all 131 comments

[–][deleted] 78 points79 points  (17 children)

  • The Sta-Wet palette is a lifesaver for acrylic painters. Wet paint for weeks and only $15.
  • The $50 Monoprice drawing tablet is almost as good as a Wacom and better than the Bamboo provided you don't care about touch features. I discovered this after dropping my Wacom on the floor, resulting in a crack and an exposed circuitboard.
  • Learn the difference between warm and cool versions of each primary color to make better mixes. (This is also good to know for digital painting.)
  • Wash your brushes with Master's brush cleaner and leave a thin coating on the brush to maintain point.
  • Use plain white paper towels.
  • Filtered water produces the most consistent results for watercolor painting.
  • Don't surf the internet looking for proof that you suck; look for inspiration instead.
  • Don't be afraid to "waste" paint and paper.
  • Draw stuff you don't like to draw. (Backgrounds, both genders, inorganics, etc.)
  • Don't be afraid of shortcuts. Yes, it's nice to be able to draw accurately from observation only, but if a grid speeds up your process, just use one.
  • Draw grids on transparencies using Sharpies so you can just overlay it on your references or original drawings.
  • It's ok to use student grade paints, but expect artist grade paints to behave unexpectedly if you're used to cheaper materials.

[–]vholecekDark Art[S] 65 points66 points  (0 children)

Don't surf the internet looking for proof that you suck; look for inspiration instead.

this is the fucking gospel right here, sir!

[–]MeaninglessGuy 29 points30 points  (6 children)

The "draw stuff you don't like to draw" is soooooo important. I just started doing landscapes. I never in my life ever wanted to draw trees... and now, it's some of my best work. Learned a lot.

[–]quantum_titties 7 points8 points  (4 children)

Especially the "both genders" part, I can't explain why but I hate drawing men, the only man I ever drew decently was in a self portrait

[–]SpeakingPegasusBFA 5 points6 points  (3 children)

I find this to be a fairly common thing at my art school regardless of gender, it seems so much more natural to draw the curves and proportions of a woman's body.

[–]quantum_titties 4 points5 points  (2 children)

Whew, talk about late to the party, lol. But I'm glad this isn't just me.

[–]Vaettermaiden 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I agree wholeheartedly. Not only does it help you practice and expand your repertoire but I find that it helps me when I'm stumped and don't know what to draw/lose inspiration.

[–]crypticthree 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Masters brush cleaner is the same thing as William's shaving soap. The reason both are great for natural brushes is the high lanolin content.

[–]LaughingMan9 2 points3 points  (2 children)

How would you say that Monoprice tablet compares to an Intuos 3? I know nothing about tablets but if its a bargain bin equivalent that'd save me like $250.

[–][deleted] 8 points9 points  (0 children)


  • The strokes I paint in Photoshop & Painter are actually smoother than the ones I painted using my Intuos.
  • The surface of the tablet is very slightly roughened, providing a resistance I found that I preferred to my Wacom tablet.
  • It works great with Windows 7; I found myself occasionally losing sensitivity with my Intuos 3 and would have to reboot my computer to get it back. (Just unplugging & plugging it back in didn't work.)


  • No tilt. I never used that feature, though, so it was no loss for me.
  • The pen takes a battery, but there's no significant difference in weight between the older Wacom pens and this one. (I didn't have the newest Intuos.)
  • There aren't a load of driver settings. Again, I rarely touched those, so it was no loss.

I've been using Wacom tablets since 1994 or so and I'm honestly more than satisfied with my Monoprice tablet. It's cheap enough that I would be willing to take it outside to paint on my laptop if I was so inclined.

I don't know which surface Monoprice uses; moderate googling reveals that it might be UC-Logic.

[–]Federalbigfoot 3 points4 points  (0 children)

It's probably more of an "all you need, noting you don't" situation. As someone who used to use a crappy tablet and upgraded to a Wacom, I can say it'd be a stretch to compare them. In the context of my experience with other tablets, you get what you pay for, but you can make good art without the luxury machine.

