Traditional Before Digital

Just the other day I was speaking to one of my colleges about figure drawing and how important it is for every visual artist to experience drawing from the figure. Some how we got onto the topic of college students learning how to figure draw using tablets. TABLETS!!!! That has to be one of the most ridiculous things I ever heard in my life. Yes tablets are very nifty tools that if you haven’t experienced working with one you should, because it really is amazing what you can do with one. But when a person learns how to draw they don’t go straight to the tablet. No, they use a piece of paper and a pencil.

If your starting to figure draw get the traditional materials that the old master used (well not the exact things, but close enough) a 18″ x 24″ newsprint pad and charcoal.  Using a tablet you don’t get the same feel or understanding of form as you would with the traditional materials. A bigger pad forces the student to think about the composition, the size of their figure and really use their whole arm movement. Charcoal is a great material to work with as well because it’s easily erasable with a needed eraser. You can also get different line weights (how dark the mark is) and different line sizes. Plus if you use the charcoal on its side, the beautiful shadow masses that could be created.

The most important reason why you should start traditionally before digitally is that you always have a basis to refer back to. Every year technology changes and computers and programs get more advanced. That means each year a professional digital artist has to upgrade to the latest software. If they don’t then their images over time would look out of date. Even if you are mainly a digital person your mind is still referring back to a time when you used a sheet of paper as your main/only medium. If you can master the basics then it makes the digital world much much easier to use and understand.

Ian J. F Wagner

This is Ian J. F. Wagner, a good friend of mine and he as been attending PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts) for 10 years. Ian started by attending the FREE High School Program during the week days when he was a freshman, then attended the Undergrad program and is now about to graduate with an MFA degree. Ian doesn’t realize it, but his watercolors are amazing. He does other work as well like writing, drawing, and creating books. Though my favorite is his watercolor’s. There are these layers of colors and pigments that will just take your breath away if you look at them in person. Some of these paintings are 3 feet! When I asked him what his trick was he said “Lots of water and a very thick 8 inch watercolor brush that costs $50”.

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Potential is Beautiful

Potential (adj): having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.

We see potential everyday, especially in children. This is because everyone even the child knows that they are at the beginning of their life and what they do now can lead to something bigger in the future. For example a boy playing with Legos can create the worlds tallest skyscraper, a girl who plays dress up can be the next star actor, and the boy who reads all day can be the one to end world hunger. Each little act a child does has the potential to change the world.

But when do we stop believing that those little acts are just child’s play? It’s when we are told that these dreams are just dreams and that even if we give it are all, there is still a slim chance of those dreams coming true. So we give up on trying. We go through middle school and high school drama. Then the senior year of high school comes and we are told to choose a college that would put us thousands of dollars in debt and the major we choose will determine the rest of our lives. So then your stuck in a boring job that you dread everyday for 40  to 60 years.

Before or if you are still in that horrible job stop and think about what you really love. What did you love as a child? What skill keeps coming back no matter how fare away you try to get away? It’s OK to be selfish, especially if your young like me and have no kids. Because we only have one life to live, so don’t spend a chunk of it feeling sorry for yourself.

Getting back to the point. Potential is always beautiful when you see a brighter future. When you have the passion to do 50 paintings and there would be only 1 that you feel proud of.

The Mind to Paint

Speaking from an artists perspective, it can be hard focusing on painting for 3 hours or more. For me, to paint I have to be in the right mind set. That means I can’t be a sleepless zombi or a six year old on a sugar rush. Some people don’t know this, but art takes a lot of intense brain power. For example, in one stroke you have to think about the brush your using, the color, the thickness of the paint, the pressure you put on the painting, what color your placing this stroke next to, and the texture of the stroke.

Many times during the morning many students walk into the class half a sleep. One of the reasons is that they were up late making bad decisions and getting less then four hours of sleep. The second reason is that they have not had breakfast. You need to have energy to do art.

I remember a few weeks ago during lunch time, my school was having a pie day. I had three slices of pie, cherry, blue berry, and pecan. Plus two cups of coffee. I was caught red handed by my teacher for my bad lunch. My brain was running a million miles an hour and it wouldn’t stop. The painting that I had worked on for two weeks was ruined by the end of the class and I was curled up on the side having a horrible migraine.

If you don’t have enough energy you can’t paint. If you have to much energy its hard to focus. For me to make art my mind needs enough energy to focus but slow enough that it can be patient.

