As a professional artist and entrepreneur, a past president of the board of directors for an arts non-profit, and author of the book, How To Build Your Art Business: With Limited Time Or Energy, which was a number 1 bestseller on Amazon in the Art Business category, I also do a limited amount of business consulting.
This post is to give you more information about my consulting, including who I typically consult for, my fees, and what areas of interest I usually consult about.
If you have questions or want to talk about hiring me to consult for you or your business/organization, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
Who Are My Clients?
I typically consult for other artists looking for business, marketing, production, display, and presentation advice, as well as how to talk about their artwork effectively.
I also consult for galleries looking for similar help with their marketing, social media, audience engagement, audience growth, events, copywriting, or curation.
Other organizations, such as non-profits and small businesses come to me for consulting as well, with similar interests as the two groups above.
I consult on a number of topics. Below are the most popular ones:
How to talk about artwork effectively
Work/Life Balance (and/or Health relating to work)
How to close a sale
Professional Presentation (ie. craft/art festival display, business cards, gallery proposals, framing, labels,website photos, artist resumes, etc.)
What Does It Cost?
I frequently answer questions from other artists and organizations/businesses, and I’m more than willing to give you free advice, but if you want to get into specifics when it comes to your own business, it’s best to hire me as a consultant and sit down with me in person (or over the phone) to talk.
My current consulting fee is $35/hour. I live in Barre, VT and am willing to travel up to 30 minutes away to meet (or further, for a slightly higher amount). I usually meet in a public location, such as a cafe, or if you’re within that range (or hire me to drive further), I’m more than willing to come to your studio.
I’m also willing to do phone/video consultations for $28/hour for those who live too far away.
How Does It Work?
Wondering how you’d go about hiring me? Contact me! Let me know a little about who you are and what it is you’re looking to accomplish by hiring a consultant like me and I can tell you if I think I’m a good fit. Then we plan to meet or video/call and go from there!
It’s very simple. Just fill out this form HERE and let’s get started.
For the last couple months you’ve heard me talk about my upcoming ebook, How To Build Your Art Business With Limited Time Or Energy. Well, the book is written and the final edits are almost finished! The launch date for this book to be published is getting close and is planned for August 1st!
This post talks about the book, what to expect from the pages within, and why/how I went about writing it.
The Initial Idea
The idea for this ebook began to take root after I attended an art business workshop in Washington, DC last year, held by the Arts Business Institute. It was a great two-day workshop that focused on building an effective website, wholesaling for artists, working with galleries, what corporations are looking for in the artwork they buy, art licensing, pricing strategies, and more. It was a great workshop led by Carolyn Edlund.
At the end of the workshop I had a consultation with Carolyn herself to talk about my new art business and what I was planning to do with it, taking into account my personal health limitations and the fact that I am chronically ill. The consultation was great and the conference ended.
On my way home I received and email from Carolyn. She had been thinking about her consultation with me and loved how I was planning my business and wondered if she could interview me for her very popular art business blog, Artsy Shark. Of course, I said yes.
This article was so popular it was listed at the end of the year as being in the top 10 most popular articles from the Artsy Shark blog for 2016!
What Led To Writing This Book
The feedback I received from the article posted on Artsy Shark was great and it was surprising to me how many people reached out. So many artists out there suffer from some ailment that limits their energy, and many of them were grateful to read an article that touched on that exact problem.
The more people who reached out to me, the more I realized there is a need to help not just artists thrive with their business, but to recognize that a lot of artists are trying to do this, like me, with limited energy and/or time. A lot of artists have a health problem, an injury, a family, a full-time or part-time other job, and more that keeps them from being able to dedicate themselves to their art and business full-time.
As the idea developed in the back of my mind and I worked on building my own art business, I started keeping note of all the things that were helping me build the business with my limited energy, and the things that drained that energy.
Finally, I listened to a webinar one day while working on a drawing about self-publishing, and that spark of an idea ignited into a full flame.
Writing The Book
I’m not usually an outline person, but for this book, I needed to see if I had enough information to write a full book. So I sat down and I brainstormed on paper everything I’d learned about building my business with limited energy. Then I took all the ideas and I grouped similar ones together. Each group then became the outline for a chapter in the book. Turns out I had plenty of information for a book!
I’m a fairly quick writer, but this book practically wrote itself from that point. It took me 5 days to write the first draft. 5 DAYS to write 40,000 words! I wrote so much so quickly that my hands were cramping. The information was pouring out of me, as if it HAD to be written. It was then that I realized this was definitely the right project for me to be doing.
“Corrina Thurston’s ebook entitled, How to Build Your Art Business with Limited Time or Energy, is a must read! Miss Thurston discusses many topics of interest including: Having the Right Goals, Creating a Business Plan, Multiple Streams of Income, Email Marketing, and Branding. She also wrote a bonus section which includes, 12 Questions to ask before creating a Partnership. I found her book extremely informative.” Lisa Perfetti
What To Expect As A Reader
There’s a lot of information in this book, packed into a concise, easily digestible package. As you know from my blog posts, I’m incredibly honest and open when it comes to my writing and I don’t hold much back.
In this book I go into detail about things like:
Ways to be more productive in less time
How to set the RIGHT goals and avoid getting overwhelmed
How to handle rejection and why rejection is a good thing
How to discover YOUR working style
Creating a business plan (easier than it sounds!)
