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

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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

How to start and achieve good results painting with acrylic

I have spent thousands of hours watching how students start out with their paintings and I have also been beginner many years ago. Therefore, I am aware of tough things which we experience when using such a medium as acrylic. Especially, if this type of paint is a completely new to you.

Acrylic paints are very friendly. No smells, no known allergy causing components. I would advise people with sensitive skin to use gloves: they should be thin and match size of your hand.

Acrylic is easy to use because we can repaint, paint over, cover up and restart painting any areas which we assume not good enough, not suitable our intention and not nice enough. We sometimes need to wait until the first layer is dry. Overworking one spot causes to come off all wet paint.

Acrylic paints can be applied thinly, diluted with glazing medium or water and in a thick layer creating almost impasto effects. It’s just so that prices of paints have tripled since 2008 in Canada, so it is obvious that using modelling paste or different materials as a base is better than applying a lot of paint.

The biggest challenges are two. 95% of beginning artists who work in acrylic USE TOO LESS PAINT. A LOT LESS than required, actually. That results in uneven, streaky coverage or there is no distinction in color and value. We have to add the paint we are using most as it is almost gone. Acrylic dries fast, so dipping on it a few drops of water or slightly spraying it with water time to time will help hugely. It might be so that somebody gets overwhelmed with all information they have to absorb in first classes, but still: having just a small drop of paint on your palette is not going to work. USE DECENT AMOUNT OF PAINT! ALWAYS! Keep it slightly wet all the time while you are using this paint.

Secondly, partially covered canvas does not look good. We can check whether the coverage is proper by taking a picture. If the canvas fabric is clearly visible, that part certainly requires more paint, sometimes: much more paint.

By its nature, acrylic acts like a glue. We have to use this feature in our favor and so we do. We start with more abstracted, not that careful layers and move onto something more definite. WE SHOULD NOT START WITH FINAL DETAILS OR ASSUME THAT ANY FIRST LAYER IS FINAL. Apply at least 3-5 layers and then decide what else you do. Never judge an unfinished painting or make unreasonable conclusions about it. We fix and change EVERYTHING as we add more layers.

The second challenge is BRUSHING PAINT ALL AROUND. We need to place the paint wherever we want it and leave this spot alone. With that being said, we shouldn’t create strong fat lines with sharp edges for darker areas or road sides, field ends and similar. We want darker areas, not darker frames everywhere. To achieve that, we feather out the outer edge on that area. Just let the brush dance on your canvas and don’t worry about too much blending in the first few layers. By letting the brush slightly touch canvas on one spot we can hold the particular color on that area where we want it. Brushing paint around results in achieving uniformly flat color on the entire canvas or area.  We have to use the color we want on the spot where we intend to apply it.

Instructor can demonstrate, explain or show principles, methods and approaches, but painting is still up to you. That means: you have to use the reference, remember to look at the reference whether it is a real abject or scene, or a photo thereof all the time, not only when you start the painting. That does not really happen in reality.

Painting is based on very many decisions we make every second; in fact, we make some hundreds of decisions every second. So, if you only follow the instructor, but haven’t decided anything for yourself, results will not be that great.

Why am I saying: pay attention to reference? I have to repeat that because most people don’t ever pay attention to reference. When we are just beginning the painting, they would have a brief look at it; and I notice after a small while that NOBODY LOOKS any more at the reference. YOU HAVE TO! Reference or value drawing (if you have created such) HAS ALL THE ANSWERS: where to use dark color, where to make strong edge, where to wash edge or lose it, where to place highlights and what exactly the shape of something is. It is extremely important, much more important than what brush to use.

Talking about brushes: always use the ones which you feel comfortable with and which suit the size of the area you are working on. Very simple. We use the largest possible brush for any task. Flat brush has MULTIPLE USES IN ACRYLIC. We can draw thin long lines with the edge of it; we can cover large areas using it flatly, parallel to surface in full width, we can use 2 different shades or colors on each end of the flat brush which simplifies and speeds up painting.

