completely scattered and end up doing only a portion of everything I wanted to do. I am working on being more realistic when setting my goals and on choosing specific subjects or techniques to practice in a particular amount of time. Be honest about your life situation and be kind to yourself when you are setting your goals. Make your plans and focus on achieving one thing at a time once they are set. With every success you'll become more experienced and confident in your skills and you'll be able to progress much faster. Don't forget to praise yourself for your achievements! Read about my methods for setting goals and planning my days in this post.
Remember that there will ALWAYS be to more learn, no matter how skilled you become as an artist. In a year from now you'll look back at your work and be able to tell how much you have improved. Then you'll set new standards for yourself and these will continue shifting throughout time.
8. Remember to always, ALWAYS stay positive
This is very important in all aspects of life. It is absolutely ESSENTIAL to face any type of challenge with an “I can do this" attitude. When you start something believing you will fail, you're probably going to fail. If you try to do something and don't succeed, try again tomorrow! If you ever feel a sense of frustration bubbling up inside of you, take a break and remember that every action causes a reaction, which means that if you are trying you are getting a little bit better each time, even if it doesn't seem like it. You have to know, deep within yourself, that you can do anything if you keep trying. Embrace failure and shift your mindset so that you start viewing mistakes as discoveries and milestones that you are moving past in order to become a talented artist.
I want to end this post by reminding you that everyone around you is scared and nervous to a certain degree. We're human and life is unpredictable and challenging. The fact that you have already put in the work of self-discovery to realize that art is this important to you sets you apart in a very positive way as is. Most people keep moving forward without ever giving thought to what it is they truly want in life and settle for what is easier and more practical. You didn't! This, to me, means you are already very courageous! Whatever fear or anxiety comes your way, channel it into positive actions that will help move you forward and don't ever give up.
Thanks for reading and have a great one!
“Creativity takes courage."
“Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.”
“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt.
Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented
as a consolation prize."
“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing,
doing nothing, and being nothing.”
Do you have any personal strategies that help you deal with negative feelings that pop up when you are working? Have you ever given up on creating art for a long period of time? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below.
Hello art friends!
Here is my mini-collection of drawings and paintings I was able to create this week. This is my third week doing face studies! As you will see, I started using a drawing pen for some of these, which was super fun. I think next week's sketches will be created using ink as well. I was also able to finish up a watercolor painting and started a new oil painting! I will probably finish the oil painting at some point next week and will re-post the finished piece in my next weekly collection post.
Make sure to check out next week's helpful blog post, in which I will be sharing my thoughts about how to stay confident as an artist and sharing your creative work.
Are you obsessed with those cool sketches made by artists that go outside and are able to capture cityscapes or landscapes so realistically AND so fast? Would you like to try plein air drawing or painting but feel like you'll never be able to capture your surroundings realistically? Does the word perspective scare you away or bore you to the point that you abstain entirely from creating artwork that involves different viewpoints from those you are used to?
Perspective is considered to be one of the fundamental components of drawing. A beginner artist may think that it only has to be mastered by landscape or cityscape artists, but this is not the case at all. Understanding perspective and how to create the illusion of depth is essential in order to render believable scenes in all kinds of art, whether it's still-life, interiors, and even animal and portraiture-based artwork. In this post I will explain a few key terms and ideas to grasp before moving on to the One and Two Point Perspective drawing techniques. I will also suggest specific exercises and provide you with downloadable grids that you can use to improve your drawing and visualization skills. With a bit of practice you'll gain the confidence to get out there and start sketching in plein air, which is so important and gratifying as an artist!
