How to Paint Clouds in Acrylic Paint

for Beginners

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Material list:

I really hope enjoyed this tutorial and that you found it helpful!

Usually we don’t get much time to do creative things like this when we are in a full time job plus responsibilities at home.

I came across this opportunity a couple of months ago where you can learn how to start your own online business through the Six Figure Mentor program. 

Imagine being able to do creative things like painting clouds in the middle of the week, instead of sitting at work and wishing for the weekend to come!

SFM also makes it possible for you to travel more! Since you have your own online business, you only need a laptop and a wifi connection to keep it running.

They provide you with step by step guidance on how to build a business based on something that you love and they have an amazing community that is super supportive as well.  I am one of their students and since I have been with them, my life has changed so drastically!

If you’re interested, you can sign up for free online workshops by clicking on the link below.

Send me Free Workshops

This video was filmed at thejamjar:

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

Collage

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. 

Photo source: https://www.blouinshop.com/the-spirit-of-locarno.html

Frottage

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.

Photo source: http://www.surrealism.gallery/MEMA-192624.htm

Grattage

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 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05289

Decalcomania

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.  

Photo source: https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Sans-titre/4B8B69D3BA14CEF1

Oscillation

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.  

Photo source: http://www.tamuseum.org.il/collection-work/3414

Some of the Most Famous Paintings in Surrealism

Salvador Dalí, “The Persistence of Memory,” 1931

Photo source: https://www.dalipaintings.com/persistence-of-memory.jsp

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

Photo source: https://thesquirrelreview.com/2014/12/02/the-son-of-man-by-rene-magritte-1964/

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

Photo source: https://www.joan-miro.net/harlequins-carnival.jsp

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

Photo source: https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/tanguy-miro-morise-manray-nude/

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.

Telephone

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.

Painting an Ice Cream with Oil Paint and Palette Knives for Beginners

For beginners

Materials:

  • Brushes – Below are the brushes I used. I used the large flat brushes to blend the different blues on the background together.
  • Oil Paint – If you are looking to buy an oil paint set, I would recommend getting a Daler Rowney set. This brand is my favourite brand to use.
  • Palette Knife
  • Turpentine – You don’t have to use expensive virgin turpentine. I usually just buy a 5 litre can at the hardware store. The reason why artists use virgin turpentine is because it makes the colours appear brighter, but the difference is so subtle that it isn’t really worth it. Once you are done with painting, put a lid on your turpentine (for safety reasons). You can then use it a second time since the pigments all sink to the bottom of the jar.
  • Acrylic Paint – Daler Rowney System 3 paints are highly recommended.
  • Tissue paper – I prefer using tissue paper over a towel. I find a towel gets dirty too quickly when working with a palette knife. Oil paint is also difficult to wash out (and you can’t put it in the washing machine – I did this once and my clothes smelt of turpentine for weeks after that).
  • Canvas – I used a 35×35 cm canvas
  • Pencil and eraser for planning
  • Paint Palettes – You will need two, one for acrylic paint and one for oil paint. You don’t need to buy pricey palettes if you don’t have one. Instead, you can use an old tray or plate. One trick I like to use in order to make the cleaning process a bit easier is to cover the entire tray in cling wrap. Once you’re done with your painting, you only need to cut the cling wrap off and your tray is ready to use next time you paint.

Draw your ice cream

Start off by making a rough sketch of your ice cream. Here I used a simple HB pencil, but I would suggest that you rather start your planning with coloured pencils, since this is easier to cover with paint than an HB pencil. For this painting, though, It does not really matter, since we will be applying thick paint later on.

Block out the Three Main Tones

Even though we are creating an oil painting, I find that it is better to start any oil painting with a layer of acrylic paint first. I do this, because acrylic paint dries much faster than oil paint, so you can start painting your second layer within minutes.

Remember, oil paint can go on top of acrylic paint, but we can never add acrylic paint on top of oil paint, because the paint will then start to peel of the canvas.

