If You’re Scared Of Making Art

This is for you if you’re feeling scared or intimidated about making art. If you’re having trouble getting started. If you get so deep into the not-good-enough-itis that creating seems impossible. If you need some gentle loving encouragement.

(I recorded this video for Rainbow Journal students, but I thought this might benefit everyone who struggles with these things. You can still sign up!)

So, you know you want to create, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Lots of things can hold us back.

I remember a few years back when during the day at work I’d think constantly about making art, I was overflowing with ideas. Then when I was back at home at my art desk I would be totally paralysed, all the ideas were just gone and I’d end up just watching TV all evening. It wasn’t very satisfying, but the fear was real and hard to deal with.

First of all, I want you to know that it is OK and I understand if you have obstacles or issues. You have some stuff you might not be OK with and need to work through, but YOU are OK and you are wonderful J Be kind to yourself. Take yourself by the hand as if you’re your own caring guardian angel who only wants the best for you and let’s explore the reasons you might be scared. That way you can understand what drives you and stop your fears from having such a hold over you.

Some fears you might be experiencing:

Fear of creating something bad or not being good enough

Hey, you are doing an ecourse! Yay you for taking a positive step to kicking this fear in the butt! You are allowed to practice! You’re allowed to be at a place where your art feels sucky and you’re allowed to get better. Please know that YOU are not your art. You are ALWAYS ALREADY good enough.

Fear of the blank page.

Hey, I’m gonna talk you through everything we do! The first step after creating our journal is painting the pages in bright colours, we won’t even have a blank page to deal with!

Fear of what we might learn about ourselves.

Maybe our dark feelings will come out? Maybe stuff will come up and we won’t know what to do with it? This is difficult, but please talk about it. With us as a supportive group or with the people around you who care. Learning about ourselves is always a good thing, that way things can come into the light rather than controlling us from under the surface.

Comparing ourselves.

So many amazing artists out there, how can we not compare? I love this quote: “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle” you are exactly where you need to be. You’re creating YOUR work. Own it!

Fear of criticism.

I think when we fear other people’s criticism so much that it stops us creating, we’re really scared of our OWN criticism. We criticize ourselves and when someone else does it too, we use that as a validation of our feelings which makes the criticism feel 10 times worse. You can find criticism everywhere (especially inside your own head), so choose to follow your path and create anyway.

Fear of creating something good.

It was a fluke right? I’ll never be able to repeat that! Or…. Try to let go of the outcome. That was that artwork… the next artwork is the next artwork. It doesn’t need to be compared, it just is.

Thanks for letting me yak about this! To me it’s actually one of the biggest and most important things, understanding what drives us, what holds us back and what steps we can take towards being on our true path of joy.

Thank you for listening and as parting wisdom let me reassure you that:

You are wonderful. You are enough.

 

 

 

Art Supply Junkie – Acrylic Inks & India Ink

Inks

Watch the video below:

What are acrylic & India inks?

Both types of ink are highly pigmented and very fluid. Acrylic ink acts like acrylic paint in terms of coverage and finish (kind of glossy & plastic-y), except its viscosity is much more runny than paint. India ink is a traditional writing & printing medium and is now also used a lot for drawing and of course mixed media! India ink is not always waterproof. The brand I use (Bombay India Ink by Dr Ph Martin) is waterproof once dry and it also comes in more colours than just black.

Inks01

Inks02

Why do I love it?

Unlike paint, ink just FLOWS, which is awesome. When you dilute regular paints to make them flow better you dilute the colour too, but inks are fluid with the same amazing concentration of pigment.

I started my love for inks with black India ink. When applied with a brush it is so much easier to make lines and swirls and script writing than it is when you’re using paint. It just flows off the brush very easily.

Inks03

Inks05

It is also really easy to do drips and splatters with ink. You can make splatters either straight from the dropper, with an old toothbrush or by tapping a brush. For drips you simply squeeze the dropper at the top of a page and hold the page at an angle to let the ink run down it. You can use a straw to blow it in different directions. Then finally I love using ink with a dip pen. Instant pretty writing! White acrylic ink is amazing for writing on top of your mixed media artwork.

Inks04

Things to try

  • Use a dip pen and do some journaling with it. No special technique, although it’s easier to do when you write in script rather than loose letters
  • Use ink with a brush and paint as you usually would. Acrylic inks are especially nice for this.
  • Splatter & drip to your heart’s content! Experiment with letting the different colour inks flow into each other, or drying the inks between each new application.
  • Write swirly text straight from the dropper applicator
  • Draw shapes with the dropper applicator or make dots

How do you use acrylic ink or India ink in your artwork? Leave a comment to let me know!

