Thursday, 29 April 2010

5 Art Tips

5 Tips for making art that makes you happy.

So I am the first to exclaim that there is no such thing as 'right' or 'wrong' art, nor is there 'good' or 'bad' art, there isn't even 'beautiful' or 'ugly' art. These are all subjective judgements which hold no inherent definitive 'truth' within them. Art is never just ugly or beautiful as that is merely the business of whoever is looking at the piece of art (eye of the beholder and all that jazz). To one person a particular piece of art is beautiful to another it might be dull and uninteresting. But perhaps I am stating the obvious here.

My point is; there is no right or wrong in art, anything goes. In May of 1961 Italian artist Piero Manzoni sold his shit (and I don't mean this metaphorically, nope it was his actual poo or poop) in a tin ("Merda d'artista") as 'art' and in October 2008, tin #083 (he had created 90 tins) was offered for sale at Sotheby's with an estimate of GBP 50-70,000. Clearly, in the eye of one beholder, that shit was super hot! ;)

So we're probably all agreed that there is no definitive truth about what makes art good or bad or beautiful or ugly. And art isn't really about that, the judgements & labels, nope, it isn't.

What is making art about then? Well, to me, making art is about the beautiful process of expression and creation and getting in touch with your inner world and then externalising it. Making art, is about feeling the excitement of materialising that which wasn't before you did what you did. And it's about making yourself feel happy, inspired, excited, peaceful, awed and giddy. Sometimes art is about healing, sometimes it's about expression, sometimes it's about making statements, sometimes it's about reaching out.

It is an emotional, tactile and spiritual process designed to lift you up. It's wonderful if it also makes others happy, and if someone experiences your piece of art as beautiful that may make you even happier, but the primary purpose of art is to make you happy!

The following 5 art tips have helped me make art that made me happy.

Perhaps they'll help you make art that makes you happy too! :D x (These tips are also not definitive or 'set in stone', but I've noticed they've helped me enjoy my art more and more over the years!)

1. Consider your composition.

Yup, I know it sounds boring but composition can really make a difference to how your brain perceives a piece of art. One of the 'rules' (don't like that word but that's how they refer to it) that is quite helpful with this is the 'rule of thirds'.

The rule of thirds is a compositional rule that divides your art space into 9 equal parts. The idea is to place the elements of interest in your piece of art along the lines drawn (see figure below) or right by the tension points (see the crosses).

For instance, this composition is a lot less interesting (not so happy making to most brains);

than for instance this one;

When your brain perceives a piece of art that follows the rule of thirds it will have a happier/ more interesting experience than if the rule isn't followed (that said; sometimes when this rule is broken, electric awesomeness ensues and your brain goes ecstatic! ;)). So DO play with this and see what happens for you.

2. Use your negative space effectively.

By negative space I mean those parts of your piece that don't contain the main focal points (ie: the background). This concept really builds on the rules of thirds in that it incorporates ideas of composition as well as using all space (including the background) effectively.

An example of using negative space in such a way that is (for me) less happy making;

this one might seem obvious, but I have seen a lot of people do this; draw/ paint 1 very small focal element, place it in the middle of the page, rather low too, and then are left with a huge amount of background/ negative space to fill. When I look at a piece of art like that, it doesn't quite inspire me (or make me happy) unless it was done very purposefully and the artist had a real intention to make all the negative space stand out. (ie: the background might be even more significant than the main focal element).

If you do want to use just mostly 1 main focal element, make sure not to leave out too much negative space, unless you have a specific purpose for it. (For instance; you may have a spectacular mixed media background in mind or you may want to create a beautiful night sky). If the background is in itself a significant part of the piece, then by all means make your other main element as tiny as possible, but if you want your character to be the main focus of your piece; avoid too much negative space.

If your painting only has 1 main focal element, use up most of your canvas, like so;

see how little negative space is left?

If you have several main focal elements, aim to work with the rule of thirds and also avoid too much negative background space by adding in other interesting elements, an example;

3. Give care and attention to details of your art work.

In the past I have often created a piece on which I had worked for hours if not days, only to find myself unhappy with it at the end. I could never quite figure out why until I realised that only one part of my painting had been given the love, care and attention that the whole piece needed. I often would get so immersed in painting the face, body, clothing of a person, only to finish off the background, the corners, perhaps hands or small elements in the background very sloppily. No love, no care, no attention to the detail of my painting. Even though the main focal element may have looked exactly as I had intended, shiny, purdy, making me happy, there was something missing in the overall piece.

Give care & attention to every inch of your painting. The final piece will feel so much more finished & loved and it will make you much happier.

Note: I am not saying: add a lot of detail to your painting. I am saying; pay attention to every detail of your painting. There may not be much detail in it, but DO pay careful attention to that which IS in it. Make sure to spend as much time on small (seemingly insignificant) parts of your painting as you would on the seemingly more significant parts!