I remember first learning very basic perspective in Art class at some point in Elementary school. Our teacher taught us about simple One Point Perspective and we were asked to create a landscape drawing including a path going off into the distance. I remember how my mind was blown back then as I started realizing that creating realistic artwork is quite simply knowing how to apply a series of optical illusions in order to make the viewer believe that a picture has real-life qualities (be it texture, volume, depth, etc.). Later on in life, I learned about more complex perspective in one of my first semesters at university, where I took a SUPER hard course that architecture students took. I was super scared because this class involved numbers, Geometry and being extremely clean/precise. As a child, I had always been terrible at Math and, to the day, I have a tendency to tune out when calculations and numbers come up in conversations! The professor was incredibly strict and took off points for ANY little extra pencil or eraser mark on our assignments, but I passed the course and I honestly learned a ton. That class fast-forwarded my ability to visualize objects in space and gave me the abilities I needed later in order to begin creating realistic art. I promise it is not too hard! If I can do it, you can do it!
Understanding Perspective in Real Life and in Art
Perspective is what gives a picture a sense of three-dimensionality and depth. Take a moment to look out your closest window. Observe how the trees/buildings/houses closest to you appear larger, while the trees/buildings/houses farther from you appear much smaller. Even though the tree closest to you may, in reality, be the same size as a tree farther away from you, they appear to be different sizes to you due to the fact that you are standing at the specific point you are in. Artists must master the ability to create this effect on a flat, two-dimensional surface, be it paper, canvas, or whatever substrate is used. The more complex a picture is, the more important it is for the artist to approach the piece in a methodical and careful fashion.
Take a minute to analyze the following famous masterpiece by the great artist Raphael.
In this fresco we are able to see how the arches in the ceilings get smaller and smaller as they get farther away from us in the distance. Likewise, the human figures that are closest to us in the foreground appear larger that the people located in the middleground (more about these terms later). The combination of all of these things creates a very effective sensation of three-dimensionality, perspective and depth. Isn't it just astounding?
This famous masterpiece is an excellent example of One Point Perspective, which we will get into in a bit. If we place the One Point Perspective grid on top of the artwork, we are able to see how the artist was able to visualize where to effectively place the elements within the painting. Starting our work with a grid made up of straight lines, allows us to better visualize the three-dimensional space which we will place our shapes upon.
Before moving on, here's how the grid applies in a modern picture. Notice how the point at which the lines meet is off center in this image.
Important Art Terms Related to Perspective
Before explaining how to use the One and Two Point Perspective drawing techniques, I would like to just mention a few key art terms we need to be able to understand.
1. Horizon Line
This is the line that separates sky from land (in landscapes) or sky from water (in seascapes). It is also referred to as the "eye-level" of the viewer. The Horizon Line doesn't necessarily have to be right in the middle of your picture. In fact, it is a lot better, compositionally speaking, if it is somewhere below or even above the halfway point of your drawing area.
2. Vanishing Point
The Vanishing Point is placed somewhere on the Horizon Line and it represents the farthest point in your picture. There can be a number Vanishing Points (One Point Perspective has one, Two Point Perspective has two and Three Point Perspective has three). When creating a grid, this point is were the Orthogonal Lines all meet.
3. Orthogonal Lines
Orthogonal Lines (also known as Convergence or Vanishing Lines) are key when drawing perspective. They are diagonal and recede back into the vanishing point(s). A perspective grid can have many Orthogonal Lines or very few of them, depending on the complexity of the picture. The more elements in the picture, the more lines you will probably have to include in your grid.
4. Transversal Lines
These are completely horizontal or vertical lines that are either parallel or perpendicular to the horizon line. They form rectangles or right angles along the grid and are especially useful when drawing interiors (I will provide you with an example in a bit).
5. Vantage Point
The Vantage Point refers to the specific place from which a scene is viewed. This point can actually be very high (referred to as bird's-eye) or very low (referred to as worm's-eye). It is crucial to decide where the Vantage Point is going to be in the very beginning because this will affect the placement and size of all elements within the composition.
Foreground, Middleground and Background are also helpful terms to understand because including a variety of layers within a drawing or painting really helps transmit a sensation of depth. The layer closest to the viewer is referred to as the Foreground, behind it is the Middleground and the layer furthest from the viewer (which in many cases is simply the sky) is the Background. It varies from image to image, but the important thing is that you are able to discern which layers are closest to the viewer and which layers are farther away. This will affect the color placement within the artwork, as well as the sharpness of the elements included in each layer. The image below is an excellent example that illustrates how the elements in the foreground are much more sharp and saturated than the layers behind it.
