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6 Life Lessons From Abstract Painting

Here’s the great thing about abstract painting: there are no rules.

Abstract art is not bound to or defined by a subject, a scale, or a medium. An abstract piece of work is, in essence, a snapshot of the artist’s mind: and oh what a wonderful place that is! Being completely open to interpretation, it holds a lot of meaning to a lot of different people.

However, abstract art isn’t just nice to look at and understand. To the artist/creator, working solely with colours and textures often rids the mind of inhibitions and structure, and allow creativity to flow unrestricted.

Here are the 6 most important lessons that I have learnt from abstract painting.

 

1. A blank canvas isn’t always white.

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Not all your work has to be bright and sunshine-y. Sometimes, a haunting darkness is just what you need, to let the mind wander.

Now I’m not trying to advocate or romanticize sadness or difficult times, there is nothing pretty about them. However, waiting for the “right” frame of mind to create something could mean you wait for a long, long time.

Sometimes, it’s okay to channel your inner goth (I know everyone has one, so don’t even pretend!) and put it on a page.

2. Start small, and you’ll have nothing to lose.

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You’ve heard the old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and I’ll say it again. A lot of the times, we put an unnecessary amount of pressure on ourselves to know exactly where we’re going and what we’re doing, right from the start.

Here’s the thing though: if you already knew the outcome of an event, why would you go through it in the first place?

The whole point of life, to me, is discovering new things about the world around us and, ultimately, discovering new things about ourselves; which leads us to our next point:

3. Experiment. A lot.

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I’ve always been a textbook person: I’ve always been terrified to take risks, and as a result, have very few memories of an extraordinary childhood. Ask me to tell you about my past, and I’ll almost certainly repeat a story of wake up, school, come back, dinner, bed.

Only recently have I realised just how important it is to put yourself out there. Dye your hair a crazy colour. Learn how to play a crazy instrument. Teach yourself a new sport. Move to a different country. Make memories that can only be communicated through pictures, and I promise you, there won’t be a day you regret how everything turned out!

4. Let your personality explode!

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A lot of the times, we try to define ourselves based on how other people define us. What we fail to realise is that their perception of us is often affected by their perception of themselves.

For instance, as a creative person myself, I’m inclined to categorize people into “creative” and “non-creative”  types; someone obsessed with healthy living would categorize others as “healthy” or “unhealthy”, and it goes on.

So how do I find out what my personality is really like?

It’s actually quite simple. What makes you happy? Where do you like to shop, and why? What do you love learning about every single day?

So many of us are unconsciously obsessed with labels, which is fair enough – it’s instinctual to try and categorize people and situations. But these labels also bring with them a lot of restrictions that we impose upon ourselves unknowingly. Break through those, and you’ll finally learn exactly who you are!

(P.S. I’m still in the process of doing this…)

5. Sometimes, it’s okay to cut back a little.

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As an introvert, I find it mentally exhausting to have to be “on” all the time. In a crowded room, my mind is constantly switching between “I need to project the best version of me that I can” and “why couldn’t this just have been a night in with Netflix and popcorn?”

However, in order to not appear to be an unsocial hermit, we often bite off more than we can chew, and hit “Going” on that event we know we’re not going to enjoy. And invariably,  all of this stress leads to physical illness, which then leads to more stress cause really, I can’t make it to a 9 am lecture with aching bones!

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve had to learn is to stop when I feel the need to. It may disappoint people if you’ve promised to be somewhere and don’t show up, but they’re much more likely to be forgiving than your own body is. Sometimes, it’s okay to take the time off and recuperate.

Bonus: the next time you go out, you’re going to look and feel a whole lot more alive!

6. Finally, don’t be afraid to change your mind completely!

final

Change is the only constant in this world, and oftentimes, it leads to much greater, grander outcomes than you’d anticipated.

Be it your personal style, a career choice, or even the interiors of your home. If something doesn’t look/feel right, you’re probably going to end up resenting it one day. So change it now, while you still can!


