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Have you ever found your self getting distracted while you’re in the moment of creating? An alert on your phone or a notification on Facebook? It seems to happen to the best of us. You can be right in the midst of creating something amazing and all of a sudden a bright blue light and an artificial alert noise breaks through your creative concentration and you find yourself totally distracted and getting back into the moment in incredibly hard. The thing about screens whether it’s a laptop, tablet or phone is they are so incredibly addictive and designed to be hard to put away. There is so much going on on your small device that not to check it every few minutes for updates on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pintrest seems like you’re somehow missing out on something very important. It is so hard to pick up your phone just to check that one message without getting sucked into a vortex where all of a sudden you find yourself endlessly scrolling or checking out what your cousins ex boyfriends new girlfriend was wearing to that party last night.

Many a creative wave has been blocked because of succumbing to the temptation of staring into a small screen. They are also a wonderful tool for procrastination. If you are perhaps feeling a little stuck in your work it becomes so much easier to pick up your tablet and watch videos of kittens on YouTube than to really sit with your work and find out what is going on and how you can persevere through your block and stay inspired.

There are things you can do however, to switch yourself off from technology and stay in your creative mind to get the most out of your work however, and bellow are listed some top hacks to get you out of the screen void and back into your creative mind.

Becoming Unattached

In this modern world we have become more and more attached to our certain devices that leaving even the bedroom without our phone becomes something that can’t be done. We are forever wanting to feel connected and stay up to date with things that often don’t even matter that we often let real life and the things we enjoy the most slip on by. So the first step is to become unattached. Often when people put this into practice it becomes a lot harder that first thought.

Becoming unattached means being able to create distance between you and your screens to the point where you feel okay to leave them behind or switch off from them and not have mad anxiety that you may be missing out on staying minute to minute up to date with everything that is going on. And it is about realizing that to fully enter the right frame of mind to create you need to not have meaningless distractions

Working From Home

If you do most of your creative work at home then you will often be surrounded by multiple devices. The main key is to take them away from the room where you are doing your creating. If you do it in your bedroom, them during the time you have allocated to create, put them out into the kitchen or lounge to get rid of the temptation, often out of sight out of mind can really help.

Working Elsewhere

If you are creating from a space that is not your home then often you need to bring your phone with you to stay connect or organize things when you are not able to be contacted from your home address. This can make it hard to simply just leave your phone behind. And often you may have to have your phone in the same room as you. This is where you can use some of the great functions that smart phones have. You can either just turn your phone off, but if you are using it to check the time then you may just want to switch it to airplane mode so that no signal is coming into your phone but you can still use it for basic purposes. Some smart phones also have the option to have incoming messages and alerts come in silently without even lighting up the screen. Take a look into your smart phone and see what options it does have that could work for you.

Waiting for a call?

Now sometimes you may be expecting a call or a message that is unavoidable. So you will feel like you need to have your phone with you and switched on. In this case you could try either disabling the data or wifi on your phone so you can’t use the internet but are still able to get a phone signal, or you can try putting it in another room with the ringer turned up, so that way you can still hear It but you will not have the temptation to be constantly looking at your screen and getting distracted by it.

Self Discipline

Disconnecting from screens requires a lot of self discipline. You really need to want to be involved in your project and have other things that are a strong enough pull to distract you from the ultimate distraction! But in having said that, devices can have a certain addictiveness to them that is hard to break free from, that is why you may need to start yourself on a bit of a program of gradually weaning yourself of your device before just totally disconnecting from it for half a day.

The Weaning Process

You can start in a very simple way but making a few boundaries for yourself such as not picking up your phone before a certain time in the morning. It’s often best to choose a time that comes after you have done your first basic morning tasks. Showered, ate got ready for work/school. If you normally wake around 6:30am then how about setting yourself the time for 8am to look at your phone/laptop/tablet. When we start our day by looking straight at our phone, whatever information we find on there can have a huge affect on our day. So it pays off to have those first waking hours to keep to yourself and in that time allow for your creative juices to start flowing.

Through out the day give yourself social media ‘check’ times possibly after lunch for 10-15 minutes or in the late afternoon. You may have to use your phone to make calls of send texts that can be important, but once you start looking at unimportant things on your phone is when you will find yourself loosing your creative energy and becoming a bit more lethargic.

Turning away from your phone a few hours before your bedtime can also really help give your mind a break and let you have time to think and cultivate your own wonderful ideas that will help you stimulate your art.

