The best way to start painting with watercolors

… is using pen and watercolor wash.

We all want our art to be great and impressive. However, if you are new to some medium or absolutely new to drawing and painting, you have to bear in mind: nothing happens right away and with the first brush stroke. I have had absolute beginners who were somewhat disappointed that their first piece of art wasn’t exhibition quality. Well, that is normal.

Every skill takes time, efforts and work.

Creation of drawing or painting involves lots and lots of information. Some people are courageous by nature and love to experiment, and that is a very good start. Some people are perfectionists and they believe everything they do must be either perfect or they are ready to give it up; and that is a completely wrong approach.

My personal attitude towards something new in painting: different subject, medium, tools or technique never focuses on perfection. I focus on potential. Something might work out and something might not. There will be easy parts and probably difficult parts. That way. I call this attitude: let us see what happens.

Progress is usually gradual. That is why we start with simple things and move to more complicated things.

Pen and watercolor wash is a great technique for beginning watercolorists. Some like it so much that they stick to this technique and turn it into their personal style.

If you are insecure about drawing lines with pen, sketch them in using pencil. You can draw over with pen and delete everything else. We have now clean drawing in black ink, and the white paper is not damaged.

Anything can serve as a subject: from your morning coffee cup to flowers in a vase or at the fence, from a bird at your window to sprouting vegetables in a garden. Any scene with some object is good, but flowers look extremely nice when done in pen and watercolor.

When somebody says they cannot draw, I don’t believe that. Most often that means they tried 1 or 2 drawings and these drawings were not splendid. So, they make a conclusion that they cannot draw. Talk to me after 200-300 drawings. That is a decent start. It is also much easier to point out what else one should do in order to create better art when they have done some attempts.

Pen and watercolor flowers and spring scenes

Flowers are extremely suitable subject for this type of watercolor application

Apple blooms in pen and watercolor: great starting subject

Birds fit in this category, as well

Spring mood with butterflies: excellent subject for beginners in watercolor

This exercise is for absolute beginners

Why to start with pen and watercolor? It is forgiving, it is easy and fast, and it allows learning watercolor application more effortlessly. The pen lines provide additional support. It is a flattering technique since practically any painting or drawing looks good regardless of how sufficient one is with watercolor only.

I have done numerous pen and watercolor paintings over years, just because it is fun, it is easy and looks fantastic.

How drawing and painting teaches us life and boosts mental fitness

Creative involvement in drawing and painting is one of the best things we can do in order to increase the brain activity, improve memory (not only visual) and become more confident, self-aware and efficient with making decisions.

How so? Every line and brush stroke we put down on paper or canvas comes from the brain impulses and activity of neurons at certain parts of the brain. Your hand doesn’t move on its own, it’s guided by our perception and the ability to transform visually or with other senses perceived information into individualized personal experience which is reflected as you draw or paint. It is a very complex process, and we tend to think there are mysterious powers of some kind involved. I sort of want to remove the magic aspect from creativity, just to keep things simple. Inspiration will add the magic, but we have to start from the basics.

Most people do not see the surrounding world as an artist does. So, the first task is learning to recognize all the multiple aspects of transforming a simple visual image into art that exhibits the artistically applicable features of this image. How do we do that?

Anything we draw or paint must find some echo in the storage space of our imagination. Such space of stored imaginary images is present within any memory based on associative and a priori acquired knowledge. Anything we create always relates to our fundamental knowledge of this world. Yet, the drawing or painting we are doing has SPECIFIC OBJECTS, VERY SPECIFIC ITEMS, a VERY SPECIFIC THEME and ATMOSPHERE. It is a scene like no other because it always presents individual features. No two apples are exactly the same, now flower copies the other one exactly line by line, vein by vein and trees come all in very various shapes, not to mention faces, landscapes or other scenery.

