my creative resolution

Painting, Illustration, Surface Design, and Animation


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Learning by painting every day

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I’m still amazed that painting every day is such a learning process. Some days of course aren’t great and/or they don’t yield great results, but other days I try things and learn so much, make so much progress – regardless of what the final result is. I guess when you create every day, you’re picking up where you left off, it’s a continuous thing. If I have a thought to try a different color for the skin or leave more white paper or whatever, I remember it the next day. When you paint only here and there – you’re practically starting over every time, instead of building on the previous day.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been very mindful of trying to capture highlights and shadows. And since I started working in the beach theme I’ve been thinking a lot about skin tones and the shadows on the skin. I was very happy with the results of the skin of the little girl. I mixed yellow ochre and permanent rose and then mixed in white gouache. The white gouache adds a creaminess that I like. For the shadows of the skin tone I mixed in a little franch ultramarine. When I can, I add the compliment of a color to achieve the shadow instead of black. I was happy with the results. 😀


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Why Yes! My inner critic IS a big jerk

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I’m currently reading “Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk: and Other Truths About Being Creative” by Danielle Krysa. I was hooked as soon as I read the title. My inner critic prevented me from being creative for many years and from having the confidence to major in art. It took about 20 years for the desire to be creative to win out over my inner critic. The winning argument I came up with was, “I don’t care if I’m good or not, creating makes me happy, and practicing will help me get better.”

I remember reading an article years ago about a female artist. I thought her life seemed so cool when she described her process and what inspired her. She lived in Maine by the coast and that inspired her artwork. I wondered, “Who gave her permission to be an artist, and create whatever inspired her? Her parents, her partner?” I don’t know if I realized immediately how ridiculous that thought was. Of course SHE gave herself permission. Maybe her parents or partner supported her art along the way (and supported her decision to be an artist), but she believed in herself.

Shortly after reading the article the desire to work on what inspired me took over. It was no longer enough to create the assignments the teacher in my continuing education drawing class gave me. I wanted to know, “What would I create if I was left alone to explore?” Discovering what inspires me has been the fun part of my creative journey these past 3 years.

“Art is in me. I couldn’t keep it buried.”
– Martha Rich, Artist/Teacher
(from “Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk” by Danielle Krysa)

Currently I’m inspired by my favorite place – the beach. I ignore my inner critic by sitting down and creating every day…and often surprising myself by the results. Has your inner critic held you back?

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Practice practice practice

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My kids are asking why I am painting the same wave over and over. I’m practicing I tell them. My younger son also asked why I was painting the beach and not a snowy scene like what’s outside our window. I’m more into my beach painting project than a week ago. I’m not bored in the least and I feel like I’m learning so much by focusing on the same theme. Of course I don’t want it to be the same painting every time – and it hasn’t been. I did spend time today looking through our old photos for some subjects to paint – at the beach of course. 😉


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Tips on painting waves in watercolor

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As the snow was falling yesterday, I was inside watching YouTube videos on painting waves. Why has it been so long since I watched instructional videos? It is so helpful watching someone break down their steps as they paint. After watching 3 short videos, I came away with several tips.

  • Determine what direction the light is coming from
  • Create the waves with dark and light areas.
  • Where is the detail in the painting? And therefore where is the eye drawn to? Contrasts also draw the eye.
  • Keep slivers of white (the paper) which suggests waves in the distance. Add dark areas in front of these.
  • Try using a flat brush
  • Blotting with a tissue can create the spray of a wave
  • Dark edges makes the foam look thicker
  • Wet sand has blue in it
  • Horizontal strokes in your painting make things look flatter
  • Use other colors in the sky, not just blue
  • There is a reflection in things that are wet and shiny – like wet sand
  • The position of the horizon line effects the vantage point of the painting (where you are standing on the beach)
  • The water is greener closer to the shore
  • Colors in a painting – use the same colors throughout your whole painting

As I practiced and thought about these tips, I felt my wave painting had improved.

Here are links to the videos I watched:

 


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Week 1 of painting the beach

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I’m really enjoying focusing on painting the beach this month. I kicked it off with a walk on the beach – of course taking lots of photos. I’ve taken the pressure off myself to finish a painting every day and post it. Instead I’m enjoying the process of mixing paints to find the right colors for the ocean and the sand, of starting one painting, and adding details to another, of trying different techniques to capture the depth and movement of the water, and of looking through our old photos to use as reference.

My goal is to sit every day for about an hour and paint or draw the beach. I wrote out a list of prompts, but am only using them as a guide on days I don’t know what to focus on. So far, 6+ days in (I started early), it is very relaxing, but I do worry that without the motivation/accountability to post a final piece, I’ll revert to old habits and not finish anything.

For now I’m going to continue as is. I may not have 6 completed paintings, but I’ve definitely learned a thing or two this week. I can re-evaluate how things are going next week.


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Creative Habits

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Early last year, I was struggling to get back into a creative routine. I spent a lot of time thinking I should draw or paint, but for some reason I couldn’t motivate myself to pull out my art supplies and get going. I knew starting was the hardest part, but still I couldn’t do it. By chance I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, “Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits – to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life.” Within a few pages, I had the answer to my problem. I had fallen out of the habit of being creative. It was harder for me to do it, because I had to make the conscious decision to do it. It was an internal willpower battle every time and was no longer a habit – something I did without thinking.