Art Supply Junkie – Oil Pastels & Oil Bars

Oil-Pastels

Watch the video below:

What are oil pastels?

Oil pastel (also called wax oil crayon) is a painting and drawing medium with characteristics similar to pastels and wax crayons. Unlike “soft” or “French” pastel sticks, which are made with a gum or methyl cellulose binder, oil pastels consist of pigment mixed with a non-drying oil and wax binder. The surface of an oil pastel painting is therefore less powdery, but more difficult to protect with a fixative. Oil pastels provide a harder edge than “soft” or “French” pastels but are more difficult to blend. – Wikipedia

The way I would describe them is like crayons in shape, but more like lipstick in substance. They are soft and creamy and heaven to blend with your fingers. The brand I have and would highly recommend are Sennelier. Expensive, but amazing to work with. I buy singles of the colours I know I’ll use rather than buy an expensive box with loads of colours I’ll never reach for.

The thing that is important to know about oil pastels, is that they are not water soluble. That means it’s not very easy to use them in conjunction with watersoluble media (such as acrylics or watercolours) as they will simply not ‘stick’ to the oily medium. As a general rule you can use oil pastels on top of watersoluble media, but not underneath.

Oil-Pastels02

What are oil bars?

Oil stick, oil bar, or oilstick, is an art medium. It is produced in a stick form similar to that of a crayon or oil pastel. It is distinguished from oil pastel, to which it may appear similar, in that the oil used is comparatively volatile, causing a skin to develop on exposed surfaces. – Wikipedia

The oil bar I have is made by Winsor Newton. It looks like a huge oil pastel and in terms of application it feels quite similar to oil pastels (although due to the size you have less precision). The way it differs is that it’s like oil paint in stick form. This means that it actually ‘dries’ after a few days by forming a film over it.

Oil-Pastels01

Why do I love them?

It’s creamy spreadable goodness in pastel form! I AM IN LOOOOOVE! I love blending these with my fingers. They blend really well with oil pastels and even with acrylics (you can watch a video here where I demonstrate this technique)

The amazing thing to me is their drying properties. If you mix them in with oil pastels they still dry to a film, so it’s a wonderful way of making sure your oil pastels dry without having to use a fixative.

You have to have patience with the drying process, it generally takes about 24 hours (depending on how thickly they’re applied) to no longer be creamy to the touch. It probably takes several days to a week to dry fully. When I use it in my art journals I leave the page open for a few days and if I do need to close the journal I put a protective blank page in between.

Oil-Pastels03

Oil-Pastels04

Things to try

  • Apply oil bar liberally and blend out with your fingers. Add shading/colours with oil pastels and blend into the oil bar.
  • Apply oil bar liberally and blend in fluid acrylics with your fingers.
  • Write over oily media with a Stabilo All pencil
  • Scratch into a layer of oil bar/pastel to create interesting texture
  • Use oil pastel in conjunction with beeswax. Oil pastels will work both under and over beeswax.
  • Melt your oil pastels and spread them around with a heat tool/quilting iron (best to use cheaper oil pastels for this).
  • Use oil pastels as a resist (apply oil pastels, leaving space around them, then apply a wash of watercolour over the top)

How do you use your oil pastels and oil bars? Leave a comment to let me know!

Art Supply Junkie – Acrylic Paint Sprays

Acrylic-Sprays

Watch the video below:

What are acrylic paint sprays?

It is simply very fluid acrylic paint in a spray bottle. This means that when it dries it cannot be reactivated by water. The ones I have are from the DecoArt Media line. Art Anthology also do a spray although I haven’t used it myself so I can’t comment on it and I’m not 100% sure it’s acrylic.

Misters01

Why do I love them?

I get frustrated by sprays that reactivate when using wet media on top. It usually causes a muddy mess in my work. So getting the fun of spraying and knowing the paint won’t reactivate when I work on top is excellent! Depending on the colour/type of paint some of these are opaque, which adds another interesting dimension when working with these.

Misters05

Misters03

You can control the spray that comes out of the bottle. If you press down hard, you get a wide fine mist. If you press down a bit more slowly, you get a more targeted spray. If you press down really slowly you get splatter droplets.

