How to choose art classes

Many people who feel attracted to art, sign up for art and painting classes in the fall. Certainly, days are getting shorter and the weather gradually changes from very pleasant to quite nasty, rainy and chilly. I will not list all advantages of joining an art class or painting group this time because I’ve been mentioning them multiple times, and there are so many: from building your confidence and self-esteem and finding a great thing to fill up the long nights to effects similar to meditation which allow one floating away from daily troubles and problems, to mental fitness and rejuvenation of brain cells. The created art becomes just another gain along the way.

When choosing an art class, you should first check out what the instructor does: what are his or her favorite subjects, style, colors, approach. If you generally do not like such art as instructor is doing, so most likely you will the class unsuitable. For instance, if instructor is in meticulous copy creation of photos, you most likely will not be learning how to paint abstracts; or if she or he never do portrait painting, it is unlikely the class will provide with portrait painting skills.

Secondly, make sure the size of group somewhat works with you. I hear people complaining that they signed up for an art class and never got any attention, therefore, never learned anything. Well, if a weekly art class is 2 hours long and there are 20 or even more students in the classroom, how would you get a lot of attention? You can count on some 5 minutes of individual instruction in the best case because no instructor can run around all class while they are showing how to paint something. It is obvious that you have to choose a small art class if you require much advice or want very individual approach.

Thirdly, find out what level this art class is for. If some class is intended for advanced painters, most often, if you are just starting out you will not be able to catch up with others.

Beginner is somebody who hasn’t done at least 200 small size paintings or 150 larger paintings.

Next thing is: be realistic in expectations. That is probably the most overlooked aspect of any art class or studies of creative things.

Learning how to use tools takes time. That means: any tools. Although, everybody has seen a painting brush and quite frequently people have tried using it painting something on their own, it does not mean that you know how to actually use it. Any brush (they come in very many sizes, shapes and are made from all kinds of materials) can be used for some very specific things and also for some very general approaches. It is obviously possible to use just one brush start to finish, but the key is to find one that suits you and the task you want to accomplish. That depends also on your personal preferences, medium and subject.

Materials are an extremely important thing also for an art class, so, the best results will definitely be achieved using good quality materials straight from the beginning.

I have heard this often: I’m just learning, so I will use the cheapest materials for now. Well, that might not work at all because using bad materials can easily become a torture and nuisance. Sometimes students struggle around bad watercolor paper and they think they are doing something wrong, but, in fact, it is the paper which prevents from getting acceptable results. The funny part is that when one has a lot of experience they can survive with bad materials because their mastery will cover up the flaws, but initially, when there is very little knowledge, good materials will help overcoming your insecurities.

Equally important is also having your own materials. It might seem: what’s the difference? The answer is: there is a huge difference between paints, brushes, canvas, papers, pencils and even erasers, not to mention that is one of the most important aspects of learning. Tools matter, surface matters, paints and brands matter. There is no other way to become familiar with some materials in particular as using them.

Many people think that art classes and artistic activities cost a lot of money. Comparatively, I have to admit that is not really true. Most classes are way cheaper than going to a movie, about 8-10 times cheaper than attending a concert, at least 2 times cheaper than getting a hairdo, minimum 2 times cheaper than dining out at a medium quality place, much cheaper than boozing at a pub and so on. If your priority is to eat, work and sleep, that might seem like a big expense, but if you are looking for an overall improvement of your mental state, brain flexibility, memory, life quality and health improvement, it is just something which will pay back over many upcoming years. Therefore, the first question should not be “How much”. While the cost makes up an important part of anything we are doing and affording, there are very many other factors to consider. All classes are different: some are just a few weeks, some are a few months, some are short in a very large group and some are long and almost private. The most important part is to sign up for something that you feel interested in. One should also be prepared to learn, practice and memorize things, be spontaneous, courageous, daring and fearless, as well as have enough personal time for not feeling rushed.

I recently got new pictures and got a chance to post some watercolors on DailyPaintworks site.

I always work harder on pictures than actual paintings.

Colors in context images are much more like in reality.

I loved them, I hope it becomes a source of pleasure for other people, too.

This is the updated painting

 

They sell at $150, plus $15 shipping in Canada and USA.

Clear white on DPW

Enjoy!

