Painters Block and Creativity On Demand!

by Neadeen Masters on November 10, 2012

“Painter’s Block” and Creativity On Demand!

She’s a scary beast that visits from time to time. A Pandora who’s hiding in her box, just waiting to pounce if we only let her have a chance! Painter’s Block is a very real condition that many artists suffer with, including me. Both beginner and experienced artists are vulnerable, we can experience loss of creativity, and lack of enthusiasm for the one constant in our lives, painting! If you’re nodding your head in agreement, you’ve probably been there too. You put the brushes down, walk away from the easel and close the studio door! Yes you may have done this too.

"Painters Block "- Art Apprentice Online - Online Art Classes

Painters Block – Art Apprentice Online – Online Art Classes

The triggers for “Painters Block”

When you make your living as an artist, painters block is never a welcomed rest. On the contrary, it’s a time of unwelcomed stress, frustration and at times even sadness. A feeling of letting others down when important deadlines cannot be met! It can be anything from personal perfectionism, answering to creativity on demand, or the dreaded physical exhaustion. Eventually our ability to flip the creativity switch to on seems far out of our reach.

But why Painters Block? Here’s my theory…we live in a world where ‘on demand’ is the new normal. Unfortunately our creativity is not always available ‘on demand’. Like a roaring fire, our creativity is a special gift that constantly needs to be stoked, and tended or else its inspirational flames will fade. Let me share with you a few things that have worked for me.

Five Tips for Overcoming “Painter’s Block” – Stoke the Fire!

  • Clean your studio – nothing gets the mojo flowing faster than walking into a clean orderly  studio, where everything has its place. With order comes clear thinking! Needless to say I have a very clean and tidy studio!!
  • Get into routine – Set aside a specific time to paint or do something artistic. If I can’t bring myself to paint, I read artistic tutorials, and study photographs, this inspires me.
  • Set small goals that are more easily met.
  • Paint small – Don’t tackle a large canvas painting. Select small canvas sizes that can be completed in one session. A sense of accomplishment will help you overcome painters block a lot faster.
  • Paint an abstract composition – Put on your favorite music, and get lost in color and shapes. Let your thoughts guide you as you watch your abstract painting evolve.

Another way to overcome painters block is to join an art community and get involved. Being around other artists will help stoke your creative fire. Their creative input helps you move forward.

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How to Paint Fur – DescribeTexture When Painting Animal Fur

by Neadeen Masters on November 6, 2012

There are so many different concepts to learn when we are wanting to know how to paint fur. Texture is one of these concepts. So what is meant by fur texture anyway? Think about the feel of the fur if you passed your hand across the animal. How would it feel to the touch? Texture in this case is about the fur or hair of the animal. Some animals have long soft fur; some have short bristly fur while others may have a mix of both long and short, soft and stiff. How we describe the different types of texture depends on the length of the brush stroke and how we apply it.

How To Paint Fur -  Online Art Classes - Neadeen Masters

How to Paint Fur – Cougar Study – Short Fur

In the case of the cougar above, this animal has short fur on the face. I first use a tonal underpainting to illustrate the shadow and pigmentation of the animal’s skin. This helps to create a foundation for the fur textures to come.  When this tonal shadow color is fully established, only then will I begin the often painstaking job of placing the fine, short hairs on top of that first layer.

How To Paint Fur -  Cougar Underpainting

How to Paint Fur – Establishing Fur Texture

When we are learning how to paint fur, one of the most important things about painting fur texture is to pay close attention to the growth pattern and direction of the fur. Knowing the direction of the fur on the animal’s body and face is the key to your success. Ask yourself how  it conforms to the natural contours of the animals face and bone structure. Work with good reference materials, using enlarged photographs of your subjects.  You don’t want to guess at how fur will grow.  The growth patterns will reflect the species and the natural contours of the body, however the viewer’s eye will be forced to follow along with the growth direction… so be sure to get this right.

You can learn  how to paint the technical basics of  animal fur.  For more details about this  online art class  visit this link to learn more about painting four different kinds of animals, each with their own distinct types of fur.

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How to Paint Birds that Glow with Brilliance!

by Neadeen Masters on November 5, 2012

How to paint birds that stand out from the crowd? Mother Nature has filled our skies with a rainbow of colors. When it comes to birds and their glorious colors red immediately comes to mind. This color that also captures the attention of artists is the red bird. Simply think of Cardinals, Macaws, Parrots, Finches, Grosbeaks, and dozens more and a flash of brilliant red will instantly come to mind. Their red hues create dynamic contrasts when set against green foliage. This combination always makes for an outstanding artistic composition. If you are on a quest and want to learn how to paint birds, understanding how to describe their brilliant colors is key. So have you ever wondered how to paint birds that glow with brilliant red color? Sometimes, just using red right out of the tube or bottle doesn’t quite get it right. Here are a few painting tips that will help you learn how to paint birds that are simply beautiful!.

