One Positive Way to Boost and Inspire Creativity

Artists and writers alike have one ultimate fear in common:  standing or sitting in front of a blank white canvas or piece of paper, void of having any thought or idea whatsoever.

However, apparently there is one very simple solution to the so-called Artist’s or Writer’s block…turn on some tunes!

They can't just be any tunes though, so if you have an affinity for Pink Floyd or The Verve's "The Drugs Don't Work", you may want to save your listening to those particular songs until you're already submerged in a flow of creativity.

According to a study published back in 2017 in the online Journal PLoS One, listening to happy music (such as positive, mood uplifting classical music) enhances creativity with a divergent thinking task. 

During the study, participants listened to four different selections of music:  Carnival of the Animals XIII – The Swan by Camille Saint-Saens (positive Calm); The Four Seasons – Spring by Antonio Vivaldi (positive Happy); Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber (negative Sad); and The Planets – Mars by Gustav Holst (negative Anxious) with silence as the control condition.

Researchers found that unlike the other three music selections, there was a significant difference in divergent thinking performance when participants listened to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons as opposed to nothing at all (silence), suggesting that listening to happy music increases a person’s performance on overall generation of creative ideas.

Of course there are other suggested ways to boost creativity such as going for a walk (like Mozart and Dickens would do), surrounding yourself with the colour blue (apparently blue encourages people to think outside the box), meditating or even just taking a relaxing bath.

However, the next time you find yourself in need of some quick inspiration when faced with that blank white surface sitting in front of you, maybe crank up Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart for some creative inspiration!!

Please send any comments, thoughts on this post or what it is that inspires you by filling out the "Please Send Me Your Comments and Questions" space located on the left-hand side of this page.

I would love to hear from you!!  Thankyou!!  

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.”
– George Bernard Shaw

Artistic Goals for Artists that are Achievable - Happy New Year!!

It’s that time of year again when we can all whip out that blank piece of paper or bright white canvas and start fresh!

It is also a great time to set up our artistic goals for the year.  We may or may not accomplish them all, but by setting a few goals at the start, it will help in getting all of us motivated and heading in the right direction toward our Artistic dreams.  If you're looking for some inspiration, I’ve written down a few suggestions:

Get a new Sketchbook full of blank white pages, write the new year on the cover and commit to drawing at least one new sketch/idea every day.

Try a new Medium – If you’re watercolour artist, maybe try your hand at acrylic this year and vice-versa.  If you normally draw, try your hand at painting this year.  The choices are vast and many, so try something new...who may end up loving it!

Draw from Life – draw anything and everything, a flower, an orange, your pet…even your garbage can!  Life drawing is different than drawing from a photograph as it fully trains your mind and your skills to capture the subject instead of letting a camera do most of the work for you.

Woman Sitting - Pen & Ink on Paper

Draw and Paint from your Imagination – this will provide you with endless possibilities; you’ll be surprised at how your imagination expands the more you exercise it.

Time Marches On - 24x24 acrylic on canvas
((c)Lorraine Germaine Art - 2022)

Submit your artwork to at least one new show/exhibition this year and if you don’t feel comfortable with showing your work to the public yet, invite your family and friends over for a private at-home exhibition.  The important thing is to Start Showing your Work to a Wider Audience.

If you haven’t done it already or if you’ve changed your painting palette, Make a Colour Chart.  If you need help, just scroll down on this page and you’ll find my article titled “How to Make a Colour Chart in 8 Easy Steps”.

Set up your own Art Website or if you find that a bit too daunting yet, Join a Community Website such as the one I joined,

Organize your Art Studio – Now’s the time to sort through those ravaged paint brushes, hardened tubes of paint and scraps of paper and order some new art supplies to get you motivated.  If you want to give your studio a whole new look, check out for loads of great ideas to help get you started.

Learn and gather Art Information by reading one new Art Book, Blog (like this one!), or Art Magazine and visit one new Art Exhibit or Gallery at least once a month.

Track your progress in an Art Journal – everyday write down at least one thing that you did that day related to Art, whether it’s reading a short article, visiting an Art Gallery or starting a new painting.  Keep track and at the end of this year you’ll be able to look back through it and see just how much you accomplished!

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I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.  Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly you're doing something.  So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
― Neil Gaiman

What Inspires You?

A fairly common question people ask Artists is, “Where do you get your inspiration from?”  And, more often than not, the answer is “Everywhere”.  From books to movies to dreams to real life situations, artists find themselves surrounded with inspiration.  Even colours can be inspiring.

For some artists, finding inspiration is pretty straight forward.  For instance, a landscape artist can go out into nature to find their inspiration much like the French impressionist Claude Monet did.  For example, for his much-celebrated painting series of “Water Lilies”, Monet looked no farther than his own garden. 

Water Lilies, Evening Effect (1897-1899) - Claude Monet
(Photo:  WikiArt Public Domain)

A cityscape artist merely needs to step outside their door and go for a walk to find theirs.

Grande Vue de Paris (2010) - Patrick Pietropoli
(Photo:  WikiArt Fair Use)

Some Pop artists only need to check out their kitchen to find theirs.  Andy Warhol got his inspiration from his own lunch when he painted his famous Campbell’s Soup Can series.  According to the artist, he had the very same repetitive lunch of Campbell’s soup every day for over twenty years. 

