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How much water can you safely add to your paints?

I know this is one topic that had me confused for a while. I have seen so many lessons where teachers add lots of water to acrylic paint to make drips and glazes and I wondered if this was a good idea. I had seen warnings that this could cause your paint to flake in the long run, so I decided to do some research because not knowing was bugging the hell out of me. 😉

I had read about the safe 30 percent water to paint ratio, but that doesn’t give you lots of playing room. As it turns out, it’s the quality of your paint that’s really important here (there I go again, preaching about investing in high quality paints).

If you are using cheaper paint, you can respect the 30 percent rule or, even better, add a Flow Improver acrylic medium to them. This won’t break down their acrylic binder and you can play with drips and washes without worrying if your painting will hold up over time.

If you’re using Golden paints, you can be way more bold with your water to paint ratio. How much depends on the colour you’re using. For instance, you might want to be a little bit more careful with pigments like Raw Umber, which has a high clay content, or the more dye-like Anthraquinone Blue. Interesting, right?

Golden has tested this subject matter thoroughly in this super interesting article. I highly recommend that you read this if you want to know what your paints are capable of.

Even though I’m not a very drippy person, I decided to play a little bit with it today, I like to know what I’m talking about. I tested the Liquitex paints with lots of water in my journal. If this portrait will flake off after a while, I’ll be sure to let you know!

Why good art supplies matter

I often read comments that suggest starting artists should just buy the cheapest art supplies because they’re not making good art anyway. I highly disagree (on both accounts). 

I always felt frustrated and disappointed when I started out painting with the student grade paints. They are so cheap because they have more fillers and less pigments in them.

Everything changed for me when I finally decided to try heavy body acrylic paints by Golden and Liquitex. Golden is my absolute favourite, the colours are just so beautiful. But Liquitex is a great runner up!

This doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to get you started. I would suggest starting out with two or three colours. For example black and white (you could even use white gesso instead of paint). Payne’s Grey is also very nice to use instead of black.

With these colour palettes you can really focus on your values (the lights and darks in your painting) first to understand shading and creating form before trying to figure out how to do this in colour. You won’t accidentally create muddy colours. Simplify your learning process and take it step by step. This is why I created my class Tiny Portraits, Tiny Palette.

You can always pick up one additional colour each month or so and expand your collection gradually. One tip: keep a list on your phone with the colours you already have so you won’t end up with a lot of doubles like me. 

There are some supplies that I do save money on, such as:

  • gesso;
  • Brushes (as long as the metal part is sturdy enough so that they won’t shed while painting. I really like the Daler Rowney Graduate brushes);
  • Mixed media papers for practice purposes (I gesso them first anyway).

Another tip: buy pastels, neocolour crayons, etc. seperately instead of one big box with a lot of colours in them that you will never use. This is another good way to gather a big collection of them over time without you having to spend a lot of money at once. 

There’s something that I would like to address. If you are painting with cheap art supplies and you are rocking them, good for you! Don’t ever feel bad about that. Keep creating beautiful art with them. I know that there are a lot of artists out there that are doing just fine with them. The most important thing is that you’re enjoying what you’re doing. If you haven’t invested in a good varnish yet, then maybe that is interesting to look into. Because the light fastness of your paint could be lower and I wouldn’t want your beautiful art to fade over time.

Also, if you decide to invest in some high end brands, there’s no need to throw out your old paints. You can continue using them, building up layers while making awesome textured backgrounds without any hesitation or anxiety about “wasting” expensive paint.

I hope you liked these tips and please feel free to share your own below!

A day at the museum

I thought it would be fun to share a little art challenge I posted in my new facebook group. Visiting a museum is so inspiring and I for one don’t do it often enough. Wouldn’t it be nice to stroll through one in our area with intention? To take photos of the art that makes us want to create and if you’re up for it, take the time to make a couple of sketches when we see something that’s in line with our art goals?

I think it would be so interesting. We creatives love our bubble (and I am no different, I love being at home in my studio). But sometimes it’s so energising to go out into the world and submerge ourself in art!

I would love it if you would join me in my quest from your end of the world, wouldn’t it be so wonderful if we could share all that amazing art with each other? 

I had a wonderful time at Museum De Reede here in Antwerp! It’s all about printing and those of you who took my class “No Press? No Problem!” know that I’m totally in love with those techniques. One day I would love to own my own press so I can dive into etching and other techniques that require a press. There are many artworks by Francisco Goya, Félicien Rops and Edvard Munch in this beautiful museum.

I honestly hadn’t expected to fall in love with Goya’s work because his paintings don’t really speak to me. But his etchings were mind blowing. This media was much more suitable for his dark scenes. If you’re ever there, you can ask a looking glass at the reception so you can study all kinds of details.

I loved his twisted sense of humor and he was so skilled! I deflowered my museum sketchbook by studying two of his amazing expressions.

If you want to practice interesting and intense facial expressions, I recommend that you study some of Goya’s etches.

Edvard Munch was also very nice. I love that I could see his Madonna up close. Sadly I couldn’t take a good photograph of her due too many spotlights and the mirroring in the glass.

I loved this woodcut by Edvard Munch. The texture reminds me of Angel wings.