Once you start to create boundaries like this you will find it easier and easier to go longer at a tie without having to check your screens and so when you are feeling the urge to create putting down that tablet for the day wont seem that difficult and you will be able to focus a lot more without the constant stress of worrying about missing out on what is happening in the virtual world.

Creating

Creating art is one of the most amazing things you can do both for yourself and to share with the world. By creating you are able to express yourself and also connect with others so it’s so important to nurture your creative soul and your own beautiful ideas without becoming distracted by things that may be having a negative effect on your own inspiration.

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Finding Inspiration

There are days when the need to create is strong yet when you sit down to paint, draw or sketch it seems like nothing is coming out of your brush. This is what many people refer to as a creative block. It can literally feel like you’ve run out of all creative ideas and inspiration, everything you attempt to create looks wrong or you just can’t lift a finger to create at all. This is a normal part of the creative process, you can’t be in a constant flow all of the time, but don’t worry you don’t have to just sit there in fear of it never coming back there are things you can do to lift the creative block that surrounds you and get back some inspiration.

Get out of your head!

When a creative block happens the first thing we try to do is force it. We try and try to create but get nowhere which makes us feel more frustrated than when we even started. So when you do sit down and nothing is coming out, don’t sit there dwelling on it but get outside of your head. Inspiration comes from so many different sources and if you’re sitting at a desk staring as a blank piece of paper for hours, chances are it’s not going to come to you! So stop, get up and move around, make your self a cup of tea and distract your self. Now be careful not to distract yourself with other things that are uninspiring (social media, trashy TV) Sit and drink a cup of tea in the sun, pick up a good book. Rest your mind by taking it off your art, but still be filling it with things that are nurturing and stimulating.

Get out of the house

Now if just sitting around the house with a tea or coffee is not calming you down quite enough then it’s time to get out of the house. Think about the places that do inspire you, places that are full of good memories or that invigorate you.

Nature

Nature is one of the most inspiring places to be no matter what your art style is, nature is where it all begins. So if you are able, take a trip out and emerge yourself in the quietness and serenity of nature. You don’t necessarily even have to bring your creative tools along. Just going for a walk along the beach of through the forest can give your mind a rest and let it take in and absorb different things while also giving your mind plenty of time to wander. Letting your mind drift and go free is one of the ways you will be able to free up enough space to let inspiration back into yourself. Observe the little things as you walk or lay on your back. Remember you’re not looking for inspiration, don’t try and force it but just lay back and observe what is around you, filling yourself with the sights and sounds and calming yourself.

The urban environment

Now if you are a city dweller then get out and enjoy the urban jungle that awaits you. Cities are filed with fascinating architecture, small lane ways here and there, interesting and strange shop fronts.

Take yourself on a walk through your city but try to take different paths than usual, or even if you are taking the same path, look up! There are so many little things that we don’t notice on our day to day commute or our regular walks, what seems so familiar to us can often be filled with hidden gems, interesting rooftops or second story windows. Hidden alley ways or some new street art. As you explore your only focus should be on taking it all in. Just like being out in nature, you are not actively searching for inspiration but opening your mind up to let it in if it happens to cross your path. Try out a new coffee shop or a bar and observe the people around you. The new smells and noises. Giving yourself new experiences like these, even if they are as simple as taking a different route to your favourite café will give you a new perspective.

Still not coming?

So you’ve walked around the city for a few hours, or lay down by the sea and you get home full of exited energy and sit back down ready to create and still…nothing. There are some days when yes, maybe nothing you try will seem to work so maybe you would be best taking the full day off to do something else. But if the urge to create is still strong then its time to try a few little exercises that can help get those creative juices flowing.

Exercise one

If it’s drawing or painting that you are into then give your self a seemingly boring task to start with. Choose an item in your desk, a coffee cup or a pen tin and sketch it. Even if it’s nothing like what you would normally create, just starting with something can often help to loosen you up and unblock your fingers. Try with a few different objects and begin to add to them, colour, or ad on things to your object until it becomes unrecognizable. This gives you a safe place to start exploring without having the pressure of making something ‘good’ all this exercise is doing is getting you making something!! And hopefully that will lead you back into a flow where you can start creating in your style once again.