Since most people who learn painting or drawing believe that getting all information from the outside and simply following somebody without making their own decision will do the job, first artworks usually do not come out that great. While we are sketching or blocking in the basic shapes or lines, we should already try to decide why everything is where it is, and why composition evolves as it does. The reason we place our objects based on some principle on our paper or canvas is deciding early and planning for effects which we create later.

Adding paint or other elements is always making decisions: first about values, then about shapes, edges, washes and eventually we need to apply color if it is watercolor or acrylic or oil painting in color. Our brain has to make these decisions fast. Most mediums require using relevant timing. If we hesitate too much in some watercolor layers, it simply is too late to achieve the type of wash that makes such painting outstanding. If we are too slow, the acrylic layer we worked at is already dry or tacky and we have to return to it later.

Some images from recent art classes

art-classes-oshawa

Blooming in studio

art-classes-for-acrylic-painting

On the easel: beautiful subject

art-classes-art-students-whitby-ontario

Natalia joined us just recently: very talented girl

There are two main things blocking our ability to proceed with painting or drawing when somebody attends or watches a class: we believe that instructor has made all decisions for us and our task is to blindly follow and to repeat what we see; and we are trying to do everything without any knowledge of why. There is no reasoning, no decisions which arise from our current activity.

For instance, when asked what he or she is doing with some particular part of painting, a very frequent answer is: “I don’t know”. How come? You have to know why you want one part dark and how to achieve that, you have to decide whether that particular object is small or large, has lost edges or sharp edges. That is, basically, we have to decide what exactly and why exactly every time we do something with our painting or drawing.

The biggest trouble maker is simple, aimless brushing around, moving paint all over until everything what there was is lost. That comes from not making a decision. When we decide that clouds are large and grey, we act to achieve this. It’s obvious that only acting based on decision can contribute to implementation of our intentions.

The instructor or art teacher isn’t a magician; they cannot affect directly and immediately the way your brain works. They hope you pay attention to what they say and demonstrate and you will make your own decisions based on this advice. However, if you do not answer for yourself why, what, when and how, the progress is noticeably delayed. Therefore, I also advice doing value sketches. This does not slow one down, but helps tremendously with planning and deciding on what, where and what way.

Eventually, the decision making we learn in classroom makes one much more efficient in other areas of life; hence, everything should be based on decision, not impulse and lack of thinking, so that we do not have to admit: I don’t know why I am doing this. You have to. Unfortunately, nobody can provide you with a dose of understanding perspective, values, shapes, contrasts, layouts and other elements as a capsule or tablet to simply swallow and apply. Everybody has their own ways of making the necessary decisions and they should arrive to this understanding on their own, based on advice, recommendations, techniques and principles teacher, demo or class has provided with.

2 new still life paintings for sale

still-life-for-sale-1

This was started 4 years ago, oh well, time flies

still-life-for-sale-2

Recent study

Lifeschool post has some suggestions on how to avoid preventable accidents and also shares some stories of people who required lengthy recovery: Accidents, bad luck, etc

Dreaming goes on because art is timeless

Before you leave this site, please, spend a short moment with my other blog which is not that visible since it’s secondary (WordPress, it’s time to change that!!!), and the post tells a fairy-tale about Christmas: https://inesepogalifeschool.com/2016/12/22/christmas-fairy-tale-going-home/

Inese Poga's art show

Show, large room, right side

Inese Poga's art show

Show, large room, left side

Art for sale

Sun slightly disturbing, but the light was excellent

artbylocalartist Inese Poga

It’s good to wrap up things and have the feeling of “I have done everything I could, and it is what it is”. It would be certainly way better to finish the year in more elevated mood, like “Was this ever fantastic!” That’s not going to happen this time.

It’s good not to have any classes for a while because that allows getting back to me: doing things that I want and prefer, not only classwork. Giving classes is a big responsibility; it takes a lot of energy and time-consuming preparation work.