Misters04

Misters02

Things to try

  • Layer 2-3 different spray colours using different pressure for each layer. Start with a full layer of the first colour, then add a layer where you press down more slowly for smaller areas of colour and finish off with splatters by pressing down very slowly
  • Spray through a stencil. Remember you can use the negative image by flipping the stencil over once it has paint on it. (Clean your stencils! I’m speaking from experience… I’m usually really lazy and paint isn’t too bad, but I once forgot to clean my stencil after using modeling paste…. I got muscle ache from all the scrubbing I had to do)
  • Make your own spray. Use high flow acrylics undiluted or dilute your (fluid) acrylics. You can get spray bottles at the drug store / chemist
  • Spray 3D elements. Either to use in art or as home decoration (ornaments, vases etc)

How do you use acrylic paint sprays? Leave a comment to let me know!

Art Supply Junkie – Brayers

Brayers

Watch the video below:

What is a brayer?

Let me introduce you to one of the most awesome art tools in existence!! A brayer is simply a paint roller, traditionally used in printmaking to transfer paint onto the printing plate. They can be made of a variety of materials but the ones you see most in the mixed media art journaling world are made of rubber.

Brayers01

Brayers04

Why do I love them?

It is an instant texture and layering tool. Using a brayer to apply paint instead of a brush gives you a very interesting texture and look. It’s quite random what you get which is part of the fun. A layer of paint applied with a brayer provides a sort of push-pull effect, so you can usually see part of the previous layer through it.

I love using a brayer to create a quick background. A bit of gesso and one or two colours rolled out over a journal page and you have got rid of the blank page and created interesting texture within about 20 seconds.

Brayers03

Another reason a brayer is invaluable is if you have a Gelli plate. You can apply the paint quickly and evenly. Alternatively you can use it to apply paint in a circular motion or use the edge of the brayer to etch designs into the paint.

Brayers05

Brayers02

Things to try

  • Try using a brayer with gesso
  • Experiment with low to high viscosity paints (e.g. fluid and heavy body acrylics)
  • Brayer some colour into an area and then make a glaze with the same colour and brush over
  • If a layer of paint seems too thick and you want to see what’s underneath, either remove some with a baby wipe or keep on rolling the brayer to transfer the paint to different areas and pull bits off

How do you use a brayer in your artwork? Leave a comment to let me know!

Art Supply Junkie – Gelli Plate

Gelli-Plate

Watch the video below:

What is a gelli plate / gel printing plate?

A gelli plate, also called gelatin printing plate, is an art supply used to create monoprints. Monoprinting is a form of printmaking where the print can only be made once, unlike most printmaking, where the same image is reproduced identically many times.

The plate made by Gelli Arts is a very durable mineral gel plate (it does not contain animal products so it’s suitable if you’re vegetarian/vegan). You can also make your own plate easily and cheaply with gelatin (supermarket) and glycerin (drug store/chemist).

Gelli-Plate01

Gelli-Plate04

Why do I love it?

Where to start??? There are SO many possibilities with a gelli plate. The results you can get are so diverse. No one print will be the same. The process is infinitely fun and diverse. You can simply roll paint with a brayer, you can stamp textures or images, you can scrape paint away with brushes or other tools, you can paint onto the plate.

The traditional way of using it is loading the plate up with paint using a brayer, putting a sheet of paper on top and pulling the paper off (this is why people talk about ‘pulling prints’). However, I love using my plate in my journals, stamping it directly onto the pages. You can do one layer or many layers to build up interest.

Gelli-Plate02

Gelli-Plate03

Things to try

  • Make your own gelli plate
  • Brayer a layer of one or two colours. Stamp images or textures, put masks or stencils on the plate. Pull a print. Then gently remove your masks etc and pull a ‘ghost print’ from the leftover paint
  • Add a bit of water to the plate after pulling the ghost print and pull another print
  • Experiment with expensive paints and cheap paints. How do they react, what do you like?
  • You can clean your plate with a baby wipe to get all paint residue off. Water & gentle soap works too
  • Instead of cleaning the plate, ‘clean’ it with gel medium or white acrylics. Best done at the end of a printing session when there is paint residue left on your plate. Add a fairly thick layer of gel medium or white acrylics. Firmly press a page onto the gelli plate and let dry completely (12-24 hours), gently pull off and it will have pulled all the dried up paint residue too, giving you a very unique print

Do you have a gelli plate? How do you like to use yours? Leave a comment to let me know!

Art Supply Junkie – Fluid Acrylics

Fluid-Acrylics

Watch the video below:

What are fluid acrylics?

Fluid acrylics, or flow, soft body acrylics, have a lower viscosity but generally have the same heavy pigmentation of the heavy body acrylics. – Wikipedia

What that means in everyday language is that the paint is more fluid than regular acrylics, but the colours are just as intense (i.e. it’s not just diluted paint the way you could achieve yourself by adding water).

Acrylics02

Acrylics03

Why do I love them?

