Sometimes Being Interested Is Enough

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Often when people post their art in the communities I’m part of they follow it up with ‘but I’m not a real artist’ or ‘but it’s just my hobby’. As if there is some kind of division between ‘real artists’ who can post their art without caveat and ‘not real artists’ who need to qualify it before posting (because otherwise what..?).

This might have something to do with someone’s personal level of confidence or the way society views art, or a combination of both. I definitely identify with this tendency, this wish to let people know you don’t want them to judge you too harshly or to let them know you’re not full of yourself. This desperate wish to take a bit of that huge vulnerability out of creating or sharing something so personal as your own art.

It also might even stop you from creating in the first place. That feeling of not being good enough or not qualified enough. Why should you do it if there are so many other people who might do it better?

A couple of weeks back I went to NineWorlds (it is an inclusive geek convention, it’s amazing!) and I put myself forward to speak on a panel about problematic issues in the work of Joss Whedon. As a self-professed Whedonite (I wrote my undergrad thesis on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) I’m semi qualified to speak on this subject.

Nineworlds Panel

But I worried. What if I didn’t know enough? What if I wasn’t good enough or couldn’t contribute? What if my knowledge was too niche (e.g. just about BtVS instead of all of Whedon’s work)? What if other people knew way more about the subject? What if people from the audience looked at me and thought ‘pfft what is she doing on that panel’?

I discussed these fears with my therapist and he suggested:

What if simply being interested is enough?

This actually touches on something that I read in Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly (I mentioned this book in my previous post) in which she proposes a culture of ‘enough’. That instead of trying to be perfect, we should simply try to be engaged.

When you feel passionate, interested and excited about what you do, it doesn’t matter whether people like it, because the right people will respond to your engagement. When you downplay something, you are giving people a signal that it’s unlikely to be interesting to them, because they will simply mirror your own (lack of) enthusiasm.

This is what I try to do now with my art. I try and move away from the questions of ‘is it good enough?’ or ‘will people like it?’ and instead I try to move towards ‘is this interesting to me?’ and ‘does this make me feel excited?’.

It Looks Like I Know What I’m Doing (or a rant on vulnerability)

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I love that when I post my art it looks like I know what I’m doing. Because really people, I haven’t the faintest idea. I just keep on doing it, no real goal apart from to just express myself and follow the joy and sometimes my hands all of a sudden produce things I like. I often don’t even notice while I’m working. My head starts going towards not-good-enough-itis. It’s only at the end when I stand back and take a picture of it that I might realise it looks halfway decent and that it might come across that I actually know what I’m doing and all of this is deliberate.

Well, it really isn’t.

This isn’t some kind of humble brag. I want to share what it feels like as a vulnerable flawed human being who is on a journey of self-development and artistic development and who most of the time is just wandering or ambling or lost. Because I think you might be too, and if you are, I want you to see the real me.

I often think people might get the impression that my art is very deliberate, that I know what I want and how to achieve it. That I’ve got it all figured out or that I’m “so talented”. Talent’s lovely (I am not sure I have it, opinions differ) but it has fuck all to do with actually creating art. (If you’ve called me talented before, please keep doing it, it’s lovely and I don’t take offense, but if you think you need to be talented to make art… well then just stop right there. Stop thinking that I mean, don’t stop making art, START making art).

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I’m currently reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (I absolutely recommend it, go get it right now!) and it made me realise that painting, or any act of creativity really, is such a vulnerable act. I don’t even mean sharing art, that’s also a vulnerable act, but it’s between you and other people. No I mean the act of creating where there was nothing. It’s a vulnerable act between you and yourself, nothing can make you feel as exposed as creating and expressing. And that leap, that start from nothing to something, that is the biggest most enormous leap.

So many people won’t make that leap, because it can make you shit your pants and want to hide in a safe hidey corner where you can pretend that you can avoid feeling vulnerable. And every day people do make that leap. Your favourite painters, your favourite teachers, your favourite writers. And people you don’t know and have never heard of, they make that leap too.

