Perseverance: an artist’s best friend

Perseverance: our best friend

“Artists don't get down to work until the pain of working is overcome by the pain of not working.” Stephen DeStaebler

This phrase describes my artistic life very well lately. Being pregnant, although I feel super excited about it, has also led me to moments of a lot of frustration with myself for wanting to work but my body not allowing me to. I also have to admit that sometimes it wasn't because of nausea or fatigue. I admit that these discomforts sometimes became simple excuses to not work hard enough. After not having painted for a long time, going back to it was like breaking down walls to move forward with new work that I've been doing.

For me it is super easy to prepare for markets, make watercolor illustrations with floral motifs, sheets and cards etc. It is an area that I feel that I do well and doing something handmade is my safe place, because even tough there is a part of me in each of those creations, at the end of the day, I see it for what it is, my small business.

On the other hand, to work on my personal art where I am naked and vulnerable in order to expose my works as an artist and not as a craftswoman, is difficult because it reveals the inner most being. When I work on those pieces, everything changes.

Recently I had a conversation with another artist about those walls that are ultimately ruled by a single king: the fear of failure that our art will never succeed.

Being afraid that our next work will fail is normal. We all deal with it continuously when we start over. To survive as an artist, it is a fundamental requirement to face those fears because when artists quit it is because they convince themselves that their next work is already doomed to failure. And that resignation causes us to lose our destiny and our sense of belonging to our art.

What is the engine that moves our art? To being recognized? Make lots of money? To be somebody to the gallery owners?

Honestly, I consider that vanity.

And I don't mean it is bad to dream of reaching those goals someday. I think it is a good dream, to want to live 100% of the sale of our works, that are valued etc. The problem is when it becomes the reason and the center of why we paint.

Because the works of painters that have impacted my life the most did not have nor did they seek that focus and most of them died without being recognized in life for their work. What they really pursued was authenticity, being truthful, creating beauty with their works even when they expressed pain and misfortune.

So what do we do to survive those fears? I think it's the most difficult: Persevere.

“And art is all about starting again”.

Honestly, this season, when I broke down those walls and finally sat down to paint, nothing I did convinced me, I was frustrated because it was not what I wanted to achieve. The idea, the feeling I wanted to convey, everything was in my head, but when I worked on the canvas, all my insecurities surfaced creating works that made me ashamed to look. But, I was aware that even if it hurt, that's what the creation process is about. And now after all those stumbling blocks, I'm finally enjoying it. I am sure that before finishing this new collection I will have moments that I do not enjoy, works that I will throw in the trash, but it is a circle where we have to walk around because when we persevere and overcome them the satisfaction is enormous.

Anyway, this is me. These are my struggles trying to mentally prepare that when the baby arrives in January, I will have to stop again and start my creative cycle again.

So if you're going through a similar situation, cheer up! You are not alone.

“After all, in making art you bring your highest skills to bear upon the materials and ideas you most care about. Art is a high calling - Fears are coincidental. Coincidental, sneaky and disruptive, we might add, disguising themselves with materials or surroundings, distraction over the achievements of others - indeed as anything that keeps you from giving your work your best shot. What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those who don't, quit." David Bayles & Ted Orland in Art & Fear

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10 Acrylic Tips

10 Acrylic Tips

I started painting with acrylic in my teens. The main reason was because in comparison with oil, it's a lot cheaper. Although my parents encouraged me completely in my vocation as an artist, they didn't have the necessary resources so that I could buy other types of materials.

That's how this technique found me.

To be honest, at that time, I had many inferiority complexes with people my age who also painted, because I thought that to be a good artist, I had to know how to paint with oil. I thought all the great artists only painted with that technique. What nonsense!

I was gradually learning the differences between some brands of acrylic and others. I learned by making mistakes how to mix colors, to degrade, to control water (something very important too), and some things that I will write below so that you can keep in mind when painting with this technique.

My great discovery was in my first year of art school.

My focus in school was in decorative murals, and although we learned different techniques, in the end EVERYTHING we did was with acrylic. So my years of teaching myself and feeling insecure served me well, because that meant that without realizing it, I could master acrylic painting and I was far more advanced than the other students.

There, studying Mexican and North American painters of the early twentieth century I found a new world where I felt like a fish in water.

With the arrival of the industrial revolution and synthetic resins,

they began to manufacture their own acrylics because they realized that it was much more resistant, especially for commissions of exterior murals. They were very versatile, dried much faster and the colors were very bright among many other qualities.

Today I can tell you that it has become my favorite pictorial technique. And so I want to leave you with these tips that I hope will help you improve in your painting.