‘Space Bound’
Corel Painter and Wacom Intuos DRAW.

I’ve made prints available for this piece here: http://fav.me/daild6z

Go grab yourself one! 🙂

I hope this article has been helpful, and I’m so very grateful you’ve taken the time out to read it!

Thanks for being here, and have a lovely week!

S. xx

Your turn: What are the most important lessons you’ve learnt growing up? Tell us in the comments below!


Like this? Read more!

final-copyright   How To Paint Loose Curls | Little Brown Artist   Title

Tutorial: How To Paint Loose Curls In 12 Easy Steps!

Artists hate curls. It’s a simple fact.

Ask anyone who has ever painted hair, and they’ll almost always say they prefer to render straight or wavy hair. It’s so much easier, and doesn’t make you want to pull your own hair out!  (See what I did there? Do ya???)

Continue reading Tutorial: How To Paint Loose Curls In 12 Easy Steps!

Tutorial- The Nose!

Hi guys!

Alright, a tutorial on a feature that seems so hard to draw, but really isn’t. The nose!

I have to admit, the first time I drew a nose, it turned out horrid. But guess what. As it turns out, drawing a nose is the same as drawing anything else- it’s all about the shadows and highlights!

So here I’ll show you, step by step, how I draw a nose.

1. This is what we start with- a basic sketch of a generic nose. I know, the frontal view of a nose is the toughest to draw. But hey, once we get the hardest part down, the rest of it is cakewalk, isn’t it? 🙂

2. Let’s determine the light source. Here, it’ll be the top left corner. So we know that the bottom right of the nose will contain the darkest tones, and the gradation will be from light in the left, to dark in the right.
(Sorry about the creases. My eraser’s being really bad!)
3. Now, we mark out our shadowy regions. This is necessary if you’re using a reference. If not, you can just be spontaneous with it. 😉

 

4. Time to get colouring. I like to begin with the darkest tone. I’m using an HB pencil, but you can use any shade. It sort of sets a threshold to the highest value our drawing will have, so remember that every tone that follows will be lighter than this. Note that the nostrils are always the darkest. (I highly doubt anyone has white nostrils!)

 

5. Now we get our second darkest tone in. This, for me, was a 2H, but again, use whichever shade you see fit. This goes around the edge of the nose that is away from the light, and just below the center of the nose, as you can see.

 

6. Finally, we get in our lightest tone, for which I used a 5H. This fills in the remainder of our demarcations.

 

7. Using a blending stump- preferably a clean one- or a cotton bud, blend around the edges of the darkest tone. This will also help the stump pick up some graphite, so that all the blending that follows is smooth.

 

8. Blend out the edges of the second tone in a similar way.

 

9. Finally, blend out the lightest shade.
10. Now let’s work on adding a little dimension. Using the second shade, the 2H, trace along the length of the right side of the nose, like so.
11. With the same pencil, shade outwards in semi-circles, reducing the pressure as you go away from the center.
12. Blend in the same direction, so you have something like this.
13. Do the same thing on the other side, but with the lightest shade, the 5H. Remember, it gets lighter as you go farther away from the center.
14. See how the edges look so abrupt? Well, let’s fix that. Using the blending stump, blend inwards from the edges in  tiny circular motions. This just helps it appear softer.

 

15. “Connect” the two ends with the same movement, tiny blend-y circles.

 

16. Time to do the bridge of the nose. Locate where you want this to be- it’s usually at the narrowest part of the nose. Colour a band across the nose with the 5H pencil, and blend it out.

 

17. Going back to the bottom of the nose, blend in the line that separates the round part of the nose from the bottom “U”. This helps connect the two.

 

18. Do the same thing as we did with the edge of the nose. Place the darkest tone closes to the center, and go lighter downwards.

