Tuesday, July 10, 2018

8 Morning Routines That Have Helped Me Become A More Effective Artist.


A couple of weeks ago, Lauren, one of my art students, told me that she was reading a book called “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” by Mason Currey. The book profiles briefly 161 artists (novelists, painters, poets, philosophers, filmmakers, and scientists) and focuses on how they made time each day to do their work. Fascinating! I got myself a copy.


As I made it through the book, I began to think about my routines and what works for me and put together my list.  Here it is:


What are the eight-morning routines that have helped me become a more effective artist?

1) Waking Up Early Before Sunrise

I love waking up early when the sky is still dark full of stars, and the moon is still dancing around. It is a very quiet time of the day, and there are no distractions. Waking up early gives me the time to exercise, meditate, clean and plan before I start working.


2) Exercise

When I exercise early morning, the routine of exercise refreshes my mind and releases stress. By the time I am finishing exercising, I feel a sense of accomplishment and ready to focus on any task.


3) Meditation

It gives me the ability to view things differently and helps me concentrate during the day. I try to do a meditation that focuses on gratitude.


4) Thinking Time

Going for a peaceful walk with my dog, as I listen to the sounds of nature and look at the beauty of nature is part of my thinking time. My thinking time is a special moment of the day. It is the moment with my best friend, my dog, who has been my loyal companion for the last 20+ years. My thinking time is time for appreciation and thinking.  It is time for processing and bouncing ideas in my head. Some of my best writing and artwork ideas have come from these moments.


5) Cleaning Time

After feeding my pets, it is cleaning time. 45 minutes of organizing and cleaning. A clean home and clean workplace help my brain focus on the task of the day. When things are disorganized, and the house isn't clean, I cannot manage to focus on my artwork or any particular job.


6) Setting Goals For The Day

Write a set of goals for the day on a piece of paper. After organizing, I sit down to write what I want to accomplish that day. I always write a big list, but I know that I will only get to the first three on the list. The other will be rewritten every day until they are accomplishing.


7) Work on my artwork daily

Art is like a sport. If you want to become better, what do you need to do? Practice. Practice. Practice. Well, art is the same. You must work on it every day. If you don't have much time during the day, what should you do? Even if you work every day on your art for 15 to 30 minutes, you will see results.


8) Learn something every day

I like to learn something new every day. I read, listen to a podcast or audiobook, or watch YouTube videos. I like to be efficient with my time, so I either do it while I am exercising at the gym or when I am painting or drawing.


These are my daily routines. They have helped me enormously in getting into my artist zone and connecting with my creative soul.  Every time I skip my routines, even part of it, I feel like I cannot work as well and I am not as productive. It has taken some time to figure out what worked for me. But once I found the formula, it has made an enormous difference in my creative process.

Maybe this inspired you, or perhaps you want to share your routines with me. Go ahead and share in the comments below.

Vanessa Montenegro

For more information about my art and my classes, visit vanessamontenegro.com
Follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.montenegro.artist
Follow my art post on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vanessasartstudio/
Buy my art at https://www.etsy.com/shop/vanessamontenegro

©2017 Vanessa Montenegro

All photos, images and text are copyright protected. Not to be used without permission.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

How to clean paint brushes?

How to clean paint brushes?

Some of my students have asked me to write a blog on how to clean paint brushes. Since I teach both acrylics and oils, below, you will find tips on how to clean acrylics and oil brushes.

Acrylics:
How to keep your brushes clean while painting?
Keep a big jar filled with water. Every time you finish using a brush, wipe it with a paper towel or rag and wash it right away to avoid paint drying on the bristles. Then dry it and set it aside while you work with another brush.  Don't let the paint dry on your brush since it makes it harder to remove the paint from the bristles.

How to keep your brushes clean after you finish painting for the day?
Place the brush bristles in between a paper towel or rag and squeeze out the excess paint. Dip and wash the brush around in your cup of water to release any leftover paint. Gently take off the excess water. Then, take the brush to the sink, hold it under warm water and massage the bristles with soap. After you finish rinsing out the soap, wrap the brush bristles in a paper towel or a rag, and squeeze to release water. Let the brush dry horizontally on a table or place on a glass jar with the bristles facing up.

