Are You Ready to Improve Your Art?

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If you’re looking for someone to give you constructive feedback, I would love the opportunity to help you take your art to the next level. It can be scary to receive criticism about your art, but it’s a risk worth taking.

When I was in college, I was surrounded by other artists. I would look at their work to be inspired (and give criticism) and they would look at my art and give me criticism. At first, critique was terrifying. But it quickly became one of my favorite parts of making art.

Why? What’s so great about putting yourself on the line and hearing what people have to say about your art?

Improve – Whether you made mistakes or your work is as close to perfect as possible, critique will help you see your artwork better. It will ultimately help you identify your weaknesses and your strengths. You’ll strive to work harder and smarter because improving your art, and understanding how to improve it, is very rewarding.

Fresh Perspective – Sometimes we artists get too close to our work. You might need a fresh pair of eyes to help you see what you cannot see for yourself.

Bond – If a trained artist is giving honest, but kind feedback, you create an opportunity to bond with them. If you ask a friend or family member who isn’t an artist, they might not really know what to say. And they probably don’t want to hurt your feelings. So, they end up just telling you they like it. Or worse, they inadvertently hurt your feelings because they only point out what’s wrong with the piece. Which brings me to my next point:

Thick Skin – Creative people must develop a thick skin. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there creatively. The more practiced you are at receiving criticism, the better you’ll be able to handle it when someone bashes your art.

Free Will – Ultimately, it’s your artwork. It’s your vision. You can take it or leave it. Critique gives you the opportunity to practice free will and stand up for your artwork.

These definitely are not the only reasons why critique is so valuable to artists, but they’re some of my favorites. Art Critique is a new service I am offering. If you are ready to improve your art, go ahead and start today.

I’m offering 2 Critique choices:

  • A Quick Critique – I’ll take a quick look and give quick feedback. This is perfect if you just have a little bit for me to look at.
  • In – Depth Critique – I’ll spend more time and give more thorough feedback. This is perfect if you have a lot for me to look at.

You can find more details about my Critique service at the top of my blog, under Art Critique. Here’s the link: Go Here.

I can’t wait to look at your art, and join you in your risk taking adventure as an artist.

Getting Better at Figure Drawing

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Aside from drawing pumpkins, I’ve been working on improving my figure drawings. My goal is to be able to draw people from my imagination . . . easier said than done though. It’s been a little frustrating, but very rewarding whenever I see improvement. I’ve mostly been sketching simple stick figures to get comfortable with proportion and movement.

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I grabbed an old sketchbook and started filling up empty pages and empty space with as many stick figures as I could stand to do. It’s actually a lot of fun creating little scenes for my stick figures. And I’m able to see my mistakes and fix them.

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I imagine people in my life and get a really good visual image of them and their personality in my brain. And then I draw them. Some of my favorites are on the right side of this page. My wacky boyfriend loves watching JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and likes getting into the crazy JoJo poses. They make really good poses to draw. Btw, if you like anime you should check it out.

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Yoga poses are usually held for a long time and make really good ones to practice. And if you like sports, just grab your sketchbook and draw while watching. Since they’re moving, sports is really good for quick gesture drawings. And don’t forget your mirror. If you’re struggling with a specific pose, you can just use yourself.

After tons of deliberate practice, drawing from your imagination will be a piece of cake. If anyone out there is also trying to improve, I’ve found a couple of websites that have really good reference photos with lots of variety. Check ’em out.

https://line-of-action.com/

This site also provides teaching material and a community of artists that you might find helpful.

https://www.quickposes.com

This site provides a good variety. I really like the warrior images.

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I also found this guy on youTube. I was wanting to sketch, but I couldn’t get the motivation to just do it. So, I did a little search on youTube and this guy was just sketching figures while chatting with his viewers. I found myself listening and sometimes I wasn’t listening. But the important thing was I ended up drawing for an hour and I didn’t even notice the time going by. Plus, he’s a talented artist. Go ahead and check him out.

Struggles and Favorites

When I first started drawing figures, I struggled so much with proportion. My necks and torsos were always too long.

What struggles do you have when drawing figures?

I love drawing foreshortened poses. They’re so challenging, which is actually great for the learning process. If you can draw the complicated poses, then the simpler poses don’t seem so difficult.

What positions are your favorites to draw?

Pumpkin Drawing for October

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Fall is my favorite time of year. The air starts feeling cool and fresh. The leaves start changing colors. And the best part – I start getting the heebie jeebies to the extreme. I love it.

Heebie Jeebies – By Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five.

While I was grocery shopping the other day, a giant display of pumpkins grabbed my attention. They had so many interesting looking varieties that I thought could be a lot of fun to draw. I got a bag of small orange pumpkins, and the other two kinds in the picture above.

Apparently there are at least 50 types of pumpkins. I used to think there was just one type – the big orange ones you see at Halloween and on Cinderella. Some of them have the coolest names too, like Hooligan and White Ghost.

