Who benefits from art and artists

When you look at art for sale, it can sometimes seem the artist is probably under drugs and wants to extremely profit from their paintings, drawings or other type of art. It seems so.
I once asked a lady who was enquiring about my paintings: do you know anybody who would work for about two months, every day, about 6-8 hours a day and then receive for all this work 200 bucks minus materials? It isn’t that I tried to get her to pay more or whatever, it’s just the reality.
She was a nice lady, and she honestly said she didn’t know anybody who would work on such terms. I could add to this that I don’t know either, except fellow artists who for different reasons are in the same boat.
A brief list of these who benefit not only from  full-time artists, but anybody who creates art and tries to sell their art:
companies that make pencils, papers, tracing papers, graphite papers, drawing sketching, watercolor and all kinds of art papers,
companies that manufacture canvas, canvas panels, canvas boards, stretcher bars and canvas fabric,
companies that make paints, pigments, mediums for paints, solvents, vanishes, and all kinds of chemicals that are necessary for putting paint on canvas or paper at different stages or preserving the ready art,
companies that make easels, supports and all kinds of frame manufacturers, framing places and manufacturers of framing supplies, that includes mats, matting paper, glass, Plexiglas and similar materials;
every artists needs a website or blog, as well as social media presentation, so there are lots of platforms and hosting companies which sell everything from security certificates, to software for managing website, hosting, themes, plugins and many tools in order the website stayed functional;
companies that manufacture computers, tablets, ipads, cameras, video cameras and phones since we need to get the image somewhat captured and transferred to online space;
any landlord who leases studio or showroom space;
any utility provider who sells power, gas and water to the studio;
any show, gallery, exhibition, fair, including juried shows, online competitions and online shows which charge a fee for putting the artwork out there;
any online sales or art print sales provider which charges membership fee and commission;
money collecting and payment processing companies, i. e. Paypal, banks, etc.
That is not the entire list, and to some extent it is similar to expenses that are inevitable for any freelance or self-employed person, but the creation of art is definitely at the higher end of expenses, costs of materials and time consumption.
Artist obviously pays for paints, paper, canvasses, frames and framing, fees for shows and gallery representation and any utilities, as well as monthly payment for studio regardless of whether there is going to be some profit or not. Even when the art ends up in the waste basket, it still involves cost.
I know one would say: anybody who creates a product must create it first and there is never a guarantee of selling it. True, however, most products which are 100% unique, handmade and original sell for much more than the materials and labor that goes into them.
So, we have arrived at the most crucial question: who enables the artist to benefit? Who makes it possible for the artist to profit from their talent, work and efforts?
The artist can only profit from his or her clients who purchase the work whether as a product with art image on or in it, or as an original painting and drawing.
That is you. Somebody who loves and appreciates art. Somebody who has some money and is willing to spend it not on food, not on outfit, not on make-up or furniture, but art. Art is not a medication and it won’t cover you as a blanket, but it can feel that way, too. I know people who can stand for half an hour at some of my paintings and they feel exactly that: warmth and energy, and healing power.
I hope when you go to an art show next time and when you look at some painting, you will be aware that along with artist’s efforts, talent, time and soul there goes in a lot of other expense. That is an expense which is not covered quite frequently.
Being a freelance writer and artist is not easy by any means. There is a lot of insecurity: I do not know when some new work request arrives, I cannot ever guess with certainty when some painting will sell. I obviously cannot work when I’m not well, and that causes other problems. The domino effect.
Why to do this? At the present moment, this is the only option I have.
I am not sure if I will have to post something else before I fly to Latvia next Monday, yes, I unintentionally have chosen the full solar eclipse day, but whatever; I am presenting a few paintings which come as result of giving the flower painting class.

Lovely pinks

I compared also Arches 300 paper with Saunders Waterford 300.

Saturday rose is available at $150 plus shipping Saturday rose

Sunday rose is available at $150 plus shipping, Daily Paintworks, Sunday rose

Unfortunately, both papers were not bright white. If you have enough time to dry paper decently between layers, Arches is better. It is very easy to paint on it. However, I did not have time to dry paper, so Saunders Waterford was better because it does not keep flowing that much.