Developing multiple streams of income
Plus BONUS MATERIALS at the end of the book, including:
12 Questions To Ask Before Creating A Partnership
And a sample chapter from my next book, How To Communicate Effectively – For Artists & Creatives
Plus LOTS more.
Artists will learn to be more efficient in order to get more done in the time they have, while also learning what they should prioritize in order to move their business forward and build it more quickly.
“Corrina Thurston shares her hard won knowledge and guidance in a friendly, conversational style. She doesn’t hold anything back, and every page contains useful information and ideas.” Kelly Paquet
Leading Up To The Launch Date
The planned launch date for How To Build Your Art Business With Limited Time Or Energy is August 1st! It’s coming up quickly!
I’m almost finished my final edits of the manuscript after getting feedback from my Book Launch Team. You might recall one of my recent blog posts asking for volunteers for my Book Launch Team, for which I got a great response. For those who signed up and were accepted to my team, they received a free advanced copy of my ebook, in exchange for giving me their feedback about it before I publish it.
So far, the feedback has been amazing! If I had any doubts that I was the person to write this book before, the responses from those who have read it so far have quashed them.
I have been brought to tears reading some of the feedback from those who have read an advanced copy of this book and how much they feel it will help them in their art career.
Stay Tuned For The Launch!
I’m so excited for you to be able to read this book. A lot of my normal writer’s nerves have been swept away by the tremendous response I’ve gotten from those who have read it so far. This book is concise and to the point, so as not to waste anyone’s precious time. It’s written in a conversational manner and contains actionable advice that I’ve used and researched and I have no doubt will help other artists.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me or write to me in the comments!
Exercising is something most of us have in common at one point or another, whether it’s walking, yoga, weight lifting, running, zumba, or sports. There’s a huge number of ways you can exercise, just like there’s a huge number of ways you can create artwork. Below are a five other commonalities between the two activities:
1.) Sometimes the hardest part is getting started.
Drawing, writing, or creating anything can be one of the greatest feelings in the world, but it can also be difficult to get up the motivation to start. Similar to exercising, sometimes the hardest part is getting started.
A lot of people can relate to this at one time or another in their creative endeavors. You’re staring at that blank page or canvas thinking about how to begin, hoping the idea in your mind will somehow manage to translate to the paper. What if you screw up? What if no one likes it?
Sometimes the reason for having trouble starting is unclear and then it’s particularly frustrating. Why don’t I want to draw today? What’s holding me back?
There are days, just like with an exercise regimen, that you just have to push yourself to take that first step, or in this case that first pencil stroke, and most of the time it’ll get better after that.
2.) You usually feel better afterwards.
Even if you didn’t think you were in the mood to exercise, you usually feel better after you do. That’s because you’ve jump-started your system and boosted your endorphins just by moving around.
Similar feelings arise when you’ve created something. Even if it was difficult to get yourself started, you usually feel better afterwards. Usually you’re happy you accomplished something, even if you’re not always 100% satisfied with the results.
3.) It’s hard work.
Even if you’re in good shape, exercising is hard work, especially if you push yourself to keep getting better. The same goes for creating. Even if you’re good at it, drawing is difficult work. There’s a lot of misunderstanding from people who don’t draw that if you’re good at it, it must just come easily to you and is the easiest job in the world!
This isn’t true. At all.
Not only is drawing hard, keeping up your creativity and motivation to draw is hard, and doing everything else that comes along with being an artist, ie. promotion, marketing, exhibits, proposals, bookwork, etc., is difficult as well.
4.) Success is measured individually.
When you work out you can only measure your success by how far you’ve come. The only thing you should compare yourself to is your past self. And the only thing you should strive to be is your best self.
Exercise isn’t something where you should compare yourself to others, instead focus on your own path and your own progress.
The same can be said of creating art. You can’t compare yourself to others because what you’re creating is entirely YOU. Success depends on what you think success is and is determined solely by you. So focus on your goals and keep track of how far you’ve progressed.
5.) You get out of it what you put into it.
You’re not going to lose 30 pounds by exercising one day. You’re not going to have abs by doing one set of crunches. And you’re not going to be able to run a marathon tomorrow if you just started running today.
It’s the same with creating artwork. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. And the more you push yourself outside your comfort zone to try something new or by attempting progressively more challenging pieces, the more you’ll grow as a creative.
I thought perhaps I wouldn’t be writing a blog post this week because I’ve been feeling pretty horrible lately. We’re currently doing medical testing to figure out what’s going on. Then I realized this morning that maybe that’s the exact fuel I need in order to write this particular blog post.
As many of you know, I have chronic Lyme disease, a couple co-infections (also likely from a tick), hashimoto’s thyroiditis, malfunctioning adrenal glands, etc. I went 6.5 years without a diagnosis and during that time I was mostly bedridden. Two years in, I began to draw as a therapy, because there was nothing else I was physically able to do.
If you haven’t read the story about how I became an artist through and despite of my illness, check out this blog post here that tells that story.
Below isn’t that same story about how I became an artist, it’s about what it’s like trying to keep my business going and growing despite my chronic illness and constant setbacks. It’s how I keep myself happy and moving forward despite being in constant pain. It’s how frustrating, depressing, and emotional it can be at times, but also how inspired, changed (for the better), and hopeful I am.
Please take a moment to read along, and share it with someone whom you think would benefit from it.