 

19. Back to the nostrils. Line the upper edges of the nostrils, and extend these lines diagonally downwards.

 

20. Blend these lines downwards slightly.
21. Time to whip out the magic wand I like to call a kneaded eraser! Choose a spot where the light will hit with the highest intensity. This spot will appear the most protruded. Erase off a little circle at this spot.

 

22. Now, using the same eraser, dab lightly around this circle. This is how I “blend” in the erasing.

 

23. Dab through the very center of the nose up to the bridge.

 

24. Dab off some graphite from the area above the bridge, too. This helps it really sink, thereby adding dimension.
25. Knead the eraser to a tiny point, and erase of fine lines around the nostrils.

 

26. Dab these upwards slightly, making sure maximum graphite is lifted off around the outer corners of the nostrils. These areas tend to appear lighter due to the strong contrast against the darkest tones of the nostrils.

 

27. Erase and dab off a tiny line next to the diagonal we created in step 19. This is another area light happens to hit.

 

28. Finally, lightly erase off a “C” at the outer edge of the shin around the right nostril. This is the last place light hits.
 Add and erase lines as you please, till you’re happy with the final product.
Voila! You just drew a nose! 😀

 

Not as hard as it seems, is it? Lengthy, yes, but once you get a hang of it, it’s really, really easy!
I really hope this tutorial helped. If you have any requests, please do comment below and let me know.
Thanks for watching!
-S.

How to: The Grid

Hi guys!

Wow! It’s been an eternity since I last posted! I apologize. I just wasn’t inspired to make a tutorial- I am now! So here’s one on how to use the grid method to get the basic structure of a portrait. This is what I use to do my portraits, and although many people seem to hate this method, I quite like it. I find it easy and less time consuming, plus, it’s much more accurate.

So here I’m going to be showing you exactly how I draw the basic sketch for a portrait of Rihanna I’m currently working on.

Here’s a printout of the reference. (Yes, the colours are slightly strange. My printer’s probably forgotten to take its meds. 😛 ) It is 25 cm long, and 15 cm wide.

1. First, we decide on dimensions. I’m going to be dividing this into boxes with sides of length 2 cm. You can choose a larger or a smaller number, what ever you’re comfortable with. We begin by drawing vertical lines 2 cm apart, starting at the left. (The length of this print out is not even, so it is important to remember that we started at the left!)

2. Next, we draw horizontal lines, 2 cm apart, starting at the top- the breadth is not an even number either! So now we have a grid.

3. I choose to scale the portrait to 1.25 the size times the print out, and multiply all the dimensions by 1.25. So, the length becomes around 31.25 cm, the breadth, 18.75 cm, and the grid-lines would be 2.5 cm apart.

4. So now, like we did on the reference, we draw vertical line, but this time 2.5 cm apart and starting from the left. (That’s because we’ll be left with a small section at the right of the grid, and we want to make sure it stays to the right.) Also, make sure the lines are light enough so they can be rubbed off completely, yet dark enough so they’re visible.
5. Complete the grid by drawing horizontal lines, 2.5 cm apart, starting at the top. (This time, the small section will be at the bottom.) Since my grid is larger than my ruler, I make markings for the horizontal lines on a vertical line almost halfway across the grid, and draw halves of the horizontal lines first.

6. Then, we make markings on the right end and connect the lines, completing the grid. 

7. Whew! The worst is over. Now comes the fun part. We start by drawing the perimeters of the portrait- in this case, her hair. This is so that we know all the important stuff comes within these boundaries. So here’s the key to using a grid: Don’t judge the shapes on the reference. Look at the lines. See where they cut the lines  on your grid, and how. This will get clearer in the next few steps.
                                      
8. Now on to the jaw line. This is kind of a crucial line, since it pretty much dictates how the face is shaped. Make very sure to try and cut the grid-lines at the points where they are cut on the print out. Again, do not bother much about the shape! I can not stress this point enough. And if you feel it looks strange, wait till you’re done with the whole thing, and if it still looks out of place, change it. That’s the great thing about pencils- the erasers! Add the lines for the neck. The shape of the neck looks weird here, but that’s because of the hands.