I make that leap, and you can make that leap. It’s the doing that counts. It’s the showing up. It’s being open and vulnerable, because that is the strength you need to draw from to let yourself be creative.

Go forth! Create!

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How To Push Past Resistance?

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How to push past resistance? And what is resistance anyway??

First let me start off by stating that I LOVE the art I’ve been doing recently. It seems like a barrier (probably self-imposed) has been lifted. I used to feel like every piece I did had to be different and original otherwise I was somehow failing (ridic, right?). Now I feel I’m able to follow my favourite steps and techniques and work with limited supplies to create a cohesive body of work over the course of a few weeks/months and hone my skills (and HAVE FUN! So important).

BUT, and this is the big BUT… although I feel I’m developing, I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself to fulfilling my potential. I have this (not so secret) wish to make more technically accomplished and complex art. Not just that, but art with feeling, expression and emotion, art that comes from deep inside.

There are a few artists I really admire (e.g. Renata Loree, Ivy Newport, Robin Laws) whose art possesses a wealth of soul and complexity. Now I know it’s no use to compare my own work to other people’s work, that’s a given. But I am struggling with not knowing whether it’s a style I WANT to pursue myself or simply like looking at because it pleases me aesthetically. You can enjoy good food without actually being a master chef yourself if you get what I’m saying.

So the first question is really: IS this resistance or not? Am I painting simple quick art journal pages because that’s my deepest desire and what I need to be doing right now, or because I am afraid of going deeper, more detailed and spending more time…?

This has been a theme in my life for as long as I can remember. I find it hard to invest time. I rush through things, wish they were finished before even starting and I find it very hard to stay with them. Hence art journaling and small simple paintings fitting in really well with this tendency. But then how do I ever get to the point where I can invest? Invest time and attention to myself, my art, without wishing to rush through it? And if I engage in this exercise (for example working on a painting that takes days or weeks to complete, not hours) how do I get past that feeling of unease, that feeling of not enjoying myself or not knowing what to do or where things will go? (Aha it becomes apparent to me yet again that I like being in control… hilarious right for someone who teaches people to let go of the outcome..? *gigglesnort*)

I want more out of my art, but I want more with grace & ease, not discomfort or unease. Am I asking too much?

I’m not sure if I can know the answers to these questions right now, but I know I feel a certain excitement. The excitement of my own potential. The gift I can give myself of time, of knowing that I’m allowed to wonder, allowed to find out, allowed to try. All my life I’ve lived with a feeling of ‘I must’, so I’m experimenting with the notion of ‘I am allowed’ and go from there.

This is a piece I did a few months ago in which I feel I captured a little bit of what I’m talking about (even though this was still definitely a quick piece)

Portrait in art journal by Iris Fritschi-Cussens

Art Questionnaire (join in!)

Art-Questionnaire

I thought it would be fun and interesting to do a little questionnaire! 20 questions for you to answer about your relationship with art.

Feel free to copy the list and answer them on your blog or social media (a link or mention would be much appreciated!) or in the comments below.

You can be as brief or as detailed as you like. I’ve given my answers below, can’t wait to read yours!

1. Who is your favourite traditional/master artist?
2. Who is your favourite online artist?
3. What is your favourite art course you’ve taken?
4. What art course would you love to take?
5. Which teacher would you love to go on an art retreat with?

6. Where do you create?
7. What inspires you?
8. What do you do when you’re in a creative funk?
9. What is your absolute favourite piece of art that you’ve created? (show a pic!)
10. What does this piece mean to you?

11. What is your favourite art book?
12. What is your favourite art supply?
13. Oils or acrylics?
14. Stamps or freehand?
15. Where do you love to go shopping for art supplies?

16. What subject do you like to paint?
17. What colour(s) do you always seem to use?
18. Do you like to paint big or small?
19. What is your favourite music to listen to while painting?
20. What does art mean to you?


