Watercolor Flowers: My Newest Skillshare Class

I’m so excited to blog about my newest Skillshare class: Watercolor Flowers. If you’ve been reading my blog for the past month or so, you know I’ve been doing a TON of watercolor work and am experiencing a renewed love for this medium.

I was inspired to create this class by Yao Cheng, a beautiful watercolor artist in Ohio. She was classically trained in the arts and spent time in Asia learning Chinese painting techniques. You can check out her lovely work on her website Yao Cheng Design.

In my blog 5 Reasons to Give Watercolor a Try, I mentioned that I was following her 31 days of painting flowers class on creativebug.com.

Our styles are totally different. And I cannot even begin to compare my work with hers. She is a classically trained artist with a beautiful, elegant style. I’m a self-taught watercolorist and am constantly learning and developing my skills.

I’m not sure why, but I don’t sketch before I start painting. Maybe it's because I’m a neat freak, something I mentioned in that same blog post! It bothers me that you can’t completely erase pencil marks once you have applied watercolor, or other paint. As a result, I don’t sketch first, I just jump right in!

Because I don’t have an outline to follow, I often use my initial brush strokes to outline the shape I’m painting. I’ll then add internal details and apply other watercolor techniques, such as wet on wet or color mixing, once my outline is in place.

My favorite coffee table book that is full of gorgeous flowers that inspire my watercolor work, is Caroline Roehm’s Flowers published in 2012. The photography is spectacular and every flower featured in the book is represented in several varieties and a range of colors. There a link to the book in the sidebar area.

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I’m super excited that Skillshare decided to feature my class in their Fine Art section this month. I do not consider myself a fine art professional. When describing what I do, I always say: I’m an artist with a little “a”!

I’d love for you to explore this class. You can watch the introductory video and if you decide to join Skillshare after watching it, you’ll get 2 months FREE!

If you are already one of my students on Skillshare, THANK YOU! One of the odd things about how Skillshare works is that teachers don’t get access to anyone’s email or contact information. I do my best to connect with students through the discussion area that’s available below each class but not everyone uses that. And it’s not the same as direct email contact.

If you’d like to join my email list, please join here. You’ll receive weekly art inspiration, free tutorials, monthly freebies and direct access to me through our private Facebook group, Anne’s Art Club.

I hope to see you inside Anne’s Art Club or in another one of my classes soon!

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

Xo,

Anne

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Take a line for a Walk

I live in the beautiful town of Mill Valley, a short drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, north of San Francisco. I’m very fortunate that just a few blocks from my house is a gorgeous co-working space called The Hivery. I taught my first live creative workshop there last week and it was a BLAST! I’m still so excited by how it went that I have to share it with you this week.

All of the photos in this blog were taken by my friend and spectacularly talented photographer: Kim Thompson Steel.

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I discovered The Hivery several years ago and it’s one of the most spectacular environments to work in. Even more importantly, it’s a community of vibrant, kind, encouraging women who are all working towards or on their “What’s Next” to create meaningful, happy careers and families. Incredible partnerships and collaborations happen there all the time and I'll tell you about several of mine in future blogs!

The founder and CEO, Grace Kraaijvanger, and her team recently decided to launch a new series of creative workshops called Creativity Circles. These take place on the first Thursday of every month from 12:30 to 1:45pm in the beautiful Creative Studio. I was honored to be asked to kick off the very first one this past week!

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As I wrote in my blog a few weeks ago, I’m a huge fan of Paul Klee. One of his basic art lessons, that he taught at Bauhaus in the 1920s, was called: Take a Line for a Walk.  You can learn more about his teaching style and approach in his book: Pedagogical Sketchbook, which became his semi-official textbook.

Creating a workshop around this idea seemed like a great place to start!

I was also inspired by one of my favorite online teachers: Diane Culhane. She is a wonderful ceramic artist, painter and art educator living in West Seattle.  Her latest book is called: If You Can Doodle, You Can Paint. Taking a line for a walk is a technique she uses in her doodles.

My goals for the workshop were for students to:

·      Have fun

·      Enjoy time and space to create

·      Meet other creatives in a safe and encouraging environment

We kicked off the workshop at 12:30 and I was delighted that several people I actually knew showed up! That put me at ease right away.

After a quick introduction to Paul Klee’s work and his use of line, form and color, we dove right in.

Participants began by making marks with black ink on kraft paper, moving from straight lines to curved lines to representational shapes.

One of the most rewarding parts of teaching is learning from students and seeing how they interpret each exercise in their own unique way. One student in particular, my friend Tracey Pettis, who has a beautiful business called Fresh Portraits brought a photo of Jimmy Hendrick with her and did these exercises based on his portrait.

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After the class wrapped up, I had the opportunity to showcase my “pop up” shop with my most current designs on wrapping paper, notebooks, mugs,  tote bags and greeting cards. It was perfect timing because most schools are finally out and parents need teacher’s gifts! Click HERE for my most current designs or email me directly at anne@annelafollette.com to order.

Most importantly, we all had a great time, enjoyed each other's company, explored our creativity for an hour and had fun. I’ll close with this delightful picture of the whole group.

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Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create!

Xo,

Anne

P.S. I just hit "publish" on my newest Skillshare class: Watercolor Flowers. Check out the intro video and get 2 months FREE!

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Three DIY Gift Ideas for Dad

Father’s Day usually sneaks up on me for some reason. This year, however, I’ve been brainstorming DIY ideas well in advance of Sunday, June 17th.

Here are three ideas that are fun, easy to do, and will make him feel special on his special day.

Make A Handmade Card

My husband, Tom, is an avid bicyclist. In the past, I’ve purchased cards with bikes on them for various occasions but this year I decided to make my own. I love sketching bikes and had several drawings to choose from.