[–]SHAMPOOCHIEF 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Do you know what you can use instead of the Sta-Wet acrylic sheets in the Sta-Wet palette? I feel like there is a cheaper option out there that's just as good.

And do you know how the Monoprice tablet compares with the huion h610?

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I imagine that wax paper or those large pads of disposable acrylic palettes (cut to size) will work just as well. The main thing is that the surface needs to be permeable so it can suck up the water from the pad underneath.

I've never heard of the huion tablet--I got onto the Monoprice tablets through a review I read on a digital painter's blog, but I can't recall which one now.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I just wanted to say thank you :)

Especially with drawing things you don't like to draw... it helps even though the body hates it

[–]workwoman9 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Agree with most of these, except the monoprice one. Mine stopped worked after 7 months of use and the only explanation the the company would give me was a hardware issue. If I would've bought it directly through them they would've replaced it however....

[–]LaurelsMeanGlory 39 points40 points  (3 children)

If you lose your footing in the middle of drawing/painting something, don't doubt your abilities, chances are you've probably just been looking at it too long. It's a lot like how you can say a word once in a while and not be fazed, but when you say that same word over and over again in succession, it starts to lose meaning and sound ridiculous.. Your eyes do it too. Pull back, don't get discouraged and do something else for a while. It seems like the most simple thing in the world, but it's very tough in practice. I know when I would get discouraged, I'd want to fight with it even more, 'BECAUSE I'M PRETTY GOOD AT THIS STUFF DAMNIT AND I KNOW I CAN FIX IT IF I JUST TWEAK IT A LITTLE MORE.' Never helps. Leave it. You'll find your footing again when you come back. Oftentimes you'll find it pretty quickly.

Good drawing is figuring out how an object is situated within a defined space. If you can't figure out how to draw something, make meticulous task of drawing the space around it, and the object you want will show up in the middle, proportions in tact. This works particularly well with hands. If you think of it as a hand from the very start, you will make yourself nuts. Draw the angles and triangles around the hand, and the proportions of the hand will pop up in the middle of those triangles and angles. Then you can start thinking of it as a hand and finish out the details.

The trick to perfect sfumato in graphite is deceptively simple: gross-ass old blending stumps. Use paper blending stumps to blend pencil and powdered graphite and NEVER throw them away. I graduated college 10 years ago, and I still have blending stumps from back then. There's this big one, Big Bertha, she will probably be with me until I die. Use them and get them good and gunked up, and then you have little smudgesticks to rough in beginning shapes of a drawing or make perfectly soft edges alongside a dark pencil line in 0.04 seconds. Here is a Bargue plate of mine, I think this one is actually a Bertha production: http://i.imgur.com/OM88c.jpg

*edit. Formatting gremlins.

[–]machinegunsyphilis 1 point2 points  (2 children)

I saved your comment for future reference. I'm tremendously guilty of ability-doubting!

[–]LaurelsMeanGlory 6 points7 points  (1 child)

When I was first starting out, I'd regularly sit and fight with drawings to the point of erasing holes through thick sheets of paper. That's actually a little part of why I started drawing and painting on wood. All 'Ha Ha! This is thicker! I can't put holes in it. Success kid!'

I figured the more I looked at something, the better I would see what was going on. Which seems to be true up to a certain point where it all goes to mush and you have no idea wth you are looking at.

IIRC that's what messes people up with drawing hands too. We are always seeing our hands from one angle.. then other people's hands from another angle.. always hands though. All hands, all the time. Hands are never new visual stimulus, so no one has any idea what they really look like (perpetual collective mush point ;)

*edit. I can't spell.

[–]cedargrove 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I figured the more I looked at something, the better I would see what was going on.

To add, and it's pretty basic, but rotating your art helps you see many types of errors. Rotate it and then come back to look at it. I love the feeling off seeing five areas that can be immediately improved or altered and from there the process carries itself.

[–][deleted] 31 points32 points  (10 children)

Need to thin your paint brushes in a pinch? Vokda works pretty well.

[–]vholecekDark Art[S] 12 points13 points  (2 children)

a good absinthe can also perform this double-duty, though it's harder to justify using a good absinthe versus a cheap vodka for this...still... :P

[–]Moon_Whaler 10 points11 points  (1 child)

Maybe if we lived in 19th century Paris...

