Artist Resources: Getting Started

Every so often I get a message from a fellow creative person (either professional or hobby) asking about what kind of paints I use, where to find good brushes, how to hang artwork, who inspires me, and more than anything "what do I need to get started?" So I decided to write a blog post and make a guide to cover exactly that! The resources in the 5-step Getting Started Guide will help you take that desire to create, and put it into a real practice from which you can grow, learn, and start to establish your personal style. (download the guide here

Once you've downloaded the Getting Started Guide and have established a comprehensive approach to start your creative practice,  check out a few of my favorite tools I use on a daily basis (and download the Materials checklist here!):

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FAVORITE PAINTS:
-Golden Acrylics are the go-to, followed by Liquitex.
-Holbein Gouache (often mixed with Golden gloss gel medium) add rich, opaque pigment.
-House paint samples from Lowes are great for blocking in muted colors.
-Windsor & Newton watercolors are my favorite for sketching.

FAVORITE BRUSHES:
-Princeton brushes are the best for when I'm feeling fancy.
-These synthetic cheap-o brushes are the best for everyday use and I don't feel bad when I ruin them.
-And these are my favorite mid-range brushes (and I only feel kiiiinda bad when I ruin them).

FAVORITE ARTISTS TO FOLLOW:
-Lily Stockman is forever my number one fave (and one of the first contemporary female painters I fell in love with in college).
-Christina Baker is one of my favorite artists and human beings.
-Raven Roxanne's color and layering sensibilities are incredible.
-Inslee's illustrations transport me and her Instagram stories make me laugh out loud and want to be her friend.
-Heather Day is one of my favorite people to hear talk about the creative process and the thoughtfulness of making art.

FAVORITE CREATIVE BUSINESS VOICES TO FOLLOW:
-Maria Brophy has been an incredible helpful and inspiring resource.
-Shanna Skidmore is another great go-to.
-Jenna Kutcher's podcast has been a wealth of knowledge.
-Beth Kirby's Raw Milk podcast has also been super interesting and helpful.

Now, before diving into all those resources, download the GETTING-STARTED GUIDE to help map out your first and next few steps in developing your painting practice!

 

The Other Side of the Country.

Wednesday night we returned home from a trip to the PNW. A couple days were spent in Seattle before taking a collection of bus and boat rides north to the Princess Louisa Inlet in British Columbia. There, we spent a few too-short days at Malibu Club for a Young Life staff marriage retreat. Time at Malibu was life-giving across the board - creatively, imaginatively, relationally, and more. It feels like another world in the best sense, and the beauty in inescapable.

Studio Inspiration

There is something so inspiring about seeing images of artists who are now recognized as incredibly influential, working in their studios to create work that would someday mark history. These are a few of my favorites:

JOAN MITCHELL: I could look at her paintings all day.

 Image via

Image via

HELEN FRANKENTHALER: HF is easily one of my favorite painters in history. One of my favorite things about her work is her color, but I love this black and white image - her expression, the scale of the surface, and her physicality with the painting. 

LOUISE BOURGEOIS: There are few things so motivating as seeing an artist in the studio well into her nineties.

 Image  via

Image via

FRIDA KAHLO: Kahlo is one of those historical figures who is easy to distill, in retrospect, into a whimsical character, maybe from an exotic book or movie. This photo caught me off guard, silly as it sounds, because it reminded me she was real. Unibrow, lipstick, hairstyle - It was all attached to a brilliant human being.  

  Frida Kahlo: The Gisèle Freund Photographs , published byAbrams

Frida Kahlo: The Gisèle Freund Photographs, published byAbrams

ALEX KATZ: Katz is still a living artist, but at age 91, he has earned a shoutout. For years I have loved visiting his paintings in the permanent collection at Atlanta's High Museum and wherever else I can find them. He is a master of color and perfectly rich simplicity.

 Photo via AD

Photo via AD

And to cap it off, the loveliest photo of Picasso and Bettina in Pablo's most perfect Cannes studio... 

 Pablo Picasso in Studio #5, Cannes, France 1955 by Mark Shaw

Pablo Picasso in Studio #5, Cannes, France 1955 by Mark Shaw

Where to add Artwork to Your Home

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how to hang artwork - as in the practical, physical steps to positioning, measuring, nailing, and hanging frames and canvases (download the free step-by-step guide here).

Today, we're taking a step back and discussing the question that precedes how to hang artwork, which is where to hang artwork. You've probably heard the best approach to buying art is to buy what you LOVE - not what is trendy (unless you love it), not what you think will gain value (unless you love it), and not what someone else says you should get (unless you LOVE it). I completely agree with this approach, and I've found that when you find artwork you LOVE, that sparks a deep sense of soul connection (more on that topic coming up), you will find a place in your home for it. So, while there's nothing wrong with keeping an eye out specifically to fill the wall over your sofa, don't let that stop you from exploring the work your soul connects with, that may not be for a specific spot, but could live elsewhere in your home and enrich your daily life for years to come.

That being said, once you've found and purchased artwork you connect with and welcomed it into your home, scroll down and let's talk about a few places your new painting could add to the beauty of your day-to-day life (and download the FREE printable Where to Add Artwork checklist):

 Photo via  Gina Sims

Photo via Gina Sims

1) Entryway

Whether you have a formal foyer or not, chances are you have a distinct area that signals an entry. In our home, it’s an overcrowded coat hook and a pile of shoes (we're working on it...). Regardless of what it looks like for you, the entryway to your home is a perfect location to hang a piece of art that sets the tone for your home. I read in Donald Miller's Scary Close, that he and his wife Betsy dedicated a theme of Restoration to their home. I found that a beautiful practice - centering the items and activities in your home around your home's purpose. Artwork at your home's entrance is a perfect way to set the tone.