I decided to go with the blue and red more old-fashioned bike and here is a short video showing you how I made his actual card using Adobe Illustrator.

 

Download a free copy of my blue bike illustration HERE. It's my gift to you. I hope you enjoy using it on a Father's Day card or for another happy occasion.

Create a Sweet Little Packet

To ensure that all the special Dads in my family have something to open on Father's Day, and without breaking the bank, I made a sweet little packet using a fold called the regency fold.

Sticking with the bicycle theme, I created a simple bicycle pattern for my wrapping paper.

 My simple bike pattern

My simple bike pattern

Then I folded it into a regency fold. I'll include a quote, a small piece of artwork, or a short poem inside.  Watch my short video demonstrating how to make a regency fold. 

Make A Yummy Dinner!

One of our favorite family recipes is Tagliatelle Contadina with Silvano.  I tried this recipe for the first time many years ago after it appeared in one of Martha Stewart's magazines. It's really easy and since we are only a family of three, there are plenty of left overs!

Try it this Father's Day and let me know if everyone enjoyed it!

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I hope you all have a wonderful week and that one or more of these ideas is helpful as you start to prepare for Father's Day.

Remember, It's Never Too Late To Create!

xo,

Anne

Month-End FREEBIES & Five Techniques I Learned From Paul Klee

As we wrap up the month of May, I've been busy creating my June freebies for my email subscribers. At the end of every month, I send them a new wallpaper pattern for their phone and desktop or laptop computer as well as a printable calendar. My copy of the calendar goes on the fridge!

If you are not on my list but would like to join and receive these freebies, JOIN HERE.

This citrus pattern was inspired by the recent hot weather and sipping tall lemonades in the afternoon sun.

In our Facebook LIVE session last week, inside Anne's Art Club, we talked about a watercolor technique used by Paul Klee, one of my favorite artists. Here's a link to the FB LIVE session in case you missed it.

I love studying painters whose work I admire. Exploring their work helps me discover new techniques that I can try to apply, in some small way, in my own work.

After the live session, I realized that I learned a lot more from him than just the layering technique we talked about. Here are five techniques I learned from studying his work.

Give these a try in your watercolor practice!

GRIDS

Paul Klee is famous for his grids. He created his first one in 1914 after returning from a trip to Tunisia. He painted his last one the year he died in 1940.

One of the very appealing things I find about his work is that you can find glimpses of grids, or the use of geometric shapes, throughout his work. 

His grids are hand-drawn which gives them a bit of wonkiness. They look simple but are actually quite challenging to make. Or at least my practice attempts don't look very interesting or complex! The whole effect changes quite dramatically if you use a ruler instead of drawing your lines by hand. Try a few yourself!

 WikiMedia Commons image from Paul Klee's Temporis Collection

WikiMedia Commons image from Paul Klee's Temporis Collection

WARM/COOL COLORS

Klee was very inspired by color and color theory and became one of the great teachers of color theory of his time. He famously said: "Color and I are one. I am a painter." 

One of his color techniques is using warm colors in the interior portion of a piece while surrounding those warm colors with cool colors. Or doing the opposite. 

This is a HUGE area of study and it's a lot of fun to experiment using these guidelines. See what interesting combinations you come up with!

POP COLORS

Klee also creates interest by using a pop color in his grids. Sometimes that's by using white to lighten a piece and draw the eye to a specific area of the grid. Sometimes it's a deep, vibrant red! What pop color appeals to you most? 

NARROW COLOR PALETTE

Even when he uses a narrow color palette, his application of layers of those colors creates endless tones and combinations. This is where the layering technique comes into play. A fun exercise to do is pick 3 colors to work with. Once your first layer is completely dry, apply a second layer of some (or all) of those colors. Apply them in interesting ways to create new color combinations.

PATIENCE

The entire process of creating these grid paintings takes a lot of patience. From thinking through a grid layout, to picking the color palette, applying the warm/cool layout and finally the layering technique is mesmerizing and meditative at the same time. My favorite online teacher, Carla Sonheim, recommends listening to Mozart or Beethoven while you paint these!

Here are three of my practice attempts completed several years ago.

I'm excited to give them a try again. And I hope you will too. I'd love to see them in our private Facebook group.

If you need some help getting started with watercolor, check out my Skillshare class: BEGINNING WATERCOLOR. If you join Skillshare through my PRIVATE LINK, you'll get 2 months FREE!

Read my blog from a few weeks ago where I share my top 5 reasons to give watercolor a try. I love this medium and encourage you to give it a try!

See you again next week.

And remember, It's Never too Late to Create!

xo,

Anne

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What I Learned From My First FREE 5-Day Challenge

Challenges seem to be a “thing” right now.  I listened to a great podcast by Amy Porterfield where she interviewed Zach Spuckler, a Facebook ad expert who runs challenges fairly often. That inspired me to run my own!

I kicked it off in a blog post last month called FREE TRAINING! Create Your First Video in Just 5 Days.

The goal of most free challenges is to:

·      grow your email list,

·      provide valuable free content,

·      engage with participants every day of the challenge,

·      have FUN, and

·      offer something at the end (a paid course or membership)  

My main goal was to learn all the technical aspects of what’s involved since I had never done one before. And there are a LOT of components to learn. These include:

·      creating FB ads,

·      setting up an email sequence,

·      recording daily video trainings,

·      creating additional training cheat sheets,

·      leading daily Facebook LIVE sessions, and

·      creating a “next steps” sales sequence to my paid course

Wow. I’m exhausted just reading that list!

But I knew I would learn much more by creating a challenge myself than by participating in more of them, so I jumped into action.

The challenge, Create Your First Video in Just 5 Days, focused on teaching students how to create a video using just two things: your iPhone and iMovie, a free app for the iPhone.

