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I recently purchased an art book that told me to do something I knew was not good for acrylic paintings. The book is “Acrylic Painting: Landscapes: Learn to paint landscapes in acrylic step by step (How to Draw & Paint)” by Tom Shropshire. It is a Walter Foster book, which is usually very reliable.
Shropshire’s book is good, though. I don’t want to imply that the book is not a good one for our art library. It is a welcome addition to my collection. There are 5 landscape projects. Some have small human figures, which I like. He is into stormy skies and does them remarkably well. We can also learn to paint trees and reflections in the water from this book.
Furthermore, the 5 projects could be painted as a set for a large wall.
But the instructions for each project start with “Dampen the canvas with a sponge.”
I don’t believe this is wise. The binder for acrylic paints can be diluted with water to the point where it will not bind to the canvas. I can imagine that some unsuspecting student in acrylics could make the mistake of putting too much water on the canvas. Later the dry paint could flake off due to what Michele Theberge calls “under-binding” in her video below.
A much better technique is to add acrylic medium to the paint if you want to create a “wash effect” or “tone the canvas.” Used according to the instructions, the medium would not dilute the binder in the paint beyond what it can tolerate. So always follow the instructions on the bottle of medium to the letter.
I use Liquitex Airbrush Medium which Michele demonstrates in the video. It is not glossy and is practically odorless. These were two requirements I was looking for in a medium. I use it to tone a canvas or to make the paint more fluid on my brush, especially when the paint is beginning to dry out and drag across the canvas.
Instead of dipping my brush into water to make the paint more fluid, I dip it into the airbrush medium.
To back up my claim that adding too much water to the paint or canvas is not good with acrylics, I have included Michele Theberge’s video. She explains the problem and solution better than I can. She asks us in her video to “spread the news” about the problem acrylic paint has with adding too much water, so here we go. Thanks, Michele! We appreciate that you took the time to teach us this important point:
Is music a distraction when you are creating? It could be.
What about listening to podcasts or YouTube while painting, sculpting, or whatever. These could definitely be distractions.
And why is that bad? We will tell you…
In the excellent book, “The War of Art” by Steven Preston, an important point for artists and other creative people is mentioned in the introduction:
“When we sit down each day to do our work, power concentrates around us… We become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete [multiply and attach to us] … Stunning ideas arrive as if from nowhere.”
This may not be true every day, but it does happen sometimes. (In fact, it happened to me today as I was working on a painting.)
I used to catch up on the news, watch murder mysteries or play music in my studio while I was painting. No more. I stopped doing that a while back when I was feeling frustrated and my progress was plateauing.
Then I decided to simply concentrate on my work. I stopped all distractions, even restful music. Decided to pay more attention to the paints, the textures, and the GOALS of what I was working on.
I discovered I not only made progress but I enjoyed the PROCESS of painting more.
Then when I read the above passage in Pressfield’s “The Art of War,” I realized what had happened. I created an environment where inspiration could penetrate my mind. Nothing was drowning out ideas. If an idea was coming to mind, nothing overpowered it. It was free to break through with nothing getting in the way.
So if you are experiencing frustration in your creative work and you are not enjoying the process as you used to, I recommend you try creating the quietest environment you possibly can.
Then listen to the cosmos. Is Inspiration trying to whisper something to you? Is a seed of an idea growing in your thoughts?
Let it enter. Rest in it. Play with it.
Let the still small voice of Creativity speak amazing things to you.
In the video below by Aurelius Tjin, he shows us how to use free tools to create and sell an ebook. For creative people of all kinds, this can be our online, digital portfolio!
You will first need pictures of your creative work, whether that’s paintings, dance, sculptures, acting scenes, or whatever. I recommend you don’t use free images you find online since this portfolio will be about your work, not someone else’s. (There may be exceptions to this rule, however. You decide what’s best for your portfolio.)
One certain exception is if you will create a portfolio of your writings. In this case, you will have articles, poems, short stories, or an entire fiction or non-fiction book. You can use the free images found on Canva.com or Pixabay.com to illustrate your ebook cover and inside the ebook as well.
HOW TO BEGIN CREATING YOUR PORTFOLIO
Read through the steps I’ve outlined below to get an overview of the project to create and sell your portfolio. Then watch the video below to see clearly how each step is accomplished.
 The main free tool you will use to make your digital portfolio is a free Canva.com account. Start by creating your free Canva.com account, if
you don’t already have one.
 Then gather the images you want in your portfolio and upload them to Canva.com.
