In today’s podcast we are talking about the Artist’s playground. As we know, a child always performs better at school when they’re also allowed a bit of time to exercise, to play and to not be a slave to the rules. It’s their time to have fun and let go. It’s the same for artists. If they also allow themselves time out to let go and have some fun, then they will work better at their more serious pieces.
One of the things this helps us with, is to lose our inhibitions because this does not necessarily stuff that will appear in our other work, so it doesn’t have to be seen, or judged. Again, we can liken this to our grades at school, which are judged by our efforts in the classroom and not the playground.
But unlike kids, as adults, it is much harder for us to let go. This is something we have to allow ourselves to do without self-judgement or embarrassment.
So, there are things we can do to help ourselves to let go and start having some fun.
Art challenges push you out of your comfort zone
Challenges are a great way of getting yourself out of your comfort zones and trying new things
I think the idea for this podcast came from someone saying they wondered if they would have enough ideas for drawing 50faces in our 50 Ways to Draw a Face challenge, so we thought we would help suggest some idea for things you can experiment with in your art, whether that’s working on faces or another subject.
One really useful thing about challenges is that they often come with a list of optional prompts. And this is a great way of coming up with ideas you might not have thought of before.
But you could also create your own set of prompts. And that could be anything from a list of random words which you can either choose yourself or go to a random word generator online to get some. But you don’t have to just stick to words… You could also write down a list of other things, like different styles, or different ways of mark-making, like ‘squiggles, or circles or cubism, things like that. Then what you do is you go through your prompts one by one and create something which is led by that prompt.
You could also make it even more interesting, by making a list of words and a list of techniques. So, for example, if your word is milky and your technique is circles, then you could draw a cow, using only different sized circles… and you can create some amazing art like this because your circles can be anything from tiny to huge!
Draw with something that’s hard to control
Draw with something that’s hard to control – like a dropper bottle or a very large brush. the lack of control will lead to happy accidents and will mean you will draw differently to usual
I like kids’ sponge brushes for that exact reason
Working like this can also take the fear of the result away. You will assume it’s not going to be great, so you can let yourself go, however you might be surprised how much you like it.
Try a completely different art style
What about trying a style that is the polar opposite of what you normally do. So I did this myself. I’m a realism painter, but on the side, I sometimes draw really silly cartoons. And it’s my own way of letting go of my pedantic side. And it’s the one time where I don’t really care about making mistakes, because it’s just not important. It’s meant to be fun.
If you put my cartoons next to my paintings, you would never believe the same artist did both… and I like that!
Change the scale of things in your drawing
Think about what you are drawing at a different scale. For example, I put cartoon people in one of my faces as though it was the basket of a balloon. A piece of fruit could be enormous or could fit on the end of your fingertip.
Change the size you are working at
You could change the size you are working at.
If you normally work small, how about going really big or vice versa…
I did this back in 2018. I used to do paintings that were around the 40 x 50 cm mark, but generally I didn’t tend to go much bigger. But then like I mentioned earlier, I was commissioned to do a marble painting and they wanted it to be really BIG. Now I can’t remember the exact size, but it was around 3.5 x 4.5 foot, so significantly bigger than I would usually work.
To be honest I was really worried at first because working on a large scale meant I had to change my technique. I needed to use much larger brushes and much broader marks, but still end up with my usual style at the end of it. But I did it and it worked and they loved it! Now whilst I wasn’t trying to experiment or change my style, what it did teach me is not to be afraid to go big or try something new.
Distort a photo and draw it
Distort a photo with an app and paint it. There are many good face and body morphing apps out there. When `I started drawing abstract faces I would often take a reference photo distort it in an app and use that as my starting point to draw from.
Use inspiration from multiple sources
Collect together 3 very different pieces of work by artists you like, perhaps you could save it to a Pinterest board or print them out.
So, you might go for – Van Gogh, Monet and Modigliani. So then you would think how you could combine an element you like from each to create your own piece. So maybe you like the brushstrokes of Van Gogh, the colour pallet of Monet and the bold outlines of Modigliani… By taking small elements from each style, you can come up with your own unique way of working.
Take inspiration from an unrelated piece of art
Look at one completely unrelated piece of art and see how you could be inspired by elements of it – for example, I saw an abstract artist using a grey paper with shapes and colours so that inspired a face I created. My art looked nothing like hers once it was complete but it kick-started me with the inspiration.
Combine different mediums
You could combine mediums you wouldn’t normally put together.
Recently I was looking at some work by a member of our Facebook Group. They had discovered they could actually paint with charcoal, by wetting it.
You can get charcoal powder, or you can just grind up a stick of willow charcoal, but by using a wet brush, you can then use it like paint… And you could also dip a piece of Willow charcoal in water and draw with it.
But you can try any combination. You could use soft pastel over watercolour or acrylic… there’s no end of ways you can combine media’s… The one thing you shouldn’t do though and that’s to use acrylic over oil, because that won’t last.
And Tara, I know you discovered that using Matt medium over charcoal worked really well too.
Choose colours you don’t usually use
Choose 1 or two colours you never use and use them – Go to Colorlovers for inspiration. There is a painting challenge called Colorimbo where every few days they give a couple of colours to use in your work. I remember seeing an artist’s work who had done it and loved one of the pieces. It pushes you out of your comfort zone. For instance, I rarely use green in my work, I don’t know why.
Draw multiple blind contours
So you could create a few blind contour drawings over each other then work into it.
So by that I mean, draw one… and then maybe turn your page up the other way and draw another over the top… You could find that somewhere within those shapes, you see something different altogether and then you could work from that.
Use collage, tear paper draw over it, put post-its over bits you don’t like and redraw. This is a really fun way to work and you just never know what you are going to end up with. You can keep going until you like the result.
Get inspired by things other than art
Get inspired by things other than art. It could be from a piece of scrap material, which you could clip to your sketchbook to come back to later… In fact, collecting things like that in a sketchbook is always a good idea. It might be a certain colour combo you like for example.
A sketchbook is such a good place to start when you’re playing and I’m always most fascinated by those ones you see that are overfilled with scraps of paper, beer mats, photos as well as drawings.
Or maybe it’s just something you see in an advert that catches your eye… Write it down!
Or perhaps you spot something that a non-creative person might not. A good example of that, is when I was about to throw a crushed coke can in the bin, before I realised that actually, it could make a really interesting thing to paint. Now, most people would have just thrown it away… But if you keep your eyes open to things like that, they will make for inspiration at a later date.
Break what you are drawing into simplified shapes, see everything as bold blocks or swirls. Colour the shapes in and see if you like the results. Try the same thing but this time make it angular.
Create a monoprint
Create a monoprint and draw into it. One of the interesting things about monoprints is some of the textures you get. You can always use it in collage or collage over it if you don’t like the piece as it is.
Support us on Kofi
This week’s creative question
Q. What is the happiest art-related accident you ever had?
The best answers will be read out on a future podcast.
You can Tweet us your answers @KickCreatives or let us know in the Facebook Group, which by the way if you haven’t already joined, I highly recommend that you do! We will put the question up there and also on the Facebook page… and of course, on our Instagram page @kickinthecreatives.
If you have any suggestions for the podcast or our challenges please feel free to get in touch.