10 tips to paint with acrylic:

  1. Depending on the brand of paint you use, you will have to give more or less layers to get the tone brightness that you want. My favorite brand is Golden, because with a couple of layers I get the result I want. It's true that it is the most expensive, but it's worth it since the pigments are very intense and a jar can last a long time. I also like Liquitex (the high-end ones) and in Spain I used the Vallejo brand.
  2. I usually prepare the canvas with a Gesso primer with a very soft hair brush. A couple of layers is enough sometimes. When it dries, as the surface is usually rough, sand the surface with sandpaper so it stays very soft to the touch. I have discovered that by doing this my brushes thank me, they last me much longer and I use less paint.
  3. I add layers from lighter to darker.
  4. Whenever you stop using a brush and switch to another, it has to be left in water, because otherwise, it will dry very quickly and you will not be able to use it again. To wash them, simply use soap and water.
  5. I use synthetic brushes:
    1. fine bristles if I want to make flat or degraded inks.
    2. fat bristles to make textures.
  6. If you make a mistake while painting and you want to correct a color there are two options:
    1. If the paint is wet on the canvas, add water and brush it a little or use a cloth to remove it. 
    2. If the paint is dry and the tone is very dark, the only way to fix it is to paint it with white and after it dries you can add the color you wanted.
  7. When the paint dries, the color tone rises and becomes a bit darker. So if the mixture of green that you were painting has dried on the canvas and you want to continue with the same tone, try to make your palette a little lighter, so when it dries on the canvas it will have the same color.
  8. Acrylic paint dries very very fast, so to make gradients you have to keep this in mind. Controlling the water is essential. This is something that you will learn with practice. Don't get frustrated or discouraged. You will get it, you just have to have a little patience and commitment.
  9. If you want to use mixed media, for example, with oil, (I sometimes use oil pastels) you have to paint with acrylics first. The moment you start working with oil, you will not be able to return to acrylic again. With oil, the base is with oil and acrylic's base is water. As the saying goes "water and oil don't get along". You also have to keep in mind that the parts that you have painted with acrylic are going to shine more than the parts where you have worked with oil, so I suggest that the varnish you use is for mixed paints and gloss techniques so you don't notice the difference.
  10. If you want to get a texture like that of Van Gogh's paintings, I use a transparent colored molding paste that I add to my color mix. So I use less acrylic paint and it is much thicker when painting to give it that thick effect.
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Handle with care, dreams inside

Handle with care, they contain dreams

Wherever we go we have embedded in our hearts bits of experiences of our past. When I think of Malaga, the city where I grew up, there are three things that quickly appear in my mind: the sensation of my feet walking along the seashore, the smell of clean sheets at my mother's house and the satisfaction that gave me to start my own painting academy.

One of my favorite memories teaching was when I suddenly realized that there was a 7-year-old intruder circling the classroom watching the other children paint. He looked at me very seriously and said: "Ma'am, I want to come to your classes" and I said "of course! You're more than welcome to but you have to talk to your mother."

I worked in a cultural center, so he was on his way to another class when he ran into mine.

When his mother came the next day, she told me: “Lucia, my son is a very bad student, he always has a lot of problems at school and doesn't behave well. He has been expelled several times and he has a very bad attitude. Please, if he causes you problems, tell me and I won't bring him anymore. ” I told her: "We are going to try to see how it goes."

He was in my classes for three years and I never had a single problem with him. He loved to draw with charcoal, he was always very focused, he encouraged his classmates, he was the first to help clean the class ... he was a wonderful student. When he told his mother, she told me she couldn't believe it.

Honestly, I did nothing but teach him that through painting he had a shelter to express himself, where he could feel unique and special.

"A sign should be placed on each child that says: Handle with care, contains dreams." Mirko Badiale.

When I think of Maya, a smile draws my face. She was only 5 years old and in a short time she started painting like a much older girl! She was quite nervous, her parents said "she's can't sit still" I noticed that she struggled to concentrate like the other children sitting in a chair.

She told me that she loves to dance and was always singing songs that made me laugh. In one of the first classes she asked me "can I dance while I paint?"

So I told her, of course!

She was so funny! She loved classical dance so she painted standing on her easel and from time to time you could see her doing ballet skips.

With classes I have also grown a lot on a personal level, because in every place where I have lived, they helped me to take deep roots and feel apart of the community. Every time I had to move from one city to another and I had to leave my students behind, both with the children and adults, one of the most difficult things was to say goodbye, because as I try to plant in them seeds of love and hope, they have also marked my life.

After a year in Mississippi, I have realized how much I miss teaching. Therefore, this month I decided to do it again. I'm starting completely from scratch, in a new place where nobody knows me, but I am very excited and I hope that my new students can enjoy it. This time it will be even more unforgettable because in January we're expecting a new gift from God in our lives.

