5 Small Art Mistakes That You’re Probably Making

By Nicole Tinkham

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You are an amazing artist! Whether you’re an experienced artist who’s been creating for awhile or a total beginner, there’s always room for improvement. In fact, these five mistakes that you could be making are ones that you probably already know. But it’s always great to have a reminder. We’ll touch on everything from the media you’re working with to washing your hands before starting a project. Seriously, these are super basic but must-know tips. Read on for 5 small art mistakes that you’re probably making and how to fix them.

1.    Your environment is off

It sounds so simple but let’s face it, artists get messy. It’s just what they (typically) do. Before you begin working on a project, clean up your space. If there are any projects with wet paint, get them out of the way. Gather ALL of the supplies you’ll need before you begin working. Also set your space up to make you feel more creative. Move your easel by the window, move some plants over to the area, and do whatever it is you need to do to get in the zone.

2.    You’re not patient enough

Are you impatient?? No worries if you are, we and many other artists who we know can relate. Remember that it’s important to take the time to let your ink and paint dry completely to prevent unwanted smudging. If you’re working in oils, the struggle is real! You can always use mediums that will speed up the drying time though. Dry time isn’t the only struggle artists face with impatience though. Work with many details can take time, learning takes time, improving your skills takes time, great ideas take time to come up with. Art in general takes time! Take a deep breath, get focused, and try not to rush things.

3.    You’re not working with the right media

Use the right materials! It’s so easy to pick up the closest brush and start creating but it may not be the correct brush for your particular project. If that’s the case, your desired effect could be off and frustration can creep up on you. For example, if you want fine details you should use a small liner brush, not a large flat one. Pick the right supplies for the desired effect and know that quality supplies do go a long way. If you’re just starting out and aren’t sure which supplies are best for your project, just ask! We’re always here to help (call us at 941-747-2995) or ask a fellow artist or instructor. We’ve found that the art community is super supportive so don’t be afraid to speak up and learn from others.

4.    You forgot to wash your hands

This is a simple one but so important and especially so when drawing! The oils from your hands can affect the paper you’re working on and how the pencil lays on it. It’s something you may not think about since when the creative mood strikes you just jump right into it, right? But a quick wash is best before beginning a new project.

5.    You overwork yourself

Everyone needs to take a break. It fuels you to keep going and be more productive. We know many artists who work straight through the night and get very little sleep. We understand that nothing can stop that creative mind of yours but we suggest listening to your body. When you feel overly exhausted, it’s time to take a break. When you’re totally drained and can’t think of any ideas or aren’t moving forward with a project, it’s time for a break. Trust us when we say those breaks will pay off in the long run! You’ll return with a clear mind, ready to go!

You are a talented artist (we’ve seen your work and know this is a true statement 🙂 ) but the little things in this blog make a big difference. As you learn new things, it’s easy to slip up on the small things you’ve probably heard a thousand times in the beginning. Just keep these 5 small art mistakes in the back of your mind on your next project and see the improvement. Even small improvement is still moving you forward! Keep on going artists, you are doing incredible.

You Made A Mistake On Your Ink Drawing – Now What?

By Nicole Tinkham

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The biggest thing holding artists back from beginning their journey in the world of ink drawing is the fear of making a mistake! We tend to have this belief that ink is totally permanent and one little mistake can ruin the whole project. We agree, this can be a little overwhelming but keep in mind that ANY mistake no matter the medium can be worked around. An ink mistake can be tricky but we have 6 different solutions that could work for you. Read on for what to do if you’ve made a mistake on your ink drawing.

Be creative and draw over the mistake
Before you go removing that ink mistake with the following methods, think about how you can make it part of your drawing. Remember that “mistakes” are just happy little accidents. How can you incorporate that slip up in your artwork? What can you add to the piece to cover up the mistake?

Scan, Photoshop, print
If you’re computer savvy, removing the ink mistake in Photoshop is actually really simple. You do need to have Photoshop and know the basics of how to use it but all you’d have to do is scan the artwork, remove the mistake, and print it out.

Use a razorblade to scrape away the ink on heavier paper
Eeeek! Using a razorblade on your artwork can be a terrifying thing but this method actually seems to be the most popular among artists. Be sure to only do this on heavy paper and gently scrape the mistake out.