1. Who is your favourite traditional/master artist?
Tough one! I don’t know if I can choose just one, and who I admire does change over time and as I go through different phases of interest. When I was younger I loved work by Miró and Dali. At the moment I’m loving the work of Tamara de Lempicka (her work is the influence for my lesson on Love Art Happy Life).

2. Who is your favourite online artist?
Again this is about who I love right now. I’ve been really captivated by the work of Ivy Newport recently (and super honoured to be teaching alongside her on not one, but two courses!!). Her work has such a soft quality and displays an immense amount of skill.

3. What is your favourite art course you’ve taken?
I absolutely love courses by Marieke Blokland. She’s a master at teaching you art techniques in a very straightforward way. Her videos are the most fun ever! Another course that goes from strength to strength each year is Life Book (hellooo universe, may I please teach on Life Book?), the teachers and lessons offer so much joy, instruction & encouragement. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for Life Book.

4. What art course would you love to take?
I’ve put myself on an art course diet for a bit because I find I go crazy buying courses and then never DO them. What I really need is a local artsy friend to meet up with once every few weeks and do art courses with…. I digress. I’ve had my eye on Tracy Verdugo‘s short workshop ‘Pattern. Color. Texture’ and Robin Laws‘s recent storytelling & art course also REALLY tempted me.

5. Which teacher would you love to go on an art retreat with?
Hmmm. I’d love to go on one of Alena Hennessy‘s retreats. My other wish is to go to Portland OR and take Flora Bowley‘s Bloom True course in person.

6. Where do you create?
I have my studio in a small spare room in my house. It’s such a luxury to have. I found that when I used to have to clear things away after painting and set them up again beforehand it really inhibited me. Having a dedicated space means I can go there for 5 minutes or several hours. Also with 2 small kids it’s good to have a lock on the door to my art room haha!

7. What inspires you?
To a certain extent looking at other artists’ work, although it’s easy to gorge on that and get into compare-itis mode. So I try to look at others’ work to the point where I feel excited and brimming with ideas, and then I go paint. I also have noticed that in order to be inspired I need to cultivate a sense of quiet in my life (which, if you know my brain which is always ON, is something of a task!). Walking in nature is one of my favourite things to just quiet my mind and I’ve recently taken up meditating. Also music. The difference for me between painting with or without music is like day and night. I listen to classical radio when I’m painting (sometimes I forget and it just feels SO HARD – then I put music on and it’s like… wow, easy all of a sudden!).

8. What do you do when you’re in a creative funk?
I usually get in a funk when I’m trying too hard or comparing myself too much. At that point I really need to mentally take a step back and recognise I’m doing that. Then I try to let go of expectations and sit down to just play. I usually use my art journal for that. Playing with colours, textures, smooshing paint, maybe writing some words down of things that bother me. I usually feel better after a good art journaling session.

9. What is your absolute favourite piece of art that you’ve created?
At the moment it’s this one:
Can you believe that I didnt actually have any of my own art hanging in my house??!! Just hung this in the living room and feeling proud and pleased!  #mixedmedia #artist #decorativeart #londonartist #irisimpressionsart #beabitmoreyou

10. What does this piece mean to you?
I’m really proud of this piece. It was the biggest I’d painted so far and in this painting I really dared to do what felt right to me, rather than try and emulate someone else’s style. It was the first piece that made me KNOW I had to hang it up. So I’ve finally hung a piece of art in my house!

11. What is your favourite art book?
See above about art course diet…. lol. One of the first books I bought when I started getting into mixed media was Claudine Hellmuth’s Collage Discovery Workshop. Although I’ve since discovered that collage is not my thing, it still has some awesome mixed media techniques in there.

12. What is your favourite art supply?
Noooo don’t make me pick just one!!! I couldn’t live without my Stabilo All pencil. It’s where it starts and ends for me. I’m also currently really enjoying soft pastels.