The importance to me of this is that the paint flows and spreads more easily, and it’s much easier to get control over the paint when using a brush.

There isn’t really anything super magical about fluid acrylics, but I love them because they really make the painting process pleasurable. The paint does what I want! I like the fact that it’s quick drying, because I hate waiting! It’s also very easy to dilute with water to add splatters to your work, or mix with a glaze to create translucent effects.

I recommend using the highest quality you can afford. I use Golden which is expensive, but it goes a long way, you only have to use a tiiiiiny bit. I have also used Deco Art fluid acrylics, which I definitely recommend as a more budget conscious option while still giving great quality (but not as amazing as Golden).

Acrylics01

Things to try

  • Add some water and create splatters (tap your paintbrush or use an old toothbrush and scrape your finger along it to create a fine spray)
  • Add some glazing liquid (about 50/50 paint/liquid), apply to your work, let it dry for 1-2 minutes and wipe away with a baby wipe
  • Fluid acrylics work great on a Gelli plate, especially if used in conjunction with heavier body acrylics (see here for a tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WFuxvQQH4M)
  • Use a brayer and brayer fluid acrylics to create a background

How do you use your fluid acrylics? Leave a comment to let me know!

Art Supply Junkie – Art Journals

Art-Journals

Watch the video below:

What is an art journal?

It’s a journal you make art in. It really is as simple as that. There are no rules for art journals. I know there seems to be a type of ‘art journal movement’ that makes it look like art journaling is associated with a certain style or creating a certain look, but it really isn’t. I also like to call it a ‘visual journal’, it sounds a bit less intimidating.

Anything goes with art journaling

 

To me something is an art journal as soon as you veer from using just the written word and start adding pictures, drawings, painting, collage, blobs of colour, you name it.

Journals01

Journals03

Why do I love them?

You can express your thoughts and explore your feelings in a super safe place. You close the book when you’re done, you don’t have to show it to anyone, but it’s there for you to re-explore or turn to when you want.

I love the way a filled art journal looks, when you can hardly close it anymore and all the pages fan out and you see the colours on the fore edge (that’s the bookbinding term for the edge of a book opposite the spine edge).

My art journals are so dear to me and I get super excited about getting to work in them!

Journals02

Journals05

What is the best art journal?

I used to have some silly self-imposed rule that I could only have one art journal and had to finish it before getting another. I don’t know where that came from, but I’ve since realized that it’s great to have more than one journal. Journals can be different sizes and dimensions and different types of paper which all adds to the fun and multitude of uses.

I don’t know if there is one ‘best art journal’ out there. Different people like different things and certain journals might be more suitable for a specific purpose. These are the journals I am currently working in, the ones with an * are my current favourites:

*Falkiner’s – A4 with 300gsm hot pressed watercolour paper

*Dylusions – large (approx. 11×8”) with manila and white cardstock

Daler Rowney – A5 with 150gsm sketching paper

Seawhite of Brighton –20x20cm with 160gsm cartridge paper wire bound

Moleskine – 9x14cm with sketchbook paper

Journals04

Things to try

  • When picking an art journal think of the following questions: Do you want to work small or big? Do you use a lot of wet media (go for heavy watercolour paper)? Do you use a lot of 3D elements (go for a spiral bound or a journal with fewer pages)? Do you like working portrait or landscape orientation?
  • Start a new journal and give it a specific theme (e.g. faces journal, experimentation journal, lettering journal, dream journal)
  • Try using the whole spread (the two open pages) or just one page
  • Turn your journal 90 degrees and work in a different orientation
  • Experiment with gessoing your pages first or not and see how different paints react

What art journals do you have? Leave a comment to let me know!

Why Do I Create Art?

why-do-i-create-art[image by Fré Sonneveld]

The simple (and slightly vague) answer is, because it fills my soul. I can’t not create art. I live a full life raising two kids and running a business so it often happens that I can’t create art for a few days. When that happens I just don’t feel quite right, I start getting frustrated and I just feel that pull of needing to create!

I guess that all sounds lovely and divinely inspired, but I want to level with you:

It hasn’t always been this way for me

For years I dabbled with art, stopping and starting, struggling to find a groove, not finding it to be that amazing creative holy grail that I thought it would be. I looked at other people creating their amazing art in their own unique style and it felt SO FAR REMOVED from my reality. It was pretty disheartening.

I kept coming back to it though. There was an attraction to art and to creating art that I couldn’t deny, but I had to do some work on coming to it from the right place, even though at first I didn’t even realise I was coming to it from the wrong place. That ‘place’ I am talking about is how you approach making art in your mind and in your heart.

