Interesting facts on Surrealism

Surrealism was founded in Paris in 1924 by poet André Breton.  This movement was created as a reaction against the age of enlightenment, which was the time of reason and individualism.  Surrealists believed that this era had surpassed the unconscious mind, so their goal was to free the mind from the boundaries of rationalism.

Techniques used in Surrealism

With the focus on Max Ernst


Max Ernst explained a collage to be an artistic technique where you are able to put multiple realities together in order to create a new, supernatural reality.  He said that the absurd realities he created caused his vision to intensify and helped him to have visions of more contradictory images. 

In making his collages he always made sure that the different pictures joined seamlessly, in order for the alternative reality to make more sense.  He then often reproduced them through enlarging them.

The way surreal collage differs from collages from Pablo Picasso and George Braque, it that with Cubism the artist brought another world into their own artwork, whereas the surrealists created a whole new reality all together. 

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I’m sure most of us have done this when we were little; where you take a pencil and piece of paper and transfer the texture of a rough surface onto the paper by scratching over it with the pencil.  You can use several surfaces to do this, like dried leaves, bark, wooden floors, coins, thread, etc.

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Max Ernst developed this technique as a translation from frontage into painting.  Here, he would add various objects underneath the canvas which will then be primed and painted on.  Paint is then scraped off with a palette knife to create a similar effect as frottage. 

The Entire City 1934 Max Ernst 1891-1976 Purchased with assistance from the Knapping Fund 1941


This process involves adding paint to some areas on the canvas to which  glass of paper was pressed onto it.  The paint then creates interesting shapes as you lift the glass or paper from the paint. Ernst took this technique further by reworking the image create by the glass or paper with a paint brush.  

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Max Ernst often used the oscillation technique to start a painting.  This involves tying a can of paint to a string, making a hole at the bottom of the can and swinging this can on string over the canvas in order for the paint to drip onto the canvas.  

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Some of the Most Famous Paintings in Surrealism

Salvador Dalí, “The Persistence of Memory,” 1931

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In creating this painting, Dali made use of his paranoiac critical method which he invented in 1930.  This technique relies on self induced paranoia and hallucinations. Ever lied on the grass and tried to recognise different kinds of animals in the clouds?  This is an example of Dali’s paranoiac critical method.

The persistence of memory depicts our dream state, where time kind of melts away and is no longer important to us.

The Son of Man, René Magritte, 1964

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This kind of makes you want to see the face of the man, doesn’t it?  René explained The Son of Man by saying: “At least it hides the face partly. Well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It’s something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.”

Harlequin’s Carnival, Joan Miro 1924

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The carnival we’re witnessing is supposed to be Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”, in French), which is the Christian celebration before the Lent, where people eat rich and fatty food, before giving up animal products until Easter.  Interesting enough,  at the time, Miró was a struggling artist who barely managed to get enough money for food. This is why the harlequin has a hole in his stomach. 

Games the Surrealists used to play

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Exquisite Corpse

Many of us have actually played this one as kids. It’s when you and your friends take a piece of paper and draw something without the other person knowing what it is that you are drawing. You then fold the piece of paper and have the person next to you add a section to the drawing. This continues until everyone added something to it. What you then end up with is a collaborative, inspiring work of art.

So why not play this game for old times sake and make use of the strangeness that comes out of it in your paintings!

Nonsensical phrases

Like the exquisite corpse, one person would write a word and fold the paper. The next person writes a definition to the word he cannot see!

Another way of doing this is one person writing a question and the second person writing an answer to the question he didn’t see.


This is another children’s game that started with the surrealists!

Remember how you and your friends used to sit in a circle and start by whispering one word in your friend’s ear with each person adding a word? This eventually then formed a sentence that comes out all weird because someone down the line misheard something.

Use this another way to get your creativity going like the artists from the surrealist movement!

Putting random words in a bowl

You can ask people around you to write any random word or phrase that comes to their mind. For instance; person one writes “rabbit”, person two writes “hat” and person three writes “chasing a lobster”, person four and five also write something random.

Without anyone seeing what the other person wrote, these words are then placed in a bowl. If you draw the words of person one, two and three, you could very well be painting a rabbit wearing a hat while chasing a lobster!

Automatic writing/drawing

Another way to get your creativity going like the artists from the surrealist movement is to start drawing or writing without thinking about what you are about to write or draw. The idea is also to not stop in between. Just keep scribbling away! Surrealists used this as a way for the subconscious mind to start taking over.

