How To Get Motivated – 37 Answers From REAL Artists

By Nicole Tinkham


We have written many blogs on motivation in your artwork and life in general because it’s one of the main things that are holding people back from achieving their goals. These blogs are filled with incredible tips but we’ve found that the best advice comes straight from an artist’s mouth. So we posed the question “What gets you motivated to start a new art project?” on our Facebook page and the various tips we received is just out of this world. Save this post because you really can learn so much from these artists of all different skill levels. Read on for what these 37 real artists (just like you!) have to say about what motivates them.

1.    “I meditate or go for a run early in the morning. Kick starts my imagination!” – Dominique

2.    “Looking at all unfinished works, stacked against the wall doesn’t help. Seeing one on my easel with paints ready, brushes clean and favorite music helps! Oh and a thermos full of sweetened, cream coffee…” -Barbara

3.    “Gonna sit in front of the linen and take a brush and see what happens….just easy…” -Anja

4.    “I pray, and just dive right into a project. :)” -Tia

5.    “ I have to create it completely, step by step, in my head so I need the quiet time to do that, then when I face the white canvass I’m ready.” -Wendy

6.    “I close my eyes and access the many worlds in my artist head and pick one to do.” -Cindy

7.    “Whenever I need to express myself or when I’m working on an assignment” -Linda

8.    “Music and looking at other art work or landscape photos.” -Kelly

9.    “Touch. Music- it’s hard to pin down.” -Jamie

10.    “Hope that it will sell.” -Rita

11.    “I have to have a clean house. (ok….somewhat clean!!) this way my mind isn’t thinking about what needs to be done. Then I just start fiddling around until I start something!!” -CJ

12.     “Research, research and more research. I get intimidated when I don’t know what I’m doing, research helps me deal with that initial fear. Then sketching, lots of sketching, this gets me used to the idea that I can do it. And gives me a chance to experiment with my ideas, what works, what doesn’t. It’s good to make the mistakes before moving onto the final media that I’m going to work with.” -Krysia

13.    “I crochet blankets for me to start my project I think about who I am making a blanket for and why. Then I spend at least an hour or more looking at designs I try to find it even make my own design if I can’t find what I want. Once I actually start the work I have things settled. I made one for one of my son’s he was living quite a distance away I made him a new one and he said that when he got it that he could feel my love all over him” -Barbara

14.    “Oh, they are swarming in my head 🙂 just have to find time for the next one. It has to be time when I can relax and don’t think about anything else. Sometimes I can’t wait to come home from work to finish a painting, sometimes I start sewing something right after I get up, to get in a better mood and start a day with something pleasant.” -Vera

15.    “New art supplies laid out nicely… and then the storm hits and we have a hot mess! But a beautiful project arises from it all. It’s quite a process! LOL!” -Estela

16.    “Clear my mind, set aside everything else, put on music and then let the art flow out onto the canvas, paper etc. Hours fly by before I know it.” -Lorna

17.    “Well of late I have been concentrating on mythical creatures that I have loved sense childhood. Mainly dragons and fairies. I have no idea whatsoever why I have not been drawing these for all of these years……If I owned the house that I live in I would love to do a mural of them…..” – Andrea

18.    “Anything inspires me. Mostly I respond to color or interesting color combinations. I also draw heavily on my Hispanic heritage- I love bright colors and Mexican and Catholic Imagery. They work so well together!” -Lisa

19.    “I get some crazy idea…lol…then l search thru hundreds of images online…then l do some sketching… I’ve got an idea I’m still rolling around in my brain.. mixed media.. Some drawing… Last night l watched a program on PBS that had a lot of castles, so l focused on the designs, layouts and perspectives…;-)” -Jan

20.    “I just start something. I get a bunch of ideas while I’m in the process of drawing, painting or carving. So I just start..” -Deborah

21.    “As a child, I played the piano when in a bad mood….now I paint when in a bad mood….both very calming and productive!” -Linda

22.    “Caffeine and a rough bit of a sketch on the back of a cigarette packet/ beer mat.. then more caffeine and dive in..” -Chris

23.    “I see something & then my imagination takes off. I love it when I wing it, lol.” -Kathy

