Smoke out a muse in hiding

We all have those dreaded days where we can’t seem to find our muse anywhere, no matter how loud or how long we call out for her. If this dry spell goes on for too long, it can even make us feel like there is no point in showing up at all anymore and that is a shame.

A muse absolutely can be motivated to show her face, even when she doesn’t feel like it. It’s good to have a few warm up exercises up your sleeve to smoke out a muse in hiding.

This is one of my favourites and if you end up really loving your little story, just keep adding media until you’re looking at an awesome, quirky and finished piece of art! No more waiting around for our fickle muses to show up, it’s time to take matters into our own hands. 😉

I’m beaming with joy

I must admit, there have been a couple of moments where I wanted to pull out my hair while I was trying to figure out how to get my very own courses on my website. I cursed like a sailor, threw my hands up in the air in despair, the whole shabang! But what I really wanted to achieve was a nice user experience for my students and (I hope I’m not jinxing it) I think I’ve done it! I will continue to improve my site but for now I will be putting my feet up and relax for a little bit.

I also made a little teaser video of my first full class “Tiny Portraits, Tiny Palette”! I hope you guys will enjoy it as much as I did creating this one.

My wish upon our world

Respect all life

Today I got a question about the symbolism on this portrait and I thought I would share my thoughts with all of you as well. I am a lover of symbolism and I use it in my art quite often. To me these aren’t just pretty symbols to embellish my portraits but a way to express my story, my vision.

I use an ankh whenever I want to express my wish for all of us to respect and protect all life. Not only that of our fellow man, but the sentient animals sharing our space and the soil life that makes it possible for our crops to grow, our ocean which is filled with life and sadly, with a lot of our waste and toxins as well.

It’s time for us to cherish and really appreciate everything that’s around us, we live on such a special planet and I don’t think we realise that often enough. It’s time for us to protect her, by making choices when we shop and by using our voice, our vote, our compassion.

Creating art is a way for me to process my thoughts and to share pieces of my inner world. I don’t want to climb on my soap box like this every single day but my portraits are a light version to share my concerns and my wishes with you all. Thank you so much for appreciating them, that means the world to me.

Finger painting frees the soul

Throwback Thursday!

Do you remember what creating felt like when we were children? We wouldn’t worry about things like colour theory, composition or other people’s opinions. We would just pick our favourite colours and jump right into it. Our motivation was having fun and if auntie Margaret could not identify our subjects to save her life, well than that was on her! Adults can be so clueless, don’t you think? Let’s tune in with our inner child, it’s clearly on to something. 😉


Anecdote Wednesday

I remember that, as a kid, I had this sticker hoarding phase. I had a huge collection of glorious stickers and I loved going through them. What I didn’t do was actually use them because if I did, I couldn’t undo it. What if I would find a way better place to stick them on the very next day? Talk about first world problems, way back when.

I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I still have these issues with cherished collage materials. It’s so silly. Today I finally used one of my precious butterflies that I got from my sweet friend and amazing artist Lynda King. Not my absolute favourite butterfly, of course. What if I will find the perfect place for it tomorrow??

Sharing the joy of painting

My last post reminded me of something I’ve been wanting to do for a while but haven’t gotten around to yet. I have so many paint tubes that I don’t use anymore and I know about this great social initiative here in Antwerp. It’s a non profit artistic platform where people can come together and create and have the opportunity to share their art with the world.

We’ve been there once, there was this presentation of hand painted and collaged slides with music. We were blown away by the beauty and originality of them. The atmosphere was warm and loving. I was thinking to myself how amazing it is that they were facilitating this space so that everyone can enjoy the creative process and inspire each other.

So it’s time to follow my heart, I’ve gathered all the stuff I don’t use anymore and some stuff I love and have more than enough of. I have been debating myself whether or not I should make a blog post about this endeavour because I didn’t want to be braggy about it. But what I do want to do is ask you guys if you maybe have neglected art supplies that you haven’t used for years. Do do know of a non profit organisation in your area that is spreading joy and stability through art? I’m sure they would be so happy if you could share just a few supplies!

On top of that it’s tons of fun, going through your stash and asking yourself which supplies you’re not really using can make other people happy. Oxot, here I come!

The upside of high quality art supplies

We all know the downside all too well; a trip to our favourite store can cost us an arm and a leg, especially when we want to explore new ways of creating. However, personally I think spending my money on the materials I use the most frequently is worth every penny.

