Category Archives for "Mindset"

Why Do You Make Art?


Why do you make art?

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Making art is personal, why do you do it?

Why do you make art? Maybe you have to, maybe you like to, or perhaps it is your way of expressing yourself. 

We asked a few Evolve Artist students and instructors why they make art. We hope the answers will prompt you to consider your own art journey and to dig deeper into why you feel the urge to create.

Kevin Murphy, Evolve Owner and Creator

I don’t want to, I need to. Years ago I asked an actor, who I’d painted, when he knew that he wanted to be an actor. His response made a lot of sense to me and I recognized it as a truth for myself as well.

He said (and I paraphrase) he was always an actor, from childhood before he even knew what it was. Acting was not what he did, it was who he was.

I feel that way about art. It’s not a choice, I am incomplete without it. 

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Book cover illustrated by Kevin Murphy

Peggy D., Evolve Student

Imagine being a little girl sitting in a huge living room with crayons and a coloring book. It's quiet with no drama! This memory is as close to the wholeness of Spirit that I can remember, and the main reason why I have always associated the 'Visual Arts' to this moment of my youth. Art has to be in my life no matter what is going on. It keeps me at ease and allows me to continue being creative in all aspects of living, which is very necessary for moving about in the world. This is why I draw and manipulate color (via paint, colored pencils, markers, etc.) It is a great stress reliever and also a lot of fun!

Deborah L., Evolve Student

When I’m really in it the world disappears and I enter the zone... I hit my zen... it’s a sort of meditation.

Reecie C., Evolve Student

I’ve been thinking about this since and think it’s because my whole life I’ve had this discontentment, I could never work out how people I work with can be happy with just the office when nothing for me felt right, it’s been like an itch I can’t scratch. It’s made me grumpy and feels like I’m wearing clothes that don’t fit.... since starting Evolve that weirdness inside has gone especially now on block 4 where I can see my progress. If I stop painting for a week the weird grumpy thing comes back so painting must be the answer because nothing else seems to be.

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Painting by Reecie C.

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Painting by Iris Liu, Her Familiars.

Iris Liu, Evolve Instructor

All children draw and make art, and I guess I just never stopped doing it. I've never really questioned why I do it since I've loved art since as long as I can remember, but there's a real satisfaction you get from being able to express some idea or feeling that you can't convey with words alone.

Phillip G., Evolve Student

I like to be alone and love the endless challenge to improve. I love the idea of creating something that someone else finds beautiful or can connect with.

Suzanne B., Evolve Student

 Words and numbers were my enemies when growing up. I have dyslexia and it was difficult for me in school. Art was my language, the way I could get out the things in my head. A neighbor kid was/is an amazing artist. From a young age, he could draw like the masters. He drew all the time and I decided that I wanted to do that. I wanted to create things that did not require words or numbers to make sense. Words and numbers are now my friends, thanks to some great efforts in college, but art is still my expression.

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Block 8 Painting by Jan M. 

Jan M., Evolve Student

Because it gives me a certain joy and fulfillment nothing else can. It’s what I’m meant to do, life just got in the way of that, but like they say, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. 

Liam Jurkowich, Evolve Instructor

I always liked to draw as a kid, and around 10 years ago the Art Academy of Hillsborough opened up in my hometown, and the rest is history. Without the school, I very likely would not have pursued art as a career, and I would not have discovered how much I need to create and be creative. A big reason why I create art now is to simply make things that look cool, and with that, I try to instill some type of narrative into each piece I make. Along with this, creating things that do not exist and translating the real world into my art is fundamental for me, and it's the main reason why I have been drawn to the path I am on now. Without art, my perception of the world would be entirely different.

Mitch Bowler, Evolve Owner and Creator

It was always there... some of my youngest memories were trying to 'out art' the other kids in preschool by making as many pieces as I could (I was 4). Then in Kindergarten, I was making flipbooks of all the cool WW2 planes and ships. By the time I was 7 I knew I wanted to be a video game artist and started training myself to make games (there was no internet, books on this, or even computers at the time).

It's been an adventure


We hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and that it’s given you some inspiration to consider your own reasons for creating art. 

Why do you make art? Leave us a comment below!

If you want to find out more about why a specific Evolve Artist makes art, read her interview here!

Learn The 4 Part Framework to Develop Pro Art Skills in 12 Months

6 Important New Years Resolutions For Artists


6 Important new year's resolutions for artists

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In the New Year, how will you intentionally improve as an artist? (Photo by MILKOVÍ on Unsplash)

As the new year approaches, you may find other people and artists around you making artist's resolutions for the next 12 months. 

Maybe you’ve been wanting to tackle some big goals or projects and decide this is the year to do it. 

Whatever the reason, as an artist, you can make some powerful resolutions to help you grow in the next year.  So here are my top 6 artist's resolutions that you might consider tackling in 2020. 

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What are your goals?  (Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash)

1. Set One, Big, Long-term goal

Artist's resolutions tend to be focused on long-term goals. Maybe it’s making that one large painting, selling some of your work, or entering your paintings in a competition, but this long-term big goal will require attention and lots of work. 

These bigger resolutions may not even be accomplished within a year and may look more like a 3-5 year plan. But start to consider and plan some things you want to accomplish as an artist. Your journey may change, but if you have a bigger goal that you are consistently working towards, you’ll find that in the upcoming year you have a bit more focus and a view of the bigger picture. 

2. Set Some Smaller, Immediate goals

Those long-term goals can get a bit tiring, so make sure to break them down into actionable tasks that you can work on month-to-month, checking points off your list. 