I do appreciate any sale through this site, at studio or through any other site because that allows me to benefit small bit from my creations.

Giving up is not a solution, acrylic painting tips

I feel sad when some students discontinue classes just after one month. I can see potential in just started paintings, people with a little experience in drawing and art usually don’t.  All it takes is pretty much adding a few darks and lights, adjusting some edges and straightening out a few shapes. In fact, any acrylic painting can be whatever the artist expects it to be if we keep working on it.

Sometimes people are short of time, sometimes these are health or financial issues, that require to stop attending classes, but that doesn’t change the fact that there was a good start and it did not get a chance to develop.

I am quite often repeating: nobody becomes master within a few hours. Nobody. I am also not allowing students to compare their just started art: this makes absolutely no sense. There was a reason artists used to cover up their art with a cloth and show it to nobody until the artwork was considered ready and finished. There are lots of tiny brush strokes which can change the painted image to a great extent. Tiny bit of sparkling light, small edge of very deep dark, and everything improves.

Patience and ability to take risks are two very necessary features for anybody who’d like to enjoy creating visual art. I have told this before: time-lapse demos cause people to believe that this is exactly the way one paints: one, two, three and here we go. In reality, we sometimes need to go over and over one spot for many times. With acrylic paint, there are no limitations of additional layers, and we need to apply more layers to create three-dimensional feel and visually attractive effects.

Smearing on paint in one color is not the same what building up that color. I have quite often seen transparent trees and flat bushes. That means: there was no darker blocking color underneath and the light color was stretched only over 2 shades. That cannot make a structure or object look like it is having dimensions.

Many people have difficulties thinking in layers: the most distant, the underneath it all layer, the middle value layer, the defining layer and the highlighting and detailing layer. It is in the human nature: to try to get it right away, therefore, I’ve observed how students sometimes start with details which should be implemented at the end. This approach is fairly essential in acrylic painting because we have to work our way up and closer and that’s how the image evolves.

The other problematic issue is holding color on the spot one wants it to be. We are practising painting on a spot techniques, but quite often artist gets carried away and keeps blending and moving paint until the result shows everything in one and the same color. It is very important to learn using any size brush for painting on a spot which is like running on a spot: brush it on, but don’t move all around the canvas.

Golden birch acrylic painting art classes for adults

I just got done the reference image for the next Saturday painting session: we are painting with gold again. I feel very attracted to the warm shine of gold. There are some images when it really works, definitely, not with any image.

Finally, as I’m washing brushes after classes, I can immediately tell which brushes were used by me and which were used by students. My brushes are almost clean or have the last used color in it. Students’ brushes are usually full of many shades, quite often dark shades which we applied at the beginning of class. That means, the brush wasn’t cleaned during painting. That results in muddy and dirty colors which don’t shine and lack brilliance. Painting is easy and extremely rewarding; however, one must have patience and allow for some time to get where they want to be. It depends also on what our goal is: any painting is nice and great if we do not expect it to become a top-perfection artwork jut after a few classes or painting attempts. We can notice fear and indecisiveness in brush strokes which lack confidence.  Therefore, going for a bank and risk it all is a very important thing with creativity and visual art, in particular. We have to be persistent and even stubborn, as well, quite often, giving up something is not a solution at all.

Artistic freedom and risks taking to a higher level of ourselves

Time … Time … How to make it slow down and stop for a moment? I have the answer, but unfortunately, this doesn’t help me getting done everything. We can capture a moment in a painting, and that doesn’t mean we can capture only the scene we are drawing or painting, we are also making impressions of our senses, our mood and feelings.

Although, I’ve been working hard and working a lot, my art and lifeschool blog were left alone again. Well, if I’m so tired that I’m almost fainting, I certainly won’t be posting anything. I believe doing our best can be not enough sometimes, but that is the only result we are able to have here and there. I do not push myself, as well. Rest is important, so is sleep.

My classroom got a face-lift. There are so many flaws with easels which are sold at the art store that I had to finally get to the issue and design my own easels for the use in classroom. They are extremely light and perfectly stable; nothing dances around, falls off or turns over. They allow painting when sitting and when standing. That took a while, and thanks to my husband and his skills, we have these easels working well now. I had to make also some smaller things like cardboard trays because I am seeing very often how disorganized the work-space is. That does not help. Work-space has to be easily approachable and everything has to be in the right place.