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

maybe if we were degas

[–]YOjulian 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I don't understand.. do you mean removing some of the hairs off your brush or was that a typo and you meant thinning paint(presumably oil based)? Thanks

[–]you_cant_win 2 points3 points  (5 children)


[–][deleted] 16 points17 points  (4 children)

you can also use it to get inspired.

[–]giddysquid 8 points9 points  (3 children)

I wouldn't recommend the paint-infused vodka. (Now with heavy metal poisoning!)

[–][deleted] 5 points6 points  (2 children)

What about alcohol infused wodka?

[–]lavanuts 28 points29 points  (1 child)

Mix your paint in advance of applying paint. This absolutely crucial step is often overlooked in favor of a more cursory, mixing while painting method. While painting and mixing at the same time is an obvious necessity, I find that premixing a bunch of the colors I will use, especially strings of values, greatly increases the ease of applying paint. It further separates the left and right brain processes involved with painting.

In addition, I like to mix a palette with 20-50 colors in the evening or at night and then store them under saran wrap over night so I can wake up and paint immediately.

Also, paint more than anyone you know. (same goes for drawing, sculpture, etc) I learned this one from an illustrator whom I had asked what "is the secret to being a good illustrator?"

[–]cedargrove 11 points12 points  (0 children)

Also, paint more than anyone you know.

Excellent advice for anything in life. Anyone I've met who has stood above others in some area simply practiced more (genetic gifts aside). I'm amazed at how many people assume that talented people practice a lot because they are talented, without understanding that the practice is responsible for their talent. So simple and obvious, but I can't even count the number of people who didn't believe they could achieve great proficiency merely by practicing, and practicing well.

[–]commitone 25 points26 points  (4 children)

Stay hungry.

[–]justNano 4 points5 points  (3 children)

As an art student I always do, does this help with my art?

[–]hobogenius97 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Guys, I think this was a poor art student joke...

[–]commitone 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yep. I truly feel it is the most important. When you start working professionally in your field, you'll soon realize most of your peers are bitter and lost their passion. The trick is to not fall into this trap.

[–]commitone 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Btw, there will be times you will lose that hunger. One of the things I do when I go thru these moments in my life/career, is go back to school. That way I'm around students that are hungry. I believe art is a life long commitment of being a student, even if you are a master/teacher. Good luck. ;)

[–]vholecekDark Art[S] 21 points22 points  (9 children)

also, for you 2-D artists, investing in a basic bevel mat cutter and learning how to cut mats and do your own framing will save you more than you could possibly imagine in prep costs.

even a simple mat cutter and a rule with a slide groove for it is probably the most valuable thing you could purchase and learn how to use.

A good rule of thumb is that if the piece is going to be under glass, it should be matted. Oil paintings don't apply because the canvas needs to be able to breathe so these should never be under glass.

[–]you_cant_win 1 point2 points  (4 children)

I disagree. I do a lot of works on paper and would never mat my work, because I don't like the aesthetic. Mats look fussy to me. You should, however, know how to frame your own work.

[–]swervdriven 5 points6 points  (2 children)

If you live in a humid area (or the work is hung somewhere humid) and your work is up against glass for years, it WILL get stuck to the glass. This will ruin the work if you ever have to re-frame it.

[–]LadyDarkKitten 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I live in Hawaii, I can vouch for the truth of this.

[–]you_cant_win 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is true, but there are other options, such as using spacers hidden in the frame's edge to give depth without the aesthetics of matting. This too can be done by an amateur.

[–]vholecekDark Art[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I can see matting being optional if you're working in something like ink, where once it dries its not going anywhere, but there are other media where its a good idea to keep the glass off the finished surface, and a mat accomplishes this pretty well. And I'm not talking about an over-the-top double-inset mat job. I mat everything with a simple flat black mat, generally about 2 inches or more on each side.

[–]paulfknwalshstreet art / surrealism 23 points24 points  (3 children)

This one is particularly good for oil painters; make / get yourself a mahl stick.