Use a Tombow Sand Eraser (for small stains)
Tombow offers a course eraser that can help with getting ink stains removed from your artwork. We recommend using this on a heavier paper so you don’t tear through it. We’ve also heard of artists using actual sand paper to gently rub the stain out.

Cover it with white out (if you’re using white paper)
Your typical bottle of white out can be used to cover up a mistake on white paper but be sure to get the right type! On very small details, you may want to use the correction pen vs the correction fluid with the brush.

If you are using an off white paper, you can cover the mistake up with paint but you’ll have to mix colors to get the perfect shade. You’ll probably have to add a tad of yellow to white paint. Even if the paper looks white, often times it’s not pure white.

Start over
If your mistake happened in the very beginning of a project or if you didn’t like where your ink drawing was going anyway and you didn’t spend much time on it, feel free to start over! That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of it. Maybe you can do something with it at a later date but don’t frustrate yourself trying to perfect the mistake when it’s just as easy to start fresh.

If you’re unsure about starting your first ink project, you need to just dive in! Leave your fears behind, go into it with an open and positive mind, roll with the mistakes if they happen, and have fun with it. Don’t rush or put too much pressure on yourself. Practice makes perfect so we encourage you to do an ink drawing every single day, even if it’s just a quick sketch. You’ll quickly get over your need for perfection and improve your skills. But if mistakes do pop up (they always do!) remember these 6 techniques for what to do.

The Top 5 Best Types Of Paper For Ink Drawing

By Nicole Tinkham

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Looking to improve your ink drawing skills? We know that working with ink can be intimidating but when it comes down to it, the supplies you use make all the difference. A simple shift in paper type can give you a totally different look and we’re not even exaggerating. Today we’ll be talking about paper and the types that we like using with ink. If you’ve been dabbling in the world of art for awhile now, you know how many options come with art paper (and just about every other art supply imaginable). As with anything else, not all paper is created equal and you certainly can’t use just anything with ink!  If you’re interested in playing around with ink washes, you’ll definitely want something with a harder surface. But it goes much further than that with many other options. Read on for the top 5 best types of paper we recommend using for ink drawing.

1.    Bristol Board

Description: Bristol board provides a stiff surface (heavier than drawing paper). Basically, it consists of many sheets of drawing paper together, forming multi-ply sheets.

Application: With the smooth surface option, use with marker, airbrush, pen, etc. With the vellum option, use graphite and colored pencils, mixed media, charcoal, and oil pastels.

2.    Mixed Media Paper

Description: Mixed media paper is a combination of both watercolor and drawing paper characteristics.

Application: Use the media of your choice. It’s great for watercolor, pastel, collages, marker, acrylic, etc.

3.    Watercolor Paper

Description: Cold pressed watercolor sheets in both 90lb and 140lb. We recommend Arches.

Application: Use for watercolor or ink painting.

4.    Illustration Board

Description: Illustration board offers a hard, durable surface that is only finished on one side. We recommend a hot press as it provides a nice smooth surface for pen and ink.

Application: Ideal for watercolor, pen and ink, and any media where a hard surface is needed.

5.    Drawing Sketchbook

Description: Just your typical sketchbook ideally in a smooth, fine surface.

Application: A sketchbook is perfect for line drawings done in both graphite and pen.

Not sure which type of paper to go with for your next ink drawing? Play around and try a few out! You’ll quickly realize what works well and what doesn’t for your particular project. Even though starting out in ink can be overwhelming (what if you make a mistake??) having a good quality paper will definitely work in your favor and eliminate a ton of frustration. These were our top 5 types of paper for ink drawing but we want to hear from you! What is your favorite paper to work on when it comes to ink? Leave us a comment below!

4 Things To Know About The InkTober Challenge

By Nicole Tinkham
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LISTEN UP ARTISTS!! InkTober is upon us again and it’s the perfect opportunity to either get your feet wet with pen and ink drawings or show off your skills to your Facebook friends. Don’t worry, we’ll explain how all this works in this blog. Here are 4 things you need to know going into the InkTober Challenge.