I picked this topic because I LOVE to make videos myself and taught myself how to make them. What’s possible today using only your iPhone and one app is pretty incredible!

I was very excited to see what students would create and post inside our private Facebook group.

Here's a recent one of mine. I make these nearly every day!

 

Providing value to my email subscribers is incredibly important to me as I grow my business. And engaging with them directly as often as possible is FUN! 

I planned to offer my paid course,  Mastering iMovie on your Mac, at the end of the challenge. But I had zero expectations around selling it.

I wanted students to come away with a fun and engaging experience, having learned new skills, and having gotten a taste for my teaching approach and supportive style and personality.

So, what did I learn?

PLANNING

Give yourself enough prep time! I put undue pressure on myself by picking an arbitrary date in May with only about 2 weeks to prepare.

This was great in one sense because I was forcing myself to get everything done. But it didn’t really allow enough time for one key element: filling the challenge!

In the two weeks leading up to the challenge, I spent 80% of my time building all the content:

·      recording the video trainings

·      creating a pretty workbook and daily PDF training documents

·      writing all the email sequences

·      scripting and recording the FB video ad

And only 20% of my time trying to fill the course through three marketing channels:

·      Facebook ads

·      Email marketing, and

·      Organic traffic (Instagram & Pinterest)

My initial goal was to get 200 sign ups and I reached a total of 90. That’s still AWESOME and I’m super happy about it. If I invited 90 people over to my house they wouldn’t fit! However, next time, I’ll reverse those percentages.

FB LIVES

The Facebook live sessions were the most fun for me while also being the scariest part of the challenge. I was LIVE inside our private Facebook group every day for 5 days straight!

I’m not a big “in front of the camera” kinda girl so this really took me out of my comfort zone every day.

There were several people who were SUPER SUPPORTIVE in these live sessions (you know who you are!) and I am so thankful they joined live and engaged with me.

It feels really awkward talking to your laptop camera! When comments and questions come through, and you realize people are actually there, it’s a whole lot easier.

I still need to gain more experience talking to the camera while also reading and responding to comments as they pop up.

CONTENT & OPEN RATES

I provided the training content to students in three ways:

1.     via email each morning,

2.     in a daily video training, and

3.     in the daily FB LIVE sessions

There was also a comprehensive workbook with step by step instructions covering the entire 5-days of content and daily assignment PDFs. These were available on the training site as free downloads. 

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Open rates stayed pretty steady throughout the challenge at about 35-40%. I’m not sure there is much to take away from this since my sample size was small.

I included an assessment for the course on day five and need to circle back to all participants to encourage them to answer the 3 short questions I asked:

1.     Rate the class (great, good, only okay)

2.     What was most valuable (email assignments, video trainings, Facebook lives)

3.     Did you make a video (yes, almost, no)

I’d LOVE to get feedback because I know there is always room for improvement!

WRAP UP

The weekend “selling” period when I was telling students about my paid course, Mastering iMovie on your Mac, coincided with Mother’s Day weekend. My original plan was to send 6 emails over Friday, Saturday and Sunday but I just couldn’t stomach that. And I didn’t think my audience would appreciate it either.

I sent three and supplemented them with an impromptu FB live on Saturday to answer some great questions about Mastering iMovie on your Mac that students had asked. That was a fun Q&A!

My last email went out mid-day Sunday. I offered a limited time discount on Mastering iMovie on your Mac that expired at midnight that night. Learning how to schedule emails was key since I was having 10 people over for dinner on Mother’s Day and needed to focus on that!

In conclusion, I’m very happy with everything I learned from the entire experience. It was never about the money I might make from selling my paid course. It was about learning all these new- to-me online marketing tools, providing value to the students in the course and enjoying the beautiful videos they made and shared during the challenge!

I hope these tips help you if you decide to run a challenge of your own. My best wishes for a successful one if you do!

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

Xo,

Anne

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Top 5 Reasons to Try Watercolor

I have a renewed sense of energy around my watercolor practice right now. Let me tell you why and share my top 5 reasons to give watercolor a try!

Sometimes I forget that I’m paying for a monthly membership to Creativebug. When I remember, I jump onto the site to see if there is a class I might want to take. I totally lucked out earlier this month while searching through the “dailies”. “Dailies” are what Creativebug calls daily challenges.

I found an old class by Yao Cheng, a watercolor artist who lives in Ohio. The class involves painting watercolor flowers for 31 days.

These classes are fun because the videos are super short, usually between 5 - 8 minutes, and the instructors quickly demonstrate the task for the day.

I’ve been following along for the last 10 days or so. Here is what I have created so far.

All of these are available as Art Prints in my Society 6 shop.

I used several of these pieces to create beautiful, unique Mother’s Day cards for all the Moms around me last week. I love to make handmade cards and it's especially sweet if I can include some of my own artwork in the process.

I hope you read and enjoyed last week's blog where I shared a free tutorial on how to make these cards and included a free download of one of my watercolor florals for you to use.

 Personalized Mother's Day Cards

Personalized Mother's Day Cards

If you have been following my blog, you’ll know that I’m also participating in the 100 Day Project right now. We’re at day 40, or thereabouts. I started the challenge with a daily commitment of doing 20 minutes of sketching.

That morphed, about a week into the challenge, into watercolor work and short videos of my work in progress. I’ve included a popular one that’s received over 100 views on my IG account.  You can follow me @annelafolletteart.

I used to find watercolor super intimidating but here are the top 5 reasons to try it!

Portability

Okay. It’s very “me” to start with something practical. Watercolor is super portable which means you can take it with you everywhere. All you need is a small sketchbook filled with watercolor paper, a few brushes, a small set of tubes or a small pan set and a small jar of water.

