Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists

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“Let little people teach you the way of courage.  They know innately that too much thought can sometimes get in the way.”   Linus Mundy



Drawing – Are You Over It?

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It is only natural to get tired and fatigued when you are drawing, after all, intense observation is hard work!

You could be getting tired of it if you notice:

  • A sudden awareness of time.
  • An awareness of distractions.
  • A tendency to draw from what you know rather than from observation.

If this happens, stop drawing! (at least for the time being anyway.)

The best way to get past this stage is to develop the technique of “focusing”.  This is done by capturing the most interesting part of the subject.  This plan is best selected ahead of time so you can concentrate on those areas before fatigue sets in.

Developing these chosen areas at the expense of others allows you to conserve your energy and time.  Then you can focus on drawing the good stuff that you like.

I focused on the eyes in the drawing above and left the rest a scribble.  Below Egon Schiele takes the topic further by focusing entirely on the hands and face.

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Will you plan your focus before starting your next drawing?  I don’t know what you think, but to me, there is something really appealing about an unfinished drawing.

Drawing – The Secret of Trapped Shapes

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If you make a circle with your thumb and forefinger you will find a “trapped” shape.  A “trapped” shape or space is usually found between limbs and background, between overlapping branches of a tree or even between the rungs of a chair. The whites of your eyes are “trapped” shapes as is the space within the handle of a teapot.  In the sketch above you will see the three “trapped” shapes between the boys’ legs.

If you focus on these shapes, you will see them as just a shape and easier to draw than something you already know.  When you draw the shape, you draw the common boundary between the leg and the foot…. to draw one is to draw the other.

Drawing shapes is much easier than drawing things, so drawing “trapped” shapes whenever you find them will give new life to your drawing.  “Trapped” shapes serve as a marker and proportional check to the shape beside it.  It helps to develop the habit of shifting back and forth between drawing objects and trapped shapes. This will lead you to new ways of observing.

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I have drawn the larger shapes first, then focused on the trapped shapes between the boys’ legs.

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By drawing the dark shape of the dress, you also draw a part of the model’s face.

Can you search for the trapped shapes? Can you shift back and forth between them and other objects?  Are you interested in finding new ways of observing?  Treat this as a challenge for your next drawing.


Next time you’re out, try to look for “trapped shapes” – they are everywhere.  I was driving the freeway yesterday and could see a “trapped shape” between the body of the car in front, its wheels, and the road.  I saw another between an overhead bridge, the pillars supporting it and the road.  It is fun to see in new ways.

How to Make an Easy Abstract Painting Using String and Oil Crayons

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In this exercise, you will learn how to make a beautiful abstract painting using the string exercise as a starter, see my post “Be Random – Make and Easy String Painting

In the above post you will see where to stop the process and continue here with this exercise.

Allow 2 hours for this exercise. Find a quiet place, set time aside for yourself, just relax and enjoy the process.  To be unconcerned about the outcome will bring out your best work.

You will need:

  • good quality watercolour paper, at least 180gsm
  • a box of oil crayons (childrens’ quality is okay)
  • an inexpensive set of watercolour tubes, (you can make all the colours you need with red, yellow, blue, black and white)
  • rags for spills
  • a container for water
  • a palette, (I used an old kitchen plate)
  • a large brush (I used a new household paint brush)
  • string
  • acrylic paints, (red, yellow, blue, black.)
  • a board and tape if you have them, this is helpful but optional only
  • scissors
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This is similar to what you will start off with. I actually pressed the string a second time with this one using a lot more paint on the second application.  I did not pull the string through as with the first pressing,  I just laid the string down, pressed it and lifted the paper off. Make sure to allow the string pressings to thoroughly dry before proceeding.  This should take from 15 to 30 minutes depending on the weather.

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Proceed to colour in the shapes using oil pastels. Try to choose either red, green and yellow, OR blue, yellow and green.   See if you can isolate some shapes (in this case I imagined  fruit, cut oranges or similar.)  If you can see shapes, colour them in and in some places go over the original colour with another to make it interesting.  In the background follow the lines made by the string using parallel strokes every which way and that.  Try to leave lots of white space if you can.  This is called “repetition with variation”,  a very powerful tool when making art.

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Continue to colour in the work and you will notice it start to look interesting.  Make sure you leave lots of white spaces for the surprise step that comes next!

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Next, absolutely flood the paper with a watery watercolour paint mix (see image below.) To make a watery wash see below * Remember it is not wise use paint out of the tube directly, always make sure there very small amounts of the other primaries e.g. red, yellow and blue to make a beautiful tertiary colour.  It seems best to  choose your wash colour as the opposite of the main colour you used in the isolated shapes. For example, if you have used mainly yellow in the isolated shapes, the opposite is purple, mainly orange, the opposite is blue, mainly red, the opposite is green and vice versa.

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Here is the finished work!  See how the oil pastel marks have resisted the water colour to make a lovely abstract painting.  In the right frame with a colourful matt board this work could possibly look fantastic! :

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This image shows how to use horizontal strokes to flood the paper using a large brush.  Make sure to always put the wash down and leave it!  It is best to let the paint run in its own way.  Then magic happens!

* To make a watery wash blend about 1/2 cup of water with small amounts of pigment. You may need to use a small flat plastic bowl for this.   Always test on a piece of paper first to check the colour.

How did you go?  Did you have fun and enjoy the process?  Inbox me your work if you like at  I would love to see it!

Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists


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“You may agree that trying to control life is a kind of roller coaster of frustration.  Change always appears wearing a badge saying “I am Inevitable!”  Brenda Shoshanna

You’ve Got to be Joking!



My quote today is from Bagwan Rajneesh..

“Whenever you see seriousness,

Know well something is wrong – 

Because seriousness is part of a diseased being.

No flower is serious unless it is ill.

No bird is serious unless it is ill.

An awakened man realizes life is a song.”

It could be said our lives are built upon the idea of limitation and struggle.  Could it be that out sense of limitation comes from seeing ourselves as separate and struggling to survive in what seems a hostile world?

Peak moments arise when this separate sense of self vanishes.  These primal experiences can be experienced during prayer, love making, meditation, music, art or whenever separation from life dissolves.  In this state the person returns home to their source or God if you like.

Meditation can happen while gardening, cycling, running, doing housework and in all those repetitive things we do.

All the more reason to make music, make art, write, photograph, meditate and make love!