Spring Clean Your Mind – 4 Methods To Getting Creative Ideas On Paper

By Nicole Tinkham

Spring-clean.jpg

We hear it just about every day and although we like to joke about it, it’s a serious struggle among many artists. Do you ever feel like you’re too creative? It may sound odd but there are simply not enough hours in the day to get all of those creative ideas out. Sometimes you’re in the middle of a project when new ideas strike or they pop up right when you’re trying to fall asleep. It’s really a blessing if you think about it, but we also know how frustrating this can be. We like to think of this overwhelming feeling as an art attack. So many ideas flood your mind at once and it becomes difficult to keep track of everything. However, we’ve found that getting it all out on paper helps to ease the mind a little and make room for even more brilliant ideas. If you’re familiar with spring cleaning, this is something much more fun. We’re going to show you how to spring clean your mind! We’ll walk you through 4 different methods to getting creative ideas on paper so you can start thinking clearly.

1.    Write it.

Have an hour or so long date with your sketchbook or journal. Start jotting down all the projects you’re currently thinking about and any details that go along with them. These are fresh ideas in your head right now. Now think back to some ideas you had awhile back (if you can remember them) and jot those down. From there, just open your mind up to creative inspiration and write down every single thing that pops into your head in the moment.

2.    Record it.

Are you a talker? Sometimes it’s just easier and quicker to talk aloud what your thought process is. If that’s the case, use a voice recorder. Use the same steps as above but instead of writing everything out, just record it. Later you can have it transcribed or transcribe it yourself. Sometimes it’s helpful having it physically on paper.

3.    Brainstorm it.

Get together with some artsy friends and have a brainstorm session. This will help produce new ideas you may not have thought of before, a new perspective on the ideas you have floating around in your head, a direction for where to start, and most likely brand new ideas to write down. Get everything written down or recorded during your brainstorm session. Remember, the whole idea of spring cleaning your mind is to get those idea OUT OF YOUR HEAD!

4.    Schedule it.

Getting the ideas out of your head and on paper is step #1. Now if you want to actually produce those creative projects, they need to go right in your schedule. Make time for your art or your ideas will never get done! Prioritize your projects and get started on them right away.

We know spring cleaning your home can be a hassle but there’s opportunity to have fun when spring cleaning your mind. Getting all those creative ideas out will free up you mind for even more ideas. Trust us this is so incredibly refreshing to do! No matter if you’re a “write it down” kind of person, a talker, a social butterfly or super organized, you can brain dump all of those ideas and actually begin to make them happen using the methods mentioned in this blog for getting ideas on paper. Now the issue of actually getting them done comes in. Don’t worry we have a blog for that too 🙂

How You Really Should Be Sharpening Your Prismacolors

By Nicole Tinkham

prismacolors
Have you ever had your colored pencil lead break off right in the middle of a project?? We hear it all the time and know how incredibly frustrating it is. Not only do you have to stop everything you’re doing to fix the problem, it’s also such a waste of a really good pencil! If you’re a Prismacolor pencil fan, you know just how vulnerable they are. You may think all hope is lost and your only option is to deal with the breakage, but there is actually a correct way to sharpen colored pencils that will help! Here’s how you should really be sharpening your Prismacolors.

Our favorite — The very basic handheld sharpeners

sharpener

Why we love them: They’re small, simple, inexpensive, and portable.

Tip: Don’t put a lot of pressure while sharpening! This could cause the lead to break. Instead be very gentle. It may be easier to sharpen the pencil vertically versus horizontally.

Check your sharpener: When your pencil shavings are short little bits, it means your sharpener blade is dull. Be sure to have nice long shavings when you sharpen. Sometimes the blades are replaceable and with others you’ll just have to buy a new sharpener.

 Go old school — Knife

Using a knife is a quick and easy way to sharpen your pencils but one drawback is that it’s the most dangerous option. Be very careful when doing this and always sharpen away from you.

Tip: Rotate the pencil so you get a nice shave all the way around.

Super simple — Sandpaper

sand-paper

Another different way to sharpen colored pencils (or other drawing tools such as charcoal and pastels) that we love is with sandpaper.

What to look for: There are special sandpaper blocks made for the artist which are basically layers of sandpaper stapled together on a wooden block (see image above).

Why we love them: They’re so convenient, you can take them anywhere, and just tear off a sheet after use for a fresh new one.

Tip: Be sure to rotate your pencil as you run it across the sandpaper surface so it’s a nice and even sharpen.

