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12 Art hacks/tricks/tips every artist should know

When it comes to art, we have to follow a few tricks to help make life easier for us. It may save you time OR it may save you some money. So here are 12 tips for artists I hope will be helpful.

1. Saving the tops/caps of your oil paint tubes

This is one thing I follow religiously. I started off my painting journey with Camel Oil Paints. But I had a big problem. The caps of these paint tubes kept getting spoiled and by that I mean, I often found oil leaking out of the sides of the caps, resulting in the caps getting cut at the edges. So every time one of my small paint tubes got over, I saved the caps and threw away the tubes. So next time I came across a damaged cap, I just replaced it with an old one.

* I think the damage was due to the weather.

2. Always buy small tubes of oil paint

The big tubes are a little too much. Also buy high quality oil paints like Winsor & Newton for example.

3. Use two containers of solvent/water to wash your paintbrushes

Using two separate containers to wash your paintbrushes helps reduce the number of times you change the water/solvent. You can wash your brush in one and after all the paint from the brush gets washed, you can dip it in the next container to get rid of any residual paint.

4. Buy a good spray bottle especially if you work with acrylic mediums

A spray bottle may be the best investment when you are working with acrylic paint. I started with oil paint and later tried acrylics and the paint dried so quickly that I almost gave up. A spray bottle helped me a lot. Make sure you buy a bottle that sprays very light mist and doesn’t cause too much splatter.

5. Paper towels make your life so much easier

Using rags to wipe off paint from your brushes gets very messy. Paper towels are such any easy thing to use. Wiping your paintbrushes on paper towels before dipping them in solvent/water, helps frequent change of solvent/water and prevents wastage too.

6.  If you are painting fluid paintings it helps to have a carpenter app

Fluid painting involves dealing with flow of paints and if your table/surface which your canvas is placed on, isn’t even/balanced, your paint will flow in a different direction and you wont be able to control the flow of paints which is difficult enough anyway. You get various apps to check the floor leveling. Do check that before you start painting.

7. Wear masks and glasses

This one is self explanatory. Protect your eyes, protect your sinus especially if you are working with toxic materials and airbrushing.

8. Use foil/plastic wrap

This tip will help you save a lot of time. If you do not have the time to keep washing your paint palette, just use foil or plastic wrap over it and you will see how productive it is.

9. Use tack-it as kneadable eraser to lift paint off especially when you are working with pastels, color pencils, graphite and charcoal.

10. Use cotton buds for blending

I remember I used to blend graphite with my finger for shading. And it is very messy. We generally use paper stumps for blending while working with pencils. If you don’t own blending stumps, use cotton buds for smooth blending.

11. Pencil tracing

If you want to reduce the amount of erasing you do on your expensive paper, do your drawing/sketch on any lightweight paper. You can do all the erasing you want there. Once you are done with your sketch, fill the back of the paper with graphite and then place it onto the final piece and trace.

You will end up with graphite lines which can easily be erased.

12. Use a color picker

When you look at a reference photo, your eye perceives a different color, depending on what other colors are around in the image. For example, look at the video below.

The woman has a wheatish complexion, that doesn’t mean you use beige everywhere. Check out the shadows under her nose and in her ear, it is a very dark brown. When you actually use a color picker, you will notice that you need to use a lot of dark browns in her face.

Well, there are a lot more tips and tricks I got for artists. Don’t want to overload you with too much information.

If you want to read more of my blog posts, you can subscribe by just submitting your E-mail id at the top of the sidebar on my website. If you are reading this on a mobile phone, you can scroll down and find the subscribe button there. You’ll get an update every time I publish a post. No spam. I assure you.


 

I also have a YouTube channel with art tutorials, hacks, time-lapse videos  and much more. Do check it out here. Have a nice day.

Why is ART Expensive?

Today’s post is not just for Artists, but also for those interested in art. Often enough we come across people who want to know why we charge as much as we do for paintings or commissioned portraits.