Exercise two

Another exercise you can do is to brainstorm. Yes, sounds like the start of a year seven school project, but it can often help to put things on paper where you can see them more clearly than having them floating around in your brain, taking up space. So get out a bit of paper and start to write down all of the things that do inspire you, things you like, colours you like or mediums. These can all just be abstract words or sentences ‘the colour of leaves back lit from the morning sun’ or ‘mermaids’. Don’t be embarrassed to put down whatever floats through your brain, this is only for you! Once you have filled the paper, start looking for connections, join up the dots so to speak. And then once you’ve put a few thought together a bigger idea may start to form so take hold of that and try it out, even if it seems silly at first or like you’re not getting anywhere keep persevering and something magical just may come.

Exercise three

Sometimes all we need is a little nudge in any kind of direction. So get an assignment from a friend. Reach other and ask someone for a few key words or a sentence and build from there. You could ask directly ‘what do you want me to draw for you’ or get more abstract with it and ask someone to give you three to five words and then you have to create the connection between them. Often having parameters can help to get you started if you are feeling at a loss of where to begin. Remember what they tell you doesn’t have to be your finished product it’s more of a way to get the juices flowing and get you making so that your mind becomes more open to other idea.

Change it up

Switch up your work environment, if you have a studio or just a desk in your bedroom, try a little redecorating. Go out on your nature walk and collect things to beautify your space. Walk into that strange crystal shop and buy a little something that calls to you. Walk into a second hand store and find a new interesting cup you can store your brushes in. Even if you are home bound you can create a mood board. Cut out of magazine or print pictures from your Pintrest page out and stick them around your space to inspire you every time you look up. A change is as good as a holiday and by switching up your space you can allow for new inspiration to flow.

You can also try changing mediums. If you always paint in water colour, try charcoal or sketching. Giving yourself something new to play around with can really help to expand your mind by seeing many more possible ways of making art and this in turn can lead to some fascinating work.

Don’t Despair

Remember, some days you may just need to have a break all together, but there are days when you can push through. Open yourself up to different possibilities and you may end up surprising yourself with what you come up with. Try these methods out and see what works for you.

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Art For The Home

Art comes in many shapes and forms, mostly we think of art as something done by the masters or incredibly gifted people painting with water colours or acrylics but art is so much more than just a painting on the wall, we see it in our everyday life all around us. Art is something beautiful or thoughtful to look at, it can create feelings within us, soothe and excite us, give of a certain mood. That’s why filling your home with art can be important. I’m not talking wall to ceiling covered in expensive art works, though if you have the money go right ahead! But it’s a lovely practice to decorate our homes with art. It can be a great way to show through your personality and add those personal touches to a space that make a house a home. The great thing about art is also that you can do it yourself! And bellow are some ideas that can help you fill your space with colour and vibrancy and a part of you.

The Theme

If you are wishing to add some art into your home, the first thing to think about it your overall theme. Has your house already been decorated in a particular style or do you have a strong colour theme going on? If so it’s important to look at what art will work well within the colour schemes or existing themes that you have going on. If not and you’re place is a bit all over the place, by adding art you may be able to transform your house into a place that is a little more connected and by putting in art pieces with certain colour or style similarities you can really create a theme that runs through your house making it look a whole lot more pulled together.

Sourcing On A Budget

Now you’ve thought long and hard about what styles you think may best suit your home, it’s time to source some pieces. Now I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that if you’re reading this you may not be a millionaire art collector…If you are, well I guess you already know what to do! I’m talking to the people who are wanting to create some arty magic on a budget within their own home. So let’s get brainstorming. There are many places you can buy photo stock printed canvas’s from, but lets be honest we want this art to be about you, not just what’s ‘on trend’ at the moment. Decorating your home is a personal thing so it stands to reason the art you choose to display should be personal too.

Photos

Photos can make beautiful art pieces. Look through your family photos and see if there are a few that stand out to you, they don’t have to be the regular photos with everyone in a line in matching outfits, look for the special memory shots. There may be one photo that really inspires you and you can have the others follow theme. For example if you found an old black and white photo you loved, why not choose that as a photo theme and adjust some of your newer photos to that format. There are many ways to have you photos displayed as well. You can frame them or get them printed onto canvas. Make a choice you will be able to stick with. Every photo doesn’t have to have a matching frame but it should have a similar running theme to it or you will risk it looking a bit disorganized and a bit of a shambles.

Photos can also be ones from vacations or just beautiful landscapes you or friends have been able to capture.

Drawings

If photos are not quite you thing, or if you want to mix it up a little how about some drawings and sketches. Now if you don’t have the talent for sketching yourself there are plenty of amazing emerging artists that sell their prints online or at local markets. Cruise around to local markets and see if anything takes your fancy, you’ll be finding something unique and at the same time supporting someone working on their passion. Online there are plenty or crafty hubs that sell amazing artwork also for not ridiculous prices. Having a look at things that are unique can add a great flavor to your home and can become cherished family pieces.

