Uncategorized

Don’t Let A Bad Week Ruin Your Weekend

I’m sure you’ve had a terrible day, or a string of days at work. It wasn’t a single event that caused your stress and grief, not necessarily, but things going wrong just little by little. All the while, you’re getting more and more distressed without even having realized it.

It doesn’t really matter what it was, the report you put on your boss’ desk wasn’t exactly perfect even though you double and triple checked everything… again… maybe you said something stupid to a coworker that you’re sitting there dreading what they think of you, maybe for some reason, instead of having a difficult customer once every day, like you’re used it, it seems to be once per hour. Maybe you’re not sure if the customers are just terrible, but your own stress is more visible to the customers than you like which is putting them at a sense of unease, so they don’t have confidence in you.

Just like how you’ve lost confidence in yourself.

Finally, the moment comes that you’ve been waiting for. You clock out of work to go enjoy your weekend (or whenever your day off happens to be), you’ve finally escaped work. You can just relax an enjoy yourself, maybe even get stuff done that YOU want instead of whoever you’re working for!

Yaaaaay- wait… I hear a “but” coming…

Right?

Guess again, pal.

Your day off comes along, and maybe you’re just so burnt out that all you can do is sit in front of the computer watching Netflix or playing video games. Then, your day is gone before you know it, and you’re back at work again.

You don’t feel rested, your muscles ache with the weight of the events of the previous week. That day off-or even that entire weekend- might as well have been a hour lunch.

Or maybe you’re one of those crazy people that actually continue to wake up early on the weekends, you have a dream you’re working towards, and you’ve made progress. Your way of relaxing is drawing or painting a picture, you might have done some blogging, some research on how to make passive income, maybe did some chores around the house.

Yaaay… Why am I empty inside?

Only, you don’t feel accomplished. You are still carrying that weight from that awful week at work. All those little things you accomplished over the weekend didn’t restore your confidence in yourself as much as you were sure it would.

You might have had nightmares about work.

You found yourself in quiet moments-without realizing it-going through situations that went wrong at work and figure out what you would have done differently to make them better, then you would feel your heart race and get upset.

Then you would get angry. This is my time off! Why has my job treated me so badly that I’m spending my own time worrying about that?

I know it might sound like PTSD, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it that.

I’m not here to tell you that’s not all that bad, you’ve heard that already. I’m not even here to tell you how to make the most of your weekend. If you need to veg out and essentially reboot yourself after an awful week, that’s great! You deserve it!

I’m here to share with you something that helps me when I’m supposed to be enjoying my time, but the stress from work is getting to be too much.

Now, I don’t just do this, I also keep a daily journal, read philosophy, and exercise, which I’m sure helps significantly.

You ready?

When you start to feel panicky and remember your terrible time at work, stop. Stop everything you’re doing and look up. You need to remember that you can’t change the past, you can’t look to the future. You are currently living in the present moment. Look up. Look at the environment around you while taking three, slow deep breaths.

Where are you? You’re not at work. Look at a few objects in the place you’re in. If you’re at the desk, look any pictures on the wall, look at the coffee mug in front of you. Look at your sketchbook. Remember. This is not work. This is your space. You can do just about anything you want in this space. No grouchy customers (unless they’re your own if you’re that aforementioned small side business-owner), no boss breathing down your neck, no reports you have to check. Just your space.

Pictured Above: Not Your Job

If you’re outside, look at the plant life, look at the big sky above you, maybe there’s a dog, or a squirrel near by. Again. This is not work. This is the space you’re in right now. You can’t always control what happens at work. You definitely can’t control and fix all the things that went wrong this week. If you keep worrying about what’s going to happen at work, then you’re just going to be miserable and miss out on the great time you could be having right now.

Pictured Above: Not Your Job Either

If your stress is particularly brutal, I recommend doing some journaling. Write down five to seven things that you’re grateful for. I know it sounds dumb, but it’s much easier to focus and fret over what’s going wrong than on the things that are going right in you life. They don’t even have to be big things. Is it sunny out? Be thankful for that! Is no one dying right now? That’s a plus. You’re not starving? There you go.

Did someone just smile back at you as you were you thinking of your list because they thought you were starting to smile at them? Well, that’s a combination of nice with a bit of sweet humor (this actually happened to me, it was really the highlight of my day!).

It is helpful to think of a different list every day, otherwise these things will lose their magic.

Right now, you need a boost. Any boost.

Also, please, do not be alone during this time. Human beings are social animals, and now would be a good time to reconnect with a friend. If you live with your family, or partner, this would also be a good time to do something nice for them (make them a card, offer to do one of their chores, tell them they look great). Showing an act of kindness to someone instantly makes you feel good.

It’s important to remember that even though your job might make you feel like a worthless husk- a cog in a machine- instead of a human being, you matter to someone else.

It doesn’t feel like that right now.

But you do.

Also, if your job is particularly toxic, to the point where you feel this terrible most of the time, look for other jobs. Oh, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”? don’t be so sure. Have been looking for other jobs, but no luck? Keep looking!

You also may want to consider volunteering once a week, that will make you feel like you’re making a difference, you’ll be picking up new job skills, and your future employer will really like the fact that you’re volunteering. That’s not always fun either, but the benefits of volunteering outweigh the negatives.

