5 Ways To Beat “I Don’t Know What To Draw” Syndrome

1. Use your own photography as reference imagery.

What Is It? Most of us keep dozens—if not hundreds—of pictures stored away in our smart phones without ever doing much more with them besides flashing a few to a family member on holidays. Using your own photos for references are an amazing way to preserve your art as your own, and being able to continually enjoy the moments that may or may not end up stuffed away in a scrapbook. The greatest thing about this is that you can pull out the image anytime to start and stop drawing as you please. Plus: no copyright infringement!

How Will It Inspire Me? You usually only preserve images of the things that you love or find aesthetically pleasing, so picking even just one of your own pictures to draw should be especially easy. It’s also a great way to work on bettering your drawing of faces and the human form, as many of us photograph our loved ones on a regular basis.

What’s Next? 1) Choose another photo and draw some more! 2) Start taking more pictures with the intention of drawing the imagery. Who knows, you might even realize a love for photography!

Hint: Use the settings in your phone to disable automatic shut off so that you don’t have to keep taping the screen while you draw from your reference photo. Just make sure to re-enable it when you’re finished.

Draw From Photos.jpg

2. Participate in #DrawThisInYourStyle.

What Is It? Draw this in your style is a trending online movement where artists post their own original content and characters, in hopes that other artists will love it so much that they too will want to recreate the content or character with their own twist. Currently, there are 200,000+ results on Instagram for #DrawThisInYourStyle, so there is plenty of content (and characters) to pick from! These artists are lending their creativity to you, so you’re free to do with it as you please

How Will It Inspire Me? This challenge lets you create without having to make hard decisions. Of course, the real fun is not in copying, but altering, which means that you can change poses or facial expressions, for example, without needing to have “big” ideas. Plus, it lets you connect with new artists, which is a pretty awesome bonus!

What’s Next? Why, create your own something for #DrawThisInYourStyle, of course!

3. Compose Your Own Still Life

What Is It? Still life consists of drawing or painting inanimate objects, most commonly associated with fruit or flowers. But it does not have to be fruit or flowers, of course, which means it could be literally anything laying around your house! Your favorite mug next to a knickknack next to a rock from your yard: draw it! A pillow under a novel under an ink pen: draw it! Still life drawings are more challenging than drawing your own photographed images because your perspective can change, the lighting can change, and you’ll never be able to assemble the objects in the exact same way, so choose this option carefully.

How Will It Inspire Me? Being able to choose the objects that you will find the easiest (or hardest) to draw means that you can make the experience as enjoyable as you please in a way that best fits you.

What’s Next? Change your perspective! Stand over the still life subject, go to the other side of it, or even just rearrange the objects. Fully understanding perspective is one of the hardest things about drawing, and you’re seriously improving your ability by drawing something from multiple angles.

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4. Re-Draw Your Own Art

What Is It? This idea is very similar to #DrawThisInYourStyle, but gives you a lot more control over the art that you’re creating. Because you are redrawing your own art, you may feel more comfortable with altering more of the content, as it is your original creation, after all. Not only that, but redrawing your own art makes the content more marketable, if you are in fact creating in order sell.

How Will It Inspire Me? Redrawing your own art tends to make an artist realize how much they’ve actually improved their artistic skills. You’ll not only be creating something, but also proving to yourself the time you’ve invested in your artistic ability hasn’t be for naught. You might also discover a new-found love for the original piece.

What’s Next? Once you’ve realized that your abilities have improved in some areas, you may find that some areas could still use a little work. Try focusing on these less improved areas, whether it be shading, individual facial features, or understanding of perspective. Dont be afraid to redraw something that you’ve already redrawn before!

5. Self Portrait

What Is It? A drawing of yourself! You are the perfect subject because you’ve been looking at the subject your entire life. You also have complete ability of posing your model and know just where to find them when the drawing mood strikes! Several artists are well known for self portraits, and all you require is a drawing utensil and a mirror.

How Will It Inspire Me? Although not every artist wants to draw people, understanding human anatomy and facial structure will lend itself to understanding anatomy of animals as well. That being said, a lot of artists lean toward human beings as their main subject matter, and knowing the simplest form of your face will be useful when drawing any face in general. Not only that, but hey look: you’re a model now!