Paintings

The same thing goes for paintings. There are plenty of artists who are doing amazing work that you can support without breaking your own bank. A lot of artists sell prints of their original works also. You may not get a one of the kind but it will surely be more rare than a paining from kmart, and be a lot better quality and nicer to look at.

DIY

You can also have a go at doing it yourself. There are some many little crafty artistic projects online that can give you great ideas to be able to make your own art even if you don’t consider yourself gifted in that area. What could be more personal than something you have created? Have a look and see what you can come up with.

Kids Art

If you have kids, take advantage of their love of creative expression and frame some of the beautiful drawings they have done for you. This can make for some very unique and interesting pieces for sure. And seeing their own art beautifully framed on the walls will give them a great sense of pride.

Have A Go

There are so many things you can do to bring art into your home, these are just a few. By covering your walls with your own artistic expression and taste you are letting people know who you are but more importantly you are creating a space that you love to be in and that will bring a smile to your face each time you open the front door.

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Art and Nature

Nature it’s self is full of art. Think about the amazing colours only found on flowers, all the varieties or rich deep greens in tree leaves or they way they change colour in fall. Plants in the world around us are their own pieces of art really. It’s not juts the plants either, it’s the ocean the wide plains the dessert sands that are all inspiring places of wonder. So if you are feeling stuck for some artistic inspiration, how about taking a trip outdoors and looking at what nature has to offer you. Here are a few suggestions to help you incorporate nature into your artwork.

Landscapes

Landscapes are a beautiful idea if you are wanting to take in a whole scene. If you don’t live in the country and are struggling to find nature around you, take a trip out on a bus or train or even drive to the countryside or the coast, take time to walk around first and take in with your own eyes everything you see. Then if a certain place seems to be calling to you, set out your things and begin to interpret the landscape your own way. Landscapes don’t have to be exact either. You can use water colours, charcoal, acrylic, pen or pencil and interpret the landscape however your creative style dictates. If you don’t have time to sit on a grassy hill overlooking the ocean for days on end with your easel then you can always take a picture, even just using your phone and then print it out to paint off at a later date.

If time or commitments do not let you head out and away from the city try having an explore around parks or nature reserves or even the botanical gardens to get inspired and surround yourself with nature.

Collecting

Collecting things from nature can start of great craft projects and even inspire drawings. Go for some long walks and take in what is around you down to the fallen leaves and scattered feathers.

Leaves and feathers can look beautiful put onto good paper and then frames in 3d frames. Design patterns with them and find different ways you could display them in your house. You can make mobiles with them or use the feathers along with string to make dream catchers.

If you live by the ocean, collect driftwood and shells and create your own mobiles with them too. You can purchase felt tip permanent markers and draw mandalas and designs on sticks, pebbles and rocks, or even leaves. The are so many little things you can start collecting. Always keep your eyes out for things of beauty. Pressing flowers can turn into beautiful art works also.

Botanical drawing

If it’s fine lines you’re into how about trying your hand at botanical drawing? Botanical drawing often uses pencil and pen to recreate the fine lines of a specific plant, showing off it’s interesting characteristics and distinguishing them from other plants. With botanical drawing you can often learn a lot more about the plants than from sketching them from a distance. Noticing every fine hair on a stem or edge of a leaf can be a beautiful way to learn about the plants you see even commonly on the day to day. These drawings don’t need to be done just for text books but can make beautiful presents too. If your mother has a favourite flower, try drawing it for her and adding it’s scientific name at the bottom. You can also create larger pictures incorporating your favorite plants or particular families of them. Go to a printing shop and get them made into prints for a tea towel!! There are so many things you can do with your beautiful botanical drawings.

Photography

Photography can be an amazing way to capture nature. Whether you are going for a dramatic landscape, a sunset or sunrise or the smaller tiny details, with photography the options are endless. Take a look online at some nature photography that appeals to you, it could be seascapes or even animals. Go out and try to replicate some shot yourself, just to help you out at the start until you get more of a feel for your own style and what you prefer to capture. Look at the patterns that nature creates and try to capture the in interesting ways. If you can, buy or borrow a macro lens to allow you to capture things up close and in a lot of detail. Another thing to think about is lighting also. A scene can change very dramatically with the lighting. A leaf may look a little plain and boring until the sunlight shines through it and illuminates its veins and changes the colour from an average green to a glowing yellow. The ocean may look just normal until the sun starts to set over it and golden light spills forth. Remember weather is nature too, so incorporate that into your art. Things don’t have to have sunshine to look beautiful. A stormy grey clouded sky can look beautifully dramatic in contrast to a white sand dune.