How does the painting or drawing happen? We transform the visually perceived information in the brain signals that eventually lead to our hand movements. Whenever our hand moves accordingly to decision we made, we achieve the desired result. The more decisions one makes and the more one understands why some parts are neutral, some have strong and some have weak values, the easier it is to paint or draw. Blindly following and copying RESTRICTS our ability to analyze, understand and apply creatively our vision.

We develop painting from my sketches. The light barn with pink-red roof was painted by our youngest student Erin who is 11 and attends classes together with her mom. We just started a new project which we are also doing from a quick sketch of mine.

This post was waiting for a long time because I was very busy working on class images and steps.

Therefore, some images are from mid-December classes.

Painting, drawing and sketching manually is THE BEST MENTAL FITNESS EXERCISE. Nothing else can compete or compare to that. Period.

The lifeschool blog reviews challenges during dark and upsetting winter: https://inesepogalifeschool.com/2017/01/17/how-to-feel-good-and-survive-the-dullness-of-depressing-winter-days/ Please enjoy!

 

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 for lily painting lily drawing

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

White Lilies Acrylic painting 20 x 16 inches

Lilies

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.

Red poppies acrylic painting 20 x 16 inches

Poppies

For illustration: we are painting large flowers in Thursday classes. 2 hours at a time.

Inseparable fellows: desperation and delight, which one wins?

Shadows in my tea-cup, darkness behind the window and soft warmth from the small outdoor lights: that is the calming scene which surrounds me at the moment. The scent of a live fir-tree is absent, but I can certainly imagine that, too. As the year is fast approaching its end, my hopes and expectations get smaller and smaller until they will fade away completely.

What a terrible thing that is to get sick straight before Christmas and in the middle of the last potentially successful sales period! I did exactly that, I worked very hard for about a month and then my body told: that’s it; I need to shut down for a while and get some rest. Well, I missed all the potential sales opportunities since I couldn’t even lift my arm, not to mention do preparations, final touches on art or crafts, and I did not post any ads and I even did not turn on the “Open” sign.  Finally, it’s the first day now when I am a bit better, I can see the computer screen at least. What a relief!

Well, when I hear the big numbers what people are spending during Christmas and holidays, I get even sicker. Is that even possible? Most likely it is.

I took some pictures of the recent works with my phone. It’s so dark, that trying to take a picture with my camera is totally out of question. Oh, like all people who are born under the Leo sign, I love warmth, sun and light. I love the light so much that I believe I’m not going to disappear in any darkness ever. I have actually devoted all my existence to multiplication of light. Nothing warms me more than a sunny day looking through curtains at my window.  Not good news for me so far, because nobody even knows I worked a lot to make this pre-holiday sale happen, but broke down straight before the rewarding finishing line.

I’m not a real Canadian either because I don’t put up a Christmas tree or decorations in November; I do not do the Christmas shopping until the last-minute, and therefore I am only catching up when others are way ahead of me. My Christmas means to put up the tree in the morning, decorate it around lunch time, and then cook a nice meal to have it at night. That’s how it always was since I can remember me. My dad and I went even to the forest just early on the Christmas morning sometimes. If I have everything ready month before this day, I am losing all the Christmas spirit and mood because for me these preparations are the celebration. Songs, flavors, candle lights and sparkles on the Christmas tree is all I need.

Since there is still a full week, I hope that my bank account miraculously turns from red into black, well, that might be also the only occasion when black is a good color; and I can supply myself completely with all the medications before the pharmacy shut-down period. I sincerely hope there might be a person who wishes to see some of my original paintings on their wall or assumes they are good enough to be presented as a gift. We used to say in Europe: hope is a comfort for a fool. Despite the poor odds, I won’t panic just yet. Everything goes on with or without fireworks.

 My Christmas still life acrylic 20 x 16 in

When we painted this still life about 2 weeks ago, I was still feeling fine.

My Christmas trees painting acrylic 20 x 24 in

One class was painting this winter scene along with me, we are doing some winter every December

 My Christmas landscape acrylic 20 x 24 in

The other class was doing more forest-like scene

 My Christmas trees painting acrylic 20 x 16 in

Smaller 20 x 16 version of Saturday painting. I haven’t managed to get good pictures yet, therefore everything is available only as originals. And some 300 other paintings, too.