Just… don’t be the guy holding the knife.

These things don’t necessarily need to be practiced purely on the weekends either, you can also do these exercises when you get home from work, or even on your lunch break (actually, ESPECIALLY on your lunch break, where there’s a pretty good chance that besides eating, all you can think about is going back to work).

Also, I want it to be clear that I’m not saying you should ignore your problems. If you have difficulties at work that you can need to improve on and overcome, you should do everything you can to do so. At work. On the weekends, or time you’re not being paid to deal with work (unless you’re a teacher or some other profession that requires you to do work related things on your time off), that time and place belongs to you.

In Conclusion:

  1. Stop. Observe Your Surroundings, Remember You’re Not at Work
  2. Take Three Deep Breaths
  3. List 5-7 Small Things You’re Grateful for
  4. Do Something Nice for Someone Else
  5. Change What’s Wrong With Your Situation if You Can (get a different job, learn additional skills, volunteer).
Advertisements
art

Does Art HAVE to Be Political?

In my research on how to make my own art blog better, I’ve been researching other art blogs. I found the ones that are the easiest to find seem to be groups and collaboratives of artists as opposed to independent individual artists, which is fine.

I did find that many of these groups are involved with social justice activism such as feminism, environmentalism, inclusivity and other social justice values, just as much, if not more so, than their art.

That got me thinking to something I heard from Elizabeth A. Sackler when I lived in Italy. She said “All art is political. Even if it’s not political. It’s still political.”

At the time, this bothered me. Whenever I hear “Political Art,” I hear “Propaganda” somebody using something as wonderful, meaningful, and powerful as art only to be nothing more than to to try to tell people what to think. Not only that, but whenever I heard the word “Political” my mind easily jumps to evil, corrupt, greedy politicians who think they have the right to tell the rest of us what to do. Any art of this nature would be glorifying these scumbags like gods, which they are far from, as much as they like to think they are.

It wasn’t until later that year, when I decided to focus more on what I love about art instead of what frustrated me about how it’s taught in university, that I realized why it bothered me so much. Politics is a lens. It’s only one lens, and a very narrow one usually utilized by bored, rich, power hungry people, I found in my experience.

Art isn’t just looked at through a political lens… there’s philosophical viewpoints, psychoanalytic, scientific, historical (my favorite), and… religious.

Then it hit me.

Historical Significance

When you look back at history at any culture, what was the thing that got commissioned, kept, and preserved the most? That’s right. Religious art. The Ancient Egyptian Pyramids of Gaza with their anthropomorphic animal gods, the Parthenon of Greece, the giant Reclining Golden Buddha of Thailand, all of these had significant religious significance.

Yes, we have statues of the great political leaders of the time too, but I don’t believe they inspire as much awe as the religious monuments. Historians spend countless decades and lifetimes analyzing every aspect of meaning, the myths, the legends, the significance these monuments had to the community, whereas we see a statue or painting of a king and say, “Yup, he lived in that time. Definitely had a big ego too.”

Even the tiny non-Christian Roman baby angel thought Augustus was the best… let’s be honest, he was probably right.

Although, you could make a religious argument for the statues of great rulers. Some cultures believed that the king was either a god or representative of God on Earth.

The Nature of Art Itself

Don’t hate me, but art is an inherently useless thing. It doesn’t serve any of our physical needs.

Art alone doesn’t give you warmth, nourishment, or any other physical thing you need to live. Even with cake, as an example, you can make a very artistic looking cake, but the “art” part of it really has no use beyond just looking pretty.

Some cakes are so well decorated, you actually don’t WANT to eat them.

A beautiful, well decorated house with stunning architecture gives you shelter and warmth, but the art part of it doesn’t serve that function, not really. You could live just fine in a plain, mass-produced house.

The sun gives us life, a beautiful sunset doesn’t. Yet we take the former for granted, and the latter we enjoy and appreciate much more. It inspires something in us.

Something that reminds us of how alive we are.

Something that, even just for a moment, fills us with a sense of completeness.

Something akin to a “religious experience.”

Religious art in the Gothic and Renaissance Western world was made with the purpose of evoking a religious experience such as this in the viewer. I very much felt this in every church I stepped into in Italy.

I was literally surrounded with so much beauty- the color, the shapes, the music- it made me appreciate what human beings were capable of- and if we- flawed, greedy, and self-obsessed as we are- were able to create something like THAT… then what were the angels capable of?

Of course, if you got your degree in Art History, like I did, you were constantly told that these were only made for rich people to show off their power.

Honestly?

Who in the nine depths of the Underworld gives a scarlet damn?

“Politics” is Just Code for “Religion”

The reason why you’re not supposed to talk politics and religion is because, to many people, they’re one and the same. They’re both vehicles of meaning and are an important part of peoples’ identity.

When you become a religious devotee, it can be very difficult to not look at the world through a religious perspective. Had a bad day at work, and towards the end, one of your coworkers hands everyone including you chocolate? God must have sent that coworker to give you the chocolate to cheer up and reward you for enduring such a trial-heavy day. It gives your life meaning. A sense of purpose. You may have taken advantage of opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise because you believe everything happens for a reason, and God loves you deeply and personally.

