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How to Keep Motivated When You Can’t Paint

Okay, frustration is setting in. It’s been a week and a half since having to move into a hotel (for details refer back to my blog “Gone with the Wind”). Finding a way to paint has been nearly impossible. I had hoped to be halfway through a painting by now. I was going to blog each step of the way with photos, but progress has been halted.

The problem is these crutches keep me from carrying my paints to the lobby. I can’t paint in the hotel room, because my husband works nights and sleeps days. I have to keep the room dark all day. At night the lighting is so bad, I don’t dare mix colors. So I’m stuck.  Today, I stood in the bathroom (better lighting) to fix the background of the painting I had just started when everything hit the fan. It was scraped up in the storm, but the canvas survived. I guess you can call that a start. But, standing on a broken foot in the bathroom to paint, is not the most ideal situation. It’s not something I can do for very long.

So basically, I’m not painting. Circumstances may be different, but I’m sure you’ve all gone through times when you couldn’t paint, too. What I’ve discovered is the longer I stay away from the brushes the harder it is to get back to them. But if I can do something art related each day that I can’t paint, it will be easier to pick up the brush when I can. Here is a list of my go to’s for motivation:

1. Study a painting pattern, taking notes on new information and what could be other options to the same pattern.

2. Reading art blogs by fellow bloggers. I also subscribe to a number of artists newsletters. When I’m in the midst of a painting I rarely have time to read them, but I save them all for times like this when I can’t get to my brushes.

3. Collect reference material. If you can’t paint because you’re out and about, make good use of your camera or smart phone.

4. Go through photos. If you are stuck at home or in a hotel room like me, take the time to go through the photos you’ve already taken. Make files of possible contenders  for future paintings.

5. Play in Photoshop. Make composite photos, choosing elements from several photos to create a new design.

6. Visit museums and galleries online. Choose one particular artist or style of painting and research it.

7. Jot down any ideas, reflections or dreams that might lend themselves well to future projects . Some artists keep a journal handy at all times for this whether they are painting or not.

8. Wet a paintbrush in water and practice brushstrokes. I haven’t done stroke work in years, but now would be a great time to brush up that skill.

Okay, I’m feeling less frustrated now. I guess I have lots to do tomorrow to keep me busy. I hope some you might find my list helpful too. If you have anything to add to the list please comment.

 

Value Study painting by Lynnette Horn

Paintbrushes for the Acrylic Artist

One of the biggest mistakes I see beginning artists make is to short change themselves when it comes to supplies. They go on the cheap, buying a packet of assorted craft brushes and buying student grade paints. And then, they wonder why their paintings are not as they should be. Well, duh.

First of all, let me state that there are no magic brushes that will make your brushstrokes a thing of perfection. But, a good quality set of brushes will help you along your journey and won’t wear out nearly as fast. My rule of thumb has always been to buy as much quality as you can afford.

Just a side note about student grade paints–they contain more solids and filler than artist grade paints. If you are following a dvd or a painting pattern, and using student grade paints you will not be able to achieve the same look as the instructor’s. It will appear duller. If you don’t realize it is the paints, you may get discouraged and give up. Always use a good quality artist paint.

The next issue is deciding what type of quality brushes to buy. There’s so many to choose from–hog bristle, squirrel, synthetic, synthetic mix and nylon. No matter what they are made of, what is most important is the degree of softness. In the store, brushes will always feel a little stiff. they have sizing in them to help them keep their shape in shipping. brush your fingers along the chisel (which is the edge of the bristles) to break up the sizing, before you check for stiffness.

Oil painters usually choose the stiffest brushes that will allow their brushstrokes to be seen. Acrylic artists generally want softer brushes that will paint flat, yet have enough resilience to bounce back to their chisel point. Watercolorists use the softest brushes of them all. Personally, I use DecoArt Traditions Brushes, which are high quality brushes specifically made for acrylics. The Traditions line of brushes fill all my needs with a wide variety of liners, rounds, filberts, flats, angles, mops and blenders. If you are interested, they can be purchased from http://www.artapprenticeonline.com. By the way, I don’t receive a penny for endorsing them.

Not matter which manufacturer you go with, the cost may be prohibitive to buy the whole line. So the beginning artist should concentrate on buying the workhorses that will form the foundation for future purchases. Here is my list–stripped down to the bone essentials:

  • •big fluffy mop
  • •3/4″ or 1″ oval brush
  • •#3 round
  • •#4 filbert
  • •#6 filbert
  • •1/4″ angle
  • •1/2″ angle
  • •#10 dome blender
  • •3/0 liner or 0 liner
  • One step beyond bare bones is a #1 mini mop–I just love this brush and couldn’t leave it off, but absolutely necessary, well…

If I had to, I could get by with only these brushes, yet I rarely paint larger than 16″ x 20″ canvases. If you plan on painting mostly larger canvases, you might want to up the sizes a bit. As you learn different techniques from various instructors, you will want to add to this list. I recommend that you just go slow and only buy as needed. If you take care of them, they will last your a very long time. Tomorrow I will cover taking care of your brushes.

Do you have a favorite brush that would be on your bare bones list?

Clouds photo by Lynnette Horn

Are Clouds Really White?

I can’t believe the beautiful day we are having.  The sun is shining, birds are singing and the trees are blossoming. It’s a perfect day to go outside and put on my artist’s eye. Yep, you heard me right. Artist’s see things differently from the average person. It’s a way of seeing beyond our color biases.

In art, color bias usually means how a pigment leans toward another pigment. For example one red might lean more towards blues, while another red might lean towards yellows, like Naphthol Red and Naphthol Red Light. Both are red, but one is better for mixing purples and the other is better for making oranges. But this is not the color bias I am referring to.

Color bias can also mean the influences that affect how we see objects. It is a hindrance to observation. We are taught in school that trees are green, mountains are purple and clouds are white. But if we painted them as such they would look flat and not realistic at all. Take clouds, for example. We’ve been taught that clouds are white so when we look at a cloud we see white. But is it really? If we take the time to push through our bias and really observe, we’ll see  many possible colors in the clouds–pink, orange, blue, grey, purple and yellow.

Pushing past our color bias, for white in this case, is called seeing with our artist’s eye. It takes practice until it becomes second nature. So while you are outside this spring and summer, get your artist eye on and really observe what’s around you. Before long you’ll be making wonderful discoveries and blowing away those color biases for good.