What’s Next? Your face can make some really great (and bizarre) expressions, so why not try out a few? You don’t have to draw the whole face to draw stretched lips around a smile or scrunched up nose. Focus on doing a few different expressions and you’ll soon have an entire page for future references.

Self Portrait as a Painter

Self Portrait of a Painter, oil on canvas, 65.1 cm x 50 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

ArtSnacks: November 2018

Unboxing and Speed Paint

What is (and is in) an ArtSnacks box?

ArtSnacks is a monthly subscription box, which I have been receiving for just over two and a half years. The subscription costs $240 annually or $24 monthly. The box contains four or five art supplies, plus a few other goodies, and is delivered once per month. These supplies usually include a drawing utensil and one or more ways to add color. Besides a pencil or fineliner, ArtSnacks boxes usually include markers or colored pencils, and less frequently, watercolor, acrylic paints, and bottled ink. Sometimes ArtSnacks supplies will be branded with the ArtSnacks logo and teal color; branded items have included pencils, a bag, small sketchbooks, and a pencil sharpener. Along with art supplies, subscribers also always receive a piece of candy, a sticker that portrays the company’s logo, and a “menu,” describing the contents.

Swatching the November 2018 ArtSnacks supplies. Copyright EmK Wright

Why Subscribe?

As someone who owns too many art supplies, I continue to purchase ArtSnacks for a few reasons. The ArtSnacks box continues to surprise me with supplies that I have never seen or used before. The box may also include exclusive items, which has included sets of pencils and pens curated for ArtSnacks. The subscription box is also usually a higher value than the amount paid per month, when referencing the retail value of items included within the box. This value does not include the candy and sticker, or “bonus” items which can be included in the box, such as paper samples. Unless ArtSnacks begins to send too many repeat supplies (this has happened only a couple times) or my studio space becomes limited, I’ll happily continue my subscription! There have only been a few boxes that have included supplies I found myself dissatisfied with, and usually they are coupled with other supplies that keep me excited.

ArtSnacks November 2018 "menu" and orange plaid sticker. Copyright EmK Wright

ArtSnacks Box of November 2018

This month, the ArtSnacks subscription box included four art supplies, the candy and sticker, and no extra “bonus items.” The four art supplies were:

1) Liquitex Professional brand acrylic gouache, quoted by ArtSnacks to be a $10.99 retail value. The price of Liquitex’s acylic gouache is one that is reliant on the pigments used in each color of this paint. Buyers can can also find themselves paying $14.99 per 59 mL (2 fl oz) bottle, especially if you’re like me and have your eyes on the fluorescent set of six. Unfortunately, my favorite color made by the brand, Naples Yellow, is not available in this line of gouache, so I have hopes that the color selection will be expanded by Liquitex.

Close up of Liquitex Professional Acrylic Gouache in color Primary Red. Copyright EmK Wright

2) A Galeria series paint brush by Winsor & Newton, with a retail value of $8.49. This brush is a round size of 3. It is made for acrylic paint, short handled, and has synthetic bristles. ArtSnacks claims that it is “developed to provide…shape retention,” a necessity when working with heavier supplies like acrylic paint.

Close up of the bristles on the Winsor and Newton Galeria paintbrush in a round 3. Copyright EmK Wright

3) Sakura brand fineliner style pen, quoted by ArtSnacks to be a $2.79 retail value. This pen is from the Microperm line, and multiple different tip sizes were sent out among ArtSnacks subscribers. I received the small 01 size, which measures out to be a .25 mm. The Microperm has a waterproof ink and is advertised to be usable on non-porous surfaces, including metal, glass, and even diamonds. I loved the size of this pen nib as well as the rich black color of the ink. However, I did find the ink cartridge inside of the pen body to be loose enough to hear and feel when moving the pen from side-to-side.

