Practice Makes Perfect


Tips for Learning the Art of Practice

Very few and very rare human beings in history have been enormously talented in one area by means of a seeming natural ability. As for the rest of us, to become skilled at our desired hobby, we must practice. And as they say, practice makes perfect. Dancers fit their toes into their ballet slippers most days of the week and yogis practice their contortionist body bends regularly to get better all the time. Writers are told they must spend X amount of hours putting their pen to the page. So too must artists paint or draw nearly on a daily basis.

But, just like any form of exercise, there is a "right" way and a "wrong" way to do it. Here are a few tips and things to remember to help you practice and become a better artist:

    • An effective practice is one that strengthens your weakest points. When it comes to your art, you may already know what areas you need to work on, or which of your techniques could use improvement. However, if you're already stumped, have someone look at your work-a teacher, fellow painter, or even a friend-and get a second opinion. Brace yourself for criticism, and know that if they tell you that your art is perfect, they are likely not telling the truth. In this case, it's best to get an objective source.
    • Next, isolate the skill you would like to improve. If there is more than one area you are wanting to fix and improve upon, then take them one at a time. For example, if it is your sketches you would like to make stronger, but you also need to get better at mixing paints to get the perfect color, don't attack them both at once. Design individual exercises where you can work on one and then the next, but not as part of the same composition.
    • You must also allocate time for your practice. This may be the hardest step of all. It is all too easy to make excuses or say you will start tomorrow. Start now. Once it becomes a solidified part of your routine, you will wonder how you ever passed the days without it. 
    • Get the right equipment for practicing. Maybe what you will need is the right sketchpad to take with you and sketch whenever you can or during your allotted time commitment. A useful tool for painters who are looking for a better way to practice is a disposable palette. They come with many pages for mixing paints and you can simply throw them away when you are finished, no washing up. This gives you even more time to practice when there is less cleaning involved.
    • Once you've made the time commitment, it is critical to create pieces from direct observation. That means: no copying from a painting, photograph, or any other image with two dimensions. Get into the 3D world and practice drawing or painting subjects that you can reach out and touch. Even in the case of a landscape, which you cant exactly reach out and touch, you have to experience the sensation of being a part of it. How else do you convey authenticity to your audience?        

An important element of the artist's role is to experience life and share that experience. Tenured artists also suggest observing people in action and re-creating their gestures on your canvas or sketchpad. A local bar or cafe, a sunny park, or the beach are all places where you can find people engaging in activities that could translate well into a perfect piece of artwork. So get out there, experience the world, practice and improve on your art skills!

And for more tips and practice help, check out our section of Free Art Lessons.




New Mimik Brushes

A Better Experience!

Jerry's is constantly on the search for new great products on the market. And recently, we found one to beat out the others. The Mimik Watercolor brush is an incredible synthetic water color brush that is a great alternative to squirrel hair brushes. The Mimik brush is the new environmentally friendly way to enjoy watercolor painting!

Finding high quality synthetic brushes have long been a problem for environmentally conscious or vegan watercolor painters. Now, Creative Mark, a favorite brush maker of ours has paired with one of the leading synthetic hair makers to create an animal-friendly brush with all the benefits of squirrel hair brushes. This synthetic hair acts just like a blend of squirrel hair and Kolinsky sable hair. Its both innovative and revolutionary, most other synthetic blends don't hold up like the Mimik brush does.

It also holds an amazing amount of color for washes and laying down lots of color. However what really sets it apart from other brushes is the amount of control you get with it. Customers have been raving about how well the brushes hold together and don't loose the synthetic hairs from the brush like cheaper brushes often do. One customer even had this to say about how well the brushes performed:

"These brushes have many of the good qualities of sable and cost relatively little. I mostly use the silver brush sable brushes and I don't see a great deal of difference between the natural hair and the Mimik Synthetic. The Mimik brushes hold color well, snap into a fine point, and clean up nicely. they are quite soft which I consider a plus. I have not had any stray hairs or misshapen points so far and the fit and finish are good."

The Mimik brushes are also an excellent value, with sets of 8 brushes starting at $49.99 and including round, rigger, filbert, flat wash and wash mate shapes.Each brush has a stylish blue-grey handle and nickel-plated brass ferrules. And of course, all brushes are also sold separately. They are perfect for watercolor, gouache, and acrylics paints and can masterfully control paints for large washes or precise movements.

Brushes made with animal hair might perform just as well as these brushes, but they definitely don't perform better. So try these brushes out for yourself. They really are a terrific alternative to squirrel and sable haired brushes and give the same control, paint holding capacity and brush response!

(No squirrels were harmed in the writing of this blog or the making of the Mimik Brush)



Whats the Buzz

SoHo Studio Wipes & the Vanish 4-in-1Artist Eraser

Today's Whats the Buzz brings you the very popular SoHo Studio Wipes and the Vanish 4-in-1 Artist Eraser. Both of these things are must haves for any artist to clean up their studio or workspace. From painting to drawing, these wipes and erasers will take on any mess you have. But don't take our word for it; lets look at what artists are saying about these and see what the Buzz is all about.

First Up are the SoHo Studio Wipes. Artists rave all about them because they are perfect for cleaning up any paint stains, acrylics and oils off of brushes, or spills, drips and splatters. Now lets hear what the buzz is all about:

"I got a sample of these and was skeptical that they would be worth the money, but after using them to clean oil based ink used on woodblocks I think they are worth it. They easily remove ink from hands, blocks, brayers and ink slabs."- Charlie, Maryland

"I love these wipes. The first ones I got were free with a purchase. I was so hooked on them I bought 2 containers the next time I ordered from Jerry's Artarama."-Yarntales, New York

"Had a mishap on my clothing and SoHo came to the rescue! No stain to speak of!"-Curly Painter, New Jersey

"These wipes are excellent. I mainly use them to clean tables and brushes after my students use them."-James, Virginia

SoHo's studio wipes will clean any mess, even ink stains. And they are non-toxic and biodegradable making them the environmentally friendly way to conveniently clean up artist messes.

Next Up is the Vanish 4-in-1 Eraser. They call it the 4-in-1 Eraser because it can clean up 4 different mediums from graphite and charcoal to colored pencils and pastels. That means it can replace  gum erasers, hard rubber erasers, vinyl erasers, and even soft kneaded erasers in any artist's art supplies. But lets see what actual artists have to say about it:

"The eraser works great to remove pencil lines when sketching. It is shaped like a rectangular fat crayon which allows for a pencil like grip which is no doubt responsible for part of its ease of use. As it wears down with use I'm sure the grip aspect will change but I expect that the qualities that make it a great smudge free eraser will still be there."-Nibs, Pennsylvania 

"I am a watercolor artist who uses many different weights and types of paper. I find Vanish leaves the least amount of damage to the surface of any eraser I have ever used. I give them as gifts to my 'painting buddies'".-Wet brush gal, Washington

"I use this product with my art work. I liked the first one so much, which I bought as a trial, that I ordered more the next time I sent in a large in a large order, so that I'd have one in my art room, with my traveling art office and in my brief case. The eraser cast offs are clean and dont create crumbs. The pieces don't muck up drawing or watercolor paper, yet it is so soft, it doesn't harm the paper surface."-Ambidextrious, Idaho

"When drawing, I like to keep my paper as clean as possible, and this eraser makes my job easier. It erases with ease, and completely without causing stress to the paper's surface. It is a 'must' to all artists whether professionals or amateurs."-Teresa, Washington

Yowza! Sounds like these products are really buzzing. The artists have spoken and said that these two cleaning products are the best! So check them out and try them for yourselves and see if something you review shows up on next week's Whats the Buzz!


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