Big Campbell's Soup Can 19c (Beef Noodle) (1962) - Andy Warhol

But what about Surrealist artists?  Where do they get their inspiration from?  Salvador Dali, for instance, got his inspiration from his tumultuous family life, his Catalan upbringing and even Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalyst theories including Freud’s book “The Interpretation of Dreams” published in 1913.  Frieda Kahlo gathered some of her inspiration from both her indigenous Mexican culture and her own life filled with pain, suffering and medical issues.

Apparition of My Cousin Carolinetta on the Beach at Rosas (1934) - Salvador Dali

My Dress Hangs There (1933) - Frida Kahlo

From what we perceive as beautiful to sheer ugliness, joyful to painfilled heart wrenching life moments, boringly mundane to brilliantly bright colours, inspiration is everywhere…all we have to do is open our eyes, hearts and minds to notice it.

What is it that inspires you? 

 “I don't think about Art when I'm working; I try to think about Life." - Jean-Michel Basquiat

The Greatest Sculptor of all time is Not Michelangelo

When thinking of the greatest sculptor of all time, one name comes instantly to most people’s minds and that is the name of Michelangelo or Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni.  However, there is another name that is not so commonly thought of, especially in North America, and that is the name of Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Self-Portrait Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1623) - Bernini
(Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

Gian Lorenzo Bernini was born in Italy, in Napoli (or Naples) on December 7, 1598.  Bernini’s genius was first recognized by both his father, a sculptor originally from Firenze (Florence) and Pope Paul V when he was merely 8 years old.

Upon moving to Rome, Bernini caught the attention of Cardinal Scipione Borghese who brought his vast talent to the attention of Pope Paul V.  Under the patronage of Cardinal Borghese, the young Bernini created pieces for the garden of the Villa Borghese in Rome, one of which was “The Goat Amalthea with the Infant Jupiter and a Faun” which is now in the Galleria Borghese in Rome.  This particular sculpture is considered to be the first work created entirely by Bernini.

The Goat Amalthea with the Infant Jupiter and a Faun (1615) - Bernini
(Photo:  Wikipedia Public Domain)

When Bernini was only 22 years old, his talents were so noticed, that he was commissioned to complete a Papal portrait of Pope Paul V called Bust of Pope Paul V, now located in the Galleria Borghese in Rome.

Bust of Pope Paul V (1621) - Bernini
(Photo:  Wikipedia Public Domain)

In 1623, when Bernini was 25 years old, Bernini’s friend and mentor, Cardinal Maffeo Barberini became Pope Urban VIII.  Under Pope Urban VIII’s papacy, Bernini was officially appointed as Curator of the Papal Art Collection, Director of the Papal Foundry at Castel Sant’Angelo, and Commissioner of the Fountains at Piazza Navona. 

By the time Bernini was 29, his reputation was already well established by the completion of four masterpieces which are presently displayed to this day at the Galleria Borghese in Rome.  They are: Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius; The Rape of Proserpina; Apollo and Daphne; and David.

Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius (1619) - Bernini
(Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

The Rape of Proserpina (1622) - Bernini
(Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

Apollo and Daphne (1625) - Bernini
(Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

David (1624) - Bernini
(Photo:  Wikipedia Public Domain)

Bernini’s work became known for its dramatic compositions, realism and portrayals of stirring emotion.  His works differed from the other masters of his time in that they depicted his subjects caught in a particularly psychologically tense moment.

Apollo and Daphne (1625) Detail - Bernini
(Photo:  Wikimedia Commons CC 3.0)

The realism in his works were astonishing.  For example, in The Rape of Proserpina (Ratto di Proserpina or Kidnapping of Proserpina), the hand of Pluto presses into the flesh of Proserpina as if the  thigh of the statue is made of soft human flesh, rather than hard marble.

The Rape of Proserpina (1622) Detail - Bernini
(Photo:  Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0)

In 1629, with no architectural training, Bernini was appointed Chief Architect of Saint Peter’s.  From this point on, his work became synonymous with the city of Rome itself.

Bernini’s contribution to Rome and the art world are vast.  A few of his most outstanding works are:

St. Peter’s Baldacchino, the monstrous bronze canopy which sits over the tomb of Saint Peter and directly under the dome of  Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City...

Saint Peter's Baldacchino (1634) - Bernini
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons CC0)

The Four Rivers Fountain located in Piazza Navona (Rome),

Fountain of the Four Rivers or Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (1651) - Bernini
(Photo:  L. Germaine)

and The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa located in the Cornaro Chapel of Rome’s Santa Maria della Vittoria.

The Ecstasy of St. Teresa (1640) - Bernini
(Photo:  Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0)

Bernini died at the age of 81 from a stroke.  A simple stone in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome marks the grave of who was perhaps the greatest sculptor of all time, Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Bernini's Grave Stone in Santa Maria Maggiore (Rome)

It is difficult to walk around the city of Rome without seeing the mastery of Bernini’s works.  So, if you get the chance, visit Rome where you may admire and appreciate his works firsthand.  Until then, if you’re interested in learning more about the life and work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, there is a wonderful book titled “Bernini” by Rudolf Wittkower , which is filled with all sorts of information and photography of the breathtaking works of this master Italian sculptor.

 “What we have is given by God and to teach it to others is to return it to him. Three things are needed for success in painting and sculpture: to see beauty when young and accustom oneself to it, to work hard, and to obtain good advice.” – Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Portrait Painting Secrets of a Reluctant Model

Every Artist’s painting process is as unique and individual as they are, and the particular process used is what helps to give each artist their own particular style.  With that in mind, I would like to give you a glimpse into my particular portrait painting process by showing you how I painted “A Reluctant Model” from start to finish.