9.  Let’s go ahead and add the details around her face. I had to be extra careful with the fingers, because of the length of her nails. If you erase off a grid-line by mistake, don’t rush to go over it with a ruler. Just draw it back on roughly. As with the jaw, watch where they cut the grid-lines. (I’ll keep saying that so you guys don’t forget- it is quite easy to forget about the lines and estimate the shapes, but then that defeats the purpose of a grid….or well, the purpose of the grid based on how I use it!)

10. Now on to the face. This is, most definitely, the most important part of the portrait. When it comes to the facial features, the 2.5 cm lines seem too far apart for me, so I go back to the reference. Here, as you can see, I drew more lines between the ones that were already there. These lines, both horizontal and vertical, cut the grid into 1 cm-squared boxes. That is,each box is cut exactly in the middle (1 cm from each end) both horizontally and vertically.
11. Going back to our portrait, we cut the corresponding boxes at 1.25 cm from each end, both horizontally and vertically. 
12. Again, draw in the lines to make the eyes. Be careful while counting the squares, though. (I know, because I made them a box too close!) See how much easier it becomes with smaller squares? That’s because, the larger your object is in comparison to the grid, the lesser the error you make. If someone out there has taken AS-Level Physics, they’ll know what I’m talking about (Percentage error).
13. Finish up the rest of the face. This might take patience, since, sometimes, the sheer number of lines may drive you insane! This one, thankfully, is much easier. Also, if the features don’t look exactly the same, chances are, it’ll be fine once the shading and the dimension come in. For example, here the nose looks a little wider than it is, but once the darker tones come in, it’ll be just fine.

14. As always, add or delete lines till you’re happy with the finished piece. The whole point of the basic sketch is to add as many details as you can, so when it comes time to fill/colour it in, it’s easy to gauge exactly where a particular tone goes.
And there you have it! A basic sketch to get your portrait started!

I really hope you guys like it, and I hope this technique helps. If you have any requests please do let me know! 
Thanks.
-S.

Tutorial- How to draw a mouth/ lips

Hey guys!

Today’s tutorial is going to be about how to draw a mouth. Now lips can be one of the trickiest things to draw because it’s their texture that makes them look realistic. So let’s go ahead and get started.

1. I like to start by drawing the center line. This helps decide what shape the mouth will ultimately take. So here’s what we have when we begin. Notice how this line is thick at the center, then thins out, and then thickens at the corners again? The thick areas are usually where your lips part, even when it is closed. (Seriously. Try it!)

2. Now let’s get the basic shape around this line. Note how the dip in the center of the upper lip corresponds with the lowest point on the center line, as well as that on the lower lip. Make sure to draw those two diagonals on top of the lips- these are the little raised lines you see between your nose and your mouth.

3. Let’s begin shading. Using a lighter pencil (I’m using a 3H), or the same pencil with lesser pressure, fill in the entire area in and around the mouth. Make sure the guidelines are still visible, though.

4. Make semi triangles on the corners of the lips, like so.

5. Make two lines across the lips. On the upper lip, the line will start slightly off-center and curve away from the center. On the bottom lip, it’ll start at the center and curve very slightly, in the opposite direction.

6. Okay, time to add some dimension. Using the lines we just made as guidelines, draw lines all the way across the lips. These should curve away from the center. Make sure they go slightly more horizontal towards the outer corner. This helps show the plumpness of the mouth- the more horizontal the lines, the thicker the center of the mouth looks as compared to the ends, and the greater the curve, the plumper they lips appear.

(Oh no! I lost the photo for this step! Sorry! Check the next photo to see what I mean.)

7. Now add a few more strokes, slightly darker than the ones we just made, originating at the center line. These won’t go all the way across- not even halfway across, really. This will make the center line appear like a feather, but that’s okay.

