My #1 Art Tip!

Hi friends!  Want to improve your art? The way is simple, I’ll explain in today’s video!

So the next time you feel like you are afraid that you will ruin a painting go for it anyway. You succeed or you learn! Don’t get stuck in a rut. Art is here to bring you joy and growth is the way to happiness and the way to avoid burnout in your hobby.

Just a reminder, if you feel like you want some help along the way with feedback on your current art projects check out Critique Club. I give personalized feedback on your paintings and you get two real-time tutorials per month in the group. Click here to learn more or sign up!

Happy crafting!

10 Tech Tips for Artists & Crafters!

Hi friends! Today I am going to share the ways I use technology in my art and crafting! This video was sponsored by Chromebooks (and I think them for their support) but you can use whatever computer you have or even a smart phone or tablet. Even if you don’t have a computer you can visit your local library to use one or have patterns and other info printed out for you there. Libraries are good sources for technology too! Maybe I need to do a “ways to use Libraries in your art” video…Let me know if that is something that would interest you:)

Tip #1 Editing photos! If you scrapbook or use your original photos in your artwork don’t settle for a quick snap when you can improve them with a click of a button. Cameras can mute colors and tones, you can fix that in basic editing software.

Tip #2 Now that you have snazzy photos you can share them on social media or on a blog. Art is meant to be shared and you can inspire others with your creations!

Tip #3 Find free (or affordable) patterns and templates! If you knit, crochet, sew, quilt or papercraft you can find just about any pattern you need for free or cheap. Crafters love to share their patterns online and we all benefit from the sharing economy! *BTW the crochet shall I am making is from this free Red Heart pattern book.

Tip #4 Listen to podcasts or books: Our right brain is busy creating but the left brain is bored so play a podcast or audio book to make your crafting time even more rich! There are podcasts about art, crafts and creativity too so you can get inspired by them too!

Tip #5 Watch free crafty tutorials on YouTube or take an online art class. You can learn anything online these days, all you need is a computer, tablet or smart phone and you are ready to go!

Tip #6 Find Royalty free reference photos: Finding images to paint and draw from can be tricky because you can’t use copyrighted images without the photographers consent. There are several websites that share royalty free images that artists can use. Here are my favorites:

Tip #7 Practise sketching: Not all devices will have this capability but if you have a tablet with a stylus like my Chromebook you can sketch until your heart’s content with no paper waste and the wonderful “undo” button.

Tip #8 Make use of “Wasted Time”: If you have a smart phone or tablet you can use time waiting at appointments or carpool pickups. If you don’t have wifi you can jot down craft ideas in a notepad app. You can write down project ideas and make lists of the supplies you will need. Or you can even take a “brain break” and relax with a game or by reading a book you previously downloaded using a reading app. Your local library probably has an app where you can check out digital books for free too!

Tip #9: Write an art blog: Sharing my art and craft projects on my blog! It’s a never-ending source of joy and fulfilment for me. I love the community that has been built over the sharing of craft techniques. Maybe you would enjoy writing a blog too.

Tip #10 Stay organized and on task! I jot down the projects I want to do on a calendar and I keep lists of project ideas that I am not ready to schedule yet. I use Google Calendar and Google Docs for this because the information syncs up to my computer, tablet and phone so I never miss a deadline and I can look at my “idea list” if I hit a creative block. This keeps me from wasting time trying to think of what project to do next, I have lists of things to pick from that I can actually find and then I find the time in my calendar.

I hope this helped you think of ways you can use technology to your advantage when crafting. The only trick is not to get lost down the rabbit hole when you go online so maybe set a timer (on your phone!) to make sure you don’t get distracted. Let me know if you have any tech tips I didn’t mention in the comments below and til next time happy crafting!



Sharpen the Saw & The Difference Time, Good Paper and Reading can Make

Hi freinds! I hope you are having a pleasant weekend.  I took some time this morning to paint while listening to an audiobook, I started listening the The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. I thought since I am listening to the Peach keeper I might as well challenge myself and paint a peach in water color. My first attempt was a quick sketch in a lightweight watercolor journal (the Jane Davenport journal that I HAD to have but the more I use it the less I like the paper. I am not knocking it, it is great for mixed media but not as robust as I would like for straight watercolor.) Painting on paper I am not crazy about can be a positive and a negative. On the plus side it is fairly inexpensive and I can be free because I am not afraid of wasting it, heck, I’d love to use it up! I can paint til the cows come home and not give a care about using up my “precious” paper. On the downside the paper is flimsy, it tends to ripple, it can’t take much scrubbing and I really don’t want to put much time or effort onto anything in this book because I know if I come up with something really great the paper won’t handle me working on it with watercolor for that long. Because of this I don’t work on anything too serious in this book.


That said, working out a design on “practice” paper or in a journal can make you realize if it’s something you want to dive deeper in. Did you know many “old masters” would use watercolor for their on location studies and then paint their “real” painting back in the studio with oils. In the above example the peach on the left is painted on a sample of 300lb CP (oh so precious) Stone Henge Aqua paper and the one on the right was done in my Jane Davenport mixed media journal. Both were done with Rembrandt watercolors, I will have a review on that paint later:) Because I knew what I wanted to achieve with this painting after I “played” in my journal I was able to confidently dedicate time and effort on a nice piece of paper. The sketch took about 20 minutes, the final painting took about 2 hours which was a pleasure to spend while I listed to my audiobook. I didn’t film it. When I was about halfway through I thought “Oh shucks, I should have turned on my video camera!” but then I realized that if I was taping this I would have taken safe routes and tried to paint this in the quickest amount of time and not try new things to stretch my skills. I would have fallen back on my tried and true techniques instead of pushing myself to discover something new. I needed to sharpen the saw.

Like I said I like to listen to audiobooks when I am working and not filming. Earlier this year when I was working on my latest children’s book illustration project (more on that later) I listened to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. He lists 7 habits that we should adopt to be more effective people and leaders:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, and Then to be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

I am not going to get into the first 6 habits, you can read the book (it is a popular one and your local library should have it) but the 7th habit was one I had been neglecting and it was really starting to bother me. For the three years leading up to about last February I had posted a tutorial a day. I certainly had daily practice in my craft but when you are focused on producing something decent continuously you don’t take risks, you repeat the same things that you know will yield predictable result. Well, you know what? Predictability does not yield exciting art and I had felt stuck, like I plateaued. Meanwhile my house was a mess and I was stressed! I got my home under control with the Konmari method (the decluttering method from the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo) and I vowed to make progress in my art as well.

The “Sharpen the Saw” analogy goes something like this:

There are 2 woodcutters, the first one works non stop for a week cutting wood from sunrise to sunset. He looks over to the second woodcutter who seems to always be taking breaks and resting. At the end of the week the second woodcutter has three times the wood cut than the first woodcutter does. The first woodcutter says “How have you cut so much more wood than me? Every time I look over you are resting!” The second woodcutter replies “I was not resting, I was sharpening my saw.”

Deep huh? But so true, we spend our time running at top speed to keep up and not questioning the way we do things. Like the cleaning for instance, I would spend so much time trying to organize, dust and manage my junk and it did not occur to me to get rid of a bunch of stuff and you will have less you have to manage. If you feel like you are just repeating yourself in your art because you know how this will turn out and it is becoming repetitive why not take a risk and try something new? After all, precious or cheap, it’s just a piece of paper. Happy crafting:)


PS, I bet you can find most of the books I mentioned for free at your local library. Compensated affiliate links to amazon are provided in the post if you wish to own any of the books I mentioned.