I’m sitting at my laptop right now, staring at the three words at the top of the page - “What’s my process?”. It sounds really arty that question, and not in a good way. It’s the kind of question that expects some pretentious, nonsensical answer, often used as an attempt to convey highly intellectual or philosophical thinking, when in fact, all the artist has really done is paint a red dot in the middle of their canvas. Not something I would do myself mind...
This is not going to turn into that kind of article, but will in fact be a bit more instructional. I tend to follow a similar process with all my artwork nowadays, and I think it’s important to follow good practice, and build positive habits when creating art. I hope that this blog post is useful to anyone who may be more of a “beginner artist” and offer up some hints and tips.
The idea of planning heavily before creating a piece of art sounds kind of boring - and it should! The whole point of art is that you let loose your creativity, and produce something that brings you joy not only when it’s finished, but also throughout the time period making it.
That isn’t to say however, that the best works of art are made by winging it. When I say plan out your art, I mean give some thought to the overall composition, what size will it be? Where will it go when complete? What medium will you use?
I always start out by making a rough plan, and figure out the details as I go. A lot of time can be an experimentation of ideas, which is why it’s always good to sketch things out at a smaller scale (especially if the blank canvas will be massive!). It may sometimes be worth going through the entire process on a small scale, to route out any unexpected hurdles you may come across.
Don’t limit yourself with constraints and heavy planning, but take the opportunity to prevent yourself from being blindsided later on.
This is something I am a big advocate of - making a digital sketch. To achieve this I use a tablet connected to my PC, and draw out the image I’m going to create, most of the time using Adobe Photoshop software.
The reason I do this is because, not only does it allow me to make mistakes and easily amend them, but I can then change the size of the sketch very easily. If I want to transpose the sketch onto a canvas or paper, I can do so and scale my sketch exactly how I need it.
This saves a lot of time when starting out on a blank canvas. Rather than mapping out a grid and sketching the piece in chunks, I can move a lot quicker by copying out a 1:1 scale version. This method also enables me to get an extremely accurate version of a sketch I’m already happy with.
I highly recommend this kind of approach, especially if you want the standard of your outline to be great; it will raise the quality of the painting/drawing that follows.
If you’re interested in the kit I use, check out the wacom tablets online. Some are very expensive due to the quality and features, but I spent no more than £50 for mine. It’s lasted for several years and is still going strong!
For more info on the tools I use for my artwork, check out this blog post here...
Once I have everything planned and sketched out, I dive straight in. I always pick an area that I am confident about, as it’s always good to start off easy, and work your way up.
I would love to say that I can stick to an area and keep expanding until completion, but I do find my attention span falters after so long, so I like to mix things up and change areas on the canvas. This I think is more important when you first start a painting too, as it can be very daunting to stare at a blank canvas and make those first brush strokes.
This is a boring one I know, but it really is crucial. Keep those brushes clean when not in use! Keep your workspace tidy and free of clutter. Make sure your hands are clean and your sleeves are out of the way. This is really simple stuff, but you’d be surprised how many times it’s caused me unnecessary stress when I don’t follow these habits.
I don’t use brushes that are really expensive, but they aren’t super cheap either. It’s important to maximise their lifespan by just washing them after each use. I do use paints that are a bit more pricey, simply for their quality and how well they can be applied to a canvas, so it’s crucial to keep them sealed when not in use, so they don’t dry out.
Ok that’s the cleanliness portion of this blog post over with!
Lastly, but certainly not least, enjoy yourself!
I don’t paint unless I’m enjoying the process. Sometimes it can be challenging, and I need to distance myself so I can come back with some renewed motivation. I also make sure that my reasoning for painting is for the love of doing it.
I made a commitment to myself that I wouldn’t let other factors like time or money get in the way of creating something great, and I would never let them jeopardise my passion. I love that I am able to share and sell my artwork with others, but it also makes me happy to know that even if no one else knew I painted, I would still be doing it.
Joseph Cashmore - ART JC
25th Feb 2023
2nd Jan 2023
13th Dec 2022
20th Nov 2022