A few months ago my husband jumped for joy and my dog ran around barking all over the house with him. We had just heard the greatest news of our lives. We were going to be parents for the first time. It took me a few weeks to process it, although the symptoms took me out of the game and I have been almost all of the first quarter in bed watching Netflix series without being able to do much more than complain about nausea and being tired. This has been one of the reasons why I was quite absent here and on social networks. Josh has been so great from the first moment, taking care of me, pampering me and helping me in everything I have needed.

After seeing that little little person inside me through a black and white TV and hearing his little heart beat, all the emotions came suddenly.

My belly is starting to grow a lot, and at night, little by little I notice the baby's movements like the flutter of a butterfly.

Now I am in my second trimester and I feel like a new woman!

I have been working with children for so many years through painting classes, teaching them, encouraging them, taking care of their hearts and dreams, letting them know that they are the treasure of this society ... and yet now, the great responsibility that I have in my hands overwhelms me. As a future mother, children are our greatest treasures, in which each pearl that we deposit in them through our words or deeds will have great consequences for their future and that of our humanity.

Therefore, I promised myself to do my best. That each student who attended my classes would have a special place where they could find a place where they could feel safe, enjoy, learn and above all make unforgettable moments. I don't know if the baby inside me will be born an artist and will want to paint with me or sing with Josh, but what we are sure of is taking care of him/her, loving him/her, helping him/her and encouraging him/her to fight for his/her dreams and be a blessing to those who surround us.

Soon I will tell you more things about this new season and my new adventures.

If you are near Clinton, MS and you really want to learn to draw or paint, no matter how young or old, or if you have received classes before or not, click the button below to get more information. I would be delighted to meet you and enjoy art together.

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Live a Creative Life Without Fear of Failure

Live a Creative Life Without Fear of Failure

Although you may know me from my watercolor garden, that’s not all I do. In addition to having my online watercolor business, I paint about social issues and my experiences, trips, etc.

My favorite technique is acrylic. After working several years with a very specific style that was working and selling very well, I began to lose interest in it. I no longer made those paintings with the same excitement.

My life changed. I had other things to express that no longer fit with paintings that took me to my Latin American roots. Although it sounds very crazy, since it affected my finances, I decided to start something new and start from scratch. So I stopped painting that style and went into a research process for a new pictorial expression.

It's been almost three years of changes in my life:

getting married, traveling often to my husband's country (a culture so different from mine), I had to discover that something was changing within me, asking myself the question, what do I want to express?

My birthday was this past week and I've celebrated many beautiful things that I've been living during this season. Although I am loving the process of this new work with everything I'm learning, discovering and experimenting, like those well-known "artistic blocks" that are nothing more than the fear of making mistakes. My head was also full of insecure thoughts like:

What if people don't like it? What if I'm wrong? And what if it's a failure?

We sometimes think that all the great artists were born being geniuses and that none of them had these fears but it's just not true. The more I investigate about them, the more I realize that everyone at some point in their journey has asked the same questions when they had to undertake something new.

And what happens when we make a mistake? Making a mistake does not mean that we are on the wrong path. All artists experience artistic disappointments. Will Gompertz talks about it in his book "Think Like An Artist" and explains that in a creative context that artists don't fail. Although there is a sense of failure, but that's part of our artistic journey.

"We don't always know how to value the fact that experiencing great creative disappointments is normal and necessary, and not at all indicative of having to throw in the towel. There is a temptation to believe that when we fail, the time has come to give up, but the truth is that real artists don't usually think that way. In reality, a real artist interprets failure as another part of the creative process, even though it's undesirable."

I am still in the middle of the development of my next work so I can't tell you much about it. But I can tell you that it's a very enjoyable process, of which every day that I work in it, thousands of emotions come out because it has a lot to do with my identity as a woman, with the transitions of life, our struggles and victories.

One of the reasons why I love teaching children is because of what I learn from them and about how to avoid this obsession that us adults have with results. Also, how they help me to have correct perspective on the fear of failure.

What can I learn from a 3 or 4 year old girl who just picked up a brush for the first time?

So much!

For example, you don't have to teach a child to enjoy the moment. They don't think of doing something nice for everyone to applaud them. Their true motivation is to play with paint, paint with their hands, discover new colors, etc. They enjoy every brushstroke. And when they finish, their smile from ear to ear is not conditioned by what others think of what they have done, but in the pleasure of having played with the painting.

A child's painting doesn't usually have the negativity from the first brushstroke saying "this is going to turn out bad". Because whatever you do will be fine. As tutors, we are aware that they need to go through a learning process and that is why we encourage them and celebrate their small achievements.