13. Oils or acrylics?
Acrylics all the way at the moment. I’ve tried oils once during a workshop and didn’t enjoy them, but it might have been the horrible brushes we were given to work with. I will want to give them another try sometime, but for now acrylics are my one true love.

14. Stamps or freehand?
It depends. I love stamps for backgrounds and creating texture or interest. I don’t like figurative stamps, in that case I’d prefer to draw something myself.

15. Where do you love to go shopping for art supplies?
I have several art shops within walking distance, lucky me! (my wallet doesn’t feel so lucky though) Cornelissen is my favourite because its interior is like a 19th century shop. They also stock a lot of quality supplies. I got all my Schmincke watercolours from them, as well as quite a few single Sennelier oil pastels and they stock the legendary Robserson’s journals. I also order online a bit more these days (because I actually know what I need now, how boring! lol) for which I really like Jackson’s Art Supplies. Reasonable prices and they always package everything with the utmost care.

16. What subject do you like to paint?
Faces!!! Always faces. They just interest me like nothing else does. I’m currently trying to practice slightly more realistic features. I still want to paint stylised/whimsical faces, but with more realism in the features and especially shading.

17. What colour(s) do you always seem to use?
Turquoise, dark blue, hot/fluorescent pink and sometimes a bit of yellow.

18. Do you like to paint big or small?
I can really enjoy working in my A5 journal, any smaller is too fiddly, but I also enjoy going bigger. The biggest I’ve painted is about A2 size. I love working in broad strokes and working big allows me a lot of freedom and means I don’t get caught up in too much fiddly detail.

19. What is your favourite music to listen to while painting?
Classical. I tend to listen to Classical KDFC (commercial free, woohoo!). I always do my best paintings when listening to awesome music.

20. What does art mean to you?
Art is my life. I’m always thinking about it, dreaming about it. If I go quiet in the middle of a conversation I’m probably dreaming up colour schemes =p

I Can’t Draw

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If I had a penny for every time I heard someone say “I can’t draw” or “I can’t even draw a stick figure”…. I’d have a fair amount of pennies.

I can’t draw either. Or couldn’t. I don’t know. At some point I couldn’t draw. And now I’m at a different stage of ‘can’t draw’. And in a few years’ time I will be further progressed on my journey of ‘can’t draw’. I don’t suppose I will ever get to a point where I exclaim: By golly! I can draw!

I think it’s like that with any skill that has a lot of levels of proficiency. You’re always learning, but you’re never ‘there’, because as soon as you’re ‘there’, there’s another level to achieve. Deep, no?

So. ‘Not being able to draw’ is no excuse not to draw. By all means, don’t draw if you don’t want to or don’t like to. But don’t lament ‘oooooh I can’t draw…….’ as if other people who do draw are somehow born with some magical talent that makes them able to draw. Or as if you’re only allowed to draw if you’re somehow already good at it before having even practiced.

We all can’t draw. We all can draw. I don’t know. Go draw! Draw me a stick figure and go share it with me on Facebook or Instagram =p

PS here are some pictures of me practicing my drawing skills and a bonus picture of a flamingo I drew over 10 years ago. You’re welcome.

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2005-05-27flamingo

Giving Up?

Ever Feel Like Giving Up On Your Art?

Do you ever get so frustrated with your art that you just want to throw in the towel? Bin it? Give up?

I’m currently teaching in several places (Let’s Face It & Love Art Happy Life) and apart from the wonderful work that is being posted, people also sometimes express their frustration. Their annoyance at not getting it right or not drawing what they see in their mind’s eye. I read about people throwing their art in the bin or ripping it up.

My heart feels heavy when I see people being so hard on themselves!

I really understand that feeling, that annoyance and disgust at what was supporsed to be wonderful, but ended up severely lacking. I’ve never binned my art, but in a way I binned my creativity for years: by simply not creating for fear of creating something disappointing (again).