The Life school blog talks about memories that are beautiful, but can be painful, as well: http://inesepogalifeschool.com/2015/12/18/christmas-memories-that-can-make-us-cry/

Ode to perseverance and how to overcome I cannot

Life is always full with something, and we are mostly busy, sometimes with the most beautiful things and events, sometimes with terrible, annoying issues. We simply deal with that, and not everybody has the courage to take some time for them and to spend it as they wish. We often hear: oh, I cannot attend your event because there’s too much on my plate at the moment. I cannot participate because I simply don’t have time. I cannot do this because I’m too tired after work. I’m too sick to paint and create. There are billions of excuses, and behind “I cannot” is quite often hiding: I don’t seriously want it. I am not willing to make a commitment. I am not sure if I want anything at all. It is so much better to do nothing, to stare at a screen, to watch other lives unfold and get complicated. It is so much easier to let everything just flow by and to go with the stream. The power of doing nothing is great! It is huge and it can take us over with ease.

Who doesn’t know moments of emptiness, moments of weakness, and moments of a complete exhaustion: mental and physical? That is life, and unfortunately, nothing and nobody can prevent such moments from happening. I know this so well: it can be abnormally tough at times to resist the tiredness and pain. Well, we have two choices: feel sorry and cry or stand up and get going.

I am for those who make everything happen. I am with those who fight their own moods, pain and helplessness. We have a fantastic tool to make our life better: it is the self-improvement. Step by step, one move at a time.

Therefore, I feel extremely blessed that my art and painting classes have brought me together with such sincere, honest and creative people. It is very simple to take a brush and swipe it over canvas. Play is attractive. How about when we want something more? Not only spots and splashes, but something way exceeding basics?

Creativity and self-improvement are both: rewarding and demanding. Rewarding all the way through the discoveries and confusion, giving back things which we never even expected; and demanding because we cannot give up our efforts by facing the first difficulties. Self-improvement requires perseverance, a strong spinal cord and ability to go against the wind. I suppose, life is generous mostly to those who dare. Dare to overcome at least their own resistance and remove the internal brakes.

I would not call the participants of the Wednesday group students anymore. Some of them have become established artists after attending my classes, and I am really proud of that because I care how my students are doing and they try to do their best. I am sometimes telling them: you don’t even need any classes any longer. They answer: we love the group and the atmosphere, and we still appreciate the advice. The Wednesday class takes a break now. We are meeting closer to the fall again. However, the question that surprises me most is: how do these really busy people always find the time not to skip any single class? Well, the secret must be unsophisticated: we always can find time for things we love. I would like to thank all my long-term creative friends and participants of these painting classes. Keep your brushes wet!

I am attaching some pictures from the recent painting class which was the last this spring/summer.

Adult painting class Birch painting

Sarah joined the group just recently

adult painting class LIz working at her masterwork

Liz working at her masterwork

adult painting class Gordon is a musician and artist

Gordon is a musician and artist

adult painting class Bev's birch painting

Bev’s birch painting: she is one of those who keep attending art classes regardless of anything

adult painting class Classroom

Birches and bluebells: nice and extremely simple scene!

adult painting class Birch demo

The picture of the demo didn’t come out too clear, but it is visible

Adult painting class Whitby Ontario

Nice mood and lots of fun

adult painting class Liz paints with passion and no wonder she sells her paintings

Liz paints with passion and no wonder she sells her paintings

adult painting class new artists are welcome

The last spring/summer Wednesday class: see you all in September!

To praise the divine, to overcome the dullness of routine

By far, my life hasn’t been a fairy-tale, but rather continuous attempt to prove that our powers exceed the known limits we have put ourselves within.  I believe that talk solves nothing. I am deeply convinced that too much fake positivism and superficial “everything is fine” statements can actually cause harm. When our intentions remain only as to-do-lists, there is no result. There is huge gap between the real action and intent.

