The Lying Oak Tree

Blue outlined living things; trees, people, leaves, hair, bees, flowers, and squirrels. There is a squirrel who stores too many acorns under the tree, and the tree sheds enough leaves to cover it. Then a little kid comes along playing in the park, asking the oak tree: “where are all the acorns?” The tree lies and says it’s all gone, just like the leaves that have dropped to the ground.

Yet the little kid isn’t fooled because it isn’t fall and the leaves are as green as a frog.


Reviving Kees Van Dongen: can Fauvism be digitalized?

Kees Van Dongen was one of the pioneers of Fauvism, focusing on women and portraits with unique details. Among his paintings, there are countless figures with memorable faces. But an important feature of his women is their clothing. Colors, creases, folds, and textures are very well defined in Dongen’s artworks, which is something to consider if you’d like to start painting portraits in the form of Fauvism.

What does it mean when clothing is important in an artwork?

Now you may ask what it translates to in the art world, when I say that clothing is a dominant part of Dongen’s work in Fauvism style. It’s easy to think that clothing should be detailed if the art form is Fauvism, but that isn’t the main point.

It’s essential to go back to your vision and build on what you create as you keep the eye of a viewer as well. Sometimes you might find yourself buried in layers you’ve created for the characters you paint, which will prevent you from seeing it the way a viewer might. So start sketching clothing that strikes the eye; garments that appear before the women (or men) you’re depicting. Sometimes clothing makes the character!

How would Fauvism work digitally?

Well, in short, it won’t if you’re hoping to revive Fauvism resembling the work of its pioneers. Many artists such as Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, and Van Kees himself worked with gouache, lithography, and oil colors. But if you’re like me, you’re giving the digital programs a chance. It may never look like a real painting done with those colors since it’s more of an illustration. However, it’s a fresh way to give your illustrations a direction to a specific art form.

The key to making digital art lean toward an art style is to preserve the elements that make an art form complete and recognizable. For example, Fauvist paintings have a notable outline around objects and people. This outline is usually in deep blue, and not drawn so precisely. Another property of this art form is the strong colors that stand up to reality. In the field of Fauvs, you don’t have to worry so much about things looking real and making so much sense through the lens of impressionism. Paint colorfully and don’t be able to define your work imprecisely.

Layering a Fauvist illustration in Procreate

There are many different programs and applications that are great for illustrations. I personally use Procreate because of the variety of brushes and textures, easiness of layering, and ability to make alterations to my work conveniently. Here is a video where I illustrate using many different layers.

Video of illustrating a woman using Procreate.

The purpose of this video is to show you how illustrations are layered digitally. This is not a tutorial video, but rather a snippet of the work behind my illustration. A great thing about digital illustrations is how much you can change and how indispensable layers are. You can hide and unhide layers or even delete them. You’re able to erase again and again and change brushes, colors, and textures as you’re learning. So take the opportunity to build on your vision as you choose the art style you’d like to revive. It is always great to be traditional and go for pencil and paper, but remember that digital programs can also be an awesome alternative if you’re going for less waste (read more about art and waste here).

Painting of a woman wearing a gray and blue dress, decorated with a big blue bow on her neck and a blue hair on her head, all inside a painted ochre frame. Painted by Kees van Dongen.
Kees Van Dongen, Claudine, ou Mlle Oeuie de Lynx, Color lithograph, circa 1950.


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.

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.


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.