As you can see here, there is very little detail painted and the painting looks a bit dull. This is ok, since this step is just to map out all the dark, medium and light tones for yourself to make it easier later.

To do this, look for the darkest tone first. Once you’ve covered the darkest tone, go on to the lightest and paint them white. It will then be easier to fill in the blank spaces on your ice cream with a medium tone.

You can use a brush to do this, since you have more control over the brush than the palette knives.

Paint your background with Acrylic Paint

Choose how you would like for your background to look. Since we are using acrylic, you can experiment a little and easily change it or adjust it within minutes after it dries. I decided to go for a very smooth and plain background. I did this because the contrast between the rough palette knife paint on the ice cream and the smooth background will make the ice cream stand out more.

Start painting the background in Oil

Once your first layer of paint is completely dry, it is time to start painting in oil! You’ll find that this second layer of paint will really make the colour a lot more vibrant.

I started off by giving the background a second layer with oil paint. So you’ll see here that I did not mind going a bit over the edges of the ice cream, since it will be easy to cover later. My main focus here was just to get the gradient background looking as smooth as possible.

You will find that the oil paint will be a lot easier to work with when it comes to blending, since you can really take your time with this medium.

Whip out your palette knife!

You can now start by painting the ice cream with your palette knife and oil paint. Oil paint is the best medium for this, since the consistency of the paint is nice and thick so it is easier to work with than acrylic in this case. But you can add other mediums to acrylic to achieve this if you do not want to work with oil paint.

Remember that it is important to enjoy the process and to not have a very specific image in your head for the end product. Palette knife paintings also tend to look a lot better when you don’t try to control it too much, since your playfulness will translate through the paint. In other words, if you try to control it too much and get stressed out about what it looks like, it will show in the painting.

How to start

You can start off with your knife the same way you started the painting; by blotting out the dark, medium and light tones.

The Palette Knife angle

The key thing you need to remember about palette knife painting is that the angle of your knife makes a big difference in the outcome of the mark on your painting.

Have a look at how I am applying the paint here. I am only adding paint on the tip of the knife since i want to make a smaller stroke for a highlight. I am also holding the knife at an angle, leaning slightly to the right and forward (with the back of the knife upward and the tip on the canvas)

how hard you should you press on the canvas with your palette knife

If you really want to add a lot of thick paint (this is also called impasto painting) to your canvas, it is important not to press on your canvas too hard, since this will make the paint spread out too much.

You can see it as that you are sculpting with the paint, since you don’t want it to be the same thickness everywhere. Perhaps you could try to add thicker paint to the lightest areas of your painting. This way, there will be a slight shadow casted by the paint on your darker areas, since it doesn’t stick out as much.

Use your paint brushes for the smaller areas

Just because you are creating a painting with a palette knife, doesn’t mean you can’t use a brush every now and then, especially in those smaller areas, like the shadow at the top of the ice cream cone.

You can then continue to work over this in some areas with a palette knife.

Don’t be afraid to scratch into your painting with your knife for texture

Use a towel or tissues to wipe all the paint off your palette knife before doing this. As you can see here, I scratched some lines and wrote on the cone with the palette knife.

Tie all your strokes together

Before doing this, clean your knife with some tissue. You can then make larger swoops over some areas you painted, going in the direction of the lines your ice cream is creating. This will slightly mix the paint in some areas and give you some more medium tones.

You then need to continue on top of this with some more bold palette knife strokes which you won’t blend in.

Have a look here at the medium tones created on the area circled here.

Rounding off

Finish off your painting by adding the very lightest areas of your ice cream.

Aaaand you’re done!

I really hope enjoyed painting with palette knifes!

Usually we don’t get much time to do creative things like this when we are in a full time job plus responsibilities at home.

I came across this opportunity a couple of months ago where you can learn how to start your own online business through the Six Figure Mentor program. 

Imagine being able to do creative things like painting an ice cream in the middle of the week, instead of sitting at work and wishing for the weekend to come!

SFM also makes it possible for you to travel more! Since you have your own online business, you only need a laptop and a wifi connection to keep it running.