How to become a full time artist

how to be a full time artist

Too many artists don’t earn a living through their art. And I’m sure many of us who are in a full time job that has nothing to do with art, dream of becoming a full time artist.

But what if we can’t afford to be living the starving artist lifestyle until our art career takes off? What if we can’t take the leap because we have people who depend on our income?

How to become a full time artist

Here are some steps you can take in order to become a full time artist and avoid living the stereotype of the starving artist.

Think about your voice

What is it that you want to say through your art? What kind of art do you want to create? How do you want to make people to think and feel when they look at your art?

These are all questions that is worth asking yourself before you become a full time artist. You can also consider things like, what mode of delivery will suit your message best? Will you be painting, sketching, sculpting, etc.

This is also a good time to experiment and think about what kind of art you enjoy creating most.

Think about who you want to see your art

So now that you know what it is that you want to communicate through your art, whether its a feeling or a powerful message, it is time to start thinking about who your target audience is.

You might think “hey, I want to show my work to everyone” and “I want to make a difference in the world”. While these are great goals, it is not easy to speak to everyone at once, since we are all so different.

In the book This is Marketing, I read that in order to create change in the world, you need to start with a small group of people. This is how you influence the world little by little.

This might sound like you will then make no money because you are marketing to viewer people, but wouldn’t you rather have your work in front of 100 people who are actually interested in your work and subject matter than have it in front of 10 000 random people who might not even be interested in art to begin with?

Once your target market is set and you know what your subject matter is, be sure to stick to it for a while. It helps to have tunnel vision when creating a brand for yourself. Try not to dabble too much in other subject matter, etc. since you are only focusing on one niche at a time.

It helps to create a customer avatar in a lot of detail, to the point where you feel like you can actually give this person a name. It is good practice to write the details on your customer avatar down and to refer back to it once in a while when you are feeling a bit lost.

Questions you can ask yourself on your target audience are:

  • Who are they? (Age, Gender, Marital status, Age of children, Location, Level of Education, Occupation, Job title, Annual income).
  • What do they want?
  • What is stopping them from getting it?
  • Where do they hang out online

Always remember; if you market to everyone, you market to no one.

Be willing to make some sacrifices

If you want to succeed in transitioning into a full time artist, it is important to see your goal as a job too. Be prepared to spend a little less time watching tv, etc in order to commit more time to your art. Try to schedule on your calendar the amount of hours per day or per week you will spend on your art and stick to it.

It might take a bit of self discipline every now and then to get grinding, but as long as you keep your eye on your goal, it shouldn’t bee too difficult.

Build your portfolio

People won’t buy your work when they can’t see it. Even if you mainly plan to work on commissions, it is very important to show your potential clients some of your previous works.

An important thing to remember when you start out with this, is that your art does not have to be absolutely perfect in order for it to be shown to the world.

In Robert Kiyosaki’s book, Before you Quit your Job, he says that so many entrepreneurs spend way too much time on refining their product, instead of getting it out there in order for it to be sold.

So don’t be discouraged when you feel like you lack some technique in your work. As long as you know you are doing your best, you will gradually learn the techniques as you go. And by giving your audience the opportunity to watch you grow as an artist will only make them feel more connected to you.

Gain recognition!

Put yourself out there as much as you can. Make sure you’re online! Create an instagram account and facebook page and showcase your art on there. Other great platforms are also Pinterest,, Etsy etc. depending on where your target market hangs out online.

Once you have your accounts up and running, it is important to keep posting consistently. Your followers will eventually get so used to you posting at a specific time of the day or week, they will be looking forward to your next post.

With that being said, it might be difficult to have a finished product ready for posting everyday or twice a day(recommended for Instagram and Facebook) or even once a week (recommended for You Tube).

This is where you can start creating time lapses of your creative process. Why not start a You Tube channel with art tutorials on a new technique you just mastered? Or just giving your viewers a tour on your studio area, even if it is just a desk with a drawer full of materials, this will give you the opportunity to connect with your potential customers. You can also recommend materials you like, etc.

A lot of us don’t like the idea of being on camera. But the best part is, you don’t even have to be on camera in order to do these things. You can just show your work and do a voice over when editing your video if you’re a bit shy or even get a friend to read your script for you. How about using text instead? Get creative! The possibilities are endless!

Six Figure Mentors, an online course on how to start your own business is a total game changer if you want to get learn how to sell your art successfully.

You can sign up for free online workshops here:

Sign up for free online workshops

Finally take the leap without risk

You can start all of this while you are still working in your day job. The beauty of focusing on selling your work online, is that you don’t have to attend every single gallery exhibition in order to network, since you will be doing all your networking online. This helps a great deal when you have responsibilities at home, since you are not required to go anywhere.