Which Ones Did I Buy?

The similarities made it a little difficult to know for sure . . .

Pumpkemon – The white one with the orange and green stripes. Sounds like a cross between a pumpkin and a Pokemon. Maybe I can create a Pokemon character from this little pumpkemon.

Ornamental Gourd – I was going pumpkin crazy trying to figure out what kind the weird looking one on the left of my picture is. I’m pretty sure it’s a gourd used for decorating. Regardless, it looks like fun for making some art.

I started out sketching the orange pumpkin. Below are some quick sketches I did on yellow paper. I held the pumpkin in my hand and looked at it for a long time, trying to get familiar with it. This helps to be able to draw your subject better and faster.

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Side, bottom, and top views

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2nd page of sketches

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Nupastel and pastel crayons

The next sketch I did using graphite and white charcoal on my gray paper sketchbook. I was still going for speed with this one.

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This last one I decided I wanted to work on a larger piece of drawing paper and take my time. I like working large. It helps to focus on the details of your subject. I still have work to do on it.

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I’m having a lot of fun drawing these pumpkins. My plan is to post my progress throughout the month of October and we’ll see what kind of art I can create with these cool looking pumpkins.

Are you working on any Fall/Halloween inspired art? If not, then run to the store and grab some pumpkins and get started!

How to be a Fearless Artist

I love the feeling I get when I’m ready to make some art. I gather all my colorful supplies and make sure I’ve got plenty of light. Then, I look down at my clean, stark white canvas and suddenly I go blank. Blanker than the empty canvas. Fear suddenly enters into my heart. Like a lil’ wimp, I let that fear take me away from the art to go snack, rake the leaves, or (seriously?) clean the toilet.

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The Scream, Edvard Munch

Creative Courage

 

Writers do it too. Staring at the blinking cursor against the bright white background of the empty document, has the power to traumatize more effectively than a terrorist in war. Before you know it you’ll be laying in a fetal position hugging your stuffed animal and wondering how you ever thought you could be an artist.

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Lucas Scott, from One Tree Hill, experiencing writer’s block and typing, “I Suck.”

How to Develop Artistic Bravery

Artists like Bob Ross make it look easy. He fearlessly slops some paint down and creates a beautiful work of art. Below are some helpful tips to overcome fear:

1. Sketch -Before you start the finished piece, grab some cheap scratch paper, do some sketches and work out your ideas. It’d be awesome to create the masterpiece on your first try but that’s also a lot of pressure, and not always realistic. (It’s not impossible though.)

Constantly sketching and drawing will help you improve, which will build your confidence and you’ll be saying, “Goodbye Fear.”

2. It’s NOT permanent – Some art supplies can’t be erased like graphite pencil. So it feels like your marks will be permanent and if you make a mistake, what do you do? First, relax. Start out with a lighter touch and build gradually. Oil takes forever to dry so if you make a mark you’re not happy with just wipe the paint away and cover it up with more paint. Remember that many art mediums are forgiving and workable.

Or, like Bob Ross, you might get a “happy accident.”

3. Act Brave – Being an artist requires bravery because you’re doing something that cost you. Your art comes from inside of you. And what if people don’t like it? What if they put it down? Just be brave. And if you don’t feel brave, then PRETEND.

Do the opinions of other people strike terror in your heart? If so, be inspired by the war hero. Look fear in the eye, be strong and stand up for your artwork. Allow the reactions from people to be constructive criticism to help you improve.

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Hide the Knives! Van Gogh Self Portrait with bandaged ear

The Tortured Artist

Artists are sensitive and have to develop a thick skin. It may seem like I’m being a drama queen but I think fear is a common problem for everyone . . . not just the creative souls. Remember . . . feeling these raw emotions is a big part of art. And for me, overcoming fear makes me feel like a BOSS, and gives me the power to overcome whatever obstacles I might face.

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Bob Ross!

Being Your Own “Worst” Critic

Do you like your art? Are you conveying your message? Are you giving it your all? Maybe bravery in art, is really in facing yourself.

100 Days of Learning T-Shirt Art Project

My best friend is a grade school teacher and asked me to work on a school art project with her and her daughter. Of course, I’m always down for art. Her daughter is also an artist and we have a lot of fun making art together. We brainstormed for a couple of days and got a practice shirt out of the way, but I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.

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Diamond

Finally the idea hit to use her kitten, Diamond. I recently took some pictures of her with plans to do a drawing so that was Puuuurrrr -fect. Haha, yea I went there. Based on the ideas we talked about during our brainstorming sessions, I came up with this design.

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Shirt design and sketch of Diamond

Everyone loved the idea so we got to work. We planned on using those two butterflies but they didn’t make the cut. I put my drawing of Diamond under the shirt and traced it with a pencil. Then after I added the sun I got started adding the fabric paint.