So, now I understand why important gallery owners like Elizabeth Sackler, university professors, and other art authorities say something as ridiculous as “All art is political.” They live in a very political world, are most involved with activism and pursuing a better world through their eyes.

Pictured above: An Enlightened individual after creating the greatest art known to the universe. She looks awfully happy. Maybe she knows something we don’t.

Many have gone into great detail of the similarities between social justice and religion. Every time I go to a Call for Artists on a publicly funded arts and culture council, most of what they want art specifically having to do with social justice values such as promoting environmentalism and feminism.

I used to be disgusted by this because everything about it just screamed “Propaganda for the Democrat Party,” but, maybe this is just the current dominant religion which promotes, values, and keeps this type of art.

I believe human beings are religious by nature. We NEED a religion of some kind to give us purpose and meaning, otherwise we’re just lost.

I’ve come to believe that art whether they’re sculptures, paintings, music, or even a momentary act of performance art, is an instrument (sometimes literally, looking at you, you fantastic musicians!) to evoke a sense of meaning in someone, whether it’s a gut reaction, or something that’s meant to leave you in a stupefying state of awe for hours while you’re trying to figure out what it all means. Of course, as long as it’s art I agree with, that is 100% beautiful.

In short: Sure, I think art can be political, but, more deeply, all art is religious by nature.

Thank you everyone for taking the time to read this incredibly long post. If you would like to know what you can do to start becoming an artist today, here’s my post on baby steps through cartooning, and to my fancier friends out there who yearn to be oil painters!

art

7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Become an Artist

I’m writing this more for myself. It seems like the more I pursue my art career, the more opportunities open up, and the more daunting it becomes. As I’ve said in the past, I’m personally struggling with a very odd Fear of Success (versus the fear of failure. Only instead of not trying because you’re afraid of failing, you don’t want to try because you’re afraid you’ll succeed and can’t handle it). but if you guys think this list is helpful to you too, then that makes me happy! Let’s all go through this journey together!

1. The Internet

Today is probably the best time ever in the history of art to become an artist and make money and recognition in your lifetime! Back in the olden days, you had to be lucky and make friends with a rich person who really really REALLY believed in your work enough to pay you a full salary to sponsor your work. Otherwise, in the less recent time, you had to push to get your art exhibited in galleries (I highly recommend you still go this route for reasons I will explain in a future blog post, but for now, let’s be excited about the internet) where you have to pay a fee for them to show your work and if you are lucky enough to sell any, most of that money will just go back to the gallery. Putting your art in galleries may actually LOSE you more money than you gain.

Now, you can post your art for free, and if you keep at fostering your social media presence, you will eventually gain a following which will put you in contact with people who want to buy your art. Yes, you do have to compete with other artists, but you may forget that this is not a zero-sum gain. Just because one artist gets a commission doesn’t mean you don’t get that commission. You can also make passive income by selling digital prints, eBooks, Patreon, and numerous other places. With the internet, it’s difficult to put all your eggs in one basket, and that’s a good thing!

2. Whatever You Love Doing: There’s a Niche for It

Art is one of the most frustrating things to go into as a profession because what’s “In” in the art world changes so drastically. When I brought my sketchbook to a Portland gallery, the gallery owner noted I did a lot of figure drawings, and those just weren’t “in” right now.

Read my previous point. If you build a following on the internet, it doesn’t matter. Someone will like what you’re doing.

Not only that, but there are infinite numbers of communities for what you’re doing. Even if what you’re doing is purely original, which is unlikely because humans are bad at being original, you will find a niche.

If you like painting waterscapes and fish, fishermen will probably want your art, if your faith is important to you, you automatically have an audience of people in your faith who are probably DYING for the kind of things you create, if you love painting cats and dogs, you have a lot of people out there who love their pets and would be delighted to have you paint a portrait of their beloved Sir Colonel Fluffikins III.

So Fluffy

And yes, I know I sound like a broken record when I say “Do What You Love” but I mean it. If you’re working on something because you think that’s what’s “in” right now, you’re not going to care that much about it. When you try to sell it, you’re not going to have that same enthusiasm and conviction that makes people want to buy it (if you don’t care, why should I?), and you’re just going to be frustrated.

So, do what you love. It’s not as hard to find people interested as you might think.

3. You Don’t Even Need to Be Good- At Least, Not Right Away

I believed that before I had any business pursuing a career as an artist, I thought I had to be good. I don’t even know why I thought this, because there are many teenagers out there on the internet who are already making a living making videos of their art and pride themselves on how they’re learning, and simply want to be an amazing artist when they grow up- as they should!

The truth is, a good artist should always be learning. As a general rule of thumb, I found that no artist believes they’re really “good.”

Not only that, but look back at history. The most remembered artists of the 20th century didn’t create the most beautiful, realistic artwork, their expertise lay with creating a strong message behind the artwork, shaking hands with the right people, and marketing.

So, it doesn’t matter if you’re good, as long as you keep at it, love what you’re doing, and do the necessary research along the way, you’ll be fine. You may not get rich, but that’s not the goal, the goal is to be an artist and make enough to get by.