If your goal is to sell a painting, maybe you start to grow your website or social media following in order to build followers and exposure. 

Or maybe you want to make a very large project, so you break that large painting down into sketches and research and studies. 

Making goals that you can meet each month will help you stay encouraged, boost your confidence, and increase your desire to meet more goals. 

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Scheduling your work can help you to find the time you need to grow! (Photo by Eric Rothermel)

3. Schedule Time to Paint

If this is not a reliable habit that you’ve developed already, this is the time to do it! Most research shows that if you keep something up, consistently, for two months, that action will become a second nature habit. 

Scheduling time to create art on a consistent basis is crucial for artists. Start a calendar and plan out your to-do list. Set deadlines and schedule time to actually sit down and work. 

Once you schedule that time, treat it as precious and don’t let anything eat into it. Think of the time you schedule as class time, that you’ve paid for and you must attend. Then keep track of your attendance, find an accountability partner, and get started on making time to paint. 

Here are some additional ways to find the time to paint. 

4. Join a Community of Artists

A community is essential for artists! Without it, you will miss opportunities to grow, change, and improve as an artist. Peers can help you to feel supported, encouraged, and can hold you accountable for meeting those deadlines that you’ve set!

Join an online group (which you already have if you’re an Evolve student!), find a community art group, meet artists on social media, or take a class. 

While artist communities should not be your source of learning, they can be an amazing way to stay encouraged and focused on your work!

Read more about why you need community as an artist here!

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Visit more museums! If you can't afford it, many local libraries offer free tickets! (Photo by Deanna J)

5. See More Art!

So many artists aren’t feeding their creativity by actually viewing art in person. Another great artist's resolution is going to museums, gallery shows, art openings, or private studios to build creativity and inspiration. 

Exposing yourself to artwork creates experiences for yourself that can be used to formulate new ideas and new expressions for your own work. A piece of art impacts every viewer in a different way, so the more artwork you study and expose yourself to, the more creativity will grow. 

Read more about building creativity and experiencing art here!

6. Share Your Work

It’s easy when we’re learning to hide our work. We know that in a year or even less we will have grown so much and our work will have changed so much. But if you get into the habit of hiding your work until it’s perfect you will never show your work. 

There are many benefits from sharing your work, whether it is on social media, in a show, or even just with a teacher. You might get critiqued, and in fact, I hope you do! Artists grow when they hear honest feedback on how to make their work better. 

Making art isn’t about making something perfect every time, but rather it’s about finishing that piece, learning from your mistakes, and going on to create something that you could have never imaged you were capable of. 

Let your work be seen! Otherwise, you’ll never grow to your potential. 


This year can be the year that you grow immensely as an artist. All you need to do is set some achievable, concrete goals and artist's resolutions and then consistently meet those deadlines, goals, and resolutions. 

Be realistic, and set goals that you are capable of achieving. Use this not as a time to set impractical resolutions, but rather as a time to reset your workflow and take your success into your own hands!

Learn The 4 Part Framework to Develop Pro Art Skills in 12 Months

Meet the Evolve Artist: Michael B.


Meet the evolve artist: michael B.

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A Block 6 speed painting by Michael B. 

Learning to become an artist looks different for each individual. Every Evolve artist path is unique and can offer up guidance and encouragement for fellow students.

One artist who has a very inspiring path, is that of Michael, one of the very first Evolve artist students. Throughout his education and work with Evolve, Michael has been an inspiration for how to get work done and get it done well. 

With a full-time job, a family, and many responsibilities, he has figured out a way to dedicate time to his art in order to grow as an artist. Currently, Michael is working in Block 8, creating beautiful paintings using all of the techniques he has developed throughout the program. 

In this interview, we hope you’ll find some inspiration to take your wish to create quality art and turn it into reality. 

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​Block 7 puddled painting by by Michael B. 

Can you explain your art journey?

I had done art in school, taking every art class I could in in high school, nothing really to write home about but [also] audited a couple drawing classes in college, and took some community college drawing courses...There were a few years where I took some time off to learn the technical side of my job. And then recently in the past three years...I had got into an online program that was a pretty strong drawing program. 

[Art] has always been something I come back to. But the thing about that was that I would pick it up, and I only had so much talent, so I was never really super serious about it. And I wanted to go to college for art,  but just couldn't get somebody to push me. I didn't know what to do myself.

I didn't want to go to a four year university where I had to do a bunch of other courses...And I wanted to do nothing but art. I didn't see why I had to study other subjects.

So I kind of fell by the wayside. But it's pretty much always been a part of my life, you know, teenage years with comic books and trying to emulate what was in the comic books. That was always been a main influence in my art, and I guess I always come back around to that.

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In block 8, by Michael B. is able to explore using the foundations he has learned with Evolve to create stunning pieces of art. 

How did you find Evolve Artist?

It was just a creative urge, really. Some of it is probably because of [nostalgia], but a lot of it was just needing to do this and for whatever reason I just feel the urge to pick up a pencil and start drawing. So early 2016, I picked one up and I drew a portrait of my daughter...and I haven't put down a pencil or paintbrush since then.

So I started drawing portraits from photographs and then I searched through online programs...and then Evolve Artist fell into my lap and I thought, “I gotta take this chance or else I'm going to be stuck where I am”, and I felt like it was my last chance to really become an artist. 

[When I saw Evolve, I was already in a program that taught me the importance of making time to practice every day], but it took me like a month to get feedback to get to finalize one portion of that program. 