1.How it all began

Jake Parker created the InkTober Challenge in 2009 with the goal to improve his inking skills. He kept himself accountable by posting a new drawing on social media sites every day for the month of October. Now artists all over the world take on the InkTober Challenge every October. Anyone can do it, just pick up a pen and draw your heart out! Artists range from complete beginners to the professional artist. No judgment or critique, this is made to be fun and to improve your skills.

2.The rules

This year we are participating in the InkTober Challenge and we are so excited to have you JOIN US! The rules are simple:

*Create a drawing in ink (anything you want!) and share it with us on our Facebook page.

*You can post daily, every other day, or weekly – the choice is yours!

*Use #inktober with your post so other InkTober challengers can find your creations for inspiration.

*Every week we’ll pick a drawing at random that you have shared with us and feature it on our Facebook page.

3. What you get out of it

Why should you participate in our Facebook community InkTober Challenge?? Because we have a ton of helpful tips and inspiration lined up for you throughout the entire month. Here’s what you can expect.

*31 drawing ideas for those days when you have no idea what to draw. You don’t have to follow these specific tasks to a letter but you can if you want!

*Ink-couragement: We’ll share motivation to keep you going through to Halloween!

*Ink-spiration: We’ll share incredible ink artwork to inspire your next drawing.

*Weekly spotlight of a random participant’s entry.

*Ink tips and techniques along the way to help you improve.

*Check ins throughout the month to make sure you’re still with us.

*Celebration (and huge collage) of everyone’s artwork.

4.Why you should join us

We already have a strong community of supportive artists on our Facebook page and we think it would be so much fun to go through this InkTober challenge together. Don’t worry about not being a skilled pen and ink artist. This is your chance to try something  new and IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS! That’s the whole point of this challenge. It’s proven that the more you work at something, the more you will get better at it. That’s why you need to do this!! This is the perfect opportunity to get started. The excitement will be up in the month of October and we’ll hold you accountable throughout the entire month!

You want to join in on the InkTober fun now, don’t you? It’s super simple to join us. Simply ‘Like’ our Facebook page, post your drawings on our page using #inktober, and check in daily for inspiration, ink tips, and encouragement. We’ll get started 10/1.

And let us know, will you be joining us next month?? COMMENT below and let us know if you’re in! 🙂

5 Things You Need To Know About Oil And Wax Colored Pencils

By Nicole Tinkham

5 Things You Need To Know About Oil And Wax Colored Pencils

You may not know the difference between oil-based colored pencils and wax ones. Or you may not even realize that there are two different types of colored pencils. That’s ok! No shame here, I didn’t know the difference myself. I knew one of the two were the common colored pencils that we see everywhere. You know, the Prismacolors we all know and love. The other type, I had never used and knew absolutely nothing about. It’s funny how when you get used to one thing it’s tough to try something else, isn’t it? You already know what to expect from wax-based colored pencils and more importantly, know how to use them (oil-based are a completely different feel). Not only will you tend to stick with what you know (and save some money while doing so), but you’ll also most likely miss oil-based pencils altogether unless you’re really looking for them. Wax-based are much more popular and can be found just about anywhere. But as we know, just because one type is more popular than the other doesn’t mean its better. Read on for 5 things you need to know about oil and wax colored pencils.
1.    Wax-based colored pencils tend to show up lighter on the paper allowing you to work in layers. Oil-based pencils lay down a lot of color, eliminating the need to work in layers.

2.    Oil-based pencils are much more expensive than wax-based ones but they offer a professional (think oil painting) look.

3.    There’s a wide range of wax-based pencils to choose from with the hard lead you probably used in grade school and a softer lead used by more experienced artists. Oil-based pencils on the other hand are more specialized, smear easily, and rely on the artist’s skill.

4.    Wax-based pencils offer a softer core that can break easily. They also tend to leave a film on the work surface. Oil-based pencils have a harder core and don’t leave behind that film.

5.    It’s recommended to use a fixative with wax-based pencils as it prevents the wax from rising to the surface or “blooming”. A fixative is not needed when working with oil-based colored pencils.