How to Paint Birds:Red Birds: Acrylic Painting Technique

How to Paint Birds – Use a yellow under-painting

When it comes to painting red birds there are many approaches we can take.  One painting technique that renders successful brilliance,  is to apply a yellow under-painting as the initial color layer. This way, when the red hues are applied as thin layers over top of the initial yellow layers, the reds seem to glow from within. This method creates an optical mix of color. The eye reads the red hue as being brighter, as the thin translucent layers of red color allow light to pass through the layers and appear brighter and with more depth. It’s the combination of the red and yellow that makes it work.

Yellow under-painting will make the red glazes seem brighter!

Select the right pigments

To try this method, one can paint the initial yellow underpainting with pigments such as Yellow Oxide, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, or even use a brighter yellow pigment such as Hansa Yellow Medium or even use Cadmium yellows (use Cadmiums responsibly, with caution and care). When selecting the red pigments, choose those with a semi-transparent property. Opaque pigments don’t allow light to pass through them in the same way. Semi-transparent red pigments such as Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Naphthol Red Light, and Naphthol Red are among some that you can choose.

Apply the red layers as thinly as possible using a transparent glazing technique (speaking of painting techniques, you can find more technique tips by clicking this link). You’ll have to use a medium of some sort to help spread the paint out, usually oil medium for oil painting and an Extender for Acrylics. Either way, build up the depth of color slowly. It is always better to have several thin layers rather than one heavy layer.

To learn more about painting birds, visit our online art courses category at the Art Apprentice Online for a wide selection of bird painting classes.

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Learn To Paint – Painting with a Buddy is Double the Fun!

by Neadeen Masters on October 31, 2012

Learn to paint with good friends!

Many of us are solitary souls…we enjoy our own company. Having quiet time alone has become a cherished luxury we look forward to. Modern times and hectic family schedules can make us long for a little solitude. With that said, when it comes to painting, don’t you find painting with a group or a buddy is also a wonderful experience? Creativity can be enhanced when you brainstorm ideas, discuss them with like minded friends or just bounce ideas off another artist. When we learn to paint, the internet can provide us with easy access to online art classes. But for some folks, we miss the human interaction of a live classroom and learning to paint with friends. Being able to lean over and show your painting, or ask for immediate feedback or just shoot the breeze with a buddy is always fun. You’ll be surprised how energised and inspired you’ll begin to feel after a creative session like this. Creativity and enthusiasm is catching…

Paint with a buddy - Make your Online Class experience a social one! Paint with a buddy – Make your Online Class experience a social one!

Skype can change the way you learn to paint.

Several students who are avid fans of the online art classes from the Art Apprentice Online Art School have found the perfect solution…They use Skype. Yes they do. This free internet chat program is perfect, especially if you use the camera in your laptop. They team up with another student from their online painting class, agree on a time to meet on Skype and paint together. It’s just like having a friend sitting across the kitchen table or in your studio with you; only that person might be thousands of miles away or even in another country!

So what do you think? Taking Online Painting Classes and painting with friends via Skype is a modern way to interact and share your passion for painting…and you can be creative and make creative art in your PJ’s too!

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Paint Your Family Life with Happiness and Fun – Learn to Paint

by Neadeen Masters on September 23, 2012

Bring Creative Expression into your Home when you Learn to Paint!

A happy family life is one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids. With a little pre-planning, we can make time each week for creative family activities. Any activity that brings the family together for fun, and creative expression will encourage bonding, building self-esteem and confidence…this is great way to build strong relationships between young children, teenagers, and parents alike.

Creative Expression- Family Life - Art Apprentice Online Family Life Activity – Plan A Painting Event – Learn to Paint


Learn to paint and share in each others creativity!

We all know that building good relationships with our kids, our parents and siblings doesn’t just happen out of the blue… a foundation for sharing and interacting must be put in place. Some families choose to spend time together with sporting activities, some with music. We can also use art and creativity to foster mutual support, respect and interaction between all family members. We have seen families who learn to paint share in each others creative expression and watch their children’s imaginations blossom.

There’s no time like the present to start your youngsters and teens with a painting activity that is fun and rewarding in so many ways. Turn off the Television and cell phones and plan a weekly or monthly painting event for family fun. Family activities like learning to paint will give you the chance to try new things and share experiences together…and this type of event can also include your extended family members! Nieces and nephews, cousins, and grandparents will love to join you too!