[With Evolve}, I was on the fence for a while, but I thought, I'll give it a shot. Partly maybe because I wanted to test Kevin and see if he was for real, almost a dare to see if I could prove him wrong. 

But when I did go into [Evolve] I made the commitment to myself that if this was real,  I'm going to commit to it, and not worry about any other any other outside projects...And it's been grand ever since. It's been a great journey. So at the end, I shudder to think of what [would have happened] if I didn't try it. 

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A block 5 vacant shadows painting by Michael B. 

How do you manage a busy life and your art? 

[I was already] getting up really early to get like an hour or two in of drawing time, and somebody told me once, you make it a habit, just like flossing. Nobody wants to really take the time to do it,  but it doesn't take that much time and once you make it a habit, it's a habit for life.

 So if you only have 15 minutes to draw, do that and then that 15 minutes becomes...30 minutes, and [then] I can cut this out and I don't have to run down to the coffee shop this morning I can make my own coffee, and save that 20 minutes and draw. 

I can take a sketchbook with me in the car while the wife is shopping and I could Doodle, you know, in the car or on a bench in the mall.

But just  finding time and I think people will be amazed how they can cut out some of the static to be able to find the time to really commit.

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Block 6 speed painting by Michael B. 

Where do you hope to go with your art?

Well short term, I just want to finish the painting I'm working on. That's what I'm trying to get through, to finish this painting and then finish the next one. 

But long term, I’d like to do  a comic book cover...I usually play things like that pretty close to the vest and not talk about them a lot, but that would be an ultimate [achievement] for me. But, I'm keeping my mind open, so I'm not going to say, you know, it has to be this one thing. 

Tips for artists

This brings to mind a quote by Steven Pressfield: 

“The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist” (The War of Art).

My tip would be to just be the one working. You try to stay focused, you stay present, and not let your mind wander. 

Not consumed by fear of the past or hope for the future,  just try and stay in the now. Keep your head down and work. I think that that has been...the running!

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A block 8 painting by Michael B. 


Thanks to Michael for sharing his journey with and I encourage all of you to take his advice and be the one working!

If you would like to watch Michael’s full interview with Mitch on the Pencil Kings podcast, you can view it here! 

Read more Evolve Artist interviews here!

Learn The 4 Part Framework to Develop Pro Art Skills in 12 Months

Scared to Start a Painting? 7 Ways to Beat a Blank Canvas


Scared to Start a Painting? 7 Ways to Beat a Blank Canvas

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Starting on a blank canvas can be scary! But with a plan, you can beat that blank canvas! (Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash)

We’ve all been there. 

Staring at a blank canvas or an empty still-life box with absolutely no idea how to start a painting or what to paint once you get started. 

So what do you do when inspiration doesn’t hit? And when it does, what do you do when you don’t know how to begin with the next big idea?

Not knowing what to paint or how to start it holds us back as artists. Even if you have been studying and learning, the empty canvas can be daunting. However, there are a few steps you can take when it feels like the first step of your painting is impossible. Keep reading to find out how!

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In order to get started, you need to start to generate ideas and make a plan. (Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash)

Generating an Idea

That overwhelming feeling of staring at a blank canvas, unable to start a painting has happened to most artists. There is a certain pressure that comes with being creative, and ideas don’t always flow naturally. 

However, you can develop creativity as an artist. It is a matter of looking for new experiences, experimenting with new techniques, or exploring other artists’ work. 

Having a curriculum and an instructor to guide you can also be very helpful for those who are struggling to generate an idea and get started on their painting. When what you’ll paint is predetermined, that can help you start to break the cycle of not painting. This can build confidence for those moments when you have to compose a still life. 

By developing creativity and having a knowledgeable guide or program to help you determine what you should paint will get you one step closer to actually starting the painting!

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Once your idea is concrete, you'll need to start your painting, which can be the hardest part!

How to Start

So once you have this idea, how do you actually start a painting? Well, in order to do anything, you have to have a system for doing that thing. 

This simply means that if you don’t know how to paint, starting a painting is going to be very difficult. But when you have a system for every single painting as a beginner, you can break down those ideas you have into manageable pieces and create a painting without fear. You’ll know where you’re going because you have a map. 

At Evolve, our students start every painting for the first three blocks by sketching out their composition and then finding and painting in the shadows. They then move into the lights, and then to gradients, reflections, and highlights. Because they have a clear system from start to finish, there is no guesswork of where to begin and when to be done. 

Once you have a process and system for making your art, you can feel confident to start a painting without fear of getting lost or starting in the wrong place.

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Spending time sketching and experimenting can help you get started with more confidence.

Tips on Getting Started

Here are some ways to start your paintings without fear or struggle!

Make a plan

Having a plan of where you want the painting to go, where you will start, and what you will do to get to the finished state will help you to feel confident from the beginning to end of the painting. Make a clear plan, but be willing to adjust it slightly if you make a mistake. Avoid jumping around in the painting, and stick to your plan as best you can. 

Ask for help

If you are struggling to get started, reach out to a trusted teacher or peer, who can help to encourage and hold you accountable. Sometimes bouncing ideas off of someone can help you to feel more confident in your idea and get started on your work. 

Get inspired

Take a trip to a museum, see new work, and get inspired to try some new things. Creativity needs to be cultivated, so in order to get new ideas flowing, feed your creativity!