Finally, foreshortening is a drawing technique that helps us create the illusion of an object/person/animal receding into the distance. The object, person or animal is drawn shorter, in a way that makes it seem as if one part of it is closest to the viewer and the other end is far from the viewer. It is a great way to transmit a sense of depth, even when the only subject included in an artwork is an object or a person. When used in extremes, it creates very interesting artwork. Andrea Mantegna's famous Lamentation of Christ (1480) is an excellent example of foreshortening.
The picture below also shows foreshortening. If you notice, the man's forearm appears wider than the width of his open hand. This is because his forearm is so much closer to us than his hand!
Drawing 3-Dimensional Geometric Shapes
Knowing how to draw three-dimensional geometric shapes is absolutely necessary before moving on to using the One or Two Point Perspective drawing techniques. Why? Because, here in reality, EVERYTHING around us has volume (length, width and height). First, practice drawing simple three- dimensional shapes (use the PDFs at the end of the post titled Geometric_Shapes1 and Geometric_Shapes2 for step-by-step instructions). Once you feel more confident, try placing them within the One and Two Point Perspective grids (I have also included both grids at the end for you to use). If you are already great at this, ignore this step.
When attempting to draw any geometric shape, straight lines are important. This is even more important when creating three-dimensional shapes because they involve parallel lines and angles. Due to this, I recommend using a ruler in the beginning. If you want to get even more technical, bring out your protractor! Keep in mind that, once you have enough practice, you will be able to create 3D shapes without using any straight-edged tools. Unless you are going for a super clean and precise drawing, slight imperfections will not affect the picture if the perspective is successful overall.
How to Apply the One and Two Point Perspective Techniques
One, Two and Three Point Perspectives are referred to as ¨Lineal Perspectives¨, which means that they rely on the use of straight lines to depict a three-dimensional space and the forms within it. In other words, to apply these techniques we will need to prepare for our drawings by creating grids using a ruler. It is important to note that this grid should be created LIGHTLY. Though it will be heavily used throughout the drawing phase, they will be erased later on.
The One-Point Perspective grid is made up of straight lines that converge at the Vanishing Point. Firstly, decide where your Horizon Line will be placed within your drawing area. Secondly, place your Vanishing Point somewhere on your Horizon Line (remember it does not have to be placed right in the center). Then, carefully draw straight lines from one edge of your paper to the other using a ruler, making sure that they all cross at your Vanishing Point. This kind of perspective is excellent to draw simple cityscapes, landscapes and interiors.
My suggestion would be to begin using this technique to draw simple landscapes and focus on adding in different organic elements with believable proportions. Then, master placing three-dimensional geometric shapes within the One-Point Perspective grid to effectively transmit a sensation of depth (see picture below). Afterwards, one can move on to buildings and interiors.
How to do this exercise:
1. Prepare your One-Point Perspective grid (you can download the PDF at the end or draw it for yourself).
2. Draw a few flat (two dimensional) rectangles or squares anywhere on your grid.
3. Pinpoint the corners/angles of your shapes that are closest to the Vanishing Point (see red highlights in the image).
4. Using your ruler, draw straight lines from the corners of your shapes down to the Vanishing Point. Take into account here that there may be two to three lines, depending on where you placed your shape.
5. Finally, close your shapes with vertical or horizontal lines. Remember to make these lines parallel to the lines you used in your initial two dimensional shape.
Take a moment to analyze this important artwork by Van Gogh. Judging by the lines you can see in the image, where would you say the Vanishing Point is located?
The Two-Point Perspective grid is also made up of straight lines that converge at the Vanishing Point, only this time there are two! This grid is going to help us create the effect of viewing objects (think boxes or buildings) as if we are standing on a corner. It is slightly more complex and is often used when drawing buildings in a cityscape or objects at more extreme angles. Let's start practicing! You can decide if you'd like to use the Two-Point Perspective grid I have included at the end of the post, or if you'd like to create it for yourself. Here are the steps you need to follow to make it yourself!
