You Can Paint even if You Cannot Draw

landscape painting
There are so many people in the world that just want to paint a pretty picture. They assume that they need to spend many hours learning to draw before they can do this so they never dip their toe in the water. The truth is that if you can draw a stick figure, you can paint!
Added to this is the mystique of art, the unknown. The confusion over what to do, what to buy, where to start makes it even less palatable.

How Can I Learn to Paint?

Firmly entrenched in people’s minds is that only gifted people paint. They really believe it is for a select few and that they were only born with the gift of being able to draw a stick figure.
Art education is like a 10 course meal. If you really want to become an expert you need to study the basics. Drawing and seeing like an artist is the beginning.
 Not everyone wants to eat a full meal. They want to skip straight to dessert. It is not good for them in the long run but it tastes delicious at the time.
teacher and child painting

The Fun Way to Learn How to Paint

 I encourage my students to eat a full meal that has the appetizers and main courses hidden in the dessert.  Along the way I teach them professional techniques to bypass drawing to speed up the painting process.
We are not skipping the foundational skills, but dropping in some sweet tasting treats along the way.
This technique is also used with my classes that are filled with adults that just want to have fun. The same techniques can be implemented with either audience.

You Can Paint even if You Can’t Draw

If you do not want to avoid drawing by just sticking to abstract and collage pieces, you can trace an image rather than draw it. Bypassing the drawing part of painting is in many circles considered cheating. Certain people think that the image has to be drawn by hand. I am not sure where they are getting their rule book from. There is no right or wrong in art. There is copyright law though. Using a photograph or image produced by someone else is fine but you cannot sell that piece as your own. Do not do it. Take your own photographs as a reference or ask for permission to use someone else’s.

How Professional Artists Do it

Would it surprise you to know that artists have been using tracing techniques for hundreds of years. A trained artist has nothing to prove to anyone about their drawing skills. To make a living from painting you need to produce as much work as possible. Does a bakery grind its own flour? Time is money. The beautiful paintings that you see in museums that are done by people considered masters were likely traced using a Camera Lucida or other similar method.

Enjoy Painting from the Beginning

This and similar methods speed up the process to get to a finished painting. For young artists it is very encouraging to be able to paint a picture that looks realistic before they have fine tuned their drawing skills with years of practice. It is even more exciting for adults that want to rekindle that passion for art. Their eyes get teary as they hold up their new piece. Years of hurt from bad experiences fall away as they realize that they can paint. My goal is to never let my students lose that fire. Yes, you should learn to draw but, don’t let your lack of technical skill get in the way of trying to paint.
This post is part of the Tips for Homeschool Moms series. Click over here to see the rest of the posts and enter an amazing giveaway.

What is the Difference between Oil and Acrylic Paint

painter's palette with many colors of paint
The difference between oil and acrylic paint has nothing to do with the pigment (color). The pigment is the same in oil and acrylic paint. It is the binder that holds the pigment that gives each one a unique property.

Acrylic Paint vs Oil Paint

One of the main differences is drying time. If you are planning to exhibit your painting you need to remember that oil paint dries really, really slowly.
One year I foolishly did a last minute oil painting for an exhibition. The deadline was a few days away. The exhibition was a local one so I had to take the painting and submit it rather than submit a digital image. I had to get the painting to dry or not exhibit that year. I did not think that they would accept it with a sign on it saying “ sticky painting, do not touch” by Last Minute Larry.

Planning, Patience, and Painting

The home we lived in at the time had a greenhouse attached to the back of the house. In the summer it became unbearably hot. It just happened to be July, so I left my painting in the greenhouse to toast. My experiment worked. Two days later I handed over my painting that was dry to the touch and no one was any wiser. This fast dry baking method is not one I would recommend as I could have ended up losing my piece and finding a peeling bubbly mess. I had used the Winsor and Newton Artisan oils that are mixed with water rather than linseed oil so that probably helped.
painting palette with many colors
6-12 months is considered the normal drying time for an oil painting. At this point it should be varnished to protect it.

Pros and Cons of Painting with Oil Paint

The slow drying time can be a positive or a negative depending on your personality. It will allow you to move the paint around for a long time before it is dry. You will not have to rush your painting and you can paint right over anything you do not like or remove it while it is wet.
The downside of traditional oil paint for me is the smell of everything. I am very sensitive to chemicals and I cannot tolerate traditional oil paints because of this. Turpentine and linseed oil are part of the picture so if you have a problem with strong chemical smells the Artisan line by Winsor and Newton will be a great alternative.
Oil paint and the slow drying time could be a problem if you have small inquisitive children in your home. If they are at the stage where they like to use walls as their canvas you could be in trouble. Oils are gooey and messy and will not be a welcome addition to your $3,000 Persian rug.
 