Rubin perfectly states it here,

“When we change our habits, we change our lives. We can use decision making to choose the habits we want to form, we can use willpower to get the habit started; then – and this is the best part – we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. We take our hands off the wheel of decision, our foot off the gas of willpower, and rely on the cruise control of habits.”

This was an “aha” moment for me. I immediately took action, following Rubin’s advice to try to make creativity a habit again. I highly recommend you read this book!

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A visit to the beach

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We visited the beach on New Year’s Day. It was the perfect way to kick off my January “painting the beach” project. This is the beach I grew up just a few blocks from. Having the beach as our “backyard” was a special thing that instilled in me a love for the beach and the ocean. It’s no wonder it’s often the subject of my paintings.

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It was a sunny but chilly day.


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The power of creative prompts

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Happy New Year! I took the last few days “off” from my daily drawing and painting, but I’m gearing up to spend every day in January painting the beach.

I did spend a day or two getting a head start on this project. But there were more days where I thought about getting started but – without actually approaching the paints and paper – I didn’t know where to begin and quickly lost all motivation. Last month Marion who joined me in the Christmas countdown wrote – about following my prompts -that she liked not having to think about what to draw.

This really stuck with me and as I looked over the last two months, first following World Watercolor Group’s food prompts and then my own Christmas prompts, I realized how right Marion was. It makes it so much easier to not have to think about what to paint. Instead I would immediately jump to how I would interpret that prompt. Often I’d check the prompt the night before and have a plan when I started in the morning.

This week I struggled with motivating myself because even though I knew I wanted to paint the beach, I wasn’t sure how to get started. The “beach” is too broad. To overcome this stumbling block I wrote myself a prompt list for every day in January.

Focusing on painting the beach is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. For some reason I haven’t been able to do it beyond a painting here or there. When I saw how much I accomplished in November and December by following one theme each month I knew committing myself this month was part of the solution. That and telling YOU. Just like 3 years ago when I started this blog and told you I’m going to be creative on a regular basis. You hold me accountable and help me reach my goals. So thank you. 😊

What are your creative plans for the new year?


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11 art supplies I can’t paint without!

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Painting Essentials:

  1. Canson Multimedia sketchbook. Love the thicker paper in this sketchbook. I can add watercolor without the pages buckling.
  2. Fluid Cold Press watercolor paper. I especially love the square shape of this high quality thick watercolor paper!
  3. Uniball signo 207 bold gel pen. I love how smooth these pens are when I want to add ink details to my paintings.
  4. Palette with cover.
  5. Painters tape – to tape down my paper
  6. Grumbacher watercolor brush. Favorite sizes: 8, 6, 4, and 2
  7. Van Gogh watercolor paints
  8. Holbein Gouache mixing set of 5. I love adding the opaque look of gouache to my paintings!
  9. Derwent drawing pencils. Especially with figures, I like to sketch in pencil before starting a painting.
  10. Kneaded eraser. For erasing and leaving only faint lines when I begin to paint.
  11. Paper towel – I have to have a piece of paper towel to suck water off the brush when I need a drier brush. Or to blot the brush after dipping in the water. It’s a good way to check the brush is clean.

Other Essentials:

  • iPad – I do everything on my iPad – google reference photos, take photos, write posts, create digital art, look through and post on Instagram, read WordPress blogs, and more. I made the investment when my Kindle cracked and it was the best thing I did. I couldn’t live without it!
  • ZXU Stylus pen – for drawing on the ipad. I use the apps Adobe Draw and Adobe Sketch because they link up with Photoshop and Illustrator on my desktop.

Other stuff in my supply tray:

  1. Reeves watercolor pencils for adding details
  2. Tombow markers for handletter

Recycled stuff:

  1. Tray from a holiday gift “basket” to hold everything
  2. Plastic egg container for mixing colors to keep the paints in my palette “pure”
  3. Back of the watercolor paper pads – to tape down my paper so it doesn’t buckle when it gets wet
  4. Recycled container (Ricotta or sour cream) for water
  5. Cracked mug for my brushes. It was too pretty to throw away!

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7 tips to keep your New Year’s resolution

my creative resolution

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I came across a note I wrote six months into my 2014 resolution to “draw, paint, create.” I wrote simply “just pull out the paints.” I realize now, that keeping a resolution isn’t that simple.

I’m celebrating the second year of keeping my creative resolution, and committing to a third. There are ups and downs to any resolution. There are times when you are into it, and times when you aren’t. Sometimes it’s hard to just “pull out the paints” (or eat a salad, or put on your running shoes, etc.).

Here are 7 tips to keep your New Year’s resolution:

  1. Make a “positive” resolution. Your resolution should be about what you are going to do, not what you are not going to do. For example – Eat healthy vs. Stop eating junk.
  2. Research your resolution. Read books, magazines, blogs, or watch videos about your topic. Researching your topic will help…

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