Acrylic painting for adults, new classroom

New easels

Art classes Whitby Ontario, new classroom for adult artists

Arranging everything

Acrylic painting classes Whitby Ontraio

New classroom settings

Artistic freedom Thursday class has 6 students

Pleasure lives here

Garden demo, too bad on cardboard

 

Garden demo for Wednesday, here only starting out, lots of work required yet, we will work on this for 2 more weeks

Acrylic painting Poppies Demo 1.5 hours

My less than 2 hours demo today

Talking about supplies which we use: we shouldn’t try using the entire art store. I counted last night; we need 14 paint tubes at most. We can paint very well with just 8. That means a bit more mixing. We normally won’t be using 6 or even 10 brushes during a few hours. Most often, we can perfectly paint acrylic with just one medium size flat brush. Watercolor requires minimum 3 brushes, but not 10 either. I can understand why somebody tries to take everything to the class: it’s called just in case. The negative aspect of too much art supplies is that it causes confusion. Especially when somebody is starting out, they won’t even notice what each brush does, and they will get to using it even less.

We had a fantastic group painting today. I have 3 hour painting sessions on Saturdays. We start on blank canvas and at the end of these 3 hours we usually have something to show for. I loved that nobody was disappointed because sometimes people imagine they can go within 3 hours from “never painted or was holding brush in my hand” to “perfect art created by a master”. That does not happen, so I am happy with people who have reasonable expectations.

Creation of art has to be fun and relaxing activity. When I hear people saying I am afraid, I am really wondering how so? I can imagine how one is afraid from a surgery, even dentist, test, speech to thousands of TV viewers or a job interview which can change the entire life. What is the worst that can happen when we paint something not as we think we should? With acrylic, nothing at all. We will need a bit more paint and possibly time to start that particular spot from new. Therefore, being afraid to paint sounds strange. Most likely, that is why kids and people who love taking risks have very good results. Once we get over the barrier we placed in front of ourselves, we are fine. I wouldn’t even call this courage. I’d rather call this: pleasure to experiment, take plunges into unknown and experience freedom.

Artistic freedom is like no other freedom and it is the most uplifting one. When somebody tells me there are very many rules in art, I’d like to disagree. There is no one single other person who can see and experience the reality in the same way we do. Why our imagination and creative potential should then be squeezed in some kind of frame of regulations? It shouldn’t. Any other freedom comes paired with duties and obligations. Artistic freedom of creative self-expression is a complete alone standing freedom. There are no and there should not be any restrictions. There are tips and tricks, and common sense how to get things done faster, better, more sufficiently and more impressively in art. Yes, there are. We can either accept or disregard them and try to discover everything from new. Art and creativity  mean a new world every single time we take the brush or pencil in our hand, I think we should build this new world in accordance with our personal preferences, likes and our vision.

I believe, many people like my approach, so my art groups have grown a lot. My space is limited to 12 participants, but I prefer not more than 10 artists for acrylic.

My wish to everybody starting out in art: do not take it too seriously, enjoy, have fun and you’ll find over time how nicely everything works out and falls in place. The above does not refer to people who make their living with art. That is a hard work, one of the hardest I know.

Lost in time and duties: the tough return

I was away for so long, that returning started to seem impossible. However, it’s time. Meanwhile, the globe has been through insane troubles, and I don’t want to talk about that again. We need peace and we need to recover, therefore, it is time to return to work. I don’t know any better medicine than being occupied with something which takes over our mind and body.

I have done so much, a lot, in fact, but these are mostly all works in progress, and many are just at the drawing and sketching stage, therefore, there’s not that much to show for. I did not have time to take pictures, yet I have brought almost to the finish one painting. That was my version of our current classwork. It is not signed yet, but the small adjustment I might do some time later. I could not post anything and I probably won’t be that active for some 2 more weeks because a large commissioned work keeps me totally busy. It is complicated and it consists of many paintings, therefore, my blog has to be patient.

The autumn boats Acrylic painting

I am having plenty of new students and that is certainly something which always makes me quite happy.