Winsor & Newton has lovely tiny watercolor pan sets in specific color ranges that are already designed to work together. I’m currently using a tiny set with 12 colors and it’s the cutest thing. It’s only 5 by 2.5 inches!

I alternate between a 5 by 5 square sketchbook or a 5 by 7 version. Both are easy to carry and hardly take up any space at all. My go to brushes are size 12 and size 6 rounds that give me plenty of flexibility.

Variety of Color

With just a small number of colors, you can create an amazing variety of color. One of the warm-up exercises I do with students is to create 5 different shades using just one color.

Sketch out 5 long rectangles in pen or pencil on a piece of watercolor paper and pick a color. Fill each rectangle with a different shade of that color by adding more and more water to your brush. Start with the darkest shade by adding a lot of pigment to your brush. Then dip your brush into water to dilute the color slightly for the next shade. Keep dipping into the water to dilute the color further until you achieve the lightest shade to fill the last rectangle.

Mixing colors allows an infinite variety of color options which just reinforces the fact that you don’t need a ton to start with.

For example, I paint florals a lot. I’m always experimenting with different shades of greens for the stems and leaves by adding yellows for lighter hues or a touch of black for a deeper shade.

Different Zone of Creativity

I believe that the act of painting takes you into a different sphere of creativity than other creative exercises. When I’m painting, my level of concentration is different. It’s hard to explain and I wouldn’t say it’s a deeper level of concentration, necessarily. It’s just different.

Maybe the coordination required with the brush and the variety of strokes has something to do with it. Or perhaps it’s the combination of applying the colors and the color choices themselves. I’m not sure but I love the sense of timelessness that occurs when I’m painting.

I’d love to hear what you think about this particular topic!

Play time for YOU

Taking time for yourself is SO IMPORTANT. Setting up and getting started on a watercolor project takes no time at all. It's accessible and fun and grants you space to play. Just grab your supplies and a jar of water and you are ready to jump in.

I love the simplicity and ease of set up because there are virtually no barriers to just “doing”. And for me, it’s really PLAY TIME because I’m never trying to replicate something exactly. In my floral work, I’m using my imagination as much as any reference, if I have a reference at all.

Also, since I’m a neat freak, I appreciate how easy it is to clean up! I work at my kitchen table and need to put everything away so the table is neat and tidy before dinnertime. Watercolor clean up takes no time at all – a simple rinse of the brushes and water jar and you're DONE!

Happy Surprises

Most of all, I love the “happy surprises” that happen with watercolor. Sometimes I’ll find myself in the middle of a piece and I’ll be thinking: “gees, this is awful. It’s not turning out at all the way I expected.” But then, I’ll add one more element, or an area where I mixed colors will continue to expand and bloom and all of a sudden something totally new appears that was unexpected.

Or I’ll stop working on a piece, not completely satisfied with how it turned out. I’ll come back when it’s completely dry and be happily surprised with the final result. I really never know what the end result will be and the surprise factor is a delight for me!

I hope my top 5 reasons encourage YOU to try watercolor or pick it up again if you haven’t done much watercolor work recently. It’s a joyful adventure each and every time.

Finally, if you’d like some help to get you started, I teach Beginning Watercolor on Skillshare. Just click HERE or on BEGINNING WATERCOLOR to access my private link to the class. You’ll receive 2 FREE months of membership if you join Skillshare through my private link.

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

xo,

Anne

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What are you struggling with most in your art practice right now? Email me at anne@annelafollette.com and let me know!

Happy Mother's Day

I decided, for a change of pace, to create a VLOG this week in celebration of Mother’s Day.

It's an overview of a day in the life of my creative practice.

Let's jump in!

I started the day today painting a watercolor goldenrod. I’m taking a wonderful class on Creativebug.com called Daily Painting Challenge: 31 Flowers to Paint with Yao Cheng. It’s fabulous.

Here's a short video of my painting process making today's flower.

Since Mother’s Day is this Sunday, my morning painting practice inspired me to create a hand-made Mother’s Day card. That prompted the idea to include a free tutorial for you so you can make one too!

Click on the image of my goldenrod below to access it. It's my gift to you.

Feel free to use it in your Mother’s Day card or for another occasion.

If you have your own artwork, please follow along in the tutorial and place your artwork on the card instead!

 Watercolor Goldenrod

Watercolor Goldenrod

Here is today's VLOG with my Mother's Day's greeting followed by the free tutorial. ENJOY!

In the video, I mention one of my favorite resources: Teela Cunningham of Every-Tuesday.com. She teaches font-making, graphic design and offers free tutorials on her website and YouTube channel nearly every Tuesday. 

Download Kickstart Your Art Journey for a complete list of my favorite online art resources, what I love about them and how much each one costs.  

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s out there. And a very special Happy Mother’s Day to my own wonderful Mom, Ellen!!

Remember, It’s Never too Late to Create!

Xo,

Anne

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Need Some Art Inspiration Right Now?

It’s May! It’s beautiful outside. I love the month of May and am so excited to be here with you again today.

Do you need some art inspiration right now? We are nearly half-way through the year. Sometimes, at this point, my creativity lags because I’ve busted through a bunch of the big goals I set out for myself back in January.

When I feel stuck, I have a three-part system that I use that works for me every time and I want to share it with you.

IDEA # ONE: TRY SOMETHING NEW

Often, when I hit a rough patch in my creative journey, trying something new is exactly what I need. I love to learn new things. That sense of experimentation, freshness, exploration, and freedom helps me get my groove back.

I will often gravitate to something outside my comfort zone. Urban sketching perhaps or even a book binding class! This means I’ll have no expectations and be able to approach each lesson as a complete beginner. I'll simply enjoy the experience and see what happens.