Make mistakes

Though no one likes to mess up, making mistakes can help us to learn as artists. Of course, we try our best to do our work to the highest quality we can, but there is a lot to learn from making mistakes. If you are so focused on perfection, chances are you’ll be too afraid to ever start your painting. Embrace mistakes as opportunities to learn, study where you went wrong, and try to avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly. 

 Start sketching

Before you begin to paint, make some sketches. As a rule of thumb, your first sketch is never your best idea. Do at least four, small sketches of your subject, all of different angles and compositions. This will help unlock new ideas and get you painting sooner!


Generating a new idea can be difficult. Staring at a blank canvas with a big idea and no clue how to make it happen can also be difficult. But being willing to mix things up, ask for help, and give yourself the space to make mistakes

Learn The 4 Part Framework to Develop Pro Art Skills in 12 Months

5 reasons Why You Need Community as an Artist


5 Reasons Why You Need Community as an Artist

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Art can be a solo' s a few reason why you may want to consider a community of artists for yourself. (Photo by Daniel Chekalov on Unsplash) 

Most artists have experienced the common feeling of solitariness that comes with being in the art field. Perhaps you live in an area where access to a community of artists isn’t available. Or maybe you feel unsure or uneasy about becoming involved with artists in your community because you’re just beginning or have differing styles. 

Regardless of what seems to hold you back, a community of similarly minded individuals can help improve your painting practice. Profound conversations, revelations, and improvements can happen when an artist shares their thoughts and work with other artists. A receptive listener can turn into a supportive community where ideas and work can thrive. 

So if you’ve been considering diving deeper into conversations and community with other artists, here are a few reasons why you definitely should. 

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Working with other artists can inspire you to try new things. (Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash)

Motivation and Inspiration

Meeting with a community of artists, whether it be two or twenty, can help to motivate you in your work. Whether it motivates you to push yourself a little harder with quality because your work will actually be seen, or if you’re motivated to finally finish a piece, this community can help you to accomplish those goals. 

Gathering with other artists, whether online or in person, can help to boost your motivation and set intentional goals. Not only will a community of artists give you encouragement to get things done, but they can inspire you to try new things. 

Some of the greatest ideas are built by experiencing other art and in conversations with other artists. Someone may have a way of saying or expressing something that opens your eyes in a new way. The more often you can have conversations about your and other’s art and the more often you can get in front of both contemporary and historical art, the higher your chances of sparking a new idea. 

A community can inspire you to try new things and motivate you to actually do those new things.

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Sharing your work and experiences with other artists can help you to make connections (Photo by Raychan on Unsplash)


A community of artists will help you to realize that the more people you know, the better. Now don’t think that this means you have to get to know only powerful, influential people. Rather, the more people in general that you meet and have honest, real conversations with, the more doors will start to open for you. 

Many artists who may be farther down the road from you can help to give you wise advice, share tips and experiences, and even share your work. Artists often view other artists as their competition. However, this limiting thought process fails to account for the massive amount of non-artists who want to buy art. Someone else’s success does not limit yours, and a wise artist realizes this and shares their knowledge with others. So align yourself with some established artists who are willing to share experiences with you. 

In return, there will always be artists who are just beginning that you can also share your experience with. Teaching and sharing your journey are both fantastic ways to solidify what you know and grow more confident in your skills. Be willing to share what you’ve learned and willing to learn what others are sharing. 

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Accountability and Feedback

If you are working from home at your art, chances are you’ve had moments where you lose motivation. When other artists aren’t seeing your work regularly, it’s easy to let things slide, work a little less intensely, or take shortcuts. A community of artists can help you to avoid this. 

When you are surrounded by other artists, it’s less tempting to fall into bad habits. The accountability that comes from expectations in your community can help you to develop healthy habits and time management. 

Feedback from this community of artists can also help you to grow and learn. While you should be careful to weigh technical advice you receive against what you are already learning, there are some great lessons to be learned from your peers. Often times, we can become blind to mistakes in our work, and a soft correction from a peer can be the eye-opener we need to continue growing. 

Both accountability and feedback can be found in an artist community, and developing these relationships will ultimately help you to grow as an artist. 

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Evolve offers an online community for you to flourish and grow. 

Where Can I Find This Community?

If you’ve felt isolated in your work for a long while, finding a community of artists can feel impossible. But here are a few places to look:

Community Art Groups

Check at your local library or community center for community groups for artists. A class can also be a good way to meet other artists in your area. 

Art Fairs or Shows

Local art fairs and shows can introduce you to local artists. Attending an opening in your community and fostering conversations with other artists is a great start. 

Online communities

Facebook groups or other social media communities can be a great way to meet local artists and artists from around the world. They allow you to interact with highly established artists and peers. Of course with this access comes some drawbacks. Someone may seem well qualified, but really have very little to offer you. So be thoughtful about their impact on you and your art. 

Evolve’s community was designed to solve this problem for isolated artists. Our live classes, homework groups, and facebook groups are designed to foster conversation, build community, and help artists to grow. 

Community is essential for artists. Without it, you will miss opportunities to grow, change, and improve as an artist. Challenge yourself to discover new ways to build your artist community today!

Learn The 4 Part Framework to Develop Pro Art Skills in 12 Months

How to Mix Paint Colors Correctly Every Time


How to Mix Paint Colors Correctly Every Time

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In order to mix paint correctly, there are several important things to keep in mind. 

As painters, paint mixing is one of the most important parts of any piece of art. The ability to properly mix paint and produce the correct hue, value, and saturation that the painting needs is a critical tool. 

Failing to make proper color mixtures in oil paint can lead to value issues and unrealistic paintings. Understanding how to lighten, darken, and make colors more vivid can be the difference between a strong painting and one that falls flat. 