Once you have your art selling online successfully and you’re generating enough income from it, you are then able to save this extra income for a while in order to create a buffer for the more quiet times. This will let you transition smoothly into your new career as a full time artist!

I would also like to remind you that it is important to stay patient when transitioning into becoming a full time artist. As long as you keep your eye on your goal and bring your best self to the table, or should I say easel, you’ll get there! I wish you the best of luck on your journey in becoming a full time artist!

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Are you truly an artist?

are you truly an artist?

This was a question that really stuck to me for a good couple of years. I always felt that everything I did was never good enough and can not truly be called “art”.

So I went and asked one of my favourite communities on reddit, Artist Lounge, what they think. This was their response:

They appear to be artists of sarcasm, but they do have a point. Most people consider true artists to be passionate but poor. But I don’t believe this has to be the case.

Are you truly an artist? If you fit in one or more of the categories below, you’re truly an artist.

How do you feel when you aren’t creative for a while?

Ask yourself what happens when you don’t paint/ draw/ use whatever mode of delivery it is that you use when you’re creative. For example, when I don’t paint for a while, I become obsessive… over anything. For an entire year all I wanted to eat was peanut butter. My friend even bought me a jar of peanut butter for Christmas that year. It was glorious. Other obsessions also involve organising, cleaning, etc. When I start painting, my life is balanced.

Do you find yourself becoming restless or anxious when you aren’t being creative?

Drawing on the balcony. Photo by obsidian_odyssey

You always seem to come back for more

Have you ever tried to quit your craft, but then you just find yourself coming back for more? This is because your practice usually feels like home to you. It is where you are the most comfortable.

The fact that you’re asking

The fact that you’re doing some introspection on whether or not you’re an artist, is a big sign that you are one. Most artists, especially at the beginning of their careers, have had imposter syndrome.

Just remember, you don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to become an artist.

You’re annoyed by your full time job

Do you find yourself feeling frustrated at work because you feel that you should be spending that time to be creative instead? Congratulations, you are truly an artist! Artists generally feel that their purpose is to create and frustration can occur when something interrupts this.

If you do find yourself stuck in a job that keeps you from creating, I have the perfect opportunity for you in which you can have the freedom to create more and the time and money to travel more and to become inspired!

Click on the link below to register for Free workshops. Here you can learn to become your own boss and make money online by doing something that you love! You can even learn how to sell your art online successfully!

Free workshops – Become your own boss!

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Why kids make better abstract art than adults

painting on easel

I read an article a while back about a test conducted between the work of kids’ abstract art and the abstract paintings of modern artists. The test was to see if the statement “a child could paint that” is actually true.

They chose a group of art and psychology students to decide which works they prefer; the work of famous modern artists or the works of toddlers and animals. Around 60% chose the work of the modern artists. So it turns out a child can actually not “paint that”.

But this got me thinking; what about kids vs non established modern artists? How about kids vs adults? By adults I mean the average Joe wanting to blow off some steam through being creative.

Why kids make better abstract art than adults

I work as an art facilitator at a community art space, where the public is invited to paint in the studio. Here I encounter people from all kinds of backgrounds and of all ages. I’m talking age 3 to 50 and older.

Courtesy of thejamjar

Very often I meet adults wanting to start an abstract painting, only to stare at the canvas while exclaiming; “I don’t know where to start”! Then I look over at the kiddies with their tiny aprons just going at it without a care in the world.

While there is way more to abstract art than just a scribbling mess, we cannot expect all adults who don’t have an artistic background to know the creative process behind abstract art.

This is why there are people such as myself working there to guide them in their process. I usually tell them that there should be a feeling or some sort of concept behind abstract art.

After all, Mark Rothko said that a painting of nothing will never be good.

But even though they eventually do have something they want to convey, they still have that fear of the blank canvas.

Kids on the other hand also don’t have any education in the creative process in abstract painting. But have you ever watched kids paint? They’ll point out that this blue shape is their house, the yellow smudge is their dog, etc. They put thought and effort into their work. So essentially, they naturally start off with a concept.

They’re just not as scared at making a mistake as adults are. Of course they don’t aim to make something abstract, but it turns out that way because it turns into something that is non representational.

I have come to realise that as we hit around 12 years of age, our insecurities and fears start to grow. And if we’re not careful, this continues all the way into adulthood. And this majorly affects our playfulness, decision making and willingness to experiment on canvas.