Autumn night, silence, acrylic 20 x 20 in painting for sale

The only thing I would like to remind all beginning artists about is this one: do not kill your intentions before you have had an opportunity to see for yourself that they work and they have a future. I mean, we all have moments when we doubt anything. Too much self-criticism and too much of negative self-evaluation does not help. We should not program ourselves for a failure before we have even gotten to do something. Painting has the ability to take us anywhere we want to go. That includes great achievements and personal improvement, recognition from other people and understanding ourselves better. Do not give up any creative activity after the first unsuccessful attempt since our patient efforts get awarded sooner or later.

The Life school blog reveals my poetic thoughts about autumn as a season and our life as we get older:

The soothing Sunday thoughts: late autumn midnight

Painting process mirrors life and that is fantastic

Art creation involves a large range of experiences and emotions: it is pleasure, but can cause problems; it makes us happy, but can be disappointing, achievements come after failures, and lucky accidents happen, too. Especially when paint spills all over your just finished painting, but it only lands on spots which really look better now, plus creates the feel of loose and natural paint application. Cannot happen that way? Well, there are some happy moments which arise from mistakes, and not only in art.

Should you be upset if you feel very attracted to painting, but so far haven’t had any chance to try it or are convinced you have no talent? Definitely not, because we learn painting or drawing with very various goals in mind: just for pleasure, as a hobby, for the love of color, desire to be creative, have something for yourself,  decorate home, paint a gift, prove yourself you can do it, paint like …, and so on, and so on.

When it comes to learning painting or drawing, it is no different from any other studies. Some people are fast learners, some are slow, some students like repeating the new approach at home, but the other ones only do something in the classroom. We all have distinctive ways of seeing and perceiving the reality, some of us have well-trained memory, some have plenty of life experience, and there are also people who can hear things better than visualize them and vice versa.

An art teacher gives directions, explanations, recommendations, advice and examples. During classes, your art teacher will show and demonstrate painting steps, paint application techniques, unusual materials and unexpected ways to apply paint; wrong and proper ways to place items or scenes on your canvas and good and bad mixes of paint. The teacher will make you aware about the fastest and the most effective methods to achieve the desirable effect and the simplest techniques when painting complicated subjects. However, the learning process requires that student’s involvement is as important as teacher’s, because the results directly depend on the effort students have put into their work. They depend on attention or lack of it, on willingness to take risks or not, on whether it is only an attempt or exploration of something new or serious interest and enthusiasm.

The most important part of learning process is our gain from it. That could be knowledge or skill, an idea or just inspiration.

What is the difference between an art class and workshop? Classes and lessons are usually ongoing and the particular matter is explored from simple to complicated, from easy to difficult, and from basic to advanced. There are sometimes classes which deal with very specific subject: trees in watercolor, water in acrylic, works created pouring paint, negative florals or glass in still life; or specific medium or technique: collage, ink and watercolor, watercolor and pastel and so on. Workshops are usually longer than a class and can have as an objective a completely finished work. However, students should not always expect any class or workshop resulting in ready to hang artwork, just because we have different learning and working speeds, and sometimes the new technique takes time to process it in our mind.

Secondly, the experience is an important part of any process. Even though, when watching somebody painting with ease, we assume there are no difficulties involved, that’s not completely true. We need some patience and we also need a positive attitude: if this did not happen today, it will happen sometime. And I can assure, it will. It is highly unlikely that nothing would suit us among millions of ways painting or drawing is done.

Pictures from our last week’s art class serve as illustration. This subject was much loved, and one painting is done, or by the end of class it seemed to be done. The fall gives us plenty of ideas and great things to use for direct observation and painting, not to mention the possibilities to interpret the fall colors! They can please everybody. Happy weekend with nice colors in mind and brushes or pencils in hand!

Change is always possible, but it will cost us some efforts

I’ve recently done quite a lot of reading, and articles were ranging from stress, life coaching, fitness, diets, moms and kids, teens’ problems, depression, anxiety to universe, loneliness, obsession, complaints and visual art. Well, the common thing most often was: everything is pretty much wrong and we should really work on some kind of improvement. Poets were less unsatisfied with life since they found something inspiring in being not that well off.

