Creativity Through Home Art and Camaraderie

About a year ago three friends and I attended a Paint and Sip session. When you attend such an affair you pay a small fee and then receive a blank canvas, a tray of paints, a glass of wine (or two) or other beverage of your choice, and the opportunity to participate in 2-3 hours of “copy art”. In copy art, the instructor tells you what to do, then s/he demonstrates and you copy. It is interesting and fun, especially for a novice painter such as myself, but it can become tedious if the instructor works at the pace of the slowest painter (not I!) and everyone waits and waits until each attendee is at the same point before the lesson continues. For a speed demon such as myself, this sluggish pace did not lead to creativity but rather the fatigue of non-participation and so I simply abandoned my leader and moved along at my own pace. With a finished product to replicate and occasion listening, I ended up with a fairly decent wine bottle representation with added touches, dashes, and flourishes of my own.

home art

The instructor, unfortunately, was not a teacher. She knew some techniques and she had obviously led this lesson several times in the past, but she was not attuned to her students. We plodded, she yapped; we waited and she yapped some more. It was clear that the slowest painter was never going to finish but we patiently killed time just the same. During this “free” time the instructor filled any empty spots of air with criticism to her fledgling artists: “Too much color”, “Stop trying to fix that mess”, and “Please quit” were just a few of her remarks. Really makes you want to paint, doesn’t it?

But the class was still fun because I was with friends and dibbling around with colors is entertaining and critiquing non-teacher types is even more so. As a result I decided to host my own paint and sip with no pressure applied. Ten friends gathered at my home one evening excited to test this activity. Each easel was loaded with a clean canvas, water and brushes were at the ready, and an array of paint drops filled each pallet. I had a finished example to share so that I could explain what I had done, when and how, and also clarified some important steps like having a damp canvas, how to cover errors with white, tools available for special touches, and so forth. For those who were too nervous to self-launch, I led them step-by-step through the process. For those who just wanted to plunge, I let them go with maximum freedom.

As my friends painted, I wandered, offered advice, looked up other bottle shapes and backdrops on the Internet, and commended their efforts. While some replications were a bit on the mysterious side, like the command “draw a bottleneck approximately 1-inch wide” produced tiny traces and thin lines instead, but the idea was creativity and that was just how some translated my work to their canvas. Others, with amazing vision, added dogwood blossoms, fancy wine bottle labels, and intricate designs with delicate shades. The inner personality was exposed along with imagination and magical conceptualizations in each painting. The finished products were fantastic.

I recommend that you organize your own painting party soon. While first-time expenses are high because you will need to buy easels, paints, and brushes, the second go-round will only require more canvases. Practice the design first so that you have a good idea of what to paint and when, and then let the creative juices of others flow. Within three hours, everyone will have created a special masterpiece to take home, plus all will sense accomplishment and camaraderie through meaningful interaction and great laughs.

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The Pedestal: A Misunderstood Art Form

As Hercules says in the Disney animation version “Rule number 15: a hero is only as good as his weapon!” A hero is strong and great on his or her own but without a weapon they are weak. Weapons give a hero a potent edge over enemies. Like a hero, a piece of art is strong and beautiful on its own but with a pedestal it can be accentuated to a further degree that audiences will not be able to resist looking at.

A pedestal originates deep into the catacombs of history. Beginning as early as the Grecian time period, pedestals supported chiseled statues of gods, rulers, and other distinguished people. Pedestals continue to hold objects of great worth, value, creativity, design, and artistic prowess.


Many artists agree that a work of art is only as good as its frame or pedestal. Paintings that lack beauty and a sense of design can be ten times better than usual if mounted to the right frame or balanced on a flattering pedestal.

Choosing the right pedestal to go with artwork is an extension of the art itself. A pedestal offers viewers the privilege of enjoying your art while, simultaneously, a pedestal functions as the final touch to your artwork; it makes your artwork complete.