Always Needing A Backup Plan
My life is unpredictable. Some days I can function, at least for a while, like a normal human being. I have energy to go out and socialize, I have a fairly clear head and can hold an intelligent conversation, and I can look and act perfectly healthy. Other days, I’m in bed.
Fatigue, nausea, and migraines can overwhelm me at any moment, and they’re a constant threat. It’s like walking around with a cloud over your head that could pour down on you at any moment.
Because of this, I have to make back-up plans for everything. I land an interview with the local media? Great, but I make sure I don’t do anything the day before to help save my energy and then I prepare someone else to be able to be there and answer questions about me and my artwork in case I get taken over with a migraine and can’t do it. Opening reception? Awesome, but I make sure someone else drives me because I probably won’t be able to drive back at the end and I also make sure the venue knows there’s a chance I might have to send a proxy if my illness flares up.
I’ve learned over the last 8.5 years of being sick that I need to have a back-up plan ready for any situation I get into. This includes sitting at the back of an event if I suddenly have to leave, or having someone on speed dial in case I can’t drive myself back home.
I never know when I will feel well and when I will feel horribly sick.
Learning To Work Around My Illness
I used to really enjoy having a schedule. At school you have 1st period and then 2nd period, and everything in your day is planned out. You work on math, then science, then English, etc. Then I would have basketball practice, eat a snack, shower, and do homework. Every day had a specific schedule and you knew exactly what you were going to be doing.
After I became ill, I tried to do that same thing. I thought the only way I could be productive (especially after I started treatment and had a little more energy), was to schedule my day and week out and follow it.
Trouble is, my brain and my body don’t work like that anymore. Not even close.
I was getting so frustrated trying to stick to the schedule and failing on the first day. What was wrong with me? How could I be productive if I couldn’t even stick to a schedule for one day?
I was so frustrated and bogged down by that failure because it just didn’t make sense to me. Common sense says that the more you plan things out, the more efficient and productive you’ll be.
Common sense like that doesn’t work when you’re chronically ill.
It took me a long time to realize that I would be most productive if I just had a list of things I needed to do and worked on whatever struck me that day. Some days my brain, due to headache or brain fog or lack of sleep, just couldn’t focus on writing, or planning a reception, or marketing, so instead I would draw or do something else. Some days, drawing is like pulling teeth, so instead I move on to researching or working on the computer. And so on, and so on for all of my tasks.
I learned to adapt and tackle the tasks that my brain and body could handle, specific to each day.
Sometimes I Just Can’t
When I was healthy I had a “Type A” personality. I was efficient and I like to do things and do them well. I played 3 sports, I had a 4.0 GPA, and I was healthy and fit.
That’s why it was especially hard for me to accept not being able to do things after I became sick. At first I thought if I just pushed myself harder, I could get through it and get stuff done, which obviously made my health much worse instead.
It’s very common for people in the beginning stages of chronic illnesses to not understand their limitations and overdo, making themselves feel much worse.
This can also make you feel like you’re just not worthy of anything. You can’t do much, you keep messing up, you’re not productive or social or really adding to society in many ways. Those voices in your head keep putting you down, making you feel horribly guilty and worthless. It’s very common for people who are chronically ill to feel this way, and despite your best efforts to stay positive, some days it just overtakes you. It’s fine to let myself fall into this once in a while, but then I have to get up and move on and focus on the positive.
Now I’ve learned that there’s things I just can’t do. I can’t go hike a mountain or run 5 miles like I used to. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be somewhere or be able to go out and socialize. I can’t work on a deadline, and I’m very upfront about that with my clients because sometimes it’ll take me a week to complete a commission, and sometimes it will take over 2 months depending on how I’m feeling.
Learning to accept these limitations (and many more) has been one of the hardest parts about being sick.
Emotional Roller Coaster
I’ve been on treatment for the last 3 years and I’ve seen huge improvement overall in my health. I can drive some now, I don’t have a chronic debilitating migraine anymore, just a headache usually, my anxiety is somewhat better, I can go for walks and grocery shopping sometimes, etc.
So progress with my treatment has been positive and I’m able to do much more than I could a few years ago. However, there’s constant setbacks.
It seems if it’s not one thing, it’s another with me, and I know it can be like that for many people.
If I’m feeling better for a while, some other stress will occur, like financial stress, or family members in the hospital, and other life stresses. That’s life. But I also keep having health setbacks. For example, I was feeling really good (for me) a year ago and then moved into a new apartment. Gradually, I started feeling worse and worse, and we realized in the winter that there was mold on the windows and it was making us sick and causing all sorts of problems.
There are many examples of this. Another one is that as my energy returned when I started treatment, I started walking more and more. It was amazing being able to get out in the fresh air and move around, because I could barely do that for the 6.5 years before treatment. Then every time I went for a walk I would have excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. It was so bad I buckled over in the road and could barely get back home. Turns out I had cysts on my ovaries that were causing problems and I had to wait for them to resolve themselves, which took a year and a half. So much for my daily walk.
Being chronically ill is a huge roller coaster for your emotions, and the emotions of those closest to you. One day you’ll feel good and go for a walk or be productive and you’re like YES! things are happening and I’m getting better! Then the next day you have the worst migraine or fatigue you’ve had in months and you’re right back to feeling miserable.