Here are a few ways you can mix the right color for your painting every time!

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Value, hue, and saturation are all important parts of color paint mixing. 

Mixing Mid-Tones Properly

Evolve students begin their journey into paint mixing in Block 3, as they learn about color. Using the beautiful Old Holland paints, students start by simply mixing a mid-tone color for each of the color lights in their painting. 

In order to mix the proper mid-tone light for each color, students experiment with small batches of paint, until they find the right mixture. In the beginning, this experimentation is necessary to learn how each paint color reacts. Some colors are richly pigmented, like English red, and can completely take over a mixture. Others may need more amounts to be added in order to make any difference. 

Students are urged to isolate the color they are trying to mix in their photograph or in their still life box, so they can understand what it really is. They then need to consider the hue, saturation, and value of the color that they see. 

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Using photoshop or a similar color isolating tool is a good way to start to understand the colors you see in photographs. 

Hue is simply the color itself, for example, red, green, or perhaps blue. Saturation is how rich, strong, or vivid a color appears. The more colorful a mixture, the more saturated it will be, and less saturation will yield a color that appears grayer. 

Value speaks to how light or dark that color is. In the beginning, students only mix colors for their lights and add black to make shadows, keeping it simple. But as they improve, they will mix color shadows just like lights. This is where value comes into play, with students carefully considering the value of the light in order to differentiate between light and shadow.   

Once a student understands how to mix those mid-tone colors, they can begin to experiment with lightening and darkening color values to adjust the hue, value, and saturation. 

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White is not always the right paint choice for lightening color paint mixtures. 

Lightening Paint with Color

Most beginner artists will dip immediately into white paint to lighten their paint mixtures. However, white paint doesn’t always lighten colors the best way possible. White paint has a tendency to de-saturate colors, and while they seem lighter, they will look much less colorful. 

Choosing a color like Naples yellow or Scheveningen yellow to lighten a paint mixture will yield a more colorful result. 

In the photo above, you can see the difference that white and Naples yellow have on a color mixture. In order to keep your paint mixtures well saturated and colorful, reach for a yellow, rather than white paint. 

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Though it can be helpful while you learn, adding pure black isn't always the right choice to darken your shadow mixtures. 

Shadows Need Color Too

Similar to lightening a paint mixture, there are common mistakes that painters make when making their color mixtures darker in value. Generally, students will reach for pure black to make a color darker. While this is totally acceptable while students are learning, when they have become comfortable with color they then should begin to experiment with mixing shadow values in the same way as color light values. Evolve students learn this technique at the end of block 4. 

In order to make a color value darker, whether light or a shadow, most professional painters reach for an earth tone or other naturally dark colors. Burnt umber, ultramarine blue, greens, or some reds can help to darken a painting beautifully. 

Pure black has the same downfall as white, as it tends to remove the colorful saturation from a color paint mixture. A combination of burnt umber and ultramarine blue will have nearly the same effect as pure black, but maintains the saturation of a color mixture much more.

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A beautiful example of the moving parts of an oil painting by Evolve student Sheila J. 

Color Mixing Examples

For the painting above, here are the paint combinations that may be used to mix the colors properly. At the point of this painting in the program, Evolve students would be making their shadow simply by adding black. 

Cat: The cat is a warm pink, which can easily become desaturated if lightening completely with white. A mixture of Naples yellow, with equal parts Scheveningen yellow and Scheveningen red, will get the cat’s lights into the ballpark. Add just a touch of English red, and simply a dot will bring some warmth into the mixture. Because English red is so pigmented, it will overpower any color mixture if the artist is not careful. To lighten the mixture, additional Naples yellow will keep the warm pink color, and if additional light is needed, just a touch of white. 

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Color added in, along with shadows. The next step is gradients, reflections, and highlights.

Pear: The pear is also a warm orange color, so too much white will desaturate and cool down the paint mixture. Combining equal parts Scheveningen yellow and Naples yellow with just a bit of English red should bring the pear to where it needs to be. Highlights can be created by adding both naples yellow and white to the color mixture. 

Tennis Ball: The tennis ball is a tricky color to mix. While it looks slightly green, too much Scheveningen yellow and green will create an unrealistic neon color. Mixing yellow-green with Naples yellow will get you close, but again just a minuscule amount of English red will bring an earthy tone to the mixture, preventing it from getting too oversaturated. 


Paint mixing can be a challenge, but with practice and repetition, you’ll start to understand the different characteristics of each color, and how they interact with each other. By careful practice and paying attention to the combinations of colors, you’ll begin to make the perfect color mixture every time. 

Want to learn more about oil painting? Check out this post about a few oil painting techniques you should know!

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Oil Painting Process: The 3 Moving Parts of Any Painting


Oil Painting Process: The 3 Moving Parts of Any Painting

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Oil paintings are comprised of three moving parts: value, color, and edge. (Painting by Evolve student Janette M.)

Looking at an accomplished oil painting can seem unachievable for beginner artists. However, every single oil painting process can be broken down into three moving parts, simplifying both the painting and the process. 

Although each category has many facets and details to it, oil painting can be broken down into three sections: value, edge, and color. These three parts cover every area of a painting and when understood fully, come together to make mastery level work. 

By breaking down a painting’s moving parts at the beginning of their education, students will be able to learn slowly in each section. Then, complexity in each moving part is added as the student learns more. 

Keep reading to learn about the three moving parts of any oil painting!