24.    “I put a blank canvas on the easel for a day or so , I can’t stand seeing a blank canvas” -Diane

25.    “It magically happens when I get unmotivated to do a less fun project.” -Sam

26.    “visual stimulant – usually a photograph, an emotion, a natural setting rather than a structured work” -Diane

27.    “Music♡♡♡♡” -Karren

28.    “Turn on the music” -Anamarie

29.    “A new idea always helps to start off” -Sayanti

30.    “Look at my empty bank account” – Saddhasura

31.    “Looking for inspiration” –Gina

32.    “You don’t “get” motivated, either you are, or, you aren’t….if you have to psych yourself up… should probably wait… I feel anyway…” –Kurt

33.    “The need to be creative until I get it done. Oh the joy of an accomplishment feels so good. Wish I could get this excited about chores.” –Jnett

34.    “When there is nothing on my easel to work on.” –Larry

35.    “It just happens, for some reason. I try to pretend like I have a process, but I’ll wake up one day and it’s like a switch flipped and I have to make a thing happen. I’ll start assembling what I need, as if someone told me that the project has a deadline. My wife and I have been together over 35 years and she’s still trying to figure that part of me out. She’ll walk in and go, “What’s going on?” in that, “Are we about to lose a room of the house for several months?” kind of way. I’m pretty sure it’s like when Roy Neary started building the Devil’s Tower topographic in his house.” –Robert

36.    “Seeing the first half of the payment is good enough motivation for me to start something. Personal projects just need an “ah-ha” moment and some paper.” –Sarah

37.    “See a great art show like the traveling’ American Watercolor show.” -Bernadette

Whew, we are pumped up just by reading these! Keep in mind that every artist is different so going for a morning run may not do it for you. Maybe you’re more of a music person. Or maybe a little caffeine will do the trick. Try a few things out and see what gets you in the creative mood. Once you find out what that thing is, let us know in the comments below so we can add it to the list!

Mixed Media 101: How to get started

By Nicole Tinkham

Mixed Media 101_ How to get started

Have you ever considered trying your hand in mixed media art? Trust us when we say you need to try it, and here’s why. Say you absolutely hate it (which we doubt you will), we know you’ll LEARN from the experience anyway. Mixed media is all about experimenting and playing with different mediums. It’s finding out what works well together as well as what doesn’t. Most artists find the process super fun and it’s also a great way to get those creative juices flowing if you’re stuck on some other projects. Ready to give it a shot? Here’s how to get started on your first mixed media project.

What is mixed media art?

Can the answer to this be fun? 🙂

Basically, mixed media art is bringing a variety of different art materials together in one project. It’s a combination of many different art skills as well such as collage, scrapbooking, stamping, doodling, painting, sculpture etc. It’s the best of all worlds!

1.    Gather your materials

This is where you can have a lot of fun if you allow yourself to think outside the box. When you gather materials for your mixed media collage, remember that they don’t have to be your typical art supplies! Look for unique textures and shapes that can be used for stamping devices. Save bits and pieces of paper from old newspapers, telephone books, or letters. Start a collection of random objects like buttons and ribbon. You might not be used to looking for these types of things on a normal basis but once you start opening your eyes to them you won’t be able to control it. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

Toilet paper roll for stamping
Plastic utensils
Potato (can be carved into and used as a stamp)
Pencil erasers to carve into and create your own stamp
Bubble wrap for texture
File folders for a foundation
Pages of old books and catalogs
Scrap fabric/paper
Spray bottle can add texture
And the list goes on…

Here are some traditional art supplies you may consider using:

Paint- Acrylic, watercolor, fabric paint, etc.
Variety of paint brushes
Various gel mediums
Pastels, colored pencils, crayons etc.

2.    Choose your foundation

You need a place to start. Just like you need a canvas to start a painting or a sketchbook to begin a drawing, you need a base for your mixed media project. As mentioned in the materials list above, you can use a file folder as a foundation. You can also use a book, sketchbook, cereal box, notebook, index card, or anything else that’s fairly sturdy to get started. The next phase is decorating it.