Building A Business That Fits My Life
You might be reading this and think, how the hell could someone in this type of situation start to build a business? It just doesn’t sound possible!
Building any business, even if you’re 100% healthy, is a crazy amount of hard work, stress, and frustration. Ask any artist you know and they’ll tell you that building a business based around their artwork is likely even harder. Now add the chronic illness and constant up and down and not knowing how much you can accomplish or being able to work on a deadline or necessarily show up for events, and the path to success gets especially tricky.
Like I said above, learning to work according to how I feel each day has been key. Sometimes a great opportunity will come along, and unfortunately I have to say no because I know it’s too much for me right now. But I’ve learned to accept some of my limitations and I constantly strive to find ways to build my business that accommodate my illness.
For example, passive income. If I can make a product, like a drawing, and then sell prints of that drawing, that’s fairly passive income because it doesn’t require a ton of energy from me, although it does require some. True passive income is more like creating a pdf tutorial, like this one for my African Elephant drawing, and selling it as a digital file. Once I’m done making the pdf, I upload it to my website and people can buy and download it on their own, with no more effort from me other than reaching out to see how they liked it.
If I can build products that don’t require ongoing energy from me, that’s the best way for me to grow my business.
Another way to create passive income is to write an e-book, which is something I’m in the process of doing right now. I know there are a lot of artists out there with either limited energy due to something like what I have, or just limited time because they have another full-time job, or kids, etc.
The e-book I’m writing is: How To Create An Art Business With Limited Time Or Energy.
This book will be available via Amazon and will go into detail about productivity, learning your work-type, adapting your business to your own personal situation, growing at a pace that makes sense for you, creating a community, enhancing your marketing, creating goals that are easier to achieve, and more.
If you think this book is something that will interest you, or someone you know, contact me and I can add you to my email list to let you know when it is released and exactly how to get it.
It’s Not All Bad
There’s been some surprisingly good things that have come out of my illness. One is my ability to adapt and take things as they come, one day at a time. Sometimes everything will still weight on me and I’ll have a day or two where I’m lost in desperation, worrying and feeling frustrated with my situation. But most days I know what’s in my control and what’s not, and I only focus on what is. If my body needs rest, I rest. If I can be productive, I’m thankful and do what I can.
Since I became sick in 2008, I’ve also become more empathetic. I’d say I’m a lot less self-centered than I was before and much more open to the people around me. I want to help people and make a difference as opposed to just thinking about my own success.
I’m also happier, which sounds crazy, right? How could I be happier when I can’t do half the things I used to love doing? Well, that part sucks no matter how you spin it, but I’m still really grateful for what I CAN do. I’m thankful for my supportive family and friends who have stuck by me, and it’s easier now to notice the little things in life. Right now I have my cat curled up next me and out the window I can see buds forming on the bushes and both of those things make me happy.
And last but not least, I discovered my interest in drawing. If I hadn’t gotten sick, I may never have started drawing. I may never have been an artist, or an inspirational speaker, or connect with any of the amazing creative people I’ve connected with. I never would have met my boyfriend, I probably wouldn’t have been an entrepreneur, and it’s possible I would have been doing a job that I didn’t love.
Not everything about this illness has been horrible. There’s certainly been a number of silver linings, and it’s focusing on those things that keeps me going and keeps me focused.
As most of you know, I’ve created a new YouTube series called Drawing With Corrina. This is a series of videos that helps explain drawing techniques, with some sessions explaining just one technique and some showing how to draw specific things, like how to draw an eye, or how to draw fur, etc.
Session 1 and Session 2 were about how to layer and how to blend in colored pencil to create opaque, vibrant colors.
Session 3 was just uploaded to YouTube and it’s all about how to use an x-acto knife to create small details in your drawing. For those of you who want to watch Session 3, check it out below! For those who want to read about using an x-acto knife instead of watching, keep reading!
Drawing With Corrina – Session 3 – Using An X-Acto Knife
Making Your Own Scratchboard
Most people don’t realize that you can use an x-acto knife to etch away layers of colored pencil in order to help create finer details in a drawing.
When you want to etch away details with an x-acto knife, use a light color as the first layer of your drawing. That way, after you layer your other colors on top, you have a base layer that is light, which is what will show through as you etch.
This turns the drawing surface into something similar to a scratchboard. If you’ve never used a scratchboard, it’s a drawing surface that already has pigment on the surface, and you scratch it off to create your artwork.
Remember: DON’T put a medium or dark color as your base color because it won’t work without a lighter color as the base.
Different Angles Makes Different Strokes
X-acto knives come with a number of different blades. Some blades are flat, some are pointed like the one I use in the video. Different blades will create different etch marks. Also, with this type of blade, you can create thicker or thinner strokes depending on the angle of the blade. If you have the blade at a lower angle, it’ll create a thicker stroke. If the blade is at a higher angle, it’ll create thinner strokes.
I suggest getting a few different blades and experimenting with them on splotches of color like what I’ve done in the video. This will let you know what strokes you can make before you go and try it on an actual drawing.
I made the mistake of trying it on a drawing the first time and ripped right through my paper!
What You Can Use The X-Acto Knife For
What I use this technique for the most is when I’m drawing fur. You can use the x-acto knife to etch away individual strands of fur to create fine details.
You can also use it to help in the same way with feathers, which is something I use it for a lot as well.