I tried out painting at several stages in my life. I was so incredibly captivated by the idea of it but my attempts always felt somewhat disappointing. I know a big part of it was due to my inexperience, and discovering online art classes was a blessing in that department, but something still felt off.

And then I decided to try buying these fancy heavy body acrylic paints by Liquitex and Golden everybody was raving about. I had just received my tax refund and figured: what the hell, I’m going to invest in myself and what I love to do. If I’m not doing it, then who will? So I loaded my cart with a mix of pretty colours by both brands.

When I tried them out, I was blown away by them. Of course I still needed to work on my skills but it felt so much easier to paint with them, they are so creamy. On top of that, the pigments were much more vibrant. Especially the ones by Golden. Even though my previous brands were marketed as artist grade, it was a huge difference and I never touched those paints again.

Another big advantage is that these colours won’t fade any time soon and since I started to sell some of my work about a year ago, that’s very important to me. I still use a varnish to make extra sure because I want my buyers to enjoy their paintings for many years to come, but I know using these paints will give me an extra guarantee that I can ensure longevity of my pieces.

I’m not by far saying that you should go out and start buying the most expensive kind of everything you use. I use the cheap gesso for instance, because I just need it as a toothy base layer. It’s not going to show in my finished paintings, so why should I pay more on it than I have to? Also, I refuse to buy the fancy blue artist masking tape. Regular tape will do fine (I also have a blog post of removing it in a way so that you can’t damage your painted surface). Brushes are another thing I often buy cheaper. Just as long as they won’t lose their hairs while I paint, they’re alright with me! I tend to destroy them anyway.

I have some tips to spends less of your money on those fabulous paints:

1. Try to find second hand paint. There are always people who buy stuff that they’ll never use. I just did a quick search and found someone who was selling the big bottles of Golden fluid acrylics for the amount of the small ones. Of course, check out the reviews of the seller because there are scammers everywhere. It’s also a good idea to contact them and ask them why they are selling it at this price. Listen to your gut!

2. I also noticed people finding great deals at garage sales and flea markets. You’ll have to get lucky, but when you do it’s the safest way to hoard some cheap paint.

3. When you know you love a specific colour by the Golden paint and you use it a lot, spend some extra bucks on their larger containers rather than a new tube. If your budget allows it, it’s a great way to save money in the long run.

4. Sign up for the newsletters of the art retailers. Sometimes there are great sales going on which allow you to buy your paint with a bit of a discount.

And lastly, if you are rocking the cheaper brands and are perfectly happy with them, keep on rocking them! More power to you!

The Sktchy virus

I think I might be one of the last people to get on Sktchy. While I have never been particularly interested in achieving likeness while I’m drawing, I must admit that I’m really enjoying this app.

It’s a great source of reference photos and inspiration and in return you can upload some of your own photos to inspire other artists. It’s both wonderful and a bit weird to see that someone took the time to sketch out your face. The sharing spirit and knowing you’ve got full permission from your subject to use the photo for your artwork is pretty great.

I took it as a sign that I should take some more time really observing different kinds of expressions, features and angles. Even if I’m not a realistic artist, it’s an incredibly valuable exercise to do these portrait studies.

If you’re also on Sktchy, let me know! I would love to see your artwork! You can find me here!

Pull off your masking tape like a pro

When I just started painting, I damaged a few of my pieces while I was pulling off the masking tape. It was heartbreaking, some profanity was involved. Fortunately I figured out a fool proof way of doing this really quickly and I wanted to share this handy tip with all of you.

Sure, you could try buying the fancy, expensive artist tape but if you are as prolific as I am, wouldn’t you rather spend your hard earned money on the fun art supplies? I know I do! Here’s how you save yourself a lot of frustration. Even if the tape does tear, it won’t grab on to your painted surface. Hooray!

Free start to finish video lesson

Yesterday I sent out my second newsletter which included the very first try out lesson I ever recorded. I was as nervous about sharing it with the world as I was when I recorded it last summer. It was far from perfect yet, but I thought it was still a very fun exercise to share with my subscribers. I decided that my inner critic could talk to the hand and I hit that send button before I could change my mind. And boy was my bravery worth it!

I was touched by the incredibly sweet reactions I received and and it meant so much to me that some of you even acted on it immediately. Viewing your versions of the painting made my heart tingle, there are no words to describe that feeling. Thank you so much for that.

Today I’m being brave again, sharing the lesson on my blog. I hope you’ll enjoy it!