We often hear that life is not fair. Well, life as such is fair and fine, it is humans who make things become unfair and unfavorable for others.

Therefore, I wish there was much less pretending that everything is fine and much more doing in order it was like that.

For me, praising the divine does not mean unstoppable talking about it. That means bringing the beauty to people and making them understand how little, in fact, we need to experience the most valuable things on this Earth. There would be much less suffering if one day we had opened our eyes and started calling things their correct names. Becoming realistic is not a bad start.

The daily routine is absorbing plenty of time and taking large amounts of energy. People who are not rich have to deal with this whether they are happy with it or not.  Even though, I could do so many useful and exciting things instead of cleaning up and washing dishes or cooking, that is not going to change. I do everything fast, and I have a prevention system in place: to avoid general cleaning, I do not allow any dirt or messes to accumulate. I spend 12 hours or more a day quite often on medical writing. That is the job I make my living with. I wish I earned my living with teaching and doing art, but that is a bit of unreal idea at the moment.

The other energy drainer is my health conditions. Thankfully, I have a huge medical knowledge, so I can realistically access my options. I deal with that, too, as good as I can, and I do not pretend these conditions are going away or disappearing, because they are not. Not all wounds can be healed with good intentions and positive attitude: some take surgeries and some take long treatments. However, I refuse to be completely limited or defined by these conditions. Whining or crying is not going to help, so I am a realist and I am setting for me reasonable goals. This does not mean having a negative attitude; this is just honestly evaluating the situation and having it under control.

I have inherited love to the nature and all Gods creations from my great grandparents, grandparents and my parents. I strongly believe that family either makes one creative and resourceful or completely ignores this necessity by not appreciating the great experiences and benefits creativity has to offer, although, this does not always mean any financial benefits. I am genuinely thankful I have all skills and knowledge to dress myself, sew and design my clothes and outfits, to grow my own garden plants , flowers and vegetables, to cook fantastic meals with little efforts, to decorate my living space and create all necessary items for that and so on and so forth. This is all because of my family. Somebody might call me workaholic, but I hate simply sitting around and doing nothing. I cannot recall any single episode of my childhood or earlier years when I had to admit I was bored. I was always busy. Trying to make something from nothing. That is a great way to, a great way to live since I am seeing some opportunity just about everywhere.

Spring flowers for greeting cards

I am sending flowers to my mom every time whenever there is some important day or some celebration because I know she appreciates and loves them. We are far away, the Ocean is between us, but we can talk on Skype. My husband gives me flowers on every occasion, not only when there’s a celebration or birthday, but just for pleasure, as well. I have always fresh flowers around me, many are potted. I believe he does this because he knows how I am talking to plants and how much I enjoy them. They respond with adorable blooms and never-ending beauty.

Apple blossoms and butterflies for greeting cards

I feel that my duty is to teach other people to enjoy things which are not that costly, but rather a true source of happiness, pleasure and satisfaction. It would be tough going through life without art and beauty. The importance of brain fitness is completely ignored, but I am trying to make everybody aware how this can be achieved with simple sketching and drawing on a daily basis. If one can escape the age related dementia and loss of brain functionality just doing some visual art exercises, why don’t they do that? That’s a good question because physical body is always put first and mental and spiritual well-being is supposed to occur automatically which is absolutely and totally wrong.

I hope I’m doing my part and creating art pieces for our eyes to enjoy. To me, this means praising the divine every single moment not only in words, but with doing.

Robin nest Easter card

Robins nest: a greeting card, poster, art print, and wall art

Spring art prints flower wall art

View on the table of my paintings, originals are 16 x 12 inches each

Wall art for spring decoration

I struggled a lot to get the right colors on photos, some came out ok, some not that much

Butterflies and birds spring watercolor paintings

These are the new images for spring cards, Mother’s Day cards and cheerful prints to decorate our living space for warmer and lighter season. They look excellent as pillows, too, I cannot enjoy enough. Everything is available through Fine Art America at very moderate prices (link on the right side).

Pink rose watercolor painting Orange rose watercolor painting

Apple blossoms and butterfliesSpring tulips

Happy Easter and sunny spring for those who do not celebrate Easter!