4. There’s Parts of it That Might Suck… Just Like the Job You’re Currently Working Now!

You’re smart enough to know that once someone becomes an artist, there’s a whole lot of challenges to face along the way and after the fact: keeping a business going, deadlines, customer relations, taxes, and there even might be viscous and jealous competing artists. This may be what’s keeping you from pursuing your dream as an artist, that these may be things you don’t want to deal with.

As opposed to be the job you might be working at now, you’re working for someone else, they may be malevolent and send you home every day with this feeling like you’re not worth anything, the work you’re doing is soul-killing and not doing any good for the world, maybe even making it worse, and it may be affecting your attitude, your family may find you unpleasant every time you come home from work, and things will only continue to get worse.

As opposed to working for yourself- you may not make as much money- but you’ll at least have the chance to do something you know is meaningful. You will come to the end of your life not having regretted doing what you really love.

5. Even If You Don’t Make it As an Artist, You Will STILL Pick Up Skills that Job Seekers Like

I do not advocate dropping everything and starving yourself to be an artist. It’s good to have a fallback plan. Take comfort in knowing that not only do you have one, but by following your dream, you will be even more equipped, proficient… and desired, in said fall back plan.

I actually want to write more on this topic, but one of the things that keeps me going, even though I’m still new, is all the skills I’m learning along the way to reaching my dream of being a stay-at-home artist.

I thought of the skills I was learning that jobs seekers wanted: utilizing social media through a business perspective, waking at 5 am to work on my art career before going to my 9-5 job, customer relations, setting and keeping deadlines, sales, photo editing, marketing, website development, etc. Many of these were not skills that I learned how to do in school or at other jobs, but they were skills that I learned while pursuing my own art career.

It’s easy to think that it may not be worth it in the end to become an artist professionally, that you’ll be spending so much time and money on art, no one will want to buy it, and it will all amount to nothing.

Not so.

Even if you make art that nobody buys, you will learn many other skills and develop habits that will be attractive for future job seekers.

6. You Will Fail… A Lot

The reason why I personally don’t have a fear of failure anymore is because I I know I will fail… many many times.

You will fail to make the masterpiece you want, you will fail to make online sales, you will fail to get the number of followers/subscribers you want, you will enter that Call for Artists, and you will fail to get in. You will fail many many MANY times. And that’s okay. I know, it’s still discouraging when something doesn’t work out, but that’s part of the journey of becoming an artist.

With every failure, you will learn something, the next time you try something, you will approach it a wiser person.

It’s also satisfying to know that you are not a quitter. That the world is out to get you, and knocked you down so many times. Just to spite it, you got back up and kept going. Nothing will keep you down!

Pictured: You.

You are a warrior! You’re a lion! You’re a Viking!

You’re not afraid.

That tingling feeling in your nerves… that’s excitement. You’re going to go back out there and fight! Everyone will see how impassioned you are, and they will either cheer loudly with you and follow you to victory… or out of fear, they will get out of your way.

7. It Takes Time, but It’s So Worth It. And Fulfilling

Becoming an artist is not something that happens overnight. It takes a lot of time. You’ll find shortcuts along the way, but for now, what you have is a cute little baby snowball.

You keep packing a little snow here and there, and it’ll get bigger. You roll it down a hill, and it will start to spiral and get so big you don’t know what to do with it (which is why I’m writing this blog post right now).

I know that ever since I decided to dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes every day to my art, I go to my day job feeling happier and more fulfilled. I have a sense of purpose and understanding of who I am because of my ambitions and goals that I dedicate a little time every day too. I am more resilient, less anxious, and stronger because of the habits that I spent the last several months accumulating. Because I actively look for things in other peoples’ art that I like- and used my art to build a philosophy of focusing more on creating the world you love instead of tearing down the one you hate- I am much less introverted and enjoy being around people more.

I like the person I am. Especially since I decided that I was no longer going to be afraid to be the artist I want to be.

Now go out and be the artist you want to be!

Uncategorized

How to Start Oil Painting

1. Know What Kind of Things You Want to Paint


English: (Painter) Carla Jones at her Art Studio in Quito, Ecuador

I’ve said this before in my post about becoming an artist if you haven’t even so much as drawn a stick figure. You will be more excited, more passionate, and have a much easier time if you like the thing you’re learning to paint. When you’re struggling somewhere along the way, you’ll be more motivated to learn how to get over that hurdle.

Now, it’s okay to change your mind every so often, especially if you’re just starting out, but as you keep getting better at art, and maybe even want to start it up as a business, you may find that it’s much better if you stick to one kind of thing. Your skills won’t be spread out across so many subjects, and potential clients generally like consistency.

2. Have the Right Kind of Materials

There are hobby grade and student grade paints and canvases, but, unless they’ve gotten much higher quality since I’ve written this, I strongly advise AGAINST using them. It’s better the invest in professional paints and canvases because they last much longer, are more smooth as you’re painting on the canvas, and you don’t have to use as much of it.

I mean it. When you use the cheap materials, you have to use a lot. Higher grade oil paints are actually much cheaper in the long run because you don’t have to use as much to get the results you want.

As for brands. I highly recommend Golden Colors or Gamblin. Gamblin especially is a highish mid-range brand and produce very good materials. Not only that but they are dedicated to conservation. They do a lot of good work with art conservators.