We are used to believe that humans are steadily progressing and we become better, smarter, more intelligent, stronger and healthier with every new generation. However, there has been only a huge technical progress, and only mobile devices and computers have become noticeably smarter and more advanced, but humans are meanwhile regressing. At a fast rate. Our health is terrible, and many earlier unknown diseases are genetically inherited, our mind gets much less used since there is always an answer on the Internet, and our human skills and the ability to interact and build personal relationships is totally neglected. Taking into account the abnormal consumption of toxic substances and chemicals, scientists have figured out we would last for just 30 more generations. That would be the moment when humans lose their reproductive ability because of genetic errors which the body will not be able to fix. Well, they might just learn to re-write the DNA and correct the broken sequences by that time.

Thankfully and despite the ignorance which is very characteristic for consumers society, the hand-made art is still surviving. One might think it is so silly to try to draw and paint for real when it is possible to do everything digitally. It sure is, and there are always new apps, but the gain and the goal is actually to maintain our humanity, and that won’t be achieved using apps. This might sound way overdone, but when we meet kids who rarely get in touch with nature, who have seen it mostly on the TV or computer, when we hear adults who complain about stresses and loneliness and how dysfunctional their lives have become, I am wondering why don’t they do anything to change this?

At the studio, we are about small droplets which build a huge waterfall and tiny leaves which make up a forest. I mean, one does not necessarily have to choose art as a career, there will be so many other benefits along the road. The ability to experience and create the beauty is just one of them.

I was just looking at grape leaves on vine in my backyard. What perfection, what grace in every angle, in every shape! The weather is fantastic at the moment, so the magic light of late afternoon was playing in these leaves and creating amazing patterns and soft value transitions. So simple, yet absolutely stunning! Nature does not love emptiness: we can fill ourselves and our time either with something useful, or with waste. We have actually always some choice, and we have plenty of choices when it comes to our leisure. Small changes lead to big results, although they still take efforts. I know, it’s much easier to sit back and stare at the TV screen. I do that, too when I am feeling totally exhausted and cannot even move, but that’s limited to just some 20 minutes here and there.

I had the largest number of workshops ever this August: 8 in total. I did not manage to take pictures of all works because there were just too many, but I still got a lot of watercolor sketching pics. Although, art teaching can be very tiring, I sometimes feel like re-energized after a long workshop, and this happens due to the great energy which is circulating in the studio. I wrote a mom who expressed her satisfaction for daughter’s successfully created art: the hugest and the most meaningful reward for a teacher is the student who has acquired new skills and new passion.

 

I must say things like poetry, writing, singing, dancing, playing an instrument, drawing or painting cannot be even taught. A teacher is only providing with tools, methods, techniques and explanations about such processes, but the doing and learning is actually up to the student. As a teacher, I can show, demonstrate, advise, recommend, comment and draw attention to some technique or issue, but the student will have to apply these recommendations and tips on his or her own. The result or lack of it greatly depends on that person who is learning.

I will discuss in more detail next time why some great intentions lead to nothing and why there will always be somebody who drops out.

 

The warm side of the grey scale: conquering procrastination

The reason I decided not to do any demos on a separate canvas for every class is simple: there have accumulated large numbers of somewhat finished; half-finished, not at all finished medium size paintings. For that purpose, I invented my changeable demo board which can tolerate everything: all kinds of colors and themes. It takes a lot of work to bring these unfinished paintings to some completed condition. On the other hand, I do not always feel like I would be interested any more in either that subject, scene, or the work itself. You know this state: some time later, next week, next month, in the fall, etc. Procrastination is a tough thing to conquer.

We all evolve, it is not surprising that our priorities or preferred methods do not remain attractive forever. I suppose anybody who has done painting or writing over long period of time, has experienced the state when one has to really wonder what was that I liked so much in this picture, scene, poem, article, story or sketch. We have learned along the way, and the former passions pale out when compared to the most recent discoveries or achievements. To some point, that is also true when I think about some people who I was so passionate about 30-40 years ago. Were they worth the tears cried out? Oh my, I have to laugh now remembering the stuff which seemed like a tragedy back then.