Step One:  Get a Model

It goes without saying that a portrait painting requires a portrait model.  For this particular portrait, I decided to paint my son (hence the name “The Reluctant Model”).  Some artists prefer painting their portraits with a “live” model, however since this requires hours and hours of patience (which usually leads to boredom) on the part of the model, I chose to paint my portrait from the source that requires much less time on the model’s part…a photograph.

Step Two:     Prepare the Canvas and Draw out the Image

For this particular portrait, I chose a 12x12 inch gallery wrapped canvas that was already pre-primed with gesso.  As the canvas was bright white, I decided to do an underpainting in Ultramarine Blue this time since I wanted a bit of a cooler undertone to the painting.  Once the canvas was covered in blue, I mixed up a flesh colour, took one of my smaller brushes then freehand drew out the image directly onto the canvas.

Step Three:  Fill in the Base colours 

Next, I started to fill in the image with the base colours.  Some artists choose to use a single colour straight from the tube however I enjoy mixing my colours as I find it gives them a bit more luminosity with flecks of individual colour here and there.  For example, I will mix a red with a yellow and white to produce a flesh tone rather than using a flat flesh tone straight from a tube.  Once the base colours of hair and flesh were in, I then started to add in some of the shadows and highlights.  I also used a dry brush and began to stipple in the whiskers

Step Four:  Focus on the Details

I now began to add in the detailed work, bringing out the shadows and highlights more, with a special focus on the eyes and facial expression to obtain a likeness.  I also painted the background over in a solid white to prepare for a lighter toned background.  

Step Five:  Final Details and Background

At this stage, I added in even more detail, focusing on small value changes and emphasized the direction of the light.  I then decided to cover the background in  shades of blue to blend in with his shirt and added in some splashes of blue’s complementary colour, orange, for fun and warmth.  To finish it off I added my signature and voila!  A finished portrait of “The Reluctant Model”!

"The Reluctant Model" - 12x12 acrylic on canvas

“I do not paint a portrait to look like the subject, rather does the person grow to look like his portrait.” – Salvador Dali

Odd Tools Artists Use to Create With

Artists are known for their vast selections of paintbrushes.  There are brushes for oil paints, brushes for watercolour paints, brushes for fur, brushes for tiny details, brushes for big areas…well, you get the point.  But did you know that artists use other tools for painting besides all those brushes?

Remember those finger paintings you did when you were a little kid in school?  Well, some grown-up artists never stopped using their fingers for painting, especially if they use either oil or acrylic paint.  The advantages of finger painting are that you carry your tools with you all the time, they’re free, they’re easy to clean, and they’re easy to maintain control over.  The disadvantages are that unless you wear gloves, you’re smearing paint chemicals all over your skin which is probably not the healthiest thing to do.

Lady with Tulips - 36x24 acrylic on canvas (L. Germaine)
(Painted with brushes and fingers)

You know that toothbrush you clean your teeth with every morning and night?  Some Artists use them for more than just their teeth, they paint with them.  Artists dip a toothbrush in their paint and then flick the toothbrush with their finger to create a cool splatter effect.  Hopefully, they don’t brush their teeth with it afterwards!

Holding On - 24x36 acrylic on canvas (L. Germaine)
(Dust or sparkle effect created using a toothbrush)

A more common tool used by some acrylic or oil painters is a palette knife.  They’re easy to use, they’re extremely cheap when compared to most brushes, and they make it fairly easy to pile up paint similar to icing a cake.  One artist who became famous for his palette knife paintings on television was Bob Ross who demonstrated just how easy this tool can be to use.

When it comes to watercolour paints, the tools at an artist’s disposal are vast and various.  For one tool, many artists look no father than their wallet.  Expired credit cards are often cut up into pieces and used to make different textures on the paper.  For example, the hard-edged credit cards are great for scaping and dragging the watercolour paint to mimic the look of jagged rocks.

Watercolour study of cliff rocks using a credit card
(L. Germaine)

Another tool watercolour artists love to use are Kleenex tissues.  The tissues are easy to ball up and soak up the watery paint to leave soft edges on the paper.  For example, tissues are great for everything from making clouds, creating mist or fog, as well as softening the edges of changing values of colour.

Sacred Refuge - 8x10 watercolour on paper (L. Germaine)
(painted with brushes and Kleenex)

Net bags, like those for oranges, are also in a watercolour artists arsenal, especially if they want an interesting texture similar to fish scales.  The bag is cut up into various sizes, then the artist lays the flat piece of net over the paper and paints over it with the desired colours.  Once the paint is dry, the net is removed and voila!  Fish scales!

Drawing is another area where many unexpected tools are used by artists, not just the usual pencils and pens.  For example, would you believe that some artists draw with Q-tips?  When drawing with India Ink, Charcoal or Graphite powder some artists use Q-tips and get different values from strong to light as the ink or powders get absorbed by the paper.  

Tiger drawn on paper using India Ink and a Q-tip
(L. Germaine)

Tools for Artists are only limited by their imaginations.  So, the next time you see an Artist grabbing a kitchen utensil or a toothbrush, they’re most likely going to be starting a new painting!


“We are bound only by the limits of our imaginations.” – Misha Collins

Top 10 Movies About the World’s Most Famous Artists

Ever wonder about the lives of some of the most famous artists in the world?  Fortunately, we can get a glimpse into their creative minds and interesting yet somewhat tragic lives through film.  I’ve listed 10 films for you on 10 of the most famous artists that span across several centuries and artistic periods, all the way from the Italian Renaissance to modern day Abstract.