Well, we don’t start off with very high prices. First of all, we artists change or update our prices with time. There is a reason for it too. Let me start with an example. Suppose I quoted Rs. 1000 for a graphite sketch 7 years ago. I would quote Rs. 3000 now.
Several things justify this price.

  • The amount of time I have spent improving my art. My graphite sketches from 7 years ago don’t look nearly as good as they do now. There is more detailing in my work now. You can see for yourself.
  • I made graphite sketches on A4 size copier print paper before. A few years later, I used papers from a sketch pad which were of a superior quality. Now, I use the best paper there is that is available in India, so obviously, it costs more. As long as we are talking about paper, I would also like to mention that graphite pencils also come in various quality. Most of you (and I’m addressing my fellow Indians here) must have heard of HB, 2B and H pencils that we used in school. We artists use a variety of pencils to do a graphite sketch like 10H, 9H,..,..,..,..,H,..,2B,..,..,8B and so on.
  • Prices of art supplies keep going up.

You may ask why street artists at art fairs charge as less as Rs. 300? Well, for the same reasons I have mentioned above. Paper alone costs me that much or more.

Comparing a few of my works from before, to my current works

My First Textured Painting(6 yrs ago)
2 years after my first textured painting
My painting Made in 2013
My painting Made in 2017
My First Landscape Made in 2016
Landscape Made in 2017

It is not wrong to ask an artist why their art costs that much. Its your money you’ll be spending/investing. So it is your right to ask that artist. And it is their duty to answer you. But, don’t undervalue the artist. And know these things I have mentioned above, before you judge them.

Think about it. You may spend Rs. 3000 on an evening out with your partner, but you think it is too much when you have to pay an artist who probably spent hours or days making a portrait for you. Does it seem fair?

Well, that is just about graphite, the cost is less there compared to Acrylic paints or Oil paints. When you are paying for an artwork, you are not just paying for the cost of raw materials(Canvas/Paper, Paints, Other art supplies).

You are paying for the following

  • The skill of the artist, the amount of time he/she has spent perfecting the skill.
  • The amount of time the artist has spent making the particular artwork.
  •  The idea/imagination behind the painting, that came out of the artist’s head.
  • The amount the artist has spent on reference photos(if they have used any).
    Just to elaborate on that, My collection of bird paintings had to come from a variety of reference photos which were bought from the photographer. I had to pay the photographer because he spent hours trying to capture the perfect image and also spent on his equipment. So, I cant just paint something that he captured, and make money out of it and not give him any credits. That would be stealing.
  •  The amount the artist has spent on art classes.
  • The amount of paint/art supplies the artist has used, to learn that art.
  • Finally, the raw materials the artist has used in making that particular painting that you are buying.

So the next time, you tell someone “Hey I make that much because I spent so much on my Engineering degree” or something like that, remember, the same applies for artists too.

If you want to read more of my blog posts, you can subscribe by just submitting your E-mail id at the top of the sidebar on my website. If you are reading this on a mobile phone, you can scroll down and find the subscribe button there. You’ll get an update every time I publish a post. No spam. I assure you. Have a great weekend.

DIY Valentine gift ideas

Every year most of us are faced with a dilemma on what to gift our loved ones on valentines day. If you are thinking of something materialistic, then this post is not for you. I’m talking about personalized gifts.
My husband never appreciated gifts that I bought from a store. Even things that he really needed. Well, with me it has always been easy. Just buy me art supplies and I’m the happiest person in the world.

One valentine, I gifted him a handmade card. It was very poorly executed, but he loved it because it had a very personal message. The next valentines, I made red velvet cupcakes and he loved them too. So every valentine, I make a gift for him and he really appreciates it. There is also a backstory, Valentines day is special, not because people celebrate it worldwide as a day of love, but because it is also the day we got engaged.

Well, so here are a few ideas to make your valentines day special.

1. Handmade card with a personal message.
You may not have a lot of art supplies ready at home so I’m going to tell you how to make a simple card.

