Are you getting a bit tired of always drawing stiff, flat faces looking forward? Do you enjoy portraiture and would like to learn how to draw faces in different angles? Do you frequently find something is a bit ``off´´ when you finish your portrait drawings?
In this blog post I will explain why it is important to have a basic understanding of the underlying structure of the face (the skull) in order to draw more believable portraits, and will be reviewing basic facial proportions/locations of individual facial elements within the head shape. Then, I will move on to explain how to draw a face at a 3/4's angle, which is one of the most-used angles in both painting and photography portraiture.
I will share my own 4-step method for drawing portraits and also a video time-lapse demonstrating how I do my quick face sketches. This blog post includes several free downloadable PDF's that you can use for practicing, so make sure to check those out at the end!
I'm going to start off by saying that drawing portraits is hard! The main reason being that what we see most everyday are the faces of those around us. This means that most people, artists or not, will be able to notice if something is ``off´´ when viewing a portrait, even if at first they can't pinpoint exactly what it is.
With a portrait drawing being ``off´´ I don't mean small differences in eye sizes or eyebrow shape. Human faces have natural imperfections and aren't 100% symmetric (most of the time). What I'm referring to is shape, proportion and location of facial elements within the head shape. Most of the time something looks off, it's due to an ineffective placement or proportion of any (or all) face elements.
This is why it is very important to understand and keep these things in mind when attempting to draw any type of portrait (unless you are intentionally going for an unrealistic style). Though I don't particularly go for high levels of realism with my work, I do like starting with a concrete foundation in order for it to have a believable aspect to it.
*This post is intended for those who have already had some amount of practice drawing faces at a forward-facing angle. Still need a bit more practice with drawing faces in a forward view? Visit my blog post titled How to Draw a Face (for Beginners). There, I offer free downloadable PDFs explaining to do draw a basic head shape as well as individual facial elements.
When an artist is trying to get better at drawing any part of the human anatomy, it is important to devote some time to studying its underlying structure. Understanding what is underneath our skin will allow us to create more believable form and three-dimensionality in our artwork, which is key when trying to achieve any level of realism. The structure beneath the face is....you guessed it! The skull!
Sorry to get a little morbid here, but let's take a moment to analyze the following images:
Photos cortesy of Pixabay. Click on the image to go back it original link.
The human skull is made up of two separate parts, the cranium and the mandible. Notice the natural holes, and diverse nooks and crannies all over its structure. It's important to note that the cranium is not a perfect sphere! And though artists usually start their portraits off by drawing a circle or an oval (depending on the perspective/angle of the head), this initial shape usually gets refined along the drawing process.
Observe the human skull and take note of its main characteristics:
-Large eye sockets (our eyes are placed deep within our heads)
-The mandible is connected to the cranium and is the only part of the skull that can move (aside from our eyeballs)
-Our teeth and the bones onto which they are attached actually jut out a bit, creating a curved effect where our lips usually fall
-Our brow bones and cheekbones create very visible bumps
-Our temples (sides of our heads) sink inwards
As previously mentioned, most artists start off their portraits by creating simple shapes much like the ones below. These shapes and lines allow them to visualize where the facial elements will be placed.
What you'll need:
-Computer or another device with a photo editing software like Photoshop
-High quality images (either your own or that you have permission to use)
*Find my list of favorite free image sources HERE
2. Create your individual clippings
Take your time searching for individual elements that call to YOU personally. Prepare AT LEAST 5-10 individual items and create a variety in terms of texture, color, shape, etc. I also recommend picking out different types of subjects. For example, create some clippings of human figures (or parts of the human figure), a few of inanimate objects, animals, textures that can be perhaps used as backgrounds, etc.
For this exercise I looked for my images online, but I also wanted to include my own hand in my composition, so I went ahead and took a picture. If you're creating your collage digitally, make sure to keep your images organized in folders so you don't give yourself a headache while doing your photo editing!
Click on each photo to go back to its original source at Unsplash and Pexels.
Start playing with your clippings, arranging them in a variety of ways to see what is most interesting. Don't paste anything down yet! I usually start by creating what I want my focal point to be and then add to it. Think of where your biggest shapes are going to be placed and then add smaller ones as you go. The point isn't to fill up your entire background space, but to add smaller elements where it makes sense to depending on your overall message.