To prepare a Two-Point Perspective grid, I usually start by folding my paper in half both lengthwise and widthwise. The horizontal fold will be my Horizon Line in this case.
Then, decide where your two Vanishing Points will be on this Horizon Line (I recommend placing them at a good distance from each other). You can see in the image below how I placed my two Vanishing Points close to the edges of my paper. I often like to place them at equal distances from the edges and use a ruler to help me do this.
The vertical lines you can see here will be erased and are not really a necessary part of the grid. You can also see that I have folded my paper two more times. Sometimes I like to do this because the folds help me visualize straight lines as I am creating my grids, but they are not necessary either.
Next, create small marks using a ruler right on the central vertical fold on your paper. You can decide how close or far apart you want these marks to be (I recommend somewhere between 1.5 to 2 centimeters to start out).
To finish the grid, carefully draw lines starting at your Vanishing Points and ending at the marks you previously created on the central vertical line. The lines you draw coming from your left and right Vanishing Points should meet, creating a symmetrical/mirrored effect.
By this point your Two-Point Perspective grid should be finished. If you have never used this technique before, I recommend starting out by drawing simple three-dimensional geometric shapes on it. This will help you understand how it works and will set you up for success in your later drawings.
Next, use the grid to create a cityscape! Remember, these buildings are nothing more than rectangular prisms with a few details added in. Nothing to be scared about!
After enough practice, you will be able to easily conclude what kind of drawing technique you need to apply in each project. The sketch below is something I created a while back. Where would you say that the Vanishing Point is located in this case? Remember that even though certain elements are not always visible within a final piece, the artist must always have them in mind when working so that the sense of perspective is achieved at the end.
If you still feel a bit unsure about taking it outside, I recommend searching for pictures of buildings or houses online and apply what you have learned. Draw one single house or building three-dimensionally and move on to groups of houses, then street views, etc. I assure you, you WILL get more and more comfortable. Thanks so much for reading! I hope this helped shed some light on this important topic.
To conclude this post, I leave you with this great da Vinci quote about Perspective:
"Perspective is to painting what the bridle is to the horse, the rudder to a ship… There are three aspects to perspective. The first has to do with how the size of objects seems to diminish according to distance: the second, the manner in which colors change the farther away they are from the eye; the third defines how objects ought to be finished less carefully the farther away they are."
-Leonardo da Vinci
Hey there! This weekly collection includes the five pencil face studies I did this week. This was my second week practicing faces in different angles, which means I have another two to go, at least. I was also able to finish two oil paintings this week and a fun watercolor painting of a little red-eyed frog.
This week was exciting for me because I finally opened my first online shop on Redbubble. Click here to check out the cool stuff that I have created with my artwork and make sure to visit it later because I am still working on scanning more artwork to place on products. Next week I will also be opening a Society6 store and within the next few months, I'm starting on Etsy!
Hope you enjoy and come back soon!
Do you find yourself struggling to find ideas for new artwork? Is it hard for you to keep the momentum going in order to create large quantities of work? Do you frequently end up copying or building upon somebody's pre-existing artwork because you can't seem to think of ideas for yourself? Are you constantly wasting hours looking on Pinterest or Instagram for the PERFECT idea for your next artwork, just to end up creating nothing at all?
All of these worries and anxieties are quite normal for artists to have, especially when one is just starting out. So, firstly, let me just say that you are not alone and, more importantly, you are not less of an artist for experiencing these feelings. Secondly, let me tell you that you are being way to hard on yourself and that it is quite unrealistic to have high expectations for every single piece you create. In this blog post I will explain the mental approach that I have adopted towards creating art and how, by thinking this way, I have managed to keep a steady work flow and creativity blocks at bay. It's actually pretty simple.