Gather a few art supplies to make up your family painting kit:

  • Select a few basic brushes
  • A basic set of good acrylic or watercolor paints: Red, Yellow, Blue, Black, White, Purple, Aquamarine, Green, Orange, and Magenta, etc.
  • Inexpensive small canvas surfaces or canvas boards.
  • Plastic tablecloths or old shower curtains work well too (protect the kitchen table and floor) and off you go!
  • Subjects to paint – try abstract painting, simple fruit, flowers, the ocean or  clouds etc. or just let everyone explore their imaginations!

The family that plays together stays together…This will be a painting party the whole family will look forward to on a regular basis. If your kids are older teens, how about signing up your family for an online painting class? You just never know what will come of this…

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Tole Painting Warms the Heart!

For years I admired the character of old painted coffee pots and tea kettles. These charming items popped up in antique stores, museums and magazines such as Country Living, as they were  often showcased in country decorated rooms. Never quite knowing or understanding anything about the folks who had painted these beautiful old objects started me on  a little journey to find out more. Then one day I was having a conversation with a group of friends and they referred to this as Tole Painting. Over the years I have learned more about this and wanted to share the following with you…Here is a short article from Donna H. Richards, one of our art teachers at the Art Apprentice Online, Donna explains a little about this type of artwork.

Painting on Tin by Donna Richards

“Painting on tinware developed in the New England states where household items were painted black and then decorated.  Reds and other lighter colors for the base color were much less common.  Early tinware pieces for the home were considered inferior to those of china, glass and silver.  The pieces were unpainted and often referred to as “poor man’s silver.”  Piercing, punching, or crimping was the manner of ornamentation if elaboration was desired.

Easy Tole Painting - Art Apprentice Online - Painting Pattern Easy Tole Painting – Art Apprentice Online – Painting Pattern


The tinsmiths’ families were the decorators and artists

After 1800, the use of tinware became more widespread and hand-painting and japanning were the usual methods of decorating. Often the tinsmiths’ families were the decorators, with wives and daughters frequently revealing much artistic ability in their designs. Occasionally old pieces still can be found with an artist’s name or initials worked into the design.  Document boxes, pictures, coffee pots, plates, canisters, and vases are just a few of the many interesting pieces that were painted on. Flowers were a popular inspiration for design and bold stroke work borders adorned many of the early American pieces (seen above) in this painting pattern by artist Susan Abdella. In painting the simple design on these teapots below I wanted to keep with the authenticity of the dark background and create a small painting project for the novice Tole painter.   The piece is for a beginner painter using basic acrylic painting techniques, I did not include too many strokes into the design for this reason. However it is somewhat reflective of the European influences on American tin painting.”

Strawberries and Daisy Teapot - Tole Painting - Painting Pattern Strawberries and Daisy Teapot – Tole Painting – Painting Pattern

High prices for the really old pieces!

Tole painting is highly collectible today and can fetch high prices for the really old pieces. Many decorative painters started out their first painting lessons learning the basic strokes of early Tole Painting. Back in the 60’s –  70’s and 80’s, Tole Painting was a very popular painting style with decorative painting artists and teachers. It was and is a highly teachable art form, but like anything else, its popularity waned. Student artists started exploring other traditional styles and subjects such as landscape painting, still life and flower painting. Today Tole is making a come back as some artists enjoy painting these styles of old and decorating their homes with whimsical folk art pieces.

Learn how to Paint Tole

Learning to Tole Paint requires the artist to learn stroke work and good brush control. This is a highly stylized form of painting, mostly made up of individual strokes to form intricate flowing patterns, shapes, lines and movement. This involves practice and good brush control. The stroke work patterns demand a steady hand and the ability to pull each stroke in a fluid motion. These strokes, featured as single brush marks or groupings of marks (strokes) will often make up the petals of a flower, form the petal details or create the delicate borders around objects. In the painted example shown below, we can see how the artist has placed some strokes over other strokes. This helps to create a suggested of dimension for the flower. The difference between Tole Painting and many other forms of painting is in dimension. Tole painting is mostly portrayed in two dimension while many other forms of realism are portrayed in three dimensions.

To learn more about Tole painting and learning the required strokework…the Art Apprentice Online offers an excellent technique class for the beginner that wants to learn this style of painting.

Stroke work created for Tole Painting Designs  - by Susan Abdella, MDA Stroke work created for Tole Painting Designs – by Susan Abdella, MDA

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Learn to Paint Fine Art – What does this mean?

by Neadeen Masters on August 15, 2012

Learn to Paint Fine Art – but don’t get pigeon holed as an artist!