When I teach adult classes, this is the biggest block I see in my students. The hardest part to teach adults isn't watercolor technique, but to change perspectives: to stop looking from a negative point of view about their painting and start doing it from a positive point of view: that every small step that they take in the middle of learning is a celebration. And to be honest, no matter how many years I've been painting, that negativity also appears in my head sometimes like a cloud obscuring my creativity.

It's very important to remind myself that I have permission to be wrong and to enjoy it as I did when I was a child. To not obsess with thinking about the result that I don't achieve, but to focus on the moment that I am living and experimenting with each mixture of color, with each brush stroke, etc. and when I do this, without realizing it, suddenly, I get what I really wanted that I couldn't achieve before.

We have so much to learn from children because they don't have those thoughts of how it "should be"!

For example, when they paint a blue tree and a green sun without being restricted of whether it is right or wrong to do so.

This is still my greatest reminder when I work in my studio. To recognize that we all have a child inside, no matter how long we have hidden it in some forgotten room in our heart. That child is willing to be part of our life. How nice it is to be aware of it in order to silence the fear of making mistakes by celebrating every step we take with our painting.

So with this reflection, today I leave you with this question:

Do you aim to free your inner child from that conscious box and let him/her fly with creativity where he/she wants to take us?

Thank you very much for taking a little while of your time to read and I'll see you you in the next post!

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6 Tips to Create Beautiful Environments in You Home

How To Create Beautiful Environments In Your Home

There are so many things in our day to day routine that affect our state of mind without us realizing: the weather, economic pressures, personal relationships, work situations, etc. Most of them we can’t control but …

Did you know that the design of the place where you spend most of your day directly affects your emotions without you realizing it?

Therefore, here's 6 tips that will help you create an environment where you can feel better emotionally. These are things you can control!

1. Natural decorative elements.

Nature relaxes us. Maybe it's the sound of the birds, the smell of the flowers, or the breeze caressing the skin. They are experiences that are almost totally suppressed in our daily routines. Therefore, using natural decorative elements makes your mind, unconsciously, evoke these sensations.

For example: a vase with flowers, a pot, images with floral motifs, leaves, birds, etc. Incorporating decorations like these that reflect your style is a great way to create a unique and completely personal space.

2. Use materials that help you connect with nature

Everybody is incredibly unique, you just have to find the materials that suit your style and personality. Wooden furniture, cotton or linen curtains, shells, tree trunks, etc. these are just some examples.

You may even like rustic or refined materials. There are endless possibilities! It helps me a lot to look on Pinterest, because there I can find a thousand simple and beautiful decoration ideas.

3. The color green

Scientists call it: "the green effect". Following a series of experiments, they realized that this color encourages creativity in people who have been exposed to it. Take this into account when choosing certain decorative items.

You can add plants or green decorations (for example, cushions, blankets, etc.) to create your environment, according to your tastes and preferences.

4. Something personal

Put a picture of a trip you've done or an object that brings back good memories of an experience you've lived.

This will bring pleasant emotions of enriching experiences when you see those places again and again.

5. Use a piece that you created yourself

This really helps to increase your self-esteem. For example: a drawing, a painting, a piece of furniture restored by you, some cushions or a framed poem of yours.

And if you are not very good at this creative area, you have surely received a diploma or award that makes you feel proud.

6. Walls that bring character to the room

The color of the walls can affect your emotional health. We spend most of our lives between walls around us: at home, in the office, in a hotel, in a restaurant, etc. Spaces with light tones are serene, inspiring, bring light and soften the atmosphere. Spaces with dark tones are rich, elegant, and welcoming. It is important to know the amount of natural light and how you can use each space before choosing a paint color.

Above all you have to create a space that reflects your character and who you are. The space should convey a bit of your history and personality.

I've been married for 2 and a half years and in April I'll move for the fourth time! So crazy, right? These tips have helped me a lot. It doesn't matter if I am living in a house for a short period of time or long term. For me, it's very important to make it my home, my refuge. The same thing happens with my place of work when I'm designing or painting in the workshop.

After reading this, are you ready to decorate?

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It showed up, suddenly and without warning.

Or so I believed in that moment. I was surrounded by a haze that blurred all the areas of my life. Eating was an ordeal because there was so much anguish in my stomach that it filled everything.

I woke up every morning crying, wishing with all my strength that this terrible feeling would go away and let me live my life again. Not only did that not happen, quite the opposite occurred: it fed more and more of my frustration and feelings of helplessness among many other things.

Before that, I had a good life.

I started my own academy of painting, I organized exhibitions and I was involved in several projects that I loved, etc.

But I felt that I wanted to do something more with my life. I decided to drop everything, and do something to help others who didn't have the same privileges as me. When I managed to save up enough money, Mexico appeared in my life.

