This has been a great year for my art so here are a few things that helped me find my way back to my art process and what keeps me going in the studio:
Self-challenges such as themes, sizes, colors, and deadlines. Just giving yourself a limited palette, 20-minute doodle or one hour painting, painting small or fill up a sketchbook by drawing every day are some ideas to get you going. Just start doing it and one thing will lead to the next.
Paint a “color wheel” to test colors. With color modulation, you can create depth. There are so many resources on this subject. Try mixing complimentary colors together, and making your own black. This process in itself is fun and can get you in a playful state of mind.
Try out lots of different materials for drawing and painting. By bouncing around back and forth from different materials, you can learn new things and file it into your tool kit. For example, from life drawing, I learned to interpret what I see very quickly. In watercolor, I am learning to work fast and plan ahead. Since I was comfortable with drawing, using the watercolor pencils was the gateway drug to help me get back to holding a paintbrush again, and feel comfortable with the commitment of painting bold strokes of color onto the page. I learned about the watercolor pencils from another artist after visiting her studio.
Take a class or workshop. When I was in art school, it was very exciting to be around other artists and see what they are working on. A good instructor can help you get over the hurdles. There are many tutorials online as well.
Nature is the best teacher. Play around, study and learn. Follow what excites you and the everyday things around you. There is inspiration right under your nose if you can slow down and look at things, observe & contemplate.
I like to do a “low intensity” project to warm up. I like to doodle, calligraphy, abstract painting and paper mache. This helps me to get into a playful state of mind.
Follow your strengths but get out of your comfort zone.
A little encouragement goes a long way. Let’s encourage one another to be creative.
Collaborate. Art can be a fun social activity that allows you to bond in a new way with your friends and family. Maybe start with a home decor or craft project.
Surround yourself with art that inspires you. Go to art shows and museums, visit local artists’ studios. Collect art, hang your art up and live with it. Art feeds the spirit.
Use social media not as a distraction but a tool. There are many inspiring great artists on instagram and pinterest. Be a sponge, then squeeze it!
Keep a sketchbook of ideas and a written journal of your daily and long-term goals, plans, and document your everyday life. Trust in the power of the subconcious.
Read a good book! Books by artists that inspire you, or a self-help book to overcome blocks. These books helped me:
I hope this helps bring more art into your life. I look at art as a way to grow as a person and express and connect with others in a deeper more meaningful way. It’s a way to be more human in our increasingly digital and consumerized society.
What’s happening in the studio this fall/winter? Still life and portraits! I still have some watercolor prints and postcards for sale in my shop in case you are looking for those hard to find gifts. Follow me on instagram @renerodzart.
I haven’t painted in oils in a long time and wanted to try it again. I took a 10-week online class in Octobver & November with Art Mentors called Narrative Long Pose Figure Painting with Joseph Todorovitch.
It is not for beginners, but it was really informative and helped me with the methodical process of building a painting. Oil painting is fun but it is a process and a time investment. He is really great and talks you through the paint process in real time.
This painting took about 30 hours. I may add a little more paint to round her out a bit more and breathe more life into her. Though we used Salome as our theme, I wanted to make it more of a memento mori, since that is where my head is at right now. I am moving on to other still life and portraits to get more practice in first. After painting for a while I started to remember the way I used to paint but I also learned some new things from taking his class. It is so great to be able to paint for hours at a time and have something to show for it!
I had learned a lot about materials, building stretchers, stretching and prepping canvas, mixing colors and subject matter, etc. from art school. Now there are so many instructional videos online anyone can take advantage of this knowledge. I recommend working with an instructor if you can and get feedback. I will be posting up some old work, I just need to get some of my slides digitized. Remember slides?
As a freelancer with an arts background, what did I do for a living? I have designed logos, worked at startups, worked at a high volume print shop downtown, worked with creative directors, restaurant and club owners, interior designers, event managers, and small business owners. I’ve painted on ceramics for minimum wage and was an occasional Peachy’s Puffs cigarette girl. I’ve worked on vlogs, music videos, independent films, social media and have designed several websites and advertising materials. In art school I worked in Student Services doing administrative tasks and sorting the mail. When I graduated from art school, everything went digital. I had to teach myself the tools. I learned a lot from working with a graphic artist at a print shop in the financial district. It is difficult to survive as an artist in San Francisco. Over the years, rents have skyrocketed and many artists were evicted. Freelancing was not enough to get by, and I had to pay my student loans. I spent several years moving around doing odd jobs and trying to find a place to live and work. I did unrelated jobs in bars and retail. You can learn a lot about starting your own business by working for other small businesses in any capacity. I finally found work in the environmental industry, and it was a relief to have a steady paycheck and health insurance. I have been working for over a decade doing that. My student loans were finally paid off. We are all dancing on a tightrope! As long as I can incorporate my passion somewhere into my life, then it feels right. I’ve been drawing since I was a little girl. I’ve invested so much of my time and money into my art education, it only makes sense to keep going.
July was World Watercolor Month, to raise awareness and funds for art education. The idea is to paint everyday and share on instagram with #WorldWatercolorMonth. It was fun yet challenging. There were prompts of what you could paint but I didn’t follow them. It does help to challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. I tried painting fur, feathers and other textures, which was delightful. Instead of doing a theme, I went all over the place with landscapes, cityscapes, still life, nature, pet portraits, & abstract. I filled up two sketchbooks and also tried new materials, such as the liquid watercolor and painting with absorbent ground on canvas. There are a lot of artists on instagram and I enjoy browsing through art there. It has helped me with my motivation. A great use of social media!