Two words… ‘Fine Art’ are  often used in different ways and serve a different end depending on the context they are used in. If used as a judgement to somehow pigeon hole an artist, it can be seen as a negative. It can suggest a ‘better than’ tone. If it is used to describe a particular type or style of art…it somehow misses the mark. If it is used as a way to gain a marketing advantage compared to decorative art or folk art, it can greatly change the value of the art. If used to describe ‘painting’ in general, it can be intimidating to the student painter. So what is it and what does it really mean?

When a person expresses their desire to learn to paint, it is usually in general terms. They may have have seen a painting that stirred something in them. Which direction should they go and how will they know if they are learning the right painting techniques for the styles of art they like?

Gabriele Hunter - Fine Art - Art Apprentice Online Art School Gabriele Hunter – Fine Art Painting – Art Apprentice Online Art School


Let’s try to simplify all this…In layman’s terms, painting and drawing falls into the category of visual arts. Basically the visual arts are anything we can look at…like painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, and ceramics to name just a few. Over time that group was split into art created for beauty and art created for utility. Then the term Fine Art was used to describe art that was created mainly for its aesthetic value and not for its functional merit. For example canvas painting versus painted furniture. Today we describe the decorative arts as functional surfaces. Small and large painted furniture, home accessories, and ceramics are all part of the Decorative Arts.

So the bottom line is this…when learning to paint…throw out the labels, learning to paint involves learning all kinds of painting techniques, learning good brush skills and building a solid base of color knowledge. With a good foundation in painting, one can create all kinds of styles and subjects to their hearts desire.

At the Art Apprentice Online we offer online art classes in both decorative and fine art painting. The different types of Fine Art classes we offer will help any student artist develop solid brush skills and painting techniques. These online art lessons teach them to paint landscapes, still life, portraits, seascapes, abstract, mixed media and flower paintings, as well as wildlife paintings and so much more. If the student artist admires decorative painting, the skills and painting techniques are all transferrable and well suitable for the decorative painting category as well.

Developing as an artist and learning to paint is not as complicated as we might think. Don’t let categories and ‘name tags’ describe who you are as an artist. In general terms’, learning to paint is simply about learning the language of color theory, painting techniques and various paint applications. The rest will fall into place simply by default.  


Glazing Techniques used for painting flowers is a little like wearing rose colored glasses!

When learning how to paint flowers, it is important to understand the painting techniques used to create  their brilliant colors and details. Have you ever looked through a pair of amber colored sunglasses and seen the world bathed in golden light? Glazing Techniques are a little like those rose colored glasses. Just as we can change the way we see the world through colored glasses, we can change the color of painted flowers and any object with a thin application of transparent color. Relative to painting, ‘Glazing’ is a painting technique where transparent color is applied over a dried under-painting. Think of it like laying down a sheet of colored glass. The paint film is applied so thinly, that the form of the flower or object is not affected, but its color and value is changed.

Glazing - Painting Technique - Art Apprentice Online Glazing – Painting Technique for Painting Flowers – Art Apprentice Online

Enhance and deepen your flower colors with Glazing Techniques

In the floral image above, oil painting glazes have been used to color the pink roses. Observe how the pink color on the flowers looks more saturated and darker in some areas. The artist would have applied more than one application of glazed color, slowly building thin layers until reaching the desired effect. When artists learn to paint realistic styles such as still life and painting flowers, glazing techniques are often the favorite way to develop rich transparent colors.

  • Glazing can be used with oil painting, acrylic and watercolor painting. The paint is usually applied with the help of a paint medium such as an oil based medium for oil painting, or an acrylic Extender for acrylics.
  • With watercolours, water serves as the medium to make the paint transparent and thin.
  • Traditionally glazing techniques are used to create deeper, richer hues. These have been referred to by some as creating ‘jewel like’ colors.
  • The goal of glazing is often to shift the hue (color) deepen the value (darken), or shift the temperature, (more often to warmer) or adjust the intensity (make dull or intensify).
  • At the end of the painting process, the artist can also build greater interest into the focal area through the addition of paint glazes.
  • Glazing a painting is used only as a measure to enhance and adjust and not recommended for the correction of incorrect ‘form’. The artist should always check the painting for correct form, prior to the glazing steps.
  • Too many glaze applications can result in a muddied appearance… so sometimes ‘less is more’.
  • Glazes are applied when layered or indirect painting methods are used.