They provide you with step by step guidance on how to build a business based on something that you love and they have an amazing community that is super supportive as well.  I am one of their students and since I have been with them, my life has changed so drastically!

If you’re interested, you can sign up for free online workshops by clicking on the link below.

Send me Free Workshops

Jet Headed Gypsy – Painting an Ice Cream with Oil Paint and Palette Knives for Beginners – Top of Page

How to paint a Moth for Beginners

For beginners

Materials used:

  • Oil pastels
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic paint
  • Flat brushes and small round brushes
  • Water to wash your brushes
  • Tissue paper to wipe your brushes

Trace your image onto your canvas

Optional

If you feel comfortable enough to draw, I highly encourage you to do this instead of tracing. But here is a tracing method which I find very handy. To trace your image onto your canvas, print out an image of a moth to the exact size you want to paint it.

Colour the back of the page

Colour the entire back of your printout with oil paste. The harder you press, the more clear your image will transfer onto your canvas. It is good to use a dark pastel, because this is more visible.

Transfer your image onto your canvas

Once you’re done colouring the back of the paper in, place the image facing up on the exact spot you want it to appear on your canvas. Use a pencil to draw over all the lines and details.

Your image should look something like this

Start painting your moth with the darkest colours

An easy way to start any painting is to add all the dark areas first. Try using a dry brush effect (no water and little paint) to paint your moth. This will make the moth look more “dusty”.

A great way of mixing dark brown, is to mix medium brown with a bit of ultramarine blue (the dark blue on my palette here). This makes your brown look much more alive than to mix black and brown for a dark brown.

Use short and straight brush strokes

Have a look at the direction of the brush strokes on the different wings. We paint it this way, because it is the same direction as the lines of the moth’s wing structure goes.

Add the medium tones

Next you need to focus on filling in the blank spaces on your moth. Try to avoid the white areas as much as possible. Here you’ll start adding orange, different browns and light grey.

Paint your background

Since your moth will be pretty textured when using the dry brush method, a good idea is to make your background as smooth as possible. This will make your moth pop out more.

If you want to achieve the affect shown here, make sure that you only paint small areas at a time. You would then use different kinds of greens and white paint. Once you’ve painted one small patch dark green, for instance, immediately paint another colour right next to it. In order to blend them, your first patch of paint must still be wet. Work some of your second colour of paint on the edge of the first patch, going slightly over the first colour, until it transitions evenly from one colour to another.

Paint details on your moth

You can now go back and add details to your moth. Add the antenna and some more black on the darkest areas of the moth. It is also in this step where you will start looking for the lightest areas in the moth. A couple of white brush strokes will make your moth stand out more.

Try this out

When painting the details on an area where there is wet paint, you cant always comfortably put your hand down on the canvas to paint. Try resting your hand on your pinky next to the wet paint, instead of trying to paint with your entire hand in the air. This helps to create cleaner lines since you’ll have way more control.

Add a floral design in a bright colour

I decided on red, since red is the complimentary colour of green, so it stands out much more. If you don’t like these colours, have a look at the colour wheel and pick two colours that are right opposite each other on the colour wheel.

Aaand you’re done!

Usually we don’t get much time to do creative things like this when we are in a full time job plus responsibilities at home.

I came across this opportunity a couple of months ago where you can learn how to start your own online business through the six figure mentor program. 

Imagine being able to do creative things like painting this moth in the middle of the week, instead of sitting at work and wishing for the weekend to come!

SFM also makes it possible for you to travel more! Since you have your own online business, you only need a laptop and a wifi connection to keep it running.

They provide you with step by step guidance on how to build a business based on something that you love and they have an amazing community that is super supportive as well.  I am one of their students and since I have been with them, my life has changed so drastically!

If you’re interested, you can sign up for free online workshops by clicking on the link below.

Send me Free Workshops

Jet Headed Gypsy – How to paint a moth – Top of Page

Simple Beach and Sunset Acrylic Painting for Beginners

This is an easy and fun exercise which can be completed within roughly three hours!