3.    Add layers

A mixed media piece is really all about creating layers and telling a story. The first layer should be a basic background. This could be done in paint or you could glue some fun paper down or you could do both. Remember, there are no set rules to creating mixed media artwork. It’s great to tell a story with your piece and put some emotion into it. It doesn’t matter if others understand the story or not. This project is for YOU!

4.    Your focal point

It’s ok for your mixed media piece to be random but we do recommend having a focal point. You can achieve this through stamps, images, found items, or anything else that interests you. Be sure to add embellishments around your focal as well! Think lace, glitter, buttons, shells, and other small unique items. When putting together your piece, go with your heart. Don’t worry about where to put certain items. Just place them where you think they work best.

5.    Get out of your comfort zone

Your first mixed media project should get your feet wet so you can see what it’s all about. Next time around, we want you to get a little more out of your comfort zone. Do something crazy that you wouldn’t normally think to do! Also keep your eyes open for any new and interesting things that you can use in future projects. Like we said, once you start looking for these different materials, you won’t be able to stop!

There are numerous things you can get out of your first mixed media project. You’ll learn about various mediums that you may not be used to using. You’ll experiment and find out what works well together and what doesn’t. You may come up with new creative ideas for other projects you’re working on in the process. You might even discover a new medium you love working with. But the #1 and most important thing you can take away from your first mixed media project is to HAVE FUN! Throw out the rules. Leave your worries behind and just have fun.

Are you a mixed media artist? Leave a COMMENT below with your best tips.

9 Tricks for painting on glass

By Nicole Tinkham

9 Tricks for painting on glass

Glass painting is huge right now and with the holiday’s right around the corner, they make excellent personalized gifts. But painting on glass can be tricky when you haven’t done it before. There’s a certain type of paint to look for, special tools to fix mistakes, a shortcut for non-artists and many more to keep in mind when starting your next glass painting project. Read on for our best tips and tricks!

1.    Read the label
Not all paint is made to be used on glass. Many types of paint are toxic and not to be used on pieces that you eat or drink out of. Be sure to choose paint specifically for glass. We recommend Pebeo Glass Paint.

2.    Choose your brush wisely
You can use the brush of your choice when painting on glass but note that synthetic brushes will leave brushstrokes and natural hair brushes can pick up more paint resulting in a smoother surface.

3.    Create a guide
You won’t be drawing your design right on the glass. Instead, you’ll be drawing it on paper. To get the correct size of the design, roll a piece of paper so it fits inside your glass. Trace the top edge of the glass onto the paper. Your design shouldn’t be larger than this marked line.

Next, draw your design in pen or marker so it’s easy to see and put back into the glass, using a little tape to hold it in place. This way you’ll be able to see the design through the glass without having to mark up the outside of the glass.

4.    Keep it clean
Clean your glass and work area thoroughly before beginning. It may also be a good idea to wear latex gloves to prevent oily smudges from your fingers to become part of the design.

5.    Don’t apply too much pressure
When you apply a lot of pressure with your brush when painting glass, the paint can easily be wiped off the slippery surface. Apply lighter pressure to avoid this.

6.    Apply thickly
Glass paint tends to take awhile to dry and can crack if painted over too soon. To avoid applying layers, paint one thick coat on the glass.

7.    Fix mistakes with a cotton swab and toothpick
You can dip the cotton swab in alcohol to get rid of any mistakes and use the toothpick to scrape away mistakes that have dried.

8.    Use painter’s tape for clean straight lines
You don’t necessarily have to hand-draw your own design. Use painter’s tape for crisp lines or a stencil if that’s what you prefer.

9.    Set the paint
Setting the paint ensures that it will last a long time. You can do this with the oven method. Place your glass in the cool oven. Heat the oven up to 350 F and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and let it completely cool down before removing the glass. Note: The glass will break if not heated and cooled gradually.

Painting on glass may be something entirely new to you and could feel a little odd at first. We suggest purchasing an inexpensive glass to experiment on so you get the feel for it. Just practice until you get it! We love the idea of giving a painted glass as a gift or maybe even putting together a glass painting party with a few friends. Just have fun with it!

We want to hear from you! Share your best glass painting tip in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.