Electric sharpeners are debatable

We love electric pencil sharpeners for graphite pencils but they aren’t our top choice for colored pencils. However, every artist is different and we do know some that use an electric sharpener.

What we don’t like: You don’t have as much control and sometimes it can be too much force for the delicate colored pencil.

Another drawback: The wax from the pencils will eventually clog the sharpener.

Hand crank sharpeners — DO NOT USE!

These classroom style pencil sharpeners were not made for colored pencils. Don’t even try them because they can destroy your precious colored pencils!

DID YOU KNOW??

When your pencil lead is broken, you can leave it out in the sun for a few minutes. The heat will soften the wax lead and fuse the pieces back together.

Keep in mind that every artist is different so you may have to play around with a few options to see what works best for you. Some people have the magic touch using a handheld sharpener and others are really great at using the sandpaper method. Whichever you choose, always make sure to handle with care. Prismacolors are incredible colored pencils but so delicate. Treat them well and they’ll last awhile. We want to hear some of your top tips when it comes to colored pencils! How do you sharpen yours? How do you prevent the lead from breaking? Let us know in the comments 🙂

18 Office Supplies Every Artist Needs

By Nicole Tinkham

Office-supplies
Fun fact that you may not know about Keeton’s: We provide both office supplies and quality art supplies. Most people think we do one or the other but we’re actually very passionate about both areas. First of all, who says an office worker doesn’t have a creative side? And who says office supplies can’t be used by the artist?? To prove our point, we’ve created this list of 18 office supplies that every artist needs and how to use them in your next project.

1.    Tape

Masking tape works wonders for holding down your watercolor paper.

2.    Scissors

Every scrap booker knows that quality scissors are a must!

3.    Trimmers

These make life so much easier when working on paper art.

4.    Adhesives

Super glue, glue dots, glue sticks, rubber cement, spray adhesive, and hot glue can all be helpful in your art projects.

5.    Sharpies

With SO MANY colors, why are these even considered an office supply?? In the art world, they are solely for the purpose of creating 🙂

6.    Cardstock

A heavier paper is ideal for handmade cards.

7.    Colorful paper

Brightly colored paper makes any stamper or paper crafter happy.

8.    Pencils (& sharpeners and erasers)

You may not have as many options (HB is the standard) in office pencils but erasers and sharpeners are also a must!

9.    Bulletin board

Instead of office memos, use a bulletin board to post all of your creative ideas.

10.    Rolling storage crate

Business professionals use these to lug around catalogs and samples. You can use them to easily transport your supplies to workshops and art shows.

11.    Planner

Some artists love using a planner and others don’t. We think it’s a great way for anyone to keep track of their daily tasks and be more productive.

12.    Thumb drives

Whether you’re a computer artist or hands on, you’ll need at least one thumb drive. Use it to store creative inspiration and photos of your artwork.

13.    X-ACTO knife (& cutting mat)

If you’re cutting any type of heavier paper, an X-ACTO knife is essential.

14.    Notebook

Notebook, sketchbook, or journal.. No matter what it is you use, it’s important to get your ideas on paper.

15.    Packing supplies (boxes, tape and bubble wrap)

You may not think of these supplies but what happens when you sell a piece and have to ship it?? It never hurts to have packing supplies on hand.

16.    Sticky notes

We cannot stress how important it is for EVERYONE to use Post-it Notes! As ideas pop in your head, write down little reminders. Get assorted colors to make it fun.

17.    Photo paper

You can get quality prints with your home printer and quality photo paper makes all the difference.

18.    Ruler

A basic ruler is a must for every artist whether it’s used for measuring or for creating straight lines.

Here’s a little tip for you. Sometimes you’re better off getting certain supplies through an office supply store (like us) rather than a specialty art store. You’ll get a much better deal on masking tape through office supplies than if you were to get art specific tape that does the same thing. This is why we love having the best of both worlds. Are there any non traditional “art supplies” you use in your work? Let us know in the comments!

5 Questions To Finding A New Art Medium To Work With

By Nicole Tinkham

untitled-1

Are you a brand new artist and have no idea where to start? There are so many different mediums you can take up from colored pencil to acrylic painting. How in the world are you supposed to choose? Or maybe you’re an experienced artist who wants to experiment with something new. You’re so used to what you’ve been doing and don’t know where to go from there. No matter what type of artist you are, these 5 questions will help you figure out what art medium you should work with next. Read on to discover your path!