For Oils (walnut oil users only): 
In the studio, we use non-toxic oils made out of walnut oil. We don't use any medium other than walnut oil. So this method only applies to the walnut oil users, and not for all other oil paints.

How to keep your brushes clean while painting? 
While painting, keep two jars filled with walnut oil. To clean your brush, first, wipe the brush with a rag trying to take the excess paint off the brush. Then, dip the brush into the first jar of oil rubbing vigorously to remove any color. With the rag, wipe the oil from the brush again and dip the brush into the second jar to remove any remaining color. Finally, wipe your brush with your rag to remove any remaining oil and complete the process.

What if I am done working on my artwork for the day? 
Since walnut oil dries slowly, the same method described above can be used at the end of the day. The only difference is to make sure that there is no residual paint left on the bristles.

What if I am not going to be working on my artwork for a couple of days or weeks? 
First, use the same method mention above. Then, wash your brushes with mild soap and water. I prefer to wash them with biodegradable dishwasher soap ( like Mrs. Meyer's Dish Soap) and warm water. After washing the brushes, I dry them with a towel, and either sit them flat on my painting table or facing up on a glass container.

Before I start painting, I always dip my brushes in the oil and clean them to relax the bristles.

I hope you find this information useful.

Vanessa Montenegro

For more information about my art and my classes, visit vanessamontenegro.com
Follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.montenegro.artist
Follow my daily art post on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vanessasartstudio/
Buy my art at https://www.etsy.com/shop/vanessamontenegro

©2017 Vanessa Montenegro
All photos, images and text are copyright protected. Not to be used without permission.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

An Easy Strategy To Reach Your Artistic Goals

Are you looking to paint more paintings this year? Are you looking to make your life an artist masterpiece? Maybe, this is the year you stop procrastinating and start creating more art. Perhaps, you want to create the ultimate portfolio that stands out of the crowd. No matter what artist goals you want to achieve, here is an easy strategy to reach your artistic goals.

If you are like most people, by mid-January early February, you are ready to quit your New Year's resolution and go back to square one and to the old habits. So, how can you prevent this from happening in 2017? Let me share with you a trick I learned years ago. Rather than just focusing on the final goal, focus on what you do every day. Don't concentrate on the end goals so much but instead put more emphasis on what daily and weekly practices you can put into action. This doesn't mean that you don't set goals to draw or paint ten masterpiece during the year. It’s much more fundamental than that. It’s about learning how to develop new habits by a shift in perspective. It’s daily and weekly small changes that can lead to shifts in behavior, and accumulate over time to create one massive transformation.

So what are weekly and daily actions you can take to build art progress in your life?
How about getting in the habit of working on your sketchbook every day?
Students that get in the habit of working on their sketchbooks every day tend to progress faster than students that don't have a sketchbook.
How about being committed to attending art class on a weekly basis?
Students that consistently come to class on a weekly basis see progress on their art much faster than students that show up once in a while.
How about practicing on the daily basis what you learned in class weekly?
Students that consistently practice what they learned in class see faster results than those who never do homework. 

So set your daily or weekly habit today and see amazing artists results in the future.

Best,



Vanessa Montenegro

For more information about my art and my classes, visit vanessamontenegro.com
Follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.montenegro.artist
Follow my daily art post on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vanessasartstudio/
Buy my art at https://www.etsy.com/shop/vanessamontenegro

©2017 Vanessa Montenegro
All photos, images and text are copyright protected. Not to be used without permission.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Painting From Your Mind Rather Than From a Photo or Observation.

Painting from one's mind rather than a photograph or observation can be tough. However, if you focus, it could be one of the most rewarding gifts to an artist. The ability to put on paper or canvas what he/she sees in his/her mind  doesn’t come easy for everyone. But with a little bit of training, programming, observation and emotion anyone can achieve it.

