Painting with a Purpose

Painting with a Purpose

Although my work is more intuitive and personal, I’m always attracted to artists who clearly communicate a strong, meaningful message. Stephen Mangum is one such artist. He grew up in the south in the 50s and 60s and witnessed firsthand disturbing events during the civil rights movement. However, only a child, the horrific scenes of that time seeped into his psyche. They are what compels him to paint today. It’s not the work he wants to do, but rather the work he has to do.

Listen to his story.

Stephen’s work powerfully reveals how certain societal injustices never change. At a large scale, the juxtaposition of two starkly contrasting scenes is felt viscerally. His work makes us see ourselves and the human condition more clearly. A self-identified born crusader, Stephen brings startlingly emotional purpose to his work. It is truly admirable.

Let me know your thoughts about Stephen’s art in the comments and check out more of his work on his website or follow him on Instagram.

Have an awesome Sunday!

Nicholas

PS Check out the Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group. Every day, artists from all over the world are creating amazing art, and you are invited!

An amazing way to create a line

An amazing way to create a line

Last week I showed you a way to make dark lines by covering up shapes and leaving remnants of color. Today I want to show you how to create light lines in a similar but different way.

Check this out…

Leaving light hairlines where shapes of similar values meet is a beautiful way to activate your picture. I love how this technique accentuates the individual shapes while also adding cohesion to the overall work. This technique works especially well when working with dark or middle values. Adding both dark and light lines in your work adds rich layers of interest.

How do you create light lines in your art?
Let us know in the comments.

Have fun today

Nicholas

PS Check out the Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group. Every day, artists from all over the world are creating amazing art, and you are invited!

A Different Way to Make a Line

A Different Way to Make a Line

I love working with lines in my art. Usually, I use a tool like a pencil to make lines. But today, I thought I would share a different way to create lines and add richness to your work.

Have a look here.

I have found surprisingly beautiful and different lines by exposing the edges of painted shapes. Layering paint can also create subtle differences in line quality, which brings some lines and not others into focus. Exploring lines in this way is so rich, and it can be so mesmerizing and beautiful.

How do you work with lines in your art? Let us know in the comments.

I hope your Sunday is spacious.

Nicholas

PS Check out the Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group. Every day, artists from all over the world are creating amazing art, and you are invited!

New Shapes at Your Fingertips

New Shapes at Your Fingertips

I’m often asked how I come up with all the shapes in my art. It turns out, shapes are found everywhere. So, by paying attention as you go through your day, you can discover shapes to bring into your art. Another way I find shapes is by working with ones I already love and changing them into various new ones. It’s a fun process I have been involved with for years.

Check out how this simple triangle evolves.

World of Laurie Shapiro
Out of this practice of modification and looking more closely, endless new shapes and ideas can evolve.

How do you develop shapes in your art?

Let us know in the comments and then try some new shapes in your art! Post what you make on Instagram and then tag me at @art2life_world for a chance to be featured in our Instagram Stories! Can’t wait to see!

I hope you have a great Sunday!

Nicholas

PS Check out the Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group. Every day, artists from all over the world are creating amazing art, and you are invited!


Photo Credit: Ann Artz

You need both of these to make your art amazing

You need both of these to make your art amazing

I am super excited that our annual SPARK Program starts this coming week! It is a 21-day program designed to start or re-energize your art-making. In the program, everyone makes their own SparkBook, so today, I thought I would share mine with you, along with a very cool idea about art-making. I think you might find it helpful in evaluating your art.

Check this out…

In looking at the pages in my SparkBook, I noticed there are only two things often at play. One is the formal elements such as color, design, and even subject matter. It is all the things you think about as you make the art. I categorize this as all the information. The other category is everything that happens when you’re not thinking so much, such as that spontaneous flow of color and mark-making. Often these are the “happy accidents” that occur along the way. I think of all of these as intuition. I see my strongest work is not dominated by just one of these but instead has a balance of both. It is easy to let information crowd out intuition or vice versa. But, again, you need a balance of both, and when you have it, the work looks richer.

Understanding this balance of thinking and letting go, can give you a new way to evaluate, change, and improve your art.

Do you look for this balance in your work?

Let us know in the comments.

Also, in a few hours at 12 pm PDT TODAY, I will be doing a special live presentation all about how to get going in your art. I will be giving some art instruction and answering a few questions at the end about SPARK for those considering joining us this year.

I hope you can join me LIVE TODAY at 12 pm PDT on Facebook or YouTube.

Super excited!

Nicholas

PS Here is the link to find out more about SPARK.
www.sparkartlife.com

My favorite way to start a painting!

My favorite way to start a painting!

Here is a quick way to get paint down on paper, or even canvas. I love starting this way when I don’t have much time and want something to be bold and full of juice. It has everything to do with the way you apply the paint.

Let me show you…

Starting boldly or using different tools that aren’t necessarily found in an art store, can get you stretching beyond boundaries right away. It is a super-fast way to create rich, luscious backgrounds.