1.    What is your goal?

Before starting anything new in life (art related or otherwise) you must think about your goals. What do you plan to accomplish by getting started in a new art medium? Are you a brand new artist looking to explore different avenues of the art world? Or are you an experienced artist looking to try something new and improve your skills? Will you be selling your artwork, keeping it for yourself, or using it to expand your art portfolio? Think of all these things before making your decision.

2.    How much are you willing to invest?

When we talk about “investing” we’re referring to time, money, and space. Space may seem like an odd thing to consider but one of the most common struggles among artists is not having enough room for their supplies. Although, this doesn’t seem to stop artists from gathering more and more supplies 🙂 Before you jump into anything, look around your art studio and house. How much extra space do you actually have? Some projects will take up more space than others so you’ll either want to make room or choose your art medium carefully.

There’s also a huge difference in time spent between Zentangle doodles and an oil painting. How much time do you have dedicated to work on your art? The main reason why people get started in something new only to quit shortly down the road is simply because life just gets in the way. Maybe you have a goal to spend more time on your art and that’s fantastic! Just make sure it’s a realistic goal so you don’t become overwhelmed or frustrated when it doesn’t work out.

You also need to think about the money you plan to invest in your artwork. Many mediums require several supplies and if you’re serious about your artwork, investing in quality supplies is key. If you’re just playing around for fun on the side and don’t feel the need to invest in quality supplies, that’s fine too. You’ll just want to choose your medium wisely and budget for it. Trust us, there’s nothing worse than starting a project and not having the supplies you need to finish it!

3.    What pieces of artwork inspire you?

Whether you’re looking to get started on your art journey or just exploring a new medium, there’s most likely something that inspired you to do so. Think to the most recent piece that you thought was absolutely brilliant. Now do a little research on the artwork as well as the artist. Find out what medium and tools were used and any special techniques the artist did. If it inspired you to jump into something new, take that passion and do something similar yourself!

4.    Where do your skills lie?

If you are just starting out and are a total beginner, think about the areas in which you are strongest. Do you have an eye for color? Are you detail oriented? Figuring this out will help you choose a medium that you’ll be great at right from the beginning. This is important because as a beginner, it can be very frustrating if you just can’t seem to get it right no matter how many times you try. When you first start out, you want it to propel you on this journey, not hold you back.

We feel the opposite is true for experienced artists. You’ve already gone through the struggles of getting started and now want to learn something new. This is where you can really challenge yourself. Think about areas that you are weak in. This will give you an opportunity to grow. Remember, if you’re the best one in the class you’re in the wrong class. Keep learning new things to improve your skills.

5.    How do you learn best?

We always encourage artists to learn from others whether that be through various art books, DVDs, artist friends or an art workshop. When it comes to a totally new medium, please don’t just wing it! Start off on the right foot by learning from others. This will prevent a lot of frustration. Now the real question here is how do you learn best? Some people are more hands on and others rather read from a book. It doesn’t matter what type of learning you choose as long as it works for you. Think back to the last time you were trying to figure something out and sought outside help with. What did you do and how did it work out? Once you have this figured out, you can find which resources are available to you. This could influence which medium you decide to go with.

If after you ask yourself these 5 questions and still don’t know if you made the right decision on what art medium to work with next, there is one final question to ask yourself. Is this something you’re passionate about? Does this medium light your fire and excite you to get started? If not, you need to do some research. You may even have to play around with a few choices to get a feel for them before making a commitment. This is where having artsy friends becomes handy. Borrow some of their supplies to play with or take a quick art workshop. This should also be fun so don’t overwhelm yourself with the many options. Sit down and ask yourself these 5 questions to determine which medium you should get into next and leave a comment below letting us know which one you’ll be choosing!

Why You Need To Stand Up For What You Believe In And How To Do It

By Nicole Tinkham

stand-up

How many times have you sat back and kept your mouth shut even if you didn’t believe in what was being said/done? We don’t blame you because it’s so much easier to keep your own ideas to yourself. You don’t risk getting put down, feeling judged, or becoming an outcast. But what if that one idea you have can change everything for the better? You shouldn’t keep that to yourself! Here’s why you need to start standing up for what you believe in and how to do it.

Let’s start with the why.

1.    It builds your respect.
This goes two ways. Sticking up for what you believe in builds your self- respect because you’re following through with your values. Going against what you believe in just because it’s more convenient is less than admirable. Standing your ground also gains respect from others, even if they view things differently than you. Just having the guts to stand up for yourself shows what kind of person you are. You aren’t a pushover. You are strong and independent.