This weekend I ran the Ragnar Trail Relay at Alafia River State Park. It was an amazing race and the trails were spectacular. But just before the race started, my beloved iPhone died. At first, I was disappointed because I wanted to take pictures of the different trails I was about to run. But then, I realized that it was going to be better not having a phone since it would free my hands, in case I tripped over a root (famous on these trails) and it will be an excellent opportunity to train my brain to capture the moment visually and recreate it in my studio.

Well, so what to do? My phone was dead. How was I going to record what I saw? I decided to try to record the amazing beauty by just using my memory. When I saw something spectacular, I looked at it and looked at it and told my brain to record as much info as you can. I would focus on the light, the colors and textures and what I was feeling in that moment. I felt that the emotion would anchor it more in by being. When there is emotion in an action, our brains record the moment better as part of survival instinct. I had to do this while running because I had a teammate waiting for me at the transition. I did this exercise on every consecutive leg I had to run. Yes, I had to run three different trails at three different times of the day (afternoon, night and sunrise). Lucky me, I am a slow runner so I got to observe more than all the Speedy Gonzalez's that passed me. Also, lucky me again, when I ran I had amazing light, even at night. With the eyes of an artist everything always looks amazing.

So did my experiment worked? Was I able to recreate what I saw on the trails?

On Sunday afternoon, since I couldn't do much because I was all sore, I focused on painting. I was amazed how much I could remember. I couldn't stop painting. Just that afternoon, I painted from memory more than half a dozen small paintings. The images were stuck in my brain and flowing through my hands onto the carton. I didn't look for any reference. I didn't want any distraction or influences on my fresh memories. I focused on remembering everything I felt while running. I know that probably the memories aren't completely photographic images or realistic. But I love them. They tell the story of my race and what I saw and felt in the moment. They are the images recorded in my head painted on a carton and my story of wonderful race.

So here are my "Little Sketches for Big Ideas" from memory. I hope you enjoy them and see the Ragnar Trail Relay at Alafia River State Park, through the eyes of an artist who happens to run very slow and who records the beauty in the moment through her eyes of her memories.



To buy my "Little Sketches for Big Ideas", visit
Thank you for readying this post.

Vanessa Montenegro

For more information about my art and my classes, visit vanessamontenegro.com
Follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.montenegro.artist
Follow my daily art post on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vanessasartstudio/
Buy my art at https://www.etsy.com/shop/vanessamontenegro

©2016 Vanessa Montenegro
All photos, images and text are copyright protected. Not to be used without permission.




Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Why should you have a sketchbook?

Why should you have a sketchbook?


At Vanessa’s Art Studio, I am constantly telling my art students to get a sketchbook and work on it on the daily basis. Many of my students ask why having a sketchbook is so important. Here are the reasons why you should have a sketchbook:

  • The sketchbook is a place to test and refine ideas. The sketchbook is the place where concepts are developed before drafting them on canvas or paper. Feel free to experiment a concept on your sketchbook and see if you can translate it later into a finished work.
  • The sketchbook is where you practise your drawing and painting skills. Practise makes progress. Progress is the fuel of energy that keeps us creating and growing as artists.
  • While many sketchbooks are considered works of art by themselves, they don’t have to be. The sketchbook can be used as a preparatory study of a subject, a final concept, a gathering of information or simply contain a moment in time you decided to record with your pencil.
  • Sketchbooks are great ways to see your own progress as an artist over the months and years. It is fun to flip back on your sketchbook and see where have you been and what have you done.
  • The sketchbook will help you loosen up and be more confident with your lines and work.
  • A sketchbook is a great icebreaker and tool to get connected with other artists. It is a great way to show others what you are working on and start a conversation.
  • Accessibility. It is easy to carry a sketchbook with you everywhere you go than carry a big canvas or drawing board. Just reach out to your pocket or purse and start drawing the subject that captures your attention.
  • Phone and cameras versus sketchbooks. Phone and cameras are great tools to have but if they run out of battery or the light is not good, they aren't as helpful. A sketchbook is always there, with poor light or no electricity, you can always sketch. In addition, sometimes the cameras and phones capture too much or too little information, which doesn’t tell the entire story. On a sketchbook, you can tell the story with images and words combine them and created them as they flow.
  • Disconnect from the world. A sketchbook can help you disconnect from the world and distractions of emails and social media and bring you back to living in the moment. Taking the time to observe and sketch what you see as it is happening, helps you be in be in the moment.