Here are two resources that I’m exploring right now:

·      Sketchbook Revival, an online workshop with Karen Abend. This workshop is FREE and Karen interviews two artists each day who share tips and inspiration around their sketchbook practice. The content so far has been AMAZING!

·      Sketchbook Skool, founded by Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene, offers paid courses in the $29 to $99 range. Check out their FREE YouTube channel: Sketchbook Skool Draw Tip Tuesday for fun, quirky tutorials on Tuesdays.

Koosje Koene narrates the Draw Tip Tuesday lessons on YouTube and, for the most part, her tutorials are short and approachable! Here is a little watercolor pear that I did after watching her Watercolor trick tutorial today.

 A little pear watercolor...

A little pear watercolor...

IDEA # TWO: RE-FOCUS (or GO DEEPER)

I received an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil for my birthday back in December. I was so excited to get it! It’s another beautiful product from Apple but initially I had a hard time figuring out how to incorporate it into my workflow.

I knew from friends and colleagues that one of the best apps to use on it is called Procreate but I didn’t know how to use that. As a Skillshare teacher, I have access to thousands of classes for the $15.00 a month membership fee. Sometimes I forget what an incredible resource that is. Here is a link to my most popular class: From Sketch to Wrapping Paper.

Here are two classes on Procreate that I absolutely LOVE:

·      Introduction to Procreate: Illustrating on the iPad Pro with Procreate by Brooke Glaser, Illustrator and Children’s Designer

·      Art Made Easy: Draw and Paint with the iPad Pro by Gabrielle Brickey, Portrait Artist

Procreate has a fun time-lapse feature that allows you to show your work in progress and then your final product. I sketched this spring wreath in Procreate a few days ago and love watching the time-lapse. It's only 28 seconds!

IDEA # THREE:  TAKE A SHORT BREAK!

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know that I recently finished my first 100-day challenge. It started on January 1st and wrapped up on April 10th.  It was a fabulous experience and I recap it in back-to-back blog posts that I published on April 10 and April 17. 

I jumped right into another one called The 100 Day Project and frankly, I needed a break! Getting into the habit of sketching everyday was wonderful. That desire is still very strong inside me but I have to give myself grace, periodically.

Just so long as I don’t beat myself up and jump back in after a few days, I’m cool with it. A short break can be refreshing and allow us that space that we need once in a while.

Here are two things I do when I’m taking a break:

·      Go on an Artist Date – one of my favorite things to do that I learned from Julia Cameron’s book: The Artist Way. I describe what it is in this blog post.

·      Get some exercise – just going outside for a walk or a hike helps tremendously.

I do a lot of work at the computer:

o   This blog every week

o   The weekly email to my subscribers

o   My pattern and product design work

o   Uploading my art prints to Society6

o   Watching online art classes

o   Creating my own online art classes

We all have to step away from the computer and reconnect with nature and the outdoors to recharge our batteries.

These are the art inspiration ideas that are helping me right now. I hope one or more of them helps you too!

And don’t forget, if you want to learn how to make a video using just your iPhone and the app iMovie, join my FREE TRAINING: Create Your First Video in Just 5 Days. 

It starts on Monday, May 7th and is only available for a limited time so grab your seat.

And remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

xo,

Anne

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What I Learned From My 1st 100-Day Challenge, Part 2

Last week we talked about how to successfully complete a 100-day challenge and how important it is to join a community to get daily support and encouragement. I didn’t embark on my first challenge alone and completing it with supportive, like-minded colleagues made it a whole lot more fun!

Today’s blog is Part 2 of the story and I’ll dive deeper into why I decided to do a 100-day challenge in the first place, what I hoped to accomplish and what I learned about myself through the process. Perhaps most importantly, I'd like to share how I’m carrying this forward in my art journey now and some advice for you should you decide to embark on a challenge like this yourself.

If you aren't quite ready for a 100-day challenge, a great way to start on a creative journey is to take an online art class. I created a guide called Kickstart Your Art Journey, which highlights my favorite online resources. You can download a copy HERE.

What were my biggest takeaways from the 100-day challenge experience?

WHY I DECIDED TO DO IT:

My main motivations were:

·       Curiosity – what will doing something for 100 days feel like?

·       Skills Development – will I see progress in my work?

·       Community – I want to get to know this group better!

WHAT I HOPED TO ACCOMPLISH:

·       Ease my fear of the blank page,

·       Make progress towards developing my own personal style,

·       Create a lot of content without judgement

WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT MYSELF:

My love of routine was a big asset. I enjoyed silly little things like writing the date in the bottom corner of my sketchbook before I’d start sketching each day.

Devoting time, on a consistent basis, to something I truly love was more important, in the end, than what I created on any particular day. Sometimes it was good and I turned it into an art print or a pattern. Sometimes it wasn’t very good but that was okay because I knew that I would try again the following day.

I became very curious about how each 20-minute session was going to feel. Each day was different. Would today’s session go quickly or would time seem to stand still? What new tricks could I come up with to keep sketching when time seemed to drag on forever. And conversely, how long could I actually keep going when time completely disappeared.

Remembering who I was doing this for was critical: MYSELF! I’m a notorious people pleaser and can, seemingly, find infinite ways to do things in service or support of others. But this type of challenge is hard. Whenever I was having a bad day or my inside voice was saying: “I’m too tired” or, quite frankly, I'd simply forgotten and all of a sudden it was 10pm, I would stop, take a deep breath, and ask myself: "Why am I doing this and who am I doing this for?" Re-enforcing my resolve with the answer to these two questions really kept me going. I was doing it for MYSELF.

As you know, I have already jumped into my next challenge: The 100 Day Project. Today is Day 15, the beginning of week 3! I'm happy to say that the lessons I learned from my first challenge are definitely helping me stay afloat in this new challenge.

Here's a FREE downloadable cheat sheet with my Top 5 Tips to help you complete a 100-day challenge yourself!

