How to create better art with less effort

Is it even possible to create great art with little effort? Yes, and no.

The most important part is probably wasting less time and materials. We need a plan to achieve that. A good plan for creation of a painting means sketching and drawing or creating a value sketch. In my personal experience, it is pencil, pen and watercolor sketch which is the best preparation stage for a painting.

When somebody wants to apply for classes I am usually told this:

Well, I’d really like to paint. Something like that. Points to some landscape or floral, or still life. Basically, everybody is interested in the result and not that much in the path which led me to it. I spend a lot of time practicing and exploring the subject from different perspectives.

If you are one of those artists-to-be who jumped straight to brushes and did not take your time to explore the elements of a piece of art, I can understand you. People usually think watercolor and sketching is for watercolor artists who mask out white spots or those who get ideal washes just by swinging around the brush with some paint on it. However, there is a missing link between the idea of our art and it’s draft.

The real life shows that any potential artist and anybody who does art as hobby would have gotten much better paintings very soon if they considered sketching as an important step to creation of a painting with any medium: watercolor, pastel, acrylic or oil. The truth is, they all originate in one place: in our brain through our eyes and senses. Therefore, we should exercise our visual abilities (I’m talking more about importance to see in my previous post) and especially our visual perception maximally often.

The problem with not well developing painting is not the technique of putting on paint. That usually works fairly well after a few attempts. The problem most often is in our eyes: we do not perceive values, shapes, proportions and potential composition; therefore, we cannot come up with a neat plan to make painting elements work.

Sketch is done much faster than a painting. Sketching out objects or just values, putting them in a draft composition momentarily allows making a decision if that will or won’t work. Sketch isn’t the entire painting, but by doing it one learns much more about their subject. We find out that we need to look at it more carefully, more intensely, more accurately.

Bluebell path, sketch

Path to unknown, sketch

I can compare creating art with writing. When people say I don’t want to sketch and I don’t want to know anything about drawing it is like somebody who intends to write a novel would say: I don’t want to know anything about spelling and grammar, I just want to write a novel, so give me the idea and off we go. The entertaining painting type of events also does a bad service: not only the entire idea does not allow anybody to really learn anything about creation of art, but the approach is just so wrong and materials the “drink creatively” events use are so bad that many people get a wrong idea.

White birches, recent class demo, 20 x 24 inches

When somebody is just moving paint around the canvas in hopes that it miraculously will take the right shape and become the right color, I must say, unfortunately:, it won’t. Painting is a summary of things we put in it. It also is the energy we put in it. Therefore, the sooner one learns about values, relationship between light and dark areas, values, softness or roughness of edges, proportion and compositional layout of objects, the faster their paintings will take shape and look multi-dimensional. Lesson 2 is: the missing link between our idea and its incorporation into artwork is the value sketch whether in color, or black and white. Creating value sketch and color sketch is not a waste of time and paint: it is the straight path which leads us to much better art. I’d suggest: take the sketching classes and workshops, it helps hugely. Apply for art classes here:

Short introduction in main issues which everybody encounters when they pick up pencil or brush

Lesson 1

You always wanted to draw or paint: it seems it does not want to happen.

You will need patience, courage; willingness to experiment and make mistakes, as well as, you should be ready to put into your learning process efforts, work and time.

Any drawing and painting starts with being able to see and feel. It does not start with knowledge of techniques and all kinds of tools and mediums.

I have given countless classes and workshops over many years; it actually feels like I have been teaching arts all my life. It is obvious that all people who would love to start painting or drawing do not get past the first problems and give up this fantastic activity before they could even become aware of easy fixes which there are just for anything when it comes to creation.

The main thing with visual arts is the ability to see and to understand what one is looking for. Most people will definitely be sure that they have eyesight good enough and that they can see everything. That is not true at all. While we are seeing things around us, we are not seeing them in an artistic way. I suppose the inability to perceive values, shapes, colors, lines and their relationship, as well as correct scale, depends on what one has been doing and using for drawing and painting before.