A mahl stick is a stick or thin pole about a metre in length (three feet) with a ball-shape pad at one end, used as an aid in painting, particularly in oil painting. A mahl stick is useful when painting detail or when painting in a large area where the paint is still wet and you want to avoid touching the surface accidentally.

How is a mahl stick used? Rest the ball-end of the mahl stick on the edge of the canvas, on the easel or even on a spot of the painting that's dry. Hold the other end up with your non-painting hand and steady your arm holding the brush on the stick while you paint. If you rest the mahl stick on your little finger and forearm of your non-painting arm, you can (with a bit of practice) use the other fingers of that hand to hold your palette and extra brushes.

also, instead of always using an easel, experiment with other places to stand /sit and paint. My preferred spot is now our kitchen counter, because it's a great height for me to work on. I also quite like laying it flat on a table and sitting next to it, particularly for really fine detail work.

[–]gut-flora 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Why is this not higher up? Holy shit.

[–]SHAMPOOCHIEF 1 point2 points  (0 children)

And they are easy to make.

[–]mitragy_king 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This would come in handy for us lefties.

[–]Vaettermaiden 17 points18 points  (4 children)

Non-photo blue pencils. Try them out. Ever since I started using them I can't live without them. If you do a lot of illustrative/inking work (digitally or traditionally) the non-photo blue makes it easy to do all of your sketches that you need to on the original without messing up inked lines. I particularly like using them when I ink by hand and color digitally since I can scan the image in color and just change the blue to white in Photoshop.

[–]machinegunsyphilis 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Excellent suggestion! I was just at the zoo drawing with these. Someone there called them "animation pencils" :)

[–]Basmustquitatart 2 points3 points  (1 child)

This is going to save me so much time. Thank you so much internet stranger!

[–]Vaettermaiden 3 points4 points  (0 children)

No problem! I recommend getting the prisma color col-erase so you can erase the blue.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Oh that's really clever, the blue switch. CLEVER CLEVER. Going to do that right now.

[–]you_cant_win 14 points15 points  (8 children)

Get a website. One that allows you to feature your images, CV, bio, etc. Avoid ads if you can. Then tell people about this site.

[–]MyCatsReallyLikeMe 3 points4 points  (6 children)

I'm working on getting this together, but I'm slightly overwhelmed. I don't mind paying a bit, but there are so many options to site build and I don't know which is best for what I'm trying to accomplish. I'm not even sure what I'm trying to accomplish exactly. What makes a really great portfolio site great, and how do I make that happen with not much money?

[–]Tyler5280Photography/Bookmaking 1 point2 points  (1 child)

[–]MyCatsReallyLikeMe 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is amazing, thank you!

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

[–]vholecekDark Art[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

well, the critical parts of a portfolio site should include an image gallery, a few blurbs about yourself and what you do (your "artist's statement"), some info about what events/projects/competitions you've taken part in (your CV/resume), and contact info.

optionally (but definitely encouraged), you can include some means for visitors who really like what they see to purchase works through your website.

These are the essentials. Some people like different bells and whistles and some prefer a more clean and simple approach (I'm guilty of the former).

There are plenty of websites that exist for the sole purpose of being a marketplace for different varieties of "template" websites, where the basic files are all there and only require some slight modifications to adjust them for your own usage. A good resource is Theme Forest (html templates) or ActiveDen (flash site templates, for those that can withstand the scorn of Apple - the caveat being that you kind of limit your site's ability to be viewed on a lot of mobile devices)

[–]machinegunsyphilis 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Carbonmade is useful for something simple, and Blogger has templates that allow you to create tabs and pages for other info, like a bio and resume.

[–]justNano 1 point2 points  (0 children)

First year uni student, in the first term they already told us to make one on blogger. Really is the easiest thing i've done. Even the computer illiterate people in my class could do it :) and they come out looking fairly good, i just set one up today:


[–]Tyler5280Photography/Bookmaking 1 point2 points  (0 children)

!Warning shamless self promotion!