Supplies required:
– Card paper/ Card Stock/ Bond paper/ Chart paper/ Recycled paper
– Patterned paper(not so easily available), so what you can do is print a valentines pattern by looking it up online
– Glue
– Scissors


Cut out your patterned paper in the shape of hearts or you could also cut out lovebirds or any other interesting shapes. Get creative. Now stick that onto the card paper and write a personal message.

You could also make a simple watercolor abstract on paper and write with a marker over it.

2. Bookmarks
If your partner is into reading, you could gift him/her a set of four or six bookmarks.
How to make it? Same as the card but you have to cut it out in the shape and size of bookmarks.

3. Portrait
If you are artistic, you could paint a portrait of him/her or if you could afford it, commission a portrait from an Artist (remember to plan ahead).

4. Bake a Cake/ Cupcakes
I would always choose Red velvet with Cream Cheese frosting for Valentines day. You could also bake an easy Ombre cake.

5. Do Something interesting together, like ‘Make a Painting’
A couple of years ago, I encouraged my husband to paint with me. He was not very sure of it, but once he realized he just had to throw paint onto the canvas, he enjoyed it thoroughly. I made the choice of colors of course. It was an amazing day.

If you need more ideas about this activity, then try Sponge Painting and Splatter Painting. Follow the link to see how to do sponge painting.

You could also try fluid acrylic and splatter painting.

Let me make your life a little easier, I have two downloadable images that you can print and then add your personal message to create tags/bookmarks.

You will have to do a little bit of cropping . Easy right? You can thank me by subscribing to my Blog or YouTube Channel 🙂 Links below. If you have any questions, suggestions or requests, please mention them in the comments below. à bientôt.

12 Essential Tips to know before you participate in your first Art Fair

As artists, at some point we all participate in art fairs, and we don’t know what to expect. I was totally blind-sighted by a lot of things at my first art fair participation. So here are a few tips to help you with your first art fair.

1. Apply in advance
If there are limited stalls, then you want to make sure that the odds work out in your favor. So, keep checking for their announcements and then, when the participation application is announced, make sure you get there as soon as possible and fill out that form and submit it immediately.

2. Prepare financially
Be aware of how much the entire shindig is going to cost you. To mention a few things – transportation costs, packing material.

3. Check out the display space
Go there the day before the art fair. measure out the space and plan out your layout of paintings. Decide what goes where. Find out if you are allowed to bring your own tables/ easels and then have a plan ready, so when you get there the next day, you’ll know what to do without any trial and errors.

4. Select your paintings
Dont take your entire collection there, especially if the art fair is arranged in an outdoor location. You have to remember these few things
– dust, heat/sunlight, possible rains.
– people attempting to touch your paintings
– kids running around
So here is a tip I follow to protect my paintings:
– Cover your paintings with plastic wrap OR transparent plastic covers/sleeves.

5. Prepare a Catalogue/Portfolio
Prepare a catalogue with photos of all your paintings and the prices next to them, so people are not intimidated to ask how much your painting costs. When they enquire about a realistic piece and you quote something like $400, they may not even ask for the price of your abstract piece which you may have priced at $100 and they might’ve been willing to buy.

6. Get your business cards ready
A lot of people don’t come to an art fair with a lot of cash. They may really like one of your paintings and may want to contact you once they reach home. So give them that business card so they can call you back and maybe purchase one of your paintings. Make sure to carry more than necessary. Don’t hesitate from handing out your business cards to anyone and everyone.

7. Promote
Mention about your art show on your website, Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and other social media sites that you are active on. Create an event and share it with friends.

The Ad I created for my first Art fair

8. Carry Essentials
Wear lots of sunscreen, carry mosquito repellent, sunglasses, an umbrella, a jacket, drinking water and a few munchies/sandwiches with you. And don’t forget your buddy(a friend/ family member) because you will need company.

9. Dress Comfortably
You should be approachable and friendly.

10. Carry adequate packing material
Remember, if you sell a painting, you cant just hand over the painting as is. It needs to be securely/optimally packaged. I would suggest corrugated sheets, bubble wrap plus a brown paper cover. Think about how you would want the painting packed if you were the buyer.

