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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).

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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,

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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!

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5 Reasons You’re Not Allowed to Say You Suck at Art Anymore

Let’s face it, in a world full of trolls, snobs, and self-proclaimed “art critics.” there’s a pretty good chance no one is meaner to your art then… well… you. You should stop that! You art has never done anything to you, why are you so mean to it?

I was inspired to write this list because I used to have this annoying habit of showing a piece of my art to my Dad, he would say it’s good, then I would say “It’s not my best” or “I’m not super proud of it” to which he would say, “It’s better than what I can do.” I’ve made it a point to stop doing that, because I too would hate it when artists better than me would say they weren’t proud of a piece of artwork they made (yet they still post it on social media) and I too would sit there thinking, “Pfft. It’s better than what I can do.”

I don’t want anybody, even people who’s art I personally don’t like, to say their art sucks. I want to live in a world where people can recognize their talent, appreciate the fact that they’re not as good as they want to be, but will get there someday. I want artists to be more supportive- especially of themselves.

Before you look at your newest painting, drawing, sculpture, photograph, or anything you made recently, and say “it sucks,” please consider these 5 reasons why you shouldn’t say it.

1. You’re still a better artist than SOMEBODY.

Think about how insecure you are about your art- now imagine meeting the artist you admire most- living or dead- and hearing them say that about their own art. You might feel relieved that even the artist who inspired you the most is critical of their own art- but the thing is, they’re wrong. You know it in your hear they’re wrong. If their art really did suck, you wouldn’t have been inspired to create art because of them.

That’s how many people think about you when you say your art sucks.

Now, you are a better artist than somebody. Hopefully the most important “somebody” was you yesterday- a month ago- a year ago. The point is, your art can’t suck because, as long as you’re still learning, the art you’re making now is the best art you’ve ever made! Most importantly, it’s not the best art you’re going make- that’s still yet to come.

I don’t know about you, but I’m very excited about that fact.

2. You might just be fishing for compliments.

I know. For a fact. That I’ve been guilty of doing this. Even though I might not have been as proud of a drawing I made, but there was a good chance I was showing that drawing to someone who was not an artist- or at least not as good of an artist as me.

I would then say, “Oh it’s not my best” or whatever, and immediately expect-even on a subconscious level, that they would give me reassuring compliments and help inflate my ego.

The point is, you might need to consider if deep down, you don’t honestly think your art is that bad- you’re just trying to get compliments- and if you are- you shouldn’t probably stop. It’s manipulative and not very nice.

3. Why Does “Your Art Suck?” Because You’re Still Learning!

I think too many young artists get this idea in their head that they become an art student, then are a professional artist and can be the best they can be. The truth is, great artists never stop learning.

If you’re not proud of the artwork you made, this is a really good opportunity to learn why you’re not proud of it- to get a really good look at it and figure out what you need to do better, then learn. Is it a color theory issue? Is it a proportions issue? This where you should stop criticizing yourself, but instead, critique yourself.

Now, this doesn’t mean you suck. Be honest, yes, learn, yes, do better next time, yes, but be kind to yourself. There will be times in your life where the only place you can get encouragement is yourself (in which case, I’d advise you to move because it sounds like you’re surrounded by toxic people).

4. The More You Say It, The More You Believe It.

Imagine you’re looking for a new couch, you’re asking the salesman questions about it, and he says, “Yeah, it’s a good couch, but it’ll only last you three years, the upholstery is noisy when you sit on it, and gosh, you know? The color’s not the best, it’s a dirty color.” Would you want to buy that couch? Also, why is this salesman still even working here?

If you want to make art more than just your hobby, you’re going to need to learn a little about marketing your artwork too. The more in the habit you are saying “Your art sucks,” the more you’ll believe it, and the less attractive you’ll be to buyers. When I worked retail, and told customers about a product I bought myself and loved- I would get excited about it and can’t stop talking to customers about it. Every item like I’ve sold customers sold every. Damn. Time.

If you’re in the habit of being overly critical about you art- and especially when you’re talking about it out loud to others, you will believe your art sucks. This will make you more frustrated with your art and, in extension, yourself.

Art is more than just any old product- it’s a creation of your very being. It’s a part of you- instead of not being content with it- especially the way it looks now- you should be proud of it, excited about it, it’s a part of your story and you should tell it to others loudly and happily.

5. Finally, art is about as objective as they come. There is art out there that sucks- but not yours.

See this painting? This is a detail photo of Jackson Pollock’s “Number 8.”

You know what else? It sucks! There was no visible effort put into this painting, the guy literally just poured acrylic paint onto a canvas every which way with no apparent rhyme or reason!

And people have gotten horribly angry at me for stating these opinions. Turns out there are a lot of people who admire Pollock and his work, and get very touchy when people say it looks like- well- nothing but a bunch of splattered paint.

If you think your art sucks, there’s a good chance it doesn’t. Everybody out there has a different viewpoint on what makes good and bad art. There are people who might look at your art and think it’s bad, and there are probably a lot more people who look at your art and think you’re a considerable person of talent. You should be in the latter category.

Art is so objective, why shouldn’t you like your own art? Or at least be excited about the potential masterpieces that will come out of your future years of practice?

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Fear of Success

So, we all know about the fear of failure. I feel like too many of us are too afraid to put the work in to whatever our dream is- not because we’re lazy, exactly, well, maybe that’s part of it, but there’s this crippling fear of failure, rejection, essentially that you won’t succeed in whatever you’re doing. I can’t tell you how many Calls for Artists I didn’t participate in because I thought, “Oh, they won’t accept me anyway.”

But what about the opposite?

The fear of success?

What about the fear of achieving your goal only to find that you can’t handle it?

