3 More Tips From a (Month-Old) Artist

Some incidents can instantly ruin your day. A spilled cup of coffee? Horrible accident. The tip of the pencil broke off while you were using it? An inconvenience, for sure. Need to fetch clean water to dip your brush in? I’m so lazy.

Accidents and inconveniences happen in all aspects of life. What matters is how you react and what you learn from them. It’s been a week since I posted my three tips for new artists; I have since learned more.

I can’t give up watercolor. In the past when I tried this medium, I didn’t understand the magic. I didn’t realize watercolor was not the same as acrylic; I was using the colors incorrectly and getting the wrong results. Now that the Internet has shown me useful tutorials, I have been able to love the watercolor palette.

just a little chat by me

Here are some bits of advice to follow, even if you do not watercolor. If you’re taking up a new hobby, some useful things to keep in mind are:

1- Embrace the Accidents

There are accidents that we can call convenient.

For example, I was painting a page of red birds to learn control of brush and color. Accidentally I mixed this perfect, cloudy-day gray. It’s the gray you’re supposed to get by combining Burnt Sienna and Cadnium Blue, then adding a lot of water, but when I tried doing this last week I could not get this gray. I’ll keep practicing until I am able to access this shade when I need it.

Embrace the accidents—they are kindling to keep you on the learning path.

2- Time, Time, Time!

I learn a lot more by spending an hour at the table practicing mixes than I would by sitting down for five-minute sessions. That’s not to say the five-minute sessions won’t teach me anything—only that there are more productive ways to use our time.

I did not learn this from watercolor so much as I did from my piano lessons. I have made it a military habit to sit down for at least half an hour of practice, almost always at 4PM. Now I enjoy playing music for my family.

I know that when I’ve settled into a similar habit with painting, I’ll understand color better.

a fuzzy cardinal by me

3- Artists Sketch

I’ve noticed while reading comments on Facebook that a lot of beginners made the mistake of believing that all they needed were the paint sets and brushes.

The truth is, you’ve got to know how to sketch the bones of your painting before you add the color—at least when you’re beginning—or the color will be all over the place. If you’re like me, painting without sketching could lead to a disaster that doesn’t look like anything–not even Picasso’s weird art.

I already knew how to sketch, but have since become determined to improve with the humble art of pencil-to-paper. I am learning cross-hatching, shading, and how to create animals using simple shapes. When I cannot paint, when there’s not enough space to lay out the palettes and ink, I grab my sketchbook and draw a flower during commercial breaks.

This applies to everything else in life. You need to know the sketch before you work on the project. Learn the rules before you break them!

So if you’re a baker, learn the recipe by heart before modifying it by replacing sugar with honey (which really works, I promise, and it’s tasty.) If you’re a writer, pay attention to the critique offered you, even if it hurts your pride. Become familiar with the bones of your project before you add the garnishes.

What do you think could be added to this list?

Two Colorful Weeks Into 2022

My aim for 2022 is to learn about myself and what my place is in God’s story. Other years I would have started planning the two novels I intended to write.

In 2022 I have yet to trouble my literary muse, allowing her time to breathe while expressing myself in other ways.

In two weeks, I have–

  • Discovered that baking is a fantastic way to calm my nerves and feel I’m doing something wholesome.
  • Learned that watercolor is like poetry with paint–the color can go anywhere. Though this can be frustrating at times, there’s relief in knowing I’m not in control of everything.
  • Enjoyed a book about Napoleon titled The Invisible Emperor, taking my time to read it. Now I am reading a book about Shakespeare. I hope to tackle the history books in my library. If I were to speed-read my history books, I’d risk missing important details.
  • Remembered that I enjoy sketching. I’m not as bad at it as my inner critic always told me. Last night, I filled a page with bunnies.

I have begun to accept myself for who I am and what I have achieved. I am excited to see where my hobbies will take me a year from now. I’m grateful that I’ve decided to try new things.

I have been showered with blessings in two weeks. These are too personal to write about in detail. I want you all to know–God is paying attention. He looks after us. When I am holding a paintbrush, I imagine Him painting the beautiful sunsets He gifts us daily.

I know that 2022 will help me to know myself better. There remain many people in the world who are ill and suffering. No year is without its opportunities to grieve and sympathize.

However, playing with color has shown me that we should not feel guilty for finding joy.

What have you learned in the first two weeks of 2022?

3 Ways I’m Decluttering For 2022

You know that desk drawer where you toss in junk that goes forgotten for years? At the end of 2021, I felt as if I had opened that drawer and been shocked by how much was in it. I was anxious, unable to focus or find ways in which I could improve.

A new year is a fresh start, a clean slate, but I could not clear my mind in order to begin 2022 on the right foot.

The first week of January has made me aware of ways I can clean my ‘mental drawer.’ I looked not only into my room but also at my computer and phone. I couldn’t believe the clutter that had gathered in so many corners of my life. There were projects I’d never finished, ideas for sketches I abandoned, and quote pictures I’d saved on impulsive.

In the days that follow, I will be trying three things in order to deal with the clutter in my life.

1- Put Away My TBR Pile

I’ve developed a habit of gathering books I intend to read in one spot, regardless of how soon I’ll be able to read them. This is not a pretty shelf of eclectic novels! It takes up a lot of room on the desk or even on the sofa. It also hinders my reading, making it difficult for me to focus.

These books are returning to the shelf until I finish my current read and can get to them. Aside from making my desk more functional, it will reduce my temptation to speed-read books without enjoying them.

2- Clear My Photo Library

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need 1,000 memes on your smartphone! In my case, I don’t save memes. I don’t need 1,000 pretty pictures of buildings I intend to sketch ‘some day.’ When we fill our libraries with unimportant things, pictures that matter are pushed back.

Life is lived outside of the computer. I’m going to clear my photo library of things I intended to sketch. If I save a few, they’re going in a folder. I’ll write quotes in a special notebook and delete the images on which I found them. I want to have an album that reminds me of who I am and what I love.

3- Set Prayer Time

We all waste time staring at the wall, thinking about our problems. This does not solve the problems or make us feel any better.

Prayer does.

I will shake this habit of panicking and spend more time in meditation, filling my mind with God’s promises rather than my own worries. I’ve memorized Psalm 23 to pray when I am anxious; I will memorize more. I’ll write in a prayer journal about the things that trouble me, because honest prayer is heard.

I’m going to empty all of the junk drawers in my life. I am inspired by the blank page, peaceful and loaded with promise. If you also want to clear out the junk in your life, try these things—or find other methods to help you face the year with a fresh mind.