The same laws of affection and love regulate my overall attitude to themes and objects which I would like exploring closer and drawing or painting. The colors I loved 30 years ago are not matching the color scheme I feel comfortable with at the moment. I would not say my drawing style or general approach has dramatically changed, but there certainly has been movement and development. I am one of those people who just took the pencil and started to draw, it was very simple and easy, and everything just fall in place as I moved the pencil around. I don’t actually use eraser when drawing, unless I would like to place something significantly higher, lower, more left or right. My mom had preserved portraits and illustrations I did when I was 10 (that’s 46 years ago), and I don’t find anything wrong with them. I suppose, I dared a lot because I had not studied anything art related. It was all fresh, all from scratch, and thus, totally unaffected by any other opinions.

These were my reminiscences from far away.

Today, I am facing a lot of work. Some of previous paintings are so highly textured that it is impossible to paint over the initial image or replace it with something else. I have been thinking also about adding some mixed media parts to such works, well, assuming I’d ever have time for that. I am not sorry to through out something which is completely out of line, but there is sort of appeal in previously used canvas. Some kind of challenge, too: is it possible at all to make something nice out of this mess?

 

That way, I have been adding some brush strokes here and there, and some paintings are actually getting done. Interesting enough, they seem to be unusually grey scale for me. Grays have abnormally huge scale of possible shades. It is interesting to observe what some particular stuff might result in.

 

The attached images might inspire somebody to also finish up their started works.

 

It is always fairly difficult to get on the photo the exact colors or look. I’m trying, however, no online image can ever replace the actual painting.

 

Attraction of opposites and how to handle tough subjects with ease

Why are live art classes so much loved when all kinds of online and offline art learning materials are available? For established artists or someone who has quite a lot of painting experience, watching tutorial videos can be beneficial.  They know what the demo is about, they understand how to achieve what is told they would, and there is usually no problem with following the guidance material, even though it can take pretty much time.

It is a bit different with beginning artists or students who have no real painting experience. For people who have encountered tough situations when painting on their own, for students who struggle with some parts of painting, some colors or application of some techniques and never get the result they are looking for, for somebody who tried and was ready to give up painting because of difficulties, nothing can replace live direct teaching and personal approach in a real art class.

It is very obvious that knowledge can be achieved thanks to learning, trying and experimenting. I like shortcuts in all areas of life, so I am teaching how to get great results in painting without having to engage in struggles and frustration. It is no secret that many people give up painting, drawing or art because they assume it is something they will never manage or make work for them.

Acrylic is a specific painting medium: along with huge advantages it possesses some drawbacks, too. The most frustration is probably caused by very fast drying times which sort of gives no time to work out parts of painting properly. However, once one gets familiar with these features, acrylic does not feel any more difficult than any other medium. We learn treating a painting in such a way that we can work in layers and on segments.

Tips for art students: you do not have to overdo with blending. Instead of brushing all along from dark to light and from light to dark which very often will cause everything become the same color, try applying paint exactly on those spots where it needs to be. Place darks where you see them, place medium shades where they belong and finish up with lights. They come together with light stroke of damp clean brush, usually flat brush.

Great artwork usually contains many or some opposites: lights, darks, weak and strong values, sharp and soft edges, contrasting colors, both in tone and temperature, lines, layouts and shapes. Often problems arise when there is no contrast in the painting; it looks all flat and unimpressive. Try not brushing too much but move smoothly from one color to another by applying paint in segments so that no darks are lost. If you lose your darks or sketch lines or drawing has disappeared, re-establish the darks and sketch in new lines or shapes.

While any advice can be helpful, in direct class we can learn how to avoid most problematic areas, what effects to use, what techniques to avoid and the art teacher is there to provide immediate help when some problem arises. Any issue gets fixed straight where it occurred.

Painting barn: acrylic painting class for adults

We learned to use attractive grey shades of green and blue

Wedensday night painting class for adults

Grey is a fantastic color to make reds stand out

Red barn painting: acrylic art class

We had a beautiful object to paint

Painting in progress: layering acrylic

Painting in progress: layering acrylic

Blocking in the main shapes

Blocking in the main shapes

Barn painting: acrylic painting class

Barn painting: acrylic painting requires layering

Lots of texture

Lots of texture: Liz always prefers plenty of paint and multiple thick layers, this is just the beginning, results are stunning

Focused on reflections

Reflections require focus and fairly abstract approach

Painting class for adults: this painting is done

This painting is done: Joan works fast and loves detail, results are fantastic

Acrylic painting classes for adults

Our very friendly and inspiring Wednesday night group

Great atmosphere in the studio

Great atmosphere in the studio is a key for successful classes

Acrylic painting demo

This picture shows the demo board. Group teacher does not have plenty of time, demos have to be done fast and they must show the most important aspects. The demo board which can be renewed before every other class, is very useful, it allows showing many different objects, color mixing and other techniques at the same time.