There I visited lost villages of the Mayan Riviera of which you may have never heard of. I met wonderful people, my faith in God was strengthened and above all I learned that being brave was not about being afraid, but confronting fear and moving forward. I lived among families with very little resources and at the same time they were so generous. I still can't understand how those who have less money can be more generous than those with a lot of wealth.

Months later, when I returned to Spain, I decided to focus on helping others but I made a big mistake: I followed the dreams of others and the ways in which others did things. It doesn't mean that it wasn't a good time, however the bad thing was that I turned my back on my identity.

Why did this happen?

I was working in an organization where, at that moment, creativity was excluded from my routine. Sometimes I had some free time to paint, but I was so exhausted from all the work I did. Any free time I had, I didn't feel like painting because my mind and body were physically saturated.

Anxiety was gaining ground without me realizing. Until suddenly it exploded into a mental and emotional war taking over everything. I didn't know why and I didn't understand anything. The only thing I could feel was a terrible anguish that completely nullified me.

Now I realize that this happened because I hadn't yet understood myself and for that reason I did not set limits or take care of myself.

So when I hit rock bottom, a deep put where the only thing I could do was cry, a little voice inside told me: PAINT.

I searched through my sketchbook and watercolors from my trip through Mexico and turned them into canvases full of color.

Color? How could I paint with color if all I could see inside of me was a deep black?

I think one of the reasons was because colors have always been my passion, so they started to keep my mind occupied. Instead of focusing on emotions, negative thoughts, etc...

Little by little painting helped me focus on making decisions about texture, composition, complementaries etc. It helped to harmonize my mind, to channel and express the emotions that generated feelings of well-being. I promise you I did not do it conscientiously. I just painted.

Therefore, if you see the pictures I made at that stage of life, if you didn't know my story, you would think that I made when I was super happy but in reality, they were created in a river of tears. What was happening was me finding myself.

Why did painting make that change in me?

When I studied art therapy a couple of years ago, I discovered that what I had experienced was, without realizing it, something very similar. During this process, painting took me by the hand and it was my therapist. Sounds crazy, right?

I always think that in life, even from bad times we can get good things out of it and thanks to that storm, my boat ran into "Découpage" a community of very nice people who lived in the center of Madrid. Most of them were artists and it was with them that the best stage of my life began. I found an actual therapist who helped me a lot and wonderful people who encouraged me and taught me that being an artist was part of taking care of myself, of being who I was and so then I could help others.

I learned that having anxiety is part of life, it's like being in a sea that is sometimes calm and sometimes agitated, but we can learn to surf with the right tools.
Sadly, as Julia Cameron would say, we have accepted the message from our culture that the world is a vale of tears and what we are supposed to do is fulfill our duty and die. But that's not true.

We can see anxiety as an opportunity for personal growth, it has led me to grow in many areas, especially as an artist and with my work.

And you know what was the best part?

I realized that with painting I can also continue with my dreams of helping people at risk of exclusion, but I'll tell you more about that another day ...

To wrap up, I'll leave you with some words from Julia Cameron's book "The Artist's Way" that helped me see that dark moments are not the end of the world, but a period of growth.
"Creativity - like human life itself - starts in the dark. It is necessary that we recognize this. We often think only in terms of the light: <And then the bulb went on and I understood it>. It is true that many findings appear to us in flashes. It's true that some of those flashes can be blinding but it's also true that these luminous ideas live preceded by a gestation period that is internal, cloudy and absolutely necessary ".

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Footprints: Halina

Footprints: Halina

Every idea has consequences.

And our culture is full of ideas that we have acquired over generations, some have been born from the depths of our family, passed down from parents to children, others, by political and religious ideologies implanted from power, etc.

What we can't deny is that our society is guided by these ideas, and whether we like it or not, that affects our way of seeing or interpreting life and the world around us.

And all this together with my role as an artist makes me rethink many things.

Sadly, all my life I've heard people say absurd things about artists that aren't even worth mentioning. If you're an artist, you know what I'm talking about. Those questions from people around you arise about wanting to help you find a real job.

But ... you'll have to do something else in life than just painting right? But ... you're not going to spend all day painting? But ... You know that painters don't make money right?

And if you're not an artist, I'm sure you've NEVER thought that about artists, right?

Today, I'm going to write about the life of an artist in which art saved her life and left a mark on her culture. So that you can see that artists are important, necessary and that our work does matter.

She was a girl who showed artistic talent early on and the first thing she remembered from her childhood was seeing herself painting.

When she turned 18, her worst nightmare began. All she had to do was go through the door and go outside to receive discriminations and abuses from her neighbors. One day some men in uniforms forced her to go to a dirty, wall surrounded, no resources and lack of food area called the "ghetto".