Most of my favourite abstract paintings are from what the kids do in the studio. From their use of colour, to their brush strokes. You can feel the sense of freedom in their work, were as most of the adults’ abstract paintings you can sense the constricted fear and hesitation, because we think too much about it.

I’m not writing this to critique anyone’s work. I just want to bring home the fact that we were all once fearless and totally sure of ourselves. I want to encourage you, and by extent myself as well, to find and embrace that fearless and playful child in each and everyone of us.

Maybe we should go back to enjoying the process instead of looking for an outcome. I dare you to live life fearlessly and watch how your paintings transform!

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How to make money and not ruin your creativity

artist holding sketchbook

Money ruins your creativity

I don’t know about you, but every time I am commissioned for an artwork, I start feeling blocked and caged in.

I noticed this first when I started to create more for the love of creating, instead of focusing on the money I might get for the artwork. I began drawing and painting images from my dreams and random subject matter that I’m interested in. In this process, I not only had way more fun creating, but I also felt more free to experiment, which in turn produced amazing images.

Studies have shown that money ruins our ability to be creative.

Since I came to this realisation, I started looking for solutions on how to make money and not ruin your creativity.

How to make money and not ruin your creativity

Sit still for a moment

Ever read the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle? In this book, he talks about how important it is for us to live in the present moment. Our minds are mostly off worrying about things far off in the future or thinking about things that happened in the past. By focusing on only the present moment, you are able to quiet your mind from noise. It is in these moments, where you live in the Now, where genius ideas are born.

I also find that just sitting still for about 20 minutes/ meditating before painting or writing makes a very big difference. I find that ideas flow more freely after doing so. In these 20 minutes, aim to focus on your breathing, listen to the birds chirping somewhere far off, focus on the feeling of the carpet against your feet as you sit on the floor.

Ok we don’t all have birds chirping in the window sill like Snow White, but you can listen to the sound of the washing machine too. The point is to draw you back to the present moment.

Create more of the work that YOU like

How to make money and not ruin your creativity

I’ll always remember one of my art lecturers telling me: “the more creative you are, the more creative you become”.

Set time aside to create more of the work that YOU like to create. Don’t focus on subject matter that will sell or not. Keep painting/ drawing/ writing, etc, just for the joy of creating. In this process you might just end up finding a new style or technique which you might have never even thought of using before.

You can then go back to your commissions with a fresh outlook and maybe even apply some of the new tricks you learnt.

Create a passive income stream

Another solution which I applied to sustain my creativity was to create a passive income stream so that I don’t have to worry about making money while I’m painting at all.

How to make money and not ruin your creativity
How to make money and not ruin your creativity

I then decided to join SFM, which is an online platform that gives you step by step guidance on starting your own online business and creating passive income.

Best of all, you don’t even need your own product line to do so. This then will also allow you to travel to wherever you want and to paint wherever you want in the world, since you online need a laptop and wifi connection to keep your business running.

If you are interested in the SFM program, click on the link below to register for free online workshops.

Register for Free online workshops

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How to set aside time for creativity when you have a busy schedule

desk with pallette, paint and paper

Pablo Picasso can be quoted as saying:”Everyone is born an artist, the difference is in how we grow up”. There is a creative side in each and everyone of us and by engaging with this aspect of ourselves, we can release stress that builds up due to a busy schedule.

Read on to find out how to set aside time for creativity when you have a busy schedule.

Take a look at your to do list or create one

Very often we think we are more busy or have more things to than we actually have. Many of us, me included on some days, are “busy fools” where we are being super busy, without being super effective. I find that when I get overwhelmed with work, I end up thinking “oh, I need to still read up about this”, only to interrupt myself half way with “oh, I still need to learn how to do that, let me watch a video real quick”.

I find to prevent this, it is helpful to create a to do list and estimating exactly how long each task will take. If you already have a to do list, and catch yourself being a “busy fool”, check your to do list and focus on that first. You’ll be amazed at how much quicker you get stuff done.

Get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later

How to set aside time for creativity when you have a busy schedule

While its sooo nice to hit that snooze button, believe me, I know, try to get up one hour earlier. Its amazing how much we can accomplish in doing so. Think about what you can knock off your to do list in this time.

Better yet, you can grab the sketch book and start drawing, since your mind is nice and sharp at this time of the day.

You’re allowed to say “no” every now and then

While its a good trait to be a helpful and supportive individual, its also important to realize that you deserve some time to yourself. Don’t feel like you automatically become a bad person, just because you put yourself first sometimes, because trust me, you deserve it. You work hard, why else would you be reading this, right?