11. Socialize
Interact with other artists when you find time. You may find some excellent opportunities to collaborate. Example: Find artists to team with for future group art shows.

12. Do not go there with huge expectations. Don’t think ‘Yes, today is the day I’m going to sell 10 paintings’. You may not sell any, you may sell all ten. You never know. And remember, people do bargain at art fairs. So be prepared for that. Don’t be discouraged. Go there for experience, and if you’re friendly and have a knack for marketing, you may sell a few paintings.

Bonus Tip: Don’t accept cheques.

Do come back and read my blog next week. I upload one blog post every week. You can find the subscribe button on the top right sidebar of my website/blog. No spam, I promise. You will only get an update when I publish my next blog post.

If you have any questions/suggestions, mention it in the comments below.

Have a good day.

Weird things that Army Wives experience

Most of my Regular readers know that I am an Armywife. But some don’t so I’ll tell you anyway. I’m married to an Army officer. But just being married to one, doesn’t make you an army wife. It is a whole other ballgame.
There are a lot of rules and compulsions(Even if they say ‘It isnt compulsory’), most of which the latest generation try to disregard/avoid. We have welfares, ladies meets, formal parties, social evenings and a lot more. But the most challenging part is, packing up our stuff and moving every 2 years. You get 3 years if you’re lucky.

But why is that difficult? Well, You cannot have a stable job and even if you manage to keep one, it’ll be an online job or a teachers job. These are honestly not much if you think about it. I have met lots of armywives who are very well qualified.

I’ve met engineers, ICWA’s, CA’s, doctors, financiers, lawyers and the list goes on. A majority of these wives are now teachers; the rest have turned into artists, photographers, fashion/travel bloggers, writers and so on. We have to make the best of this entire situation.

So, when I moved to this new cantonment in Rajasthan, I instantly hated it. It was dry and boring but the cantonment was in the middle of a dense dry forest. The only thing I liked about this place was that it had a swimming pool. I enjoyed my daily routine of swimming every evening. I was staying in a small guest room, eating food from the officers mess, which I soon got bored of; The staple- dal, chawal, roti, sabzi. I, a south Indian, simply hated it.

Only one week after we had moved there, my husband was detailed elsewhere for a couple of weeks. I was so bored.
One evening I left for my usual evening swim schedule and found that the pool was closed for maintenance on an odd day because there had apparently been a swimming competetion for kids that morning. I drove back to my room, changed into cardio gear and went back for a jog. Ugh, Rajasthan, it was so hot, I couldnt jog. I then settled for a brisk walk. What I didnt notice earlier while I drove were the numerous peacocks. I had walked about 2 kms and had seen atleast 20 peacocks. I then saw a herd of deer. After a while I came across a board which said ‘Keep away from wildlife, Preserve nature’ with a picture of a Leopard on it. I started freaking out. I remembered an incident that had happened in the previous place. Just a week after we had moved there, a family of Leopard was spotted near my husband’s workplace.

I turned around and started running back to our room. I had 2 kms to go. I saw no one on the streets. I panicked but I didn’t stop. I kept running. Just when I had about half a km to go, I saw something that made my heart stop. I stopped. I saw two hyenas, one on each side of the road, looking right at me. I had only seen hyenas on animal planet before. I closed my eyes and said ‘Oh God’. Just then I heard a car horn behind me, the hyenas moved back among the shrubs. I took my opportunity and ran like I never have before. I didnt look back, reached my room, bolted the door and didnt go anywhere for a week.

Things did get better once my husband got back. I braved the streets again, with him of course. I learned from the other wives that the hyenas dont bother you, unless you bother them (and they said this with a little shrug). ‘Beware of monkeys’ they said.

So what makes life better in places like these? It is the company you keep, the friends you make and if you’re lucky, you get friends who remain for life.
And when you look back on these stories, they’re HILARIOUS.

How to clean Paintbrushes and their maintenance

We all value things that we’re passionate about. For an artist, it is paint supplies. Of all my paint supplies, I value paintbrushes the most. My magic wand as I call it…. So, I’m going to address a very important issue- Paintbrushes and their maintenance.