2.    You will gain confidence.
At first, standing up for your beliefs isn’t the easiest task. You may be doubting yourself, you may be hesitant, and your words might not come out just right (like the perfectly prepared speech you have in your head). But the more you do it, the better you’ll get and the more confidence you’ll gain. You’ll be more willing to step out of your comfort zone in uncomfortable situations.

3.    It helps you discover who you are.
When you just go along with what others say, you’re letting them take control over a piece of your life. You’re allowing them to dictate how you should do or say something, even how you should think. This may sound drastic but every little thing that you sit back on impacts your life. By standing up for what you believe in, you’re expressing who you are and what you want out of life. Even if your ideas don’t change a thing, you are still putting your real, unique self out there. The more you do it, the more YOU will come out.

Now let’s talk about how you can implement these things in your life.

1.    Figure out what you actually believe in.
Before you stand up for what you believe in, you have to know what it is that you believe in! It sounds simple enough but when we sit back and let others take over, we sometimes forget or lose sight of who we really are. When you have a quiet moment to yourself, think about the following questions.

•    What is important to me?
•    What am I passionate about?
•    What motivates me?
•    What are my core values?

2.    Let go of your fears about what people think of you.
This is a tough one. When standing up for yourself, you have got to let go of your fears of what people think about you. Whatever you’re thinking is often way worse in your head. It always is. Remember that people are more concerned with things going on their own life than to sit there and judge yours. As we mentioned before, it takes practice but with time you will get better at it and you’ll feel better about doing it.

3.    Don’t doubt yourself.
Sometimes when you stand up for yourself, there will be people who try to change your mind or put you down. Always keep your beliefs in mind. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to hear others out and listen to their point of view. But that doesn’t mean you have to change what you believe in.

4.    Keep doing it.
There are so many ways in which you can stand up for what you believe in so don’t stop after one thing. Voice your opinion (in a positive way) when the timing feels right and you’ll get better every time you do it. When we mention to be positive, we mean don’t speak your opinion just to put someone else down. Hear them out and let them know your ideas as well.

We know that staying in your cozy little shell doing your own thing is comfortable but you have the power to change things for the better when you allow yourself to break out of your comfort zone and stand up for what you believe in. You’ll build respect for yourself, gain confidence, and discover who you really are. It may not be easy at first but it’s really quite simple to do. Start by finding out what your beliefs are, let go of your fears, quit doubting yourself, and keep practicing. You can do this!

10 Reasons Why You Should Use Toned Paper for Pastel Drawings

By Nicole Tinkham

pastel-paper

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely an artist, and if that’s true, it’s also very likely you love COLOR. So why is it so natural for us to start a project on a blank white sheet of paper or canvas? Of course, not every artist starts that way but it seems to be the norm. Don’t get us wrong, we really do love a fresh, crisp, white surface. But in the world of pastels, there’s a reason why there are various toned paper choices. Read on for 10 reasons why you should use toned paper for pastels and how to go about selecting a color.

The benefits

1.    Ability to produce different effects and moods. Colors (the color of the paper and the pastels combined) can influence how the viewer feels. Consider the mood of the piece when selecting a toned paper.

2.    Mix it up! Dare to do something different. Challenge yourself to use a different tone for each project you do this year. This will help spark new creativity and get you thinking.

3.    Contrast pastels with paper. This is your chance to use paper color to your advantage and practice some brilliant contrasting techniques.

4.    OR you can do the opposite and harmonize pastels with paper for a totally different look.

5.    Emphasize dark-toned pastels with light-toned paper. This will really make your drawing pop.

6.    OR you can do the opposite and emphasize light-toned pastels with dark-toned paper. This technique can be so eye catching!

7.    Provide balance with mid-toned paper.

8.    No need to hide the white of the paper. Let the tone of the paper shine through and use it to your advantage. We love the look this produces.

9.    Works well with portraits and figure drawing. Just choose a nice skin tone paper for this.

10.    Less intimidating. Staring at a blank white sheet of paper can be overwhelming. But toned paper can help you ease up and get started. It takes the pressure off.

Your color choices

Remember that pastels don’t cover the entire surface, and when working on toned paper they don’t need to! That being said, you’ll want to choose your colors wisely. Most toned pastel paper is natural colors, making them ideal for portraits and figures. Here are a few colors you can find in toned pastel paper: black, dark gray, ivory, moonstone, oyster, pearl, sand, sky blue, smoke gray, steel gray, and tobacco. By the way, you can purchase an entire pad of different toned colors to play around and experiment with.