2) Bookshelf 

This has gained some popularity over the past few years and with good reason - bookshelves are not only for books. Mostly for books, but not only for books. A bookshelf is the perfect place for small canvas paintings to sit atop a stack of books or act as a bookend. Framed pieces can also be leaned up against the back of the bookshelf to add depth and visual interest. This is also an easy place to start a collection because smaller paintings usually are less of a financial investment.

3) Over the Bed

It's not a revolutionary idea to hang artwork over a bed, but it's an idea worth repeating. A bedroom should be welcoming, cozy, and make you feel like you could snuggle up and read forever. In a word, it should be restful. For some people this means calming neutrals to slow down the mind, and for others it means exotic prints and florals to stimulate the imagination - rest looks different for everyone. So find a painting that reflects what rest means to you. Maybe it's a river painting with soft blues and greens, or maybe it's a moody landscape, or a series of botanical illustrations. Whatever it is, make it something you wouldn't mind dreaming of.

4) Guest Room

If you're lucky enough to have a guest room, give it some art. It's such a fun room, because it's not for a specific person so basically you can do whatever you want. This is a great place to hang a gallery wall of several small paintings, or a painting you want to live with for a few weeks before deciding where its permanent home will be. Also if you have a roommate or spouse living with you, this is an easy place to hang the work that you love but he/she isn't so into, because chances are they won't be looking at it everyday, but YOU can visit it whenever you want. And your guests will probably love it, too.

5) Bathroom / Powder Room

Everyone goes to this room multiple times a day, so don't neglect it! I am very pro-bathroom-art (which I'm officially deeming a stance). Go take a look in your powder room and/or bathroom. Look over the tub, next to the sink, above the towel bar - chances are, there is a bit of empty wall space that a framed illustration would work perfectly in. Bathrooms are great for framed paper artwork because condensation can be wiped off glass and won't mess with the canvas fabric over time.

6) The forgotten walls (small or in-between walls)

You know that little sliver of wall space between doorways, or on either side of the curtains, or to the right of the coat closet? Hang some art on those walls. It will make your house feel more special and larger because suddenly your eye is drawn to the "forgotten" areas and you pay more attention to new sections of the home than you otherwise would.

7) Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home, of course, because that’s where the snacks are. And snacks feed the heart. Right? Anyway, your home's heart deserves to have art on her walls. Hang a giant canvas on the wall behind the dining table, or a few small framed pieces on the wall next above countertops (framed with a glass front so it can be wiped down if it's in a food-prep zone).

8) By the door

I started out by saying you should have artwork in your entryway to welcome people (and yourself) into your home. The same goes for when you're leaving. There's something special about planting a reminder by the door you leave through, to take the reminder with you as you go about your day. Let this artwork serve as a statement of what's true, beautiful, joyful, or whatever will fill you up to go face the day - especially if you're an introvert like me and leaving home can sometimes feel strenuous. The entryway art and exit door art are like the bookends to your home. 

I hope this gives you some ideas, or at least a jumping-off point to think about how to incorporate more meaningful art into your home. Click here to download a full check list of places in your life to incorporate art.

How to Hang Your Artwork: 5 Easy Steps

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Most of us spend weeks, months, maybe years searching for the perfect piece of artwork to fill a particular space on our wall. It could be the large canvas over the sofa, the paintings over the bed, or a series of framed watercolors in the hallway. Whatever it is, the search process can be a real investment of both time and resources.

Once you welcome that beautiful painting into your home, the realization sets in that unfortunately you can't just velcro this baby to the wall in five seconds. If you're like me, you've left more than a couple nail holes in the wall trying to eyeball the exact coordinates for a perfectly centered and level hanging piece of art, only to rip out the nail and start all over. 

If that's the case, THIS IS FOR YOU! A step-by-step guide on how to hang your artwork perfectly, on the first try. (Click here for the printable guide!)

Before you start: Gather your materials (tape measure, pencil, hammer, nail)

Step 1: Measure the top of your canvas or frame, and place a small piece of tape with one edge at exactly halfway across to mark the center point. 

Step 2: Position the artwork at the exact location you want it to hang on the wall and hold it steady while using the pencil to mark a small dot on the wall at the top of your artwork at the halfway point, marked by the tape.

Step 3: Measure the vertical distance from the top center point of your canvas or frame to the hook, taut wire, or wherever the painting will be hanging from.

Step 4: Take the distance you just measured ("X inches") and use your pencil to add a second small dot X inches below the first dot you made. This is the dot where you will put the nail into the wall.

Step 5: Hammer the nail into the wall, hang your beautiful artwork, and admire that perfectly-hung painting!

 

**FREEBIE LINK: PRINTABLE 5-STEP HANGING GUIDE

Painting Workshop at Lonesome Valley

Yesterday I got to spend an afternoon at the beautiful Lonesome Valley community leading a landscape painting workshop for a fun group of residents!

The view at LV is absolutely breathtaking - an obvious subject matter. We had some super talented painters and creative kiddos. And we even got an unexpected side-thrill when a nearby chicken started laying eggs (this was a major hit). It was such a fun experience and we're hoping to set up another class of two for adults in the fall (stay tuned)! 

Landscape Painting at Camp Ilahee

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of teaching landscape painting to a few groups of girls just down the road at Camp Illahee. The campers visit from all over the country so we focused on mountain landscapes like the ones surrounding them here in Western North Carolina. I was so impressed with how well their paintings turned out!