When it comes down to choosing either wax-based or oil-based colored pencils to work with, it’s all about personal preference. Both options have their pros and cons producing different looks. If you’ve worked with colored pencils in the past, they were most likely wax-based since those are the most popular. If you’re comfortable and happy with them, that’s perfect! But if you want to try something new, grab a few oil-based pencils and go to town! Be sure to leave a comment below and let us know your experience with either or both options.

13 Ways to fight procrastination today

By Nicole Tinkham

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When we asked our Facebook friends what they struggle with most as an artist, the overwhelming answer happened to be procrastination. It seems that many artists either have too many ideas they’d like to pursue and just don’t know where to begin or they draw a blank when it comes to a particular project. In these cases, it’s common to start working on something else and ignore what you should be working on. At the end of the day it feels like you spent a lot of time getting nothing done. What a waste of time! Even if you aren’t an artist, we’re sure you can relate. Quit spending time doing the things that aren’t helping you. Here are 13 ways you can fight procrastination and get more productive today.
1.    Choose the most important thing on your to-do list. We suggest creating a to-do list of all the things you hope to get done in a day. Choose the top 3 most important things you MUST get done and put a star next to them. Out of those 3, choose the #1 most important thing and highlight it. This is what you need to work on FIRST! Everything else on the list can wait for later or tomorrow.

2.    Set uninterrupted focus time. The best way to get things done is to eliminate all other distractions. This means your phone should be shut off or on silent. Everyone around you knows you are in the zone and not to bother you. Have only the task at hand in front of you. Don’t start working on a million other things during your uninterrupted time. Get completely focused on that one important task!

3.    Track how long you’re spending on each task. Set a timer when you begin and stop it when you’re finished. If the time spent on the task seems way too long it’s time to reevaluate your focused time. Did any distractions pop up? Did you start working on something else? Did you get a phone call halfway in? Timing your focus sessions will open your eyes as to what you’re really spending your time on and will allow you to improve.

4.    Prep for success. If you know your messy art room will be a huge distraction for you, spend some time the night before de-cluttering it. Don’t spend too much time on this though. Get in, straighten up, and get out. If there are certain supplies you need for your project, get those ahead of time too. There will be no messing around during your focused time!

5.    Break down large projects into smaller tasks. Sometimes one huge project just seems impossible. But if you break that project down into small projects it’s much more manageable and you’ll feel more comfortable tackling it.

6.    Do the most important work during your peak time of day. If you’re a morning person, plan your focused time first thing in the AM. If you’re a night owl, wait to start your project until creativity strikes.

7.    Take a walk. If you sit down and just can’t seem to get anything done, you’re drawing a blank, and there’s no creative flow, it may be time to clear your mind. Try taking a SHORT (emphasis on short) walk and you should come back to your project refreshed and focused.

8.    Find new ways to challenge yourself. If you’re constantly doing the same things over and over again, you’ll bore yourself making it much more difficult to get in the creative zone and be productive. When things get dull challenge yourself by doing something outside your comfort zone. Work with a medium you’re not used to, try out a new technique, or attend an art workshop.

9.    Take breaks when needed. They say the ideal length of focused, productive time is 45 minutes. It’s the perfect amount of time to get in the zone but longer amounts of time can decrease your productivity. Every 45 minutes simply walk away from your project. Fix your mind on something else temporarily and get right back into it. These little breaks should be about 15 minutes long.

10.    Set deadlines for yourself. This will encourage you to push through until it’s done! Also make your goals and deadlines public. Tell a friend about them to hold you accountable.

11.    Get plenty of sleep. It’s so important in your energy and productivity levels. If you don’t sleep well at night (we know all the creative ideas start popping up when you’re trying to sleep), take a mini nap during the day. This will leave you refreshed and ready to go.

12.    Remember why completing this task is important. When things get difficult and you feel like giving up altogether, remember why you started. There had to have been a good reason behind it. Is it really worth giving up at this point?

13.    Don’t be so hard on yourself. It takes time to form any habit just like it takes time and practice to learn a new art technique. The more you prioritize and get focused on one task at a time, the easier and better you’ll get at it. Keep on going. You CAN fight procrastination.

Don’t let procrastination ruin your success! This list may seem overwhelming but just take it one day at a time. Here’s where you need to start today. First of all, determine the most important thing that needs to get done. Get rid of all distractions, and get to work on it immediately. Stay focused, only taking short mini breaks when needed. That’s it! Continue to use this list and put it into action every day to help you fight procrastination for good.