It’s not rare that artists also simply copy an image and then transfer this copy onto paper or canvas. Many artists do a lot of image editing with some software so that the image is ready to copy and to apply paint on it. They believe that will save time and efforts and make painting process easier. That’s not true either. Do not do that, do not copy any photos or images if you want to ever draw and paint without fear and with confidence.

A complex drawing might take me between 30 minutes and an hour, but that’s about it. I will have everything in my drawing: values, composition, correct scale since I’m usually doing the entire canvas or paper size drawings as opposed to thumbnail sketches, and I can start doing whatever I want with it: use for watercolor, pastel or acrylic and so on. I won’t need editing, adjusting, copying, enlarging.

Therefore, if you want to be ever free from computers, laptops, screens, all kinds of measuring devices, grids and photos, start learning to see.

I have noticed this for millions of times: people do not see anything in the reference photo or picture. They see a flower, a tree or fence, but there is nothing behind that. I am also using real objects: fruit, vegetables, flowers, flower pots, leaves, cups, bowls, glasses and similar stuff, and that does not usually help at all. No attention gets paid to shadows, value distinction, correct size, potential composition, contrasts and layout. Every single person can draw and paint as soon as they understand what they have to see in that object. That refers to drawing figures and body parts, as well.

It is hilarious how there are so many separate art lessons like: How to paint an apple, How to paint a bird, How to paint a spring landscape, How to paint a cup or glass, so on. The answer to this: you can paint anything; you can draw anything once you are able to see it. To see it in an artistic way taking into account things which other people don’t know exist. Therefore, lesson 1 is: place some object in front of you and look at it. Look carefully at dark and light spots, visible lines and shadows, direction and size of any shapes. Starting with very light and general outlines try to get the exact shape. Start with very general shapes and lines and move towards details. Repeat until the object or objects get dimensions and start to take on shape. I will illustrate it in more detail in some upcoming posts. Yes, it all comes from our eyes and brain, and hand with pencil or brush just makes the brain signals visible. How do these signals get into our brain? Our senses and our memory, plus imagination contribute to this process. That is why drawing and painting is the best tool for fixing memory issues, taking care of brain flexibility and for prevention of mental diseases.


Value sketch in the actual size is the best help one can have



I have elaborated a new approach to acrylic painting since many people want to learn it, but results are quite often disappointing and don’t make them happy. This new approach uses the specific features of acrylic (fast drying time, ability to work over dry layers) and turns them into the biggest advantage. Results are quick and stunning. Most people don’t even believe they could paint it. There is a small remark, however: as long as they follow my steps and take into account the guiding suggestions. I don’t think I will bother with online classes because the live art classes are the only ones which make real sense. It matters how much water or how much paint, or what medium on what surface one uses. It matters how fast the previous steps are done and it matters how you move the brush and mix the paint. Everything matters, and we can correct mistakes right there where they happen, therefore, it is important to have a teacher which can directly see why some things work and why some others don’t.



We are painting large flowers in Thursday classes. 2 hours at a time.

My self-guiding brush and poetic blue gardens for Mother’s Day

There is a moment around February, March when I simply need some green color. I want to see it, paint, visualize it and implement everywhere. I know green paintings are sort of something nobody wants to engage into too much, but this need for green color after the dull dirty white and grey scenery is so irresistible that I do it again. I just paint some more green paintings showing imagined scenery which should become visible outdoors some time later, as well.

Blooming fields Acrylic painting of spring nature

Blooming fields 1

Blooming fields: acrylic painting of spring meadow

Blooming fields 2

Blue road through spring Acrylic painting trees, nature, road

Blue road

Spring path: sculpted three-dimensional art

Sculpted spring path: three-dimensional

Purple flower hill Acrylic painting of flowers, trees, nature

Hill flowers

Spring was 2 months late this year. Lilac is usually blossoming on my names day, it always has been. This year lilac trees are only getting leaves, they are very far from blooming yet, and my name’s day is on May 18. Besides, everybody celebrates name’s or angel’s day in Latvia. Every name has been assigned one day in the calendar, and very rare names get rare name’s day, lots of them together. It’s one of the best celebrations since guests can simply show up without any invitation, and that’s what they often do.

