Flower bouquet

I think it’s good to take a step back every once in a while. Like when you’re a child and you’re window shopping with your grown ups, you stop at the toy store because they have something you didn’t see last week.

What about the grown ups? Where do we stop? Flower shops, cafes, designer stores, art studios, jewelry stores…the list goes on forever. I know I’d stop at them all, but a florist could take my entire day telling me about which flower I should keep in my vase. This is that stroke of color after three days of sketching.


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.


Reviving a Vision

For the first revival, Claude Monet’s vision will be examined to understand how paintings are seen before they are painted. In his legendary series Water Lilies, various viewpoints are visible across the paintings. Some include more details whereas others are more simple. What the community aims to focus on for the first step toward revival is achieving the right vision. Monet’s work includes many details of a landscape, but those details aren’t distracting. That is why every brushstroke is essential to the work. Here, we will be centering our vision on the essential parts of an image or abstraction we wish to recreate.

Below is one of Monet’s paintings from his Water Lilies series, which was retrieved from Monet | Kelly published by Yale University Press (you can purchase this book here).

Water Lilies (1907) by Claude Monet.

As it is perceptible, there aren’t many details in the artwork. The artwork may also seem unfinished, but that isn’t the center of focus at the sketching stage. What is most crucial in sketching is capturing the bigger picture first. After that, smaller details may be added, depending on the art style the artist will use. So the take away point is to concentrate on silhouettes. Think about mountains, surfaces, land, water, clouds; all things a child will capture because they aim to create something that can be seen clearly.

Here is an image of a small pond that I took last year on my trip to Lake Placid. It is full of details that are hard to capture within a sketch. But an artist isn’t required to replicate every single silhouette they see.

Picture of a landscape; a pond full of water lilies and weeds.

To show you how silhouettes must be sketched and what should be in the frame, a section of this image will be worked on. Here is a cropped version of the original photo.

A pond full of water lilies, algae, and weeds.

Look closer into the picture, and then at the reference. An image has within itself images that seem to come from different universes.

A sketch based on this image will look quite simple if the goal is to focus on silhouettes. In one word; outline. At this stage, shading and dimensions don’t necessarily matter. The most important thing is defining objects, surfaces, and distances. Scroll down to see the sketch.

Materials you’ll need for this revival: an artist’s pencil (HB), eraser, sketch paper.

Exact materials used in this post:

A sketch paper notebook, a graphite pencil, and an eraser.
A sketch of a pond filled with water lilies and algae. Drawn with pencil on paper.

You might think: “This looks nothing like the picture!” Well you’re right. An artist should not aim to achieve realism within the first sketch. Begin working on outlines from pictures you take. Remind yourself to take pictures that have clear silhouettes. Or challenge yourself with a less defined image. It is also up to you how much of an image you’d like to recreate. Sometimes, the details are in the bigger picture, not within the detail itself.