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.

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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.

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.

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)

 

 

 

Acrylic Painting Landscape

I’ve always taken up criticisms as challenges. Someone told me ‘It is not easy making landscapes’. Hmmm, Well, maybe I thought. Why not try it?  Friends and people around you come up with great ideas. Listen to them and try something new. When you do, it opens up a whole lot of possibilities. Have fun. Enjoy!!!

 

Do not copy paintings and call them original

We know how the education system in India works at the lower primary level. There are a couple of words I use to describe it; By-heart and Mug-up. The best mugger is usually the topper. Students who stand average in exams are usually the ones who succeed well in their job. Why am I writing about this in my blog you think? Well, I have a point. Keep reading 🙂

I remember taking math tuition soon after I completed Engineering as I was home awaiting my joining date from the company I got placed in. I took in one student to teach 10th grade Math. Not so difficult, I thought. I had experience teaching 10th grade Math to my cousins and they fared well. The very first class I started with Set Theory. The very first example was the one where you separate even numbers from a given set of numbers. Easy-peasy. When I told my student to do that, he stared at me with a blank expression on his face. I tried a simpler way, wondering if he understood English. ‘Point out the even numbers in this list’. Blank expression again.

‘What are even numbers?’ I asked him.

‘2, 4, 6, 8 and so on’ he said.

‘Good. Now, what is this number?’ I asked pointing to 14

‘Fourteen’ he said.

‘Is it odd or even?’ I asked a little irritated now.

‘Neither’ he said.

‘What? Isn’t it even?’ I asked.

‘2, 4, 6, 8 and so on are even’ he said.

‘What is so on?’ I asked.

‘I don’t know Mam’ he said.

Well, this is the result of By-Heart. The boy didn’t know simple first grade Math. How could I teach him anything? I taught him a few basics and then gave up saying ‘I signed up to teach 10th grade Math, not 1st to 10th grade. Sorry’

I was once given zero marks in a test for a theorem wherein I had used a, b, c in place of x, y, z.

We were criticized when we wrote our own answers instead of the exact words from the textbook, even though it meant the same. This habit of copying everything from our source/textbooks is so deeply rooted in us that we apply it anywhere without thinking it is wrong. I see this in the art world too.

So many artists paint other artists paintings and sell them and think there is nothing wrong with it. They don’t mean any disrespect; they just don’t know it is wrong. Yes, we all start our artistic journey by painting stuff that we find on the internet. Nothing bad with that, just don’t put a price on it and call it yours. Instead gift it, hang it on your wall. What would be great is if you put it up online and actually gave credit to the original artist by just mentioning reference.

I have done these things too, but there comes a time where you develop your imagination and paint something unique. You know it came from you. Now imagine someone else paints the same painting just by copying yours and sells it. Is it right? How will you feel? If somebody copies and paints your painting for practice you may feel good or honored but if they sell it, you’ll definitely get angry. People have even gone to the extent of displaying/ exhibiting their copied paintings in art galleries as their original work.

This is my message to artists everywhere. Don’t copy. Try to come up with something that is inside your head, your imagination, something original. And if you find that difficult, start with photographs (royalty free) as references. Once you start this process, ideas will flow naturally. Do check out work by other artists and derive inspiration from them but don’t copy. Remember, an artist is not just paid for his/her skill level but also for their imagination and ideas. Good luck.

I listen to Audiobooks while I paint

Many months ago, I painted a portrait for a friend. It was a portrait of his girlfriend.  It was a very pretty picture to begin with; she has a really pretty face. It was my first time doing a portrait. I was so excited. I did the background first and sent the photo to my friend. He loved it. So I continued. I drew the face with white charcoal pencil. Yeah! It was perfect. And so I began painting. Oh dear… I messed up. What I painted didn’t look like her at all. I then watched some videos online and noticed that a lot of artists paint in black and white and then glaze color over it.