"Of course, there were no paintings or colors there, but I could always find a pencil and a piece of paper somewhere. My main job was to observe, I was always good at observing [...] My need to observe what was happening was stronger than my body. It was a necessity, an imperative need. It was the most important thing. I never asked rationally what I was doing, but I had this incredible need to draw, to write what was happening. I was in the same conditions as the people around me, I saw them close to death, but I never thought that I was about to die. I was in the air. I was out of my existence. My job was simply to write, to describe with my drawings what was happening."

Some time after writing this, they forced her to go to a new place.

Do you know where?

To Majdanek concentration camp. They murdered her mother and they did things to her, well ... I can't even begin to describe the horror she had to experience there.

Exhausted and worn out, just thinking about when death would come, an officer appeared in her module and asked: does anyone know how to paint? She raised her hand.

So, she began to work making murals, decorating walls with colorful paintings, to receive commissions and won the praise of all her executioners.

From the artistic materials she received (which were exclusively for painting assignments), she began to secretly paint everything he observed and to find hiding places to store them.

She was then sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp where she continued to paint.

Her companions begged her to please paint portraits of their children, so that they would not fall into oblivion, since the Nazis justified the killing of children as an "undesirable" or "dangerous" group as part of the "racial struggle". It was a preventive security measure.

In that period of history, they killed more than 1.5 million children.

Painting these children was much deeper than painting someone's face.

My eyes fill with tears just thinking about, how she, with her talent, could bring comfort in the midst of pain and brokenness. These mothers had the hope that if they survived, they could relive the face of some of those children when they were released.

I would love that as we remember the names of Picasso, Klimt, Van Gogh or Velázquez, we also remember her.

This beautiful and courageous artist name is Halina Olomucky.

And like her there were many more artists, like Zofia Stepien-Bator, who painted the prey as she imagined they were before entering the Auschwitz camp.

They knew that if they were caught, it was their death sentence. But even so, they risked their lives to shout out about injustices through their drawings and writings.

When Halina was released, she spent two years painting her memories, aware that these works would have a very important testimonial value.

I firmly believe that artists have a great legacy of leaving our mark on culture but it is also a great responsibility.

My challenge for today is that, whether you are an artist or not, that you take a moment to think, reconsider and ask questions about those preconceived beliefs or ideas that have adhered to us as a consequence of our cultural heritage, that there are things we should cut out at the root and others that should flourish.

Let us be aware that for good or for bad we are leaving a mark on this world. I hope that in that footprint there is beauty, truth and goodness.

What footprint do you want to leave?

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When is the best time to paint?

When is the best time to paint?

There is a false belief about artists that we have to wait for inspiration before we can start working. I’ve realized that most of the time it’s not because I’m not “inspired”, what blocks me is usually the fear of creating something that is so bad that I have to throw it away, or that people won’t like it etc. Fear is what really paralyzes me and makes me not “feel” inspired.

"... To create you have to take a leap of faith. Faith in yourself and in your abilities. You have to trust that the world will submit you to a fair trial. Yes, you will receive criticism. And yes, they will hurt. Sometimes a lot. You may even fall into a shower of humiliation.

But that rejection will not be worse than what many others have suffered. Consider it a rite of initiation. We all know the stories that the Beatles encountered closed doors in many places or all those publishers who rejected the novels of J.K. Rowling, did that rejection stop them? NO. Did it strengthen their determination? YES ..." "Think Like an Artist" by Will Gompertz

Even the great Michelangelo didn't think he could do the work he was commissioned: "the Sistine Chapel", was it because he didn't feel inspired? Or was it the fear of doing something that was not his specialty, because at the time he was better known as a sculptor than as a painter?
I believed in the myth of inspiration (which I associated inspiration with feeling like it) until I visited the studio of my uncle Fred in Villa de Leyva, Colombia. His work amazed me, but above all, I was so impressed by him as a painter. On one wall he had written a phrase: "One doesn't paint when one feels like it, but one who knows how to paint".

And that always stuck with me. Thinking about those words, the meaning I got from it was this: I don't think he means you are born knowing how to paint and that's why you paint, but it's about not waiting for you to feel like it, or have an feeling that leads you to pick up the brushes and suddenly you have a masterpiece.

Being a painter is a profession like being a plumber, an electrician or an architect. It is a journey and as you exercise this profession you learn and grow. I don't think a plumber would ever tell me: I only fix a faucet when I feel like it or a doctor operates on a patient when she is inspired. My uncle is amazing, he spends all day creating in his studio, whether he wants to or not.

So, what is the difference between painting as a profession or hobby?

Hobbies are done in our free time, to rest or disconnect. And it's wonderful if you see painting as a hobby for you! But there is also that other option of deciding to dedicate yourself to art as a profession, so we can not wait for those free times to appear. We have to be very emphatic with them.

