Do You Really Have Artist’s Block?

Staring at a blank sheet of paper and wondering what to paint is familiar and frustrating to any artist. So what’s artist’s block really all about?

For starters, I believe there are two types of artist’s block. There is what I’ll call “true” artist’s block, which I believe to be pretty rare, and the second more common version, which is simply “indecisiveness.”

Which One Are You?

True artist’s block could be defined as creative exhaustion. To be in this rare category, you’re probably a professional or practicing, prolific artist who has painted, drawn or designed their keister off and, for what ever reason, has reached a point of being out of creative gas. All of a sudden, no visual idea seems worthy to pursue given the body of work you’ve already done. You just don’t feel inspired with an idea you can use. If you’re a professional, full-time painter, designer or illustrator, you’ve probably actually faced this dilemma. However, for hobbyists or the casual spare-time artist its rarely the case. Why? … Stay with me here.

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Sketching Fail? Yes and No!

If you saw the video in this post, my remarks beg a simple question – “Did I fail?” Well, for me the answer is yes and no. Many who commented on YouTube were gracious and said they thought the building sketch turned out great. And while I appreciate that, there is a deeper teaching moment here. If you’ve watched my other videos, you’ve heard me say it before. “Embrace failure as a teacher.”

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The Mind of Watercolor Launches

The Mind of Watercolor YouTube Channel has launched! Go check it out. I hope to create a community of watercolor enthusiasts where we learn more about this exciting and easy to use medium which also has a mind of its own and reputation for being unforgiving. I plan to share tips and techniques, review products, engage in challenges and perhaps have some contests and giveaways. It’ll be a blast.

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Lightfastness – New Mediums, Old Problem

Distress_markers

The explosion in new, and sometimes awesomely cool, paper-crafting supplies got me to thinking recently.

Manufacturers have apparently responded to a huge rise in interest with a steady stream of “cool stuff” for the paper-crafting big three – card making, scrapbooking and journaling; including new markers, inks, dyes, powders, mists, etc., etc. Any self respecting fine art painter (an area, I might add, where new things don’t come a long nearly as often) would be crazy not to occasionally cast a sideways glance at the craft market and say, “hmm, wonder what I could do with that in my painting?” Multimedia artists (some of which are also journalers) especially would seem to benefit. But wait, not so fast… or maybe I should say, not so LIGHT fast.

Chasing the Fugitive

 

Scrapbook and journaling suppliers in particular seem to have responded well to the archival needs involved. Acid free papers, adhesives and mediums abound but there is still a big gulf where fugitive colors are concerned. Paper crafters have the luxury of not needing to worry about this much. Exhibiting art and prolonged light exposure is likely low on their “caution” priority list. But with so many new alluring dye-based mediums surfacing, any artist hoping to hang or exhibit work needs to be very careful of the mediums they incorporate. Dye-base mediums are the absolute worst in terms of fugitive colors. Pigmented mediums in the craft market exist but there aren’t nearly so many as you might think. Many illustrators fluent in using Copic or Prismacolor markers are not new to the concern over dye-based mediums, even experienced studio and gallery artists may tell you first hand, its no fun to see your precious artwork vanish before your very eyes after hanging on a well-lit wall for a few years.

Without doing a ton of research (for which I have no time), I thought maybe it better to just point you to some good reads where the work has already been done, by people who know where of they speak. Yeah, I’m just lazy that way. So, if your art will ever be displayed, read on and think carefully (think pigmented and archival) before you go including that cool new set of watercolor markers, powders or sprays in your next painting.

Indepth Article on Lightfastness in Art Mediums

Good Basic Overview of the “Marker” Problem

Copic Q&A

Doing a Simple Lightfastness Test

Six-Part series by James Gurney

Lightfastness: Part 1 of 6

Lightfastness: Markers

Lightfastness and Dyes

Lightfastness in Pencils, Watercolors, and Oils

Lightfastness and Alizaring Crimson

Lightfastness: Final Thoughts

The Muster

Inspiration from Walnut Grove Plantation

One of my favorite re-enactment events in the Upstate, SC area is Festifall at Walnut Grove Plantation. To see more of this event I have a post with pictures here.

Many of the photos I take at these events eventually become reference for paintings. Here is one of my latest watercolor paintings entitled “The Muster” using reference from the Walnut Grove event. Enjoy.

The Muster

Roosevelt and Churchill watercolor

A Portrait of Two Leaders

Roosevelt and Churchill watercolor

A recent watercolor I did. This reflects several elements I wanted to play around with. First of all, I love to illustrate historical subjects and historical figures. My reference was a black and white photo taken of Roosevelt and Churchill at a summit meeting near the end of World War II. In this case I wasn’t fussy about likenesses. I focused more on technique and style. I wanted to reinterpret the scene in color but with a very limited pallet. I really love this approach and will definitely do more work from a limited pallet.

Watercolor Board

This was also my first time using Arches watercolor board. I’ve always been a fan of their watercolor paper but I absolutely loved this board. It’s essentially board-mounted Arches hot press watercolor paper. Some watercolor boards I’ve used have been worthless in that workability was a problem after a bit of scrubbing, lifting or heavy washing rendered parts of the surface practically useless. I haven’t fully tested the limits of the board yet and it will probably not have the working durability of say 300lb. paper but nevertheless I am duly impressed. It will most likely be a staple for me in the future.