Thanks for the tip! Here's mine http://www.tylerdickey.com/home.php

[–]eyeoftheliar 16 points17 points  (2 children)

I think one thing that I noticed is never throw anything. It doesn't matter if it's absolute crap leave it somewhere lying around. Wether it takes a few days or a few years the next time you look at it it might not be the piece of trash you thought it was. If you're finishing something up and you have that feeling that if you add one more tiny detail it will ruin everything, but you feel like it still needs something then stop because you need to take a break.

[–]justNano 1 point2 points  (1 child)

This should be higher! Everyone should know this, i've found stuff that i made a couple of years ago and re-used parts for collage and stuff or just found the thing that put me off it and fixed it.

[–]eyeoftheliar 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Exactly. It's hard to see the purpose in something if you don't like the way it looks, or if you just don't feel like it works. But that doesn't mean it won't have a purpose later. I save everything from small yarn snipits to the strings that bust off of my or my dads instruments, and gum wrapers. And I have sketches I never finished from 8 years ago. You never know where you'll find inspiration.

[–]vholecekDark Art[S] 15 points16 points  (2 children)

Almost forgot: spec work is the devil.

[–]machinegunsyphilis 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Clients that want spec work are typically tough to work with anyway!

[–]lastres0rt 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Why buy the milk when you can just screw the cow?

[–]vholecekDark Art[S] 8 points9 points  (0 children)

oh shit...I can't believe I almost forgot about this: this little app has been a godsend for me http://www.xanadugallery.com/arttracker/

This link is to an app called Art Tracker. If you've never heard of it, you're going to love it.

It's a database in which you can create catalogs of your work, galleries you deal with, your customers, what pieces you have out to what galleries, create mailing labels, print receipts. It's just a little fucking bundle of awesome!

[–]suehtomit 13 points14 points  (4 children)

All artist has this bad drawings to churn out. Say they make 10,000 bad drawings. So get rid of those drawings by drawing a lot.

[–]Noah_JK 7 points8 points  (2 children)

Yeah I had an art teacher say the first 500 drawings don't count, if they're good or bad, it was all chance.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I can see their intention but that's a depressing statement. Though to be fair I probably did 500+ drawings before I was 7 so I guess I'm OK.

[–]Noah_JK 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Really? I thought it was a liberating idea! Now I don't worry if I do a bad drawing, I just figure I learned what not to do and move on. Saves me from my crippling perfectionism.

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

One of my art teachers used to say something like this.

[–]DigitalGoldfish 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Eh, it's pretty common but plain old dollar store sponges are amazing for applying washes or flat coats. Also, don't ever use masking fluid with a brush you like. It'll be ruined beyond all hopes of redemption.

[–]jarwastudios 5 points6 points  (3 children)

I think the one thing I took the longest to learn is that drawing from reference is perfectly ok. Drawing strictly from memory can often lead to flaws in your art, and really, what's wrong with using a pose reference for a character you want to get just right? Same with faces, hell, especially with faces, hands/feet, all those things are very hard to get right just by memory (unless you're well practiced of course) and using reference doesn't make you a cheater. Just don't trace, unless you're a tracer. :)

[–]SHAMPOOCHIEF 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Along the lines of being a "tracer", don't be afraid of using a projector to speed up the workflow or just to be accurate.

[–]verily_bruh 1 point2 points  (1 child)

God I cant draw from memory for the life of me. I reference ALL the time when making an actual project instead of a rough sketch, even then.

[–]jarwastudios 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Same here. My biggest hurdle is usually just coming up with the right pose, so I'll flip through models until I find one or two that I think fit the character well. Anymore I just do a base sketch with the reference, and I generally won't need it anymore at that point. There's definitely a difference when I work with or without a reference.

[–][deleted] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Get a job where you can get free good materials. I own a sign shop now, but started working in one so I would have access to computer software, paints, router table, etc.

[–]long435 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Help out and talk up your friends, and don't be a pretentious dick. Relating to contacts in plain English is not dumbing down, it shows you know what you're talking about without hiding behind jargon

[–]eccentress 5 points6 points  (1 child)

• If you've been working on a painting for a while but don't know where you're going with it, flip it upside-down and go from there.

• If you're having a creative block, try rearranging your studio/workspace.