Something that has helped us a lot between my husband and I (he is a musician), is a book that is titled "Manage Your Day-To-Day" by Jocelyn K. Glei.

We are both learning to create certain habits that are helping us a lot in answering the question: When is the best time to create?

So, when is the best time to paint?

We have discovered that dedicating the first hours of our work to the creative part of our business (he in his music and I in my watercolors) is much more productive, because our mind is awake, clear and more energetic. So those hours are key to creating new things.

For example, I usually devote myself to painting new designs, thinking about new products or preparing my next exhibition of paintings. I have realized that I am much more productive putting it first on my list of things to do.

And after those two or three creative hours (sometimes longer), I start answering emails, making packages of orders I had the previous day, administrative work, etc.

Before I did just the opposite, and do you know what happened to me?

Either I did not have the energy to paint, or I always had to put out so many fires in the administrative part that I ended up not painting because I did not have time for the creative side.

It is true that each person has their own ways and we do not all have to be the same. For example, for some artists their favorite time to create is at dawn. If you get me out of bed at 4 in the morning I would fall asleep on the canvas. So it is also important that we learn to know ourselves and realize what works best for us.

It is true that sometimes we don't have the privilege of dedicating ourselves only to our artistic profession and we have another additional job to make a living as our projects grow, but finding that creative routine is very important so you don't get discouraged.

On the other hand, if you love to paint and for you to grab the brushes is just a hobby, I encourage you to also make it a priority in your life. Just as we go to the gym and reserve a few hours a week to improve our health, why not do the same with painting? Painting helps both our mind and our emotions, to reduce stress and anxiety! (Which, by the way, soon I will talk about in my next blog post).

So don't be intimidated by the brushes or the muse of inspiration from which so many myths have been made up about. Sometimes things will come out that blow our minds and sometimes we will want to throw our paintings in the trash, but that is part of the creative and artistic journey ... Let nothing discourage you!

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What watercolor materials do you need?

What watercolor materials do I need?

My love for watercolors began when I was a teenager. I remember that I loved visiting museums and in one of those times with my favorite painters, I found a jewel that I fell in love with forever. It was a still life in watercolor that Cezanne had painted. I fell in love with his transparent brushstrokes, fresh, simple and full of color.

It was then that my mind lit up and I had an epiphany, as if I had found a treasure and now I wanted to use it in my works.
If you are used to painting with oil or acrylic it is very likely that watercolors will drive you crazy. Why is that?

The first thing I understood with Cezanne was to see that the beauty of this technique lies in it's transparencies. You can make very dark spots but always in tune with other lighter ones and recognize that your opacity or brightness will never be the same as in other techniques.


Because watercolor is composed of Arabic gum.

What does this mean? It is the resin responsible for the pigment to adhere to the paper through the water. For example in oil, that binder or glue is oil and in acrylic it is a synthetic glue.

So, if you want to enjoy watercolor, you have to forget everything you have learned before with other techniques, otherwise you will get very frustrated.

What makes a watercolor valuable is it's transparency.

With oils or acrylics you do not usually want the canvas to be seen, so you paint with many layers of paint to achieve the desired result. In watercolor the opposite occurs, seeing the paper is very important.

If you want white tones, the paper will do that job and your painting will thank you. If you want very light shades, mixing with white is not the solution. What I do is that I mix the pigment with a lot of water so that the paint is more transparent and the paper is seen more.

What materials should I use if I want to start painting watercolors? Are half-pans or tubes better?

Both are fine. I think it depends on the taste of each person. You need to try them and decide which material is best for you. With half-pans, the brush is damaged more by the use, but I prefer them because they are easier for me.

BUT, if you feel more comfortable with other techniques such as oil or acrylic, I recommend to start with half-pans. Why? Because it's possible that with the watercolor in tubes you tend to to use it unconsciously as you have before with other techniques. You tend to too much pigment and too little water, and watercolor requires the opposite.

What colors do I need?

For many years I was painting only with a set of 12 colors. It was my best traveling companion. They came with me to Mexico, Colombia, India, and throughout Europe ... And although I now use a set with 39 different half-pans, to be honest, I don't use most of them, I forget they are there! I usually stick to the basics, but little by little I am expanding my horizons with new combinations. It is a continuous challenge for me.

So if you're starting out in the world of watercolors, I'll introduce you to my battle mates:

  • Cadmio Yellow H.

  • Lemon Yellow Hue

  • Alizarin Crimson Hue

  • Camio Red Hue

  • Cerulean Blue

  • Ultramarine

  • Indigo

  • Sap green

  • Viridian Hue

  • Burnt Limber

  • Yellow ochre

  • Burnt Sienna

In watercolor, if you want to get a bright orange, mauve, violets or different types of blues such as turquoise, or intense blue, cobalt, etc. or other very specific tones, it is best to buy them, because the color mix will never give you that pure result.