 Top 5 Tips To Successfully Complete a 100-Day Challenge

Top 5 Tips To Successfully Complete a 100-Day Challenge

I'm also happy to provide additional support to other creatives, whether you are doing a 100-day challenge or not, through my FREE private Facebook group, Anne's Art Club. Click HERE to join!

In closing, perhaps the most important thing that I’m carrying forward and that I'd like to pass along to you is reminding ourselves to look inward as much as possible and enjoy the experience. Lean into it for yourself. Don’t get distracted by the noise or the hype around the challenge on social media.

While being part of a community is important and certainly provides support in many wonderful ways, it can also, at times, be intimidating as you see the work that other people are posting each day. It's always easier to see someone else’s personal style than your own. And we are always more critical of our own work than anyone else's.

Do not lose faith that your work is valid or that your own style is indeed revealing itself. It is! You are unique and your style is unique. There is only one YOU! Keep moving forward. I believe in you.

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create

Xo,

Anne

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Art as Meditation

As I continue to develop a sustainable creative practice, I've noticed that the process of making art or something creative often puts me into a meditative state. It brings several key benefits that I'd like to share with you today.

Relieve stress

The act of drawing or painting helps me calm down and focus on the task at hand. Once I have everything set up and start to create, I feel stress melt away as I move my pen or brush across the page. Our minds are so full of distracting thoughts and voices which add to the stresses we experience in everyday life. Stopping, slowing down and focusing on an art project helps me breathe more freely, slowly and deeply.

Discover fulfillment

After I got laid off from my corporate job, I really struggled to figure out what was next for me. Diving into art classes and learning new art skills helped get my mind off of those troubles. The time spent focused on creating something, no matter how big or small, enabled my discovery process and I became more comfortable with "open space" in my head. We all have so much potential and a creative practice helps me nurture what's possible.

Become present

Like meditating, my art practice helps me find that “zone” of peace and quiet and empty my mind of the noise inside my head. When I’m using my hands and am focused on crafting something, all those annoying voices and thoughts disappear. I don't think about the past or the future but rather on the here and now and what's right in front of me. I cherish that joyful place where my mind is at ease and where time seems to disappear.

Find your true self

It’s during those moments of calm and quiet that I can find my true self.  I realize how blessed I am to be able to pursue my dreams.  I gain more clarity everyday around my desire to share this discovery with others. We all seek healthy practices whether that’s weekly exercise, daily meditation, better eating, less drinking, or a yoga practice. Nurturing a creative practice brings all these same benefits and more!

One of my favorite quotes is from Julia Cameron’s book: The Artist’s Way. In it, she says: “The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.”

For me, that means paying attention to both the little things and the big things in my life that I’m ever so grateful for.

I’d like to encourage you to try drawing or painting or a craft. I believe you’ll experience these same benefits so why not try, right?

For this week’s free tutorial, I’ll show you how I relax while learning more about my paints and colors through a very easy exercise. I love doing this when I don’t have the energy for more complicated work. And I find it extremely relaxing. I hope you do too!

Click on the video above to watch this free tutorial on creating a color palette cheat sheet.

Before I let you go this week, I have just published a new watercolor class on Skillshare called Paint with Me! Three fun and easy watercolor studies. It includes a bonus lesson which is a sneak peek into my process for converting watercolor elements into pretty still life bouquets. Click the image below for the private link to the class. I hope you will check it out!

And remember, It’s Never too Late to Create!

xo,

Anne

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I Can't Draw

When I tell people that I left my corporate career behind to try my hand at art and a creative practice, the reaction I get most often is some version of: “Oh, that’s nice but I can’t draw.”

I hear that voice in my head a lot too but I want to share something with you. It’s not true. Drawing, just like learning anything, takes practice. If you want to learn a new language, you need to practice it. If you want to learn a new sport, you need to practice it. This applies to nearly everything unless you are fortunate enough to be a genius or to have been born with a specific talent. And even then, geniuses and talented musicians, for example, hone their skills and practice them!

I’m going to get very vulnerable here and show you some drawings that I did in one of the online art classes I took several years ago. The assignment was something like: draw 8-10 images from memory of your childhood. No visual references allowed.

Here are mine.

Look at them! They are hilarious, childish, “bad” in the sense that I can’t draw very well at all. I didn't draw these when I was five, I drew them three years ago. 

I cringe when I look at them although I try to maintain my sense of humor. I know that this version of me and my drawing abilities still lurks inside of me and could come out at any moment.

But here’s the thing. Practice, exercises, prompts, and a supportive community make all the difference in the world when you are passionate about trying something new.

I kept at it and embraced the idea that practice would eventually make me better. Taking classes that introduced me to a bunch of different drawing exercises helped a ton. And watching free YouTube videos of people drawing or showing me how to draw something became a bit of an obsession.

Drawing a face or attempting a portrait of a real person is super intimidating. I still shy away from this type of artwork. However, during the same year that I drew those childhood drawings, I decided that I wanted to learn basic facial proportions. I googled: “how to draw a face" and a whole bunch of YouTube videos popped up.

My favorite one, still to this day, is by Tom McPherson of Circle Line Art School and is called: How To Draw A Female Face: Step by Step.

I have literally watched this video over 50 times. It’s very straight-forward with no frills. There is no voice over, only music, and it's just under thirteen minutes. While Tom draws, simple instructions appear on screen, such as: “Step 1: Sketch an oval shape.”

As part of a drawing challenge, I attempted to draw the face in Tom's YouTube video for 20 straight days. I did each drawing while watching the video. I'd stop the video often to complete a step and then hit "play" again to watch the next section and so on.

Here are my drawings.

It’s still amazing to me that each one is different and none of them look like the drawing I’m trying to imitate.