So I began. I painted over it in black and white. Not pretty :0 it was a disaster. I then started over it again. Layers and layers and it still didn’t look quite right. I wanted to give up. So, I stepped back and decided not to paint the next day. I just relaxed the next day. The day after that I started again on the face. It looked better that day. But again I was tired of looking at that face for so many hours a day. I don’t even look at my husband for that many hours a day.

Here’s what I did. I had a collection of audio books. I transferred it to my Mp3 player and put on my headphones. It was a brilliant idea. I was so lost in the novel I was listening to that I didn’t worry about the painting much. The task became quite enjoyable. My mind relaxed and hence I could produce better results. I was happy with that day’s results.

I continued the next day with the audio book again. I finally finished and added some extra effects too. It is amazing how much you can improve once you relax your mind.

Tip: Ask for enough time, well in advance when you take commissions so you can relax and paint and not worry too much about your deadline. If you think you can paint something in 20 days, make sure you ask for 40 days so you can produce better results.

And shop for some amazing audio books. I have the Harry Potter collection, James Patterson – Women’s murder club, John Green audio books, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many more… I’m still looking for more audio books because they make painting , so much more fun. And of course, you can also listen to podcasts.

It is important that you enjoy what you do. There have been a lot of times where I hav given up on a painting but I eventually get back to it after a break and the end result is better than I expected. Keep inspiring yourself.

I’ve always prized myself on coming up with goofy comparisons like Paintbrushes are magic wands. So here goes, Audiobooks are so much like our grandmas who used to tell us interesting stories when we were kids.  They never fail to entertain.

Don’t forget to Subscribe. Keep reading, keep painting.

My Experience at Chitra Santhe 2016

I’ve always given excuses for not displaying my art; “It is not good enough”, “I don’t have enough paintings to make up a collection”, “I don’t know how to approach art galleries”, etc.

Well, a few of those reasons are genuine but I had to get out there. I needed to experience it. So, I decided to participate in Chitra Santhe. It is an art fair held once every year in Bangalore at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath. It is for the common artist, especially those who cannot afford to have a solo exhibition and as it is a fair, it is open to all audience. Thousands of people come to this event in the hope of buying art at a price they wouldn’t hope for in a gallery.

I went in the end of October to get an application form and I was delighted when I was told I was lucky as it was the last one available. I submitted the form the next day. They cannot accommodate everyone and hence you have to wait until the end of December to find out if you made it to the shortlist. Sure enough, just four days prior to the event I got it. I went with my dad for site inspection. It was a very tiny little space because they accommodated more number of participants that year.

I went home and bought some brown paper. Dad and Mom helped me make brown paper covers big enough to pack my paintings in (in case I managed to sell any). I packed them all nicely to be able to take the paintings safely to the venue.

My very resourceful mom kept a watch out for delivery vans and convinced one of them to let us hire the vehicle for transport. He backed out later because he was not comfortable with the timing. We had to reach the venue before 7:30am as the road would be blocked for vehicles after that time. Anyway, Dad managed to hire a vehicle to transport the paintings. My uncle, my cousin and I managed to move the paintings to the location and set up by 8:30am.

Tips: Carry smaller size paintings so you can just take them by car and also don’t take more than 10 paintings. Carry a sun Umbrella or wear lots of sunscreen. Handout visiting cards even if others around you think you’re being stupid.

At Chitra Santhe 2016

Don’t lose hope even if you don’t sell anything. It is a good experience. You’ll know what to expect for the next time and you’ll get lots of feedback. You’ll also get to meet experienced artists and know more about the art world.

My parents came by my stall in the evening and I got my first customer then. The woman bargained a lot and my dad convinced me to sell a painting to her at a reasonable price. I sold one more painting after that. Selling two paintings was not so bad after all. And I managed to sell one more painting online when I put up an invitation to Chitra Santhe on social media.

So start with a fair like Chitra Santhe, Kala Ghoda arts festival, Sunday soul Santhe or any art fairs in your city and you’ll have a great time and gain confidence to exhibit more of your paintings.

P. S: The packing and unpacking at the site is quite a task.

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