I certainly would like to move to my personal themes and my personal visions in art, but unfinished paintings are really standing in the way: you look at some, and it says: hey, just add a few brush strokes, just wash in some more background, it’s not going to be that much of your time! I end up spending a lot of time, and since these are paintings that I started a long time ago, my internal critic disagrees with some aspects. Why did I start this at all? Right, during the class. Why did I choose that much detail? Why didn’t I make it simple and with large accents? Basically, it’s difficult because I have moved on and it feels like catching up on some long time ago forgotten thought or idea.

I will try to be more disciplined and not start that many new paintings, but then again when I didn’t do demos on canvas, I suddenly painted a few great paintings … on messed up cardboard. The wavy texture shines through, and they are not any good for display. It’s even impossible to take any picture of them. You never know with painting: something good can appear where one didn’t expect that and everything can go wrong when we had high expectations. There are so many forces and energies involved that it isn’t by far as simple as “just do it right or according to your plan”.

Classes also put a lot of pressure on any teacher because teaching is also not that simple. I usually think and plan and sketch until I find the right image for a particular group. I also have to think about simplified ways how to put it on canvas or paper.

16 x 12 orchid by Inese Poga

Magnolia, the small version

artbylocalartist gerbera

Gerbera daisy

artbylocalartist my favorite

Finally, got a better picture of poinsettia

artbylocalartist very red poppies

Ones side still pale, but I didn’t have any picture of these red poppies

art Toronto artist

They all looked so attractive

artbylocalartist Barn reflection

We did recently this reflection, everybody loved painting it

artbylocalartist Sunset over shores

This was the subject for a Saturday workshop

artbylocalartist some birches

We are often painting birches

artbylocalartist autumn and birches

This is one of recent class paintings

I had put up a beautiful show, those who came were really impressed, but I believe, my timing was a bit off. I will start to prepare the next show “Blooms and Leaves” fairly soon, and that might be ready by the end of April or by May. Anyway, there is not such a thing as lack of paintings for sale at my gallery. It’s always open and available to anybody over the internet. Just ask.

Merry Christmas to these who celebrate it and fantastic holidays to those who have other celebrations!

Where did the time go?

Time is rushing us so badly that it sometimes feels I just wake up and go back to sleep. At least, I got this feeling recently. Along with doctor’s appointments, household stuff, daily meals, cleaning, laundry, classes, preparation of new images and steps for their painting, preparation of hand-out materials, advertising, social media posts, and I had two huge medical writing jobs, each one took a week approximately: that meant there was no time to paint. Although, my show is coming up and this is a gift season for which I should have better prepare. There was just zero time.

I put up a few decorations yesterday, and I had to give a class later, and that was it. The day just disappeared again. Anyway, I’m posting a watercolor still life which was done about 3 weeks ago, but THERE WAS NO TIME TO POST ANYTHING!

Watercolor still life

I hope my duties will somewhat balance out during the upcoming weeks and I can get to things which I really want to do: JUST SIMPLY PAINT. Starting image for a class is not quite the same: I have to take into account all distinctive levels of skill, and we often have absolute beginners, so that painting is just an illustration for what I am saying while teaching. Showing is definitely better than only telling about it. It is very helpful also that I can see and correct things which are usually problematic: very little paint, too much water, completely dry brush, unclean brush, putting pressure on brush and similar basic issues with painting supplies. The one thing which is ALWAYS WRONG is: trying to paint with tiny bits of paint or not having paint on a brush. We have to be generous! I think, generally, generous people also have much better results when creating art, they simply are not that much afraid of wasting anything. That certainly helps!

Watercolor still life detail

Painting takes time; at least a few hours here and there have to be set aside, so that no disturbances, interruptions or hassles harm the image which lives already in the imagination. I just didn’t get this chance recently, but I’m looking hopefully to the future.

Your support would be much appreciated

If you read this post, not only clicked on like, that would be wonderful.

I am finally returning to life and life is returning to me, however, the long time period of not being able to do much has its sequences.