Besides, it’s impossible to always keep everyone happy all the time.

Block out a set amount of time in the week

Now that your to do list is cleaned up and you had the courage to say no to some things, you can decide when and how many times in the week you can be creative. Be sure to stick to this schedule and make sure that this time becomes a priority to you.

Every minute counts

Remember that you don’t always need hours at a time to be creative. You can create the habit of carrying a pocket size sketch book with you and start by sketching when you’re waiting in line in the grocery store or when you’re sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. I’m sure the receptionist will be absolutely thrilled when you show her the 5minute sketch you did of her as you walk into the doctor’s office.

Attend a workshop

Look online for a community art space in your area and attend a workshop with your friends or family. Very often you’ll find great classes, for beginners or advanced, where you can learn a subject matter you’re interested in. This is a great way to double up being creative while spending time with friends or family.

Get started

How to set aside time for creativity when you have a busy schedule

With a busy schedule, we often stop being creative for a long period of time. In this case it can be quite intimidating to get back to it. I find that in this case it’s very helpful to just jump in and get started. Your first couple of artworks might not be your greatest, but you’ll soon find that everything is coming back to you and that you are your old creative self in no time!

If you have any more tips which you find helpful, please feel free to share them in the comment box with your fellow creatives.

Get over the Fear of the Blank Canvas

Ok, so we’ve all been there; when you have your canvas in front of you, your paint all set up, but then you draw a blank and have no idea what to paint. This is called studio block, or the fear of the blank canvas.

The main reason why this happens is because we fear something and this causes us to procrastinate.

Get over the Fear of the Blank Canvas

Different types of fear that causes us to procrastinate

Fear of Failure– This is probably the most common one we all face. Changing my viewpoint on failure helped me a lot. I decided to start looking at it as something that is inevitable and to use it as a means to learn something. Learning to fail faster through taking action can actually be very beneficial to any project you take on.

Fear of the unknown – It can be daunting to start a new painting when you dont know what challenged lie ahead. Try replacing this fear with curiosity and a sense of adventure instead. Don’t take life so seriously.

Fear of Criticism or rejection – A lot of us are scared of what others will say or think about our work. Instead of taking criticism personally, try looking at your artwork as something that can be even better through the help of others. In doing so it kind of becomes this fun challenge, which actually connect you to people, since it feels like you guys are working in a team to problem solve.

How to Get over the Fear of the Blank Canvas

Just Start

You’ll often hear me tell my students “paint with your left hand” to which I usually receive an amused chuckle as reply. I find that the quickest way to solve the blank canvas dilemma is to just make a random mark on the canvas. I say left hand, because we have less control over our non dominant hand. This helps to create beautiful brush strokes which we will not be able to achieve with our right hand, since we will tend to overthink the mark when we use our dominant hand.

In my article why children make better abstract artists than adults, I mention that kids enjoy the journey way more than adults, because they aren’t scared of how it turns out. This results in them creating beautiful abstract paintings which adults find difficult to produce.

Take a break

Have you ever studied so much that it really doesn’t matter what you read, you just wont absorb any more information? Well same goes for painting. Give yourself a break when you feel like you cant think anymore. If you have a steep commission deadline, try going for a walk and not think about painting for an hour or so.

Focus on the process and not the end product

Try not to focus so much on how you are hoping for the painting to come out. I find that at some point the painting tells you what it needs anyway, so it doesn’t ever quite come out exactly how you expect. Not for me anyway.

Experiment in a journal

If you find yourself too scared to make a mistake on your canvas, why not loosen up a little by experimenting in a journal? It helps to tell yourself that no one will see it and if you end up hating it, you can always just flip the page or tear it out. Who knows, you might just come up with a new technique that inspires a brand new painting.

Get rid of distractions

Put that load of laundry in before you start painting! (I am so guilty of this). A way we procrastinate is to end up doing a bunch of other things that can actually wait till later. If you do find that your mind runs off to doing chores and other things, try setting up a to do list instead. Complete what you feel is most important and then get back to painting.

Have a designated painting area

Have you ever heard that you shouldn’t really read in bed when you have trouble sleeping? This is because your brain usually gets trained to do a certain task in a certain setting at a certain time. Your creative process might very well work the same way. Create a place in your house that is just meant for painting. You’ll find that your creative juices will soon start flowing once your brain realises ”when we sit here, we are creative”.

Get over the Fear of the Blank Canvas

Get inspired

Go on Instagram and Pinterest and check out other artist’s work or go visit some art galleries to see what’s out there.

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