Visit the Art Apprentice Online for a wide selection of online art classes  that will enhance and grow your painting skills. Successful flower painting depends on learning the right painting techniques that will help the beginning artist acheive rich color and good likeness to the flower subject.

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When Mixing Paints think of pigment undertone like a hidden personality trait.

It’s time to start mixing paints. However there is something important you need to know before you begin. Have you ever picked up a tube of green pigment only to discover it is really quite yellow and not the green it looked like in the bottle or tube? I’m sure this has happened to you at least more than once and with many other colors too! That surprise color tone is what we refer to as a color bias or undertone. Think of pigment undertone like a hidden personality trait. When we learn to mix colors correctly, we can avoid many mistakes and a lot of wasted paint. Mixing paints can be a painless process if we get to know each tuble of paint and how it will perform for us.

Pigment Undertone - Art Apprentice Online - Mixing Color Pigment Undertone – Art Apprentice Online – Mixing Paints

Mixing Paints with Pure Pigments

When pure pigments are mixed with other pure pigments it can become even more evident. These quiet personality traits show up and change everything when we least expect it!  The undertone can cause a color to lean towards another. For example, yellow can lean towards orange, or it can lean towards green. Red can lean towards orange or lean towards violet. It may seem simple, but it isn’t always so obvious to the naked eye. Pigment undertones don’t always reveal themselves at a glance. That is…when you look at the mass tone of two pigments, they may look quite similar sitting side by side on the palette. They can look almost identical in value and hue, but they can also hold a secret color bias that is yet to be discovered!

So why do we need to know this? It’s simple, when we paint we don’t want surprises!  For clean clear color mixes,  select colors with undertones that work together and not against each other. For example…Ultramarine Blue PB29 + Red Violet PV19 – the bias of both pigments lean towards each other or towards the violet end of the spectrum, so the resulting violet mix will be clean and pretty. If you select colors with opposing undertones, the resulting color mixes can be dull and muddy.

For the artist learning to paint with pure pigments and learning to mix color for the first time, this can be very frustrating and scary. However, there is an easy solution…It’s always good exercise to experiment with each pigment in your paint box to discover their hidden undertones. Experiment with each pure pigment and learn how a certain color choice will perform for you. Pre-screen your colours for their hidden undertones. It makes for educated choices when color mixing resulting in greater success.

Art the Art Apprentice Online we offer many color theory online classes that will empower the artist with a greater understanding of pigments and the ability to control their palette with confidence.

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Online Art Classes Versus Videos -There is a difference!

by Neadeen Masters on July 30, 2012

Learn from the Painting Teacher…

The modern way to learn to paint – Online art classes

The goal of taking a painting class is to learn from the instructor and get feedback from someone with more experience. As a developing artist, the student painter is in need of instructor feedback to help build their confidence and skills. All students want to know they are on the right track as they forge forward learning new techniques. Today, online art classes can offer the same experience. The online relationship between the student and teacher helps the student get through the challenges and learn from mistakes. At the same time, they can celebrate their successes and reap the rewards of learning in an online group environment.

Learn to Paint - Online Art Classes - Art Apprentice Online Learn to Paint – Online Art Classes – Art Apprentice Online

Learn to paint with Online Art Classes

Online art classes work in much the same way. Students learn by watching painting videos of the painting lessons and receive as much feedback as they need by posting questions and photos into the classroom forums. Getting feedback from fellow students also helps to build camaraderie and new online friendships are often formed. Working in a group environment makes the learning process a very enjoyable and rewarding one.

Today on demand painting videos can be viewed on many websites and folks can watch many of these for a membership fee.  But for the beginner painter, there is no measure to know if they are really understanding the painting techniques or artistic concepts being demonstrated. The student is often working in isolation and in many cases the instruction is limited by the constraints of the video length. 1-2 hours at most. With no one there to give constructive feedback or show where improvement is needed it’s like working in a vacuum. This is not saying that DVD’s and Videos don’t have a place while learning to paint, they certainly do, but having an interactive experience between teacher and student in an online art class provides a very different experience. Especially  when learning something the first time. There is valuable security in knowing that a teacher is there to help you when you need it.

Online art classes provide a safe environment

Most of all, online art classes provide a safe environment for the novice artist to ask questions, troubleshoot problems and have fun while doing so. If you have never tried an online painting class, the Art Apprentice Online is a great place to begin. With online art classes for all skill levels and styles, you are sure to find one to fit your painting needs. Painting classes at the Art Apprentice Online Art School have the luxury of time, with no constraints to a video format. Instructors are able to show step by step, slow paced demonstrations specifically geared to teaching the ‘whys and what fors’ of learning to paint. These are valuable resources for the artistic journey.

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