I asked before the readers and people who wouldn’t be hurt by spending something on any painting for help and possibly support. It was fantastic how one lady bought a painting which should arrive at her place in the USA tomorrow, and I hope she will be happy with that painting. I hope there is somebody else among you who would not mind to support me after these terrible health struggles for quite a while.

artclasses 3

After giving so many workshops and classes and since I’m always painting along with my students, I have very many 16 x 20 in paintings.  We never repeat any single painting, so to speak to keep the inspiration flowing and our artistic juices fresh.

artclasses8

Not all of these 16 x 20 inch paintings are finished. I sometimes change my mind; I sometimes have moved forward and have no interest in subject any longer, and therefore quite often additional work or reworking are required. Whenever I feel like doing so, I keep working on these paintings, however, I would like to discontinue small size landscapes, and return to large and very large paintings. Even many years ago, I loved painting large art. Not only I find it more expressive and more impressive, it is easier for me to paint in that scale because eyesight does not get any better, but I hate wearing glasses when painting because they destroy the correct proportions and mislead in interpretation of a subject. That’s my intention: to return to large pieces and especially to still life because that was always my most favorite subject. Still life which consists of something man-made, live flowers and leaves which symbolizes life and either food, vegetables and fruits, or subjects like glasses, books, candles, watches and similar. I still love birds, and I am watching them; and I can say I do not need any more references to paint birds which are in my backyard. About 40 bird paintings are available at my gallery.

Fall path, full sheet watercolor

Fall birch path large watercolor painting

Summer path along the river, full sheet watercolor

summer along the river large watercolor

Spring creek has appeared here and there on this blog

spring creek, large watercolor

I have paintings which I haven’t seen for a while; these are large watercolors which took me a few months to paint a few years ago. I couldn’t frame all very large painting, therefore, nobody gets to see them because watercolor is sensitive without glass. Full size watercolors are not included in sales, but everything else is. I need to make space and invest in new paints and canvasses, as well as watercolor and pastel paper. As you know, good paper is expensive, but it’s worth it. Those of you who paint probably have experienced that difference between good and bad watercolor paper is insane. It’s possible to say right away on what paper some painting has been painted. Paint and water sit and float on the top of a cheap paper and they never act as on thick and multi-layer paper. That explains why some watercolor just do not look right.

A few small studies in watercolor

sky reflection, small size watercolor

Small watercolor of sky reflection

spring in the fields watercolor painting

Small spring watercolor

Not all paintings have pictures and some of them are visible only in group photos. I make also extremely textured paintings, and it is sort of impossible to get a good picture of a highly textured painting. Light is reflected brighter from higher spots and shadows also disturb to have the right balance which exists in reality, but not on a photo. Well, there might be even people who can come to the gallery in person; that certainly is the best because no photo can replace the impression of an artwork. Any painting up to 20 x 24 inches without frame ships anywhere.

I have uploaded quite a lot of art on Fine Art America; they have so many products with images that I have lost count. I get from any purchase $2 to $10, except greeting cards in which case it is $0.50 to $1.

My art and artsy products on Fine Art America http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/inese-poga.html?tab=artworkgalleries

I hope at least a few of you like something that much that they would not mind to own it. I mean especially originals. Please ask me about extremely good deals on 12 x 16 and 8 x 10 in watercolor paintings. I just learned my lesson that shipping with UPS was more expensive than painting, so any shipping will be extra. Thanks in advance!

Lifeschool blog talks about dreams that do not always come true, but hope is never given up: https://inesepogalifeschool.com/2016/09/11/the-soothing-sunday-thoughts-castles-of-sand/

Nothing compares to summer painting outdoors

Summer days are running away so fast that it is pretty clear: this summer is completely lost for me. I am usually waiting for summer so much that I do not even live during winter. It is certainly the best time to grab our paint box, some paper and go outside.