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Even in a grayscale painting, properly placed value explains form and dimension. (Painting by Evolve student Mathu W.)


Value in the oil painting process is an essential part of the painting. For beginners, value can be as simple as distinguishing between light and shadow. However, for advanced and master painters, value speaks to the structural elements of a painting and can be very complex. 

As humans, we see and understand the things around us mainly based on how dark or light they are. Value can explain form, opacity, depth, and so much more. Because value is such a crucial part of how we see and understand, it is essential that students learn how to handle and express value correctly. 

Evolve students begin to learn the moving pieces of value by distinguishing simply between light and shadow. At the beginning of their education, they create paintings with only two light values and two shadow values. This teaches them how to determine light from shadow, and then categorize value within light or shadow.

From this simple start, students expand into reflections, highlights, value in color, and more complex ways of utilizing value to express something in a painting. Value is a critical part of the oil painting process and understanding what it is and how to properly see and apply it should be one of the first lessons a painting student learns. 

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If edges are handled properly, even the most simple painting can have dimension and elegance. (Painting by Evolve student Marta L.)


Edges are another important piece of the painting process. Edges create the shapes we see, they explain form, and they can make or break a painting. From the very first exercise in Evolve, students are taught to carefully handle their edges. Without care for edges in your paintings, the entire piece will suffer.

There are two types of edges that Evolve students consider: gradients and sharp edges. Gradients are a gradual transition from light to shadow and express the form of an object. A soft, cleanly painted gradient creates the illusion of a three-dimensional shape. The ability to paint both large, sprawling transitions and small, tight changes from light to shadow is an important tool for an artist. 

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An example of beginning gradients and sharp edges within the Evolve program.

Sharp edges are exactly as they sound. These razor-sharp marks are used to define outer edges, explain cast shadows, and bring focus to a painting. When sharp edges wobble or waiver, they eliminate any focus or believability in a painting and are less than convincing. 

Gradients and sharp edges also are crucial to maintaining the proportions of a painting. Along with proportions, properly placed and controlled edges bring focus and clarity to a painting, keeping it as realistic as possible. Even a beginner’s painting done with only four values, and no reflections or highlights can be beautifully realistic if the edges are handled properly. 

Edges are an essential part of the oil painting process, and without this moving part executed properly, the painting will fall flat. 

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Color, edge, and value all working together in a beautiful, finished painting by Evolve student Jennifer R.


The final moving part of an oil painting is color. Though Evolve students start their painting education in grayscale, they soon move into color, adding another moving part to their work. Color brings another layer of realism to a painting, and much of learning how to utilize color comes from paint mixing and experimenting to find correct color combinations to express what you see before you. 

Color has both hues and saturation, hue referring to the color itself, like green or red, and saturation referring to how intense that color is. Learning to identify how to mix those color characteristics and apply them to painting is an essential part of a student’s journey. 

Color brings an intensity and realism to painting, and when used properly elevates a painting and brings it to life.

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A beautiful example of the moving parts of an oil painting by Evolve student Sheila J. 


Though it seems complex in theory, the oil painting process can be broken down into these three moving parts. Value, edge, and color bring realism and believability to a painting, and when used properly can create incredible work. 

Even for the beginner working in grayscale, value and edge are essential. Without properly placed and executed value, the painting will not be rooted in reality. If it lacks sharp edges and correctly placed gradients, the proportions and dimensions will fall flat. And if color mixtures are improperly made or not carefully considered, even the most carefully painted work will suffer. 

These three moving parts bring control, accuracy, and realism into your paintings, creating works of art that are convincing and lifelike.

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Do Artists Need to be on Social Media?


Do Artists Need to be on Social Media?

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Social media for artists: is it helpful or hurtful?

Modern-day artists are continually looking for ways to expand the reach of their art, and one of the most popular ways is social media. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and many more, have millions of users and accounts that cover every interest imaginable. For artists, social media can be a world of opportunity.

Utilizing social media for artists can provide artists with a platform to share their work and reach audiences across the world. But it can also provide distraction, discouragement, and become a waste of time. 

We’ve put together a few pros and cons of social media for artists, and how you can utilize these platforms best to grow as an artist. 

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What can social media do for artists? There are some benefits that are worth it for artists to take advantage of!

What Social Media Can Do for Artists

Market your artwork

Social media enables artists at all levels and skills to market themselves free of charge. Places like Facebook and Instagram allow artists to share their process, connect with other artists, and develop a following of people who enjoy their work. As an artist, you will often find yourself looking for every possible opportunity to advance your career and improve your work. Social media provides a free, fairly simple way to do this. 

Develop an audience

Artists need audiences. Regardless of what it is you paint, you want your work to be in front of the people who it speaks to. If you are putting paintings of cityscapes in front of nature lovers, your sales probably won't increase. But when you find your target audience, you can have a big impact on them. 

Social media will enable you to find that audience without leaving your studio. People from around the world with similar interests, looking for the type of art you are making can be found using social media. Utilizing these tools, an artist can develop an audience and following, boosting their visibility. 

Find peers and inspiration

Utilizing social media, you can meet and interact with people around the world. For artists, this can be priceless. The more experiences and interactions artists have with the world, the more their art is influenced and potentially strengthened. By seeing other artist's work and interacting with the artists themselves, you can grow and expand your thoughts, building creative ideas unique to you and your experiences. 

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If you find yourself spending more time on your social media art account rather than your studio practice, you may need to set some boundaries to protect your time.

What Social Media Can't Do

Social media can't sell your art by itself.

