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Passing time

Over the years I’ve been quite reluctant about X-Day Challenges. Not for what they did, but for the commitment it required. It seemed like too much sometimes. I’d ask myself, ‘what if I don’t feel like painting one day’ or ‘how will I squeeze in a painting during my finals.’ Always an excuse like that, nothing substantial that made sense to me. Which is why I had this unknown icky feeling about challenges.

I have two goals that align with a 60-day challenge: First, I’m hoping to juggle a few art styles at the same time. Second, I’d like something to occupy my mind as 60 days are going by. I have a move coming up (very excited!), but moving can be quite stressful especially during these unprecedented times. So I’m taking the time that I will be patiently waiting to create something meaningful and impactful for my future. I’m looking forward to take a glance at the challenge and reflect on it when I’m on to something new.

To shorten this post, I’m thinking of a broad collection I will create in these 60 days. And I will post the theme of the artwork a day ahead. For today, I have painted an inaugural piece in honor of me finally committing to a challenge, which is the artwork below.

Watercolor painting of the river merging into the trees with fish and bushes surrounding them.
Intermission, Watercolor on paper, 3.5×5.5, 2021

If you’ve been sticking around for a while, you’re bound to know my obsession with Fauvism. It started with small and round brushstrokes of vibrant colors and now it’s becoming more linear and structured. I’m not defining my work, but I’m reflecting on what’s changing. This is exactly my goal for the challenge. In this painting, I added two colors to my primary palette; ochre and green. But the arrangement is similar to the other Fauvist-inspired paintings I’ve done. I’m trying to give my paintings more objects.

For the first official day of the challenge which is tomorrow, I will be going back to black pencils. I’m still not sure what’s gonna appear on the paper, but it’ll be similar to my fauvist paintings. Black pencils and fauvism; crazy!

I hope you’ll stay around for the challenge and perhaps you could send me your work if you’d like to be part of the challenge!

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Digital commissions are now open!

I’m very excited to announce that digital commissions will be accepted as of tomorrow, Monday 14th of December. I will be accepting commissions from the new “Commissions” menu bar, and I’m looking forward to creating the artworks you will be requesting. Use the form to enter your name and email address, as well as describing your digital commission.

In the meantime, enjoy this digitally used napkin from Crinkle Cafe (you’ll be familiar with it soon) with a Christmasy kiss.

Happy Holidays!

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The unethical side of being inspired: is retracing wrong?

There is little way to create if you’re not getting inspired by some source or another. But what is considered ‘getting inspired?’ Some artists make the mistake of unethically retracing the work of well-known and lesser-known artists as a way to grow in their techniques and vision. How wrong could this be and what is the right path to growing as an artist?

What does retracing mean and is it wrong?

Retracing is when an artist retraces the design, drawing, or the entirety of a painting that is done by someone else. There are many practices that are somewhat similar to retracing, which in fact aren’t unethical. For example, in many grape and paint events, artists redraw and revive a painting done by some of history’s greatest artists. This is actually a great way of growing and adopting the vision of an artist that inspires you.

However, if you find yourself copying (such an ugly word) a painting line by line and imitating it’s methods stroke by stroke just to claim it as a new work under your own name, that’s quite unethical. There are levels to retracing, and you should fall on the lighter end of the spectrum where you use another artist’s art as a stimulator for your creations.

Can I possibly retrace unintentionally?

Definitely. There are many occurrences where an artist unconsciously retraces another artwork to the point where it’s impossible to miss. This happens when you secure a deep connection with an artist or collection, and you have the colors, style, and theme in your unconscious creative space.

A way to escape that is to be aware of what resources fuel your creativity. In other terms, more inspiration. It’s easy to get lost in your imagination and mix up some of your ideas with the works of others.

Why do ethics matter in the field of arts?

It may not be a constant topic of discussion, but ethics shape our lives more boldly than we think. It’s crucial to have fulfilling experiences as an artist, instead of easy and fast ways that can get you further in this field. There are so many rewarding ways you can grow in your own steps. This means seeing more but connecting less of your eyesight to your brushstrokes. It can be difficult at first, but you will reach a certain point in your artistic career where you’ll be proud of being ethical in your approach to getting inspired.