The weather isn’t too friendly in Ontario: I cannot recall so many heat waves and so many days without a drop of rain while I am here. My mornings are spent at a clinic, afternoons: fighting fatigue, so I just will have to put off my outdoor painting for some weeks yet.

When people ask: what should I start painting or drawing with, the answer is very simple. Draw and paint anything around you. There is nothing better than drawing from real objects and real scenes. Once you get used to it, you will notice how everything is more vibrant and livelier when we paint from life.

Summer paintings 1 chikadee

Lots of instructions start with: take a picture. I would love to say, however, if you have something set up or around you, do not take any pictures. I mean, if it is a large work and you are afraid, you’d forget the scene, well, you might also take a reference picture. The problem is that most people want to copy their reference photos instead of just using them. I might sound like an old vinyl, but it’s so silly to copy the photo and then pretend you painted it from scratch.

That’s why we have eyes and brain; we are supposed to use them as intensively as possible.

The next thing which matters is this: once you learn drawing, you are able to draw ANYTHING. This happens because you have exercised your visual perception, developed eye-hand coordination and your hand starts perceiving impulses from your brain.

Summer painting 3 old fence

My backyard

Is it important to stick with colors which somebody else is using? Not at all. It is much more interesting to explore and develop your PERSONAL color combinations. I also find that paints of different brands act very differently. My favorite watercolor paints are St. Petersburg artist grade paints. I haven’t seen anything else which has such transparency and allows mixing up all sorts of shades that easily. It is almost impossible to get a dull painting with these paints. The secret is the natural and pure pigments they use as opposed to many paint manufacturers who pretty much cheat and replace pigments with filers and binders. That means chemicals which do not enhance color or paint application.

Along with paints and brushes (I usually use just large round approx. size 12 and one size 6 brush for any medium size up to 20 x 24 in watercolor painting) an extremely important thing for watercolor is paper. When I am asking a student: why are you using this really thin and bad paper, they’d normally say, they are just learning and it’s not worth to spend money on a good thick paper. This is profoundly wrong assumption. Every paper will act differently. The thinner and lighter papers do not even absorb paint: it floats on a surface and creates ugly marks. It is also quite easy to lift paint, but not that easy to add more. My most favorite paper is not Arches. I do not like how paint keeps traveling through layers of paper even quite a few minutes after its application. I am using other heavy, cold press papers whenever possible.

Summer painting 2 Backyard summer

My lovely old fence post

If you practice on a bad paper, you won’t know how much easier it is to paint on a good paper. Watercolor paper is definitely the most important part of all supplies for watercolor painting.

I haven’t done much recently because I am trying to recover. It’s already a month after surgery, but it seems like I will need a lot more time.

The current lifeschool blog post tells a story about the ugly side of success and how this can destroy lives:

I would appreciate more than anything else a purchase of any of my paintings. After such a long period of time not being able to work, any financial support would mean a lot. I can certainly offer very good deals on originals, and prints and other products on Fine Art America site are inexpensive anyway. Since people rarely read these posts, this might go unnoticed, but anyway, I hope I can get something sold, there are about 600 paintings of all sizes.

The magic attraction of drawing and making time disappear with watercolors

I have not posted that much about watercolors and drawing recently which does not mean we were doing no drawing, sketching and watercolor. In fact, it was straight the opposite: we created sketches from real fruits, we did large-scale reference drawings for our paintings and we also are about to finish the chickadees and birches scene.

I regret seeing how few people actually decide to engage in drawing and sketching because it is the perfect thing to get carried away by when it is not that pleasant outdoors. As many of you know, my health is very far from good, so, I’m using drawing and painting to a big extent as a part of my therapy. I paint and draw even when I cannot do anything else, when pain gets that bad that it prevents me from walking and standing. I paint when I feel desperate, disappointed with the reality of life and when I am completely depressed because of a strong medications which make one cry for hours and see no point in anything. It can be a bit difficult to get started, bet when I overcome the resistance, what a pleasure that is! I don’t always care how great the painting is or how perfect the color combinations are. Art is so fulfilling that I cannot compare this with anything else.