I'm sure by now you have heard how, in ancient times, Greeks and Romans believed that creativity came from divine spirits outside and beyond the artist. At the risk of sounding like a control freak (and contradicting Elizabeth Gilbert), I think it is best to believe that WE ourselves have the power of controlling our inspiration levels. How can we possibly be in control of our inspiration, you ask? Well, it is less about waiting around for the PERFECT idea to come to you and more about taking care of yourself as a human being (this is more important that you might think), remaining open, shifting your mindset in order to be more appreciative of life moments, and consistently showing up to do the work (creativity is a muscle that has to be trained/strengthened).
I challenge you to be appreciative of the things around you (people, animals, objects) and to be more mindful of the feelings/thoughts that you are experiencing throughout the day. Pay attention. Be curious. Really observe and try to see things in different perspectives. Put yourself in other peoples' shoes. See the beauty in all things. Take notes. Turn yourself into an open channel. It is actually YOU that decides to turn the inspirational switch on. If you find you are unable to do this, there may be a chance that life has exhausted you and you have to make it a priority to take care of yourself before anything else. It's really incredible how much more productive we can be once we have committed to taking care of our mental and physical health.
I sincerely believe that remaining open, together with an intrinsic desire to improve personal skills and wanting to communicate important ideas to others, should give an artist more than enough fuel to continuously make art. Furthermore, there will always be room to improve artistic skills, whether it is through more technical studies or exploring new mediums/techniques. I have found that these explorations and studies always end up enhancing my work and they allow me to become more confident, which always opens up new possibilities. No matter how talented an artist is, there will ALWAYS be room to grow. What is important is to show up everyday with a desire to improve and progress, instead of waiting for a magical moment to happen.
In all the time I have been drawing and painting, inspiration has never hit me like a sudden lightning bolt. My best artwork so far has always been a result of a brainstorming process, chipping away at an idea, committing to it and allowing myself to enjoy the process. For me, the magical moment occurs after I have decided on an idea and have allowed myself to begin. I get into that magical zone while I draw or paint.
Finally, I want to remind you to take it easy on yourself. Always acknowledge your victories, however small they may be. Do your best to enjoy the process. Always remember this: It's the journey, not the destination.
Specific Ideas to Keep Your Art Flow Going
1. Stay healthy
Eat good food. Move more. Make time for your physical and mental well-being. This is the foundation for everything else. If you find you are simply unmotivated to make art, devote time to learning about other topics that interest you, whatever it may be. I find books and documentaries are awesome ways to get inspired.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others
Focus first on what YOU need to improve or the ideas that YOU want to transmit through your artwork. You can create inspirational Pinterest boards as much as you want, but always value your own work and respect the point you are in in your own journey. Remember that we tend to only see curated galleries of other artists' best pieces. Rarely do we see their failures and their struggles.
3. Make time for exploration
Try different mediums and styles. Pinpoint what it is about other peoples' work that you find intriguing (color, use of texture, line, etc.) and apply it in an artwork in your own way. Combine different drawing or painting supplies in one same piece. Deliberately try creating "ugly" artwork! Experiment with subjects that you have never attempted before. You never know if you don't try.
4. Talk to other human beings
It doesn't have to be about art! Ask questions and be interested. Really listen to what they have to say. Sometimes I think about what I have in common with others and what I can create that can resonate with him or her. Art is all about reflecting and connecting!
5. Create a work space that ignites your positive thoughts
Keep your studio organized. Add decorations that will help relax you and make you happy. I really believe that the environment that surrounds us impacts our mood and creativity.
6. Keep a sketchbook (or several)
If you are ever unmotivated, a sketchbook is able to provide a record for you to see how far you have come. They are also a great way to stay consistent. It is always an interesting exercise to re-work an old drawing or painting in a different way using the skills you have developed since then. Keep a small notebook to write ideas down in as they occur to you throughout the day. Read my post about why it is important to keep a sketchbook as an artist here.
7. Never fear perfection
Perfection is SO overrated! It is through taking risks that we grow. Nobody is perfect and there will always be room for improvement, no matter who you are. A perfectionist and ever-anxious state of mind will not lead you to create your best work. Read about the dangers of perfectionism in my blog post titled How I Killed My Perfectionist Demon and Why Perfectionism is the Worst.