1.  At Eternity’s Gate (2018)               Artist:    Vincent Van Gogh            Starring:  Willem Dafoe

This film stars Willem Dafoe who was given an academy award nomination for his portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh in this mesmerizing film which depicts the famous post-impressionist artist’s tormented life from a very psychological perspective of when he lived his final years in the south of France.  The scenery is beautiful, and you also get some interesting background knowledge behind the inspirations of this too late for his lifetime celebrated artist. 

Red Vineyards at Arles - Vincent Van Gogh (1888)
(Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

2.  Frida (2002)                                      Artist:    Frida Kahlo                        Starring:  Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek was given an Academy Award nomination for her gripping portrayal of the Mexican surrealist artist Frida Kahlo.  The film shows many of Frida’s masterful artworks and the real-life inspirations behind them.  The artist’s tumultuous marriage filled with betrayals and infidelities to muralist Diego Rivera is highlighted, including her affair with political revolutionary Leon Trotsky.  

Self-Portrait Time Flies - Frida Kahlo (1929)
(Photo:  Wiki Art Fair Use)

3.  Agony & the Ecstasy (1965)              Artist:    Michelangelo                    Starring:  Charlton Heston

Starring Charlton Heston as Michelangelo, this movie depicts the life of Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, at the time when he was creating the Sistine Chapel.  This multiple academy award nominee movie shows the conflicted and often turbulent relationship between Pope Julius II and Michelangelo which culminates in the creation of one of the most admired masterpieces in the world.

The Last Judgment (Sistine Chapel) - Michelangelo (1537-1541)
(Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

4.  Renoir   (2012)                                  Artist :   Pierre-Auguste Renoir    Starring:   Michel Bouquet

This film, starring Michel Bouquet as Pierre-August Renoir, shows the life of Renoir in his later years, living in the beautifully sunlit countryside of southern France as he struggles to paint his last and final model, Andrée Heuschling, while suffering from severely crippled arthritic hands.  Viewing the beautiful sunlit scenery alone, one can easily understand why Renoir was so incredibly inspired by it.

The Luncheon of the Boating Party - Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1880-1881)
(Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

5.  Moulin Rouge (1952)                     Artist :   Henri de Toulouse Lautrec           Starring:  Jose Ferrer

Set in Paris, this movie describes the life of Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, a man born into an aristocratic family who when chastised for his short stature moved to Paris where upon he lived a bohemian lifestyle in the Montmartre area and frequented the Moulin Rouge which was the inspiration for many of his most well- known paintings.

At the Moulin Rouge, La Goulue with Her Sister - Henri de Toulouse Lautrec (1892)
(Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

6.  Mr. Turner (2014)                           Artist:    J.M.W. Turner                         Starring:  Timothy Spall

This is the story of the last 25 years in the life of eccentric British landscape artist J.M.W. Turner, one of the most prolific painters of his time, having created over 2000 watercolours, 550 oil paintings and 30,000 works on paper.  Once witnessing Turner’s eccentric, insensitive and gruff personality (which is expressed marvellously through Timothy Spall) it is considerably difficult to match it up with his colourful light-filled romantic landscape paintings which were his gift to the world.

Flint Castle - J.M.W. Turner (1888)
(Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

7.  Big Eyes (2014)                                Artist:    Margaret Keane                      Starring:  Amy Adams

Margaret Keane, now famous for her paintings of large eyed contemporary characters, is fooled for a time by her then husband Walter as he passes off and sells her paintings as his own in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Following her divorce, now out from under her ex-husband’s shadow, Margaret’s paintings have evolved from the sad eyed characters she once painted into those of happy eyed ones.

8.  Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)   Artist:    Johannes Vermeer                          Starring:  Colin Firth

This Academy Award nominee tells the story behind one of Johannes Vermeer’s most famous paintings, Girl with a Pearl Earring which he painted in 1665.  The painting is one of approximately 35 paintings attributed to the Dutch painter. The actual girl remains a mystery, however this movie speculates on a possible answer.

The Girl with a Pearl Earring - Johannes Vermeer (1665)
(Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

9.  Modigliani (2004)                            Artist:    Amedeo Modigliani                  Starring:  Andy Garcia

Taking place in early 19th century Paris, the film tells the tragic life of Italian expressionist artist  Amedeo Modigliani who, along with his friend Pablo Picasso, enter into the Paris Salon in hopes of winning the much sought-after prize money to help support his family.  Modigliani’s tragic ending in the movie differs from real life only by the means (he actually suffered from tubercular meningitis) but not the result.

Jeanne Hebuterne in Red Shawl - Amedeo Modigliani (1917)
(Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

10.  Pollock (2000)                                  Artist:    Jackson Pollock                          Starring:  Ed Harris

Jackson Pollock became famous after a close friend’s connections award him a four-page spread in Life Magazine, asking the question, “Is He the Greatest Painter in the United States?”.  His most famous paintings were created during the years 1947 to 1950, in his so-called “Drip” period.    The movie reflects his business relationship with Peggy Guggenheim, his personal relationship with his wife Lee Krasner, his relationship with his mistress Ruth Kligman, and his ongoing relationship with alcohol which leads to his untimely death at the age of 44.

Mask - Jackson Pollock (1941)
(Photo:  Wiki Art Fair Use)

“Painting is just another way of keeping a Diary.” – Pablo Picasso

Can Anyone Learn to Draw (and draw well)?