How can I tell the difference between retracing and reviving practically?

To examine the difference, I’ve come up with a real example of where you should draw the line between the ethical and unethical sides of revival.

Holly Warburton, Evening Sketch.

I was really inspired by Holly Warburton’s Evening Sketch. I chose to illustrate something that reminded me of the hem of the woman’s dress/skirt. Here’s how it turned out:

The Landing Tree, Multimedia, 2020.

While I was illustrating this piece, I had Audrey Hepburn in mind too. But I was mostly focused on my own idea for a short story, and what the other objects in the scenery would be doing for the whole illustration.

It’s quite obvious that these two paintings look nothing alike. There may be similar colors, textures, and brushstrokes in two paintings that are linked by inspiration, but they aren’t usually identical. This is a classic example of how I choose to revive, cautiously staying away from stealing someone else’s style.

What do you think of getting inspiration and the ethical consequences of it?

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Are sources of inspiration changing in the arts?

It’s getting pretty difficult to keep track of the times. Everyday a new event changes the way we work and live, and for some of us being inspired is part of that change. For me, it has been exceptionally difficult this year to focus on the right sources of inspiration that will fuel my mind for my own art. But there’s no excuse to that. An artist should always feel inspired.

Is it art block or not having access to inspiring resources?

A lot of people confuse these two problems. It’s much different when you have an art block, compared to when you’re just not being fed the art you need. I’ve not been able to go to any of the museums or art galleries I usually go, and I haven’t been traveling for a year. I usually feel most inspired when I’m at these places, but I haven’t had access to any of these resources.

What should I do when I don’t have access to inspiring resources?

It’s difficult to find other ways to feel inspired and motivated, but there are still options out there. Currently, a great friend of mine has been sending me photos of paintings and sculptures that they see when they go to art museums and galleries. I know I will be able to see them after the pandemic, but it has been very helpful for me to breathe the fresh air of art once again.

Another way is to attend virtual art galleries and workshops. Many artists showcase their work this way at the moment. It’s also great to visit some of your favorite art bloggers’ websites to see what they’ve been creating.

What if I still feel uninspired? Are there any other ways out?

The answer is complicated. There are still other ways you can feel inspired indirectly. For example, sometimes I feel inspired to paint after watching a movie or reading a book. It may seem unnatural but it’s not! Movies are just moving pictures, which stimulate the image-making part of our brains with the memories we receive after watching.

But texts can contain imagery too. What’s most unique about this is that each person has their own personalized perception of what the image might look like once they’ve read a poem or novel, or any text that contains imagery. So try it out! Read and discover what you may see and whether you’d like to bring those images on paper.

How do I keep myself inspired for a longer time?

Once you have been inspired, it may be difficult to maintain that state. It’s wise to continue exposing yourself to the sources that get you creating, but it’s also important to be aware of what can grow inside you. There are many things we think of, which may be potential artworks and creations. But sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that creativity must be fueled externally. Keep track of your thoughts, embrace your ideas, and strengthen your vision.

Happy painting!

Painting of pink, violet, and creme flowers both short and tall with a pale pink background.
I painted this using Procreate.

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Is painting waste-free a good investment?

This is Revival Guy. He’s wondering why there are so many art supplies scattered at the beach!

Many artists have turned away from traditional pencil and paper, but not only for digital convenience. There are many reasons that cause paper to go out of style, and landfill is one of them. As artists, we must aim to reduce the threats to our environment, which inspires us in our work.

What can you do to reduce landfill when you’re creating?

When you think of drawing on paper, you may imagine that the paper itself is most problematic. But that isn’t true! Artists are rarely opposed to creating art traditionally because of their canvas. What concerns artists is waste, which a finished painting or canvas is not, as long as it isn’t thrown away.

So when you’re deciding to eliminate waste from your art, think of the things that suddenly appear around your creative space: drafting tape, pencil shavings, plastic containers for color mediums, plastic caps for thinners and solvents, etc. Additionally, make sure you recycle any produce that comes from your art process. The table below will help you decide which items you can recycle, or even compost.