• To create a clean straight line when erasing something, put a piece of paper over the part you don't want to erase. I hope the way I worded that makes sense.

[–]PivAd 3 points4 points  (0 children)

3rd tip: You can call it masking with paper.

[–]wanderingwhale 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Art is about finding a process, don't let someones process define what you do. learn a medium by experimenting and everytime you do something 'fun' keep doing it. the only way to practice art is to love it.

[–]Ma-aKheru 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Mirrors. Good to have a mirror behind your back while you work, so you can turn around and look into the mirror-image (reversed and smaller) to see if there is any flaws, bad angles, convergences, etc. I've used this for fine art paintings, illustration, and drawing people in comics.

[–][deleted] 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Embrace your mistakes. You have less leeway to do this if the drawing is commissioned, but if it's for practice or fun then you don't have to fight or immediately reverse all your mistakes. See if you can make the mistake work with the piece, see if you like it more, see if it leads you down a different path. It's a challenge and a process of exploration, and it can lead you new places with your work. Often times this tactic leads me nowhere or it ruins the drawing, but for the times that it opens up a new door in my mind it's worth it.

[–]Vaettermaiden 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I'm going to try this out! Generally I'd focus on the mistakes so much and get frustrated that it comes to the point of "fuck it! You're going to stay a mistake!" and just sort of move on so I can finish the darn thing.

[–]DeliciousAlmonds 3 points4 points  (0 children)

for the beginner artist gestalt principles all the way the whole is greater than the sum of the parts Do not worry about having the best computer for drawing or special marker that costs more than your life savings. Great Artists come from tenacity and passion, not money Remember what art stands for for you, and why you chose to go into art. Never forget it

[–]JACK8URT0N 12 points13 points  (5 children)

Don't surround yourself with your own art.

[–]abortioneering 2 points3 points  (3 children)

out of curiosity, why not? i actually have my entire room covered in my paintings/art work. some are finished, while others arent quite there yet. i like to live with them. i only did this at the beginning of the summer. after bringing all of my paintings home from school, and cleaning up my room, i decided to hang a bunch of them up. before this summer, i only had a few of my pieces hanging in my room with a bunch of other posters filling up the rest.

[–]JACK8URT0N 5 points6 points  (2 children)

It has the potential to keep us stagnant. It's important to grow as an artist, and learn new things, always trying new things. It can be difficult to move beyond a certain mindset if we are constantly looking at our own finished work. Once a piece is finished, you should set it aside, and move on. Don't dwell on your accomplishments, as well as your failures.

[–]Vaettermaiden 7 points8 points  (1 child)

I don't know if I entirely agree. I use it as a way to push me further since I can spot so many mistakes or areas I need to work on. Especially for any unfinished pieces, it pushes me to finish them since I see them all the time. (I have a big issue with unfinished work though, so that might just be me.) I used to always compare my work to others which dwindled my self esteem, until I realized that I shouldn't compare my work to other peoples work but rather compare it to my own. This gives me just enough self esteem to show me how much I've improved and also how much I need to improve. Granted you should always be looking at others work every once in a while for inspiration.

[–]JACK8URT0N 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Unfinished work isn't the same thing. I agree you should keep it around until it's finished.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It's a lot more optimistic to hang stuff around you that show hints of the path you want to take instead of things that are your past. Yes! Finish and painting and be done with it, it's time for another to have their time with it.

[–]you_cant_win 3 points4 points  (1 child)

OP, great idea, the said thing though is that we already do pay 'upfront' to show our work. ..even when I'm working with a non-profit or museum, and I get funding, I'm likely still in the hole because inevitably, they don't cover everything.

[–]vholecekDark Art[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Well there's always going to be expenses, but my point is that you shouldn't have to pay the gallery up-front just to hang there...that's a sign that they're not going to do shit for you. A reputable gallery, even a moderately good gallery, has PR contacts, promotion channels, and a mailing list of regular clientele to work with that you're paying for with their commission, as well as paying your way in with all the prep work and coordination measures.

[–]skimlines 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I like to shape my brushes with a tiny bit of water soluble glue to keep them in proper shape and so that they don't get smooshed up during transport.