People often look at the drawings of artists, especially the realistic drawings, and say to themselves ‘I wish I could draw like that’ or when asked why they don’t put pencil to paper they reply ‘Oh, I can’t draw’.  Well, I’m here to tell you that anyone can learn to draw and draw well.

Cinnamon Bun - Pen and Ink on paper
(L. Germaine)

Drawing is simply a matter of learning to see shapes instead of objects.  For example, if you were going to draw a person’s eye, you no longer think of it as an eye, but merely a mass of tiny little shapes and angles that when put together your brain perceives them to be an eye.  This applies to everything in drawing.

A great way to start learning to see things as shapes and not objects is to take a simple line image such as a stained-glass pattern (uncomplicated to begin with) and draw it.  But wait!  Don’t draw the image right-side up…turn the paper so you’re looking at the image upside down.  This way, your brain won’t perceive the image for what it is (let’s say a horse).  Instead, your brain sees only lines and shapes.  Once you’ve completed drawing all those lines and shapes, turn your drawing around so that you now see it right side up…I’ll bet you’ve surprised yourself at how well you were able to draw it!

Practice makes perfect in most things and the same is for drawing.  Keep practicing drawing upside down using more complicated line drawings or stained-glass patterns.  When you feel pretty confident with this, try doing some drawings right side up.  Easier now, isn’t it?

Then, once you feel confident with copying line drawings or stained-glass patterns right side up, you can begin to draw (or sketch) objects that you see around you.  The sky is the limit when it comes to sketching, so bring your sketchpad along with you wherever you go and practice drawing different things that catch your eye.

The next step in drawing is learning to shade.  Shading is what gives a drawing that lifelike or 3D look.  The first thing you need to learn about when it comes to shading are values.  There are 9 values or shades, 10 if you include white.  These shades of grey go from white all the way to black.  To help, you may want to get yourself a Gray Scale or Value Finder.  These little paper grey scales display all the values in the grey scale.  The more shades you have in your drawing, the more realistic it will look.  You may also want to get yourself a set of artist grade graphite pencils.  These pencil sets give you all the shades you can find in the Gray Scale.

To help train your eye to see different shades in objects, take a coloured photo but print it in black and white then draw and shade it by using your Gray Scale for help.

Up a Tree - Graphite on paper
(L. Germaine)

A great book on learning to draw is “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards.  She takes you from start to finish and everywhere in-between.  The book is well organized and simple to follow with step-by-step practical lessons.  Plus, by completing one particular drawing at the start and the same one upon completion, you’ll get to see just how far along you’ve come in your drawing journey.

Go from this... this!!

So, can anyone learn to draw and draw well?  Yes, they definitely can!

Woman Sitting - Pen and Ink on paper
(L. Germaine)

"Learning to draw is really a matter of learning to see - to see correctly - and that means a good deal more than merely looking with the eye."  - Kimon Nicolaides

How to Make a Colour Chart in 8 Easy Steps

Colour charts are a real time saver when it comes to choosing colours for your paintings. They take away all the guess work as you’ve already got it all figured out.  Making colour charts is a great way to give yourself a boost when creativity is running row as those beautiful new colours you discover when mixing can inspire something new!

Some colours can create very surprising colours when mixed.  When it comes to watercolour paints, red and blue do not always make purple.  For example, you may be surprised to find that Primary Blue Cyan mixed with Cadmium Red Light creates various shades of grey and brown, and the same goes for Ultramarine Light and Cadmium Red Light.

What You Need to Make a Watercolour Colour Chart:

To make a colour chart you’ll need the following things:

- Watercolour paper
- Your favourite watercolour paints
- Watercolour brush
- Ink pen

For the paper you use to make your colour chart you may choose to use the exact same watercolour paper that you usually paint on or a slightly less expensive watercolour paper.  

8 Easy Steps:

Step 1 – draw 5 rectangles across the paper in a horizontal row

Step 2 – take two different colours of paint

Step 3 – starting with the first box, using the ink pen, write underneath the box the name of one of the paints, the name brand and the pigment colour. Take the other paint and do the same thing but use the 5th box.

For example:
Primary Blue Cyan
PB 15:3

Step 4 – Mix up the two paints separately in your palette tray. Place each colour in the box above where you wrote its name.

Step 5 – In the second box, mix ¾ of the first box’s colour with ¼ of the 5th box’s colour

Step 6 – In the fourth box, mix ¾ of the 5th box’s colour with ¼ of the first box’s colour

Step 7 – In the middle box, mix ½ of the first box’s colour with ½ of the 5th box’s colour

Step 8 – Repeat these steps for each selected pair of paints that you use.

Once your colour charts are completed, you can put them up on the wall in your studio area for quick reference or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you may want to cut out each painted square and glue them to a computer printed chart, then place each chart in a clear plastic sleeve to keep organized together in a binder…it’s up to you.

Whichever kind of colour chart you choose to make, you will definitely be glad that you did!

“Color and I are one. I am a painter.” – Paul Klee

Are Watercolour Paintings for Art Collectors?

The short answer is yes! 

If this is the only kind of watercolours you are familiar with,

then please allow me five minutes of your time to show you how much wider the world of watercolour is.

How about we begin by refreshing our knowledge with some historical facts.

Watercolour painting has been around much longer than oil painting.  It has existed back to the prehistoric times as seen in the cave paintings of Europe.  Watercolour paintings have also been considered the main form of painting in many countries such as East Asia and India.