What is Acrylic Paint?

If you ask someone what they think an acrylic painting looks like they will probably picture a piece from the “pop art” era. Large posters with bright primary colors of baked bean cans etc. People assume that acrylic paint is only primary colors because of this movement.
Many people are surprised to find out that the pigments in acrylics are the same as other paints. You can paint the same painting with oils or acrylics. The colors will look the same. How you go about painting it will be slightly different.
Acrylic paint has many similar characteristics to oil paint but the main difference is the drying time and the lack of smelly chemicals used to mix it. Acrylic uses water not linseed oil and turpentine.
homeschool supplies
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Why Use Acrylic Paint instead of Oil Paint?

This is the perfect medium for the Last Minute Larry painter. The painting might actually dry too fast depending on the time of year. If you are working in a very warm studio or outside (Plein air). The rapidity of the drying time could be a problem. There are things that you can add to the paint to retard that giving a little more time to work.
Acrylic like oil is an opaque medium. This gives a lot of freedom to cover up unwanted parts in a picture. The other exciting thing about acrylic is that it is a lot more versatile than oil paints. It can be used as a texture on the canvas and then dried and painted over. Things can be added to it to give a more sculptural effect. Nearly any surface can be used as a canvas. ( hopefully not by a 5 year old on the bathroom wall).

What Type of Paint is Best?

When it comes down to choosing one of these mediums it is purely a personal preference. It does take more planning to work with oils if you have a deadline to meet so unless you have a green house you might want to work with acrylics.
This post is part of the Tips for Homeschool Mom series! Check out the entire series and enter a phenomenal giveaway, here!

How do you become an Accomplished Artist?

artists painting a house
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You Do not Need a Degree in Art to be an Artist!

What is a degree? It is proof that you studied a subject for a certain amount of years and attained a piece of paper to prove you passed.
In England, education as a whole does not follow the same model as the USA. Very few people actually attended college when I was young. I was the first person in my family to ever get a BA (hons) degree. So, I thought that was a big deal. I had always wanted to be an artist. I followed the normal route. In fact, I went to one college to do what was called a Foundation Course and then during that year I picked a specialty, and spent the next three years in a studio at a college learning that.

Can You Learn to be an Artist?

Did that make me an amazing artist? Did it make me a well known artist? No. What it did give me is credibility when I talk and teach about my subject to others. Many famous and successful artists never stepped foot in an institution of higher learning. This does not mean that they did not take any classes. You learn from expert, so if you want to become an artist, find them and use them.
The artists that did want to become one without going to college practiced on their own. They might have attended some classes or read books but they painted and developed a following.
artist drawing in room of easels

What is the Best Way to Learn about Art?

Being an artist has nothing to do with where you learned how to draw and paint. All a degree does is focus your learning for a few years and allows you to feel like an expert. People always assume that you are. Many people might not have picked up a paint brush since the day they left college 50 years ago, but they still have credibility.
The other way to achieve credibility is by doing. Practice, practice, practice. Find the media you love and practice some more. If you love to paint and draw in the words created by a brilliant ad company “ just do it”. Become an expert. Study and keep going. At some point people will assume you went to college. Their admiration will come from your skill set not your credentials. Unless you are applying to be a teacher in a public school which one has more value?
art supplies and paper
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But, My Work is not a Masterpiece, I must not be Gifted!

Do not expect to love everything you do when you are learning. Do not expect to love everything you do at any point. Throw it away, store it in a folder or give it to grandma. She will love everything you do.
What is certain is that you will grow. You will develop skills and techniques and then painting and drawing will flow. You will stop thinking about how you do something and it will just happen.
Paint, paint paint. Spend hours doing it. Become an expert in that medium and your own personal style will come.
The other benefit of being self taught is that you will save a large amount of money because higher education in art is very expensive in the USA. There are some chosen vocations that need higher education to become successful. This is not one of them.
This post is part of the Tips for Homeschool Moms series, read other posts by Beyond the Stick Figure as well as 17 other bloggers, here!