Another reason to use an x-acto knife is to create really well-defined edges, like in my Hermit Crab drawing.
You can use this technique for a number of different textures, like helping to define wood, stone, edges, scales, fur, feathers, hair, clothing, etc.
Remember: Be gentle! You don’t want to cut or rip through your drawing paper!
Hi Everyone! Welcome to Session 2 of Drawing With Corrina!
For those who don’t know, I’m in the process of creating a series of quick tutorial videos for YouTube that each either teach you ONE technique for creating realistic, vibrant colored pencil drawings, or teach you how to draw something specific, like an eye or fur, etc.
Session 1, which you can read about and view here, was all about LAYERING.
Session 2, which you can watch below, is all about BLENDING!
I’m creating a blog post for each of these tutorial videos, both to explain them and to give my audience more options for learning. I know some of you would prefer to read about these topics rather than watch a video, and that’s what these blog posts are for!
How To BLEND With Colored Pencil
1.) Using A Lighter Color To Blend
One way to blend with colored pencil is to use a lighter color, or white, over the top of what you’ve drawn, with a good amount of pressure to blend those colors together.
Things you want to remember with this method of blending:
It WILL lighten your piece, so you may want to go back over it, or prepare beforehand for that lightening effect
You NEED to use either white or a color that is a lighter shade of the color you’re blending. For example, use a lighter green to blend greens, or a lighter blue to blend blues, but do not use a lighter blue to blend greens, etc. White is good for this purpose.
You NEED to have enough layers down to blend. Like you learned in Session 1, layers are important for creating that vibrant color. The more layers you have, the easier it will be to blend them together with any of these methods.
2.) Using A Blending Stump To Blend
This is my personal favorite, although I use the method above a lot too. It always depends on what effect you’re trying to get for each individual piece.
A blending stump is something you can buy at an art supply store, and it’s a pencil-shaped tool made of tightly packed paper. When you use it like a pencil over the top of colors of pencil, it helps blend the color by smearing it into the little white grain of the paper that may be showing.
Things to remember with this method of blending:
You NEED enough layers in order for this method to work. If you don’t have enough layers down, you won’t have enough pigment on the paper to fill in all the white of the paper. The more layers you have, the easier this blending method will be.
It DOESN’T change the color of the layers below. So where the previous method lightens the drawing, this method leaves the colors the way they are without changing them.
BE CAREFUL if you have used the blending stump with one color and are then blending another. The blending stump will pick up the color your blending, so if you blend a dark color and then move to blend a lighter color, it will transfer and you could end up with a dark streak across your lighter color. So make sure to wipe the blending stump off or sharpen it and get rid of that risk. Test it on a side paper to make sure it won’t leave a streak on your drawing!
This method MAY reduce the amount of detail you have in the drawing. But that’s okay! Use this blending method not at the end of your drawing, but about 75% of the way through, when you have enough layers and want to fill in the grain of the paper. Then you can go back over it and create the fine details that will give you your finished drawing.
3.) Using Layers Of Color To Blend
As you saw in Session 1, you can get a good amount of blending from colored pencil if you use enough layers. The colors will naturally start to blend together as you add more layers, especially if you vary the direction (slightly!) of your pencil strokes to really fill in the grain of the paper.
So you CAN use just layers and layers of color to blend.
Things to remember with this type of blending method:
This can be tedious. If you have a large area you’re wanting to blend, it may be faster and easier to use one of the methods above to blend after you get a certain number of layers down on the paper.
It’s harder to make sure that you get ALL the little white specks of the paper covered with this method.
Pencil strokes may show up more with this method, if you’re not really careful to keep your strokes really even and vary the direction of your strokes slightly to fill everything in.
4.) Using Oil Or An Odorless Paint Thinner To Blend
One way that a lot of people use to blend colored pencil is by using linseed oil, or turpenoid, or some other paint thinner.
When you do this type of blending, you can use a paintbrush, a tissue, or a q-tip, etc. for the application. Choose whichever one fills your needs the best. And experiment! Try each and see which one you like best.
This method has you wet your applicator (q-tip, paintbrush, etc.), which for me was a q-tip, and then use it lightly over your colored pencil. This will turn the pigment on the paper into a wet paint, which you can then use to cover all the white grain in the paper.
Things to remember with this blending method:
This method turns your colored pencil into a PAINT. So it is wet, and you need to be careful with that. Don’t smear it, because it will leave paint-like smears that cannot be erased.
Because this is more like paint, it may be more difficult to get clear, crisp edges, so be careful with your applicator.
Also because this is more like paint, you NEED to let it dry before applying more layers on top. Otherwise your next layers won’t lay down properly.
The NICE thing about this method is: you don’t need many layers. You can only have a couple layers and still blend and fill in the grain of the paper. This is because of the paint-ness of it. So this method could potentially be a major time saver for you.
BONUS! (Not In The Video): Using Heat To Blend
This is something I didn’t include in the video, but there are also a number of people who LOVE using heat to help blend the pencil in their drawings.
There’s a woman and fantastic artist named Ester Roi, and you can check out her website here, who has invented a drawing tool called the Icarus Board. You can read more about it by clicking on the link.
This is a drawing board that has different amounts of heat. To use it, you lay your drawing paper down on it and use the heat to lay down color more quickly, because it essentially melts the pigment.
