Not all ideas or instruction pass the test of time, but I have 4 art tips that have aged well that I am excited to share with you!

For today’s Artiversary project, I’m returning to two places:

  1. My series honoring the stylings of favorite children’s illustrators
  2. A drawing I made while in high school

Tutorial: 4 Art tips that have aged well

Watch a re-draw of a high school piece of art, inspired by the technique used most excellently by my professor!

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

The Illustrator Series

This has been an on-and-off series for some time, so today adds to the list! Here’s the rest:

  1. Isabelle Arsenault
  2. Maurice Sendak
  3. Eric Carle 
  4. Jon Klassen
  5. Charles Schulz

1. Adapt from reality

Gay disabused me of the notion that my work needed to be hyper-realistic or photorealistic. That’s for photographers; artists have the ability to improve on reality. We can deepen shadows for contrast, or pull in some midtones so the shadows aren’t giant blocky areas. We can cast the light onto our subjects to change the mood to our liking. We can edit extraneous detail that’s not helpful. Photographers can do some digital manipulation, but not by the same way that an artist can. Don’t try to be a camera. Be better than a camera.

2. Incorporate Color Theory

If you’ve not yet studied color theory, it’s a great thing to do! (All my Jumpstart classes in color media have color theory basics.)  It’s not just “knowing” what colors are on the wheel, and how to mix secondaries, etc. If you learn what can happen if you mix or layer complementary colors, it’ll give you many options for colors to shade with, hues to change the temperature or saturation of a color. It’s practical even if sometimes “color theory” sounds scary.

3. Embrace your art supplies

Let your medium sing! Many people try to create “perfect” blends in mediums that make it hard to do so; if you’re using something that wants to be loose and splashy, it’ll fight you on being tight and detailed. And vice versa! It’s not as if you can’t make a medium do something else; but explore what your art supplies do best before trying to push them. You might be missing out on something that’ll be much more natural! 

Also, don’t use computer graphics as a standard for art mediums to blend completely smoothly; humans aren’t computers. And in a world where AI is taking over so much, the more valuable a hand-touch on a piece of art will start to matter. AI can’t make a brushstroke like a human hand, so celebrate your art’s humanity!

4. Art takes as long as it takes

Speed isn’t the point of art. Or at least shouldn’t be. If your time is limited, yes it can seem to be the better part of valor to choose a speedy medium or style. However, if you’re always speeding through projects, you’re missing out on the biggest benefits of art: it’s healing, it’s conducive to peace, it helps you disengage from the problems of the world so you’re ready to return there later. If you skip the restful benefits of taking your time, then you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Need this little bee?

The original is for sale HERE (everything in the shop is 10% off through August!) and you can also order prints HERE.

Artiversary party

We’ll be gathering on Zoom over at Artventure for our big party! Join us for games, lots and lots of prizes, and a piece of art I’ll create on the fly based on audience input! You can RSVP on the Event page inside Artventure, and add your own photo suggestions in the comments and maybe one of yours will get picked to be used. See  you there Saturday August 12 at 10am Pacitic/1pm Eastern!


Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

  1. Luminance Pencils 
  2. Luminance Hex Chart
  3. Stonehenge Drawing Paper Pads:  AMZ • BLICK
  4. lassine sheets – (for protecting art under my hand)

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  1. Gab

    This is brilliant! And what an amazing teacher she must have been!

  2. Karen Zemko

    Your drawing is awesome (as always I’m blown away by your talent)! Loved the 4 tips, and #4 hit me hard. I remember the days of spending 40 hours painting a large wooden piece (a large shaker bride’s box on a stand comes to mind – it won best of show!) and never gave it a thought. Now, it’s how much can I get done in the short amount of time I have to spend. I haven’t put me first for a long time, and when I’m focused on taking care of others I can’t get me head focused on making art. I hope that day will come again soon!

  3. Laura Dunnings

    I loved reading your art tips and watched the video twice! I especially liked “Art takes as long as it takes”. I felt very pressured when I belonged to an online watercolor community to just mass produce a painting or paintings every day. I wound up leaving that group. I’m really happy to be a part of Artventure and starting a few of the art-classes. I’m glad I signed up for Exploring Watercolor but now will definitely sign up for Watercolor jumpstart to refresh color theory. Ps. I really enjoyed the Maurice Sendak video


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