Close up of Sakura brand Microperm pen in size 01. Can be used on glass and metal. Copyright EmK Wright

4) Cretacolor brand MegaGraphite pencil [no official purchasing site], quoted by ArtSnacks to be a $2.30 retail value. It is true to it’s name at a whopping 10 mm diameter…and only fits in my universal XL pencil sharpener by force. The pencil that I received had a graphite grade of 6B, but other ArtSnacks subscribers received a variety of graphite grades. For me, this pencil is competing with the Faber-Castell Jumbo 9000 series pencils, and held up pretty well. However, I prefer graphite with less sheen, such as the General’s brand Kimberly 9XXB pencil, which is a matte graphite and came in an earlier ArtSnacks box.

Close up of Cretacolor brand MegaGraphite pencil in grade 6B. Copyright EmK Wright

Each “menu” in an ArtSnacks box has a call to action, which is called the ArtSnacks Challenge. It asks subscribers to create a piece of art with the supplies that are included in the box. For this month, I created a drawing of a pomegranate. I sketched with the MegaGraphite pencil, painted with the acrylic gouache—using my Galeria paintbrush, of course—and used the Microperm pen to add texture and shading to the art. I also used an eraser and blending stump to create this artwork, two items that were not included in the November ArtSnacks box.

Pomegranate painting created with the November 2018 ArtSnacks box. #ArtSnacksChallenge Copyright EmK Wright

This month, the box was a value of just 57 cents over the $24 price point, but I have seen it much higher. If I were to purchase these items individually, I would probably forgo the pencil and pen, simply because of how many other pencils and black fineliners that I currently own. However, I would recommend the pen to someone looking for a waterproof fineliner. As for the more expensive items, I love the acrylic gauche and plan to purchase more bottles in the future! The paintbrush is a little expensive at almost $9, but if it survives what is sure to be constant use, then I will find it to be worth every penny!

Pomegranate "Idea, Sketch, and Realization" painting created with the November 2018 ArtSnacks box. #ArtSnacksChallenge Copyright EmK Wright

If you’re interested in purchasing ArtSnacks for yourself or a loved one, I recommend it for sure! As an artist with too many art supplies, I still think it’s a great monthly treat. You can click HERE to visit the ArtSnacks website for more information. Please note that I am in no way sponsored by ArtSnacks or the brands found in ArtSnacks boxes.

Crystals & Freebies

Do you ever find yourself returning to a certain image, not because it means anything special to you, not because it’s easy to draw, not because you’ve somehow amassed a collection of it from thin air, but for reasons that you cant explain? Do you doodle it on post-it notes and in the margins of your notebooks, letting your mind idle and your pen move freely in shapes it’s made a hundred times before? Of course you do! I know I do, and while I have about three or four of those types of images, I’m here to share just one with you today: crystal clusters.

crystal clusters in art journaling www.madebyemk.com copyright emk wright 2017 (1).jpeg

Crystal Cluster Doodles in an Art Journal Spread

Crystals clusters can be tricky, because a a crystalline structure requires straight lines and doesn’t respond kindly to shaky hands. For art journaling and other mixed media works, attempting to create perfect lines over layers of thick paint and overlapping mediums can be a nearly impossible feat. One way that I avoid this issue is to create a simple digital line drawing that I can then print out onto thick paper or card stock. Bristol paper can take a thin layer of watercolor especially nicely, and is available in reams sold with printer paper. Vellum Bristol (in 67 lb) is my  go-to for the printed imagery that I use in my mixed media projects! In the image below, you can see two instances in which I’ve used a crystal cluster as the focal imagery of art journal spreads.

crystal clusters in art journaling www.madebyemk.com copyright emk wright 2017 (2).jpeg

Crystal Clusters as Focal Imagery in Art Journal Spreads

In the journal shown above, the red and orange crystals were originally created digitally, whereas the green and yellow clusters were had drawn. The difference in line definition is obvious. For the digital line work, I found it was fairly quick to create, cut out, and adhere in my journal spread. While I often reach for a straight edge when adding large crystals to the pages of my journal, I appreciate the crispness of straight lines that can only be rendered digitally. On occasion, I have also colored these crystals digitally. The image below consists of the same line drawing shown in the orange and red spread above. This version has be altered to include art journal spreads as the coloring of the crystals—which I’m thinking might eventually turn into stickers! This shows you how very different the same line drawing can appear approached as either digital art (below), or as a physical image incorporated into mixed media (above).