Try to think more about a possible meaning, than about saturating with color and shape just because it looks pretty. As you go, you'll inevitably begin creating connections and thinking of ideas that are personal to you. At this point, I almost always start thinking of possible titles for my collage!
4. Carefully paste everything together
Paste everything together, thinking about overlapping elements and position within space. Try to apply your knowledge of Art Fundamentals so that you can create a composition that has meaning to you, but is also visually pleasing.
5. Consider whether you can take your collage a step further!
Finally, it's time to think about whether you are going to leave you collage as an exploratory exercise or whether you are going to create something with it!
Personally, I decided to create a watercolor painting with mine! In the past, I have even used collages as references to create large canvas oil paintings! The possibilities are endless!
Have you ever had positive experiences creating collages? Do you have any particular way you use them? I'd love to know your thoughts! Leave a comment in the comments section below!
``It's easy to attack and destroy an act of creation. It's a lot more difficult to perform one.´´
Have other people's comments ever made you want to stop creating art? Have you ever wished you were more like those magical individuals who seem to exude self-confidence 24/7 and never let anyone rain on their parade? Ever wondered how much more productive and successful you'd be if you didn't allow other people's opinions to interfere with what you want to achieve in life?
``Haters don't really hate you! They hate themselves!´´ they say. ``Just ignore them and keep at it!´´ they say. These suggestions are all well and good, but do they help, really? Are you able to simply forget about what that rude person just said to you or do you let it sour the rest of your day, maybe even allowing the negativity to carry over until tomorrow? Most of us creative beings are sensitive by nature and, at times, it may take only one negative remark to make us forget about all we have done right. Over time I have realized that life is too short and I cannot waste precious time and energy on negative people that will bring me no growth whatsoever.
Criticism, constructive or not, will be a recurring element in any artist's career. No matter how talented or well-intentioned someone is, there will ALWAYS be people that do not agree with him/her. We need to practice effectively reacting to criticism until it becomes second nature to us. Whether we are sharing our work online or in person, we need to be prepared to react in a way that transmits professionalism. Remember, in order to receive respect, we need to give respect. You never want to do or say something that you'll regret later!
Accept the fact that ALL people who put themselves out there and/or dedicate their lives to activities that may be perceived as uncommon will be judged and that these things are beyond your control. What you CAN control, however, is how you react in these situations. And what you CAN be sure of, is that with time, it will become easier and easier to react favorably. In the first few years it's going to be challenging. However, in time you will gain more experience both in terms of artistic skill and verbal communication. You will get to know yourself as an artist and your self-confidence will grow without you even realizing it.
Next, I will explain why art criticism is an important part of any artist's career. I will also share some tips to apply when receiving criticism that will allow you to gain respect from others. To finish up, I will clarify how to properly critique a work of art.
What is Art Criticism and Why is it Important in an Artist's Life?
The term art criticism refers to the analysis, evaluation and discussion of an artwork. It requires the participant to reflect about a particular work of art and make a personal, substantiated interpretation of the piece. The term was first used in 1719 by English painter Jonathan Richardson in his publication An Essay on the Whole Art of Criticism. In his book, Richardson attempted to create a system to rank works of art based on drawing, composition, invention and use of color. Aside from analyzing the piece itself, professional art critics also question whether an artwork has importance within its historical context and how it relates to works before it.
Criticism (the constructive kind) is necessary in an artist's life because it is quite simply one of the best ways to improve our work. We should actively seek ways to better our skills, not only in terms of technique, but in how well we are able to engage and connect with the public. Even though most of us create in solitude, we do it with the purpose of eventually sharing our art with the world. Not everyone will react favorably, of course, but we should keep creating for those people that do find themselves in our work.
How to Take Criticism Like a Champ
Taking criticism is hard for anybody. However, as artists, we most frequently create in solitude and do not share responsibilities with anyone other but ourselves. This can make the experience a lot more personal and harder to deal with. Here are 10 tips that will help you receive and digest other people's comments in an effective way.
Read my blog post titled Self-Doubt as an Artist: How to Stay Confident and Keep Going.
