Friday, 13 April 2018

Art materials, travel brushes, your inner critic & a new art challenge

Where's the time gone? I started writing this post almost a month ago. The time seems to be just flying, I can't believe that in a couple of weeks, one third of the year will already have passed. I feel we should still be somewhere at the beginning of February. Ah well. But I'm afraid this is going to be a very long post...

Art materials. Aren't they great? All those fabulous colours, watercolour boxes, brushes, pens, sketchbooks... Yes, art materials are great. And yes, finding something new can be inspiring and useful. But let's be honest, art materials can also be a bit of an excuse for avoiding to make art. We try something, it doesn't work out the way we wanted it, we're frustrated... and then we read about someone's palette, brushes... and we convince ourselves that if we just add those colours, buy that brand of paints, get a new brush, that useful little travel watercolour box, then, yes, then, all would be perfect and we'd spend our days happily making art every after. But as soon as that new ultimately perfect thing arrives, we've already read about an even more perfect thing that we first have to get before we then, finally, can produce the art that we're meant to do. And if that doesn't work out quite as we expected, it won't be long until we stumble upon another inspiring blog post, with some different paints, colours, brushes...I am certainly guilty of that, I sadly have to admit. And a result, I have a ridiculously large collection of brushes, paints, watercolour boxes, sketchbooks...

A lot of this has to do with our inner critic. That voice in our head, that constantly crushes our fragile confidence, that tells us that we're rubbish, that our drawings are silly, bad, ridiculous, that we're not good enough and never will be, just look at all the other's work, and who do you think you are for thinking you could do that too? You're just wasting your time. And money... I have found myself admiring a sketch for its style, simplicity, looseness, wonky lines and everything, and had to admit to myself that if I had made that very same sketch, I would have been frustrated, would have found it not good enough. We so easily judge ourselves so much harder, have far too many expectations that we cannot meet.

I came across this TED talk about your inner critic by Danielle Krysa, who gives some useful tips and tricks about how to deal with it.

I especially liked the idea of naming your critic. I named mine Septimus. Imagine an old Victorian bah-humbug type of man with a top hat. Bitter, shabby, miserly, misogynistic, prejudiced..... I mean, who would listen to someone like that? Let alone take him seriously and letting it affect you in what you do? He definitely is just a big old Jerk.

I started a little reference book with art materials for sketching, to remind me of the stuff I have. And of course sketching everything means that I'm actually sketching. And by using your materials, you will find out what actually works for you and what doesn't, which allows you to reduce your materials to your personal essentials - rather than your art hero's.

And here's another little trick that I was reminded to by someone on social media, to silence your inner critic for when you mess something up: just glue a piece of paper over the area, and draw over it. Certainly much better than putting away your sketchbook in frustration and not touching it again for weeks and months...

And last but not least, a new art challenge: Last week, The 100 Day Project started. The idea is to commit to something you want to do for 100 days and then, well, do it, and share it on Instagram. It started on April, 3 but you can jump in any time. It's also okay if you miss a day. I know from experience that I am very bad with these kinds of challenges. Especially the sharing part. It's not just that sometimes you produce a drawing that you don't really want to share, but it's all the photographing, scanning, editing and uploading involved. So I'm focusing on trying to draw or sketch or paint as often as possible, preferably every day but no pressure. And I'm sharing what I feel comfortable with and when I have the time.
So here's some of the sketches so far, done in various mediums, like watercolour, brush pen, fountain pen with a Fude nib, coloured pencils, quick sketches, blind/line drawings...

I'm off for a holiday at the end of the month, and hopefully I'll be able to keep up the drawing, and maybe even get some outdoor sketching done.


  1. Such beautiful illustrations! The strawberries look good enough to eat.

  2. I am always impressed with all your sketches- colored or not-they are just fab! Happy PPF!

  3. You always show such impressive art.

  4. Great paintings and portraits.
    Happy PPF 💕

  5. Ugh that is so true. I LOVE new art supplies, and I HATE them in equal measure. The pressure of a new blank sketchbook, or expensive art supplies that I don't want to mess up. Gotta get out of our own ways (and heads)! :) Happy PPF!

  6. Fabulous video! I shared it with my Writer's Group and on facebook with my friends. Really great! Loved your mushrooms, and the watercolor medium sketches! Great post!

  7. Where did the thine go? I'm with you, isn't it just February? Your strawberries are such a treat, ...
    Thank you for sharing the TedX talk ... I teach creativity based on love images, and have heard so often, "I'm not creative, ..." and much of our work is to help time down that IC! When I mention many folks can hear the voice that activated Inner Critic, they'll say, "oh, yeah, I was about ____ and my teacher said___" ... I'm going to share it with my community as well
    And I love the tip to use bit of collage over an area you don't like, the mushroom demo of that is delightful! XXxX happy PPF!

  8. You are so talented!
    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

  9. Your post is right on. Your artwork is exquisite...and it fills my eyes. That is the greatest compliment I can give. There are moments when my eyes focus in so suddenly it makes my eyes tickle. :D It is an involuntary response which tells me that what I'm seeing is remarkable. Your art is remarkable.

  10. Oh what a wonderful variety of art for the 100 day project!I could relate to everything in this post. The inner gremlin is nasty and the art supply quest can over take us. I decided over a year ago to focus on using up things in my home...including art supplies. My daughter did the same..its a rewarding feeling. I bought things when I had to! I ended up using supplies in new ways with wonderful results that I havent yet shared. All the best on drawing daily!

    Peace Giggles