Drawing still life from real objects

One set-up of still life

Drawing still life art classes for adults

Which results in reference drawing to be used for creation of painting

Watching different students getting started with their first paintings certainly brings up some thoughts. When I have people with the attitude: I came to the class and teach me now, it can be tough. Teaching is only a part of the entire process, and whether somebody will achieve what they came to the class for, will definitely depend on their willingness to get engaged in the process of creation. Since it is a process and something ongoing with potential of being developed endlessly, it would be silly to expect mastery within a few hours. Therefore, I really appreciate these students who enter my studio with open mind and heart and who want to see this as an exploration of our abilities, as an experiment in our capabilities and as an enjoyable learning experience.

drawing still life Pen and watercolor sketch

Drawing still life: pen and watercolor sketch

First steps in still life painting watercolor classes for adults

First steps in still life painting: we did a very light line drawing and began to apply some paint

Applying layers of paint

This is just the first half, but I didn’t get any further yet

When we look at online, offline and otherwise prepared materials for somebody to get involved in drawing and painting, I must say nothing can replace the live interaction and face-to-face classes. Why? Because I can see right away what’s causing some problem: too much water, too dry paper, too less paint, too much paint, bad quality paper, brush or paint. When it comes to watercolors, everything matters, yet, the quality of paper is crucial in achieving anything. I always use the same paper that I give my students which is large size, between 16 x 18 and this time it was 18 x 24 inches. I have seen over the years how tiny and small paper prevents one from getting done anything. If it is too small to see and perceive, it will be definitely too difficult to apply paint on. Let’s just say if you are watching somebody painting online and you do not have a very thick, heavy and good quality paper, you can kill yourself, but you simply won’t achieve what they are showing you. Saving on paper is a bad thing because thin paper won’t allow to lift paint and use multiple washes, as well as, to do a lot of other stuff. My students are using paints made in St. Petersburg from real pigments. The difference in transparency and ease of application is huge. Once again, with bad paints, you won’t have the same results.

Chickadees and birches project which we did in Tuesday night class

Chickadees and birches project which we did in Tuesday night class, it is ready for sale, too, and I will upload it on Fine Art America site to get cards, prints, canvas prints, tote bags, phone case and pillows with this image, original is 18 x 24 inches

I am somebody who loves drawing, therefore, I’m also teaching to draw from real life, not photos whenever possible. I believe that is the best because it gives one absolute freedom of interpretation.

Well, there are lots of unfinished paintings, just like always, but I hope following my advice more people will pick up pencils and brushes. Just because there is nothing like it. It doesn’t ask one to be in a good shape or to be dressed up and look perfect, it doesn’t even require being in a good mood. That comes as an additional benefit along the way. I’m also seeing art as a tool to cure addictions and prevent from falling back into addictions because it has such power. Have a great week full of art!

Drawing for everybody: brain fitness at our fingertips

Everybody can draw. And so they should. I hope you are not one of those parents who use to make remarks like this: Stop playing around with those pencils, do the math! While we all need literacy skills and math, there is something unique about drawing. We can draw before we can even speak or write, or count. We actually successfully do it without any regard to some rules which people have imposed on creative expressions and art. We can very well express ourselves until somebody says: that doesn’t look like a cat! That’s when the kid who loved to draw starts to ask: Really? Am I doing this all wrong? That’s where the artistic freedom ends and rules start. Art becomes something which is not that important as math, geography, history and essay writing. This is profoundly wrong, and we have so much evidence nowadays that drawing and painting actually has the power to activate our brain to a huge extent. Focus, memory, attention to detail, decision-making, imagination: everything gets developed and perfected while this activity is actually more pleasure than work.