Take it all in

Try to take in your surrounds when in nature and notice the small things because it’s often those that can be the most inspiring. Even just sitting in a grassy spot in the sun for an hour and watching what goes on around you can do your soul some good and your creative artistic mind. Nature has so much to offer us in the way of inspiration so let yourself be inspired and don’t be afraid to get abstract with it either. You don’t have to paint things just as you see them, but maybe you want to just use the colours that you have seen, a mixture of greens with splashes of pinks or yellows in an abstract colour wash. Nature is there to be interpreted by you the way you choose to see it. There is no right or wrong way to be inspired. Just get yourself out of the house and into the outdoors and let nature work its magic on you.

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Art can often seem like something too time consuming, and although we may have a yearning to get stuck into a great work it seems we never have enough hours in the day to do the things we are passionate about. But instead of saving all your create energy for a rainy day when we may magically have some spare time to sit down uninterrupted for hours and get into it how about working out some ways to incorporate art into your everyday life, thus bringing in a little more beauty to the mundane and finding more ways to express yourself sincerely. The artist in you ways to run free and not be saved up for special moments but to be used freely and fluidly as part of your ordinary life. Below are some suggestions on how you can bring art into your everyday, and with it, a little more joy.

Making Moments

Our lives are fast paced as it is and making time for art may seem like it should be down the bottom of the list, under work, cleaning, cooking and every other thing we are meant to fit into our days, but making time for art can be rewarding even if it is only for 10 minutes a day. We can use art as meditation and a way to calm our mind amongst the hustle and bustle and also as a way to express our thoughts and feelings, letting go of negative tension and channeling it instead into something good. So think about those stolen moments you may have during the day where you reach for your phone and scroll on through as a way of switching off and instead maybe take out your sketchbook. Or those times you are waiting for a coffee in a long line, or for an email to come through. If you start to see art as more of a priority for your state of well being not just as a fun hobby you will start to notice just how many little moments there are during the day where you can slide in a bit of art work. Bellow are a few suggestions of the easy ways you can create art on the day to day.

Sketch Pads

We carried them around as kids or used the corners of our school books and assignments to doodle on to help us focus in the classroom, so why not carry around a notebook now? You could leave one at your desk at work as a bit of a doodle pad, to absentmindedly scribble on while you are on the phone or waiting for a call. Although doodling may not feel so artistic at the time, you never know what you may end up with and it could be that some of your little scribbles inspire drawings in the future.

Another beautiful way to use sketch pads is to carry them with you in your bag or purse, if you have half an hour for your lunch break, try finding a nearby park or even a coffee shop where you can sit and sketch the scenes around you. Again these need not to be masterpieces but simply a way of motivating your mind and some inspiration to call on later.

Adult Colouring Books

When these first appeared on the market they seemed like a bit of a gimmick, but years later they are still going strong as we realized that we never really lost that inner child who loves to colour between the lines. Colouring books can be great for when we feel like we don’t have a lot of mind power, or maybe not to creative energy to sketch dramatic lines. With colouring in all you have the picture laid out for you and all you have to do is choose your colour scheme and away you go. This can be great for a commute if your take the train or bus to work, even a lovely activity to do with your kids when you’re wanting some quiet time. Colouring can get you into a wonderfully meditive state and help calm and soothe the mind, the perfect thing to do when you have a little coffee break and need a mental break to!

Photography

In the Age of Technology even our phones have hi tech cameras on them this makes photography easier than ever and seeing as we generally have our phones on us most of the time why not use them for something constructive and arty and take some pictures. Getting into photography can be a great way to open up your eyes to your surrounds and notice things you may have never noticed before. In different light at different times of day the same scene can dramatically change. It may be the little things you start to notice, like reflections in puddles or a formation of leaves on the grass or it could be dramatic sunsets or city silhouettes that take your fancy. If you are struggling to know what to take pictures of you can set yourself photo challenges, even search online for some. Some photo challenges are taking a picture of something starting with A right down to Z in a month. Or a photo a day of a particular theme like circles, or even colours like purple. This can help you to look outside the box and gaze at the world around you seeing things in a new light, and the beautiful thing is you can do this wherever you are, walking to and from work, on a lunch break, on your evening walk around the lake, or even at the park with your kids. There are always opportunities for creativity.