How to Critique Artwork Intelligently
In his essay The Psychology of the Critic and Psychological Criticism (1962), author Philip Weissman argues that an art critic needs to have knowledge in the field in order to make a judgement. I'm including this final section because I want to encourage people to share their opinions about art in an intelligent, substantiated way that shows appreciation and leads to positive growth. Constructive criticism is based on facts, and only after proper analysis can judgement be made. Negative opinions void of any objective reasoning should be ignored.
I will be using Edmund Feldman's method of critiquing for the purpose of this explanation. His proposed system involves four steps: description, analysis, interpretation and judgement. You will notice how the first two steps of the process are the study of objective facts found within an artwork and the second half is more subjective in the sense that they require the participant to make connections, reflect and finally share a personal opinion.
As an example, I will apply Feldman's method of critiquing to the following masterpiece by the great Edward Hopper:
-This piece is titled Nighthawks and it was created by American painter Edward Hopper in 1942, amidst the socio-political turmoil caused by the ongoing World War 2. It is also important to note that Hopper lived through the Great Depression, which was an extremely hard economic time for many countries.
-The scene is very American and set within Hopper's time judging by architectural design and the dressing style of the subjects. It portrays a sense of everyday life in an American city.
-Hopper has mentioned that he was inspired by a particular diner in Greenwich Village, where he lived and worked from the time he was 31 until his death. However, it is not meant to be a direct representation and, by the lack of detail, one gets the sense that it could be any diner in any city.
-The medium used was oil paint and the style is quite realistic but not heavily detailed.
-In terms of Elements of Art, what strike out most are use of color, shape, space, form and line.
-One could say that the subject of the piece is the diner itself. However, inside it we can see four different characters. Our eyes gravitate towards the only woman included in the piece, due to the bright color of her clothes and hair. Hers is the only face we can see almost completely.
-The composition in itself is quite simple but is visually very engaging.
-The composition is divided into thirds and the diner takes up approximately two thirds of the entire area.
-The use of color in this piece is quite striking. The bright yellow hue used inside the diner, which creates the effect of fluorescent lighting, contrasts with the colors outside of it and provides emphasis on this area of the painting, where the subjects are located.
-There is a sense of illumination created by the diner's unnatural light. It spills onto the concrete outside and creates a few stark shadows. We can easily tell that it is nighttime, but we understand this from the moment we read the title of the piece.
-Muted, dark colors are used on the facades of the buildings and street elements outside of the diner. Very few details are included in this area, which further draws the viewer's focus to the inside of the diner.
-There is almost no sense of movement perceived, even within the diner.
-There is an asymmetrical balance achieved in the arrangement of forms within the composition. There is just the right amount of form and detail within the small area outside the diner to balance it with the enclosed area of interest.
-There are various lines included within the composition. The vertical lines used to create the windows of the diner and the buildings behind it ground the piece. At the same time, strong diagonals create the form of the diner and lead to a vanishing point somewhere outside the piece, to the left (linear perspective).
-These lines also create a triangular shape containing the subjects, making it look like the front part of a ship.
-Windows, architectural elements, and bar stools, create patterns and repetition in certain areas of the piece, transmitting a certain sense of order.
-Hopper creates very smooth paintings, leaving out texture (probably deliberately). We are only able to tell that there is glass separating us from the people inside the diner because of the edge painted at the end of the building. There is no door to be seen.
-Even though a lot of people consider Nighthawks an expression of Americans' feelings during the WW2 period, Hopper's wife once said that he deliberately chose to ignore the chaos going on around him, immersing himself in his work. The Pearl Harbor bombing occurred only a few days after this painting was completed.
-It is important to note that Hopper also lived through the Great Depression and did struggle economically for quite some time. Isolation and disconnect are present in many of Hopper's paintings even before WW2 started.
-This great artist was once quoted saying: "I don't think I ever tried to paint the American scene. I'm trying to paint myself." This tells us that Hopper used his work as a means of self-discovery and personal reflection.
-The emptiness in the piece, combined with lack of movement/expression, as well as the fact that these people seem close and yet apart (both amongst themselves and from the viewer), transmits feelings of loneliness and isolation. Even the couple sitting together seems detached. They could be married or they could be total strangers that just met.