Taking pictures of art and displaying: it is a challenge

Taking pictures of art is my never-ending challenge. I have been dealing with some other issues, too.

What happened to all good themes on WordPress.org?

Oh well.

I’ve been sitting at computer way too long. As I told before, I don’t have a better theme on my website right now for a very silly reason: I just couldn’t find a good one. It seems almost impossible.

All of them look great as demos.

Once I started to adapt them to what I want, I ended up seeing that:

one page themes don’t work;

with all kinds of fancy stuff overloaded themes don’t work;

completely plain and totally flat themes don’t work, so on and so on. I tried 8 themes, lost money on one, and here I am: with the same 2017.

I decided to leave it as is because while I was doing my theme adjustments, I worked as a slave for two weeks, 14 hours a day and that was affecting my life and everything else I had to do.

I am going to Latvia, but prospects traveling without cash are not very attractive.

Joining the Daily paintworks

I finally signed up for Daily paintworks where one tries to sell original art, not prints.

It took me five years to decide, and it is rather a desperate measure. All online art sites are crowded and there is a confusing amount of artworks to choose from.

Participation is quite costly, too, so one is pretty much under pressure to sell something.

Well, extremely cheap and tiny art sells well there, but I don’t have anything smaller than 11 x 14 inches. Very few old pieces might be 8 x 10 inches. So, I signed up and one can place only one artwork per day, so I have two paintings there at the moment.

Summer fence is available at $120 plus shipping

 Summer fence watercolor

Purple variety painting

Once again, I will try to do something also locally which is very unlikely to be a successful thing because this neighborhood is quite dead.

And I will try to sell something also over the internet from this same site.

Taking pictures of art: it isn’t easy

My biggest problem has been inability to capture on image the art as it really is; and this problem is persistent for many years. I don’t think it’s only mine problem. Camera looks at painting differently, and the color balance really depends on colors in painting.

Blue shades, greys and blue green colors look better.

Red, orange and yellow is a huge problem. I have paintings which have a lot of red and I cannot show them online because the color comes out weird, and it is not at all as in my painting. It is usually impossible to bring back the color balance with editing either.

Taking pictures of art in context and with background

I have noticed that watercolor artists use to take pictures of their paintings using contextual background. I started to take such picture of my art intuitively: some 8 years ago or so.

I paid attention very soon to the fact that everything that did not display only the cropped painting image looked fine. I mean, painting regained all natural colors and its good look.

That also gives some idea about the size because it is quite annoying to see how on some sites my very large art is displayed smaller than my small art.

Just placing something next to painting or photographing paintings in a bunch, having some surroundings show behind or taking art picture when it is on the wall, or using for decoration whatever, results in a photo that has all colors well balanced.

Taking pictures of art and displaying online

This particular theme does not allow also displaying everything as I would love to. The featured image becomes too huge. I tried to add my own css when doing theme adjustments, so I made the blog posts page larger size, but decreasing the widget area resulted in losing the number of followers. I will have to live with this display for a while because too much editing the theme caused all content text disappearing completely.

I can display on my website my art as I prefer, but when I have to post it somewhere else, it needs to be cropped and possibly edited, but I have noticed if the colors aren’t right, no editing will make that painting look as it is.

Most art looks better in reality. It can be so annoying at times that after taking about 30 pictures of some painting not one is good enough to post somewhere.

My art deals

I will be offering nice deals on my art up to August 19, and I will ship my paintings anywhere, but shipping will be extra. I got in big trouble last year because I was using UPS; and the shipping was costing more (isn’t that insane?) than my paintings I was shipping. I was so upset that I decided not to use UPS again. I’ve been shipping quite large art to Europe just by Canada post and the cost was somewhat ok, it was at least better.

Anyway, have a look at my art and I will also post more exercises for those who love painting with watercolor and are learning and experimenting with sketching and watercolor.

Maybe I should make a specific Facebook page for that? We’ll see how it goes.

I believe pictures of paintings look better in a context and on a background.

It is worth experimenting with that, as well.

Illustration or sketch: one, two, three: ready! How to start sketching

Illustration or sketch can be simplified in order to get it done outdoors or to complete indoors because sometimes the weather can be quite bothersome and not cooperating with our intentions.

I have had a chance to watch numerous people when they first learn painting or drawing.