If you’d like to watch Tom's actual YouTube video to see what I was trying to imitate, click HERE

Nevertheless, most of them have decent proportions and look like a woman so for me, that’s progress!  A lot of drawing is attempting to get out of one's own head and just DRAW! Very small changes in line and shape make a very big difference. Doing the same exercise over and over is extremely helpful.

It may seem nearly inconceivable that these sketches were made by the same hand that created those "childish" drawings I shared with you earlier. But they were and really the only difference is that I didn't have a reference for my childish drawings and I did for the faces. I also had a step by step process to follow when drawing these female faces. And that makes a huge difference. 

I highly encourage you to try this exercise. Pick an object you would like to draw, google it and watch videos of other people drawing it while you do the same. Do it over and over again to see the different results you get. And have FUN!

Next week I’ll share another drawing exercise that I enjoy. I hope you will give some of these a try.

Remember, “It’s Never Too Late To Create”. 

xo,

Anne

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My Story, Part 3

It’s the end of February already! Hard to believe. 

The end of the month is always special for my email subscribers because I give them free downloadable wallpapers for their desktop, laptop and phones as well as a free printable calendar. I put mine on my fridge which means that I see it a lot!

If you would like to join my list, please click here and you’ll get these freebies as well as weekly updates from me about my art journey and how a creative practice has changed my life.

I hope you enjoyed my wedding photos from last week’s blog post. It was really fun to find them and choose my favorites.

Here is where we left off in my story...

Getting to Now

Our son, Matthew, was born a few years after Tom and I got married and we moved to beautiful Mill Valley, California. We love Mill Valley with its easy access to San Francisco, hiking, biking and jogging trails and lovely small-town feel.

After my stint in investment banking, I moved into retail and worked for 25 years at global brands including Esprit, Gap and Old Navy. I was hardworking, dedicated, loyal and worked my way up the ladder to the VP level. While these jobs were challenging and rewarding in many ways, something was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Then, in 2012, I got laid off! It was a huge shock and I was totally unprepared for it. However, it ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me. But I didn't think so at the time!

For several years, I moved from job to job trying to find the right fit for me in the corporate world. I finally realized that I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for there.

When my son left for college, I decided to take some time for myself to explore what might be next for me. I took an online art class called “Y is for Yellow” and it was a revelation.

During this year-long class, I received an email every two weeks with an embedded video outlining a new technique to learn. The class covered drawing, painting, mixed media and many basic techniques that you learn in art school including blind contour drawings, master copies, and much more. I was in heaven! Here are a few pieces from the class.

That experience led me to explore other online art resources. I’ve created a guide called Kickstart Your Art Journey. In it, I review and recommend my top four online art resources. Please download the guide here. It’s intended to help you find a resource that you’ll love.

Fast forward to today and I’m in such a great place! I wake up every day and can’t wait to jump into my latest projects.

Current projects include:

·      creating a new Skillshare class

·      adding direct access to my classes through my website

·      starting Marie Forleo’s b-school

·      continuing my pattern design learning journey

·      adding new art prints to my Society6 shop

This creative space energizes me every day. My dream is to continue to share my journey of discovery with you and encourage you to incorporate a creative practice into your life as well.

I truly believe that art brings joy.

If you are frustrated, feel that something is missing in your life, or keep telling yourself “I can’t draw!”, join me and together you’ll discover that you can draw or paint or collage and that creativity lives within each of us.

Don’t forget: It’s Never Too Late To Create!

xo,

Anne

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My Story, part 2

Welcome back! Before I jump right into the next part of my personal story, I need to celebrate something with you.

One of my goals this year is to start teaching what I love and get my classes out into the world so people can find them, enjoy them and learn new skills. I have two classes on Skillshare.com now and I’m thrilled that “From Sketch to Wrapping Paper” just reached a key milestone with 100+ students!

Here is my private link to the class: http://skl.sh/2E39ckb  Please share this link with your friends and family and anyone else you know who might be interested in learning these new skills.

I’m hard at work on my next class where I’ll teach the mixed media technique I use to create beautiful floral bouquets and how to sell them as art prints on Society6. Whoop, whoop! I’m super excited. Check out my new work using this technique in the photo gallery below.

Okay… Now, where did we leave off in my story? Oh yes, I’m living in Paris and have just learned that my dad’s expat gig is up. We have to move back to the US.

What happened next, you ask?

The middle years

The original plan was for us to move back to upstate New York and for my dad to return to essentially the same job he had before he gained all this fabulous international experience. But not so fast!

Instead, he was recruited to a fabulous job – a huge promotion – in, wait for it…San Francisco! What a great reentry spot with its beautiful hills, gorgeous bay and international flavor. We were also very lucky to move into a lovely home on Russian Hill right around the corner from Lombard Street, San Francisco’s famous “crooked street”, flanked by the historic Powell Street cable car.

Fast forward through high school and college and I’m ready to live overseas again. My experience living abroad at a young age definitely created an insatiable desire in me to continue to explore other cultures, languages and cities!

With an East Asian Studies degree and a few years of college level Japanese under my belt, I moved to Tokyo and lived with a Japanese family for a year. What an incredible experience! That led to a short-lived romance with a Japanese “salaryman” who was transferred to Hong Kong. I moved there with him and we lived in Happy Valley, right across from one of the horse racing tracks, for about six months until my dad finally put his foot down and told me to return home and get a “real” job.

Back in San Francisco, I traded my Japanese language skills for an entry level job at an investment bank. The bank had raised funds from large Japanese institutions interested in investing in U.S. companies in the tech, consumer and medical fields. I worked my way up from the secretary pool into an associate position where I helped analyze and recommend companies to the investment board.