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My girl helping me out

I’ve never heard of this 100 days of learning thing, but I guess it’s something schools do when they hit 100 days in the school year. You have to use 100 things, so we glued a bunch of little diamonds.

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Diamond posing with her shirt

There’s Diamond checking out her portrait. She was upset that I made her quit messing with the shirt and look at the camera.

My friend thought about saying something along the lines of “being brighter.” So it seemed appropriate to use lyrics from Rhianna’s song, “Diamonds“: Shine Bright Like a Diamond. It’s also consistent with her personality.

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t-shirt drying

I forgot to take a picture of the finished shirt. We just added some more diamonds and the words “100 Days of Learning,” inside the sun and I wrote her name on the back. I also forgot to take a picture of the finished shirt I made for her mom. Haha, I was getting tired.

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The teacher’s shirt

I added a bunch of yellow, orange, and blue lightning bolts all around the shirt to represent all the electricity from the brain power. It still needed something else though. My friend finally came up with a really good finishing touch: At the bottom I wrote in blue paint, “Leads to a Brighter Future.”

These shirts were a lot of fun to make and I love supporting art and education.

Digital Charcoal Drawing of Robert Fuller

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Robert Fuller Portrait 

Lately I’ve been watching some of the old westerns like Laramie and Wagon Train. The plot, the acting, and the creative use of colors and costume design are really good. Not to mention, the guys are really good looking manly men. One in particular that has caught my eye is Robert Fuller. I was looking for something to draw digitally, and I thought he’d be a subject that could keep my interest.

I’m drawing with blue tones on Corel Painter 2015 and I’m using charcoal on rough artists paper. On drawing 3 I like how you can see the texture of the paper on his hat and the stubble on his face. I started by getting my values and basic shapes down with the broad Charcoal and the Soft Charcoal. I’m adding details with the Soft and Hard Charcoal Pencils and a tapered blender.

He kinda reminds me of John Wayne in the first one, and according to my mom he looks like Marshal Matt Dillon.

I think he’s finally starting to look more like the picture. I’ve really struggled with getting his mouth right and his eyes are giving me a little trouble. I also have a tendency to exaggerate features, like making a ruggedly square jaw extra rugged, so I’m just trying to make sure all those things look right.

I’ve been working on it for a few hours and I’m thinking it’s a good time to step away from it for a while. I’ll come back to it later with fresh eyes.

What do you think . . . does he look like Robert Fuller?

A Basic Lesson on Value – Drawing a Dog with Graphite Pencils

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This Picture broke my first digital camera that I got when I turned 15.

Shadows, midtones, and highlights which are caused by our trusty light source the Sun, make all the awesome stuff we see everyday visible. To create a believable and interesting 3D image on a 2D surface you must become BFF’s with these three things that make up the design element: Value or Tone.

As an 18-21 year old student in my early art classes I really struggled to comfortably discern between the three and determine what I needed to adjust to make everything look right.

What Exactly Are Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights?

Basically, Highlights are the really bright spots that get the most direct amount of light. The Shadows are the dark spots created by something that is blocking the light. The Midtones are everything in between the two extremes.

After I got my initial sketch of Dynamite down with correct proportions it was time to focus on building the variety of tones that will form the dog.

  1. I like to start with my darkest darks and my lightest lights. I mark where the white parts and the bright highlights are so that I make sure to keep them clean. It’s a lot harder to remove than to add. And I like adding the darks early on because they help me to adjust and refine placement and they’ll eventually disappear a little bit as the drawing develops. They’re also really easy to see.
  2. After filling in the darks and lights, I start filling in the midtones almost everywhere, following the shapes of the muscles and folds in her coat. I also add a light layer of pencil in the background so that Dynamite has a place to live in.
  3. The last step is to continue adding the variety of values (tones) until the drawing can be called finished. After drawing for a while, I noticed that her belly and her back leg area needed to be moved down some. Both were easy fixes.
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3.

Practice working gradually in a balanced pattern throughout the image being careful not to focus on just one part of the image for too long. If you do work on one single detail you run the risk of making irreversible mistakes.

So that’s Value in a nutshell.

I’ve noticed that at first, the people I’ve taught art to really struggle to discern Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights . . .  and it’s easy to get a little discouraged. Just Remember it will eventually become second nature. I can barely remember a time when my brain didn’t notice these three and all the other elements of design. If you diligently practice seeing these details you’ll get to the point where you can’t NOT see them.

Guy From Burn Notice who sees patterns

The guy in the middle

I always think of that crazy guy from Burn Notice in S3 E5 who said,  “Once you see a pattern, you can’t un-see it.” That’s what we’re going for, minus the crazy part. Then again, if crazy works for you . . .

Quick Tip Before you Go:

When you’re working with graphite, you can cover the entire page with a graphite powder if you like to speed up the process. It’s such a light layer of graphite, that you’ll be able to draw in details with your graphite pencils and your kneaded eraser. Read the label carefully! It’s pretty dangerous stuff to breathe in.