Posting your paintings online doesn’t automatically mean they’ll sell. In fact, the majority of your followers will never purchase your work. Using social media to foster relationships with potential buyers is a great idea. However, simply posting a picture does not guarantee it will sell without a lot of work put in. 

An online presence can take time away from studio work

Many beginning artists invest too much stock into social media platforms. As an artist, the majority of your work happens at the easel, honing your craft and producing thoughtful, dedicated work. While maintaining a social media presence is helpful, it can be a time trap, taking time that should be spent in the studio. Set boundaries for yourself in order to ensure that you are putting in the necessary work to succeed in your painting techniques before focusing all of your energy on promoting your social media pages. 

It can create pressures and compromise authenticity

If you’ve ever felt pressured by the successful, thriving people you see on social media, you’re not alone. It is easy to share only the beautiful, successful parts of life, while the struggles and messes remain hidden. When social media is used well, it provides a view of hard work, some failure, and successes. But without that, pressures arise that can discourage and turn away many new artists. Comparison steals motivation and quickly derails an artist. 

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How do you use social media to make connections? (Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash)

How to Use Social Media Successfully

Protect your time

Track how much time you spend actually preparing content and scrolling through social media. Set a timer to protect your time and make sure that your time is invested, not wasted. 

Put in work in the Studio

Avoid creating work purely for social media. Have a vision and a plan, and use social media to enhance it, rather than creating work solely for an app 

Be social and authentic

Be authentic in what you share and post. Failures and lessons learned can often have a bigger impact on your audience than constant highlights. Authenticity goes a long way to share your real self with your audience.

Provide value

Share your experience! Every artist has something to offer. Be open and honest, share your journey through art, things you’ve learned, and revelations about becoming an artist. Your journey is unique and more people will resonate with it than you think. 

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Social media is definitely a beneficial tool for artists.


Social media can be a helpful tool for artists, but it doesn’t guarantee success. By using it as a tool to enhance your skills, meet fellow artists, and gain new insights and experiences, social media for artists can be very beneficial. 

Protect your time, keep working on your craft, and remember that your journey through is worth sharing with an audience!

How do you utilize social media for your art? Leave a comment below!

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What to Do When You Make Mistakes in Oil Painting


What to Do When You Make Mistakes in an Oil Painting

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What do you do when you’ve made a mistake in oil painting? Keep reading for some tips! (Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash)

If you create art of any kind, then you’ve had the moment when you realize something’s gone wrong and now you must fix a mistake in your oil painting. Though frustrating, mistakes and missteps are a part of learning and happen to everyone. 

Even if you’re a working professional, you’ll still make mistakes. Now the caliber of your mistakes will be much higher, but you will still make mistakes. 

So how can artists begin to fix and recognize mistakes in their art? Keep reading to learn some ways to learn and recover from mistakes in an oil painting.

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Take great care to place your moderate lights correctly. Regardless of how dark an object seems, anything that is in the light must be given a light value. 

Do You Know What's Wrong?

The first step to fixing mistakes in an oil painting is to actually find the mistake. Students will often ask in our school, “Is this done? I know something’s wrong, but I don’t know what”. 

The first question to ask yourself when you see problems in your painting is if you know what the issue is. If you feel like somethings wrong, but you can’t figure out what it is, you need to let the painting be done. If you can’t figure out what’s wrong, you won’t be able to fix it. 

However, when we look at our work, we can usually pinpoint the issue. Whether it is in value, edge, color, or proportion, it usually sticks out to us. 

Then the next question to ask yourself before attempting fixing a problem should be “Do I know how to fix the issue?”.  If the answer is yes, then you can go in and try to fix the problem, which will improve the painting and move along closer to the end goal.

...artists often find themselves painting in circles trying to fix problems they don’t understand or know how to correct.

But if the answer is "No, I don’t know how to fix this problem", then you must stop painting. You can’t fix something if you don’t know what it is you need to fix or if you don’t understand how to fix it! It seems simple, but artists often find themselves painting in circles trying to fix problems they don’t understand or know how to correct. 

If you don’t understand where the problems are in your painting, then nothing needs correction at this point. Correcting issues that you don’t understand will create more problems and mistakes. Better to leave a mistake that you don’t understand or know how to fix, rather than creating additional problems. 

But, if you can find the mistake and know how to fix it, then you are ready to begin making corrections to your painting. 

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This painting by Evolve student Craig H. shows careful control and care from the very beginning, which results in a beautiful painting.

Can You Fix the Mistake?

As you work on a painting, stepping back to look for mistakes is important for several reasons. As you work, if you step back and see an easy issue that you can fix, the fix is fairly easy when the paint is wet. 

With a rag or small piece of paper towel, parts of the painting can be wiped away and restarted, or the wet paint manipulated, an edge sharpened or softened, or really any simple fix. As you go in to make a correction in wet paint, it is important to ask yourself if fixing the issue will help the painting or cause additional issues. 

If correcting a minor problem seems like it will cause a chain reaction of issues you’ll then need to correct, it is better to leave it alone. Also, depending on where you are in the painting, it may be best to leave the issue. Minor problems at the beginning of a painting are easier to correct than problems that you spot at the very end. 

But what happens when a major issue arises? Major issues in paintings stem from not enough care in the beginning of the painting, and the artist simply needs to take greater care and focus with the beginning stages of their painting.

Looking back and forth between the reference and the painting, see if you can find the issue with the painting and ask yourself if you understand how to make the fix. Then ask yourself if by fixing the major problem, will the rest of the painting suffer and will you have to repaint other large areas. If the answer is yes, it might be best to leave the painting and start again. 