8. Use your choice of literature, music, movies, photography, etc.
I find ALL kinds of art enjoyable and love using movies, music, literature and photography to get inspired. Think about what it is about that particular movie, song or book that resonates with you and create art based on those ideas/characters.
9. Make note of what you would like to improve and create plans/goals
Take 30 minutes each week to think about what specific skills you wish to improve (from technical drawing skills to specific techniques or media) and set goals for yourself. Just remember that these goals have to be feasible. Set limits for yourself so you don't get overwhelmed.
I leave you with this quote by amazing artist Chuck Close:
“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.”
Visit artist's website here.
This week I started my days with face sketches. I am pushing myself to draw faces in a variety of angles, which is something I think I need practice in. I was also able to complete my second collage painting based around a picture of my hands. I am really enjoying painting these experimental pieces and am going to continue doing more, which I am selling later. These pieces mean a lot to me because they are the first to actually have a more personal meaning behind them.
I hope you are having a wonderful weekend! Cheers!
“Time is the single most important resource that we have.
Every single minute we lose is never coming back.”
Have you ever found yourself getting irritated or anxious after not being able to work on what truly matters to you due to time-consuming “adult" obligations? Do you ever go to bed disappointed with yourself because you weren't able to create as much as you would have liked that day, week or month?
The past few months have been eye-opening for me in terms of realizing how important it is to prioritize tasks and create schedules for myself if I want to succeed as an artist/creative entrepreneur. I had been working for employers full-time for basically my entire career so far until last June, when I decided to resign from the Art Teaching position I had in the same school for five years. Currently, I am working for an employer only part-time teaching art and working on my own artistic projects the rest of the work day.
The first month or so after resigning, my husband and I had our hands full moving from our old apartment into the house we are living in today. After we were relatively settled in, and I felt like I had a decent work space set up (and the mental capacity to start this new phase in my career-gulp!), I began creating lists of both short and long-term goals that I wanted to accomplish. I knew from the start, that if I wanted to get anywhere as an artist, I would have to get serious, take matters into my own hands, and accomplish at least one thing every single day that would help me get closer and closer to my goal. I am lucky to have had those full-time job experiences which helped me develop a strong work ethic, organizational skills and an urgency to get things done.
It's been a struggle to fit everything I want to get done into one day, of course, as it probably is for most self-employed artists. Even though I consider myself relatively good at sticking to the commitments I have set for myself, it has been hard to remain disciplined working from home. It's been especially hard to focus on more business-related tasks because I am enjoying myself SO much as I finally have time to devote to my own artistic journey. During this time I have also learned that when one works from home, distractions are ever-present and that people who have never experienced being self-employed are prone to thinking that because you are working from home and doing your own thing, you must not be under pressure at all. Yeah, right!
Being the owner of a small business means managing accounting, inventory, marketing, finding time to network and create relationships with other artists/art enthusiasts, managing websites and social media, AND making awesome art. Not to mention, when one is self-employed, usually this means having to find different ways to diversify your income, which means juggling a bunch of things at once. Your level of success and income depends solely on you and the hustle you are willing to put in once you have defined your goals. As artists we are fully in charge of our own careers and, the sooner we realize that we are running a business and have to both learn to think strategically and follow through with decisive actions, the more successful we will become. For all this to happen, it is imperative that we learn to take control of our time.
Though I feel like my personal artistic journey is just beginning and I still have a lot to learn, I am happy to report that I have made decent progress towards my first set of goals, which included defining what it is that I want to offer, creating a cohesive online presence through my website and various art/creative platforms, growing an organic following on social media and to continue working hard at developing my artistic skills. I have managed to keep up with frequent posting on my main accounts (some daily, some weekly). I have also made it a priority to create blog posts twice a week and am continuously learning about SEO in order to reach a larger audience. I've learned SO incredibly much already and am progressing towards better time management, which I consider to be the foundation for everything else. Here are a few things that I have implemented myself and have allowed me to progress slowly but surely towards my objectives.