You may be surprised to know that one of the most famous paintings in the world is a watercolour!  “Young Hare” (1502) by Albrecht Durer is a watercolour painting.

Young Hare (1502) (By: Albrecht Durer)
(Photo: Wiki Art Public Domain)

There are many famous artists who painted in watercolour paint (also known as aquarelle), such as John Singer Sargent, Paul Klee, and Georgia O’Keefe among many others.

Bedouins (1905) (By: John Singer Sargent)
(Photo: Wiki Art Public Domain)

Senecio (1922) (By:  Paul Klee)
(Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

Will a Watercolour Painting last as long as an Oil Painting?

The longevity of all paintings, watercolour, acrylic and oil, is determined by the quality of the pigments used, the surface painted upon, the framing and the light exposure.  Let me explain:


Pigments are those fine powders (both natural and synthetic) that give paints their beautiful bright colours.

Pigments in watercolour are rated for permanence, just as they are in oil and in both, quality counts.  Today’s premium artist grade watercolour paints are extremely durable and the colours you achieve can be as bright as any acrylic or oil painting.  Watercolour paints are usually translucent and luminous giving many watercolour paintings an inner glow.  I bet you didn’t know that watercolour paints are the most expensive there are - yikes!  Let’s compare:

W&N Cobalt Blue 14ml tube of Prof. Watercolour Paint     - $33.99 ($2.43/ml)

W&N Cobalt Blue 60ml tube of Prof. Acrylic Paint             - $24.99 ($0.42/ml)

W&N Cobalt Blue 37ml tube of Artists’ Oil Paint               - $34.99 ($0.95/ml)


Unlike most oil or acrylic paintings which are painted on canvas, watercolour paintings are usually painted on paper.  For longevity, the paper used should be an acid-free, archival paper.  If the paper used does not have these qualities, over time the paper will yellow, and no body wants that to happen.  Arches 140lb. cold-pressed watercolour paper is one of the highest quality papers there is.  It is not only an acid-free archival paper, but it is made from 100% cotton which adds to the paper’s strength and longevity.  Arches has been producing their premium grade watercolour papers since 1492 (yes, the same year that Columbus sailed the ocean blue!).


There is more to framing than just the colour and design of the frame itself.  When it comes to watercolour paintings, they should always be framed behind glass (which helps to keep your painting free of dust) and with an acid-free matte.  If the matte is not acid-free, with time it may affect your painting.  If you want extra protection, use UV (or museum) glass.

Light Exposure:

There are three words that come to mind when thinking about light and paintings:  No Direct Light!

No painting, whether it is watercolour, oil or acrylic, should be placed in direct light.  Even high-quality pigments will fade when exposed to UV rays.  In fact, even your clothes will fade over time.  Art museums are well aware of this fact and that is why there is “No Flash Photography”!

Yes! Watercolour Paintings are Definitely for Art Collectors

Well, there you have it, the truth is out; today’s watercolour paints (and paintings) will not fade any faster than acrylic or oil.  Maybe a long time ago they did, but not these days.  And just think, even those watercolour paintings of long ago, are still with us today!

“You will see - in the future, I will live by my watercolors.” – Winslow Homer

What is it Really Like to Work as an Artist?

The Fantasy

When most people think of the life of an Artist, often images come to mind of a carefree life, playing around with paint most of the day, living a privileged life off a family trust fund, meeting up with artist friends at coffee shops, attending and exhibiting art in fancy galleries while sipping on free wine and gourmet cheese.


The Reality

The reality though, is quite different (well, some of it).  Life as an artist is much the same as that of any entrepreneur.  It’s tough.  Yes, you have the luxury of scheduling your own time, you don’t have to answer to a boss (because the boss is you) and you can take as much time off as you want.  However, you also don’t have the comfort of having a fixed source of income, and you have to create and produce your product then find ways of marketing and selling it when you are just another drop in a giant ocean of artists.  In other words, you are a one man show; all the tasks and responsibilities are on you.  During the current economic climate produced by the pandemic lockdowns, this has all proven to be even more difficult.

Working from Home

Working for yourself at home has its pros and cons.  One of the pros is that you don’t have a set schedule.  The con to this is that you don’t have a set schedule.  With all that freedom it takes a lot of self-discipline to keep yourself focused on your work.  It’s really nice that when it’s a sunny beautiful day outside that you can just drop everything and take the dog for a walk around the park, or drop everything and go have coffee with your friend who calls and wants to meet for a chat, etc.  However, sometimes all that freedom can be too much of a good thing without a lot of self-discipline to keep yourself focused on the task at hand.  Would you rather go for a walk along the ocean on a sunny day rather than sit at your computer scouring list after list of the latest artist calls trying to decide which ones are worthy of your time and money?  You bet!  But that walk along the ocean isn’t going to get your name and your art out there.


Creating your Product

Then there’s the creation process.  In order to keep yourself full of artistic inspiration, you need ideas.  In order to have ideas, you need input.  The input can come from talking with other people, walks in nature, reading, listening to music, etc.  Time needs to be set aside for gathering inspiration or your artistic well will run dry and you definitely don’t want to run into an artist’s block.  When you are full of artistic ideas, you need time to sketch your ideas so you won’t forget them before you’re ready to start drawing and painting them.


Keeping Stock of Supplies

Just like any small business, you also need to keep stock of your supplies and reorder when they start getting low, for if you order your supplies online (like I do from DeSerres ( ), you need to leave time for delivery, which in uncertain circumstances can take up to a couple of weeks.  And if you live in a small space (like I do) you will need to become a magician to store and organize all those supplies.



