10 Things I’ve Learned About Art

As I said in last week’s blog post, I have been starting to get back into art––to get into it properly for the first time ever, really. I also said I’d been watching a lot of YouTube videos on the topic, and so I have gleaned a bunch of useful info. This post is just to document that. It will likely become a series, as I continue to learn, but here’s what I have so far:

  1. Kneaded Erasers are a thing. They kind of look like a lump of Blu Tack and, as the name suggests, can be kneaded into different shapes to suit the artist. They’re preferable to regular rubbers (as they’re called in the UK), as they absorb the lead/graphite rather than rubbing it (and sometimes the paper) away, leaving those annoying bits behind.
  2. Paper Basics
    • Acid-free paper won’t fade/yellow over time.
    • The quality of paper is often denoted in a numerical ‘GSM’ value, which stands for grams per square meter.
    • Sketchbooks might also mention ‘tooth’ on the cover, which means texture.
  3. Harder pencils draw lighter lines
    • Draw with H pencils (harder wood)
    • Detail with HB pencils
    • Shade with B pencils (which are softer wood, and therefore create darker lines)
  4. Draw on a tilted surface, not flat, to avoid distortion/elongation of your lines.
  5. If you’re drawing at night, the warm glow of electric lighting can affect how the colours look. Daylight bulbs get around this.
  6. You should prep your canvasses before painting by putting on a layer of primer first.
    • In the US, the most popular brand of primer is called Gesso.
    • Some canvasses come pre-primed. It will say this on the label, if so.
    • You can add a layer of sealer to your painting when you’re done (Mod Podge in the US, PVA in the UK).
  7. Types of Paints:
    • Oil
    • Acrylic
    • Watercolour
    • Gouache (Which is opaque watercolour, though apparently Acrylic Gouache is also a thing.)
  8. Acrylics dry fast and are therefore not good for blending.
  9. You should dry brushes upside down, where possible, but not in something that lets the bristles rest on a surface, as that will make it lose shape faster.
  10. Most of us know what it means when ink or paint ‘bleeds’ through a page onto the one underneath (or onto your table/desk), but I have recently discovered that it’s called ‘ghosting‘ when you can clearly see what’s you’ve drawn/painted on the opposite side of the paper, but it hasn’t bled the entire way through.

Feel free to share your favourite art facts or tips in the comment section below!

The Formal and the Informal

I am a chill, casual person––except for when I’m not.

Sometimes I like rules just fine––especially the ones I make myself––it’s just rules that have lost sight of why they exist, or rules that exist just for the sake of existing that drive me nuts.

For example, I am against homework and school uniforms because studies have shown that they not only don’t work, but actually further disadvantage families that are already struggling.

And I hate pointless pomp and circumstance at formal events.

But I love lists, and colour coding, and diagrams. You know, useful sh*t.

Do I mentally correct people’s grammar in my head as they’re talking? Absolutely. I have this need to fix the words, even if the other person never knows. It’s how I keep myself right, for writing later. (Hear something said incorrectly enough times and let it go unchecked, and you’ll find yourself adopting the error.)

When it came to our wedding, my husband and I decided which traditions we wanted to follow and which ones weren’t for us. (Most of them weren’t.)

All that to say, I think there’s a balance to be found, between rules and order. And that balance is probably different for everyone.

Some people positively thrive in chaos––but I am not those people.

Recently, I got the urge again to do some art*. It’s an urge I’ve spoken about here before, and one that comes around periodically. Because the thing is that I love art, but so rarely do it. Because I have so very few skills yet (because I don’t do it. Vicious cycle, I know). I also wasn’t sure where to start.

Instead of starting, I stopped and thought. What would I need? I asked myself. And from there wondered what I already had. So I set out to make a list of all the art supplies I currently own. And then I realised that everything I had was completely disordered, mixed together and spread across several different drawers and storage boxes in my office. From there, I tried to put all the like items together (all the pens in one place, all the paperclips in a single tub etc), but soon found it was a losing battle, as the drawers and storage boxes would only let me do so much.