The reference used in Simple Beach and Sunset Acrylic Painting for Beginners can be found here.

Materials used:

  • Canvas 25x30cm
  • Various brushes of your choice – I prefer using flat brushes instead of round ones. I recommend using a different brush for each colour and then some large flat brushes for blending.
  • Acrylic paint, System 3 paints are quite nice to use and they’re affordable
  • A jar with water for cleaning the brushes – I usually don’t wash my brushes while painting, since the residual water on the brush thins the paint and makes blending a bit more tricky. Other people prefer using water though, so see what works for you.
  • Some tissue paper for drying the brushes.

Draw your horizon line and start painting the sky

Start off by deciding where your horizon line will be. It’s a good idea to never put the horizon line in the dead centre of the canvas, because this makes your painting look very static. You want the viewer’s eye to travel throughout your painting. I used yellow paint to do this, since yellow is easy to paint over.

Once you have this down, you can add some yellow horizontal brush strokes for the sun.

Make sure that not all your brush strokes are exactly the same length. Before this dries, immediately work in some pink. I used pink and white for this, alternating between white and pink every time I dip my brush into paint. With your pink paint, go over the tips of your yellow lines in order to blend the two colours a little bit.

Also paint the sides as you go along. If you choose to hang the painting without framing it, it will give it more of a finished look.

Add the purple

If you don’t have purple and you need to mix it, use pink and blue instead of red and blue to mix a vibrant purple.

The reason why pink works better is because the red pigment is quite pricy. So paint companies add other pigments into the red paint, such as orange, to make it more affordable for us. If we mix this affordable red paint with blue, it gives us a more darker purple.

Apply your purple paint as indicated in the picture here on the right hand side of the painting. You can then use pink and white paint to blend it into the pink sky. The way you do this is to paint and blend the pink paint on the very edges of the purple shape.

If you go all over the purple, your painting will end up looking muddy.

Paint the Sea

Paint lines with various colours as indicated here. Use a large flat brush to gently go over the lines you have painted to create a blended look. If you use horizontal strokes, your sea will look more calm. The more you make zig zag movements with your blending brush, the rougher the sea will look.

Colours I used was dark blue, light blue, white and purple.

For the area where the sun is reflecting on the water, I added white, orange, yellow and pink.

Add the sand

Use white and brown paint to create the sand. You can blend this out a bit more to create a smoother texture.

For the top area, the sand that is further away from you, use more white to make it appear lighter. This creates a sense of depth in your painting.

Useful tip: Objects that are further away are generally lighter. This is called aerial perspective.

Add the sea froth

Use a brush like the one here. Add a little bit of of paint to the brush and dab it all over the line where the sea and sand meet.

Add a thin shadow under the wave

Start by drawing a line right under the froth. You need to do this throughout the painting, but do small sections at a time so that the paint does not dry when you dry to blend it.

Blend the line for a softer look

Use a clean, dry brush for blending. Have a look here where the brush is positioned on the painting. You will only blend the very edge of the line to create a gradient. If you go over the entire line, it will just create a mess and not fade away from the sea froth. (I hope this makes sense).

Make the front of the sea look more shallow

In order to make the sea in the front look more shallow, make use of light blue paint. Your brush strokes are also important here. Where you previously painted everything in a horizontal direction, you are now going to paint the front area in a diagonal direction, slightly over the foam . So you will start from the bottom, where the foam is, and make your brush strokes upward leaning to the left.

Look at the direction in which the arrow goes here.

Add Greenery – Optional

Use different greens, blues and some white to create short brush strokes for the greenery.

When you get to the top of the plant, make sure you make your brush strokes with an upward swoop. This will make the end of the brush stroke look thinner and it will end up looking more like twigs.

Afterwards you can also add some flowers. You can achieve this by just adding some quick dots and short brush strokes.

Paint the clouds

Start off by adding a generous amount of paint in a line as indicated in the picture.

Remember to keep the lines rather short in order to avoid the paint drying on you before you get to blend it.