9 Useful Time Management Tips
1. Define your goals
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” –Yogi Berra
First and foremost, you have to think about what is most important to you. Define what it is you want out of life at personal, career and family/social levels. These are all equally important. Who do you want to become? For me, it helps to think about the people I admire, even if they are not in the same field I am in professionally speaking. What is it about their personality that draws you to them? What kind of energy do they put out into the world? What would you say THEY prioritize? What steps do you think you have to take in order to become the version of yourself you want to become?
Once you know what you want in these three categories, set specific goals for each. Make sure these goals are measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Personally, I never think more than a year in advance. I list my goals for the year (perhaps around 5) and flesh out more specific things to work on each month based on those goals.
2. Create a weekly schedules and daily to-do lists
“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.” –Napoleon Hill
After thinking about where you want to be at the end of the year and breaking that larger goal up into monthly tasks, you have to think about what specific actions you will have to take each week to make those monthly goals happen. Creating weekly schedules and daily bullet lists whenever necessary is extremely helpful. For me, they are essential in order to function on a day to day basis.
I am usually pretty strict about following my time-block schedule from Monday through Friday, but for the weekends I prefer to leave my days a bit more open and flexible by creating simple checklists of things I have to get done. By keeping things more flexible on Saturdays and Sundays, I am able to work around family gatherings, social commitments, or other special events. As long as I make sure to check off my to-do list items, I go to bed happy, knowing that I made some progress.
Creating daily to-do lists is especially helpful on more chaotic days that will be full of important and varied activities. When I know one of these days is coming up I create my to-do list, making sure to highlight the activities I need to prioritize. These bullet lists include appointments or errands that I didn't initially account for in my weekly scheduling. If I am not able to get through my daily to-do lists, which happens more often than I'd like, I take the next day as a new opportunity instead of beating myself up about it. Life happens and, though it is important to create plans, we also have to remain flexible and keep in mind things are always going to pop up.
The image below is what my ideal work week looks like. I really recommend creating a schedule using time blocks. However, I highly recommend you to modify your schedule's format depending on what works for you personally. Remember to include personal/self, work and family/social time in there! You can create a re-usable template either digitally or by hand, whatever floats your boat!
My Ideal Work Week:
3. 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 are 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. For example, for me, it is extremely important to have time to work out, enjoy home cooked meals, and to get decent rest every single day. These are things I need for my health and well-being. It is also a non-negotiable for me to have time to spend with my husband at the end of each work day and to have the opportunity to catch up with extended family or friends on weekends. These are things I need at a family/social level. It is imperative for you to make time for those special people in your life.
I will not take on projects or say `yes` to social gatherings that are not going to contribute to my goals in some way. These needs will obviously vary from person to person. Always keep in mind that your mental and physical well-being is just as important as anything else. I firmly believe that the better you take care of yourself, the better artist you will be. Not to mention, you will be able to create art for a longer time.
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."
We live in a world of constant distraction. If we aren't careful, we can waste entire days without being productive at all. You need to assess for yourself whether those activities that are taking away so much of your time are helping you get closer to your goal in any way. Be honest with yourself! If they aren't, cut them out. For example, if you find yourself stalking people on social media for hours on end, engaging in constant negative small-talk with so-called friends or other activities that will bring nothing positive to you, cut those activities out of your life. I personally am completely unapologetic about it. If you find this too hard, at least avoid doing it during times when you should be positive and focusing on your work.
Make sure you are using social media only for work-related tasks during the day so that you aren't trying to finish up important things late at night, when you should be resting in order to be fresh and productive the following day. Not resting properly will affect your work and productivity and will perhaps even throw your entire week off.
Schedule in times for non-art related tasks in a smart way so that you use your most productive hours for creative tasks. Instead of checking your email once every few hours, check and respond to emails once a day and make sure not to spend more than 30 mins on them. Make things like phone calls, errands, home chores, etc. all revolve around your production time as much as possible.