8. Repeat the same, this time, starting at the outer edges, pointing upwards.

9. Using a blending stump, blend along the curves we made- not horizontally. This will make sure all the tones are softly blended, while making sure the difference is still visible. (I used cotton buds as an alternative to blending stumps before I bought the latter. They work fairly well, too!)

12. Find the center of the lower lip and draw a triangle each on both edges, both pointing inwards.

13. Blend these in, allowing some of the blending to go all the way across the lip.
Now for the two little diagonals on the top. Add a few lines like in the picture below. Make sure there is some space between the lines and the upper lip. This adds dimension; the skin immediately around the lips always appears lighter as the mouth protrudes.

14. Colour in the lines we just drew with a pencil around 2 shades darker, let’s say, an H. Blend out the edges till they’re nice and soft. Notice how, at the little rectangle we made at the center of the Cupid’s Bow, the colour is the darkest at both the vertical ends and softens out to the center. I also blended the colour out to the left, making it lighter as it approaches the next line. There’s not much I can explain about this- if you look at the skin above your mouth in the mirror, with a light source to your left, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Also, blend the outermost corners of the mouth downwards slightly- this area is almost always shaded.

15. Below the lower lip, leave some lighter space and colour it in with the H pencil, just like we did the upper lip- well, without the Cupid’s Bow madness! See how the “light spaces” get broader towards the outer corners? This, again, helps create an effect of protrusion. Like before, blend it out so the lines are not so sharp.
Now to the finishing touches. Darken the center line we drew in the very first step. Add a few flecks on the lips using an eraser, concentrating them mainly at the center of both lips (and making sure to follow the original curved strokes we made). As always, add or erase lines as you please, till you’re happy with the finished product.

Voila! You just drew a mouth!
Note: This is just a simple mouth. Once you get a hang of the basic anatomy, go ahead and try copying one out from a reference. You’ll realize just how many different types of lips there are! I tell you this- references help open your mind to all the different forms and shapes that exist. They helped me gauge the placement of lines and colours. 🙂
I really hope you guys liked this tutorial and found it helpful. I’ll see you on my next tutorial!
Thanks for watching!
-S.

 

How To Draw Hair- The Basics

Hey guys!

Okay, so as I promised yesterday, here’s a tutorial on how to draw hair- well, how I draw hair. Many people find it intimidating- I did, too! But then I figured where to start, and I’m going to show you exactly how to do it!
🙂

Okay, let’s go ahead and get started. This will be our basic sketch.

1. Mark out roughly the areas where light will hit. These areas will contain some of your lightest tones.

 

2. Make markings to show where your darkest tones will be. Make sure to pay attention to the direction in which these lines occur.
3. Using long strokes, fill in the area just before the first light patches you drew. (Make sure not to fill in the area just next to the parting. We’ll look at this area next.) For now, use medium pressure on the pencil and make sure the lines show up well. Observe how they get darker towards the already present dark lines? This helps them blend in. Also, use the previous dark lines as guidelines for the direction in which the strokes go.
4. Use very slight pressure and carry the lines forward toward the parting. (The reason we’re leaving this light is because hair doesn’t grow flat at the part. There’s always a slight bump. I know it doesn’t look like it yet, but it’ll be fine.)
5. Now draw tiny, tiny strokes using good pressure towards the light area. This will give us the “bump” effect. Also, notice how some strokes go right across the the light area. This is so that the distinction between the two tones is not quite so abrupt.

 

6. Now let’s focus on the rest of it. Extend your initial darkest lines almost tangentially so they cross even the light areas, all the way to the end. These, again, will act as guidelines to help us gauge the direction of the strands.

7.  Let’s start with the bangs. Draw long strokes inwards. Make sure they are dense at the outside, and go slightly sparser inwards.