Then there’s the marketing side.  It’s really fun to create all that artwork, but if you want to make a living from your artwork you also need to sell it.  This is something that usually doesn’t come naturally to an artist, but nevertheless, it is something that must be done.  So, artists set aside time in their day or week to market their art.  This usually consists of searching calls for artists, posting on social media, art marketing websites, plus searching for and connecting with individuals for possible collaborations.  All this takes time.

You may think that posting on social media takes a few minutes.  However, there is a lot more involved.  If you think that social media marketing means just posting a selfie of you and your art on your personal Facebook page, well, that’s not quite the case since that usually doesn’t drive anyone to your page or your channel or consequently any kind of sale (but if you’re able to do that, please let me know!). 

Marketing in modern times implies having a wider and wider knowledge of several different fields at a high level all at the same time in order to just be able to at least hope to challenge your competitors in the market.  SEO, social media marketing, growth hacking, are just some of the funny names you need to know in order to make yourself comfortable with it, and when you start from zero and need to catch up with people who have been doing that daily for the past 10 years you have quite a lot of countless hours in front you.  Hours of learning, screening information looking for the best feed, consultations and tips from people who know more than you.  An exhausting amount of attempts that will often cost you not just time but money and expertise just to understand how the market is moving and make yourself a little less naïve.  All of that is just to put yourself in the game.



Then there are all the contacts and people you must get to know in an attempt to create your own network.  Good contacts don’t just drop onto your doorstep by some mysterious law of attraction.  You need to search, appeal, nourish and keep a record of these new contacts and friendships in order to make them a useful tool on your belt.  The market, as well, changes continuously and consistently, so if you don’t stay up to date you will always be slipping backwards and you will have a very difficult time emerging.


Calls for Artists

Looking for calls for artists, events and expos is not a simple task either.  There are few to no information that tells or teaches you which ones are worth your time and money.  So, you will have only two choices, invest time and money or pay somebody who hopefully can tell you which ones are worth it or not.


Create a Brand

Besides all of that, you need to create a clear branding, character, persona.  People from galleries or even in person will hardly be appealed by the product itself.  They will need to be inspired or motivated to choose you over another excellent artist out there. All of this requires work as well.  For some people it will come naturally to promote themselves and create an appealing brand, while for others it will require quite a challenge to figure out how to properly introduce, represent and promote themselves to the world.  But all of that is not just for the sake of selling, since in all this process, which is often long, tedious and painful, you will improve your skills and you will try new techniques, methods and approaches that you never even considered before, growing not only your business and your brain but you as a person as well.


Make a Living

One last thing to remember is that all of this freedom, effort and work doesn’t pay for your living especially at the beginning when you are getting it all set up.  Usually, most of the people forget that the majority of creative people almost have a double life because there are only two viable options in order to keep your dream alive:  to work at a ‘regular’ job and work as an artist in your spare time on your off hours, or fully dedicating yourself to the activity in order to hopefully shorten up the process and make the entire business self-sustainable as soon as possible.  But that implies to be conscious of the fact that you must fully accept the burden of frustration and disappointment that comes visiting you since you are practically working for free during this time and being the boss of a fledgling upstart with zero revenue despite the fact that you must keep spending money not just for your living but for creating your product and any information gathered from professionals who may be able to help you out in the process.


Artist equals Entrepreneur … and whole lot more

So what is it really like to work as an artist?  An artist’s life is very much the same as any other small business entrepreneur, along with the added task of creating your own products which translates into a somewhat strange combination of fun and drudgery that hopefully, in the end, all balances out.


“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” ― Mark Twain

Picasso Painted Realism

I’m sure that many admirers of realist representational art wonder what compels an artist to draw (and paint) in a very contemporary style of simplified shapes when they are capable of rendering a much more realistic looking artwork.  Pablo Picasso is one artist who chose to follow this path of artistic style, initially starting with creating very realistically rendered paintings before creating his more simplified paintings of Cubism.

First Communion, 1896
(by Pablo Picasso) (Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

Portrait of woman in d'hermine pass (Olga), 1923
(by Pablo Picasso) (Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

 I can’t speak for Picasso or any other artist who is capable of drawing and painting realism and chooses to draw in a more simplistic or primitive style, but as for myself, I started out drawing and painting animals, people and landscapes in a realistic, impressionistic style.  Then after a while, I found that I was wanting to free myself more creatively and get away from more or less duplicating real-life imagery and now I paint in a more illustrative cubist expressionist style with a touch of surrealism…quite a combination.

The Maiden, 2006 (L. Germaine)

Mind Full, 2021 (L. Germaine)

There are many different art styles:  Baroque (Michelangelo Caravaggio), Cubism (George Braque), Surrealism (Salvador Dali), Impressionism (Pierre August Renoir), Post-impressionism (Vincent Van Gogh), Pop (Andy Warhol), Abstract (Mark Rothko), Dada (Max Ernst), Pointillism (Georges Seurat), etc.


Composition X, 1939 (Wassily Kandinsky)
(Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)

Some Artists tend to start and stay with one particular style, some change styles entirely and others create their own particular style of painting.

Developing your particular art style is something that usually evolves over time.  One way is to begin by copying different artists styles that you admire to see if there is one that appeals to you the most.  Then, practice, practice, practice!  While you’re practicing, be creative and push yourself to go beyond your comfort zone.  Try different mediums, colours and tools to see which ones you enjoy using the most.  The Paint Spot ( and DeSerres ( have a pile of various art supplies for you to experiment with.