These Gamblin oil paints are less than $8.00 per tube.

This Gamsol paint thinner is oderless, nontoxic, and lasts a long time. You can pour it in a glass jar, wait, and the paint separates, then you pour it another jar and it’s clean again! I bought a gallon of this about a year ago, and I still have the half the bottle left. And I’ve been painting nearly every day too!

Lastly, you’ll want to get picture varnish. It preserves your painting, makes your colors more brilliant somehow (I don’t remember the science, it just does!), the colors become richer, the painting is shiner, and, no matter what your skill level, brings your up at to that classy-museum level brilliance. Don’t get attached to it though. If art restorers think your art is worth preserving decades down the line, they’ll probably remove it from your painting.

3. Learn Shadows

The best oil paintings, in my opinion, and human natures’ opinion, are those with an excellent use of contrast.

With the exception of Impressionism, but we’ll cover that here in a second.

This especially true today. On Instagram, the entirety of your art isn’t the first thing that get’s noticed. It’s the tiny thumbnail. So if the thumbnail doesn’t pop out, then not as many people are going to want to view it.

4. Have Some Understanding of Color Theory

The Impressionists, commonly mistaken for having been the first to really discover theory, used color to create beautiful paintings such as these.

This is especially important. If you don’t study a little color theory beforehand, you will probably find (if you haven’t already) that if you mix the wrong oil colors, they will look muddy, gray, and ugly. For now, you don’t want to do that. Maybe you’ll do it on purpose later on, but if you’re just starting out, please, for the love of God, go on YouTube, and watch a five minute video on color theory.

This goes beyond just learning the primary and secondary colors, I’m talking about hue, saturation, warm colors, cool colors, why some colors work together and some don’t.

In fact, this YouTube video actually helped my art exponentially. It’s 20 minutes long, and worth every minute (I actually need to watch it again):

5. Practice Every Day

The most important thing is to practice every day. Even just 20 minutes every day. 20 Minutes per day is 140 minutes a week which is 2 1/2 hours which means you can have a nice painting done in one week. A couple months later, you can have an entire portfolio to present to art galleries (or even your online gallery).

Uncategorized

7 Things You Should Say to Yourself Like a Crazy Person

I’m an artist! Of course I’m crazy! (Actually, believe it or not, there might not actually be any correlation between creativity and mental illness according to this Psychology Today article. When I got myself tested, I was only diagnosed with a minor form of anxiety, but who doesn’t have it in this day and age?)

Even so, sometimes we feel like we’re actually two people. There’s the rational side that has big dreams and knows that it requires hard work to reach said dreams, then there’s the instant-gratification monkey that doesn’t want to work hard. These are also things I say to myself when I’m feeling frustrated, scared, or lazy. These are things that help me a lot of personally, and I invite you to try saying these to yourself.

1. I Will be Okay.

I wish I could say I came up with this, but this something that I hear all the time from Charlie on his YouTube Channel Charisma on Command, which I strongly recommend especially if you’re socially anxious and shy.

Every time I think things are not going well, or I’m about to apply to have my art exhibited, or try something new that could potentially help my art career, I just think to myself, “No matter what, I will be okay.” And I will. Even if things turn out so wrong for a while, I know I’ll get through it somehow.

2. This Too Shall Pass.

Oh hi, Mark!

A quote from my old buddy, Mark. Something I say when I’m really not having a good time for whatever reason like I made a mistake at work, am receiving harsh criticism that I can’t find a way it will help my art, or I’m sick and miserable (at least then I can read a book). These are the moments you really can’t stop and appreciate. All you can remember is that they will pass, and you can move on.

3. Don’t Compare yourself to others. Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday.

I really really should have put the book I got this from on my list of books that shaped my philosophy, but I’m happy to give a nod to it now. This is a rule from Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life that helped me a lot as an artist (that and Treat Yourself Like Someone You’re Responsible for Caring For). This is something that keeps me from being overwhelmed, and even happy for, the artists out there with skill that I will never come to close to, but I still get to keep my competitive spirit by competing against myself. Although, sometimes I feel I’m ahead, and sometimes I’m behind. And that’s okay too.

4. I am Not a Quitter

Running on a treadmill? Having a rough time at your job that you’re not sure you can take anymore? Learning something new and you’re hitting a wall? Whenever this happens to me, I simply whisper, “I’m not a quitter.” and it gives me the boost I need to keep going, even if it’s just for a few more minutes. Now, maybe you are a quitter. Maybe you’re the kind of person who quits 100 times out of 99. Not in that moment, you’re not!

5. It Will Only Take 10 Minutes

Every time I wanted to read a book, paint, work out, or something I needed to do, suddenly, I never wanted to do it. I believe you have felt this way repeatedly. I learned, albeit later than I would’ve liked, that’s not the act of doing something that’s all that important, but starting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked myself into spending only ten minutes on a project, ten minutes go by and I think, “Eh, I can keep going” and next thing I know, two hours went by, I have an almost completed painting, and I realize I forgot to eat breakfast.

