This page is just advice is from my own experience. There are an infinite number of ways to create and identify art. Simply put, try everything and find what works best for you.
Art is a conversation through history. This almost 200 year old statue made me laugh. The humor has transcended through time. The conversation may not always be humorous. You may find that you learn or relate to something through the visual work that is spiritual, educational, confrontational or one of any hundreds of emotions the work can communicate with you.
Originality without a developed style > developed style without originality.
Original art is more valuable that copied art. Copying someone else’s work or style is a great way to learn but when the majority of your work does not go through the unpolished awkward stage of development, it contributes less to broadening the art world. When I was in school, the artist that were the most popular tended to recreate already popular work. While the most original artists I knew had crude and underdeveloped work that could not be identified as this or that popular trend. Those were the unique ideas, the most unique frameworks of which a polished style would eventually attach.
Feed your brain.
The more images an AI generating program has to learn from, the more diverse the images it can create. It is no different for us. Visit galleries, desserts, fields, mountains, oceans, look at photos online and take virtual vacations. Observe the cracks in the sidewalk and the patterns of weathered rust on old flagpoles. Feed your brain with as many images and experiences as you can. You never know when or how you may need elements from any of these to create your work in the future.
It’s not only those visual experiences that will help your work but also your mental emotions. When you are angry, sad, happy etc. Try to step aside and observe yourself. What do those feelings represent, can they be a certain color or combination of colors? Musicians often relate to a specific feeling which helps them speak directly to the soul of another who has experienced or is experiencing similar things. Artwork, in this respect, is no different.
Inspiration can found everywhere but you can get stuck from time to time. Here are some things I have done to keep the artwork flowing.
Start with scribbles or abstract freeflow sketching. Start with light going darker (harder) on the parts you like and something will eventually develop (similar to finding line).
Take a trip or walk to someplace new or someplace you are familiar with in a new light or perspective.
Have a go-to project to fall into when the current one is stuck. I had a sketchbook that I would draw things I saw on one side and when I didn’t want to do that anymore I flipped it over and had a series going of imaginary things. I went back and forth until one night I dreamed of a bar but with imaginary bugs. I got up and sketched it quickly then refined it later (that image is the bug bar on the digital art page)
Put your ideas into ai and see what alternatives it comes up with.
Whenever your really stuck, take two different ideas or projects and try to combine them.
In my opinion, drawing is one of the most important fundamental skills in all of art. It teaches you how to compose, revise and basically work out all of your ideas quickly and easily. I ONLY drew with pencil and ink for the first 40 years of my life. That’s right, I never even painted until I was 40.
In all of my years of drawing, one of the most valuable skills I learned was the finding line technique. Have you ever pictured something in your head but had a hard time translating. Finding line technique is using soft lines on paper to ‘Think’ along with the paper and pencil. Starting with no ideas or just general directions with no definition, draw loose sketchy lines and get comfortable with the page, when parts or things start to stand out, press harder and make progressively darker lines.
An analogy for finding line (which applies to any area of design and development) is staying as close to the medium as you can before planning. Taking no ideas with you but letting them blossom from the mediums involved. ie: If you plan out a custom house before visiting the site it would not be as well engranded with the surroundings than if you visited the site and then worked out ideas from the starting point of the earth and view your house will become a part of.
Start in black and white
Especially for very detailed work. Much time is spent mixing colors when the idea isn’t even formulated. Working in black and white and the shades in between, you can refine and detail your work with the lighting and shading effects that you want. After you have established the composition and lighting, adding color with that guide will be much less time consuming and more accurate since you already established that foundation.
Sketchbooks are for sketching
It can be intimidating to see masterfully completed sketchbooks, page after perfect page, from the artists you admire. I used to try very hard to make my sketchbooks look perfect. I would often rip out pages or get whole new books when I didn’t like what was going on in them. However, they were not intended to contain completed masterpieces, rather your thoughts ideas and notes. Sketchbooks are where you work out your style and its 100% ok to make mistakes or have pages that look incomplete. If you want to use your sketchbook as a tool to become a better artist, think of it more as a workbook or journal than a compilation of your greatest work to showcase.
Don’t quit because you see the mistakes
Continue because you can identify them.
You may find that you like Acrylic. Margaret Keane (creator of big eyes paintings) switched from oil back to acrylic in her later years. To me, oil allows me to take my time and gradually layer up for years. I saw a painting in my local gallery in which the background was painted 500 years before the foreground.
I spent about two years teaching myself how to oil paint. I watched videos, mostly restoration videos to see what was done right and wrong with past works that are being restored and how I can create long lasting artwork. I started with every type of canvas and board as well as many oil additives and mixtures. Some combinations worked great while others were not helpful or even harmful.
Here are the final mixtures and formulas that I came up with and why;
- Oil paint – Like most new hobbies, once I decided I wanted to oil paint, I bought one or two tubes of paint until I had all the colors I needed. Most people will tell you to mix from primary but I prefer to have a variety of colors and add white (or a lighter color) to lighten or black (or a darker color) to darken. This way, I can easily achieve a similar color later to match.