Let’s extend our appreciation for culture and art beyond the Culture Days weekend

Many artistic and culturally enlightening activities will take place all over Canada during this weekend. I did not register an event myself since the number of attendants and visitors was no different from regular weekdays in the last 4 years, so I thought it didn’t make too much sense to go for the trouble again. However, the studio and the gallery will be open, and everybody is welcome. We definitely have to evoke more interest about creative activities and visual arts in particular.  “By the year 2020, the World Health Organization estimates that depression will be the number two cause of “lost years of healthy life” worldwide.” (http://www.psychiatry.wustl.edu/depression/depression_facts.htm) It is important to express oneself, to be among other people, to share your ideas and thoughts and to be busy and satisfied with at least something in your life: that makes a person less sensitive and less vulnerable; therefore such a person will find easier ways to overcome periods of upset and bad moods, anxiety attacks and desperation. That is the straightest path to the mental freedom, and it takes us away from fears, doubts and despair. Everybody who finds the strength to participate in art creation and to meet other people who enjoy creativity and creation, sooner or later finds out that there is much more to these activities, workshops and classes. It is surprising how much engaging in creation of visual art can help! While most people assume, it’s just brushing around and playing with color, these activities have wonderful ability to fill up one’s mind and to keep it busy and undisturbed for the entire length of painting or drawing session. Such activities are completely under-evaluated.  The most interesting feature of artistic creation is its universality, it suits absolutely any age: kids and teens, youth, adults and seniors. Busy moms, tired workers, exhausted officials, lonely people, retirees, people who are addicted and seek an escape from their addiction, people who are stressed out and people who are completely lost in their lives: everybody can benefit from creativity. While we shouldn’t expect miracles: nobody starts to paint like Rembrandt just during one painting class, we develop a new set of skills, new methods to express our feelings and emotions, we have pleasurable experiences and we even create something beautiful which can be used in many different ways. This interest in creation can turn into our most favorite thing, as well. The other amazing feature of art creation is its ability to fight cravings and addictions. That definitely is one more reason to keep out food and drinks of painting and drawing activities. The basic reason for not painting where one eats is the toxicity of all chemicals and paints. Art can help overcome addictions to food, alcohol, mobile devices, dependence on the internet, it also teaches how to organize oneself, how to get rid of useless and destructive emotions and how to enjoy what we have and our life.

We have to make some time for balancing out the daily routine.

Advantages of creative activities 2 Culture Days is a great initiative to remind us that we need way more than just daily bread and roof. Hopefully, the interest in cultural and creative activities which are realistically available to absolutely every one of us will not fade away once this weekend is over. I hope meeting at least some of my friend artists, students, potential students and art lovers at my gallery this weekend.

My rainy day sketches and paintings sparkle with light, and we have finally summer weather

The weather has been very unpredictable. Since I am always drawing and painting only from life and using real objects, that was quite upsetting. I did not get all depressed, but moved on as much as I could.

For time saving purposes, I am sometimes outlining and drawing with black pen. I do not have to use glasses that way which is great because glasses can destroy proportions and my visual perception.

I hope you will share my pleasure about these simple sketches of plants, flowers and birds.

Garden sketches and parrot painting in watercolor

Sweet peas and apples watercolor and pen sketch

One old friend presented me with sweet peas, so these found their reflexion in a simple sketch.

Sweet peas watercolor sketch and painting

I love cheerful colors!

Red apples garden watercolor

Apples were growing in the sister’s garden, so were the red currants.

Red currant painting in watercolor and pen

Parrots we were doing in the Exotic birds drawing workshop. Everybody loved them!

Bird painting Parrots watercolor and pen

Parrot trio

Parrots in watercolor and pen

I was very happy also that I finally obtained the St. Petersburg watercolor set. I wanted these paints ever since I was a small kid when I saw one artist painting with them. I got them now at the age of 55, actually my birthday is just some weeks away, so it’s a nice birthday gift for myself. These paints are said to be the best in the world just because they are made of the purest and best really natural ingredients.