For example, quality watercolor paper is frayed and uneven on the edges. Artists usually cover the edges with masking tape about a half inch to an inch to avoid painting in those areas and to remind them of where the frame will be placed. It will give an artist an idea of the best spot to put their focal point on their painting adjacent to the frame. An artist even begins planning what frame colors go best with the painting he or she is working on.

This same example can be applied to sculptures and pedestals as well. A sculpture is designed to sit on something. The bottom surface on a sculpture is flat in order to be placed on a flat surface. An artist intends for his or her work of art be placed on a pedestal and not hung from the ceiling (unless they are specifically designed to be hung from a ceiling). As an artist sculpts, a general abstract idea is shaped into a physical and magnificent piece of artwork. An artist has to decide whether a pedestal is needed or if the art will be tall or large enough to stand on its own and not need a pedestal. Before an artist begins sculpting he or she will consider the color and design of their sculpture and pedestal and decide how they would best compliment each other.

An artist relays a message through artwork and a pedestal completes that message. A pedestal flatters the theme of a sculpture. If a sculpture has smooth edges and is delicate an artist might consider placing it on a cylinder pedestal. If a sculpture is rough and has hard edges, an artist might lean toward a square pedestal. Although, this is not a strict rule every artist should follow. Deciding what pedestal goes with what sculpture is dependent on what message the artist is trying to reveal.

Neutral colored sculptures can be contrasted with a rich shade of brown or black pedestal, and in reverse a dark colored piece of art can be placed on top of a neutral colored pedestal. Again, it is dependent on what message the artist, or the buyer of the artwork, wants to relay to an audience or how they want that sculpture to fit a theme of a room.

A piece of an artist’s memory is captured in their art. An artist molds an idea into a canvas with strokes of paint or constructs a sculpture with creamy clay. It is as if an artist’s imagination and creativity will live longer than he or she will and other individuals will enjoy their artwork for generations. A pedestal puts art on display to show full appreciation of the piece’s value.

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Cotton Canvas VS Linen Canvas

What are canvases?

Canvases are supports that are traditionally used by painters. The term ‘canvas’ is generally used to refer to the fabric that paint is applied to. Canvases have been used for many centuries by top painters and remain just as popular today. They’re light, easy to transport and last a long while. One of the best things about canvases is that they can be used to create very large paintings. To make canvases, fibres are woven together and then either glued to a panel or stretched over a frame. There are lots of different types of canvas and each type has different properties.

cotton vs linen

Cotton canvases

Cotton is usually the cheaper of the two. It’s able to be stretched very easily, though it’s seen as too flexible to cope with larger paintings. Many students and beginner painters choose to go for cotton as it’s easier to get used to and it’s less costly. Cotton can actually be stretched tighter than linen, though it doesn’t tend to have as much permanence as linen; it also doesn’t tend to be as strong or as heavy as linen. Cotton canvases are usually primed with an acrylic-based gesso, making it a better option for acrylic and watercolour paintings. However, cotton canvases are also very popular for oil paintings.

Linen canvases

Linen is usually more expensive than cotton because the material it’s made of is of a higher quality. It’s also more expensive because it tends to be more durable and stronger, providing painters with a painting surface that will have permanence and will therefore last. The reason why linen is longer-lasting is because the threads it’s made of weigh the same, so the chance of them expanding and contrasting because of moisture is very slim. This also means that linen is very tough and will not become slack as quickly as cotton does. One of the reasons why artists use linen so much is because there are lots of varieties of it: you can get lots of different textures and weights of this type of canvas available in both smooth and rough finishes. Linen canvases are usually primed with an oil-based gesso, making it a better option for oil paintings.

Which one should I go for?

Both types of canvas have their advantages, so really it’s all about budget. If you can afford to pay a bit more for your canvas, you should go for linen, as it will offer you a very good investment. However, if your budget isn’t that high, cotton will still serve you very well.

Joanne Perkins is a Berkshire-based artist with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. She specialises in painting Berkshire landscapes and loves capturing the natural beauty of her local countryside. She is happy to accept all queries and questions. For more information about Joanne, her work and her current projects visit: Joanne can be found on Facebook

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How To Get Over Your Fear Of A Blank Canvas

Do artists really get scared of blank canvases?