The Rules For My Mind To Be In The Fine Art Zone:

1) Eat breakfast at home. This allows enough time for my food to turn into energy. Just in time for my morning class.
2) Eat healthy. Junk food doesn’t give the body enough energy it needs to last through the day. I make sure to pack my day with lots of proteins, fruits, veggies, and whole grains. But I always make sure to give myself a little treat, like a cookie or bag of chips.
3) Don’t over eat. Food is very good for you and you should NEVER starve yourself. But over eating can make you feel tired and hut you stomach.
4) Sleep 6-8 hours a night (during the week). You need sleep! I try my best to get 8 hours, but I’m a college student and that barley ever happens. My average is 7 hours a night. Over sleeping can make you feel drowsy for the rest of the day. That means on the weekends I don’t ever go past 9 hours.
5) Get into a good routine. Having a routine is helpful. It’s good for time management and it helps tell your mind when to wake up, when to eat, and when to go to sleep. Remember routines take time to figure out, but when you find a good one make sure to stick to it!
6) Do something fun. I am addicted to doing art all day, but some time during the week I know that I have to do something non art related. This could mean hanging out with my friends, exploring the city, running, or going on long bike trips. But its nice to have those moments where my life doesn’t feel totally consumed by art. (Even though it totally is).

Wood Prints for SALE!

The first semester at PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts) went by so fast. It still feels like the beginning. One class that I really enjoyed this semester is Relief (Woodcut). You can think of it as a big wooden stamp. I loved making the prints so much that I have decided to sell a few.

My process with Woodcut is simple. I use the grain of the wood as inspiration and following the pattern. I love to use all my gouges (woodcut tools) to create unique textures. Then I would test the relief with color. I would spend hours figuring out the perfect color combination. And once I have figured that out I would make multiples of the print. If you have anymore questions about my process please comment.

Want to buy please email me at

Remember these prints are handmade, so each print is unique.

Gathered Leading


Tonight I watched the sunset at  Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting House. It was my second time experiencing a SkySpace created by James Turrell (My first time was at Moma PS1). A Turrell Skyspace is a specifically proportioned chamber with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky. Skyspaces can be autonomous structures or integrated into existing architecture. My experience was much different then the first, because I didn’t know much about James Turrell, I was not in art school at the time and I did not look at it for an hour during sunset. Looking up at the SkySpace I was able to really think about the comparison of the sky to the colorful LED lights surrounding it. I noticed that Turrell at certain times changed the LED lights slow at first, fast in the middle, and then slowly at the end. Sometimes I would have my eye travel along the perimeter of the square and then widen my eyes to enhance the colors. Another thing I did  for a couple of minutes is close my eyes for ten seconds and then reopening them and think about how I could mix the color of the sky on on to my palette. The most interesting color of the sky for me was this bright green that I imagined mixing in my head cadmium yellow deep with cerulean blue and just a touch of mars black.

P.S. I highly suggest visiting at a SkySpace if you haven’t. There are dozes of them all over the world all you have to do is look for the closest one near you. Click here.


Aiming for Perfection

Everyone knows that there is no such thing about perfection or being perfect. Heck the most beautiful things in life are imperfect. So why do some of us aim for it?

It has been about 5 weeks since I started my time at PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts). The first few weeks were easy, but I find still find myself continue to struggle in this one class, Cast Drawing. PAFA is known for having one of the largest collections of casts in the country. Reason why PAFA students are taught to be masters at drawing from the cast.

My first cast drawing I thought I had this thing down, turns out my teacher tells me that my drawing of Venus is to thin and that the face needed more life. My opinion at the time was, “It’s one millimeter off, (trust me I measured it with a ruler) and I’m drawing from a statue why does it need to have life?” Thankfully she told me I could just use tracing paper to fix everything instead of redoing it.I have learned my lesson on using tracing paper with cast drawing. Just because your tracing over another drawing doesn’t mean you should stop looking at the cast. So my tracing of my cast drawing turned out worse then my original. My teacher said that I could just erase certain parts to make it easier, because everything was 1/2 millimeter off and somethings needed to be moved a little to the left or a little to the right or a little bit higher or just a tad bit lower. I was so mad that I just decided to do the whole thing over again. And you know what my second time was way better than my first.

During long hard process, I learned how to analyze something and how it takes time to get something right. Perfection isn’t just there to intimidate us, but for us to reach for something. If your always think that everything you do will never be perfect. Then the highest chance of perfection you could ever get is 99.99%. What about that .001%? Wheres that? It’s that little percentage of you giving up and being lazy. It’s you saying “It’s good enough”. You will not survive for very long in this world if you keep saying “It’s good enough”. Aiming for perfection is hard, but you would always learn more by trying to make it.