Blend the clouds

Now is the time to make those clouds look like candy floss! You can achieve this by blending in circles on the outer edges of the line. Take a look where my brush is positioned in the picture here.

Once you are done, you can repeat this step by adding another line of paint on top of the cloud and lightly blend this too.

The second layer will make the cloud appear more white.

Try not to overthink this part too much. Clouds are organic, so any shape will look fine. The most important part is that the edges of the cloud isn’t too harsh. You can fix this by just blending it more outward.

Aand you’re done!

I really hope enjoyed painting your sunset!

Usually we don’t get much time to do creative things like this when we are in a full time job plus responsibilities at home.

I came across this opportunity a couple of months ago where you can learn how to start your own online business through the six figure mentor program. 

Imagine being able to do creative things like painting this sunset in the middle of the week, instead of sitting at work and wishing for the weekend to come!

SFM also makes it possible for you to travel more! Since you have your own online business, you only need a laptop and a wifi connection to keep it running.

They provide you with step by step guidance on how to build a business based on something that you love and they have an amazing community that is super supportive as well.  I am one of their students and since I have been with them, my life has changed so drastically!

If you’re interested, you can sign up for free online workshops by clicking on the link below.

Send me Free Workshops

Jet Headed Gypsy – Simple Beach and Sunset Acrylic Painting for Beginners – Top of Page

Learning to draw Human Anatomy

For beginners

When starting out with figure drawing, knowing human anatomy is essential in order to fully understand the human form.

Before we get started, here are some general tips:

Don’t go into too much detail

When we think of human anatomy, our first instinct is to grab an anatomy book and start to intricately learn the names of each muscle as well as to make detailed drawings of each muscle and tendon.

Remember, the reason why we are looking into anatomy, is only to understand the figure. It is therefore unnecessary to learn everything in detail, since this will only cause you to become overwhelmed. Instead, focus on the volume each muscle adds to the body. In other words, focus on the 3D shape that the muscle will add to the body, instead of all the intricate lines and details of the muscle.

Start off by making a gesture drawing

If you’d like to know more on gesture drawings, have a look at the How to start a figure drawing tutorial.

Observe the Shape of the Muscles

Start off by blocking out all the dark areas. It helps to see these areas as shapes, instead of a shadow a muscle is casting. It ensures that you won’t be overwhelmed by all the shadows. Another thing that is very useful is to only focus on a small area at a time. If you feel like you are seeing too much information, use a blank piece of paper to block the other parts which you aren’t working on, out.

Remember to press as lightly as possible with your pencil. It will make the drawing appear less grainy. A good pencil to use for this is a 2B.

In the photo below, you’ll see that I am using a picture which I have printed from the internet. A better way to practice is to draw from life. The reason why is because if you work from a picture, most of the work your eyes are supposed to be doing have already been done for you, since the reference is already in 2D instead of 3D. Save drawing from pictures when you absolutely don’t have another option.

Use your blending stick

Use a blending stick (basically rolled up paper) to blend all the shading you did. One way to go about your shading, is what I have done below. I used the blending stick all over the figure, leaving no light spots white. In doing so, you smoothen the shadow areas edges, which make the shadows appear softer.

A lot of people use their fingers to smudge the pencil marks, but this is not a good idea, because our hands have oils on them and this transfers onto the paper. Eventually these oils will turn yellow on your paper.

If you do not have a blending stick, try making your own out of rolled paper. Here’s a video on how to make your own blending stick.

After using your blending stick as I have instructed, your drawing will appear super dull, but don’t worry about this, because you will fix this in the next step.

Emphasise light and dark areas

To add your light spots, you can make use of a regular eraser and a putty eraser. It also helps to keep a knife handy, since you can cut a piece of the eraser in order to make sure you have a sharp edge to work with for the smaller areas. You can use your regular eraser for the sharper light areas.

Lightly dab the putty eraser on the areas you want to gradually lighten. If you do not have a putty eraser, you can use glue tac instead.