For me I want art to be something joyful, even if I recognise that it is sometimes a struggle (believe me, I struggle). Getting the balance right is actually a really big part of my wish for self-care and self-respect. Shooting yourself down actually adds another layer of suffering on top of the already existing disappointment of not liking something or something not working out right.

I feel so sad thinking about the fact that so many of you experience this, I want to share my tips for allowing art to be a more joyful experience.

1. Struggle. First of all, let’s just sit with the fact that we sometimes struggle. Life can be a struggle, art can be a struggle. And that is OK. Struggle is not something to be avoided at all cost or a marker of not doing it right. It just happens. Sometimes we struggle with something physical (e.g. art techniques) or emotional (e.g. confidence). If we interact with the struggle and face it it can help us actually get further on our journey. It helps us grow.

2. Letting Go Of The Outcome. I know I harp on a lot about letting go of the outcome *grins* but it’s just so relevant! The art you create simply is. It is not good, it is not bad, it just is. WHY do we want to throw it in the bin, or annihilate ourselves or rip it up? It’s about attaching an importance to it being something ELSE. As long as we’re focussed on wanting it to be anything other than what it is, we’re creating disappointment and suffering for ourselves.

3. Noticing. Being able to think critically and assess our work is a strength and can help us improve, but there is a difference between observing and criticising/annihilation. When you notice instead of judge, you’re simply observing what is. You can then absorb that knowledge in a positive way, rather than a judgy feel-bad-about-yourself-way. It’s the difference between “The eyes are all wrong! It’s ruined!” and noticing “The left eye is smaller than the right eye. I don’t enjoy the look that creates, next time I will try to pay more attention to getting the eyes the same size”.

4. Be Where You Are At. It’s so tough in this online world not to compare ourselves. I don’t know about you but my Facebook feed is filled with wonderful art from amazing artists all over the world. Everyone is doing their own thing and everyone is on their own path. Consuming dozens or hundreds of pictures of what other people are doing can really affect my confidence about what I am doing myself. I start comparing myself and wishing my art was ‘a little more like this’ or ‘a little less like that’. When I compare myself to others I’m treating myself so unfairly, because really I can’t compare myself to anyone other than myself! I’m Iris, I’ve been painting on and off since 2008 and consistently since 2013. I paint a few times a week. I tend to choose expression and play over technical skill and practice. I’ve not been to art school. I’ve followed some online classes. I love trying different materials. Etc etc etc (everyone has their own unique story). The art I’m making is a beautiful reflection of who I am at this point in time, and I am exactly where I need to be.

Say it with me now:

The art I’m making is a beautiful reflection of who I am at this point in time, and I am exactly where I need to be

I really hope that the above will give you some of the tools that have helped me get out of the critical judging way of approaching art and into a more accepting and joyful way of doing art.

If you have any tips I’d love to hear them, please leave a comment below!

5 Tips To Develop Your Unique Art Style

5 Tips to Develop Your Own Unique Art Style

Ask any starting artist and this is pretty much the holy grail, the thing they’re looking for, the elusive concept, the thing that excites them and the thing that makes them despair….:

Developing your own style

I’ve been doing this art thing fairly seriously now for 2 years, and I still struggle with this on a daily basis. I can see glimpses sometimes and other times I’m like an impatient child stomping their feet: WHEN is it FINALLY going to HAPPEN?

So, while I’m having my own little personal struggle here, let me share with you these five tips to developing your own art style. Follow these top tips and I promise you, IT WILL HAPPEN. Bit by bit, your style will start to emerge. You won’t even notice it, but when you look back it will be there. All of a sudden people will say things like ‘I love your style!’ or ‘I knew that painting was yours!’ or you will recognise yourself the elements that make up your personal style.


Tip 1: Create A Series

Creating a series of paintings is a great way to hone your skill and practice doing the same thing but differently. Ways of approaching this could be to pick a certain colour scheme to work in and with a certain theme or subject. For example creating four paintings of doves and/or using the same 3-4 colours in each painting. You could also do something more abstract with a similar colour scheme and similar shapes across the pieces.