There is no Right or Wrong in Art

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“ This is not how you draw a cloud”
These are words spoken by an art teacher while holding up a students work. ( the student happened to be my ten year old daughter). She had a definite idea of what is right or wrong in art.
Art is a strange subject. It can encompass any medium or surface. A canvas, a wall, specialized paper, any paper, the human body. The list is endless. It is a totally subjective subject. Anything goes.

How do You Define What is Art?

A quarter and your opinion will buy you a gum ball. That is all.
3+3 in art can equal 5, 20, 6, 55 or whatever you want it to be. You make the rules.
You can put a Popsicle stick next to a cotton ball and say it is art. Some people sell works like this for insane amounts of money. To us they look like trash. If you ever become famous as an artist for your Popsicle stick pieces, please send me some royalties.
I can hear you saying “that is rubbish, that is not art!”.
Well, it is actually, if the artist thinks it is. We could go down a very large rabbit hole called the emperor’s new clothes on that point but let us not digress.
childs hand coloring with pencils

How to Encourage Young Artists

I am making a point. I am not saying that a piece like that has any value to me but, it does to someone. The only opinion that matters in art is that of the artist. This is what many teachers of the subject fail to understand or keep at the front of their minds when talking to their students.
Many a fragile budding artist has had the equivalent of weed killer poured over them by a well meaning teacher. Some live through it but many put their paints and pencils away for good never to paint again because they now think they cannot.
I meet them all the time in my classes. They are of all ages and all have a story of how they were told they were terrible or not good enough, did not have that gift or their work was ugly or terrible or not right.
These stories are told as they stare adoringly at their newly created piece. The pride often manifests itself as little tears in their eyes. They release years of hurt and burden. They discover they are artists after all.
pen and ink meadow
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Remember there is no Right or Wrong in Art

So when you look at a piece of art, remember, your opinion is yours and yours alone. If you are talking to the artist, choose your words wisely. We are fragile creatures.
If that artist, big or little is beaming with pride when they show you their latest piece, fan that with your glowing adoration of their 3 legged stick figure and ask them if you can put it in the fridge gallery.

Time for a Giveaway

Summer is almost here and let’s just celebrate now with the homeschool year wrapping up.

I’ve gotten together with 7 other bloggers to bring you this wonderful giveaway so that you can enjoy planning for your next homeschool year.

We are giving away 3 $100 gift cards from the place of your choice. You can choose from:

  • Amazon
  • Rainbow Resource
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Christian Books

The winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond to claim their prize or else another winner will be chosen. By entering this giveaway you will be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers. Read the terms and conditions for more details.

Here is the graphic for the giveaway: https://www.dropbox.com/s/owqi8xwp6syxpra/summer-homeschool-mom-giveaway.jpg?dl=0

This post is part of a 10 day series check out the other posts here.

What Does Creativity Have to do with Education in the 21st Century?

creative technology
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What is creativity?

So creativity is a little hard to define because it’s been used so many different ways. In the 21st century, many of the things that we consider creative or creativity are kind of like prepackaged ideas or activities and aren’t really thinking
outside the box.  For instance, crafting is creative, but buying little packets of premade crafts and putting them together is not necessarily creative.

We also think that creativity can only be constrained to the arts. So, you can only be creative if you’re painting or you’re drawing or sculpting. In fact, you already possess a creative genius and you can be creative with anything. Creativity really is the creation of an idea that it’s something new that you have come up with and then channel into the world through your God-given talents and passions.

 

Who Can Be Creative?

Anyone can be creative in their own talents and gifts.  A gardener can be creative or
cook or baker.  Restaurants putting those gorgeous flowers on your plate or beautifully setting a table are creative. Even a mechanic can be creative.  You may not want your mechanic to be creative while changing your oil, but they can design something new. How else would we come up with new vehicles and modes of production?

Elon Musk probably was highly creative. The Wright brothers were creative because they were thinking outside the box and came up with something that didn’t exist before. So, yes you can be creative in the sciences, too. We all want to find a cure for cancer, that will require serious creativity!

Creativity in the 21st Century

“But science and math are the way of the future. Aren’t the arts just a waste of time in the 21st century?”

Definitely, not!

Much of the thinking in schools is let’s cut those off programs: music programs, visual art, theater, etc. They think they’re a waste of time, because we need to have more time for academics That’s what’s going to get people ahead! We all want to improve our education. We want to improve our standing in the world in literacy, science, and math. So schools are cutting out art thinking that they’re going to improve education. They will use the time to teach people more about science and math, which will improve our future.

mini family portraits with pens and paint
Gather the family and make some memories, while you create adorable portraits to treasure or share.

