Oil vs. Acrylic by Heather Goldstein

Oils and Acrylics are like oil and water...LITERALLY! For someone just starting out at painting or a painter wanting to change mediums, knowing which is better is usually the first question. But the truth is that neither oil nor acrylic is better than the other; they are just suited for different things. I will admit that I may be a bit bias since I am an oil painter, but I definitely see the merit in both. After all, I AM a painter and I just love PAINT!

Acrylics: I have found that acrylics are great play paints. They are non-toxic so you can use your hands and just have fun! They are also, often times, less expensive than oils. Acrylics will give you nice flat surfaces of color and, of course, they dry fast! I find acrylic mediums to be very fun and this is the perfect paint to use for mixed media! Use acrylic mediums like a glue to attach things to your canvas, build up texture with modeling paste, or use gel medium to do an image transfer!

Best Pros:
Great for Abstract painting
Fast drying
Flat color
Mixed Media

Some Cons:
Colors change when dry
Not ideal for figure/ portraits

Oils: One of the best qualities of oil paint is its ability to blend. You can really get the colors to mix on your palette and turn into a new color. With acrylics, it is almost like an optical illusion where you get the green you want but you can still see the yellow and blue. For some, the slow dry time of oil paints is a pro, but for others it is a con. You must also be very careful with safety. Oil paints and mediums are toxic!

Best Pros:
Great for Figure Painting
Great for realism
Stay true to color

Some Cons:
Dry time

Suggestions: To save on money (and time) I often do an acrylic under painting with my oils. You can always mix the two mediums, HOWEVER, you can paint oils on top of acrylics but NOT vice versa! The oil will eat through your acrylic over time and ruin your painting.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here!


Where Does Inspiration Come From by Carissa Goldstein

Art has always been a mystical field for me. Having taken only one art class in high school, I didn't have a lot of exposure other than visits to art galleries. I would wander from piece to piece at each gallery, stunned at how these artists came up with such amazing ideas. Where did these ideas come from? Divine inspiration? Brilliant epiphanies? Whatever the source, I was sure I did not possess the brain cells necessary to create these masterpieces.

Being very left-brained, I went to school for engineering, reveling in the order and objectivity of numbers and equations. However, I soon realized this was not enough. Staring at the same thing all day exhausted my brain and using the same equations became monotonous. I then started working at the Jerry's Raleigh retail store assisting with event planning, and I finally got the exposure I needed to the art world. I realized that real people were taking these workshops and learning to create art. All of these people had other responsibilities, such as jobs, kids, etc. Yet they still found time to paint, draw, or exercise the right side of their brain in some fashion. This was a wakeup call. These artists were not the pretentious, full time creators I had pictured. Some of them had formal education in art, but many of them had stumbled upon this area later in life and picked it up as a hobby. It was during this time I started to think, "Maybe I CAN do this!" Very enthusiastic at this discovery, I signed up for a workshop and came in prepared to learn everything there was to know about becoming a master artist. That definitely did NOT happen. I thought that once someone had shared the "secret" to art with me, I would be able to do anything I wanted. I quickly became frustrated that I could not come up with fantastic ideas and then, when I could think of something, it was as if my brain and hand were speaking different languages. My perfectionist nature was getting in the way and telling me everything I did was wrong or ugly.

Fortunately I was working under a boss who is also an artist and she was, and continues, to be a mentor to me. She shared with me that art is a journey, not a destination. At first I thought this was just a cheesy cliché, but soon began to believe what she was saying. Most artists don't sit down in front a canvas with a finished image in their head. They begin to play with the paint and create; as Bob Ross used to say, "Happy Accidents." I also became friends with another amazing artist who said the point of art is to make "interesting marks." I also learned that many artists do not finish a piece in one sitting. They take the time to walk away and relax their mind, understanding the idea of getting bogged down in details and not being able to see the forest for the trees. I realized that I was comparing myself to people who had been doing this for years, expecting to produce results similar to them. That was crazy! I was expecting to pick up a basketball for the first time and play in the WNBA.

Beginning my journey only a year or two ago, I am definitely still a beginner. I am learning to turn off my inner judge and let go of my perceptions, trying to enjoy art for the sake of art without trying to create a masterpiece each time. I am also learning my strengths and how to utilize them rather than copying someone else. I am still inspired by the professional artists I've had the pleasure to meet, but I know I will not be like them overnight. Art truly is a journey, and I feel I've just begun!

Take A Hike by Wilson Bickford

If you want to get your creative juices flowing, sometimes you just have to get out into Mother Nature's domain. Winters here in northern NY can be quite brutal, with minus 20s and 30s pretty common in January and February. There are acres and acres of meadows and thick woods behind my home which I routinely patrol on my snowshoes. Although this is not my land, the owner does not mind me trekking around out there, so I take advantage of that (and I am grateful for it).

I like to snowshoe for several reasons:
* Just to make the best of a bad situation (let's just say that Winter isn't my favorite season)
* To get some fresh air and exercise
* And to get inspiration / photos for my artwork

While snow can be bothersome, as far as the shoveling, plowing and snowblowing, it is also quite beautiful and is one of my favorite landscape themes. This morning was crisp (8 degrees above), clear and bright, so I grabbed my camera and snowshoes and headed out. It was just after 8am when I hit the woods and the sun was still rising and filtering through the trees. I loved the play of light and shadows. More specifically, the warm lights and the cool, blue shadows. If you're looking for a broad range of color temperatures in your painting, this will do it. Such beautiful contrast!

I'm sure these photos will ultimately find their way onto my canvas. It's hard for me to imagine not trying to capture this tranquility. The warm and cool colors, the contrast of the dark silhouetted trees against the bright sun light bursting through............... how can one not be inspired?

So, what I want to say to you is, "GO TAKE A HIKE!!" You may not have snow where you are, so go stroll the beach, take a walk through the city streets, or meander along a wooded trail.

It'll be great for your mind, body and artistic soul!

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