They weren’t fit for purpose.

So I did some online research (i.e. watched approximately fifteen thousand YouTube videos of other people organising art supplies) and decided I needed a new drawer unit. I picked one out, wrote down the details, went to Ikea, spent the morning in a queue, the afternoon assembling pieces of wood, the rest of the day resorting all of my art supplies.

The day after that, I finally sat down to colour in.

That probably sounds crazy, right? Entirely excessive. Except do you know what? It made me so, so happy! Continue reading

Thinking

I’ve been thinking again about my past projects (pictured above), now have a bit of distance from them. They haven’t been out in the world for a while – I unpublished them over a year ago – and, in fact, one of them never even made it out to begin with. I killed my micro-poetry project before it ever really saw the light of day.

But anyway, I’m thinking about it because… because I’m kind of itching to start something new.

And I’m nervous.

I don’t know if anyone has been able to tell, but I’ve been finding it hard to blog, recently. Hard to motivate myself to do it. The words you’re reading now are the first ones I’ve written this month. Maybe I’ve lost momentum. Maybe I’m burned out. Maybe both?

Either way, I think I need a break. Which is funny, actually, because I’m not sure if I know what one looks like. A lot of the time, a break for me just means switching gears to do something else rather than stopping entirely. And it’s kind of the same here. I don’t want to stop entirely so much as I… well. This might sound weird, but I want to draw.

I’m not actually good at drawing, but I want to learn. I want to try.

I actually think I want to try Inktober, and I’m itching to put together a somewhat rough and ready zine from what I create.

…reading back over that last sentence, I am relieved that I still want to create. Maybe it means everything isn’t so bad as it feels right now.

I’m just tired.

I don’t know when I’ll blog again, but words will most certainly return in some way at some point. Maybe it’ll be in a month. Maybe it’ll be a few hours and I’ll then feel silly for having written this. Regardless, I’m gonna doodle in the meantime.

A zine is a fun idea, but I’m playing with it as just that; not committing myself to anything just yet.

I have mixed feelings about putting another thing out into the world, because of the aforementioned past projects. They all took so much time and energy (some more so than others) but, ultimately, I was unsatisfied with them. My standards kept rising and the books kept falling short.

No wonder I’m a little gun-shy.

…I’m not really sure where I’m going with all this. Maybe that’s my point.

I’m just thinking. Musing. Having a little doodle.

I’ll be back.

Glow!

Meet Glo.

Glo is an artist. Or she would be, if she ever got started.

She has all the inspiration.

All the plans.

 

Glo gets caught up in doing lots of little, unimportant things.

Glo frustrates the f*ck out of her friends.

They can see everything she’s got to give, but all they hear are her excuses.

I’m gonna stop being like Glo.

 


My name means light. I have a coaster somewhere that says that. It also says that I have so much potential, I can’t be pinned down, and I never get anything finished. Well SCREW THAT!

From here, every time I get pissed at people like Glo, I’m gonna use that energy to go out and hit my targets and stop being such a damn hypocrite.

Yes, I love art. And photography. And animals. And precisely six-point-two-five million other things.

I know logically I can’t become an expert in all of them, so the logical thing is to stop and focus on one thing, maybe dabbling in other things along the way, and maybe giving something else my full energy and attention when I’m done making it as a writer. But I’m gonna be a writer first.

Now begins the season of quality over quantity.

Glo’s gonna keep me right.

Experiments in Mixed Media

Today, I’m feeling inspired.

I love photography, and poetry, and art; and what I want to create is a pamphlet that not only includes all three, but mixes together all three, right there on the same page.

In the same space.

I want it to be art in and of itself. A collaboration of words and ideas, but not focusing on the words, too much.

Can someone tell me: Do such things already exist? Is there a name for what I’m after? Please, let me know.