I have never used this method before, so I can’t tell you much about it. But I know a lot of people who do use it, or heat in general, and I wanted to let you know it’s an option too! Feel free to experiment and let me know what you think!
As you may know, I have begun creating short tutorial videos for YouTube as part of a series called, Drawing With Corrina. Each session is meant to teach you one technique about drawing with colored pencil or graphite, or go through a quick step-by-step tutorial on how to draw something specific, like an eye or cherries, etc.
If you want to watch the 12-minute video, you can do so here:
I know, however, that many of you prefer reading to watching videos. That’s why I’m pairing each video release with a blog post explaining the video for those who’d prefer to read about it!
Drawing With Corrina – Session One
How Do I Create Vibrant Color In Pencil?
When people are looking at my artwork, one of the questions I get the most is: How do you create such vibrant color in pencil?
The answer: Layers.
That’s why Session One of Drawing With Corrina is all about layering! I find that layering is the number one most important thing to know and learn in order to create vibrant, opaque color with colored pencils.
How Does Layering Work?
When I say “layers,” what I mean is how many times you go over the same area of the paper with the colored pencil, whether it’s with one color, or many.
In the video, I start by showing you how I layer reds to get a bright, opaque color. I start with a light red/orange, and then move to a slightly darker red, and then a slightly darker red, until I’ve made layers with all 5 of the pencils I had of reds.
As I’m coloring in each color, one over the next, I’m going over that area multiple times to make sure the color is even and try to make my pencil strokes show up as little as possible.
As I add layer after layer of color, you notice two things: 1.) The color is getting more opaque as each layer fills in more and more of the grain of the paper. 2.) The pencil strokes of the darker colors show up a little more and are more difficult to keep even.
How Can Layering Create Smooth Color?
After the initial layers of red, I took the second darkest red and did another layer at a SLIGHTLY different angle. YOU DON’T WANT TO GO PERPENDICULAR. If you try to color one direction and then start to color the next layer at the opposite (perpendicular) angle, it will show as a crosshatch and won’t blend as smoothly as you’d like (you’ll learn more about blending in Session Two)!
So instead, choose a slightly different angle with that layer, and then add another on top with the darkest red again.
Then go from a slightly different angle yet again, this time from the bottom in order to fill in the rest of the stubborn white grain of the paper.
How Much Pressure Should I Use?
Everyone has a different amount of pressure they naturally prefer to use while drawing. Some are considered “hard-handed” and some are softer.
I tend to fall in the middle of this scale, but you want to learn to use all sorts of different amounts of pressure to create different effects.
For these layering purposes, I suggest using a medium amount of pressure for most of your layers, and a little bit lighter pressure for your darker layers, as they show up more.
Then, your last few layers can have more pressure as you fill in the grain of the paper completely.
What About Other Colors?
Next I did the exact same thing with blues. I took 5 different shades of blue and layered them from light to dark, just like I did with the reds.
Then I took the second darkest color and the darkest and added layers with my pencil strokes at SLIGHTLY different angles again, filling in the white grain of the paper to make a bright, opaque blue.
What About A Light Color?
The next part of the video is me showing you how to create a light blue, with only two colors of blue. I use the lightest and second lightest blue in order to layer and create an opaque light blue.
I start with the lightest blue and then add the slightly darker blue on top, and then go back to another layer of the lightest, and back and forth. Again, I use slightly different angled strokes in order to create a smoother color.
What If I Just Want One Color?
That works too! Even if you want just one color, for example the darkest of the blues that I was using before, it works the same way. Instead of going from light colors to dark, you just use that one pencil and color in the section, remembering to go at slightly different angles, to fill in all the grain of the paper and make that opaque color.
Remember: This is the same dark blue I used before to make that vibrant, brighter blue, but as you can see, when I used it on top of the lighter colors, it wasn’t nearly as dark. So when you’re drawing, KEEP IN MIND: drawing on top of lighter colors will lighten that color, and drawing on top of darker colors, which isn’t really recommended, will drastically darken the lighter color.
Just remember, if you decide you want to lighten that area up later on (shown in the upper left corner of the last image), light colors DO NOT show up very well over the top of dark colors, so even if you use white, that area is not going to lighten up very much. This is one of the reasons I teach people to go from light to dark when layering.
Layering is the best way to make that bright, vibrant color with colored pencil. It can make the process time consuming and you need to have patience. But it’s worth it!
So practice using different mixtures of colors and different angles with your pencil strokes until you get comfortable knowing how to fill in the grain of the paper.
IMPORTANT: Different papers have different tooth, or grain amounts. So smoother papers will fill in more quickly, and some that are rougher will take more layers to fill it in!
“No thanks.” (The entirety of a recent rejection I received.)
Rejection is something we shy away from, something I’m not sure if anyone would view as a good thing. You certainly don’t strive to be rejected. And yet, when it comes to owning your own business, especially a creative one, rejection happens all the time.
I get rejected almost daily. Although that may sound discouraging, here’s why that’s a good thing:
Undoing A Lifetime Of Training
Growing up we learn that rejection is something to fear. We hesitate when we ask someone something, because we know rejection could be a result. Who wants to ask someone on a date, or try to sit with a new group of people in school, when you know they could say no? It’s embarrassing and can be downright hurtful at times.
So we train ourselves to try and avoid it.
But should we?