Personally, I’ve had a couple of instances where my art was accepted for exhibition, but I didn’t tell anybody about it. I’m not even sure why. I just didn’t.

There are so many easy things I feel like I could do with this website to better present my artwork: clean it up, have a separate section where I show art I’ve sold/exhibited/gave as gifts, but I’m afraid of doing that too.

I think whenever you’re trying to start something new, learn a new skill, improve a skill or whatever, it’s just as important to consider why you don’t want to succeed instead of why you don’t want to fail.

When I was trying to improve my attention to detail for work, I found that I had this very subtle feeling of resistance. There was a part of me that didn’t want to improve. So, I more or less had a conservation with that part of my brain, it was like splitting myself in two people: The rational me, and the “inner child” me that didn’t like change or anything that would equate to growing up. So, I wrote a list of ten reasons I didn’t want to improve, then ten rebuttal answers. That made the process so much easier. I don’t know how much this exactly improved my attention to detail, but after that, I didn’t feel any resistance.

Yesterday evening, I found a new trick that would get more Instagram followers- which is essentially following more people who follow the pages you like. I added on to this strategy by liking five art pieces of other peoples’ stuff and commenting on at least one thing. I didn’t know how big of an impact that would make- just thought I’d try it out. I woke up this morning to find I had 15 new followers overnight- that’s about how many I get per week. I know 15 isn’t a big number, but it is compared to my usual weekly followers.

In that moment, I felt like a dog who was chasing a car then finally caught it.

I’ve thought about my art journey over the past year, and I’ve been told my whole life that being an artist, that it’s a hyper competitive field and that it would never go anywhere without a backup career- I don’t remember who in my life said that, but that’s what I believed. This past year though, I found that the opposite is true. The more I put myself out there, the more shows I sign up for, the more active I am on Instagram I get more and more successful- even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

I now have 200 followers on Instagram, I’ve been exhibited in four shows, and I’ve even sold artwork.

I’ve been trying to build my following to help my art business for a while, but this huge jump is making that “what if I succeed and can’t handle it” anxiety set in.

  1. What if I get a lot of followers who want to buy my artwork, see that there’s practically nothing in my Etsy shop, then leave?
  2. What if I get more requests for commissions than I can handle?
  3. What if the quality of my artwork falters due to increase in demand?
  4. I love art so much, what if doing this as a regular job causes burnout and I end up hating it?
  5. What if I’m successful for a while, but then suddenly stop?
  6. What if my tendency to work on something at full blast, then my tendency for complacency and burnout sets in that ruins everything I’ve worked so hard for?
  7. What if this causes me to only paint one specific thing? What if this prevents me from experimenting, or improving since people will want to buy only one type of art from me?

Well. As of now, I can only think of 7. Time for the rebuttal!

  1. Getting a lot of followers going to your Etsy shop will probably encourage you to post more listings and be more active on Etsy. Once you make a couple of a sales, that will build momentum to keep going.
  2. That’s silly. You can have a limited number of commissions. You also probably won’t get “more commissions than you can handle” for a long time.
  3. That’s a real possibility, another real possibility is the quality of your art will increase since you will have no choice but to keep working on art, practicing, and getting better.
  4. Again, another likely possibility. The reality is though that most people don’t like their jobs they didn’t go to school for or get passionate about. At least this would be a job that you know has a lot of meaning.
  5. Like you suddenly stop making money? Or your following stagnates? As long as you keep doing what you’re doing, that won’t happen.
  6. Yes, you have done that in the past: work on something at full blast, freak out, then burn everything, but you have been doing that less and less once you decided you were going to keep doing what you love instead of what’s “popular” and especially since you started competing with the person you were yesterday, AND especially since you adopted the “long game” philosophy where sometimes you’re ahead, and sometimes you’re behind.
  7. That would suck. But it would be very much like how your life is right now. You’re working a 9-5 job doing something that you didn’t go to school for, and you’re spending your mornings and free time building your art business and your following. If art did become your 9-5 job, then the time you would have spent trying to make that dream happen would instead be experimenting and working on other art.

Sometimes, we just need to treat ourselves as someone we’re caring for. We need to realize that the people most responsible for holding us back is ourselves- we then need to listen to ourselves: honestly listen to our fears, then in kind, give ourselves a little bit of encouragement and reassurance that no matter what, everything will be fine.

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Sick Days

Hey all, sorry for not having posted the last couple of days, but I got sick, so I couldn’t bring myself to wake up at 5 am like the original plan, let alone spend an alloted time on art. So I guess I really did fail the challenge, huh? Oh well. I passed the first one, so I’m not discouraged.

I did manage to make some progress. I am feeling a lot better today compared to yesterday, but I’m still trying to take it easy.

Here are a couple things worked on the last couple days. A study of Caravaggio’s David and Goliath and I started a new portrait.

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7 Day Lazy Morning Challenge: Day 5: Merchantman

So… technically, I failed this challenge. I did wake up at 5, but then I went back to bed and slept for two more hours. The fact that I didn’t have to work today was sort of a de-motivator. Even so, I did get up at just a little before 8, which is still a decent morning time.

I also planned to work on this painting for an hour, but I found that I was satisfied with it after 15 minutes.

The above painting is technically fanart. This is the Banu Merchantman from Star Citizen. My husband wanted this painting for a couple of years now. Shortly before getting married, he paid for the canvas, and now, after several months, it’s finally done. It’s finally at a point where I’m happy with it- or at least- if I do anything more to do, I’ll over do it and ruin it.

Above are the reference photos from the Star Citizen website. I combined these two images to make the final product. https://starcitizen.tools/Merchantman

Pictured above is the process, from the preliminary sketches to almost the completed work.