When creating a series it can be helpful to work on all paintings at the same time. This will help make things easier with achieving consistency across the paintings.


Tip 2: Do A Challenge

The thing that kickstarted my creativity big time was joining the Art 101 challenge . I joined a group of people who were all going to complete a certain number of paintings within 101 days. Having an achievable goal in mind and a timeframe within which to do it can be great motivation. Practice and simply DOING IT is such a big part of developing your style, and doing a challenge really helps you get down and do it. Get together with other people to support each other and hold each other accountable.

Formats you can consider for challenges are things like: create x number of paintings in y days / 10 minutes of sketching every day / draw one face a day for 100 days


Tip 3: Notice Your Likes & Dislikes

What is it you enjoy drawing or painting? Are you really drawn to certain subject matter, shapes or colours? You can analyse your own work and then build on it. If you see yourself doing and enjoying certain things, start amplifying those things and do them consciously.

For me I LOVE creating faces. Then within the faces I notice more things that I like doing, like where I enjoy placement of the features (e.g. mouth low in the face, nearly no chin) or what shape eyes I like to paint.

This can also relate to certain types of art supplies or techniques. Anything that you love working with and would like to do again and again.

Conversely if you notice yourself not enjoying things, then don’t feel like you need to do them. Don’t create the expectation that your work needs to include elements or techniques that you don’t actually enjoy. For me that might be lots of doodles or trying to make things very realistic.


Tip 4: Develop Your Personal Imagery

We all have our own personal story. Certain subjects or symbols might deeply resonate with us and it is helpful to sit down and have a think about that. These could be shapes, symbols, animals, plants, flowers etc. Anything that has a personal symbolic meaning to you could become part of the imagery that you draw from to create your paintings.

If you look at famous painters they usually have a very strong visual language. This is partly the thing that makes their paintings recognisably theirs.

It can be helpful to compile a list of 5-10 things that are meaningful to you and that you want to have show up in your art. You can then even practice sketching them. For me a few recurring symbols are: teardrops, cypress trees/cat tails, spirals, crowns, rectangular buildings, blushing faces, sun bursts.


Tip 5: Study The Masters

Copy, copy, copy! Copying an existing work of art (this is called a study, and remember to ALWAYS give credit, whether the artist is super famous or whether it’s your next door neighbour (who may or may not be famous)) is an excellent way to practice technique.

Take a step back and analyse the different parts of the painting. Ask yourself how you would recreate something and how you would deviate from it if you were doing things ‘your way’. Set yourself a challenge to recreate someone else’s painting, but giving it your own spin (take your knowledge from the tips above).


Your style is within you. It’s waiting to emerge, but it needs practice and encouragement. It will develop, it will come out. Keep making art, keep showing up, keep sharing, keep on being you!

If you’re looking for more guidance to develop your own style, you’ll love Radiant: Art Journals. 15 teachers have prepared wonderfully in-depth lessons for you so you can spread your own creative wings in the safe space of your own art journal. I hope you will join us!

Are you looking to find your own art style? What is it you struggle with? Or are you a more established artist who has gone through this? What is your top tip? Share your thoughts with us below!

5 Reasons You’re Not Happy With Your Art Journal Pages

http://iris-impressions.com/2015/09/5-reasons-youre-not-happy-with-your-art-journal-pages/
photo credit: Broken Flowers via photopin (license)

I know very well what it’s like to want to do art, but every time you sit down and do it, you’re feeling crappy about the result. It’s really inhibiting and it might even stop you from creating next time. I don’t want that for you (or for myself)! So here are some insights that might help you understand why this happens and what you can do to change it.


1. You need practice

There is no way around it: practice makes progress. There are no shortcuts and you have to put in the time. Imagine you’re going to learn a language, it will take some weeks to grasp the basics, quite a few more to be semi-proficient and several years to be fluent. The more you practice making art, the more fluent you become and the easier it will be for you to create things you like, simply because of your skill level.