For the darker areas you can start making use of your darker pencils, such as 6B,7B and 8B. Make sure you gradually work your way up. Again, remember not to press hard on the paper as you will damage the paper and this will be visible once the drawing is complete. Rather use a higher B pencil if you feel like you are not getting a dark enough shade.

Clean up your drawing

Use your eraser to remove the layer of graphite around your drawing. It also gives your drawing a nice finished look when you draw an outline around the figure with your eraser to ensure that the edges of the figure have clear lines.

As you can see, the skin in the final drawing does not appear as smooth as one would like for it to be. This is because I did not spend enough time on lightly shading the skin with my pencil. The longer you take with this step, the smoother your skin will appear. You can also go back and forth with your pencil and blending stick to create a smoother gradient.

Some more useful tips:

Don’t over emphasise the muscles and focus on diversity

Also take note that while it is important for your figure to be drawn with muscles, it is also important not to over emphasise the muscles to the point where it looks like all your figures have 8 hour weight lifting sessions and live off protein shakes.

The figure above was used to study the muscles in the body. It is for this reason that I chose to use a body building model as reference.

Humans come in different shapes and sizes and it is important to celebrate this in order to make your drawings more diverse.

Emotion, action and personality in figures are more important

Remember we are Learning to draw Human Anatomy to add realism to the figure. But there are other aspects that actually play a bigger part in creating a figure that is realistic and relatable. The most important aspect is being able to show emotion, action and personality in our figures.

We make use of human anatomy to show the action side of this though indicating where the weight of the body is or indicating the muscles that are activated within a certain action. For instance, making the muscles in one leg more prominent when a sprinter shoots from the starting line of a race.

If you get stuck and you’re not sure which muscles are activated during a certain action, ask a friend to perform this action for you a couple of times. It is helpful to take some pictures for when you sit down to draw, if you do choose to work from pictures instead of real life.

Materials recommended for this exercise:

Jet Headed Gypsy – Learning to draw Human Anatomy – Top of page

How to start a figure drawing

For Beginners

In order to start drawing realistic figures, we need to know about the proportions of the human figure. If you are not yet familiar with proportions, I highly recommend that you go through the Proportion for Figure Drawing tutorial first.

I would then also like to suggest that you make a quick drawing on proportions in your sketch book, so you can refer back to this when you need to remember something.

Drawing the skeleton

An easy way to start with a figure drawing when you are just starting out, is to start with drawing the skeleton. In doing so, you make sure that you have the proportions right before adding detail.

A good way to practice this is to keep an A5 sketch book with you and to do speed drawings (around 30 seconds per drawing) of people sitting or passing by when you’re at a coffee shop, waiting in line for something, etc. This will drastically improve your observational skills as well as to help you apply the correct proportions to your figures.

Use a pen or marker when doing this. It might be a bit more tricky than a pencil at first, but it will greatly boost your confidence in drawing. It teaches you to be more bold in your decision making.

Start by drawing the skeleton of the figure

Gesture drawing

Once you have drawn your skeleton, you can add more detail to the figure.

This is where you focus on the impression of the person and what their body language is saying. For example, a woman walking in the rain with an umbrella might have hunched shoulders with her arms close to her, whereas an angry man might have his chest pushed outward with his hand making a fist. These subtle details in your lines make a big difference in the story you tell with your drawings. Start by asking yourself what emotions you feel you are getting from the person you are drawing.

Useful tip: There is no line in the human body that is straight.

Gesture drawing

Once you know proportions well enough, you can go straight into gesture drawing, without drawing the skeleton first. This is important to do, since the technicality of the skeleton drawings can sometimes make a drawing appear very stiff and rigid.

Materials recommended for this project

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Proportions for Figure Drawing

For Beginners

When we talk about proportion, we talk about the size relationships each body part has with another. Have you ever drawn a figure and it ends up looking…not quite right? Odds are that it’s the proportion that is a bit off.

But not to worry, this is something you can easily learn over time!

Proportion basics

As a rule, when drawing figures, we draw the body 8 heads tall. This simply means that we can fit a total number of 8 heads into the length of the body.