St. Petersburg watercolor set: the best paints in the world

Supposedly the best watercolor paints ever

My improvised painting desk

My improvised painting desk is very small, and I had no table or desk at some moments, as well

I am also typing on computer which is missing the key for the letter “d”, and I am using one end of my brush as a pointer to get this letter typed. Well, one should not complain about anything which is offered because it is always better to have something than nothing.

The sun is beating down today, so we are having some Mexico weather this week. Isn’t that crazy how I was freezing in my leather coat just a week ago, and it is advisable to wear nothing more than a swimming suit at the moment? Too bad, no swimming pool anywhere here, but I suppose, I can survive that, too!

I am a child of the sun, my sign is leo, and this immediately changes my inner settings. I don’t care how hot it gets, whenever it is sunny, I am happy.

I was drawing today, as well, those works still need some touch, and I intent to publish them some time later in the week.

I would love to express the hugest THANK YOU to all those fellow bloggers, friends and students who did not stop encouraging me during the bad weather period and are still following my trip to Europe, Latvia.

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! I REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR ADVICES AND ASSISTANCE!

The older folks may still remember the fantastic song by Al Bano and Romina Power Liberta. Radio was playing it as I typed. My mood goes up to the sky! What a song! What a summer!

Beauty in abundance: our success allows expecting more from late summer painting sessions

The endless roads of summer trips and the mysterious paths of wilderness are waiting. Garden is ready to bring up its first fruits, and the short midsummer nights are just some 10 days away. So much promise and so many unexpected adventures just a small while ahead! I hope this summer will be up to our expectations and we can walk into the open gate of fall with full hands and relaxed minds.

Europe is so beautiful in summertime, and nothing compares to the Midsummer celebration in Latvia! The delicious caraway seed cheese, home-baked pies and pastries of all kinds, wild mushrooms, home-grown strawberries, tomatoes and cucumbers which get slightly pickled and are ready the next day: oh, these things make the taste buds go nuts!

Along with giving some tasty foods to the body, fantastic delights for eyes to enjoy and to capture on paper or canvas will be just around each corner. The Old Town of Riga is always worth photographing or painting and I cannot wait to experience again the flare of medieval streets and ancient picturesque buildings. This is all ahead.

We just finished the last classes of spring/summer session. My students told they’d be impatiently waiting for the early fall classes in order to put on canvas views which I will take back with me from Europe.

We will be definitely doing some weathered barns and eye-catching farms and street scenes with ancient buildings. As we get closer to the fall, I can promise some beautiful fall scenes, early autumn paths and lake views for painting. I will try to collect opinions about still life sketching, drawing and painting. There were people who expressed interest in that type of objects, let’s see how it goes.

The last year has been very successful for both the studio and the art gallery; I hope it goes the same way in the next fall season. Judging by number of applications which are received for August classes and workshops, there won’t be any time to get bored. That makes me happy and students told they were extremely happy with my classes, as well.

Barn painting: adult acrylic painting classes, artist Liz

Liz’s painting

Wednesday acrylic painting class group

The Wednesday group, Christine had to work, she was not present this time

Acrylic painting class for beginning artists

Liz presented everybody from the Wednesday group with gift towels which she had decorated herself. Thanks Liz, we appreciate that a lot! Liz developed a style on her own just during October-May while starting to attend these art classes. Great job and it is worth to pay attention to this style: acrylic is a very interesting medium, and sometimes under-appreciated.

Diana painting winter scene in acrylic

Diana just finishing up one of her paintings

Bev painting the barn

Bev working on her barn scene painting

Acrylic painting class Whitby, Ontario

The friendly Wednesday beginning artists group

Amanda working on the barn painting

Amanda working on the barn painting

We have our long-term artists which I am missing so much when I don’t meet them for a longer time. Diana, Bev and Gordon have been with this studio for 3 years. Joan, Christine, Amanda joined during the last fall, and most likely they will end up putting their art in our fall/winter show.