Now, homeschoolers are guilty of this as well. We may not be worried about our ranking in the world as far as science and math. However, we want our children to succeed. We fall victim of wanting to “keep up.” So, we need to realize that you need art for science and math.

I mean, there’s so much math in music, there’s so much science in art and all of the creative disciplines that they need to work together not against each other. Who’s to say that science is more important than the arts? Who makes those decisions? We need both of them.

21st century creativity

 

What do the Arts do For Us?

Do we need the arts? We do and if anything, we need it more now. Without the arts, we’ve lost our culture. We lose our history, we lose the things that bond this together, our ways of expressing each other. If we just teach children to be engineers, so they can build like the best buildings that can withstand the biggest earthquakes, but we don’t teach them about art. Our whole world is going to be ugly, and we’re going to have no entertainment, no cultural legacy. There will be no books to read or poems to memorize! The arts have to be part of STEM. Our scientists need art and our artists need science. The arts could be the key to unlocking your scientist’s genius. None of your children may have fine arts careers, but that does not mean they should not be artists.

Where are the Arts in the 21st Century?

In the 21st century, we have so much marketing that goes on, as opposed to like, if you go back several centuries where people just made their own things. Now that we go to stores for everything, we have advertising, we have the packaging, we have billboards, and you know the signs on the side of trucks, all of that is designed by artists. Artists are so very needed in the 21st century. Anything that is within our homes and our lives has an artist attached to it somewhere, even furniture or vehicles, the buildings that we go to and live in.

So yes, arts are very important in the 21st century. They are never a waste of time and they are not just a frivolous thing to do on the side, like an extra. They really are a part of education, that applies to your life. Because if you said to somebody, live for a day without anything that an artist creates, they wouldn’t be wearing clothes. They wouldn’t be opening a package because it’s designed by an artist. They wouldn’t be sitting in a chair that was designed by an industrial designer or enjoy some tea from a teapot.

Pick up your mug, yes, your cup, everything. It’s designed by artists that most people think that an artist is someone that just paints and draws. But that’s not the actual case. So many art jobs out there that have really very little to do with literal painting and drawing. Our world needs the arts, it is vital to our future and way of life.

 

 

How to Talk about Your Child’s Art

 

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Okay, moms, this is for you. Before your child starts learning art, I want you to realize that what you say and do with your children is extremely important as to how this will work in the long run, because you are their primary teacher. If you say negative things about your child’s art, then you’re the one responsible for ruining that little genius that we’re trying to teach. This includes telling them that their work is wrong, or they should do it in a different way.

 

So, what do you do?

Encourage them to get rid of any negative thoughts about how they are doing things. Just encourage them. I have been a homeschool mom and teaching in the homeschool environment long enough to know that there are moms out there that want their children to be the best at everything. They want their children’s work to be better than everybody else’s. And they will try and help them to make it so.

I have parents helping in my classes that will be putting their input a little too much into the children’s work or telling their children in my class to not do it this way or that. Mom, don’t do art with your child this way.

Let them make what they want, in a way that is within the parameters of the project. What we’re teaching them are art techniques. So, if my students want to end up with something that’s not exactly what my picture is, that’s fine.  Remember that it’s their work. What your child thinks of the finished product is the most important part. Art is about the artist being satisfied with his art, not about what anyone else thinks. (Including Grandma, Auntie Nora, and your homeschool mom friend down the street.)

Raise Artist

What to Say about Your Child’s Art

So just speak words of life into your children, just encourage and nurture. Let them follow along with a project and see what happens. They will get really jazzed about art and they will want to just keep doing it outside of the actual lessons. That’s what you want because how do you get to Carnegie Hall? You practice, practice, practice, practice. How do you get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art? You practice, practice, practice, practice. The more they practice, the more their work will blossom.

I have seen this happen so many times. One of my children went through an art program at a technical high school.  She was immersed in art, drawing and painting for half of her day.  Her work just skyrocketed and including her technical skills. It was fabulous to see. She has since gone into an art career.

 

A Life of Loving Art

So, your child might not necessarily want to go into an art career, but what we want is for them to love art. We want them to be able to paint and draw, and enjoy it! For them to have fun without any negative feelings about art for the rest of their life. Even if they never become a professional artist, they will have a life filled with the love of art.  Remember, speak positive words over your child’s art. Do not try and stop them from creating something to criticize it.  It’s going to be very tough for you, I know. You can do this mom! Remember positive, positive, positive.