Tomorrow we are launching the Creative Breadcrumbs Challenge.
This concept of starting boldly will be very helpful for the artwork we will be creating together in the challenge.

Later today (Sunday, Sept 12th at 12 pm PDT), once these backgrounds dry, I will be returning to teach how to use stencils. It is one of the fastest, most amazing ways to make marks.

Click here to join the Creative Breadcrumbs Challenge!

Let us know in the comments how you create bold, first marks in your art.

See you later today at 12:00 pm PDT in our Challenge Pop Up Facebook Group or on our YouTube Channel to learn all about stenciling!

-Nicholas

PS: The Creative Breadcrumbs Challenge starts tomorrow, September 13th! It’s all about finding and making the art that brings you alive.

I hope you’ll join me!

Join the Creative Breadcrumbs Challenge.

Photo credit: Taelynn Christopher

The one question that leads to your best art

The one question that leads to your best art

I used to worry so much about my art. Will it ever be good enough? Will I ever develop my unique style? Will I ever be able to get it out into the world? It turns out I am not alone. I frequently hear these concerns from other artists, too. What makes things even worse is that we constantly compare ourselves to artists we see on social media who we perceive as successful. All of this causes more anxiety.

Spending your precious time and energy in this way does not serve you.

Instead, consider that possibly you are where you are meant to be in your creative path. Finding answers to those questions is only achieved by looking inward, not outward, and reconnecting with what truly stirs your soul.

Listen how.

Art making is a personal journey—a process of discovering what brings you alive. Searching for the answer to the question, “How can I bring more of what I love into my art?” is far more empowering and helpful for your art.

Each year, around this time, I often pose this question to myself. Answering it has become a process that is always clarifying and often leads to creating my best and strongest art. Last year I shared this process with thousands of other artists. It was so helpful for them that I decided to do it again this year.

It is called the Creative Breadcrumbs Challenge and it is free! It begins on September 13th and it lasts 5 days. I hope you can join me!

It will help you ignite your art-making mojo and find your way back to what you love.

Join the Creative Breadcrumbs Challenge.

I can’t wait…

Nicholas

Photo Credit: Barbara Froes

Do you like busy or simple art?

Do you like busy or simple art?

Do you like busy or simple art? There is, of course, beauty in both. I love the complexity of a Persian carpet, but I also am drawn to the sublime, minimal paintings of Mark Rothko. In the end, you want to do the kind of work that brings you alive. There isn’t one way. I don’t consider complexity and simplicity separately. I think and teach them, working together.

Let me show you.

Complex work can be incredible, but it’s easy to let it get unintentionally over-busy if you’re not paying attention. If that happens, try bringing simplicity into the work as a contrast. Juxtaposing complexity and simplicity together creates tremendous interest and often strengthens the work. In art, like life, opposites complement.

How do you work with these two opposites in your art and life?
Let us know in the comments.

Enjoy today.

Nicholas

PS Check out the Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group.
Every day, artists from all over the world are creating amazing art, and you are invited!

Stepping into a bigger studio…

Stepping into a bigger studio…

Years ago, I remember moving into a much bigger studio. So big, in fact, I planned on sharing because it was more than I needed and felt too big. However, while getting the space ready, I realized I loved the spaciousness and decided to keep it for myself. That bigger studio gave me a surprising boost! I discovered that I was working with boldness in that bigger space, and my work improved. I’ve seen this happen to so many others. So today, I want to share my theory about why this happens.

Here ya go.

It feels scary to commit to a bigger space, but it’s the best investment you can make in your art and yourself. By working close up and at a distance from your art, you can be more refined and more daring. This contrast in your art can dramatically improve it. When both views are working, the work gets better. If at all possible, treat yourself to spaciousness. I’ve seen what happens when we take the plunge and how it improves our work and lives!

Artists love to talk about their studios. What’s working for you in your space?

Let us know in the comments.

Also, don’t miss the free online Opening Reception of the 2021 Art2Life International Juried Art Exhibition this Tuesday, Aug. 24th, at 12pm PDT. Click here to sign up to join us live!

We will be announcing the awards and interviewing artists and our juror, Juan Kelly, of Nuart Gallery in Santa Fe, NM! Hope to see you there!

Have a blast in the studio today!

Nicholas Wilton

(Photo by Anna Shvets)

Creating Amazing Texture with Paint

Creating Amazing Texture with Paint

I sometimes add materials to my paintings, like paper, to create texture. Today I want to share with you a way you can create amazing texture with just paint. You make this texture with gesso before you start your actual painting.

It creates effects that stay with your painting so you can bring it forward anytime by sanding, or cover it up with more paint.

Take a look…

It’s so cool to have this kind of texture already on your panel before you start a painting. I love how the paint gets caught in little nooks and reveals details that would take so long to actually paint. It adds a richness and is fun to try because you never know what you’re going to get!

What are your favorite ways to create texture?
Let us know in the comments.

Have a blast making texture today!

Nicholas

PS Check out the Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group. Every day, artists from all over the world are creating amazing art, and you are invited!