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Knowing when to stop and restart or move on is an important part of painting. (Photo by Gary Chan on Unsplash)

Know When to Let Go

When major issues arise in your painting and you don’t know how to fix them, sometimes you need to let the painting be and start again. Overworking a painting never helps to achieve what you want. Making bold, informed decisions in your painting is what creates solid work, not guessing. 

Each stroke past a certain point either helps or destroys your painting. This means you need to weigh each stroke with extra intensity after a certain point. You can muddle about forever making tiny, inconsequential moves. 

Sometimes it is best to just stop or restart. And sometimes it is ok to leave some mistakes in your painting if you don’t know how to fix them. If you don’t know what the mistake is or how to fix it, chances are that with time you will learn how to. Each painting has the opportunity to teach you through its mistakes. Know when to let go of a painting and start again or move on. 

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Learning how to spot and mistakes in an oil painting is a big part of the Evolve education. Here, Lisa S. shows how she carefully controls each part of her painting to make a solid Block 3 piece.


Mistakes are a part of learning. This post offers some simple ways to think about mistakes and how to begin to understand correcting them. Remember that sometimes the best thing you can do for your painting is to know when to stop

And if you find mistakes in your work, don’t worry! All artists make mistakes, no matter how knowledgable they are or how long they've been painting. But those artists who are most successful have learned that mistakes are opportunities to learn, not a final word on their skills. Learn from your missteps and continue to grow as an artist. 

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Developing Creativity as an Artist


Developing creativity as an artist

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Where do new ideas come from? Can you become more creative? If you’ve asked yourself this question, this article is for you!

Have you ever sat in front of your blank canvas and wondered when the creativity will hit? Maybe you’re just out of ideas and feeling completely uninspired. The good news is that creativity as an artist is something that can be exercised and developed, it's not always natural and free-flowing. 

Many people have the false impression that artists are simply born filled with creativity. Here at Evolve, we believe that while some people are indeed gifted with a natural ability to express themselves artistically without much training, the majority of artists cultivate their creativity and carefully develop it with training and practice. 

So if you're looking to develop your creativity as an artist, keep reading for a few ways to dig deeper into growing and exercising this artistic skillset! 

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Experiencing museum exhibits, peer work, and new ideas are all ways to improve your creativity. (Photo by iSAW Company on Unsplash)

Experience and Investigate

The best way to develop more ideas and creativity as an artist is to have as many experiences as possible. Creativity is built off of experiences. The more experiences you have, both as an artist and as a human, the more ideas will flow towards your artwork. 

In order to generate new ideas, you also need to spend time investigating the experiences you do have. If you are interested in painting a subject, you must go and investigate and have experiences within that subject. 

If you want to paint birds, you have to have an understanding of those birds. You must watch how they move, discuss them with knowledgable professionals, view other artists' work of the same subject; these are the things that will increase your creativity towards the thing you wish to paint. 

Make expanding your horizons a personal policy and standard behavior for yourself. If you see something interesting, go up to investigate and understand what it is in order to cultivate and jumpstart your creativity.

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In order to boost creativity, you need to make work, and lots of it!

Try New Things to Boost Your Creativity

One of the reasons we often feel less creative or out of ideas is due to the fact that we aren’t experimenting enough with the ideas that we do have. In order to boost creativity, you have to make things!

When you have a whisper of an idea, no matter how basic, or are inspired by something you have been investigating or experiencing, begin to sketch it out. 

Our first sketch, almost every time, is going to be the weakest sketch we produce. Once that is on paper, it generally looks remedial and uninspired. We're not very creative in our initial impulses. But getting on paper is just the first step. 

When the information is out of our head, we can work on what we want it to become. Experiment with different angles, lighting, and mentally walk around your subject. As you explore, you will find fresh ideas and creative bursts that emerge from the experimentation.

In order to become more creative, you need to make work, lots of work! 

Sketch and paint and work through ideas. Spending more time digging into an idea after an experience is what helps us to generate new creativity as artists. 

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Journaling and sketching are great ways to develop and grow your creativity as an artist. (Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash)

Exercise Your Creativity

Just like a muscle, creativity needs exercise. With regular practice and stimulation, the creative capacities of our brains can grow and be triggered. Here are a few simple ways that you can exercise your creativity to form new ideas:


Sketching everything around you, from your breakfast to your train ride, can help you to start to see the world around you in a new way. Getting into the ritual of doing this every day can also help to build good creative habits, where something becomes a necessary part of your day. 


Writing down your ideas, thoughts, and reactions can be a useful tool for artists. Some artists feel fulfilled simply by sketching their reactions and emotions, but others find more understanding in their experiences by writing things down to later process. Take a journal to a museum, and write down your reactions and what catches your eye. 

Find a Creative Space

Whether it be nature, a studio space, a museum, or a busy coffee shop, find a place where you feel the urge and need to create. Make sure it’s not too distracting, and settle in to develop and create ideas. 

Ask Questions

Reach out to artists and ask questions. Ask peers how they develop and exercise their creativity. Remember that experiences become fuel for creativity. 

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In order to develop your creativity, simply keep experimenting, exploring, and exercising!


Creativity for artists needs to be exercised and developed. It is a skill that takes attention, but once cultivated, it can enable you to make work stronger than you could have thought possible. 

Don’t be shy about investigating the world you live in, because the world that you live in eventually makes its way into your work. It makes its way in either as you found it or in some augmented fashion that fits your needs.

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