Are there any rules for a sketchbook?

  • The rule is that there are no rules.
  • You can use any media inside your sketchbook; however, I recommend that if you plan to use any paint media, you pick a sketchbook that supports mixed media or paint.
  • The sketchbook should be personal and reveal your artist's response to your environment.
  • The sketchbook doesn’t have to be perfect. The nice thing about a sketchbook is that if the drawing or painting didn’t come out how you wanted it, you just move to the next page and start over.
  • Not every sketch, drawing or painting on your sketchbook needs to be a pretty drawing or masterpiece. They also don’t have to be finished drawings.
  • Use the sketchbook for copying at museums, drawing from imagination and developing complex paintings. On your sketchbook, you can work from imagination, photographs or life. You can draw with pen and ink, pencil, paint, watercolor or any other media.
  • Your sketchbook is your playground. There should be freedom. Try not to hesitate or be self-conscious of how it looks. Give yourself the freedom to make mistakes. Remind yourself that this is your sketchbook and there is no need to share it or show it to anyone.
  • On your sketchbook, you can work sequentially through a single page or not. There are no rules since your sketchbook is yours only and you are the queen or king on it.
  • As a way to see progress, I do recommend that you date your drawings. This will help you in the future when you look at your sketchbook and wonder when you created that drawing.

What kind of sketchbook should I buy?

  • The sketchbook can be of any kind. It could be a hardcover with good bidding or as simple a folder with pages or an old book.
  • You should buy the one that best suits your individual artistic needs and budget.
  • You want a sketchbook that you can keep with you at all times so that when inspiration hits you, you are ready to record it on your sketchbook.

Thank you for readying this post.

Vanessa Montenegro

For more information about my art and my classes, visit vanessamontenegro.com
Follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.montenegro.artist
Follow my daily art post on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vanessasartstudio/

©2016 Vanessa Montenegro
All photos, images and text are copyright protected. Not to be used without permission.



Monday, May 02, 2016

The Health Benefits of Art

In the last couple of weeks, I have started going with my husband to the parks and started painting outdoors again. I felt I needed to be surrounded by nature in order to get inspired. And I did. While painting outdoors, I discovered that I was very happy. I felt at peace and connected to nature. I felt relax, less anxious and more energies. I forgot about my problems and I didn't feel tired. I don't know if it was a combination of both, nature and art, but I felt healthy. As a result, this month I decided to point out some of the benefits art can provide to our health.

What are the health benefits of doing art?

1) Art encourages creative thinking, enhances problem-solving skills and encourage us to come up with our own solution. Art boosts our brain by boosting our imagination and stimulating both left and right brain hemispheres. This helps us deal better with the rational and logic part of the brain and maximize our creativity and emotions. Art also helps the brain get new connections, helping increase brain connectivity and plasticity.

2) Art boosts our self-esteem and provides us with a sense of accomplishment. I see it all the time at the art studio when a student gets all excited that he/she was able to finish a drawing or a painting which he/she never thought she could do it.

3) Art also helps us create new connections in the brain. Learning to hold and handle a brush and/or pencil helps stimulate that connection between the hand movement and the brain.

4) Art works as a type of meditation by helping us concentrate on details and pay more attention to our environment. It also helps us relieve stress and make us feel calm and at peace. Creating art provides the brain with a distraction and a break from unhealthy thoughts and problems.

5) Finally, art helps us with our emotions creating harmony between our heart, soul, and our brain.