I felt very ambivalent towards Belgian artist Félicien Rops. He was extremely skilled and the first print below could easily be mistaken for a painting, it was magnificent. But there were also quite some works by him that were too disturbed for my taste. Mr Rops had issues and huge frustrations for sure. But the artworks that I liked, I loved!

The volunteers were amazing, enthusiastic and very helpful. I was happy to hear that this rather new, private museum will expand (they just bought the building next to it).

They’re also cooperating with the art academy and feature students’ work (two prints at this time). I thought that was nice!

They are inclusive towards people bound to a wheelchair. There are elevators and they have built the displays so that there’s room underneath for the legs so that everyone can enjoy the art in a comfortable way. This made me love this museum even more and I highly recommend it if you’re ever in Antwerp.

I will definitely go back by myself to fill up my little sketchbook. But next on my to do list is the FOMU (photo museum of Antwerp), because there’s an exposition there of one of my favourite photographers Stephan Vanfleteren. I can’t wait to see his emotive photographs in person. This art challenge appears to be the start of a nice habit for me, I hope it wil do the same for you. Enjoy all the beautiful art and let it inspire you on your journey!

Social Media Blackout

So yesterday, Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp broke for a lot of us in Europe and I’m embarrassed to say that it freaked me out a little bit. 

Sure, it was a great moment to focus on building my upcoming printing class (if you’re a student of me you can already see a little preview of where I’m at with my planning in your classroom). But it got me thinking. What if it broke completely next time? Or what if they will just call it quits in a couple of years? You may think I’m silly but it has happened before. Just look at Google Plus or Hyves if you are a fellow Dutchie. I still remember the outrage and sadness when they announced it. Personally I didn’t like Hyves all that much because of all the glitter options and hysterical animated gifs, but I get it. It took you years to connect with a lot of amazing people and then all of a sudden, your social platform is no more. 

That’s why I’m so happy that a lot of you have trusted me with your e-mail address so I can keep in touch with you. I love coming up with my quickie tutorials and I love seeing what you all are doing with them. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! ❤️ 

#dramaticartist #artteachersofig 

Win a free spot in Make Create Express

Woohoo! It’s Give Away Time! 🤗


We are less than 2 weeks away from the FREE Make Create Express Creative Retreat Weekend and to celebrate I’m giving away 1 spot in the Make Create Express- The Creative Journey Continues year long workshop!!


To enter just share this blog post on Facebook & be sure to tell me in the comments! I will announce the winner on June 25!


For extra entries (be sure to let me know in the comments here on my blog post):

  • Subscribe to my newsletter
  • Tell me what you would love to learn about in the free art tutorials of my upcoming newsletters (comment below).
  • share this post on other social media places such as your blog, twitter, pinterest, google, or other social network platform & leave me a comment with the link.


Good luck and don’t forget to join us for the Make Create Express Free Online Creative Retreat Weekend Event to enjoy free art lessons for a whole weekend!


You can find the rest of the Blog Hop here:

Creative invitation!

It’s almost time for our free creative retreat weekend! Are you psyched? I am! And to add to the fun there will be a creative invitation leading up to the event, starting on June 22nd, so we can get to know each other a little bit better. I hope you’ll join us, it will be fun to share our creative world! <3 

How does it work?
  • Simple! Each day, starting from June 22, share a photo and a few words inspired by the prompts above.
  • Be sure to follow me on instagram or facebook for the daily prompt breakdown.
  • You can share your photos on facebook, instagram or even your blog!
  • If you share them on instagram or facebook, please use the hashtags #creativeinvitation19 & #artismagiconline so we can find you all. You may always tag me, I would love to see!
  • If you are sharing your photos on your blog, please post the link below so that I can take a peek!
Why this is not a challenge
The lovely Galia feels that creative play should never fall on that “to do list” and I totally agree! Honestly, I suck at keeping up with all these art challenges. Even when I love them. Trying to keep up during our busy lives can feel a bit suffocating, you know? And we don’t want you to feel that way. So if you are only inspired by 4 of the 14 prompts, just do those! Do what feels right, do what makes you happy. Always! <3

In search of emotion

Last week my lesson in the year long online art course PYHAS2019 went live. I was incredibly nervous beforehand, being amongst all those wonderful teachers, but the students blew me away with their fabulous art and made me blush with their kind words. I always love it when teachers make a slideshow of the students’ work and I appreciate it even more now that I have made my own! Finding a decent app was a bit of a journey but here it is. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I am, I can’t stop watching these beauties. <3

Three’s a charm

I’m so excited I could cry big fat happy tears! I would have never guessed that, while I was preparing for my newsletter, my warm up excercise would inspire me for many days. I had so much fun with it that I decided to share my process with you guys through a rather unexpected online class.

It just flowed right out of me, I hope you will love it as much as I have! Here’s a little peek of what you can expect if you decide to join me on this adventure. 😉

Relax with some next level doodling

I have finally found some alcohol inks in a little shop I discovered here in Antwerp. I was so excited to finally be able to play with those babies! When I posted the result of my experiment on my instagram, I noticed that a lot of you guys really liked it, so I decided to spread the love and make a little tutorial so you can join in on the joy of drawing by association.

Doodling is known to be an excellent exercise for when you feel a little stressed out and with these alcohol inks the process is even more enjoyable. It’s a lot of fun interpreting those inky stains and it will help you to come up with some new ideas for sure!

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. 😉