6. Don’t Let Fear Rule Your Life

When I was about to graduate with my bachelor’s, I was in a kind of slump. I wasn’t sure where my life was going, what I was going to do next, and I was very, VERY scared. That was when I decided to go live in Italy for a year. Every step it took me getting there from the application process, to the acceptance letter, to the getting my passport and visa, it felt like something was fighting me. What if I end up destitute? What if it goes wrong?

My mother said, “Don’t let fear rule your life.”

If I listened to that fear, I would have never had that experience, met those wonderful people on my journeys, and have those wonderful stories.

7. If takes less than 5 minutes. Do it now.

Nothing art related, just a good rule of thumb. Keeps time doing chores down to a minimum.

Bonus thing:

“I will find a goddamn light, man.” Was listening to a Kevin Hart interview excerpt while I was writing this. The fact that this man is just “happy” and can take any moment and find joy in it somewhere is just a rare thing.

Uncategorized

My Art Philosophy and the 5 Books that Shaped It

Good morning, everyone! The sun has arrived after many long weeks of rain and clouds, and it truly is the best.

For years, I’ve been thinking of my personal philosophy about art. More so out of rebellion against the university I was attending, which only wanted to view art through a political perspective, I’m happy to say as someone who is just a few years shy of her thirties, I think I finally FINALLY came up with an art philosophy that I am happy with. I believe my time in Italy, and being surrounded by beautiful art every day, most of it not costing me a three cent penny, helped shape it, but the books below, were probably my biggest influences.

DISCLAIMER: Now, I’m going to come and say it, yes, these are affiliate links. If you purchase any of these books, I do get paid a tiny bit, and yes, my writing this post did start off as me trying to use affiliate links effectively, but as I got to writing, and reopening these books for this article, I just fell back in love with them all over again. I enjoyed writing about these books and how they helped through roughly the hardest times of my life. If you want to buy any of the books below, or know somebody that might enjoy them, you would not only be supporting me and my dream to become an independent artist, but you would benefit from their wisdom.

My dream for the future involves filling everybody with love and inspiration for art- to want to take the places they love and fill them with beauty. I want everybody to discover the artist within. I am convinced if everyone read these books, then my dream for a future where everyone, especially you, can become an artist filling everyone you love with joy through the power of art, this dream might just be just a little bit more realized.

1. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Don’t worry so much about making art, just do it!

I believe one of the greatest challenges artists of any medium face is creating a new idea. It doesn’t help that copywrite laws are seemingly becoming murkier and murkier.

Steal Like an Artist is the first book I read in this list. It’s a short little book with adorable illustrations. Not only does it tell you to stop worrying so much about creating an original art (after all, nothing is truly original), but how to stop overthinking and actually get started in becoming an artist.

It’s a very short with easy to follow rules. They are as such:

  1. Steal Like an Artist
  2. Don’t Wait Until you Know Who You Are to Get Started
  3. Write the Book you Want to Read
  4. Use Your Hands
  5. Side Projects and Hobbies are Important
  6. The Secret: Do Good Work and Share it With People.
  7. Geography is No Longer Our Master
  8. Be Nice (The World is a Small Town)
  9. Be Boring
  10. Creativity is Subtraction

My favorite of these rules (after the first one, obviously) is rule 3- which translates to Paint the Kind of Art You Want to Paint. It helped me imagine what kind of art would I like to see in the world? If I could make the world more beautiful with anything, what would it be? I then create that art.

I came to find out Kleon has written some other books as well, including a Steal Like an Artist Journal. Kleon has also written Keep Going (10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad), and Show Your Work! I’ve never read these books, but if they’re half as inspiring as Steal Like an Artist, then I’d say they’re worth looking into!

2. Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel

Protect your history, and above all, don’t let yourself be the one who destroys it.

I actually came across this book in a bookstore for cheap while living in Italy studying art conservation.

The thing about it that struck me the most was one of the terrifying second chapter. It was written through a perspective of a man seeking what I wanted most, to beautify through art, his beloved place he called home:

“As a young man, he had dreamed of being an artist and an architect… He had wandered in the wilderness for a decade, almost destitute and virtually living on the streets. But his true destiny had finally revealed itself. He was not destined to create, but to remake. To purge, and then rebuild…”

Robert M. Edsel pg 15

Reading that chapter filled me great rage and discomfort. This man and I shared this vision for our respective homes, but this…monster… was also responsible for the slaughter of many of my ancestors.

If you haven’t guessed by now.

That man was Hitler.

The great adventure of seeing the Monuments Men team up and recover the art Hitler kidnapped was exciting, but it was over shadowed by that second chapter. Like a foreboding warning. Whispering, “When creating and protecting art, Beware. Do not be driven by hate. Beauty, history, and legacy will not be obtained by the blood of your enemies.”

Troubled, I brought up that chapter during a lecture from one of the Superintendents of Florence. She insisted that Hitler simply wanted to obtain the art to elevate his own power- nothing else.

I don’t accept that. It’s too… simplistic. And it doesn’t take into account that evil man was also human, and if any of us underwent the same life experiences he did, it would be likely we would have turned out just as cruel and vile.

It felt like watching Peter Pan with your child, who asks you, terrified, if there was a chance he could grow up to be like Captain Hook, you simply brush it off and say, “Of course not, Timmy. He’s bad. You’re good.”