It is very important that you learn how to clean your paintbrushes. I spent months painting in oil paint, not knowing how to clean my paintbrushes, resulting in dirty hands and clothes too. I had no idea how to get rid of the paint from my brushes. Honestly I tried washing it with warm water and soap and as a result had destroyed too many of them. Mind you, paintbrushes are expensive. So, lets start with the first.

  1. Oil Paint – First wipe off any excess paint left on the brush with a paper towel or a rag. There are a couple of options to clean oil paint off your brushes.
  •  Paint thinner/ Turpentine: You may also get this as distilled turpentine which is less harsh on the paintbrushes
  • Kerosene: This is less expensive. I used this when I didn’t have enough money to buy the good stuff.

You should know that both the turpentine and kerosene have a really strong smell. So to those of you who cannot stand that smell or are allergic to the same, I recommend buying odorless paint thinner. This is slightly more expensive compared to the usual turpentine.

Once you wash your brushes in turpentine, you wash them again in a clean separate  container full of turpentine and then wash it with warm soap water.

2. Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is water based and can easily be washed off with water but you need to make sure you don’t let the paint dry on the brush completely. Once you let the paint dry on the brush completely, getting the paint off the brush is a difficult task. I use turpentine if the paint has completely dried but I try to make sure that such a situation doesn’t arise. In any normal circumstance I wash the brushes once with soap and warm water in the end.

3. Watercolor

Wipe it off on a paper towel. Just wash it in water once and then dip it in another container containing clean water.

Well, now that you know how to wash them, you also need to know how to dry and store them.

  • Dab the paintbrush with a tissue or an absorbent cloth.
  • Rest them on a flat surface over the tissue/absorbent cloth until they dry.

Note: Do not place your paintbrushes standing in a paintbrush holder before they dry or else water will seep through the ferrule and the bristles will fan out or shed as the glue holding them together will peel off. Do not rest your brushes standing bristles-down ever(wet or dry).

Follow these simple methods and you will have no more issues with paintbrushes.

Do come back and read my blog next week. I upload one blog post every week now. My next blog post will not be art related, it will be about some of my crazy travel experience. You can find the subscribe button on the top right sidebar of my website/blog. No spam, I promise. You will only get an update when I publish my next blog post.

If you have any questions/suggestions, mention it in the comments below.

Have a good weekend.

Happy New Year 2018

A new year is upon us and there’s a lot in store for all of us. I had a terrible start, I had taken ill on New Year’s Eve and have just recovered. The way I see it, by Gods grace the year can only get better. And it is, We finally have a house allotted. I’m waiting to move in and set up my art studio. You know what that means, I’ll have another art studio tour video on YouTube before the end of next month.
This year I’ll be uploading one video on YouTube every week- that includes art tutorials, time-Lapse videos, product reviews and a lot more.
On the blogging front I’m going to add one new blog post every week. That’s right and it’s going to be more personal along with Art , kinda like my very first blog post.
I managed to do quite a bit in the last few months. 2017 was a big learning experience for me. I attended a lot of art shows/exhibitions/festivals. I learned a lot about social networking. And I overcame my fear of approaching new people , especially the beautiful beings in our beautiful world of art. Seriously you guys, talk to like minded people and you’ll see there is so much to love in this world. Stay away from negativity, and the people who embrace it, Stay away from pessimists(the force is strong in those). Surround yourselves with positive people, read inspiring stories, be inspired, take out time for yourself.
To all my readers out there, if you have any suggestions or requests as to what kind of topics you want me to write about in my blog or what topics you want me to cover on YouTube, feel free to post it in the comments below here or on my YouTube channel and I’ll address them in the best way possible.
This year I’m going to make a lot of art that I haven’t tried before. I don’t just want to stick with what I know. And I’m going to take you along through that journey . Stay with me.
Love and Blessings,
Wishing you all a joyous 2018.
Sylvia D’Silva.

