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Musings Of A Hobby Artist Part 1

October 21, 2013

I’ll begin by saying that I haven’t actually got any fancy qualifications to note.

I draw, paint and otherwise make things with my hands because I enjoy doing it. I’m motivated by the challenge, the feedback that I receive and the sense of genuine accomplishment that comes from seeing a project through from conception to completion.

Despite the fact that I have not pursued art as a career path I have still had success in my own way.

Thousands of people from all over the world have my work in their homes and on their clothes. I’ve provided designs for tattoos that are permanently inked on the bodies of people I’ve never even met or spoken to. I’ve been commissioned to create very special gifts and keepsakes from random individuals who have stumbled upon me via Google searches and my work has been used on a Popular Webseries.

Right now, I’m a stay at home mom who does arty stuff whenever she can make time for it around her family. 99% of any artistic success I have had has come from the internet and getting my name out there through print on demand sites, Etsy and pages like this one. Since I’m not working, I use the money that I generate from selling my artwork and crafts on the internet to fund new artwork and crafts. It keeps me sane.

Can Anyone Draw?

(Paint, Sculpt, Craft Etc…)

I haven’t been asked this question directly. What many people say to me is “I wish I could draw” “all I can draw are stick figures”.

Getting into a debate with someone who has already resolved themselves to failure in regard to something they have a desire to be successful in is frankly just frustrating, so I rarely come back with anything terribly constructive. I do happen to believe that anyone can draw, however the level of talent displayed in that drawing will be dependent upon two main factors.

1. How much you want to create.

Drawing and painting never came totally naturally to me. I had the desire but not as much raw talent as I would have liked. So I have worked persistently to improve and refine what talent I do have since I was in grade school.

I’m now pushing 30 and I’ve experimented with all sorts of mediums ranging from willow charcoal to silver art clay. I do it because it makes me happy and I love making anything with my hands. Some things I’m better at than others and anything that I want to improve on I work at.

If you really want to draw and you have the same compulsion that I do to constantly improve then you will get better, you just need to want it and you need to be willing to put a LOT of time in.

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2. Raw talent.

Some people can pick up a pencil at 12 years old and blow the pants off of anything I’ve made in 20 years but remember, it’s not a competition. (unless of course there is a competition involved)

Natural talent is something that can’t be bought, sold or acquired. You’re born with it or you’re not, plain and simple. People with a lot of natural talent in various areas don’t have to work as hard to achieve the same results as people with less, however that doesn’t mean that they don’t work hard and it doesn’t mean that you should ever let it discourage you because you aren’t as “good” as someone else.

“Good” art is entirely in the eye of the beholder.

What I Use To Create Art

Materials don’t have to be expensive. They can be but they really don’t have to be. (I’ll expand on this thought on page 4)

Digital

A cheap graphics tablet and GIMP freeware.

I create digital images primarily to be used on sites like Zazzle and Cafepress where they can be applied to shirts as well as hundreds of other different products which are also able to be customized by the customer.

I’ve never taken any classes on how to create digital images, I just taught myself entirely based on free internet tutorials using GIMP freeware. If there is any new skill you want to learn and you have internet access you’re already half way there. I have learned to do so many things in the last 10 years using free tutorials. My methods might not be the most efficient but they get the job done and I enjoy doing it. It also makes me some spending money which helps a lot when  you are a stay at home parent.

My graphics tablet was a birthday gift. It’s just a small Bamboo Wacom. It was worth about £70 (worth less now) when it was purchased and though that may seem expensive initially, I still use it regularly 4 years later. It’s not one of those electronic things that you have to replace annually.

Drawing

Bic mechanical pencils, printer paper, card, paper stubs and paper towels for blending.

Most artists are comfortable with very specific materials. My favorite materials to use for drawing are fortunately really inexpensive. It’s what I started with when I was a teenager and first began to take drawing seriously and though I’ve tried many other different types of paper and pencils I always default back to my bics and middle of the road printer paper.

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Painting

Acrylic paint, watercolor paint, India ink, acrylic paper, watercolor paper, canvas boards, stretched canvases, micron pens, calligraphy pens, a toothbrush and a big pile of paintbrushes.

I started with watercolors in high school. When I realized that I was treating them more like acrylics, I switched to acrylics but that’s only been in the last 2 years. Materials can come from all sorts of places. It’s important to shop around and keep your eyes open for bargains. Also read customer reviews if there is something new you’d like to try. Again, the internet is your ally in all things learning.

Crafts

Anything and everything.

Some very specific crafts call for very specific materials however, nothing is stopping you from inventing your own crafts with whatever is available. Sometimes I just browse eBay for materials looking for ideas. Inspiration can come from so many places!

Materials Tips

Do you need to spend a lot of money?

NO, you absolutely do not need to spend an arm and a leg to get decent art supplies.

I took one art class at a college level and it was an introductory class for drawing using mediums I’d never used before like charcoal and india ink. The materials did not need to be expensive at all but I couldn’t believe some of the stuff people came in with. Top of the line materials for an introductory class. Insane.

Buying expensive materials does NOT make you a better artist. Experimenting with all sorts of materials from various resources can however help to make you a better and more well rounded artist. It is true that sometimes it really is worth it to fork out the extra cash however, I wouldn’t recommend buying anything top of the line until you’ve spent some time with its cheaper counterpart.

You just need to find what works for you. The usefulness of some supplies are totally dependent on your artistic style.

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Best places to find materials

Once you have a vague idea what you’re after, internet based stores like http://www.artifolk.co.uk can be fantastic. eBay is also a top place to find some real bargains. Your local craft store (Michaels (US) or Hobbycraft (UK) for example) will probably rip you off shamelessly but if you need something specific in a pinch, that’s where you’re going to find it. Having said that, you can hit the jackpot if you stumble on the right sale or clearance items from a large chain craft store so they’re still totally worth checking out on a semi regular basis. Lately I have been extremely lucky with the clearance stock in Hobbycraft.

I also find a lot of supplies from discount stores like Ocean State Job Lot (US) and Poundstretcher (UK). For years I was using watercolor sets that cost me all of five bucks each. They weren’t as good as name brand but I enjoyed their quirks and I made them work for ME.

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Well that’s it for now. I’ll publish a few more of these in time that get a bit more in depth about specific materials and projects.

art advise 3

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From → Arty Crafty

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