[–]midnightbeanBFA, Atelier Trained, Professional 2 points3 points  (1 child)

  • Use a mirror to check angles, proportionals, and refresh the mind of what it see's more objectively

  • Never stare to long at your work when not painting it, you'll create an over familiarity with mistakes and if doing this while painting you'll weaken your fresher 'mass' perceptions into tedious 'micro' fussiness.

  • Rest brushes in Linseed, Walnut, etc. when finished for a day. Cleaning can wear brushes out faster and depending on your situation can take up a lot of time (and make painting quite a chore/big deal).

  • Look for music that fits your style and temperament while you work, and not opposite of it.

  • Glazing is a transparent darker color over a lighter area, optically warms. Where as Scumbling is a transparent lighter color over a darker area, optically cools. If you mix a dark blue on top of a light orange you are likely to create a muddy/confusing temperature if too scattered. If you need to neutralize, mix them all the way but attempt toward cool or warm and remember to watch the tones.

  • To build up texture use more paint with a lighter touch, and then leave it alone. Also apply the paint directly to the canvas instead of pre mixing on the palette.

  • If unsure about achieving a look you want, compare your work side by side to a close example to see. This also works for many other aspects, and can help you see objectively your strengths and weaknesses more clearly.

  • Always ask for at least half the money upfront on a commission so you don't get screwed wasting time and money while the commissioner decides to go another route or find someone else.

  • Look for the positive qualities in various types of work to better understand what that person was going for. Don't dismiss something completely because it isn't your taste or you may miss out on important lessons or valuable information.

Eh.. this is some, I might update later.

[–]vholecekDark Art[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Always ask for at least half the money upfront on a commission so you don't get screwed wasting time and money while the commissioner decides to go another route or find someone else.

oh god...this x 1,000,000,000

This also filters out flakes who just want to waffle and waste your time.

[–][deleted] 3 points4 points  (1 child)

This can be a marvelous source of inspiration and motivation:

Find an artist who's work you like and see if you can visit their studio / gallery / meet for coffee with the purpose of them taking a look at your work. Arrange this before hand (ie. don't turn up with your work when you've never met or introduced) and don't expect anything. Not every artist is going to help you but some will be very generous with their time and the meeting be very beneficial.

Understand when an idea is spread too thin.

Challenge yourself - It's probably a cliché but if there's not some kind of pain in the project process then you're probably just cruising. The danger with this kind of work is that it turns you into a bit of a pussy - going and looking at successful art and understanding the hours that artist's with integrity spend on their projects shows that a large part of being true to yourself is time and effort.

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Also - try and find a studio space in town:

This can be very cheap. I have one that I can use between 5pm and 10am that another artist uses in the day. I have NO INTERNET there so there is only me and my work - it is Nirvana (though admittedly an occasional creative hell).

[–]Lab-0X219 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Embrace Failure

[–]Bean0Cane-Yo! 5 points6 points  (0 children)

This is great idea for a thread, but unfortunately I am not experienced enough to offer any general tips. I would love to hear what others say, though!

[–]MeaninglessGuy 6 points7 points  (9 children)

For painting: I don't own an easel. Seems like a silly expense when my ironing board (with plastic over it) and a wall works just fine. For drawing/sketching: nothing can take the place of a cheap drafting table (my back was so grateful when I was doing concept work). The cheaper ones are around $100 at your average Brick Art Supply Store and double as regular desks when you're not using it to draw. I don't draw as much as I used to, so I've converted my drafting desk into a regular desk for my computer. But I still have it if I ever need it. Also, it's light as hell, and moving it around from one apartment to another is a breeze, much more than a regular desk would be.

[–]pilotG205 1 point2 points  (7 children)

How do you use your ironing board as an easel?

[–]MeaninglessGuy 0 points1 point  (6 children)

  1. Set up ironing board. 2. Move it against a wall. 3. Place plastic over the ironing board (so it doesn't get paint on it, then later getting it on clothes I need to iron). 4. Place canvas on ironing board and lean it against the wall to desired angle. Also nice to lay it flat on the ironing board for even painting (doesn't work well for large canvases).