Now here’s how they can affect your drawing

Red/brown paper = Warm glow, ideal for yellow and cream pastels
Pale grey = Subdued, ideal for winter landscapes
Just starting out? Go with a neutral paper as it tends to be the easiest to work on. If your drawing is light, choose a pale paper.

Did you know you can DIY?

You can have a lot of fun tinting your own pastel paper using tea, coffee and red wine. Only drawback is having less for you to drink 🙂

Maybe you’re just starting out with pastels and are a little scared to try a toned paper for fear of choosing the wrong color. We recommend playing around with different colors first. You can get the pad of all different colors and experiment with different effects and techniques to see what works and what you like. We really think you’ll enjoy working on toned paper and it could even make it easier for the beginner. Tell us, do you use toned pastel paper? What are your thoughts?

How To Go With Your Gut When Making Big Decisions

By Nicole Tinkham

go-with-your-gut

Do you ever have a gut feeling that’s telling you to go after something big and exciting and then have your mind fight against it and tell you all the reasons why you shouldn’t do it? Later on down the road you may discover that you really should have listened to your gut and went for it. You regret it after the fact when it’s too late. If you have ever in your life experienced this, read on because we’ll be talking about how you can use your intuition to make the best decisions that will change your life.

How do you know you can trust your gut instinct?

While your gut instinct may seem like a random decision making process to do something without considering the pros and cons, it’s actually not just a thoughtless act. According to psychologist Gary Klein, Ph.D, “It’s the way we translate our experience into judgment and actions.” We pick up on clues and patterns in our past experiences which help us make these decisions without having to do any sort of analysis. So really, it’s not all that thoughtless and random after all.

Most of your decisions are made based on your gut instinct

Think about all the little things you do on a daily basis without giving second thought. It’s probably more than you think. What you eat for breakfast in the morning, what you decide to wear, and what you watch on TV are all quick decisions you make daily. You don’t contemplate whether or not you’re making the right choice. You’re just going with your gut. So why is it so simple to do this yet so much more complicated when it comes to the larger decisions we’re faced with? Well, when it comes to the bigger life decisions, we tend to overthink things too much. But there are many benefits to listening to your instincts and taking action on them!

Why you should go with your gut

If you sit back and overanalyze every decision, you won’t get very far in life. Those things you would love to see happen most likely won’t happen because it means stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a risk. We like to override that gut feeling with the fear of failure. We think about it so much that we talk ourselves out of doing it completely because it’s scary. It suddenly becomes a terrible idea and we move on with our ordinary lives. But the best things in life happen when you take a chance and make a change even if it is a scary one. This is when listening to your gut comes into play. Sometimes you just have to go with what feels right even if you don’t fully understand how it’ll work out.

How to listen to your gut instinct

1.    To follow your intuition, you actually have to listen to it. Take some time alone to think things through. It’s important to do this totally alone so you’re not influenced by anyone else. Consider what you really want. Think about what your gut is actually telling you before you jump in and make any decision. Take time but not too much time on this because you can easily get into overanalyzing the decision. Give yourself a set amount of time (like a half hour) to think things over and make a decision.

2.    Can’t quite seem to follow your gut instinct in your current situation? Make a list of all the times you have listened to your gut and have been happy with the outcome. Did you feel good about the decision you made? With time, you’ll get better at going with your gut and you’ll see more and more positive outcomes. But until then, keep reminding yourself of what has happened in the past as a result of it.

3.    Continue to practice and work on yourself. You can get in touch with your inner senses by meditating and having a vision for what your ideal life looks like. Figure out what you really want and allow your inner intuitive voice come out.

Be careful!

Making quick decisions can backfire if you aren’t careful. As mentioned above, you do need to think things through before making a big decision. There is more to it than what you initially see. Think about your options without overthinking them so you don’t go into it blindly. Just be aware of what you’re getting yourself into.

Following your instincts can change your entire life. It can get you out of your comfort zone, help you discover your true passion, and live a happier life doing what you want to do. When we overthink big decision we could miss out on incredible opportunities. But it’s also important that you do reflect on what your gut is telling you so you don’t jump into anything blindly. Start listening to your gut instinct today even if it’s just on small decisions. Get used to it and strengthen that inner sense so you’ll be better at it when a big decision comes up.