crystal clusters in art journaling www.madebyemk.com copyright emk wright 2017 (3).jpeg

Digital Drawing of Crystal Cluster

Would you like to try your hand at using digital line art in your mixed media? I find it relaxing to use imagery that has either been digitally created or is from a photograph; altering these types of images makes them uniquely mine, but are also far less frustrating to botch an image like this than one drawn from scratch! I hope that some of you try your hand at crystal drawing, but because it’s Freebie Wednesday, I”m also sharing some digital line work with you for you to use in your own mixed media artwork! The picture below portrays line work from the PDF that I’m giving you this week, containing digital illustrations of crystals and crystal clusters, which drawn specifically for you!

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Preview of Crystal Clusters Freebies

These are HD images are available as a full page PDF file. I advocate using this line works as collage material for your own arty goodness!! Just click the link below to print and/or download the PDF! You can print them out and alter them and collage them into your art! Just get creative and have fun. The only thing that I ask is that you not redistribute these freebies or claim an unaltered version as your own. You do not need to credit me if you use these freebies in your art, but I definitely wouldn’t turn down a shout out!

Click link to download…
Crystals & Crystal Clusters: PDF HERE

This is the third Freebie Wednesday here at Made By EmK. Checkout previous posts for more freebies, like last week’s post about  Bottled Ink !

 

Finished Spread: Radioactive

This spread was created an in an altered book, Odysseys and Photographs (2007), and was specifically produced onto these pages due to the unsettling imagery that was already printed on the spread. Somehow these images, unaltered and bizarre, seemed to speak to me in a time of frustration. The photos on these pages originally displayed a restrained lab mouse being injected with a steel syringe, and a man controlling a robotic arm in order to place makeup onto a subject’s face—strange, right?  I took the liberty of adding my own peculiar imagery, paired with a color palette inspired by the word visible on that syringe: radioactive. Though it may appear a bit eerie, I actually really like how the spread turned out!

Radioactive Art Journal Spread www.MadeByEmK.com copyright emk wright 2017 (1).jpg

“Radioactive” Art Journal Spread

As I’ve mentioned before, I often find that my art journal spreads are more chaotic and detailed whenever I create while angered or distressed. These types of emotions affect me strongly, but I am also able to pour out frustrations onto a journal spread more easily. It’s therapeutic for me, almost as if I’m removing the negativity—piece by piece—with every stroke and line. This spread has been halfway finished since the end of last year, but I somehow found the inspiration to complete it. I began this spread when I was overwhelmed by some feelings of anger, and the subject matter definitely does not hide this!

 

Radioactive Art Journal Spread www.MadeByEmK.com copyright emk wright 2017 (3)

Radioactive” Closeup, Left

Although this spread may not depict the most cheerful of illustrations, I was honestly pleased with line work that I created when drawing these skulls. These illustrations are studies of northern american rodent skulls, sketched with a soft lead (Faber Castell 8B lead, jumbo) and inked with a black brush pen (Kuretake No. 7). The original drawings were found in a vintage nature book, a gift to me, and my attempt at replicating them was almost perfect! I’m slowly advancing my drawing skills, and am always delighted whenever I discover that I’m making progress.

Radioactive Art Journal Spread www.MadeByEmK.com copyright emk wright 2017 (4)

“Radioactive” Closeup, Right Top

This spread was started in order to deal with intense negative feelings, but I was able to achieve a sense of accomplishment for the illustrations! The positive feeling of success in my abilities as an artist outweighed my anger. Although I don’t like to leave art journal spreads unfinished, my change in disposition was probably why I was able to close the book on this spread for so long. Creating in my art journal is always such a positive experience for me, and it’s one of the reasons that I love to share this niche hobby with others! I promise you, I haven’t been keeping an art journal for 13 years without benefiting from doing so!

Radioactive Art Journal Spread www.MadeByEmK.com copyright emk wright 2017 (2)

“Radioactive” Closeup, Right Bottom

This journal spread might be finished, but there are about 10 more in this altered book that are only just started! I’ll be working on some of them this weekend, but I’ll definitely be starting a new art journal spread during my Instagram live stream on Sunday at 8 pm EST. If you’ve got the time, don’t forget to join me! Until then, feel free to drop me a line in the comments below!