I love this quote:

Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle
-Jon Acuff

Another awesome resource is this video with words from Ira Glass. It’s called ‘The Gap’ and is about that ‘gap’ that exists between knowing what art you find beautiful and actually being able to achieve it yourself.


2. You are attached to the outcome

Leading on from the concept of ‘the gap’ explained above, it’s very frustrating if you have something specific in mind and aren’t quite able to execute it as nicely as you see it in your imagination. This partly comes back to practice, but another thing that you can try which to me absolutely transforms the process of art making is: to let go of the outcome.

Art is weird and wonderful, it’s a process, not just paint by numbers. Try and place yourself firmly in the current moment, rather than in the future where this finished (perfect) artwork exists. What can you do now that you enjoy, that is an expression of yourself? Let the art emerge from moment to moment, rather than working towards a fixed outcome.

An example of this might be that you are going to paint a portrait. But instead of trying to make it picture perfect or photo realistic, let it come alive through your personal filter of your mind, hands & body. This is actually where the most original art comes from in my opinion!


3. You need to add more detail

One of the things I notice a lot in the art of beginners is that it somehow looks unfinished or unrefined. It’s not necessarily a lack of technical skill (I think beginner’s art can have a great sense of freedom! As well as art made by kids) but a lack of going back in and making things look complete. It’s probably also to do with confidence. I see this in how people shade faces, they know where to put the shadows and the highlights but they’re not confident enough to make it BOLD. Make the darks really dark and let the highlights pop out!

You’ll be surprised at how a painting can transform by just paying a bit more attention to the details and finishing touches. Pay attention to shadows/highlights, use outlines and shading, create halos around people/objects, add little doodles or dots.


4. You’re working against your supplies

There are no rules about how you must use your art supplies (or which specific supplies to use), but there are definitely ways in which to use them effectively and ways in which to use them that make you want to scream and tear your hair out!

You’ll have to experiment yourself with specific things that feel frustrating that might be solved by a different technique (try Googling or a search on YouTube!), but here are some things that I’ve found frustrating and ideas on how to make them better.

Paper pilling (rubbing off / forming little balls):

-Use gesso first or a layer of acrylics. Make sure this layer is thoroughly dry before continuing

Paint not applying smoothly:
-Dilute slightly with water or matte medium/PVA glue
-Work BIGGER! Tiny fiddly work is especially hard when you’re a beginner. Scale up and then when you’ve gained experience, scale down again
-Use different or better quality brushes

Backgrounds look muddy or brown instead of vibrant (also especially applicable while Gelli printing):
-Try not to mix complementary colours (blue/orange, purple/yellow, red/green)
-Only apply either cool colours (blues/greens/cool purple) or warm colours (red, yellow, orange) together.
-Dry thoroughly in between layers.


5. You’re doing the wrong thing

Why are you doing this? Whose art are you making? I often fall into the trap of seeing other people’s art and admiring it so much that I want to recreate it or I want my art to look like that. So off I go on a very results orientated journey, which I often find very frustrating and unfulfilling. So ask yourself what your goal is. How do you want to feel? What do you really want to make? How do you like using your supplies? Why do you want to create art in the first place?

There are no right answers to these questions, just your answers that will give you an insight into your personal whys and hows.


If you’ve got any tips to share, please post them below in the comments! Can’t wait to hear what your favourite methods are for enjoying making art.

The Duality of Life – Mixed Media Workshop & Giveaway!

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Exploring Our Feelings

I’ve been on this journey lately (maybe all my life, but I just didn’t know it yet?! Lol) to incorporate ALL the feelings into my life, not just the ‘nice’ or socially approved ones. I really need that, and from looking at my kids and wanting the best for them: I think the whole world needs that.

We have these feelings whether we like them or not and it’s our job to give them space, let them exist and let them teach us. And preferably not bash people over the head when we’re really angry, if you know what I’m saying (but not suppress the anger! Because I think it’s the suppression of feelings that makes you feel like bashing people. I’m being funny but I hope you get what I’m saying).