 Set up your portfolio size. (See Aurelius’ video minute 00:30)
 Make the portfolio cover. (See minute 1:15)
 Put in the Table of Contents, as Aurelius describes. (See minute 2:15)
 Then start adding your images. You can have a blank page to go with each of your images. Some people like to show the image first, then give an explanation afterward. Other people like to explain first, then show the image. (See minute 6:45)
 TIP: Be sure that you include how people can contact you if they want to buy some of your work. This could be in the introduction, the conclusion, or both. If you have a website, link to it. You want to give out your phone number or address, you are free to do so.
If you don’t have a website, but want to display your work on a website, contact me about getting a page on SkillfulArtists.com. (Info@SkillfulArtists.com. Put “skillful artists” in the subject line).
 If you want to, you can make your portfolio cover look 3 dimensional. This is optional but kinda nice if you are going to sell or display your ebook or portfolio around the internet.
TIPS: If you do decide you want a 3-D image of your portfolio cover, be sure to create and save at least the 3-D image with a transparent background. These look much better on a website page. You can also save a version with a colored background behind the book. Both versions can be useful. While you’re there, download various sizes of your new 3-D portfolio cover. (See Aurelius’ explanation at minute 8:30)
 Now save your portfolio in a PDF format. (See minute 11:00)
IF YOU WANT TO SELL YOUR NEW DIGITAL PORTFOLIO OR EBOOK ONLINE
 Optional: If you want to sell copies of your portfolio or if you now have a digital book of poems you can sell, go to Gumroad.com (See Aurilius’ video minutes 11:30 – end of the video)
You can set up a forever free account on Gumroad.com (https://help.gumroad.com/article/65-gumroad-creatorpedia-all-the-answers-in-one-place)
Wendy in the video below has many tips for overcoming Resistance in order to get and stay productive in your creative work session. She has quite a ritual! Her channel is called The Unexpected Gypsy. You may have watched some of her videos already. Let’s give her the attention she deserves in this blog post.
I thought her video was particularly well done and something we could all profit from and watch again from time to time – that is, anytime we are struggling to get back in the swing of creating something.
Whether it’s the fear of facing the blank white canvas or paper. Or if it’s the fear of ruining something you have started and so far so good, creating takes courage.
 Early Morning Self-Care Routine – This is different for everyone. It usually includes coffee or tea, washing, stretching, yoga or prayer, walking the dog, and the like. I always include looking at the painting or reference photo as early as possible so that my mind gets focused on the direction of my morning’s work. What would be your ideal that gets you in the proper frame of mind to create?
 There are also some things we probably should avoidbefore a creative session. I avoid checking my emails because I want to minimize distractions. I definitely avoid social media. Once I get into that the time flies and cuts into my best creative hour. I put off making any phone calls, too, if I can. There may be things that you should think about avoiding. What sort of things get you outof the creative mood?
 Wendy writes in her journal and gets in touch with how she is feeling that day. I rarely do that. I don’t do that when I have a 9 to 5 job because I’d have to go to it whether I feel like it or not. So I take my creative sessions as seriously as any job – only a really enjoyable one where I’m self-employed.
 Wendy brings up a good point. Sometimes we get anxious, for whatever reason, either before we start to create or during. The solution may be doing some deep breathing, playing peaceful music, or just putting whatever is bothering you in a drawer to deal with later. I often get up and take a brisk walk down the driveway. This releases tension for me. It should be something that brings us joy, hope, or some other positive emotion. Perhaps for you, it would be playing with the dog, brushing the cat, getting a cup of hot herbal tea, dancing to an upbeat song, or just plain stretching.
 When we have one of those awful days where there seems to be a huge stone wall over us before we can start, we should tell ourselves that what we create that day does not have to be perfect. Only God is perfect and we are mere mortal artists. Remind yourself that you can always write something out and start again. If you are a writer, you can toss that chapter and take your character down a better path. Not every day – thank God – involves a particularly strong Resistance.
Once we establish a good pre-creative-session routine, Resistance will have less power over us. But if you are having “one of those days,” tell yourself that you will create something and if it comes out badly, no big deal; you can start over later. Chances are you will make something good and be very proud of yourself for winning the battle against Resistance.
 Create an appealing work environment for yourself. Wendy suggests burning a candle with a nice scent. Set up your lighting the way you like it. I often fool around with my brushes and organize my paint tubes. Make sure I’m warm enough or I get an extra sweater.Sit quietly in my chair and tell myself how fortunate I am to have this creative time. I remember that life can get so busy that creative time can be as scarce as gold. Send up a prayer of thanks – or a plea for help. And after a deep, appreciative breath, I begin.
 Wendy gives more even tips that can make your creative sessions more productive and enjoyable. Watch her very informative video below. Then leave a comment, telling us how you get into the zone – and manage to stay there!