8. Do this with the rest of the sections, save the light areas. See how they get extremely dark at the intersections. This helps add dimension. Again, pay attention to the direction of the strands! I can not stress on this point enough!
9. Alright. Now to the tricky part. The light areas. Use minimal pressure to draw strokes connecting the two dark areas. These lines need not be too close together.
10. Like we did with the little bump at the parting, add a few darker lines going right across the light areas. Also, add a few darker areas close to the obvious lines to blend them in.
11. Repeat this on the other side of the head and you should have something that looks like this.
12. See that little triangle thing on top? Let’s work on that now. In this little region, the lines seem to fan out in all direction. So let’s get our guidelines in.
13. Use the same techniques like before, (darker towards the outside and lighter inside) to fill it in.
14. Time to add the finishing touches. Use a kneaded, or a very, very sharp hard eraser to add a few random white strokes across the head. This will make it look more real, as light tends to hit very random spots. Also, add or erase lines as you please till you’re satisfied with the final look of it.
Voila! You just drew hair! 😀
Not so difficult now, is it? Long, yes, but once you get it, it’s just a 5-minute job, and totally worth it! 😀
I really hope this tutorial helped. If you have any requests please do leave it in the comments below!
Thanks for watching!
-S.

Tutorial- How to draw eyes!

Hey guys! 😀

Second tutorial! This one’s about how to draw eyes using coloured pencils. Well, it’s really a technique, rather than the medium, so I guess the process applies to graphite, pastels or even paints!

Let’s go ahead and get started.

This is what we have when we begin.

 
1. Colour the iris with your base shade. I’m using a light green. Make sure to avoid the spot where light is meant to reflect from. Also, there’s no need to colour the pupil. So you have a light green doughnut!
 
 
2. Using a darker shade, outline the iris. (I’ve used a dark green, but it showed up slightly blue. My camera messed the colours up! ) Fade the dark colour in slightly- this can be done using a blending stump, but I just used a lighter hand.
 
 
3. With the same colour, outline the pupil and fade it outwards. Make sure to leave a gap of the light green between the two patches of dark green. This adds dimension to the iris.*
 
 
4. Take a black pencil and colour the pupil in- this stays the same with every technique. (Imagine having yellow irises!) Fade the black out very slightly into the surrounding dark green.
 
 
5. Darken the topmost area of the iris and fade it downwards. This will create an effect of the eyelid hooding part of the iris.
 
 
6. Now, onto the tear-duct area. Use a pink pencil to draw a shape similar to a triangle.
 
 
7. Blend it inwards, making sure that the center of the triangle is the lightest. Also, fade it into the cornea- it is never completely white.
 
 
8. Use a peach/skin colour to colour around the eye. Notice how it is less pigmented between the crease of the eye and the brows.
 
 
9. Use a dark brown on the crease, fading it upwards. See how it fades higher up just before the arch? That is because the skin on the brow bone will be much lighter than that in the crease- again, adds dimension. Also, I added the eyeliner with black, filling in even the little section of the upper waterline visible at the outer corner. If the subject isn’t wearing eyeliner, do this with a colour one or two shades darker than your skin colour.
 
 
10. Using the same dark brown pencil, draw a light line just above the lower waterline, and fade it into the cornea. I also filled the brows in with the brown.
 
 
 
11. Add the eyelashes. The topper lashes are generally much thicker and more in number as compared to the lower ones. Also, the lower lashes always start at the bottom line of the lower waterline, and occur in clumps.
 
 
12. Use the brown pencil and short strokes to add details in the eyebrows. Add a few flecks in the iris using the darker green, or even brown, or erase little strokes off using a kneaded eraser, till you’re happy with the finished product.
 
 
Yay! You just drew an eye! Celebration! Give yourself a pat on the back, or go buy shoes or something. 😉
 
 
*The theory behind adding dimension is highlights and shadows. The light hits parts of the object that protrudes the most. 
 
So, I really hope this helps you guys. 
 
Thanks for reading!
-S.