Enjoying the almost done painting

Acrylic painting class for beginners

Barn painting acrylic on canvas

Joan's painting: acrylic on canvas, barn scene

Christine's painting almost done

Painting classes for adults, downtown Whitby

It’s still a project and a dream since my space is limited and these classes have outgrown it so quickly, but the quality and attraction of art done by my students is so great that we will be trying to make a show happen. The space will be an issue, but I suppose we may solve it one or another way.

This year we got ongoing Thursday class, as well, I have to mention Connie who has grown as an artist tremendously, Gwen, and Wayne who are getting amazingly good results already and Sarah, Christine and Susan who just started to paint some months ago, but got done beautiful paintings. That’s just a start for them. We had father and daughter driving all the way from Mississauga and very gifted mother and daughter in the Tuesday night group.

Acrylic paintings by adult beginner class

Tuesday painting session for beginners in acrylic painting

Acrylic painting class for beginners

Park painting in acrylic

I would like to mention also the rest of extremely talented Tuesday night group: Rose who got so inspired that she paints on her own while there are no classes, Jane who got done the first 2 paintings ever, Helen who implements lovingly worked out details, and the very amazing person and good beginning artist Stephanie.

Demo board for acrylic painting classes

The tired demo board

I may have not mentioned all of the most recent adult students, there were so many, however, you often made not only my day, but all week! I hope seeing most of you in August again!

We did huge numbers of sketches, watercolor paintings and drawings in the teen group. Elaine’s, Rachel’s, Sophie’s, Emily’s and Marie’s paintings show we have achieved a lot. We will continue in August with intensive watercolor workshops and sessions in adult and teen watercolor sketching group. New this season will be: preparation classes when we will learn drawing and composition.

Have a great summer and keep your brushes wet and pencils sharp!

Accomplishment: the meaningful measuring unit of time

Idleness makes hours pass slowly and years swiftly. Activity makes the hours short and the years long.

/Cesare Pavese “This business Of Living”, 1938/

Time flies and streams flow: are we going to stand by and watch them disappear?

Most of us have some daily duties, jobs, schedules, routine, obligations and problems. Fewer have achievements, satisfaction, passion, happiness and things that make this life a pleasurable experience.

I have noticed people who are passionate about something are simply better off. They are better off in many ways, not only because they don’t know what the boredom or wasted time is, but they have something more than just routine, duties and obligations.

Time really flies, and there are so many reasons to interact with life, not only watch it passing by. I am usually measuring my day by what I have accomplished. These don’t have to be always important things, but “accomplished” things. Watching TV, for instance is wasted time. Watering plants is an “accomplished” thing. Calling mom is an “accomplished” thing. Painting or sketching is an “accomplished” thing for sure.

Thus, the measuring units of my time are not only hours, days, months, years, but any accomplished things whether small or huge.

I am happy that my art classes allow other people accomplishing something, as well. That can be even to make a dream come true. I am obviously happy that spots for the fall art classes are already taken in spring.

I hope we will be able to arrange an exhibition of my students and my demo artworks either in October or December. The space is a bit of a problem, but we could probably solve it. Not all art which I am putting on this blog is finished works, but it is easy to understand: we all are unique and our creative speeds are distinctive.

The recent 6-week acrylic painting session is very successful, we are about to start the second project.

Acrylic painting class for beginners

Daughters, mothers, friends and art lovers

Park painting in acrylic

Park and floral scene in acrylic

Floral and nature project

First time paintings for 5 students, 1 started attending my classes before

Whitby acrylic painting for adults

Pleasure and fun: everything together

Painting flowers in acrylic

Thursday night acrylic painting class

The river project: adult acrylic painting class

Not all paintings got to the finishing stage since it is summertime

Acrylic painting class for adults

Still requires some work, but they will get it done

Painting lessons for adults in Durham

Practicing more complicated objects is very useful

First project in adult acrylic class

The collage view

Acrylic paintings by adult beginner class

Many very committed students had joined the Thursday class; lots of projects were done during September-May. The passion for art and creation is the common feature of all of my students. The inspiration is so vibrant in this studio that it is simply impossible not to paint, draw, sketch or create.