What is the best paper?

The quality of the paper depends on the grammage, that is, it's weight or thickness. The one that I usually use is 300 grams by Canson. It just takes trying out several thicknesses and then choosing the one you like the most. The thicker the paper is, the lighter the watercolor will be when it dries and the water will take longer to absorb, so it allows for more margin for error if you make a mistake while painting.

As I paint watercolors to make decorative prints, I have to scan the drawing, send it to the computer and then print them, I usually use a thicker paper but also smooth. Because it is better for the entire scanning process.

But if I don't want to turn it into a print, I love very grainy and heavy paper. It's curious but the colors change a bit depending on the type of paper and the thickness.

What brushes to use?

They have to be brushes that absorb water well, with very fine and soft hair. Synthetic brushes are quite good in quality and price. The size will vary depending on what you want to paint.

Is there one brand better than another?

I do not usually talk about brands because having expensive watercolors and natural brushes does not guarantee that your watercolor will be the best and your confidence when painting should not depend on the price of the materials.

As you paint and try out different materials you will realize for yourself which are your favorites.. Painting, painting, painting, that's what I recommend. Because at the beginning you don't know how to differentiate quality. I started with cheap materials and then eventually I found what I liked the most. And I'm still in that process!

Other important materials:

  • A jar or glass of water

  • A cloth rag to dry off the brush of excess water or to clean it

  • Additional watercolor paper (to test the colors before using them in your drawing)

Now that you know more about the necessary materials, it's time to paint!

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5 Watercolor Mistakes To Avoid

5 Watercolor Mistakes To Avoid

Many years ago, when I was studying in art school, I remember my teacher putting a watercolor exercise and saying “to paint” but she did not give us any kind of recommendation and she hoped that the results were from an expert. Has it ever happened to you?

Because it was not the first or the last time I suffered this experience.

When I began to give private painting classes, high school students came to me feeling very discouraged, thinking that they painted poorly. And when I started teaching these basic steps, the results were incredible.

In a short time some of them managed to win painting competitions in their schools, for others their grades went up a lot, and I remember a comment from a student who told me that her teacher didn't believe that she had actually painted it.

One of my rules as a teacher is not to intervene in my students drawings, because painting is a continuous process of learning. Yes, the first drawings may not turn out how you want, but little by little, the more you paint, the more you improve and this is necessary in your personal and pictorial development.

Since I didn't have someone to guide me, everything I've learned has been through trial and error. I'm self-taught and I want to explain what I've learned to you because I would have loved to find help through this wonderful journey of watercolor.

5 watercolor mistakes that you should avoid:

1. Pencil marks that are too dark

Before we start painting, we usually make a small pencil sketch to guide us while we are painting.

It is very important that the pencil you use is 2H or HB and that when you draw, you make it very soft. So soft that it's almost unseen. So that when we finish painting we can erase it easily.

If not, when we try to erase dark marks you will ruin the paper.

2. Using greasy erasers

The best for watercolor is a gummy eraser, it is also often used for charcoal drawing.

Why? If you use greasy erasers, they leave a mark on the paper that you can't see, but when you paint on it you realize that something is not right. If the paper has a remnant of that grease, the water will not absorb well.

Try to erase as little as possible while you are sketching.

3. Starting with dark tones first

You always have to go from light to dark. How is this achieved?

Bearing in mind that watercolor is a technique where WATER IS THE MAIN CHARACTER in the movie. The more water you use, the lighter the pigment will be.

4. It is not a technique for the impatient

When you paint your first coat with light shades, you have to KNOW HOW TO WAIT for the water to dry on the paper to give a new darker layer and continue until you have the color you desire. As you grow in the technique and you know more about the absorption of water, you can try new things such as a wet-on-wet technique, etc. which we will talk about later.

5. Too heavy with your brushstrokes

A very common mistake is to make a lot of brushstrokes in the same place as if we were working with acrylic or oil. By doing this you only get two things: the paper spoils and the color does not reach the transparency that gives the watercolor it's value, freshness and naturalness.

The trick is to know that we USE THE BRUSH AS A GUIDE TO DEPOSIT THE WATER. It's as simple as that. When the water is in the place we want, we have to let it do its job.

I hope these tips have helped you and above all that they encourage you to lose the fear of painting. There will always be insecurities in our minds that tell us "you're not good enough for this", "it's not pretty enough" or "nobody will like my painting" etc. So when this happens, we must change our way of thinking and discover that painting goes beyond being anxious about the result: it is an experience for our senses, for our mind, emotions, etc. And that is what is really important!

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