Keep your phone on silent during times that require special focus and attention and try to diminish multitasking. Studies have found that if you are trying to do several things at once, it is likely the outcomes of those things will be mediocre. Instead, set specific times for each task and focus on one thing at a time.
I really recommend setting aside some time at the end of each week to think about what your personal time-wasters are and when it is you find yourself getting sucked into them. Modify your schedule if at the end of the week you find something didn't work for you.
5. Keep studio/office, artwork and computer files organized
“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned." -Benjamin Franklin
A lot of time is wasted when we have to look for things. By keeping your work area, supplies and artwork organized you will not only be able to find whatever you need faster, but you will 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. Being organized is especially important because, being self-employed, you will have to stay on top of several different sources of revenue and specific client projects. Not to mention, we are also responsible for keeping track of our monthly income and spending. It is very important to create a system for organizing receipts and invoices as well as contracts, client emails and other necessary documents. Create back-ups on a regular basis.
6. Set reminders and alarms throughout the day if necessary
“Work is a necessity for man. Man invented the alarm clock." -Pablo Picasso
If you're anything like me, time goes by fast when you are in the process of creation. Even though production time is extremely important, as business owners it is imperative for us to stay on top of many other things as well. I use my phone to set reminders and alarms on days in which I have to be somewhere at a specific time (appointments, meetings, classes, online workshops/webinars, etc.). For me, punctuality is essential in order to transmit professionalism and seriousness. It shows you respect other people's time and that you have your priorities in check. Also, each day can be very different as a self-employed creative and it can be a lot easier to forget things when you have no co-workers or bosses reminding you what you have to do and where you have to be. It's imperative that you set your own systems.
7. Assess and improve time management strategies
“Practice without improvement is meaningless." -Chuck Knox
At the end of each month, it is useful to sit down and think about what worked in your scheduling practice and what didn't. Maybe you find you are able to be more effective creatively in the morning, in which case you should consider scheduling in your art-production block earlier. You can leave tasks that require less critical thinking (responding to emails, posting on social media, etc.) at a later time. Or perhaps you do some research and find out you get more engagement when posting on social media at specific times, in which case you should not waste time on them at other moments of the day. 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!
8. Consider delegating tasks
“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do." -Jessica Jackley
I am SO guilty of burning myself out after wanting to do everything alone! Because I am interested in a very wide variety of things, I get excited and want to learn/experiment with them first-handedly. I start new things when I already have a lot on my plate and perhaps even succeed at finishing everything on time, but my health takes a toll. I have to remind myself that the tasks that I set out to achieve have to be feasible.
One thing I have learned these past few months is how important it is to define goals and streamline systems in order to reach success sooner. There are things that you have to be willing to set aside if you want to become amazing at one specific thing.
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 this will allow you to develop artistically faster!
9. Be consistent and never 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 tend to focus on everything that we have yet to do and don't take a moment to realize how far we have come since we started. It wasn't until I started writing this blog post, for example, that I realized all of the things I have been able to do in only a couple of months! PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK FOR YOUR HARD WORK EVERY NOW AND THEN. Milestones are important and acknowledging them will encourage you to keep working hard towards your goals.
If you have done your absolute best every day, you ARE progressing and you should be proud of yourself. You should be proud of yourself for being brave enough to even take this entrepreneurial route and for working hard to create the life you want to live.
Finally, I want to encourage you to dream big and never let fear hold you back from achieving your dreams. You can get anywhere if you believe in yourself and set yourself up for success by learning, planning and being consistent. Don't let perfectionism, fear of failure, or criticism get in the way of something you truly want. Also, take it one step at a time! Remember that getting things done is better that not doing them at all. After all, growing a business is a learning process and we will be improving throughout the way. The important thing is to do our best on a daily basis and to never give up!
What are you greatest time-management challenges? How does your control of your time impact your work? I'd love to hear your answers!
In this section of my website I will be posting helpful information
for other artists and
art educators, as well
as my own thoughts
and personal artistic progress.
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reach out to me if you have any questions regarding my work,
or if you have any ideas
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Hope you enjoy and find this useful/inspiring!