But, and this is much more important than all that, I met and married the love of my life, Tom! We were introduced to each other by a mutual friend who was a friend of mine in college and became a friend of Tom’s in law school. Even though our courtship took about four years, I knew right away that he was “the one"!

To be continued….

Remember: It’s Never Too Late To Create!

xo,

Anne

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My Story, part 1

First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day!

As I build my tribe and create a community of like-minded women who want to start or maintain an art practice, I realized that many of you don’t know me very well yet. So here is my story. I’ve broken it down into a short series that I’ll share with you over the next several weeks.

The early years

I was born in upstate New York in a company town called Corning. Everything about the town revolved around Corning Glass Works, and both my dad and my grandfather (his dad) worked there. Corning isn’t very far from the Finger Lakes region and the area is pastoral, beautiful and has four very distinct seasons. I can remember:

  • tons of snow and learning to cross country ski in our backyard
  • hot, hot summers and creating a whirlpool in our make shift swimming pool – one of those pools that you build temporarily above ground with corrugated siding and thick plastic – by running in the water in the same direction as my two older sisters
  • listening to torrential rain storms from the enclosed porches in our house, sheets of water clearly visible moving across the fields

I also vividly remember riding in the backseat of our station wagon on our way to the local country club when I was 7 and my mom telling us that she was expecting a new baby! And a boy no less. As the baby in the family until then, I wasn't too sure how I felt about this!

At 8, my family had the incredible opportunity to move to Europe. My dad was offered a five-year overseas assignment, first in Brussels and then in Paris. My mom, ever the romantic, decided that we should take an ocean liner to get there instead of flying. So she embarked with me and my three siblings on The France, a magnificent luxury liner that took four days to traverse the Atlantic Ocean. Upon arrival, she put us immediately into the French school system to ensure that we would learn flawless French and not just hang out with the expat community.

We moved from Brussels to Paris when I was 10. This was in the late 60’s during the Vietnam Era student riots. We lived in a fabulous apartment in the 6eme arrondissement right on the Place St Sulpice, very near the Sorbonne. I remember walking to school, which was only a few short blocks away, and passing small vans (camionnettes) full of policemen armed to the teeth with rifles at the ready should riots break out. I was completely oblivious to what was happening politically and actually felt very safe on the streets of Paris.

This was a truly special time. After spending a year and a half at the local “maternel” or grammar school, I graduated into the Lycee system and attended the Lycee Montaigne. Getting there involved a lovely walk from our apartment, up rue Ferou – a famous street that the three mousquetaires lived on – through the Luxembourg Gardens and out the other side where the Lycee was situated.

After each move, either to a new country or to a new school, I always managed to connect with one, or at the most two, really close girlfriends. These relationships were not complex but were very important to me and helped me stay grounded through these changes.

I’m now 13 and the news arrives: my dad’s assignment is up and we have to move back to the United States… WHAAAAT? But I’ll get to that part of the story next week...

Remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.

Xo,

Anne

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Preparing for Valentine's Day

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I thought it would be fun to create some free papers that you can download and use to wrap small gifts. I’m including five so you're covered for your partner, your in-laws and your mom! These are printable on regular paper: 8.5 by 11 inch size.

These were fun to make and I used three different techniques:

·      Sketched motifs using iPad pro and Apple pencil

·      Sketched motifs by hand and then digitized in Illustrator

·      Painted motif and then digitized in Illustrator

Here’s a short behind the scenes video of how I made the one I’m calling Valentine Hearts. Wow, that’s a really original title, NOT!

Personally, in my family we don’t go totally overboard for this Hallmark Holiday but it is nice to find something to give to those special people in our lives. In Japan, the tradition is reversed and women give gifts to their husbands or boyfriends. I've adopted that tradition and still frequently struggle to figure out what to give to my husband.  However, here are a few ideas that have been big hits in the past that don’t require buying anything!

·      A handmade card with a love note inside

·      Dinner at home with his favorite main dish

·      Time together to watch a sweet movie like “You’ve Got Mail”

Here is the recipe for one of our favorite dinners adapted from Martha Stewart’s Real Food magazine (now defunct) from years past. It’s super easy to make which is key in my book!

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Reduction Sauce

Ingredients

1 lb pork tenderloin

1 tablespoon dry oregano

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon salt

½ tablespoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

2/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

How to Make It

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees

Prepare a cookie sheet, one with sides – line it with aluminum foil and spread about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil on the bottom to coat it

Rinse the pork tenderloin and dry it completely with paper towels

Lay it inside the pan (cookie sheet)

Combine the oregano, coriander, salt and pepper and coat the tenderloin with this mixture

Combine the balsamic vinegar and the brown sugar in a small pan and heat over medium flame until it simmers. Let simmer for about 2 minutes to reduce it slightly.

Cook the tenderloin for 7 minutes and then spoon some of the reduced balsamic over it. Add 1-2 more minutes if your tenderloin is larger.

Cook the tenderloin for another 7 minutes and spoon more of the balsamic over it. Again add a few minutes here if your tenderloin is larger.

Cook for final 7 minutes and check internal temperature. Once internal temperature reaches 155 degrees, it’s done.

Take it out and let it rest, covered with foil for about another 7 minutes.

Slice thinly and drizzle remaining balsamic vinegar over the top.

We generally serve it with steamed asparagus or a simple green salad and some fresh bread.

I hope you try it and enjoy it. Here is a link to a PDF of the recipe so you can print it out at home.

 Click inside this box to get the PDF

Click inside this box to get the PDF

I’m so happy to have you in this warm, supportive and creative community. May these little gifts and ideas help you prepare for Valentine's Day next week.

And remember: It’s Never too Late to Create!

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I’ve included an audio version of last week’s blog in case you missed it. I sometimes go off-script so you might want to listen to it both to hear my voice and find out what I added. :)

xo,

Anne