Over time, who you are will eventually come out as part of your style.  Someone who is patient, likes warm colours and doesn’t pay particular attention to little details will most likely have a style of art that differs greatly from someone who tends to be impatient, prefers cooler colours and usually gets caught up in observing tiny little details.

Eventually, your art will be identifiable by your particular style which will be as unique and different as you are because your art style is you and no one else.  Having an art style doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be eccentric and dress with rainbow coloured hair and glitzy glasses, your art style is something that comes from within.

Finding your own particular unique art style takes time, just as knowing yourself doesn’t happen overnight, so be patient and have fun!

If you are interested in knowing more about different art styles, a great place to start is by checking out different Art Galleries and Art Museums. For example, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a great website as well as The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)  where you can check out all different sorts and styles of artworks.


Science and Charity, 1897 (by Pablo Picasso)
(Photo:  Wiki Art Public Domain)


“The best art is about individualism, free self-expression and realising a unique, imaginative perspective- A true artist takes no notice whatever of the public. The public are to him non-existent.” – Oscar Wilde

Why My Painting Got Banned from a Coffee Shop

Offensive is defined as causing someone to feel deeply hurt, upset, or angry,

actively aggressive, attacking.


Art is usually considered to be something that expresses an idea or emotion.

Therefore, by its very definition, some art may be considered by some to be offensive.


However, what is considered offensive to one person may not be at all offensive to another.  Should the offended person have the right to dictate to everyone else what they will or will not see when it comes to public display of artwork?


For example, some years ago I was participating in an outdoor art festival and our little group, consisting of four artists altogether, had a display of nude figurative artworks.  Nothing erotic, just an homage to the beauty of the human figure.  Many people were admiring and purchasing our artworks on display.  However, as the day went on, we heard some people yelling.  A group of about twenty people, holding placards, came marching across the park towards us yelling and shouting their dismay at our ‘obscene’ display which according to them we had no right to be displaying these works for public viewing.  Thank goodness their small protest did not last long, and they went away and left us in peace.  Our art did not display anything different from what is displayed in the great master artworks of the Italian renaissance, however differently, our works were displayed in an outdoor park at an art festival and not in a church.


White Lotus (L. Germaine)

Another similar incident happened in, of all places, an art gallery.  Two of my nude watercolour figure paintings were accepted into a group show for exhibition in the city’s public art gallery.  The two pieces were very tastefully done, displaying a woman sitting with her back towards the viewer.  During the exhibition, I popped into the gallery with a friend who wanted to see my pieces on display.  After walking around, we found two empty spots on the wall were my paintings used to hang and the art labels.  For a second, I thought, oh boy, my paintings have sold!  But on closer examination of the labels, I noticed that there were no red dots on them.  A little confused, I found the gallery attendant and asked them about my two missing paintings.  I was a bit stunned, to say the least, at her response.  Apparently, a couple of school groups of middle grade students were visiting the gallery that day and considering that my paintings were of nude women, the gallery felt that it was best to remove my paintings and place them in the back until the school groups had finished their tours as they felt they were quite inappropriate for the students to see.


Alone With My Thoughts (L. Germaine)

Sweet Humility (L. Germaine)

My last example is a very surprising incident that took place in a very popular coffee shop.  The owner of this particular coffee franchise had agreed to my displaying one piece of artwork a month on the wall in his shop.  The first month I hung a painting of a family of elephants which during the course of the month the owner had told me that lots of people were appreciating and enjoying.  The next month, I decided to change the painting with one I had just finished.  It was of a white tiger yawning.  I was pleased with how this painting had turned out and was excited to get it up on the wall of the coffee shop.  I arrived at the coffee shop at a time when very few people were there and quickly exchanged the elephant family for the painting of the white tiger yawning.  I arrived back home and within about an hour’s time I got a phone call from the coffee shop owner.  If you think he was calling me to complement me on my new piece of artwork, you are very mistaken.  Instead, he reprimanded me for exhibiting such an offensive piece of artwork in his coffee shop and demanded that I take it down and replace it with a landscape immediately.  Offensive?  A tiger yawning is offensive?  It was even called ‘Java Decaf’, which I thought was quite appropriate considering it was hanging in a coffee shop.  However, to this man it was an offensive piece of artwork.  His walls, his choice.  So, I drove back to the coffee shop, took down my yawning tiger painting and left.  I chose not to display a landscape or any of my other artwork on the walls of this man’s coffee shop and, needless to say, I decided not to support his coffee sales either and took my business elsewhere.


Java Decaf (L. Germaine)


In these three examples, these people clearly found my artwork offensive.  However, there were many other people who were not at all offended by the back view of a woman’s body or a sleepy tiger. 


If the purpose of art is to invoke feelings in others, doesn’t that include uncomfortable feelings too such as anger, hurt, sorrow and madness or is it limited to only feelings of joy, happiness and euphoria?  Instead of blaming the artwork or the artist for how they feel, maybe people should begin by asking themselves why a certain piece of artwork invokes such strong feelings in them.


Art is created for everyone’s pleasure or for some, displeasure.


“There is no such thing as great art or poor art.  Art is subjective expression.  As such, it can be judged only as popular or unpopular.  What is banned in Boston may one day receive a million-dollar bid at Christie’s.  Art has, therefore, no use for critics but frequently finds itself amused by commentators.” – Ron Brackin