So next time you feel a little bit down, distracted or forgetful, just come to the studio and lets create some art.

Best,

Vanessa

For more information, visit vanessamontenegro.com

©2016 Vanessa Montenegro
All photos, images and text are copyright protected. Not to be used without permission.




Friday, April 08, 2016

Don't Quit Creating Art! Success Is Right Around The Corner.

Blue Wave © vanessa montenegro
"Blue Wave" By Vanessa Montenegro
Today, I received a rejection email from a residency that I really wanted to participate. I had made it almost to the last round, but then, I was rejected. Last week, I received a rejection email from a show I had applied in January. I had worked so hard on the piece for the show but it was rejected. Yes, both emails suck. But as an artist, at a certain point in your career, you are going to meet failure, rejection, and frustration. They always hang out together and are constantly there creating doubt and tempting you to quit. So my advice is to not stop creating art when you meet them because the truth is that the more you fail, the closer you are to discover success and achieving your art mastery.

Michael Jordan, the famous basketball player, has a quote that says:
"I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed."
Michael Jordan

My quote is very similar.
"If I have failed, that means I am getting closer to succeeding and achieving my dreams!"
Vanessa Montenegro

Not everything we create as artists is going to be beautiful, perfect or masterpieces. Out of ten pieces, maybe three will be amazing and the other seven were the learning lessons that allow us to achieve the three amazing pieces. So, what do you do? Keep the three successful ones and toss the other seven, so they don't become baggage in your art life.

Will you be rejected as an artist? You bet. It is part of the job description. If not, ask the Impressionist. As an artist, you will be rejected many times and yes it hurts because your art means that your creativity, process, and technique are being rejected. Don't take it personally. Art is in the eye of the beholder and not everyone sees things the same way. Plus, there might be people with more experience, resources, and connections than you who are applying to the same show.

So what do you do when you are rejected from an art show? I have learned that when I am not accepted to an art show rather that quitting, I look at it as an opportunity to raise my standards. I say to myself "What do I have to do to have better chances the next time?" My first step is looking at what I did and to figure out what I could have done better. Then, I search the artwork of the people who were selected and rather than seeing them with envy, I see them with admiration and I try to learn from them. Search their careers. Learn their techniques. Where there is a success, there is a trail of lessons. So, I look at what I am missing, start getting out of my comfort zone and start creating new art. I don’t quit.

Why don’t you quit when you fail? Someone told me once that if I wasn't failing, I wasn't trying hard enough and I was living in my comfort zone. How correct was that person to tell me that. That same person also told me that "the day one stop fearing, one starts living." The day that person said that to me is the day I became an artist. As an artist, I already know rejection, failure, and frustration. I hate when they show up because they are the unexpected guests that make me want to run away. But, I also know that when I meet them, it means I am trying hard enough, getting out of my comfort zone and living. They show me what doesn’t work and allow me to search for a better way to find success.

I am sharing this with you because I see students sometimes afraid of trying new things because they fear rejection, failure or frustration. They limit themselves or worst they quit the first time they meet failure or frustration. This is my advice to you, the day you put your fears away is the day you will start living and enjoying the process of creating art more than the final pieces. Excitement will run in your veins and become the catalyst for your own success. The day you give up because of fear of failure is the day you fail. While you are still trying, there is hope. Hope always defeats failure, rejection, and frustration. So, stop fearing that your piece doesn’t look good or people will not like your work or that you will be rejected. Art is in the eye of the beholder and there are many beholders. So shift your perception of your art and you will shift your life as an artist. Start enjoying the process and if you get stuck, come to my art studio. I am sure I can guide you and help you to take it to the next step.

Vanessa's Art Studio
http://www.vanessamontenegro.com/vm/index.html
https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.montenegro.artist

Copyright © 2016 Vanessa Montenegro

8 Morning Routines That Have Helped Me Become A More Effective Artist.

A couple of weeks ago, Lauren, one of my art students, told me that she was reading a book called “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” by M...