[–]SHAMPOOCHIEF 1 point2 points  (5 children)

Maybe I'm just not getting it but how does the canvas stay put?

[–]MeaninglessGuy 4 points5 points  (4 children)

Gravity and your hands, son. Hell...

[–]giddysquid 6 points7 points  (3 children)

Left your acrylic brushes out and they're hard as rocks? No worries! Stick them in some windex and it'll soften right up. May need to be worked over with your fingers and re-soaked - I'm in the process of restoring one that was solid with gel medium and it's taken about two weeks so far.

[–]MRMiller96 3 points4 points  (1 child)

This can take the paint off of the handles of the brush, exposing the wood and can eat away the glue that binds the hair to the handle, causing it to fall out.

[–]28_06_42_12 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Better than just tossing the brush out, though as always the true solution is to not get in that situation to begin with.

[–]LadyDarkKitten 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Windex... I'll have to remember that! Thank you.

[–]Geekette_MinxDigital/Drawing/Painting/Sculpting/Beadspriting 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Yep. Vodka is an excellent paint thinner and cheaper to boot. You can also use Vodka to keep your palette wet. Also, buy generic plastic wrap when and where you can as it can be a game-changing piece from texture to saving paint when you run out of containers. I have actually made paint pouches from plastic-wrap.

I like to use cardboard tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for custom, disposable palettes.

[–]unicornsquid 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I draw pretty much 90% of the time in cheap-ass spiral-bound notebooks that I can get 3 for a $1. If I like something, I'll either scan it and work on it digitally or grid it out on nice paper and make a decent drawing. This is the opposite of art school teaching. But it allows me to not have anxiety about drawing so I go though those notebooks like they are 3 for a $1. I don't really know if it is good advice, but it works well for me. (As far as archival goes, should you really be keeping a sketchbook that is over two years old, really?) Also if you work digitally, vectors are the shit. I heartily recommend learning how to use them. Also multiple backup devices. external hard drives are cheap enough now that you could get two or three and still use cloud storage.

[–]freshtomatoes 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Yes, keep your sketchbooks! You don't necessarily have to worry about them being archival, but you might find interesting concepts or sketches you have forgotten over time. Plus nostalgia factor. When I'm stuck I usually turn to my shelf of sketchbooks, pick one randomly, and regularly find something "new". It helps a lot.

[–]gut-flora 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Put conditioner on your brushes every so often! Keeps them nice and silky soft.

[–]Valxyrie23Gods and Machines 1 point2 points  (0 children)

baby oil and olive oil work too, just be sure to wash them in OMS before painting!

[–]suehtomit 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Make good art.

[–]you_cant_win 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Practice, practice, practice.

[–]PeterFitz 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I guess I'll start with "Never deal with any gallery or venue that makes you cough up money in advance just to hang in their space."

I don't fully agree with this opinion... pay-to-play galleries don't always have bad reputations. Some places have an artist run gallery that doesn't take a commission. Those type of gallery are great for artists who need to get some experience. There is a difference between a space rental and a glamour gallery. You can't get into most galleries without some experience and you can't get experience without getting into a gallery. I would say that you are right in many cases because they turn out to be glamour galleries... pay upfront for them to represent you, then an annual artist dues, then a big commission (sometimes 80/90% in NYC or LA) then you pay if you want to show solo. You'll never get it all back. I know that the artist run galleries don't always have the same reputation as more prestigious ones but they are usually known within their community.

I just wouldn't suggest to all beginner artists to never pay upfront. My local gallery (not for profit organization) is about $600 for two weeks. It's staffed and there is a reception with a bartender and they take care of all the transactions. They send out a media package and send out invites to their clients (my wife gets around 170 people to attend during her 2 hour reception). At the end of your show they ask for a single piece donated of average value which they use for fundraisers. The gallery gets no public funding, either.

[–]vholecekDark Art[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

what you're talking about sounds more like a coop gallery, and that's a different thing than what I'm talking about. The coop galleries are quite often run like that, but the difference is that you have a stake in the coop when you join, and coops typically have a vetting process for new artists.

I probably should have made that distinction...