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Creative Vision

by Erica Neumann

Creative Vision

Artists have long been associated with having mystical abilities and a unique way of perceiving the world with a mysterious type of vision, a magical gift. It is an exciting ability that escapes and confuses many of us.

Tormented, we may explore our deepest imagination, stretching it until it nearly snaps in an effort to create something otherworldly and worthy of visionary status. For some reason our hunger for that mystical connection to our inner magic, no matter how hard we try, is still not satisfied.

10 Things About Red

by Doug Swinton

10 Things About Red

1. Let’s begin at the beginning… First employed in prehistoric cave paintings, Red Ochre is one of the oldest pigments used in art and is still widely used today. Although there are many shades of Red Ocher they all appear subdued when compared to Vermilion. Red Ocher is very opaque. It mixes well with other colours and produces a great variety of natural shades. 

2. Red is the first colour to leave the visual spectrum. Red has the shortest wave length and therefore has the least amount of oomph when it comes to visual distance. If you look out over a long landscape, you will see that there is very little red in the distance. This is the reason warms colours tend to come forward and cool colours tend to move away from you. Red leaves the spectrum first, then orange, then yellow, until you are left with the distant longer-wave colours - green purple and blue.

Top 200 Things That Will Make You a Better Artist.

The award goes to Doug Swinton.

Top 200 Things That Will Make You a Better Artist.

art trophy doug swintonLadies and Gentlemen, this year’s Award For Writing Art Stuff goes to… Doug Swinton!

Let’s go back in time to put this amazing achievement in context. The year is 1978 and Disco is King. The school is Dr. E.P. Scarlett. (Strange, I still don’t know after whom this school was named. Does anyone know?) Up to this point, the total number of written words in my entire school career was less than a 100. I was that kid in school with the worst book report but totally rockin’ book cover... Why am I telling you this? 

Below is my 200th newsletter! Where, when and why I started to write about art is a mystery, but in the last 24 years I have written over 200 of them. I’m no Robert Genn who wrote some 2 newsletters a week, but once a month I sit down in front of the computer and do just that… write.

In honour of this great achievement, I went through my notes and hand picked the Top 200 Things That Will Make You a Better Artist...

10 ways you benefit from taking an art workshop.

by Doug Swinton and our students.

10 ways you benefit from taking an art workshop.

You take our workshops for many reasons. Sometimes it is to enhance what you already know and leap to that next plateau. Other times it is to step out of your comfort zone and learn something completely new.

The rewards of taking an art workshop are numerous. In order to inspire, we thought it might be helpful to share your thoughts with other artists, so we asked around the studios and compiled this list of 10 ways you benefit from taking art workshops.

Don't forget to add your own reason below...

"I Thought I Had Lost You" - Finishing A Good Start

By Chantel Lynn Barber

I love teaching workshops. I love getting the opportunity to share my passion with others, and in the process,  I learn so much from the students. They offer me visuals in areas I know I myself struggle with. Seeing them work through these issues has helped me develop certain practices in my own studio. In painting, it is easy to fall into bad habits. The main issue that arises time after time is "finishing a good start" or keeping an initially successful painting from ending poorly.

Here are some invaluable suggestions:


10 Lifelines To Help When Your Painting Is In Crisis.

What to do when your painting is not at it's best.

10 Lifelines To Help When Your Painting Is In Crisis.

You are merrily painting along when you start to sense that things are getting a bit murky. Then, in a flash, things become very bad... Calm waters churn into choppy seas. Lights flicker, then go out. Red emergency lights flash on, spinning, while sirens sheer through the studio “awooga awooga!!” An ominous voice is heard overhead,  “We have an emergency situation…abort painting…abort painting.” 

This is the scenario that plays out in my head when a painting suddenly takes a nasty turn.

Holdfast my friends.
Inside every crisis is an opportunity!

10 things to keep in mind when taking an art workshop

How to get the best results from your next art workshop.

The Painting Purge - Cleaning the studio to achieve fresh ideas.

Whatever your level of experience, workshops are a super fun way to learn new art tricks and expand your skills.  

Swinton’s is gearing up for summer workshop season and we have more than ever to choose from.  As an instructor, head wrangler, and an active participant, I have some insights of what to consider when choosing a workshop and how to get the best results...

The Painting Purge

Getting rid of studio clutter to achieve new directions.

The Painting Purge - Cleaning the studio to achieve fresh ideas.

For some artists, the studio becomes a dumping ground for unresolved artwork and everything else that doesn’t seem to have a home. Although you may not be conscious of it, the clutter in your workspace competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.

When you are surrounded by unresolved paintings, your brain can’t help but continually try to work out possible solutions instead of focusing on fresh possibilities.

Finding ways to un-clutter will give you a sense of power and a freed mind, leaving more room for you to be creative...

The Secret Curve

Using convex vs. concave lines in life drawing.

The Secret Curve - Convex vs Concave Lines in Figure Drawing

There’s a little secret in life drawing that not many artists know about. If you know about it you’re already using it, if not, you will start after reading this article.

It can be our little secret. 

Here it is: If you want your figure to have a natural look, use convex (outy lines) and not concave (inny lines).

Why? Everything alive starts as a molecule and begins to grow. Growing is an outward motion. As things grow, they begin to take on a bulge toward the outwards or convex.

(I think my stomach adopted this law too personally.) 

The Magic of the 70/30 Split

Using opposites to create a dynamic painting.

The Magic of the 70/30 Split - Using opposites to create a dynamic painting.

Good painting is all about opposites. Warm vs.cool, big vs. small, colourful vs. dull, etc. When we use opposites in our work, they play off of each other to create dynamic excitement and heighten the visual appeal.

Warm colours allow cool colours to sing. Big shapes concede to the small shapes, allowing them to dance joyfully. Colours burst when placed in a sea of grey.

The key is to avoid using the same amount of opposition. When you split the opposites into equal parts you negate the effect.

Let’s go down the rabbit hole and explore how all of this works…

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