 


 

Disclaimer: I have recently become an Amazon and Get Messy affiliate. Amazon links and Get Messy links are affiliate links. I will receive a small portion of the sale if you use these links to purchase the art supplies or subscribe to the Get Messy community for an annual membership. You support this blog and my ability to continue making art through the use of these links! (And also gain my unending gratitude!!!) All other links included in this post are not affiliate links; they are included for educational purposes and for your convenience.

 

Floral Tutorial & Freebies

It’s the very first FREEBIE WEDNESDAY, and I could not be more delighted to share what I have in store for you today! If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw the hand drawn floral pattern that I shared last week. It was inspired by this Get Messy season, Art 101! Last week, my very first post and tutorial as a Creative Team member went live on the private site. (You can totally check out the site and see if you’d be interested in becoming a member by clicking HERE.) I was extremely excited to see what it would inspire throughout the Get Messy community!! The feedback and art that came out of it was 100% awesomeness! Because of all the pen play happening, I was inspired to create some florals as a simple and quick way to get my pen to paper. The result was unexpectedly beautiful! One flower became two, two became three, and suddenly I had filled an entire page with a gorgeous pattern!

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Partially Drawn Floral Pattern from 3/9/2017

If you look through my art, you’re bound to see a lot of abstract shapes, silhouettes, eyes, and animals, but I tend to steer clear of florals. While I find flowers lovely (there’s a fresh bouquet on my desk right now), they just don’t seem to be a good fit with the imagery that I usually produce. However, these roses are special to me. My grandmother was absolutely obsessed with roses, and taught me how to draw them at a very young age. This rose shape is very close to the way that my grandmother taught me, starting in the center and building petals outward with overlapping sections. The image below is a quick tutorial on how I draw these roses, even though—if we’re being honest—they look quite a bit more like begonias or carnations.

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4 Step Rose Drawing Tutorial

As you can see in the image below, I remark my lines two or three times so that there is more detail and character to each petal. This makes the edges of each petal appear folded and more natural. You’re more than welcome to try out this design and add it to your archive of floral drawing knowledge! Its just as easy as the simple daisy illustration that so many of us are guilty of doodling! It only took me about thirty minutes to fill an entire 8.5″ by 11″ page. The pen used, as seen below, was one that I received in my Art Snacks subscription box in July ’16. The fine tip, a 0.3 mm, and smooth gel ink  a pleasure to work with! It is the Pentel brand Arts® Hybrid Technica used on 67 lb vellum Bristol paper.

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Finished Floral Pattern from 3/9/2017

With the wonderful power of technology, I was able to color in the flowers with soft pink and purple hues and invert the line to whites. (This created a pattern that I liked so well it is now the wallpaper for my phone.) I also recolored the flowers with a more traditional red, and  then adjusted the hue to green, which made the flowers appear to be succulents.

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Preview of Rose Pattern Freebies

All three of these recolored patterns and the drawing in black and white are available to you for download for your personal use! They are HD images available as full page PDFs. I advocate using them as collage material for your own arty goodness!! Just click the links below to print and/or download the PDFs! You can print them out, collage them in your art, or use them as a new desktop wallpaper! Just get creative and have fun. The only thing that I ask is that you not redistribute these freebies or claim an unaltered version as your own. You do not need to credit me if you use these freebies in your art, but I definitely wouldn’t turn down a shout out!

Click links to download…
Roses Coloring Page (Black & White): PDF Here
Roses Collage Paper – Pink & Purple: PDF Here
Roses Collage Paper – Green Succulents:  PDF Here
Roses Collage Paper – Red: PDF Here
Entire Collection: PDF Here

 


 

Disclaimer: I have recently become an Amazon and Get Messy affiliate. Amazon links and Get Messy links are affiliate links. I will receive a small portion of the sale if you use these links to purchase the art supplies or subscribe to the Get Messy community for an annual membership. You support this blog and my ability to continue making art through the use of these links! (And also gain my unending gratitude!!!) The Art Snacks website and all other links included in this post are not affiliate links; they are included for educational purposes and for your convenience.