So, this was the starting point when I developed my new mixed media workshop The Duality Of Life. It’s a mini course that teaches you straightforward mixed media techniques, but also explores more deeply the conflicting feelings that are inside us and encourages you to allow them room to breathe.

I’m very excited about sharing this with you and I hope you will enjoy learning the techniques and it will be a truly enriching experience for you!

Duality-of-Life-Workshop01

What This Course Will Do For You

Techniques you will learn

  • working with a variety of art supplies
  • creating a textured background
  • sketching & shading a front facing portrait

Concepts we will explore

  • finding harmony in conflicting emotions
  • exploring your inner emotional landscape
  • embracing imperfection & finding joy in the process

What is included

  • one hour of detailed video footage with voiceover
  • in-depth PDF walkthrough with photos
  • printable template of the face
  • supply list with suggestions for alternatives
  • all materials are downloadable and yours to keep
  • no time limit: access course at any time & work at your own pace
  • access to Facebook group to share work & get feedback
  • automatic instant access upon payment & signup

Click here to read the full course description, download the supply list and register for instant access

Giveaway

Celebrating the launch of a new workshop wouldn’t be complete without a giveaway!! One lucky person will win a spot on The Duality of Life!

To enter please:
1. sign up to my newsletter (opens in a new window)
2. leave a comment telling me what it would mean to you to take this course

Bonus Entries
For bonus entries please SHARE this post publicly on your social media (use the ‘Share this’ buttons below this post). One entry per unique share. Make sure you let me know in the comments where I can find your share links!

Giveaway closes at 11.59pm UK time on Sunday 5 July. If the winner has already purchased the course they will be entitled to a refund or they can gift their place.

Register now for instant access to all course materials

Embracing Your Inner Darkness

I’m afraid of my inner darkness. That might not be a very surprising statement, because I don’t know many people going around declaring how much they luuuuuuuurve their dark stuff. (Other words for this might be inner demons, or issues, or icky stuff, or what do you call it?)

I had a realisation the other day though: I have this wonderful platform for exploring my darkness in a safe place.

ART

And yet I don’t. I’m afraid of what might come out. I’m afraid it might not be pretty. I’m afraid I’ll sit down with the intention to connect with some darkness and then for nothing to happen because I don’t even know HOW to do it.

You may have noticed I like to draw pretty faces. Or cute whimsies. I love stuff that looks pretty, cute and colourful. It’s definitely the type of art I enjoy looking at (as evidenced by my Pinterest). I actually even enjoy creating cute & pretty stuff.

It’s not like I don’t like what I create, but when I think about it, I might not feel a deep satisfaction with what I create lately.

This is kind of funny, because a while back I broke through the block of not enjoying the result of what I created (can you say: inner critic?). Then a while after that I broke through the block of not enjoying the process.

And now I’m finding there is another block to encounter & work through. It’s scary, but it’s actually also exciting! It sends such a strong message to me that this is a journey. That whatever we learn and learn to deal with, we’re never done because there’s always MORE. It keeps life (and art!) from getting boring.

So I’m going to be digging in. Trying to access and let flow the scary stuff. Let my own intuition and inner landscape guide me.

Are you with me? Ready to face the scary stuff in a safe space?

Half the time I don't know wtf I'm doing, but I think I have this wish to display to the world that I've got it all figured out. That stuff I do is intentional, you know, with purpose. But I realise I hide behind it. That I pretend even to myself that I know all the steps. It's the really letting go that I'm scared of. On this spread I'm trying. But it's still actively TRYING rather than just LETTING or BEING. It's so scary. It's so exciting. I just want to stick with it and see where this journey takes me. #intuitiveart #lettinggo #artismyteacher #mixedmedia #artjournal #irisimpressionsart

Flowers Grow Out Of Darkness | mixed media in A5 art journal | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

Pink Hills | mixed media in A5 art journal | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow