Water-Soluble Oil Paints!

I’ve been wanting to try these for ages, ever since I gave oil painting a try last year. A few things kept me from buying them right away. One was a money thing, as they weren’t a normal paint that went on sale at my local art store. Two was the internet thing, where artists talk about the downside of water-soluble oils and how one should still use a medium other than water. The third reason probably had a lot to do with my big existential who am I crisis at the end of last year, where I–mistakenly–limited myself to one medium: watercolor.

But it’s 2019, Y’all! And my Limitless project is still on! So, the other day when I realized watercolors were getting a bit stale at the moment and I wanted to try something new, I bee-lined straight for the art store and bought the primaries.

The paints are Winsor & Newton Artisan series, and they are gorgeous. What I disliked so much about traditional oil paints–the cleanup, the need for mineral spirits–is a thing of the past with these paints. I have been using only water these past two days, but I will be moving up to linseed oil today. Because the online artists are right about that fact: you should still use a medium to follow the “fat over lean” rule of oil painting. But now that I have a bit more knowledge under my belt, I know that this medium can be something as nontoxic as a walnut oil or linseed oil medium.

Do I see a difference between water-soluble and traditional oils in terms of quailty? I say no, but I’m not too savvy with traditional oils so there may be a difference? I hear from other artists that they are slightly less buttery, that they dry much faster, and also that they’re exactly the same as traditional.

The only real differences I see so far are that they are much easier to clean up, and don’t get all over the place like regular oil paints. Also, a little seems to go a long way with these paints. Meaning I don’t need a ton to paint with. Which saves money!

This is only a second layer, but I used walnut oil and got more of the “fatty” consistency

They are also reminiscent of watercolors for me, just enough that it bridges the gap and provides a bit of familiarity to me. The first day I got them, I watered them way down and used them like watercolors just to play around and they were so beautiful! I know, I know, the nerve of Lina, right?

I think what I like best about these paints is that I can bring them upstairs to my table without worrying about killing my pet canary with fumes. They are also very easy to travel around with, so long as I bring an extra bottle for old water. Because, like many mediums, you don’t want to just dump that dirty water down the drain. The Earth will thank you.

Have you ever tried water soluble oils? How do you think they compare to the real deal? Please tell me all about it below!

Want to help me continue to make art and get cool stuff in return? Become a Patron!

Want to buy some art? Check out my Etsy shop!

Telling Stories In My Art

“Ochre Sunday” Watercolor & Gouache

I painted this last year.

Despite everyone’s wonderful and uplifting compliments, I hated it.

When I told close friends or my husband about my real feelings toward the painting, I was reassured that it was beautiful and that I had done a great job.

But that didn’t help. The fact that it was beautiful didn’t make me love it.

Because that’s all it was. Beautiful. There was literally nothing else about it that spoke to me. It was a painting of some trees in autumn. Woo. Hoo. Everyone paints stuff like this.

“That Sweet Sunday Breeze” Ink & Watercolor (and maybe a little bit of gouache)

“Ochre Sunday” was meh, but “That Sweet Sunday Breeze?” Ahh! Give me more! Where is she going? What’s her name? Who lives in the house with the blue door?

So what was the difference?

Story.

Most people who know me in real life, and maybe even a few of my online friends, know that during my entire 20s I was pursuing a writing career. While it, ultimately, didn’t work out for me, I did wind up writing seven novels and several unfinished ones. Drafts. Short stories. Poems. You name it, I was immersed in words.

And I read! I read lots of books by amazing storytellers like Diana Wynne Jones and Lois Lowry.

I love stories.

“Ready for Fall” Ink & Watercolor

An artistic piece depicting a forest is okay and all, but tell me a story within that piece and I will fall in love forever. Tell me about the witch who lives in the deep shadows beside an uprooted tree, or the hare family with the rare fox friend.

Tell me a story. Or, at the very least, give me the tools to create one of my own.

These are the things I need to remind myself when creating: Who is my character? What does she do? Love? Hate? Where is she and how does she interact with her environment?

I realize these sound like the beginnings of a book, but I am often fulfilled just by painting/drawing a single moment in a story, and then moving on to a new tale entirely.

“The Twins” Ink & Watercolor

I’ve been working on a piece lately, a bunny portrait (of course), and the goal is to have her standing/interacting among a flurry of yellow birds. I feel so inspired every time I look at even the bones of this piece. I’m thinking up her name and why the birds are flying around her and where she is and what her dreams/loves are. I want to give her a backstory and tell no one. I want to give her a future.

And as I paint her, I’m not afraid she will disappoint me. The only fear I have is that normal I might screw this up. But even if I do mess up, I will keep going. This bunny will be my breakthrough into allowing myself freedom to tell these snapshot-length fairytales.

Hi, I’m Lina. I’m that weirdo in the gallery wearing bunny earrings and pink chucks. No, I didn’t paint that gorgeous mixed-media piece with the flowers and the forest. I actually drew the smaller one beside it, of a narwhal hot air balloon giving bunny children a tour above their town.

Let me tell you their story.

What Makes Art Useful?

I want my art to be useful.

This has been plaguing me for a little over a year. Perhaps longer. Maybe the thought was always there, just resonating without words.

I want my art to be useful.

And is art useful when it’s simply framed? When it is placed on someone’s favorite wall beside a large window that overlooks the sea? Is it useful?

I think yes…maybe…to the person who hung it there. After all, once a piece is finished, it is no longer serving me. Once my signature is there, it now belongs to the rest of the world.

Are the evoked emotions the usefulness of art? The joy someone feels when seeing a beautiful landscape, or the smile that draws upon someone’s mouth when she sees a painting of a baby with chubby legs. The satisfaction of the artist as she signs her name on a finished piece? Are these the usefulness of art?

Is the illustrative art more useful? The art that appears in our everyday lives, even when we don’t realize it? Advertisements, puzzle pictures, and even the design on our fabrics. Gerald the Giraffe dancing to the night sounds in a beloved Children’s Book. Are these the usefulness of art?

Is only the art that promotes growth or awareness useful? The powerful images of warfare or suffering, the gorgeous documentaries that beg the beauty of the Earth be preserved…

What makes art useful? What makes it not useful? Is that even possible?

Can art be pointless?

And maybe that’s my fear. I don’t want my art to be simply there. I don’t want to create just because. I want an underlying reason, meaning, or purpose to be in place. Sometimes my art feels very close to me and to my heart and to everything I represent. Other times my art is just a frame on the wall.

On these days, I am an unfinished smudge.

I know a lot of artists who can create the same type of art with the same type of medium and with only the same two colors. And I suppose with their own focused style they have gained an appropriate meaning. A purpose. These are the artists we know of, we love, the artists we recognize when we see a piece we never have before.

But I’m not that kind of artist. I will wake up one morning wanting to draw bunnies and make people laugh and then next morning I will wake up in a monochromatic mood and want nothing to do with the sunshine outside and will paint nothing but dark figures among bare trees.

My style can vary, as my interests vary, as my soul varies.

And thankfully I’ve met a few artists like me. Artists who can’t sit still. Always wondering, discovering. Always curious. We have a childish spark in our eyes, and we want to climb that tree! Is there a purpose for us in the world?

Does our art matter? Or are we just frames on the wall?

Silent. Voiceless. Dusted over and slightly bleached from the window’s light.

Meditative Painting & Starting a Wordless Diary

I recently started a daily habit of what I call “meditative paintings.” What I do is I focus inward for a moment, notice how I feel, what I’m thinking of, what is bothering me, what is making me happy, how I feel physically, etc., and then I use this self-reflection to make the following choices: Continue reading “Meditative Painting & Starting a Wordless Diary”

Back to the Basics: Drawing

So far my experience with Skillshare has been a blast! I’ve been learning all kinds of new watercolor techniques, even learned about the awesome that is liquid watercolor, and gained a few muses and art friends.

But so far I’ve only been taking classes on painting. I attempted an illustration course, but got bored and went back to splashing around.

And then I found The Art & Science of Drawing by Brent Eviston. It’s an 8-week course with five classes per week, and it’s all about drawing.

But Lina, don’t you already know how to draw?

Well, sure, I can draw a decent tree, and if I really put my mind to it I can scribble out a cityscape, but I know I’ve definitely learned some bad habits in my self-taught journey. Brent Eviston is a master artist, and has been teaching for twenty or so years, so I definitely knew there was something I could learn from his course.

And boy have I been learning.

Being a Skillshare course, I was able to take the first two weeks in half a day. We started with the basic of basics: how to hold a pencil.  Then we practiced circles, ovals, and straight lines. We learned about expressive drawing. We moved on to volumetric shapes.

Week three was much more difficult for me than the first two weeks, and so I took my time over the course of a few days. And now I’m finally on week 4. We’re drawing organic shapes and learning about perspective. Soon we’ll learn about shading, measuring techniques, and color.

So, is it helping?

I knew that improving my drawing skill would definitely improve my painting skills. But I wasn’t able to put that to the test until yesterday, when we were meant to draw some form of produce. I went with a pear. I did my homework assignment, and then I got out the watercolor paper.

I could already see how my painting was improving by knowing the three-dimensional shapes of my pear, and the way it takes up space. I sketched with a green pencil to make it more fun. Then I splashed on the paint.

A week ago, my pears would have been two-dimensional and probably outlined in black pen. Yesterday, my pears appeared to pop off the page. They’re not the greatest in pear-painting, I’m sure, but I am definitely proud of them. And I definitely see the improvement.

I plan on going all the way to week 8 of this course, and then I hope to take Eviston’s newer course: Figure Drawing.

Perhaps my fading love of illustration will be rekindled with new possibilities.

Like my art? Click here to support me on Patreon and get free artsy goodies each month!

 

#Limitless Project Week One

A little over a week ago, I wrote about my New Year’s Resolution of not limiting myself in 2019. This “freedom” mentality led to my newest 365 project, #limitless.

Every day I have decided to just go with my flow. Whether I wanted to paint with watercolors, or even just sketch all day with a pencil, I wouldn’t hold myself back with nagging, existential questions. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to start giving myself monthly themes, as I’m not sure if it’s counter-intuitive to the whole idea. But I’m definitely open to giving it a try at least once.

Now that the first week of this project is complete, I think I can safely say that I’m going to learn a ton this year. Not necessarily in skill–though I do plan to learn some new skills!–but in letting myself go, and just being the artist my heart wants me to be. Continue reading “#Limitless Project Week One”

Evolving as an Artist: My 2019 Resolution

Self portrait–Oil on canvas

I’ve always been creating, drawing, painting, but in 2018 I finally decided to pursue art as more than just a hobby. I started an Etsy and have been a part of local art gallery shows, and even won a ribbon at the state fair! I knew, because of my success–albeit minor, but still exciting–that I’d finally found the right career path for me.

But something got snagged around August, and I began to have a bit of an existential crisis. *Why* was I creating? What made my art different or important or ______? I was also struggling with this weird “I must choose only one medium” mentality, and which only starved my creativity more.

Not only that, but labels became sort of an obsession. Was I a fine artist? An illustrator? Was I going to be better known for my generic nature stuff? My bunny portraits? Was I going to be a zentangler on the side? Lots of people have told me I should become a children’s book illustrator. Why wasn’t I pursuing that? Should I be sending out more emails to agencies? What if I don’t want to illustrate children’s books? Does that mean I’m drawing the wrong things? What should I be drawing instead?

I got a break from this during Inktober because I was, well, having fun. In hindsight, I also notice that I most enjoyed the paintings/drawings in which I just did whatever I felt like and ignored that inner voice with all the questions.

Synapses–Watercolor and gouache on cold press

As soon as Inktober was over, I returned to the funk. I painted boring generic stuff because I felt that was what I was supposed to be painting. I stuck with Arches paper and let myself run out of my beloved Canson hot press. I limited my tools to just watercolors and/or the occasional pen. I even bought ink to try and narrow myself further to just brushes and watercolor. Occasionally I would start a cute illustration of a humanoid animal, but those remain unfinished and are still scattered in various places within my dining room art studio.

My 2018 New Year’s Resolution had been simple. I was going to follow my flow. I was going to listen to my heart instead of my brain. Be more intuitive. Let go of the nonsense and just be free. I realize I’ve been failing miserably these past few months. Instead of listening to my subconscious, I’ve been limiting myself. And starving.

Nonetheless I’ve been cheerful, which is strange because when I was trying to pursue a career in writing, existential crises like these would ruin my entire day/month/year. But art, no matter how “forced” it is, is still fun for me. It still puts me in a good mood and makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.

So, bruised but not broken, I joined Skillshare. For those of you who don’t know, Skillshare is a website where creators from all over the world come together and teach classes on anything you can think of. I’ve been interested in it for a while, but it wasn’t until a friend gave me a code for the two month free trial that I decided to give it a try. I figured that perhaps learning a few things would help me gain some new perspective on the “why” of my art.

Girl in the Fog–Watercolor on cold press

The first class I took was by artist/illustrator Marie-Noelle Wurm, whose abstract art is just mesmerizing, and whose illustrations are imaginative and sometimes dark. The class was called: Abstract Watercolor Paintings: Explore Through Freeform & Planned Process.

I’m so glad this was the first class I chose to take! Had I chosen something different, a technical class, for instance, I might have slid down a different path (and crashed and burned).

This class was all about what my entire resolution had been about: following our flow. A few of the takeaways from the class:

* Art is about choices. When you’re ready to begin a freeform piece, limit these choices to one brush and one color.

* Stay in the moment. When you find that anxiety start to set in, regroup and return to the moment.

* Experiment. Play. Have fun. Basically, I need to just splash around and see what shapes the puddles make.

Because I loved this class so much, I decided to take several more classes by her, in which she uses all sorts of materials. In one video she’s using watercolor, the next she’s using charcoal and dying markers! Her studio is a playground. And dammit, I want a playground!

For 2019 my resolution is to not limit myself. If I want to use watercolor, I’ll use watercolor, if I want to use oils, then dammit I’ll use oils. If I want to use charcoals and colored pencils and acrylics all on one piece, then I’m game. Art, for me, has always been about having fun and trying new things. I just needed someone–in this case, a badass teacher–to remind me of this.

Despite the many existential crises, 2018 was one of the very best years of my life. In my art I got to be a part of gallery shows, share my coloring pages with kiddos, enjoy an art crawl, and more. In my home life, I got to enjoy my family, go on numerous hikes, and cozy up to many rainy days, and I’ve watched Goo grow an artistic passion of her own.

Here’s to 2019, friends. Happy New Year to you!

Setting Goals for the New Year

Freelensed Xmas Tree Lights!

I like goals. I have a problem with goal-setting because I set too many goals. But goals make me go, and writing them down makes them seem even more graspable. It brings them to life!

Want to set a goal or multiple goals? Step one is to write them down.

I wrote down eleven goals I’d like to accomplish, not necessarily in 2019, but in general. Therefore they’re more like “bucket list” items. They are as follows:

1. Show at a gallery in the nearby city

2. Teach a watercolor class

3. Publish a book (art book or coloring book)

4. Have a (successful) Patreon

5. Start a YouTube channel

6. Do a plein air painting

7. Do a show at the local Conservation center

8. Travel somewhere and paint there. Paint-cation!

9. Run an art camp for local kiddos

10. Be a featured artist at the local gallery

11. Join Skillshare and learn my buns off

Again, these don’t have to all be accomplished in 2019, but a few are already in the works, like the watercolor classes and the kid’s camp. I’m very excited!

As for my project 365, I think I will be going for two this year. I’d like to not only do a 365 days of Art (with monthly themes) but I’d also like to do a 365 days of Yoga, because I love yoga and really want to get back into it. I’m interested in seeing how my health and well-being improves over the year with this challenge.

But enough about my goals! I want to know about yours! Any New Year’s resolutions in mind? Thinking of trying a project 365? Feel free to comment below, or shoot me an email!

Happy New Year!

Why You should Keep a Pocket Sketchbook

A few weeks ago I was wandering the art aisle of a well-known store that rhymes with small tart, and I saw the a tiny little 4×5 sketchbook for a couple bucks. I’d been needing a small sketchbook to doodle in while on car rides and sitting in waiting rooms, so I grabbed it and decided to keep it in my purse.

Weird thing is, I didn’t realize how necessary that sketchbook would become. Continue reading “Why You should Keep a Pocket Sketchbook”

How Inktober 2018 Changed Me as an Artist

Wow! October flew by! I’m not surprised. Between prepping for a Holiday show, an art crawl, and a few other events–that wound up getting rained out grrr!–I had a lot to focus on that passed the time. Oh and HALLOWEEN! Which is, you know, the greatest thing ever. Goo went as Link from Legend of Zelda this year, and I went as Castiel from Supernatural. Continue reading “How Inktober 2018 Changed Me as an Artist”

The First Week of Inktober is Done!

And I’m happy to say I’ve kept up this whole time. I’m a bit surprised, as I’m also working on a Project 365, personal projects, and prepping for upcoming shows. But it’s been fun! And I plan on making it the whole 31 days.

So far I’ve been keeping my Hallow-bunnies in with the original Inktober 2018 prompts, except for day 5 when I really couldn’t find a way to incorporate chickens into a drawing of a Bunny Vampire.

What have I learned?

I think the only thing that’s improved in seven days is the broadness of my horizons. Drawing little things seems to give way to drawing more things, which gives way to bigger pieces I never would have thought up before. I’ve also gotten into doodling again, but this time with different colored Micron pens. It’s pretty exciting.

I will probably only make one final post about Inktober, once it’s all over, so if you’d like to keep up with my entries you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram, or you can head over to the growing collection on my website.

Have your own growing collection of Inktober drawings? Feel free to share links to your work in the comments below!

Artist Tools: “Woodlands” by Prima Watercolor Confections

My most recent “care package” from my mom

Every so often, I receive a surprise package from my mom filled with art supplies. I’ve begun to call these “care packages” because that’s basically what they are. They’re boxes filled with happiness. I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t be as far as I am today in my art career if she hasn’t been helping keep me stocked up. Continue reading “Artist Tools: “Woodlands” by Prima Watercolor Confections”

Inktober is Here!

I don’t know if I’m more excited that it’s Halloween Month, or that it’s Inktober! For those of you who don’t know, Inktober is a challenge thought up by Jake Parker. The goal is simple: draw something every day for the 31 days of October. Click this link for more info.

Not sure what to draw? Here is the official prompt list to help you get started!

The rules don’t say we have to stick to the list, so I’m going to do my own theme (like many artists). My theme will be: Bunnies in Halloween Costumes. I think my biggest hurdle will be different poses and facial expressions. I want to force myself to stray from the typical portrait, maybe even try a few “action” poses. I may also incorporate things from the official prompt list just to have a little extra fun.

I will be posting my Inktober drawings on my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Happy drawing!

Getting Artsy on an Autumn Scavenger Hunt

Processed with VSCO with A6 preset

This morning was all fall: damp, chilly, the sky a crisp and empty blue. Leaves floated down from every tree and rustled under Howl’s feet as he bounded around outside. We couldn’t waste this weather! So, instead of staying cooped up and filling out a bunch of worksheets, I decided to take Goo to the local conservation center for her homeschooling. We printed off a few “autumn scavenger hunts,” collected a bag of art supplies, and headed out. Continue reading “Getting Artsy on an Autumn Scavenger Hunt”

Photography!