As a creative entrepreneur, an artist, a speaker, and a teacher, I say no. Instead you need to embrace it if you want to get anywhere. If you want to get your artwork into galleries, you’re going to have to send proposals, and you will get rejected. If you want to give speeches, you’ll also need to send proposals, and you’ll also get rejected sometimes. I send proposals to retailers, galleries, gift shops, museums, magazines, newspapers, tv stations, and other places to exhibit. I enter contests and competitions and try to get my artwork or writing published. And I get rejected far more than I get accepted.
What Is Rejection, Really?
Rejection isn’t something you need to fear. Why? Let’s think about the forms of rejection and then come up with our definition.
1.) Social Rejection: This is when you ask someone on a date or you want to sit with a new group at school, or try to be friends with someone, etc., and they say no.
2.) Professional Rejection: This is when you go for an interview for a job, you send a proposal for a gallery show, you ask a retailer if they want to sell your work, etc., and they say no.
These are the two main types of rejection we deal with on a daily basis, and both can be intimidating, humiliating, and hurtful if done in a negative way.
Let’s think about what it means to be rejected, though. You put yourself out there, and someone says no, they don’t like you or your work or they don’t want to represent you.
Initially, that sounds harsh. Our knee-jerk reaction is become defensive and tell them why they’re wrong. That’s because you feel like you’re being attacked.
But what rejection really means is this: What you’re proposing isn’t quite right for that person.
That’s it. That’s what rejection REALLY is. It’s not personal and it’s not really about you. It’s about what that other person is looking for.
What That Means For You
So if rejection means that what you’re proposing just isn’t quite right for that person, what does that mean for you?
First of all, it means you were brave enough to put yourself out there despite this possible outcome, so bravo to you!
Second, it means you can move on knowing it’s not a right fit.
Let’s think about this for professional rejection, as that’s what this post is mostly about. Rejection just means that your work isn’t quite right for that gallery or gift shop or retailer, or that what you have to offer isn’t quite right for that job/company. That’s okay, you’re one step closer to finding the one that is. Cross that gallery off your list and send a proposal to the next one! Your artwork or product or skill set is going to be right for someone, you just have to find them. And in order to find them, you need to keep sending out those proposals or resumes.
How Is This A Good Thing?
Any business is a numbers game, right? The more people who see your art/product/service, the more paying customers you will have. That’s typically how it works. So when I say that I get rejected almost daily, I’m okay with that because it means that I’m putting my work out there in front of more and more people.
I am constantly sending proposals. It’s tedious and can be annoying, but that’s the only way to get my work out in front of the people who need to see it. If I don’t send proposals, I won’t get displays, I won’t be able to teach workshops in galleries, I won’t get my products in retail stores.
So when I get another rejection, I know that I’m at least putting myself out there. Plus, they’re not all rejections. For every 10 rejections or so, I get an acceptance and my hard work starts paying off!
Even A Rejection Can Lead Somewhere
Don’t forget that when you get rejected by anyone, whether it’s a job interview or a gallery, it can still provide you some useful information.
Some rejections come with the reason why, like a recent rejection I received from a gift shop: “Hi Corrina. Your work is very beautiful but we are pretty full at the moment. Best of luck!”
Translation: Their gift shop is already full and they’re not looking for any new vendors at this time. That’s fine! This is obviously one of the nicer rejections I get, since they complimented my artwork. Sometimes it’s not so nice and your immediate reaction is to be defensive, like with this one: “Hi Corine. Unfortunately our gallery doesn’t accept any colored pencil work, as we don’t consider it a fine art medium.”
Hmm, even that one’s not very harsh, but my honest initial reaction to those types of rejections is, “Snooty much??”
HOWEVER, I never get defensive with the person rejecting me. Instead, I ALWAYS send them a thank you note saying that I appreciate their time and if they have any recommendations of where else I should try, (or in the case of the full gift shop, if they have any openings in the future), to please let me know!
And you know what happens? Sometimes nothing. And sometimes that extra little email will get their attention and they’ll send me a lead that they think might have more interest in my work. Or they’ll say, well if you’d done _______ in your proposal, it may have helped, and I learn something for the next time I send a proposal to another gallery. Or they realize that my work may be good for an upcoming group exhibit they’re planning, and they say they’ll add me to the list for future invitations.
Some of my best leads have come from previous rejections!
Now when I get a rejection, like the one that just came in my inbox as I’m writing this blog post, I don’t have any negative reaction to it. All I think is, okay, now how can I learn from this?
Everyone here knows that I’m a professional artist. This also means that, whether it be via social media, email, or in person, I get asked questions almost daily. Some of these questions are about what I charge for a commission, or if a certain original drawing is for sale. Some of them, however, are questions about drawing:
How do I make colored pencil so vibrant?
How do I get so many small details?
How on earth did I create the skin and wrinkles for the African Elephant drawing?
How do I draw water?
I get these questions a lot, and I’m more than happy to give advice and try to answer them.
With all these questions filtering in, I realized that there’s a huge audience out there of people who want to know these things. So if you’re one of those people who wants to know HOW I create my drawings, you’re in luck!
First Step: Tutorials
One of my big goals for 2017 is to help people learn how to draw using colored pencil and graphite. Not only do I feel that these mediums are underappreciated in the art world, they can be difficult! There’s a lot of people out there wondering how to best utilize these mediums.
So how am I planning to help?