 

People, who think they cannot draw, have been simply using a wrong approach or have convinced themselves that’s something they’d never manage. I am obviously checking out what other instructors and classes offer here and there, and I must say there’s not that much. First of all, if instruction starts with: take a picture, that is not going to be a lesson how to learn drawing, that instruction will tell you how to reproduce photographed lines and shapes and sometimes advice to just trace the image and take credits for a great drawing. Why do we always need to focus on the final product, on the result? There is so much in the process of creation, and this process is well worth experiencing.

Drawing is not about copying or measuring, drawing is about seeing, activating the brain-hand communication and creating an image of an object, person, or scene on a flat surface, at the same time trying to show the emotional impact we are experiencing. Before we can draw, we have to learn seeing. Most people are convinced they see everything, in fact, they see just some general picture and they don’t pay attention to anything what is out of the area of their interest at that particular moment.

When I’m watching people drawing, I have noticed the following: they rarely look at the object they are drawing or painting, hardly ever.

Some follow my drawing, some look at the paper all the time and erase everything and start from new every second minute.

In fact, we have to focus on the object we are drawing and just rarely have a look at how lines and shapes are forming on our paper. The proportion should be at least 2:1, if not 3:1. 2 seconds memorize the object; explore the shape, 1 second look at paper. That happens simultaneously after a while.

I would like to take away the eraser, too. Eraser just disturbs during the initial stages.

Vegetable sketching art classes for any age

Drawing has many purposes: this is outline drawing with pen, and later we fill in some watercolor paint

We have to visually perceive the object or scene, find a reference area or spot and start out with very light general shapes and lines. With every next line, we are building up the object or objects, and we should stick to what there is and what we can see, not trying to draw an approximate simplified shape of what we know this object might be like if we had taken away all specific features it has in reality.

Sketching vegetables: value sketch

The purpose of this value sketch is to serve as a reference for watercolor painting because some plants, vegetables or flowers don’t last long enough

All apples are not the same; all cups are not the same, not to mention trees and flowers or faces. Still life is a very good starting point, and I’d usually pile up more simple objects in order we could observe their relationships.  So, that’s the first lesson in drawing: learn seeing, develop visual perception and visual memory.

Art classes for teens and adults value sketch

This is just a quick drawing which could be also worked out on a better paper and turned into a painting

Coloring pages for adults and teens

I’m creating some coloring pages and after a while I will have lots of pages for some themes.

The positive impacts of drawing occur especially when we are employing the entire potential of our brain which is observational drawing. It also makes us completely independent from computers, cameras, phones, printers and other devices because all we need to start out is paper and pencil or pen.

The obvious and unarguable benefits of engaging in an art class

I have been mentioning in my articles for numerous times how huge the gain from learning drawing, sketching and painting is. I noticed that people rarely paid attention to that, and most of them are still convinced that drawing and painting is only for those who want to be artists or already are involved in creative activities.

However, there is more and more proof that learning and doing arts is a unique activity which boosts brain activity and development of new neurons and their connections that there is no doubt:  drawing, sketching and painting is the best exercise to keep our brain fit, thus, preventing early memory loss and age-related dementia.

I recently read about a new brain fitness trial which was carried out at the Newcastle University in a population of 30 volunteers divided in 3 groups for 8 weeks. One group was walking for 3 hours a week, the second doing puzzles and crosswords, and the third group took part in art class 3 hours a week. All participants were tested before and after their respective activities.

Reference: What’s the best way to fight memory loss?

The best results undoubtedly showed the art group, which is no surprise to me because I’ve observed that during all years of teaching. I would like to just mention that I have been working with student groups of 5-30 people for almost 35 years, and those who did arts quite often excelled in ANY area of their life.

Is everybody able to draw? Yes, everybody is able to draw, but in order to do so they have to learn seeing and processing the object of interest in their brain so that the hand knows what it should be doing.

Along with maintenance of good brain health and memory, it is a fantastic, rewarding leisure activity.

