March 24, 2023

10 Things: A list

 I'm immersed in classes this month (you can check out WHY in my last post) so I wanted to come up with a quick #fridaymusings post and what's better than a list!

Ten Things I've Recently Learned (or RElearned!)

  1. Tracing a stencil on the INSIDE is easier that tracing on the outside. This is one of those DUH moments (of which I seem to have a lot lately). But. I have a little card I use to make the grids in my Grid Journal. I couldn't find it the other day and found instead, a small viewfinder. That thing made  tracing the grids SO. MUCH. EASIER.
  2. Apply plaster with a brush. I have struggled in the past with getting thin layers of plaster/gesso. Why did it never occur to me to use a brush rather than a spackle or palette knife?!?  Thanks Miss Stephanie!
  3. Use your Posca Pen caps to make circle marks. Another DUH. Its right there. It's already uncapped. Either express some extra paint onto your palette and dip your cap into it OR just run the pen around the rim. Easy Peasy.
  4. Splatter water on almost dry acrylics. Let it sit for a minute then simply mop up with a dry towel or rub off. It creates wonderful negative splatter marks. Highly recommend!
  5. Make marks on dark magazine images. Put your page over some sequin waste or a fruit bag or stencil and lightly sand with a high count sand paper. Instant texture!
  6. Ultramarine is a WARM blue. Be still my heart. I've always had such a hard time using blue in my work. I've figured out teal. Mostly. And Payne's Gray because it's essentially black. But anything else? I always frig it up. As my tendency is toward the warm side of the spectrum most blues don't play well with that side of the colour wheel. But Ultramarine does. Thanks to Louise Fletcher for that eye opener!
  7. Contour drawing with your eyes OPEN. I've done many BLIND contour drawings over the years. But it never occurred to me to keep my pencil on the paper while looking at what I'm drawing. The result is a lovely, loose sketch. Thanks to Jeanne Oliver for that little tip!
  8. Coloured pencils are a delight over watercolour. I love coloured pencils and have used them many times in my art journey. Most often as a stand alone though and I'm not sure why  I never tried over watercolours. They work SO. WELL. Go. Try it!
  9. Colour studies as gel print fodder. Another DUH moment. I've often used monochromatic papers in my Grid Journal or general collaging. But making gelprints EXCLUSIVELY for a collage grid? No more searching for light, middle and dark tones cuz you've already done the work. Perfect for compositional studies. Hooya!
  10. Mixed media means MIXED media. And maybe my biggest DUH! exclamation this week. Sometimes I am SO dense. Just because you start out with watercolour (or acrylic or collage) does not mean you can't introduce other mediums into that work. This has been an ongoing growth cycle for me but the idea that a piece can be representational AND abstracted? Or refined AND whimsical? THIS was such an eye opener and DOOR opener for me. I've stuffed my graphic/illustrative nature down thinking it wasn't "fine art" enough and here, all along, I could've been incorporating it into my work.
And these are the reasons I take classes. 
Because... sometimes even if you know you don't KNOW.
Change is a comin' folks!

March 9, 2023

Why take classes?

Sketchbook Revival 2020

You may ask yourself, "I'm on my art path. I know what I want to make, why should I take classes, at all? And you're right to ask. Maybe they aren't for you. But. Every year for the last few, I've dedicated the first few months of the year to taking (online) classes. The reasons are many and I'll try to list mine  below.

Learning something new is ALWAYS a Good Thing

Even if you are an accomplished artist with a strong vision, adding to your lexicon through new skills or exposure will always, always be helpful in the long run. Sometimes "the New" doesn't reveal itself immediately but every single thing we experience as artists (as people!) informs our work/state of mind. If you only need one reason to "take that class"? This is it!

Extreme Composition - Jane Davies

Filling up before burning out

So often an artists life is in "all decks on hand", "balls to the wall" mode before the end of each year what with shows and markets and general life stress of "The Holidays" so that when we get back into the studio in each New Year we may feel a little shell-shocked. Perfect time to let someone else do the leading. Our  Creative Wells may be registering empty and nothing fills if up faster, better than learning something new. 

Grid Journal - Kellee Wynne

New Skills

This is pretty self-explanatory but always worth noting. Even if we take classes that are in our artistic wheelhouse there is always something to learn from a fellow artist. From different methods to brand new techniques, everything feeds the inner Muse. As a side note, even watching artists work is highly informative from their set up to their preferred tools down to their actual process. Highly recommend finding a few folks to follow on YouTube and veg out!

Botanical Relics- Stephanie Lee

Change it Up

Going down a completely different path ...ceramics if you're a painter, paper arts if you're a ceramicist. Three dimensional work if you're a two-dimensional artist and, obviously, the reverse. Working in a totally different medium can really throw open the doors on your creative outlook. 

Vehicular Varmints - Michael deMeng

And some cautionary tales, as well:

Choose Wisely

Not all classes are created equal. And if time is of the essence, get a recommendation before taking on that 3 week class. I'd hazard to say a day or two is probably worth the jump if only to let you know what you DON'T want to do without a huge commitment but if life is time sensitive, do your homework. Nothing is more aggravating than taking a class that is a bad fit. For everyone involved. 

Divergent Paths

If you are an easily distracted artist maybe choose a class you KNOW will add to your skills/lexicon. In the past, I've taken assemblage classes whilst in a two-dimensional mind-set and though I might thoroughly enjoy myself, getting waylaid is not in MY best interest. Learning how to handmake chain is awesome but virtually useless if what you need is Colour Theory.


Don't get sucked into anything market related if MAKING is at the top of your list. Nothing kills your creative spirit. Nothing! (or maybe that's just me!)

If it Ain't Working? Ditch it!

Even if you've paid good money. Your time is worth something and you need to guard it carefully. The person whose work you adore may be a tremendous artist but a lousy teacher. Don't feel compelled to stick with anything that isn't filling up that creative well. For what it's worth, most classes these days give a healthy amount of time to take the class. It might not be a good fit today but may be just the thing six months from now.

If I've convinced you to take a class, here are some folks I would always highly recommend:

Jane Davies ... I loved Jane's Extreme Composition but I think anyone could learn anything from her. Love her work. Great teacher!

Kellee Wynne ... The (FREE) grid journaling class is a must but I learn something from every class or YouTube video of hers I've watched.

Stephanie Lee ... Whilst a good friend, Stephanie is also an amazing, thoughtful, accomplished teacher. Take anything,  you won't regret it! (and will learn so much about yourself in the taking)

Michael deMeng ... Winner of the Most Fun Teacher award and I do not use the word "Fun" lightly. You'll learn a ton as well but will have such a Good Time doing it!

Sketchbook Revival ... A special note about Sketchbook Revival ... it starts at the end of March and goes for 2 full weeks with an amazing cast of artists, teachers and mentors who are sure to get your juices flowing. This will be my FOURTH year and am so looking forward to it. Sign up Today!

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