Yes – many artists do feel a sort of fear when they begin a new project and find themselves facing a blank canvas. Of course, this doesn’t happen to every artist; even the ones who feel afraid of blank canvases might not feel afraid every time they face one.

What is blank canvas paralysis?

Blank canvas paralysis is a great way of describing the fear that some artists can feel when looking at a blank canvas. The word ‘paralysis’ is very apt, because artists very often feel physically unable to get to work; many often find themselves unable to pick up a paintbrush or mix colours. If this paralysis gets hold of you, it can make you feel frustrated – you want to get to work and have set aside time for it, but something beyond your control makes you unable to actually get to work.

Why do artists get blank canvas paralysis?

There are quite a few reasons why artists look at the blank canvas before them and feel afraid. A blank canvas represents infinite possibilities and infinite choice; sometimes this is too much for artists to handle. How do you decide what to paint when there are so many options? There’s also the problem of not knowing exactly where to start on your painting, even if you have a clear vision of what your finished painting’s going to look like. Finally, there’s the fear that you will fail, that you won’t produce the painting you’ve been imagining and developing in your mind.

How to get over your fear of blank canvases

If you ever find yourself paralysed with fear at the start of a painting project, reassure yourself that there are ways to get over this. The three causes of blank canvas paralysis mentioned above each have simple solutions. If you’re stuck because you have too many options, simply consider which options are the better ones and make a quick decision about which one to go for. If you’re stuck because you don’t know where to start, do some pre-planning, but not too much, as this can make you less likely to come up with new ideas once you’ve started working. Finally, if you’re stuck because you’re scared of failing, don’t ask so much of yourself and have a realistic and humble approach to your work; in other words, the less important you make your painting out to be, the less intimidating it will be.

Joanne Perkins is a Berkshire-based artist with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. She specialises in painting Berkshire landscapes and loves capturing the natural beauty of her local countryside. She is happy to accept all queries and questions. For more information about Joanne, her work and her current projects visit: Joanne can be found on Facebook

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What Makes Paintings Good?

They provoke thought

A good painting should be able to get you thinking. Paintings are an artist’s way of conveying their thoughts, opinions and ideas to the world. The artist should be able to effectively convey their message through the painting to the viewer. A good painting should therefore be able to tell the viewer what the artist was thinking and feeling when they created it. Painting should leave lasting impressions on you; they should get you asking questions and thinking about things you might otherwise have not asked or thought about.

good paintingThey draw you in

A good painting should stand out from the rest. It should have something about it that attracts your curiosity and draws you in. It should command your attention and captivate you so that you spend lots of time admiring it and all of its features. Paintings of quality should reach out to you and grab your attention away from any other paintings that might be in the vicinity.

They showcase the artist’s talent

A good painting should be a display of the artist’s technical expertise. The painter should know exactly what they’re doing and should be able to use the tools and tricks at their disposal to successfully create their work. With abstract paintings, there may not be as much skill or technical expertise showcased in the painting, though the artist still knows exactly what they’re doing.

They’re original

A good painting should have some level of originality to it. Of course, it’s incredibly difficult to be truly original these days seeing as so many artists with great idea have passed before us. However, it’s still possible to give your paintings an original touch that will make it stand out from others. A good painting shouldn’t be generic: it should belong to the artist who painted it in the sense that the artist has left their mark on it.

They have a sense of harmony

A good painting should be consistent. The different elements that make up the painting should be of a similar style, nature and tone. These elements should complement one another to create a sense of balance and harmony in the painting. People prefer paintings where there’s a sense of unity and the different elements are part of a single piece. People find balance and harmony more appealing and easy on the eye than chaos and discord. Many paintings that have less balance and more discord can make for good art, though. It’s all subjective, of course.

Joanne Perkins is a Berkshire-based artist with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. She specialises in painting Berkshire landscapes and loves capturing the natural beauty of her local countryside. She is happy to accept all queries and questions. For more information about Joanne, her work and her current projects visit: Joanne can be found on Facebook

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