Once one knows how to draw, they can forget about camera, image processing on computer, they can forget about copying photos.

Well, those who want to master drawing from life, must count on 10,000 hours, at least that’s the estimated time frame to learn drawing flawlessly and effortlessly.

Although, the benefits are so obvious, we all know that majority of people will admit they cannot draw. In fact, the truth is they don’t know how to look at something, how to pay attention and how to abstract oneself from other parts and surroundings while drawing one part of an object. The ability to draw is based on our visual ability to process the visual information and to make our brain move the hand with pencil. Basically, the visual perception is the key to drawing.

Therefore, before we draw, we have to learn pay attention and notice relationships between parts of an object, its layout, size and to reproduce this all on a correct scale. That means, most people see things, but they never focus enough to memorize what they see to the extent they could draw this from memory.

What are the usual problems when starting out with drawing, sketching and painting? Well, it depends on whether one is at the class only for the result, or for the process. Process is good for everybody, but results are evident after some longer time. I have sometimes people who want to achieve excellent results right away, in 1 workshop or 1 class, or they think, it’s not worth continuing. While we get better, we can still enjoy a lot and give our brain the necessary exercise.

drawing still life

Here: drawing still life

Detailed drawing which I made much darker in order it was visible

value sketch for watercolor

Rough value sketch for watercolor

floral detail sketch

Floral detail sketch: when my paper is too small, I do drawing on separate sheets and adjust them on the main painting

The entire drawing

The entire drawing: full sheet watercolor paper, 22 x 30 inches

First washes

First washes

More watercolor applied

More watercolor applied

Second: watch, learn seeing and exercise focusing ability.

Third: drawing is not the same what copying photos, transferring images from photos or printing off outlines, etc. Once one gets used to flat objects in a photo, they will have much harder times to ever learn drawing in reality. Reproducing photos also does not facilitate the brain activity as drawing for real does.

All people who wanted to participate in drawing and sketching classes noticed soon that they are seeing everything in a different way.

Would you like to boost your memory and have some pleasurable pastime? Join the club. We are starting out next week.

I’m sharing some pictures which show different types of drawing.

We usually draw with very light lines for watercolor painting.

We can sketch out main values if the reference object can go bad or disappear soon.

Sketch in pencil

Creating a drawing or sketch library is a good thing because we can reuse our drawing when we need it again.

Vegetables: sketch

Vegetables: sketch for painting

Outline drawing for watercolor

Outline drawing for watercolor

In my opinion, the only way to draw is using real objects, real setups or ask somebody to be a model. Everything else is reproducing photos. Some do this very creatively, some not that much, but only drawing for real makes one free and allows not to depend on any devices.

Take a moment and paint it

The blooming outdoors was and still is taking our breath away. Endless cloud of fragrances and all colors of the rainbow: how not to love this spring time? I think, I only live in spring. Summer brings its pleasure, too, but I’m already concerned in the fall because that means the dreadful winter is not far away. That’s just how I am, a spring and sun person.

I was so upset that my health decided to give me hard times exactly when everything just asks to be painted. Well, up to today, I didn’t get done much and kept everything to minimum, that unfortunately included posting, as well. Things seem to be easing up, so I’m quite hopeful that the improvement will finally start. I’m using that expensive pills at the moment that I pretty much should be skipping other stuff like the daily bread.

Even though struggles were inevitable, we managed to get done something very useful in the studio. The regular Wednesday class was painting wildflowers and so did the Saturday Fun and Pleasure acrylic painting event participants.

I had big difficulties with picture-taking because I don’t have filters that make a photographed acrylic or oil painting look nice, but nevertheless I took quite a few. I will let these pictures speak for me this time. Nothing makes me happier than people who are so satisfied with life just because they have wonderful time painting.

Some pictures are of my painting and some are from the painting in the studio: adults and young people. Just like always, for some of them these were the first paintings ever.