6 Common watercolor painting mistakes and how to correct them

By Nicole Tinkham
6 of the most common watercolor mistakes & how to deal(1)
Do you have an interest in learning how to paint with watercolor? A lot of our customers either currently paint with watercolor, or have in the past, but what about those just starting out? Is it a difficult medium to start using? While watercolor is a unique medium, we believe with a few pointers and a fun sense of adventure, you can take it on and have a blast doing it. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll flow through the painting like a pro. So, no need to stress out, we have solutions for your slip ups! Here are the 6 most common watercolor mistakes and how to deal with them.

#1: You’re painting too close to an already wet area
Oh no! Your colors are bleeding together! You’ll most likely run into this at least once on your watercolor journey but don’t freak out. This happens when two colors are wet right next to each other. Luckily, there’s a simple solution. Wet your paintbrush with water and paint over the area. Let it dry and paint over the area again with the appropriate color to fix the mistake.

#2: You’re using the wrong brush
Using too small of a brush on a large area will not only take a long time to paint but will also leave your painting looking rough. And using a brush too large is way too frustrating to get those details in. We suggest having a range of brushes ready before beginning a painting to eliminate your oncoming headache.

#3: You’re not planning out your painting
Just winging it doesn’t always cut it when working with watercolors. It’s important to know which steps you need to complete and in which order for a successful painting. For instance, you may need to mask a particular area before you begin.

#4: You aren’t working quickly enough
Watercolors dry fast so if you’re working on a wash for your background, you’ll have to work quickly. If you stop in the middle of a wash and allow it to dry you could end up with uneven color. To fix uneven color, wet your brush and paint over the area. Next, go over the area again with your wash color a few times. This should blend everything together and make those uneven marks disappear.

#5: You’re not using the correct amount of water
Too much water on your brush results in washed out and less than vibrant colors. For darker colors, use more (or almost all) paint and less water. If you keep getting light colors, try to figure out where the excess water is coming from. Are you washing your brush every time you pick up a new color? This could be the issue.

#6: You purchased poor quality supplies
In the art supply world, the phrase “you get what you pay for” is more than accurate. If you want a beautiful painting, you’ll have to invest in some quality supplies to get you there. A cheap paper can be absorbent and produce a very different effect. The big thing about watercolor brushes is the amount of water they can pick up. The better the brush, the more it will hold. Do yourself a favor and start with good, lasting supplies. Let us know if you need help determining the best supplies for your next project.

Starting anything new can be terrifying especially if it’s just not “clicking” with you. Remember to practice often and try some different ways of doing it. You may discover your own personal style when doing so. The 6 most common watercolor mistakes listed above are just a few of many. Not everything will work out the way you had planned but that’s ok! You’ll learn as you go.

What do you think of our list? Do you have anything to add to it? Leave a COMMENT below or on our Facebook page with any advice you would give a new watercolor artist.

25 Oil Painting Tips that You Can’t Live Without

By Nicole Tinkham

We’re always looking for EASIER (as well as faster, cleaner, cooler, smarter, etc.) ways of accomplishing just about any type of task. No matter what the subject, we’re compelled to read anything that has to do with tips and tricks. There are many different art techniques we could talk about but we often come across several questions when it comes to oil painting. With that being said, we give you a collection of our favorite oil painting tips and tricks brought to you by real artists. This is some good stuff right here. Read on to see what artists have to say about stuck paint caps, how to prevent headaches when working with oil paint, the best way to clean a brush, and why you’ll fall in love with wringers.

1. To clean away a layer of oil paint, use alcohol (a powerful solvent).

2. Examine your work in a mirror. This will give you a different perspective which will help you check your accuracy.

3. If your paint dries on the palette with a ton of wrinkles, too much oil (or medium) has been added.

4. Create a realistic sky by using a watercolor goat hair mop brush. This will eliminate brush strokes for a very real looking sky.

5. DIY oil palette: Get yourself an inexpensive picture frame with glass (you may even have a spare lying around). The frame prevents the paint from sliding off the edge of the glass.

6. When dried in the dark, a thin film of oil can rise to the surface of the painting, causing yellowing.

7. Use a large plastic storage container to transport wet oil paintings to and from class.

8. A purifier can help reduce headaches when working with oil paints.

9. Using 10% Liquin will get more out of your paint and help it dry quicker.

10. Linseed oil is to be used for an underpainting or the bottom layers of an oil painting.

11. Did you know that certain colors dry quicker? These include paint with pigments containing lead, cobalt, and manganese which can be mixed with other colors to accelerate drying time in them as well. These colors are ideal for under layers.