Me and my Baby Canonet in Chicago January 2012

This is a relatively new blog–definitely not my first–and so a lot of my newer readers might not know that I also love photography. However, unlike my art, photography is just a hobby for me. I’ve sold a few photos here and there, but I haven’t had much desire to start a business in portrait photography or something similar.

I’m not going to go into my whole “life story” with photography. I think, more or less, I just want to share with you some of my favorite photos taken over the years. I’ve used both film and digital, and have used many different cameras and films. My favorite camera in my collection is the Rolleiflex, passed down from my great-granddad, to my granddad, and now to me. They also passed down a gorgeous Leica M3 and a few other beauties. Finally, I can’t go on without mentioning my Baby Canonet, with which I’ve had a deep bond with since receiving it as a gift from my husband for Xmas 2011. Continue reading “Photography!”

Am I a Painter?

I joke with my husband that I have an existential crisis at least once a month. And it’s true, I really do! I am always getting stuck in the muck of “why am I doing this?” and “who am I as an artist?” and “What on Earth do I have to offer this blue ball in the sky?”

My latest existential crisis was triggered by my experimenting with oil paints, which led to experimenting with acrylic and gouache. I freaked myself out a little. Am I leaving watercolor? Why would I do such a thing? I had so much potential with my watercolor pieces and even had four on display at a local gallery! Why change my medium just when I was starting to get the hang of another? Continue reading “Am I a Painter?”

Oil Painting Returns: Five Lessons I’ve Learned

If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that I’ve been having tons of issues with oil paint, from anxiety over the toxic mediums, to headaches from resin and linseed fumes. For a while I was pretty bummed about it, but soon moved on to gouache and did my best to forget about oil entirely. Continue reading “Oil Painting Returns: Five Lessons I’ve Learned”

Another Hurdle with Oil Paint

I have been adoring oil paint, but certain side-effects have left me dreading my art room, where all of my oil paintings are drying: headaches, dizziness, and nausea.

What gives? I’m using nontoxic mediums! I even placed a fan in the window and had it blowing the rainy air from outside onto my face. But it still wasn’t enough.

After doing some research, it appears a lot of artists run into this problem, and it’s a sensitivity to linseed oil that is the culprit. Guess what oil paint is made with!

Seriously. After all of that nonsense of falling in love with oil, having anxiety about toxic mediums, finding nontoxic mediums, then falling in love with oil again, this is just depressing. In fact, after learning I might actually be sensitive to oil paint itself, I curled up in bed for an hour with a “woe is me” attitude and then grumped about the rest of the evening. It just wasn’t fair!

The good news is, I did find an alternative: M Graham’s walnut oil-based paint. The bad news is, I’ve already spent my art budget this month. So I have to wait a few weeks until I can get some.

Until then, I’m back to playing with my gouache, which makes me super happy and I’ve even had the itch to pick up some microns and do a few zentangles and illustrations, already proving this break will be a blessing in disguise.

Oil painting to be continued I suppose.

My First Go at Oil Paint

Self-portrait

Ever since I started the “Ghost” series, I’ve been contemplating giving oil paint a go. I felt like some of the things I wanted to paint would do much better with a heavier medium, and I’m not a huge fan of acrylic. And ever since I’ve been a part of the local gallery, I’ve seen tons of gorgeous oil paintings, and I suppose I just got the itch in general.

So what was my holdup? Well, for starters, I’d heard it was toxic to use around kids and animals. Since I have a 5-year-old and three beloved pets, I have always just kept oil out of mind. Second of all, I always figured oil was too expensive for my budget. And finally…well it was just daunting. Only the “pros” use oil, right? The people who know what they’re doing? Not someone who just wants to dabble. Continue reading “My First Go at Oil Paint”