First, I’m creating Step-By-Step Tutorials! These are inexpensive products you can buy directly from my website and download as a PDF to use whenever you want. These are tutorials for specific drawings, and I have two already available for you, with more coming soon! Check them out here.
These Tutorials average 20 pages and explain in detail, with photos to help you, exactly how I drew each piece. The Tutorial above, of the African Elephant drawing, is 22 pages long. You don’t need many materials to complete this drawing, and the Tutorial is only $12. Once you pay for it you can download it at any time, and you have lifetime access! You can come back to it over and over again, and what you learn from this drawing, you can apply to any other drawing you do.
If you have any questions along the way, contact me! I’m more than happy to answer questions or clarify anything you need. I’m here to help!
Second Step: Online Courses
After I create a few Tutorials to get you going, my next step is going to be to create some online courses. These will be mostly focused on colored pencil drawing.
The first course is going to be about the basics of colored pencil. You’ll learn how to layer, blend, create different types of textures and details, create shine, make the color vibrant and opaque, make it realistic, and have fun while doing it! You won’t need any experience to take this course, it’s for beginners and intermediates alike.
Then I’ll create courses that will be more specific, like how to create life-like cat portraits in colored pencil, or how to draw a human portrait in colored pencil, how to draw water in colored pencil, etc.
My third way to help you learn to draw better is to teach in-person workshops! This will start out locally, and I’m in the process of finding venues to do so in the Burlington, VT area, and central VT.
So if you’re local, keep an eye out for an announcement about an upcoming workshop, possibly in the Burlington or central Vermont areas!
These workshops, similar to the online courses, will start out focusing on the basics of colored pencil. Then they’ll progress to more specific subjects or techniques and more intermediate levels of experience.
If you know of a place or organization who might be interested in hosting a workshop of mine, let me know in the comments below or by contacting me here!
I’m excited to get going on these exciting new projects and looking forward to seeing what you create!
Sometimes you think of a drawing or you see (or take) a photo that you want to draw, but as much as you want to draw it, you hesitate because it’s complicated. Some drawings have a daunting amount of detail. You look at it and pull back because trying to draw it makes you nervous. Here’s the techniques that I use to keep myself calm while attempting complex drawings.
How to not get overwhelmed with a complex drawing.
Work One Section At A Time
The best way to not get overwhelmed with a complicated drawing is to work one section at a time. If the drawing is VERY complex, then make the sections small. Sometimes they can be bigger.
The African Elephant drawing was a rather complicated piece, and as shown above, I worked on it piece by piece until it was a whole drawing. I worked in smaller sections than shown above, especially for the middle of the drawing with all of the little wrinkles and sections of the elephant’s face.
The Kingfisher was another overwhelming drawing due to its complexity. Just look at the splashing water! It was an ambitious piece for me to try and draw, but when I saw the photograph (taken by Wendy Salisbury, who I’m grateful let me use the image as a reference photo!), I knew I had to draw it. It was just too fantastic to pass up.
For the Kingfisher drawing, I started with the head, and even while drawing the head I first drew the eye, then the section of the fish, then the section of the blue-green feathers, then the orange feathers, etc.
Work Slowly And Map Things Out
Sometimes, like with water, you can work a section at at time, but it’s better two work on the whole thing slowly, so that it looks uniform. Take my Common Loon colored pencil drawing as an example. Water is challenging, no mater what it looks it. This water was very challenging with all the ripples and disjointed reflection. Therefore, I moved slowly as I mapped out the darkest areas of the water. I moved throughout the entire piece, layer by layer, to make sure it was uniform. I focused on each little section of shadow and highlight and medium coloring as I was mapping, and then moved on to the section next to it.
Don’t Sweat The Little Stuff, So They Say
One of the best things to help you keep from getting overwhelmed is to ignore some of your inner perfectionist. If you want to get through a complicated drawing unscathed, you need to keep in mind why you’re drawing it in the first place. It’s challenging, it’ll help you grow as an artist, you just LOVE the image, and drawing is something you enjoy doing (and possibly, because you’re getting paid to do it!).
Keeping those reasons in mind, ask yourself: Does this drawing need to be perfect? What’ll happen if I make a mistake? Anything?
Even with commissioned pieces, all you can do is your best, and at least from my experience, people tend to draw better if they enjoy doing it. Therefore, don’t scare yourself and fret so much that you ruin the experience for yourself.
Try not to get too caught up in every tiny detail if it stops you from making progress. If a section is giving you trouble and it’s messing with your enthusiasm or confidence about the drawing, move on and come back to it. Keep moving forward!
Find A Mentor/Ask For Advice
Sometimes you come across a section of a drawing where you just don’t have the experience or knowledge to confidently attempt it. When that happens, you can always just try your hand at it, of course, or you can seek out someone who has done it before. It’s not hard to find artists online (or in your community) who have done similar pieces of artwork. If you have no idea how to begin a section of your drawing, ask for help! Some artists will decline to tell you their “secrets,” but others (like me) will be more than happy to help you out and give you advice. Then it’s up to you to attempt the feat!
I hope you attempt every drawing or painting or sculpture or musical piece, etc. that gives your heart a little flutter when you think about, no matter how complex it is! It may not end up perfect, I know mine certainly haven’t, but they are absolutely worth trying to create, despite the challenges.
Let me know about complex drawings or creations that you’ve tried in the past!