This idea was formed during the Renaissance times and was considered to be the ideal human form. Realistically, even in Northern Europe, where this idea was formulated, people are generally around 7 heads tall.

It will be helpful to draw as I walk you through the proportions in order to remember it more easily. This way you will also have your own chart to refer back to.

Create your chart in which you will draw the figure

Start off by drawing a line on the side of the page. Then number the sides from 1 – 8 with equal spaces between the numbers. Remember to leave an equal space above number one, as this is where your head will go.

Sketch pad with chart

Draw the Head and the Pelvis

The head will go right above the number 1 your drew on the chart, with the chin touching the line. The size of your head will be the same as the distance between the numbers. The pelvis goes in between number 3 and 4.

Make sure the oval drawn for the pelvis fills out the entire area between lines 3 and 4

Draw the Legs, Knees and Feet

Start off by drawing two circles on line 4. These are the hip joints. Do the same on line 6 for your knees and also on line 8, for the bottom of your feet.

When drawing the legs, it is important not to draw straight vertical lines from the hip joint to the bottom of the foot. In order to make your figure look more natural, connect your line from the inside of the hip joint to the inside of the circle of the knee cap. The calf will be connected from the outside of the knee to the inside of the foot.

Draw the legs, knees and feet
Do not draw a straight line from the hip joints to the feet. It will look too stiff and rigid.

Draw the torso, nipples and belly button

The torso will start between lines 1 and 2 and end on the line of number 3. As shown here, it is best to draw the torso slightly smaller at the bottom, to show the rib cage. The smaller part of the torso is subject to change, depending on the person’s body type. You can draw the width of your torso as roughly the same width as the pelvis. Draw the nipples on line 2 and the belly button on line 3.

Learning proportion for realistic figure drawing
The straight stipple lines indicated on the legs is what you should not do when drawing the legs.

Draw the Shoulders, elbows and wrists

The shoulders are located half way between line 1 and 2. The shoulders are generally the same width as two heads put next to each other. Create a line that is slightly curving down on the edges for the shoulders.

The elbows will be on line 3 and the wrists on line 4.

Draw the Arms and Hands

You can now draw the upper and lower arms. Assuming that the hand is completely open, draw the hand with the finger tips touching line 5. While this looks kind of strange, you can test this out by seeing where your wrist and finger tips are in proportion to your legs and hips.

It’s funny to think that our hands stop in the middle of our thigh!

This is a general guideline to the proportions of the human body. Please remember that all figures are different and that you need to take everyone’s individuality into consideration when drawing.

For instance, in the shoulders, if someone is heavily tense or has developed trapezius muscles, their shoulders will droop a lot less than a timid 12 year old girl’s.

Lets look at the figure in profile

Create your chart in which you will draw the figure

Start off by drawing a line on the side of the page. Then number the sides from 1 – 8 with equal spaces between the numbers. Remember to leave an equal space above number one, as this is where your head will go.

Sketch pad with chart

Draw your head, pelvis, knees and shoulders

Draw the head above line 1 and the pelvis in between lines 3 and 4. As a guideline, draw a line in the middle of the head, going straight down to the feet. Draw the knee on line 6 in alignment with your guideline. The shoulder will also be on this guideline in between mark 1 and 2.

Draw the spine and feet

When drawing the spine, make sure that the line curves outward where the shoulders are positioned (in between line 1 and 2). The spine then curves inward towards the belly button (on line 3) and again curves outward to meet the pelvis.

The feet will be positioned slightly behind your guideline. We draw it this way because this is how people are balanced and able to stand up right.

Draw the ribcage, hip joint and leg

Take note in the direction of the lines of the leg. Draw the upper part of the leg with a curve outward and connect it to the front of the knees. The bottom half of the leg connects from the back side of the knee cap to the feet.

At this point you are now also able to see the diagonal line that the hip joint, knee and foot creates.

Now that you are familiar with the general proportions of the figure, it is time to practice some gesture drawing by keeping human proportions in mind. You can learn more on gesture drawing here.

Materials used in this tutorial:

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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, Mix.com, 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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