Tip for art teachers: if you are giving many classes a week or more painting classes a day, consider using instead of separate canvasses or canvas boards a larger size lightweight board. I am using recently just large cardboard which is covered with gesso and some middle tone. I prefer brownish-grayish tones since they facilitate quick demo.

Tip for art students: unless your painting requires lots and lots of pure white, use toned canvasses and canvas boards since human perception works better with medium dark backgrounds. It is easy to add darkest darks and lightest lights on pre-toned canvas.

Tip for everybody who loves creating art: do not stop doing it when you encounter some problem. When some painting does not work out, instead of pressuring yourself and painting, set it aside, give it some time, place it somewhere you can see it when walking around, and the right solution will cross your mind at some point. You will later understand easily what exactly you have to do with this painting. Anger is a bad advisor, and frustration is even worse.

If you are using photo reference, remember that painting becomes the primary as it develops, and the photo is secondary. Chose always what better suits painting, not what it is on the photo. That refers to color, shapes and details, as well. The task of art is not to recreate a photo, but to create something completely new which is perceived on its own.

Happy painting!

The creativity crisis – there is simple, but magic cure

In addition to all kinds of disastrous social symptoms, we are recently hearing about the creativity crisis. Really? How come? Why do we even need such a personal feature as creativity?

I doubt anybody with more or less understanding of personal development would argue that it is very important to develop our creative side and work on it. Creative activities help lessening different mental conditions and make life more cheerful by raising serotonin levels and, thus, add to our inner balance. Balance is the key to everything: good health, well-being, success and prosperity. Long-term and broad research shows that creative children are more likely to succeed and cope with any situation which comes up in their lifetime, they will feel more confident and less lost if something unexpected happens than those lacking creativity.  Creative activities can make one’s life easier, more interesting, fuller, more exiting and less stressful.

I was reading recently how becoming creative was described as getting into some state of mind and intentionally trying to make that happen. I am very sure it won’t happen that way. Becoming smart, interesting, enthusiastic and creative is not following five easy steps. This takes work, efforts, numerous experiments and perseverance. Creativity is not somebody will pour over you, and nobody can actually teach you how exactly to be creative. There are so many definitions, approaches, tests and scores to detect whether you are or are not a creative person. Creativity has to originate from the inside of an individual. It is possible to get advice, technical and practical guidance in any activities, but the process is up to you.

Creativity is a very attractive feature similar to being interesting, imaginative ability and innovative talent that empowers a person. We all have some desire to be noticed, to be loved and appreciated. By doing something creative we are opening the doors for love, appreciation, new friendships.

Whenever the talk touches creativity, nobody has told so far they know for sure they’d hate to be creative. I am most often receiving completely contrary messages. People complain their life is boring, dull, it is lacking any interesting or magic aspect and they would love to become somehow involved with creative things. So what’s stopping them?

Many people give up quickly anything which does not happen the way they thought it would right away. Some give up activity they just started to find out about because the results did not show after first half an hour or first attempt. Some are feeling sorry to spend any money on what they think is simply a pastime.

Spending some money on creative activities is inevitable. The least costly thing is probably writing poetry or stories. However, writing sad stories or poems, composing sad songs or listening to them can trigger low-spirits and depressive episodes, thus, sensitive people should rather participate in some artistic groups until they feel strong enough to do something on their own.

So, yes, you will have to spend some money for your fabrics or papers, for sewing machine or brushes, for garden or crafting tools. I would say that is definitely less than one spends on fast poisonous foods, useless drinks or antidepressant pills.

Depending on your creative activity, there are also real benefits because we spend way less money for anything we have created than bought ready-made. The creative mind works like this: I have some stuff, I’d need maybe some small bit of other stuff and I probably could make something great out of it. The consumerist’s mind works such a way: where do I get it and how much will it cost?