I would love to share some observations because they might inspire somebody to just get a pencil, a brush and paper and go ahead.

Do we need rules in art?

It might sound strange, but most people believe there are many strict rules when we draw or paint. Maybe the instruction on some sites makes one feel that if you do not follow these rules you cannot paint or draw. That is not true. That is actually completely wrong.

While there are lots of tricks, shortcuts and favorite ways to get things done faster and better, one should not try to stick to something which we call strict rules. Not with creativity. Not in art.

That would mean the small kid who does not have an idea of rules and instructions should not be able to draw. But the small kid is able to draw. Every kid is able to draw and paint.

As people grow up they find out that life wants us to comply with requirements, regulations, rules and certain instructions. It’s no surprise they want to apply rules to everything what we do. I know artists who would call the way of paint application a rule, or the way of drawing something on paper a rule.

No rules, just do your best!

I would love to encourage these who want to try art, to just go with their intention.

I hear quite frequently: I don’t know anything about painting or drawing. Well, you don’t have to. You just have to start trusting your eyes and trying to draw or paint whatever you intend to.

What to use for watercolor sketching?

Everything you can afford or like. If you do not know whether you will continue or not, why would you buy $75 watercolor brush? We always use the largest watercolor brush that still allows achieving what we want. It’s pretty much common sense. You could survive with just one number 10 watercolor brush if it has a good fine tip. 20-brush sets from Dollarstore won’t do anything, don’t go for these.

If you are applying wet paint on your sketch, traditional sketching paper won’t allow that. It is too thin. That’s pretty much common sense, as well; it could tolerate dry pencil or some pen, but not washes, especially repeated washes or paint lifting.

I would advise to always use watercolor paper for drawing, sketch, illustration, practise, color or flow practise because that is thicker and can be made wet.

If you are a beginner, you can live with just beginner’s watercolor paint set.

You can do illustration or sketch any way you like

If you are afraid to draw right away with pen, do the initial drawing in pencil and go over with pen afterwards. Keep the best lines and erase everything else, and here you have a nice, clean, attractive drawing. Why to use pen? It is simply easier. Pen makes the outline clearly visible, all image looks finished and elaborated even when the drawing is far from perfect and watercolor washes will bring your artistic attempt to life.

There is no wrong or right way to sketch, to draw or to paint

All artists develop their own style over time. Should you expect the first attempts to be perfect? No, don’t do that. Always tell yourself: Let us see what happens. Treat all of your first year’s art as a practise, as an experiment. Some will be god, some will fly into the waste basket, and that is absolutely fine.

People call everything which did not come out perfect: a mistake. That does not always apply to art either.

Some artistic mistakes and flaws can become the foundation of your personal style. Some experiments can set the tone for anything you do in the future. Therefore: experiment, experiment and experiment!

I am attaching some works from previous sketching session.

Illustration or sketch can be carried out in any style you prefer

Illustration can be done easily.  I am advising to use pen just for simplicity and speed. It really helps. I also love the accomplished look of such sketches which can be definitely used as completely finished art on the wall or for any other purpose.

Illustration example: pen outline

First we draw with pencil the main lines. We draw lightly without using pressure. After that we repeat the best lines in pen.

Illustration: first washes applied over pen lines

Choose whatever colors you love and would want in your sketch. Activate with water. Test on testing paper how transparent the watered down mix is. Apply small amount of water onto the main image area. You can use spray bottle if it creates mist. Check against light: if the shine is about to disappear, that’s the best time for first washes.

Illustration is ready: more washes or less diluted paint, and we are done.

If you allow first layers to dry and then make your paper wet again, nothing will happen to the dried out first layers. It is safe to go over with water. Don’t rub or scratch with the brush; that will definitely take some paint of.

Corrections are done with paper towel when the painting is wet: pressing paper towel onto paper will take off most of wet paint. When the paper is completely dry, apply washes and use damp brush or paper towel to lift color or paint you don’t want. Repeat until you like it.

The thicker the watercolor paper, the more things you can do with it.

Cheap watercolor paper is for tests and some practice only. It is simply too thin to do something more.

You can choose any pen you can afford or like. Your pen can be different color, too. Black simply fits any other color and makes it stand out more.

Large sketch using much wider pen

All watercolor illustrations and sketches look great. If you want them to be better: practice more and don’t expect immediate perfection.