12. You can put your whole palette of oil paint in the freezer to keep paint wet so they can be used for a long time.

13. We love wringers! Use them to get every last drop out of your paint tube.

14. Beginner tip: Lay out your palette the same way every time you paint so you know exactly where each color is. With time, you’ll be able to access colors quickly and instinctively.

15. Are you a messy painter? Baby wipes are perfect for cleaning oil paint off your hands and art tools.

16. Varnish your oil painting after 6 months to protect it.

17. Ever get the cap stuck on your paint tube? Next time, place a small square of saran wrap over the top before screwing the lid on. This way paint won’t dry on the inside of the cap.

18. To remove a tricky cap, place the palm of a latex glove over the cap with a paint rag on top. Twist and (hopefully) the cap comes off easily.

19. Also, SAVE your good caps from empty tubes of paint just in case you come across one that’s cracked or damaged.

20. Paint storage & organization – Use binder clips to hang paint tubes.

21. Use Murphy Oil Soap to clean brushes with dried paint left on them. Also works on clothes!

22. Viva paper towels are highly recommended by artists. Make sure to have them on hand before beginning a painting.

23. Ivory Black dries slower than other oil paint and should not be used for an underpainting.

24. Test out your bottle of mineral or white spirits by dropping a small amount on a piece of paper and letting it evaporate. If it doesn’t leave any residue or stain, it’s fine to use.

25. Experiment with different brush sizes to define different areas of the painting.

BONUS! Here’s what our Facebook friends had to say.

Mara: “Condition your oil brushes with Baby Oil, which also helps get rid of stubborn paint, but remember to rinse the brush in thinner before you re-use as it may “bloom” on your canvas otherwise.

Stacie: “Use very little, it goes along way!

Every artist has their secrets and we’re excited to hear yours! Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page with your hottest oil painting tip and let us know which of the tips in this blog were helpful.

What You Need to Know About Yupo Paper

By Nicole Tinkham

You’ve probably heard the name Yupo art paper when taking a workshop or browsing your favorite art supply store, but you may not be familiar with this popular paper or how to use it. In this post, you’ll learn why watercolor artists love this paper, tips for using it, and examples of how it can be used. We think you’ll be surprised at the different effect Yupo paper provides!

What is Yupo paper?

Yupo paper is a tree-free synthetic paper that’s 100% recyclable AND waterproof. Because of these properties, it’s often used for design, packaging, and labeling. For now however, we’re going to focus on how it can be used with watercolor paint and inks. Being water-resistant makes this paper ideal for use with watercolors as Yupo doesn’t absorb the paint like ordinary watercolor paper would. Because of this, you’ll notice nice textures that form as the paint dries on the Yupo paper.

Why you should use it

Yupo paper has many characteristics that will catch your interest as an artist. Here are a few:

• Smooth surface
• Durable/will not tear
• Waterproof
• Wipes clean

How you can use it

As mentioned, you’ll most likely use Yupo paper when working with watercolor paints and/or inks. Since Yupo is much different than your ordinary watercolor paper, here are a few tips to help you get used to this plastic-like paper.

1. Paint loosely: Since the paper will not absorb water, pigments have a tendency to “swim” until evaporated. Precise details may be difficult to achieve so a loose painting style may be a better choice.

2. Don’t touch the paper: You don’t want oils from your fingers getting on the Yupo paper so make sure to wash your hands frequently and use a towel to rest your hand on when working.

3. How to fix your mistakes: Simply add water to the mistake and wipe clean with a paper towel.

4. Experiment: Play around with Yupo paper and give yourself plenty of time to get the hang of it!

Do you think Yupo paper will become your new paper of choice when working with watercolors/inks? It’s a great paper to at least experiment with if nothing else. Stop by Keeton’s and grab a sheet of your own to test it out. Make sure to let us know what you think! You can connect with us here on the blog (just leave a comment below), or on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We look forward to hearing from you!