Living Creatively

Living creatively and incorporating art into your everyday life can be as simple as making an effort to dress in a more artful way, or to decorate your meals lovingly. Incorporating art into your world does not even have to be in the traditional sense of drawing or painting but can also be in the way you express yourself and how you go about your day. Taking to time to stop and notice the beauty around you, and consciously looking for interesting things, making an effort to talk to different people on the train ride home and share stories. Getting stuck into a good book that helps fill you with wonder and intrigue. These are all ways of living artfully and the more you practice these things the more they will become naturally parts of your daily routines and habits and make for a happier more joy filled life. Don’t save art for the weekends, get into it now!

 

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Art For Beginners

Now if you’re one of those people convinced they are left brained and don’t have an artistic bone in their body but secretly harbor desires of painting dramatic water colour  seascapes or fascinating charcoal nudes then listen up! Art is for you too!

Too many people shy away from art, too scared to even start because they can’t imagine they would be any good at it. Or they may try one or two sketches and unhappy with the results put away the pencil for good. I’m here to convince you not to give up.

Art is one of those amazing things that covers so many areas. Yes some people are simply born with the ability to draw exactly what they see and make it look like a masterpiece straight away, or to sketch a few effortless lines that all of a sudden become something beautiful and mesmerizing. But just because of you may not be born with this particular talent, doesn’t mean it’s not something you are able to foster and grow in time and with patience.

You may never meet masterpiece level but art is not about the end game, art is just about creating as a form of expression. So pick up a pen, pencil, paintbrush and get to it.

Finding your medium

If you are wanting to try art but have no real idea where to begin, it helps to work out first which medium you are best suited to. A medium is the form you will channel your art through, be it acrylic on canvas or water colour, simple sketches in a notebook. The best way to discover what suits you is by trying them all out. You don’t have to go overboard and order up an entire art store though. First start by looking at the art that inspires you or you find beautiful, find the medium and have a go, no need to be buying expensive gear just yet, you may use your child’s crayons or a friends left over paints. Play around and see what feels best for you, what excites you the most or seems to flow the easiest.

Discovering your style

Once you have found the medium in which you feel the most comfortable then it’s time to find your style. Now before you get too over excited remember it took even the greats years and sometimes decades to really find their own style and refine it. So right now we are not talking so much about an award wining unique style, these things come with time but more just what you like to create, what inspires you, is it nature, animals people or more abstract and do you just like playing with colour. Have fun trying out different styles and seeing which ones you are more drawn too. You don’t have to lock yourself in to drawing on particular thing, still-life’s of fruit in a basket! But it can often help to develop your skill sin the beginning with starting off simple instead of spreading yourself to thin.

Getting out there

Going to art classes can be a great way to improve your skills and to be surrounded by others trying to do the same. You can offer encouragement to each other and art can be a great way to socialize and meet new people on the side. Art lessons or classes can often be found at community centers and be one or two nights a week so you are not having to quit your day job to pursue this new hobby. They can also be great as you will be guided by passionate artists who can help you refine your own style. Art classes are also a great way to become accountable for practicing your art. It is always so easy to pick up a few paintbrushes buy some canvas and within a few weeks loose patience and then your new passion ends up collecting dust, but if you accountable for going to a class every week you can be more inspired to persevere and meet others who are trying to do the same which can be a great encouragement.

Simple Suggestions

Some simple ways to get a start with your art is just by buying a sketch book and some nice pencils. You can get a small book that is easy to carry around and so you’re able to pull it out when the mood takes you or when you see the look of something you like. From a simple sketch you can later build on this to become a whole picture.

Another great way is to take pictures of inspiring things, this can be done easily on your smartphone. If you see a lovely scene that captivates you or even the colour of the ocean or sky or a reflection in a puddle, take a picture and later when you have time take a look at it and study the textures and colours. Whether you try to produce a likeness or just an abstract version is up to you and the style you like best.

Stay light

Like I have said before art can take time so stay light hearted about it. Don’t expect to become a master in a few months, instead be in it for the journey. Don’t throw away your old art that you deem terrible, keep it to show yourself how far you are coming along with your current artwork. It’s important to also be open to suggestions and constructive criticism for other artists if you are genuinely trying to improve. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking good art should just flow and be there, perfect of paper or canvas, but the truth is the artists that have produced these amazing works have gone through a lot of trial and error, have taken the time to learn new techniques and have pushes boundaries. These beautiful art work you see created have also mostly come from passion and from the heart. So when you are creating don’t paint what you think would look cool or trendy, paint what you feel passionate about, draw what inspires you and what you find beautiful because it’s the sincerity of art that makes it so alluring, the expression of ones self and soul.