- Canvas or board – I tried to paint on canvas about 40 times but I found myself priming it many times over to try to eliminate the tiny holes between the treads (often referred to as waffling). You can get a much smoother surface using linen (a much finer thread) but I found that painting on board was much smoother and more affordable to begin with. Many famous paintings, including the Mona lisa, were painted on board.
Not all boards are the same. Boards in which you can see the grain of the board are no good (even though they sell them in art stores). This type of wood will easily warp over time and is some of the few unrecoverable types of work. Compressed hardboard in which the back appears to be one solid color is best. Some of them even glue a sheet of metal to the back for stability.
- Thinner – For my first year of painting I used odorless paint thinner. I even tried regular (not odorless) and that was unbearable. It evaporates quickly and lingers in areas that are not extremely well ventilated. They have not officially said that Bob Ross died of cancer from all the odorless paint thinner he was whacking on his easel legs, but I would not be surprised. I tried many alternatives and finally found a less harmful Gamblin mineral spirit that works just as well.
- Opacity – Using a Solvent-free gel painting medium mixed with your oil paint will give you opacity. This is perfect for minor changes that you don’t want affecting the work behind it much. For example, adding this solvent to black will give you a light transparent shade for shadows over finished dried colors.
- Varnish – If possible wait six months before applying the varnish. This keeps the oil paint and protective covering chemically separate. Restorers can easily remove this protective layer and apply a new one every 75-100 years. Normal Rockwell worked very fast, applying the varnish soon after completing his paintings and now the restoration professionals are having a nightmare of a time restoring them because the varnish is mixed with the colored oils. You can also use Galkyd Lite with your oil to give you a finished look while you are still painting and before the varnish is applied. I use this on the finishing layers to judge, while still editable, how the varnish will affect the look.
- Brush restoration – My brushes were getting frayed pretty quickly and I was replacing them at first until I discovered The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver. Using this after cleaning your brush in mineral spirits will reshape your brush back to its original shape and form saving you a lot of money.
- Use ALL your paint – Purchasing something like a paint tube squeezer will help you get most of your paint out of your tubes. A tube of paint with the thinners and opacity additives will last you a long time, but that doesn’t mean you want to leave any paint in the tube. The squeezer device will help and even works on your toothpaste tubes!
Print color is called CMYK. All print colors are made from a combination of Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black. Print is coloring with ink on white paper, bringing white to color. RGB (Red Green and Blue) are the colors it takes to make every color in a digital display, bringing a black screen to color using light. The biggest noticeable difference is in some highlight and neon colors that appear much better in RGB.
The beginning artist may be tempted to color black as C0 M0 Y0 and k100%. This may appear good on the screen but will print a bit washed out because of the white paper behind it. For the most pure deep black, you want to make your print blacks closer to C60 M40 Y40 K100
Since your monitor will be in RGB, it is not a perfect representation of that the printed work will look like. You can get a Pantone color book but they are now well over $100. I found a less expensive color swatch book called Shades color swatches default illustrator swatches coated and uncoated CMYK process. This will show you what your colors will look like in print regardless of how they appear on different monitors. You will want to keep this out of the sun and replace every couple of years due to subtle fading.
Try every medium. Try every subject.
Find what speaks through you.
Don’t force it
Or as the late Bukowski used to say, Don’t Try. When somthing just isn’t working it’s better to choose a different direction. Think of your workflow like a river, you can try to go uphill or over boulders but finding the smoothest path will get you further. I have sat down and tried to create ideas that I thought were good but just don’t work. All the time struggling could have been better spent on two or three complete ideas. Other times a whole book just flows so well that it’s done before I even had time to think about it.
Many of my colleagues, myself included, spent a lot of time searching for a style. When someone told me they knew which drawings were mine even though I didn’t think I had a style, I realized something. It isn’t a goal to have a style, it comes out consistently without trying when you do your best work. Like a unique fingerprint, you already have it!
Most things are revisable
One of my close friends (a perfectionist) has been working on his website for over 15 years with no public version yet available. When I talk to people who could use his talents, I am still unable to show them his work. Websites, books and even some art are infinitely revisable. It is better to have a bad website than no website, you can easily modify and update it. Sometimes, seeing how people interact with your site will give you ideas on how to refine. Books are no different. When I publish a book, I order a copy to proof or some to share and seek opinions. I can get back into my account and upload new covers or internal files as many times as I want and often do. Sometimes just getting over the wall of doing it is enough to build on. This very article was edited over 30 times!