Tell us, has this blog helped you get more done? Leave a comment below with your experience 🙂

23 Sketching tips for the beginner

By Nicole Tinkham

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As a beginner artist, you most likely know two things are sure: 1) If you want to get better at your art, you’ll have to practice often AND, 2) you should keep a sketchbook handy. To improve and grow as an artist you’ll have to be all in. You’ll need to start taking your art seriously. If you make one commitment today to better your art, make it to sketch DAILY. If you’ve purchased a brand new sketchbook before, you know there’s no better rush of excitement than opening it up to the first page. But don’t stop there. Filling that first page in can set the pace for where the rest of the sketchbook will go. So, where in the world do you start? Our best piece of advice is to just get started. And we have a list of 23 sketching tips to help you do just that. Note: These tips will cover a little bit of everything from choosing the right pencil to shading techniques. Let’s begin!
1.    Always start with the basic shapes. Draw these in lightly and add in more details as you go.

2.    Avoid smudging by placing a sheet of paper under your hand when shading. Right-handed artists should shade from left to right and left-handed artists should do the opposite.

3.    Don’t use your finger to blend! The oils from your skin will end up on your project and they can make taking away graphite in these areas difficult.

4.    Instead, use a blending stick to blend the graphite. Use a small circular motion for even blending. This will give it a more natural look.

5.    When shading, work from light to dark. Otherwise, the dark graphite could get stuck on your blending stick and mixed in with your lighter areas.

6.    Add some texture by using different mediums in your sketch like watercolor pencils. You can add water on parts and leave other parts dry.

7.    Use “H” (harder) pencils for lighter lines and “B” (softer) pencils for a darker line. More on pencil lead options here.

8.    Get a very soft look by scribbling on a scrap piece of paper with your pencil. You can then pick up the graphite with your blending stick and transfer it to your project. This way you won’t get those pencils lines in your sketch.

9.    Choose a paper with a “tooth” for added texture.

10.    The closer you hold your hand to the end (lead end) of the pencil, the more control you have.

11.    Use a photo as your reference. The nice thing about photographs is your object won’t move and the lighting won’t shift on you.

12.    Vary your line widths for a more interesting drawing.

13.    Use cross-hatching or stippling to shade for a different and unique look.

14.    Practice every single day! Whatever you’re struggling with, just keep sketching it out and you will get better.

15.    When creating 3D objects, you’ll have three different tones to pay attention to: highlights, shadows, and mid-tones. Your highlight area will be the part directly facing the light. Shadows are the area facing away from the light and mid-tones are the other area (not directly facing the light source and not directly away from the light source).

16.    When choosing a reference photo, make sure there are both light and dark areas.

17.    To achieve accurate proportion (especially when working on a portrait) use the grid system. Lay a grid over your reference photo and lightly draw a grid on your drawing paper to scale.

18.    Practice blind sketching. This is a fun technique that loosens up your drawings, like a drawing warm up. Basically, you’re drawing the subject without looking down at your sketchbook. This is just a fun way to get those creative juices flowing.

19.    Carry a sketchbook with you everywhere you go. Observe and sketch often!

20.    Draw what you see. Pay close attention to your subject matter. Really look at shapes and shadows.

21.    Always keep your outlines light. Real life objects don’t have dark lines running along the edges. However, if you’re drawing in a cartoon style, this tip doesn’t apply.

22.    Choose which details to include and which ones to leave out. It’s not necessary to include every single detail in the leaves of a tree. Think about what’s aesthetically pleasing and decide what can be left out.

23.    Add color! Bring in some colored pencils, pastels, or even watercolor paint to your work to add some color.

We stressed in the beginning of this blog that these tips are meant for the beginner but actually, any artist regardless of their experience can use them. Print this post out and save it. These are excellent tips to look back on when you’re struggling or have artists’ block.

As with many of our other posts, we’re always adding and changing it based on what our fans have to say. If you have a killer sketching tip you want to see on the list, leave a COMMENT below and we’ll add it. Do you think we can reach 100 tips on this post??