It was an interesting choice to see the second chapter was written through Hitler’s eyes. In that moment, he wasn’t a monster, he was human. A human filled with inspiration, dreams of art, dreams to rebuild and a strong sense of vengeance for people he felt he needed to blame for everything going wrong.

I took this as a warning to watch out. There’s a monster in all of us. If we don’t pay attention to history, or ourselves and our own hate and resentment, we will become something inhuman and truly evil.

3. Glittering Images by Camille Paglia

After attending university and getting my art history degree, I discovered Camille Paglia (only to find out my mother discovered and admired her first, so in a sense I consider her almost a grandmother to me). She is a woman who has a passion for art and history at a level that I can’t even imagine- and the strength, boldness, and conviction to defend art. Her very words can tear your soul to ribbons and make you rethink everything you once believed. My passion for art as a tool of free expression and strength in the face of criticism and banality is heavily influenced by her.

The reason why I recommend Glittering Images is because it’s also a relatively short, quick, and easy book to read to get started into art history as well as Paglia’s sharp wit in general. The book was written specifically for the homeschool mother demographic to teach their children art history, the very art history they probably wouldn’t get in school.

Not only that, but because Paglia herself is such a strong woman who lives and breathes out of a hot, burning passion for art, strong sense of character and honesty, and is not afraid to speak out against the petty, spoiled, mutilated version of what is and isn’t acceptable art, she actually encouraged me to look at several forms of art of which I previously disdained (more out of rebellion than my own actual thoughts) with an open mind. Least of which, her beautiful analysis of the Mustafar fight scene from Star Wars episode III, a film that I just didn’t like, and yet,

The Mustafar duel, which took months of rehearsal, with fencing and saber drills conducted by word master Nick Gillard, was executed by Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor at lightning speed. It is virtuosic dance theater, a taut pas de duex between battling brothers, convulsed by attraction and repulsion. Their thrusts, parries, and slashes are like passages of aggressive speech. It is one of the most passionate scenes ever filmed between two men, with McGregor close to weeping.

Camille Paglia

She showed this, and even the performance art of the 1960’s and 70’s that I previously disdained in a new light that peaked my curiosity in a way other than, “If you don’t get it/like it, you’re just dumb and don’t understand” like how it was taught in university.

Glittering Images is not just an art history survey book. It’s a work of poetry.

4. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

Don’t take things so seriously, love your critics and enemies, or at least love the art you love more than you hate them.

For those of you who might not know, Gilbert Keith Chesterton was a former Atheist who converted to Catholicism. Historian, Philosopher, and Theologian, He has written dozens of books and poems and is beloved by both Christians and Atheists alike.

Orthodoxy is the sequel to his book, Heretics, where he critiques by playfully poking at the the popular agnostics and atheist philosophers of his time of his time such. Including, but not limited to H.G. Wells, George More, and James McNeill Whistler.

If I were to put the sum of his critiques in one sentence, it would be,

Naturally, after the book was published, his critics were not happy. They, quite understandably, demanded that Gilbert explain himself. It was probably even more frustrating that he critiqued them very much like a court jester: not hostile, just gently nudging that there might be some holes in their serious beliefs, and now everyone in the room is giggling.

It would have been better if he responded like a stern, angry preacher, sure the wrath of God would fall on the heads of these godless heathens, that way they could feel martyred and justified in their discoveries. Not Gilbert. No. Gilbert, treating them like a five year old boy would talk to his big brothers, simply asked them to stop being such sticks in the mud, to take a break from bragging to everyone about how smart they are, and just come outside and play. It’s sunny out and Mom just made lemonade.

Alright, they said, He explained their philosophies, but what about his? Gilbert, seemingly believing he was being challenged to a duel, picked up his pen and with much delight, responded:

“No one can think my case more ludicrous than I think it myself; no reader can accuse me here of trying to make a fool of him: I am the fool of this story, and no rebel shall hurl me from my throne. I freely confess all the idiotic ambitions of the end of the nineteenth century. I did, like all the other solemn little boys, try to be in advance of the age. Like them I tried to be some ten minutes in advance of the truth. And found that I was eighteen hundred years behind it.”

G.K. Chesterton: Collected Works (Orthodoxy), pg 214

As little seriously as he took his brothers, this silly man takes himself the least seriously of all.

While Chesterton specializes in theology and not so much as art, his wit, humor, and glowing sense of benevolence probably was the thing that shaped my art philosophy in the most important way. His almost jester-like response to his critics

When you’re passionate anything, In Chesterton’s case, religion, and in mine (and most likely yours too) art, you’re going to face critics or encounter people who are just… wrong.

Now, I’m not talking about legit criticisms, where people offer feedback that if taken seriously, could be used as an opportunity to improve your art. I’m talking about bitter, nasty people who insult your work because they just get a kick out of making you feel bad.

Should you get angry at them? Insult them back?

No.

You should instead treat them like they’re stick-in-the mud older sibling who thinks they’re so much better and smarter than you and need to show it. You should respond to their insults with a sense of humor.

5. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Yes, I have an affiliate link above, but since Meditations is in the public domain, here is a link to the free pdf if you would like to download it!