Social media is not a good metric
I spent six months working on a painting that I really loved. When I posted it to Instagram I got 72 likes. Right after that I saw the light coming through a broken plexiglass window and posted a picture of that which got 124 likes. It seemed strange to me and instead of trying to constantly strive for things that got the most likes or bend my work to what people in comments would say was not being true to myself or my vision. I have since deleted my social media. I read an article about how you could now publish chapters of your book to your fans and allow them to comment and suggest the next steps of the story. While writing (or creating artwork) with the direction of your fans may make them happy, sometimes you have to go your own way, in directions fans might not like. Because YOU are a pioneer, bringing them to places that are new or even uncomfortable at first. Keep in mind, Bob Dylan got booed by his own fans when he first brought an electric guitar on stage.
Of the people I have shared my work with, many have not said anything which turns my anxiety against me. Furthermore, I gave one of my co-workers the name of my site and all he said to me the next day is that I am not important. lol. I’m not trying to be important or better than anyone other than myself yesterday. I choose what works through me and build on it without feedback. Feedback to me is something that I have read and heard is crucial but I have never seen it as useful. I joined an artist critiquing club and for example, one lady held up an abstract piece and asked the group if it looked good one way or upside down. To me, as the artist, I would want to hang it the way I intended without anyone else’s opinion. For fear of misguiding I have also included chat GPT 4’s response to this opinion “Artistic vision is deeply personal. While feedback can offer fresh perspectives, it’s essential for artists to remember that it’s just one viewpoint among many. The artist’s intent and vision should always hold paramount importance. Feedback can be useful, but it’s up to the artist to decide what feedback aligns with their vision and what doesn’t.”
Success is the ACT of pursuing your goals.
Completing your work
When you are close to finished, especially on larger projects. It may be tempting to just finish the last parts you see as fast as possible while exhausted. This is one of the most important steps because this is where you divide your final approval and the public’s viewing of your work. If possible, take a break, maybe an hour maybe a week and come back to it when you have more energy. Reviewing your own work after rejuvenating yourself will create a finished product that will most satisfy you. You will probably still see mistakes in the final work but hopefully you will catch most of them after you take a break.
When people see something new they usually try to classify it. How often have you heard that looks like ___. That is someone verbalizing their way of trying to understand what they are seeing. When seeing something new for the first time, take the time to enjoy and appreciate it but wait until the next day to formulate opinions about it. Because by the next day it already existed yesterday so there is less need to classify or categorize it and it has a better chance of standing on its own.
When working with clients, deveople boundaries. Sometimes a client will come to you because they have burned other bridges. Talking over the phone or via video can be useful but it is also an opportunity to take advantage of your time and price. Some clients will try to goalpost you by asking for lower costing versions but then expecting the full version. I have gotten off the phone in the past pleased that the client is happy and moving forward but uneasy when I realize that they are now expecting a lot more than I quoted verbally. Communicating via email makes everything more clear and helps with those boundaries. Sometimes is it ok to lose difficult clients because you end up making 25% or less than you normally would. Look out for the word Just. When a client uses the word just in a certain context, it means your labor is not valued.
Art vs. Work
Commissions are someone using your talent as a medium. Personal art is art you do for you and not for someone else. The lines blur when someone wants to use your personal art ‘license’ or you create personal art for others. It may seem obvious but delineating these differences can help you approach any project with a clearer mind regarding contracts, rights and negotiations.
Revisions on commissions
Once you are done and ready to show the client, taking a little extra time to polish it off can save you a LOT of time on revisions. If the work you present to the client is in usable form with no noticeable defects, the work can get approved as is or with minor adjustments. If you send unfinished work (unless within the scope of collaboration) It will open the door to a stronger round of revisions and everything will begin to seem amendable. The only exception is if the client will always (no matter what) want revisions, then it is fine to send it 90% done and let them tell you the 10% you know instead of doing 110%.
When I created book illustrations I spent the majority of my time advertising and marketing. I want to say Marketing is useless and pointless because everyone already has layers of social networking and anything ‘good enough’ should get through and shared. BUT I have seen too many AMAZING artists with AMAZING work who didn’t market or advertise and they died unknown, unshared, unappreciated… ugg. On the other hand, I have come across people that spend ALL their time marketing and barely have any completed or even started.
Well, I tried an experiment, I did not advertise Incoprea but I did keep an active blog, posting my best work, and made sure everything went to one place incoprea.com. I would like to say it worked but I am still driving my amazon route and I haven’t made enough from my 22 published books/nft’s/paintings to quit yet. I recently created over 300 AI videos that are starting to get attention and probably how you got here, but my past artist fiends would probably not be pushing through hundreds of videos to get noticed (nor should they have to). Vincent Van Gough lived as a poor man with the original starry night on his wall. I think that no marketing at all could work but you might be very old before you find the support you need. (see Bukowski)
It’s Already Been Done Before
Not your version! Alice in Wonderland is beyond copyright and has hundreds of versions. Arthur Rackham’s version is my favorite (so far).
Did you know that when you create a book, you can use any title. It can be the same as any other book title as long as the content is not the same. Impersonating someone else’s book is never a good idea (as with anything else) that’s where the copyright infringement and derivative works come in.
inspiring art videos;