Where to get inspiration or idea what is that you would like? There are hundreds of options: all craft and art shows, all creativity meetings, local meetings of writers and photographers, amateur song and dance festivals, amateur theater performances, garden shows, musical gatherings like open mikes, galleries, art and craft stores and departments, fabric stores and more. Besides, there are always people at these events and places who will give a good advice on where to start.

Yet, surveys and research tell us, the creativity is dramatically decreasing and something needs to be done to reintroduce more creative activities in our families, schools and society.

It is never too late to engage in creative things. Local people who are interested in art could join my art classes and attend the creative workshops. I am not surprised some of my students love these art classes so much that they return year after year, and they would miss anything else, but the weekly art class. It is obviously doing something good for them!

Painted acrylic scene in sleepless night

My experience after teaching at high schools, colleges, individually, in groups allows concluding the following. The idea of becoming creative most often is present in the family and it is passed over from generation to generation. Kids who pick up arts, crafts, sewing, writing, dancing, playing an instrument in early childhood most likely will continue engaging in some creative activities all life. There is much less depression, anxiety, upset moods, loss of interest in life, engaging in drugs, alcohol and troubles among teens who love creative life style and who paint, write, dance, sing, play an instrument, compose than in those who only spend all their free time on the street, in parties and at computer. The same goes for adults. People who do a lot of creative stuff are much less complaining about loneliness, depression, feeling lost, seeing no meaning or purpose in life than those who at the best go to the bar or sit in front of TV.

Try something different: painting with sponge

I decided that adding some new technique wouldn’t disturb. Why not to give it a try?

This time it was application of watercolor using a sea grass sponge. It worked well with acrylic (I will post these pictures separately), it seemed it could work nicely with watercolor, as well.

I could see after the first attempts that it is advisable to test colors first. There are lots of brands, many types of paints, it’s hard to know whether the chosen colors will or won’t mix well. The big fear was not to overdo right at the beginning. Sponging sort of takes away easily, and it takes no time to lose focus and to forget where exactly was I intending to place any particular paint. I did not plan for these paintings, I just got straight to sponging. I would advise anybody who is trying this technique to plan a small bit ahead. Sponge allows to create beautiful watercolor backgrounds, like distant trees or forests, it is amazing how quickly some spots get textures, and it is a fantastic for layering watercolor paints. Simply don’t forget to test your colors.

It seemed that Hooker’s green light and dark in combination with French ultramarine, Cobalt blue, Payne’s grey, Lemon yellow and Burnt sienna or Burnt umber worked better than Sap green in any combination unless I mixed only 2 or 3 colors in all layers.

Sea grass sponges are inexpensive and available at any art store, that’s at least where I got them. Every sponge is slightly different, so will be textures created using these sponges. I cut my sponge in smaller parts, and used every time that part which seemed to be the most fitting. Sponge has to be made wet at first, and we should squeeze out all excess water before picking up the paint with it.

Sponging works on wet paper (wet in wet application), and we can paint nice distant backgrounds this way. It creates thicker layers and attractive irregular shapes when applied on dry paper. It is possible to create the entire painting this way, and it looks especially great when we combine different techniques.

Generally speaking, application of a sponge helps loosen up, and sponge is a good tool to vary paint application techniques.

These paintings look somehow better not photographed. The light hasn’t been too suitable recently, but regardless of how hard I tried, I did not get the balance on photos which is present on paper. This might be due to the distinctive number of layers at each part since camera sees everything not in the same way as the human eye sees. These things were tough to photograph, it was almost as bad as taking pictures of pastel drawings.

 

First layers of watercolor using a sea grass sponge

Different colors and textures: watercolor forest painting with sponge

Layering quite a few colors with sponge is interesting: we never know how it will look at the end!

Spring forest painting: watercolor

Simple sponge painting exercise

The distant forest is painted using sponge: the darks in the background look much darker than on paper, like I said before, camera picks out some spots and reflects colors differently from the human eye.

Sponge painting with watercolor

Sponge applied for background and some spots in the front

sponge work and winter csene 012

Spring forest: watercolor painting using sponge