-The stillness and silence make me feel like something is about to happen.
-I believe this piece is extremely effective in both technique and narrative. For me, both are essential in an artwork and Hopper's painting definitely shows both.
-I really admire Hopper's painting style as he creates a specific level of realism but retains visible brushstrokes, leaving out high amounts of detail.
-He was also immensely talented in terms of being able to transmit specific feelings and ideas to the viewer. His work is simple, displays common scenes, and yet is extremely psychological, making the viewer think whether there is another layer to everyday life.
-With every piece, the artist incites us to connect the dots and come up with stories. His work is compelling, even today.
-Hopper is known for taking a long time to complete his works, and the effectiveness of his paintings really show a deliberate study and planning on his part.
_Personally, I feel like a lot of Hopper's work (Nighthawks included) is able to resonate with people even today. I think the modern world is so fast-paced and immersed in technology (especially larger cities), that we lack deep communication with one another. We can be surrounded by large amounts of people and yet feel incredibly alone. Also, the lack of expression in Hopper's subjects reminds me of how we are becoming more and more desensitized by violence and, at times, lack the humanity to connect with others. We are together in this world and yet, almost everyday, we ignore there are others beside us that may need help. Everyone is their own island!
Because you will likely by receiving both positive and negative criticism on a regular basis, it is vital for you to start training yourself to respond in a professional manner and, more importantly, to not let it stop you from moving forward in your artistic journey. It is extremely unfortunate when artists never show their work out of fear of failure or criticism. Please remember that being brave enough to share work you have worked hard on is an accomplishment in and of itself!
Have you ever had any particularly bad experiences receiving criticism? I'd love to know! Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thank you SO much for reading! I hope this helped/encouraged you in some way.
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."
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!
Did you find it difficult/intimidating to get your art out there in the beginning? Did you go through any bad experiences when you shared the fact that you were starting a business with your art? Let's have a discussion in the comments section below!
Thank you SO much for reading! I hope this helped other artistpreneurs out there who are in a similar stage to mine in their art businesses! We can do it folks!
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
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!
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.
Which are YOUR three favorite artists and what is it about their artwork you love so much? Do you think any of these characteristics can be found in your own work? I'd ABSOLUTELY LOVE it if you took a minute to comment below! Let me know if you use the Artist Mishmash technique! I'd love to see what you come up with! Cheers, friends!
Thank you so much for visiting and reading! Have an amazing and inspiring week!
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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. Our creativity and work WILL suffer if we don't.
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!
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.
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. What matters is that we don't allow these feelings to paralyze us. Remember that how you deal with life situations is what defines you, so never stop working towards what you know in your heart you want to achieve.
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.
“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.”
Which of these ten things cause you most trouble? Do you have any personal strategies that help you deal with negative feelings that pop up when your trying to produce art? 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 and let's help each keep going!
Thank you SO much for visiting my site and reading this blog post. I wish you the best in your artistic journey and hope to see you around!
Do you frequently struggle 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. Don't strive for 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.
Learn more about Chuck Close and view more of his amazing artwork at:
How frequently do you find yourself going through an artist block and how long do they usually last for you? Do you consciously make time for your mental and physical health on a day-to-day basis?
Let's have a discussion in the comments section below!
Thank you so much for reading! I hope this was helpful and that it inspires you to keep going! Remember you are not alone and we all go through this from time to time.
In this section of my website you'll be able to find helpful information and free resources to help improve your art, as well as a bit about the business side of making a living as a creative entrepreneur.
Do not hesitate to
reach out to me if you have any questions regarding my work.
Feel free to send me an
email, leave a comment on the site and/or reach out on social media. I'd love to connect!
Hope you enjoy
and find this useful!
Self-Doubt as an Artist:
How to Stay Confident and Keep Going
Why Sketchbooks are Essential Tools for Artists and a Few Usage Tips
Guide to Shading Techniques: Hatching, Cross-Hatching, Scribbling and Others
How to Effectively Use Other Artists' Work as Inspiration and a Great Method to Start Developing Your Own Artistic Style
How to Draw a Face
Links To Useful Sites
Painting With Oils
Student Art Shows