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kids doing art

For something different I thought I would post a reflection I wrote from one of my university classes on teaching art to primary school children.kids doing art

Firstly I found participating in the art lessons was fun and relaxing. Activities such as Paul Klee’s blind contour drawing possessed an almost meditative quality, as you were required to focus intently on one thing. Many of the activities were eye opening, as I came to realise that visual art practice is so often limited by mindsets. On my table, several people voiced fears of inadequacy but once we completed many of the activities we saw that we had all been ‘successful’. Paul klee’s blind contour drawing activity was a particularly effective example, with our eyes closed we all produced something that looked like a face you’d find in a modern art gallery.

The cartoon drawing was really inspiring. It was amazing to see how we could all draw the cartoon people and the Einstein looked like Einstein. I was a little nervous using marker pen for it at first. I was worried I make a mistake and want to re-draw a line. The lines for the neck on one of the characters practically touches and could definitely but improved, but it doesn’t take away from the drawing at all. Durer’s Rhino was fun but completion time varied a fair bit. Some were done sooner than others. Partner drawing was really hard and I found my language limited without gestures and pictures. Similes of things my partner knew were very useful. I was reminded of the surrealist game from the first lesson. The image my partner drew was a symbolic version of my original drawing.

teaching kids art

I have always had a love for the arts and I am no stranger to a paintbrush. Over the course of this semester I have realised that I have neglected the arts in my teaching. Over this semester I have seen how simple, effective and enriching visual arts can be to the primary curriculum. Reflecting on each activity and thinking of ways to incorporate them into the curriculum taught me there are so many opportunities for creativity. I have come to see that an artist is not just an alternative with smock and a paint palette in some dirty studio, but an artist is something that anyone can be at any time. Artistry is creativity, and since everyone is born with both logical and creative sides to their brains, everyone is capable in applying both sides to their lives.

I have found over the course of this semester that I have seen more opportunities to use art in the generalist classroom myself. In writing, we used pictures as a source of inspiration for writing descriptively. I wanted to use the Durer’s Rhino paired drawing activity, as part of a lesson about descriptive writing. I found describing a completely mythical creature was very difficult for preps to communicate. Instead I simplified the activity for students to simple objects that the students recognised and could describe easier. This simplification did lose some of the impact that the original activity has, but the simplification was better suited for younger years.

The primary arts module as a whole has given me more confidence to use the arts in teaching. I had to teach a lesson about the school values, before I would have just discussed scenarios as a class. After having gone through the dramatic process in drama, I decided to have the class split into groups and act out scenes exemplifying courage.  I would have thought this took too much to do before, but after experience in drama I came to see that it’s possible and effective.

I always used to think that the arts were something taught by specialists not in a generalist classroom. I used to think drama was just for end of year Christmas plays. Over the semester I’ve come to see that drama provides an outlet for students of all ages to experiment and learn in a safe environment. Just as reading literature is said to allow one to live multiple lives, drama allows the exploration to be physical as well as mental. I understood before that visual art could be used to help stimulate student’s writing (Mackenzie, 2011, p.328).  I came to see that visual arts can be used to enrich and show maths, such as tessellations in Notans. I even came to see how the visual arts blended with the other arts, as I learnt that notation of music could be more than just formal notation.

Reading about negative experiences students have in art lessons leading to negative feelings about one’s art abilities appeared to be very prevalent. Many of my peers voiced similar experiences to those described by Smith-Shank (2014, p.151). However, as we completed the activities in the first lesson we all found satisfaction in our drawings and had a positive experience.

The act of learning to draw characters by learning to draw people like Graham Shaw (2015) reminded me of Gombrich’s conventional strategy (Duncum, 2000, p. 19). We learnt to draw faces that looked by people not by looking at people but by learning to draw a drawing.

Dweck is the classic literature that comes to mind when thinking about art and the challenges that come with mindsets of people who are fixated on drawing realistically (Mangels, Butterfield, Lamb, Good & Dweck, 2006, p.75). Feedback seems essential when teaching and encouraging students in the visual arts. Validation shouldn’t encourage students to not progress their skills (Mueller & Dweck, 1998, p. 33). Encouragement should be given so that students keep drawing. From this I was lead to think about the correct forms of feedback that one should give. Constructive feedback recognises the positives that the student has done and gives direct specific feedback (Hattie & Timperley, 2007, p.81). The only challenge with the arts is unlike maths, there is no exact right or wrong.