As an artist, it’s easy to get swept up and emotionally invested in things. It’s easy to compare yourself to others or think you’ll be great if you could achieve X level of skill, or make X amount of money or what have you. I found that many artists, myself included, tend to get very emotional especially when it comes to their art. I know for a fact there is a sense of hopelessness I feel knowing that the thing I’m most passionate about, and the most skilled at, doesn’t exactly put bread on the table as easily as getting an office job.

But, there is a strong wisdom in stopping, looking at the present situation around you, no matter how terrible, and realize that’s the only moment you truly live in. Might as well figure out how to enjoy it with dignity and meaning

Marcus Aurelius is one of the greatest philosophers known to mankind. Both he and his meditations on the philosophy of Stoicism have withstood the test of time on such an impressive level. People usually think “Stoicism” and imagine an emotionally repressed man who just does not care and is very good at suppressing his emotions. Not so.

One of the key tenants about this book is being happy. Particularly, finding happiness in your current situation. It’s very difficult, but the truth is, you can’t change the past, you can’t always predict the future, it’s just best to this one thing: Live in the moment. Bad moments will pass, and the good moments are worth stopping and being grateful for.

I downloaded the PDF to Meditations two months ago and have made a habit of writing a journal about it every day while analyzing each little section of the book and how it can be useful in my own life. Meditations helps put the insecurities and hopelessness I feel about my art in perspective. Since then, I found that I’m more willing to accept things as they are rather than getting angry about things in the world that I can’t control, I can focus better on the things I can,

Uncategorized

How to Become an Artist Fast (If You’ve Never Even Drawn a Stick Figure Before)

Everybody seems to have this misconception that in order to be a real “artist,” you have to have this god-like talent. Some people are artists, and some aren’t.

Full disclosure, this post covers primarily drawing

That’s not true at all! It really doesn’t take much to develop a drawing skill that will impress your friends and loved ones- maybe your social media followers if you want to get ambitious.

And think about it: Many artists who are “successful” aren’t exactly Raphaels or Da Vincis. Most of them are cartoonists who know what kind of drawings make people happy and have fantastic marketing and social media skills as well as artistic talent. So there you go! No excuse to not start being the artist you want to be!

I want to share my personal quick tricks to get you started as an artist right away. If you want to work towards becoming as good as Cesar Santos, that’s up to you- but today we’re going to do a few quick and easy things.

The first thing I highly recommend is a sketchbook. I found a cute, tiny one for you here for less than $7 at the time of writing this blog post. Starting off with some regular computer paper is fine too.

1. Write what your favorite thing is.

In your little sketchbook, and write down what your favorite thing is. Do you really like horses? Write that down. Classical art teachers might have you start “Beginning Drawing” with landscapes or random shapes.

If you’re not interested in landscapes or spheres, but you really love mermaids, you may get bored really quickly of the former. So, think about what YOU really like. If studying those other things will help you get there- great! If not, don’t worry about it. Like I said, this list is just to help you get started quickly.

2. Find that Favorite thing in a Cartoon Style.

Everybody loves cartoons! Chances are, whatever you love drawing, there is a cartoon version of it somewhere. Go online and find clipart, or if you like people, anime, or a 2D Disney style would be a fun and great place to start.

After you find that cartoon style, it would be a good idea to draw what you see. Maybe even start with a few blind drawings to get your hands and eyes warmed up.

Pictured above: Easy to Draw Dolphin

There’s also a ton of great videos on YouTube that teach you how to draw cartoon versions of anything. If you have daughters or little sisters, or just like drawing… for example… ballerinas, general, here is a 10 minute how-to-draw a cartoon ballerina video. For very early beginners, I highly recommend the YouTube channel Draw So Cute. She gives very easy-to-follow advice on how to draw a cartoon version of just about anything.

If you’ve tried drawing this and are still struggling I recommend printing out your subject, then trace a few times. This will help the muscles in your hand remember how to draw the various curves and lines of what you want to draw. Here’s some tracing paper for less than $5.00. Make sure to draw your subject on your own though! Nobody is impressed by a tracer!

3. Draw in that Style Every Day for a Few Days

Of course, learning to draw quickly doesn’t necessarily mean “immediate.” Ideally, I should be telling you to draw every day until you kick the bucket. That’s not reasonable. I can barely draw every day- let alone a brand new beginner like yourself! I would recommend, at least starting out, trying to draw for 30 minutes per day. It’s easy to find the time.

It may not even take you five days. I’ve known many adults in their 40’s who were able to pick up cartooning immediately.

Five days is a good number though. One day let’s you suck at it, two days lets you suck at it, you should be getting the hang of your new cartoon style by day 3, and day 5, you should have created something that your friends will be impressed with- especially if you’re only starting out! Remember: The reason why most people can’t draw is because they’ve never started. If you’ve drawn Betty Boop for five days, you can still draw Betty Boop much better than 70% of people.

4. Color*

This is optional, but if you really want to impress people (especially yourself), add color. Seriously. I’ve been looking at my numbers, and more people respond to colored artworks more so than my usual daily black and white sketchbook drawings. People love colors! You can invest in some good colored pencils, get Photoshop (Gimp is free if you’re not swimming in cash or have access to a college computer), or you can get some nice watercolors- which is nice for relaxation.

5. Congratulations! You can Draw!

Ta-da!