ItemCompostRecycleWaste
PaperNot colored, glossy or mixed with chemicalsPaper with art mediums on itContaminated with dangerous particles
Pencil ShavingsPencils made from cedar woodOther wooden pencils/used as artPlastic pencils/not used in art
TapeGummed paper tapeOther paper tapesPlastic tapes
Art Medium ContainersBamboo/plant based plasticsRefillable containers, Metal and plastic Single use containers
Bottle CapsPlant based plasticsMetal and plastic capsPlastic caps numbered 3 or 5
Table showing items that can be composted, recycled, or become landfill.

Remember to compost before you can recycle, and if all fails, try to look for another solution if you’re living a zero-waste lifestyle, or if you just want to reduce your carbon footprint. Also, make sure you check with your local compost and recycle center to see which items they will accept.

Many art supplies come in plastic packaging that cannot be recycled. While it is not ideal to sacrifice your artistic experiences for the environment, there are still other solutions that are waste-free.

Have you tried painting without any materials at all?

It may seem difficult to start drawing with digital programs when you’re used to the traditional process, or if you’re just starting to embrace your art. But technology has progressed to a point where programs may be even more inclusive than all the art supplies you can possess. In my recent blog post, I have uploaded a digital artwork created with Procreate. Many of my artist friends couldn’t believe it was done digitally because of the brush textures and layers of the piece.

For many, digital programs can be a great investment as an alternative to art supplies. Art materials can be expensive and they run out quickly in contrast to digital programs that are indispensable. So think about the type of art you want to create, and what your reasons are for painting waste-free.

Don’t forget to have fun!

Even if you’re making enormous changes to your art and style, it is crucial to have fun. Otherwise, the art you create isn’t going to come from magical places. And remember to show your brushes some love! The more you take care of them, the less you’ll have to throw them out.

Illustration of three brushes, one of them being used to paint and it says "Oh no! I'm having a stroke again!"
“Brushstroke,” 2020.

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How to color outside the lines

It has become a cliche, to “color inside the lines.” There is no artistic reasoning behind such demand, and in fact, the possibilities are not endless. So why should an artist base their work on outlining? Good question. They shouldn’t; they don’t have to.

For many beginner artists and children, it is stressful to control a pencil, crayon, or brush in their hand as they try to color a drawing that has been defined with landscapes, objects, and people. Such stress may come from sketching, and the definition it gives to a vision, as I discussed in my first post. Definition gives meaning and helps other people make sense of what you paint, but it is important to remember how you feel about what you create as well.

Unless you’re illustrating or your work requires outlines for everything you depict on a page, try relaxing your mind from the perfectionism that comes with staying inside the lines. Read for more instructions on how such meditation is practiced in art.

  1. Remember that lines aren’t constraints. Many artists make the mistake of seeing lines as limitations. If that is you, remind yourself that definitions aren’t absolute in art. Beyond the line is the same empty space as inside it.

  2. Forget about backgrounds. Just forget it! The page you’re drawing on is one huge backyard every character you draw can live in. You don’t have to create contrast between silhouettes on every single canvas.

  3. Blend in and out objects. To really get go of boundaries, try blending the outside of your outlines with the color inside. When you do this, you’ll notice how irrelevant lines become sometimes.

  4. Cross the line with a purpose. Some art styles welcome coloring outside the lines. But remember that once you go for it, you should keep your style consistent within your painting. Or not!

  5. Practice with coloring books. It might sound ridiculous to purchase a coloring book just so you can color outside the lines, or maybe just a bit inside them. I have a better idea: make your own coloring-outside-the-lines book!

  6. Try to draw without outlines. If you find it impossible to stay outside the lines, start depicting your ideas without sketching at all. Let colors run into each other.

Here is my take on the concept of “coloring outside the lines” using Procreate. There aren’t many rules in art unless you set them yourself.

Multimedia painting of two fish and a whale, with colorful brushstrokes surrounding them and merging within their outlines.
Fish, Multimedia, 4×6, 2020

This is a simpler way to color outside the lines. It can start with a flower in your garden, but the colors can bleed outside the petals. Be brave when you’re leaving brushstrokes behind. Unlike petals, they’re almost forever.