And I’ll tell you a secret:

It has nothing to do with whether you can or can’t draw

I didn’t fully grasp until the beginning of 2014, when I picked ‘journey’ as my word of the year, that I had been approaching art in a results focussed way, rather than as a process. I wanted to create certain paintings, inspired by what I loved seeing other artists create. I thought the joy was in the completed piece, in the end result. I never thought about how I wanted the creating process to feel or whether that could be something enjoyable too.

Or I thought it was one of those elusive things reserved for other people. They know how to enjoy creating art, but I don’t. Or I attached it to skill: I will start enjoying creating art when I can draw a photo realistic portrait.

I started focussing more on the process. What did I like doing, what materials did I enjoy using, what was it I needed to let go of, what was it I needed to invite more of into my heart & mind? The biggest change that this brought was the realisation that what other people do or like or use does NOT have to be same same as me.

That realisation set me free

I admit that I still get tripped up with this sometimes. I look at the work of artists I admire and I start thinking that because I LOVE their work, somehow my art needs to be like theirs.

It doesn’t.

Asking myself what I like doing and the other questions above, has been transformational. Your answers will probably be completely different from mine: CELEBRATE THAT!

Get to know your own unique loveable fallible quirky amazing self

I realised my passion is doing faces. I don’t like ‘colouring in’ (illustration-type work). I ADORE acrylics but I don’t care as much for watersoluble media. I need(ed) to let go of perfection and the wish for my art to look like other people’s art. I needed to invite more trust in, that my work is just right, right now.

Reading back what I’ve written above makes me feel so excited and amazed that I’ve come so far! It also makes me hopeful that if you are on any stage along a similar journey that you will find reading my story helpful and it will help you be a happier person and artist!

Why do YOU create art?

Let me know in the comments below.

Stop Calling Me Talented

Let’s stop thinking of ‘talented’ as a rigid concept that is inherent (you are born with it), and let’s start thinking about it as something more fluid. Talent can be built on and it isn’t required in order to have fun or do something really well.

When people like my art they often tell me ‘Oh you’re so talented!’. It’s a lovely compliment to receive, but it always makes me feel a bit funny. ‘Talented’ seems such a rigid concept. You can’t become talented, you either are or you aren’t. It also doesn’t take into account the hard work that came before it. It seems the most prevalent attitude is: I am talented therefore I can paint a nice picture, not: I have practiced therefore I can paint a nice picture.

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.  Stephen King  | www.iris-impressions.com

I’ve touched upon this before in my article about Deserving to Do Art. There seems to be this notion that there are people who are already inherently good at something, and therefore they are allowed to pursue that thing. On the other side there are people who are not inherently good at something, and therefore they shouldn’t bother.

Yes, there are people who pick up a brush for the first time when they’re 20 (or 30 or 40) and create amazing paintings. There are child savants who create art beyond anything I will ever dream of achieving.

That’s not the norm!

If you’re reading this it’s likely you’re more like me: enthusiastic and passionate, but not ridiculously talented in any way. If you think my paintings have anything to do with talent, think again. Instead, it’s hours and hours of practice. It was picking up a brush and creating something that looked crap. It made me never want to paint again, but instead I said ‘never mind’ and kept creating. Until one day (honestly, this day came MUCH MUCH later than I would’ve wanted!) I painted something and thought ‘hey, I actually quite like that!’

The thing that makes me sad though is that often with the compliment from the first paragraph comes a feeling that is left unsaid: ‘you’re talented, but I’m not’. People lament and say they ‘can’t paint faces’. Back to that feeling of you can only do it if you’re already magically good at it; if you’re talented. Want to know a secret? I couldn’t paint faces either! I took some online courses and I practiced, and now I can!

Stop Calling Me Talented | comparison image before and after practisingLOOKIE!! I practised!!! I actually have a soft spot for the one on the left too, even if I can see all the flaws. It looks like she was created with a lot of freedom, even though I didn’t yet have the skill to know where to put the eyes or do the shading.

It’s so easy to get trapped in that thinking of not being able to acquire a skill (or attributing it to the magical ‘talent’, which makes it even more elusive and ‘not for us mere mortals’), especially once we leave full-time education. We’re formed, we’re done, can’t change now!

BUT WE CAN!!! We just need to want it enough!

And we need to put in the work. Don’t let that put you off though, the work can be fun. You can make it fun. Remember how kids learn? By playing! Get out your art supplies and play. Talent schmalent. Fun and fulfillment is where it’s at, and that is achieved by enjoying the process.

In the video below I embrace playfulness in art and create a journal spread based around giving myself permission to create.

Let me know in the comments what you think of the relationship between talent and doing things well!