Anyway, I got tired of painting green fairly quickly. It lasted some couple of weeks this year. I actually need to change either subject or medium often because I hate doing one and the same thing over and over again. After being busy with greens, I am immersing into poetic blue shades. Blue always was one of my favorite colors, and I also accidentally found a great blue shade in the art store not long ago, and that’s why I’m applying it everywhere. That allows creating some kind of very attractive shade: dreamy, surreal and very deep blue. I enjoy this quite a lot at the moment, who knows for how long.

Painting waterc in acrylic: painting in progress

On the go: water scenes

Acrylic painting of lake and river: progress

Progress: water scenes

The poetic blue gardens

The faded version in too bright electric light of Blue romantic gardens

The poetic blue gardens: brighter, but darker acrylic painting version

The dark version of Blue romantic gardens

I also thought, I was not somebody who would ever carefully copy, edit and repaint photos. I hardly use any because I have photographic memory and huge imaginative capacity. I noticed it when I was already at school age. I learned by heart all pages in the ABC since I could not figure out (my grandma was teaching me reading, and she had strange ways to present the spelling). My parents thought at first I could read without any errors, and had learned everything unbelievably fast, but they discovered soon that when I didn’t see pictures next to each letter, I lost all reading abilities. I simply had associated all content with visual images in the book. I never had problems remembering large articles, poems, and it really made it easy to study. It still helps with my medical writing because I can recall a tough term which I was dealing with some 5 years ago and I know exactly which document contains it. No need for any lists, too. Well, my visual memory has always been much stronger than the auditory. That’s why I am most often painting some scene which resides somewhere in the labyrinths of my visual universe. I know the realistic paintings are nice because they have all shadows in the right places and all details are worked out perfectly, but I simply don’t care about that. I suppose, we all have some main focus area when painting or drawing. Mine is pretty much the emotional part and colors. My brush actually does this for me. I am trying to keep it away from obviously plain or aggressive colors, but it would stubbornly pick up some terribly bright yellow or offensively strong red, and there it goes: color is placed on my canvas before I even realize I had squeezed it out of tube. That’s why I have a self-guiding brush, and it does all the painting for me. Here and there I have to assist it with some ideas, but generally my brush never gives up and it challenges me instantly to get used to new color combinations which I hardly dare to think about. I hope you have some pencil or brush with unusual features, as well.

My mom loves my paintings; she never says there’s something wrong with them even if there is. I hope somebody will show her this newest post and she can have a look at my recent work, as well. I ordered flowers (it’s so great that’s possible being across the Ocean!), but flowers don’t mind some added value which could be this post.

The blue stuff is not finished yet. I tried to take some pictures at electric light, but they either came out faded or dark. Whatever, it’s tough to take a realistic pic of painting when there no proper light anyway, but I will be very busy next week. I am also aware the timing is not right for posting this right now, but that’s Ok, too.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers on the globe!


Mother’s Day card: check it out

I recently finished a watercolor painting which already initially was intended to serve as image for Mother’s day card. We started to draw birds at our teens painting class and got the painting done during 2-3 classes.

Chickadee mother's day card

I worked out two versions: one without text (when ordering, anybody can place their own text on the inside) and with short text.

Mother's day greetings

Both versions can be found and ordered as cards via Fine Art America website:

It’s needless to say that any painting can be bought as a print of many different types and with hundreds of framing choices at very reasonable prices and in excellent quality. Any purchase comes with 30-day money-back guarantee in case you are not satisfied with some aspect.

Fine Art America offers to download a free app if you are using any kind of smart phone, iPhone, iPad or similar device which has camera to view the particular painting in the chosen frame (there are really hundreds) or without a frame on the exact wall space or room space where you intend to place it. The app will apply your chosen size, therefore, you can see everything according to real proportions.