And remember…….kids

every child an artist

References

  • Duncum, P. (2000). Primary art pedagogy: Everything a generalist teacher needs to know. Australian Art Education, 21(3), 274-282
  • Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of educational research77(1), 81-112.
  • Mackenzie, N. (2011). From drawing to writing: What happens when you shift teaching priorities in the first six months of school? Australian Journal of Language and literacy, 34(3), 322-340.
  • Mangels, J. A., Butterfield, B., Lamb, J., Good, C., & Dweck, C. S. (2006). Why do beliefs about intelligence influence learning success? A social cognitive neuroscience model. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience1(2), 75-86.
  • Mueller C. M. & C. S. Dweck (1998). ‘Praise for intelligence can undermine children’s motivation and performance’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol 75 (1), 33-52.
  • Shaw, G. (2015, April 13). Graham Shaw: Why people believe they can’t draw – and how to prove they can
  • Smith-Shank, D. (2014). Dragons and art education: Pre-service elementary teachers’ memories of early art experiences. International Journal of Education through Art, 10(2), 149-162.
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water pencils

Thinking about getting into water colors? Here are some great tips for selecting the right equipment. 5 equipment “must try”s for painting with watercolours

1. Waterbrushwater brushes

Waterbrushe’s do away with tiresome back and forth between the art work and the water pot. Waterbrushes have a water supply cartridge stored in the handle of the paintbrush. This clever design allows you to squeeze the handle gently to allow water to mix with paint on the brush. Waterbrushes are particularly useful when using watercolour pencils to bring your art work to life. Waterbrushes easy lubrication makes mixing colours effective when using water colour blocks. The drawback of the waterbrush is that they are pricey and out offer a limited selection of brush heads.

 

2. Watercolour Pencils

A common birthday gift the humble watercolour pencil is more than a crayon. The trick with water colour pencils is mastering the application. You do not need to colour the whole area with pencil. Shade liberally the darker areas and push the water from these spots to softly colour the rest of the desired area. Simple when you know how and creates beautiful soft watercolour work. Watercolour pencils are cheap equipment and ideal for the part-time painter. Because the paint is presented in pencil form, as long as they are kept dry they last for an eternity and take up little space. As with all pencils, sharpening and lead breaks are your biggest hassle.

water pencils

water pencils

3. Watercolour Block set

The next step up from watercolour pencils is watercolour block sets. These are the more traditional presentation if watercolour paints. Squares of each individual colour that can be liquidated when water is added. Watercolour block sets allow the artist to be able to mix colours easily and manipulate the thickness of the paint as well. Mixing colours does make watercolour bocks prone to colour contamination. A mixing tray and regular brush cleaning is advised when using watercolour blocks to avoid colour contamination. Less portable than watercolour pencils, this medium requires water and a brush during application. Despite the extra hassle watercolour blocks require they do give the artist greater versatility with the medium of watercolour. Travel sets with lids and even pocket brushes are east to come by and well worth a try.

4. Watercolour Paste

Often a little more expensive water colour paste allows you to play around with the consistency of the watercolour more easily because the paint comes in a liquid form. This material again needs to be used with a mixing tray, but has a very different feel to watercolour blocks. The quality and price of water colour paste can vary vastly but it’s a form that is great for all artists, especially kids. Watercolour paste, being water based, doesn’t stain clothes and so if often the pain medium of choice. As Said before, some of the higher quality watercolour paste paints are worth a try for more devout artists too. The viscosity of this medium allows you to use watercolour in a very non-conventional way. Add a little water and you can create your classic washes but in a Monet straight from the tube style can also be done. Due to the solubility of these paints you still have to be careful on how thick you lay it and to preserve your work so that it doesn’t run from later water contact.

5. Watercolour Markers

Ultimate in non-messy portability. No water pots, no paint pallets, you don’t even need a brush! These pens offer that light touch of watercolour colour to your works in the easiest to use pen form. Usually only found in specific art or pen shops, this is more of a specialist piece of equipment and one you may not just get for your 4 year old on a whim, but produces accurate results very evenly and quickly. Often a favorite of cartoonists and although not your conventional watercolour equipment, it’s simplicity makes it well worth a try.

water color markers

What have you tried? What did you think? If you’ve not used all of these then go on a try what you haven’t before, you may discover something magical..

 

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