Progress in your Art by Learning from your mistakes

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a video on YouTube about ‘Safety Issues while Painting’. It involved tips like

1. Don’t eat while you paint.

2. Keep your room well ventilated.

3. Wear gloves while you want to finger paint.

4.  Dispose off paint rags immediately…… and so on.

 

 

Well, like it is the case with most beginner YouTubers, my parents are my devoted viewers. They watch every video of mine without fail. They are also my worst critiques. So, as soon as I uploaded this particular video of mine, I sent a link to my parents. My mom called me to say that I looked really pretty, the lighting was bad and the video was very informative. The classic sandwich, Compliment-Criticize-Compliment. I took it in good stride and have tried to improve the lighting in my video.

But my mom didn’t stop at that. “When have you ever worn gloves in your art studio? And you are talking about ventilation? Your room is a dark dungeon with absolutely no ventilation”

Well, in my defense, my Mom hadn’t visited me in a while and I used to do absolutely everything like she said. I used to make those very same mistakes that I tell in the video that you’re not supposed to do. I slowly learned all those things. I learned from my mistakes.

It is easy to ignore certain things and panic when you make mistakes but what you shouldn’t do is get discouraged by those mistakes. Or worse even would be to repeat those mistakes.

Albert Einstein once said “Anyone who has never made a mistake, has never tried anything new”

This quote applies so very accurately to artists. To me Art is about trying something new everyday. Without it I wouldn’t have learnt anything new, or wouldn’t have created anything unique.

So, a message to all you wannabe artists out there, Get off your couch and throw some paints on your canvas. Get started. Don’t be worried about what may go wrong. It’s not under your control. So stop trying to control everything and let go.

 

Setting up an Art Studio

Writing this blog, reminds me of an earlier time when I dreamed of having my own studio space. I still have that dream, of creating a really big art studio with a sloping roof, ample amount of space for storage, lots of chests of drawers and a very organised space allowing in a lot of air and light. But until I can afford that, I’ll make do with what I have right now.

When you explore various fields and try out various new things in art, you end up with a lot of art supplies and soon enough you will start worrying about where to store all of it. Well, when I moved into a new 3 bedroom home yet again two years ago, my husband asked me “Which room do you want for a studio?”

I noticed there was only one room which had a wall unit/shelf near a large window and I knew, that was the one. Hardly any termites in that room; a bonus. I moved my two trunks into that room and set up this lovely space as my art studio. It doesn’t take long really. I didn’t even have any storage boxes. I used the boxes that my phone cases came in. I also used the cardboard boxes(cartons) that my online shopping came in. Over a period of two years I have bought a variety of nesting storage boxes and baskets to store my art efficiently in a small space. And mind you, I bought these on discount. Do watch my video to see my little piece of heaven.

Charcoal Sketch

I can’t paint.
I can’t draw.
I cannot do anything other than abstracts.
Realism? No way!!! Its too difficult.
Well, well, well. If I start listing out the excuses, this blog post will never end. The key is to practice. We’re not born with a paintbrush in our hand. We have to learn. Learning, and a desire to learn is the first step towards being an artist. There are numerous sources online that you can learn from. Just look for them. YouTube videos – my biggest learning source.

I had a busy day, I cannot paint. That’s another excuse we’ve all heard before. Well if you really want to, you can learn. Start with something very small. Sketch a cherry with a graphite pencil. Learn how to shade it. Even something so small is a step forward. The next day, sketch the same cherry on another piece of paper with charcoal or a charcoal pencil.

I have mentioned before that I want to paint/ draw/ sketch new things this year. Here’s what I did last night. My very first sketch with charcoal pencil. I thought I’ll learn how to do the Iris. I was so excited when I saw how it turned out, I sketched the entire eye. and then I was so interested, I did the eyebrow too. And then I stopped myself because I had to sleep.

Not bad for a first one, don’t you think?

Well, I’m looking forward to trying something new in painting. Are you?

Materials Used:

A sketchbook I bought from Reliance Art store on Commercial Street, Bangalore.

Camlin Charcoal Pencils (Hard, Soft and Neutral)