4. Consider your colour choices.

Ok, I must admit, pleasing colour combinations come quite naturally to me. But there have been times when a painting irked me, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why until I realised that; composition was pleasing, detail was great, negative space sorted, but eugh the colours!

Three tips on how to choose colour combinations that bring harmony to your piece:

5. Send a message/ tell a story.

I enjoy bringing depth and meaning to my art. Luckily, most art, whatever has been created, can usually spark someone's imagination, even the simplest still-life or static portrait. But isn't it so much more fulfilling if you've reached deep inside of you, searched your soul, dug deep and connected with that inner longing or yearning that wanted to tell a story or convey a passionate message? Yep yep, for me it is! :-)

It is this final 'touch' that makes me feel most satisfied when finishing a piece. I could be telling a story to children about three girls have a teaparty with cupcakes, or I can be conveying the tender love one feels when embarking upon motherhood. I may express what needs are met or unmet in delicate brush strokes or I may be reaching out to angels and asking for support and hope.

This is where the artist is also the poet, the healer, the goddess and the universe.

Send a message, sing a song, whisper a poem, tell your story.

angels are always with you

Hope you enjoyed these 5 art tips!

If you don't follow any of the above rules and your art already makes you uber happy; then obviously; IGNORE everything I said! :-) All that matters is that your art makes YOU happy! :) But if you're not always that happy with your art, consider a few of these tips and see how you go. :) Remember that you are awesome all the way! ♥

If you want to learn more from me, you can buy my art workshops HERE.

Follow me on twitter HERE.

Tam x

self 2

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

And the winner issssss .....

And the winner of the Fabulous Faces DVD is .....

Number 13 -> Lorrie Mello (elbowgrease)

(not such an unlucky number now eh! ;))

Congratulations Lorrie - please send me your mailing address: willowing [at]!

People who were put in the draw;

On blogger;

1. Phoenix xox
2. Evangeline
3. Pat
4. Kelley
5. Vicki
6. Kitty
7. Loz
8. Brigitte aka Scrappassie
9. Sunny Crittenden
10. Odd Sox
11. Debra
12. kunstzinnigdagboek
13. Lorrie Mello (elbowgrease)
14. Kimberly Myck-Rawson
15. Greta
16. Nolwenn
17. Marcie
18. elena
19. kim
20. Amanda's Altered World
21. Violet Parr
22. Odd Chick
23. elaina
24. Mishi

On twitter (I lost most RTs for some reason!! :( I tried to get everyone who RT-ed to send me their names again, but don't think everyone who RT-ed in the first place read those tweets, my apologies if you got missed out of this draw, I don't know why twitter made my RTs disappear!).

25. Marylin
26. Rhomany
27. Rainbowztwit
28. Rischa
29. Deb
30. Malene1986
31. Kathleen Tanguy
32. Sandra Lisenba Conko

On livejournal;

33. lj user = writemethesea
34. lj user = folkchick3
35. lj user = carnivalnights

Friday, 16 April 2010

Fabulous Faces - Now Available on DVD!

Hullo all!

My portrait course Fabulous Faces is now available on DVD! :)

In honour of the launch I will be giving away 1 copy for free!!!

To win;

1. Follow this blog.
2. Leave a comment on this blog to be entered into the draw! (If you've already bought the course and you win the draw, I will refund your money).

The draw will be held on Monday 26th April!

Fabulous Faces DVD - Course Information

*Fabulous Faces*
Mixed Media Portrait Art Workshop

Now Available on DVD!

Have you always wanted to create pretty portraits? Are you fascinated with drawing faces but can't quite get them to look the way you want? Then this might be the course for you! Learn how to draw and shade a front facing portrait as well as a 3 quarter and a profile one! In addition you'll be learning about adding extra elements to your piece and background integration as well!


front sleeve DVD cover

Student Feedback:

"I loved this class. Not only was the work presented in an easy to understand set of PDFs and, more importantly, wonderfully made videos...but Tam, as instructor, comes across as a truly caring and nurturing person. I've never before taken an on-line class where I felt as if I was in the same room as the instructor...and that she really wanted her students to succeed and feel good about themselves. Thanks Tam, for a wonderful learning experience.
Irene Watts
Las Vegas, NV USA

Scroll down to read what other students have said about the course.

$55 + shipping


What You're Buying

Please note: the DVD you are buying is a DATA DVD. The file format of the videos on the DVD is in .mov. This means you cannot watch the files on your TV unless your DVD player specfically plays the above mentioned file format. The files on the DVD can be played on PCs or MACs using either Quicktime (.mov files) or VLC Player.I strongly recommend Quicktime for .mov files though as the VLC player tends to distort the videos ever so slightly.

You get 2 DVD discs which contain 9 .mov files (about 9 hours of lessons in total) and 7 PDF files. A supply list and course outline is also included on the DVD in PDF format. The DVD case has a professionally printed sleeve covering it.

April, 2010

This course ran on my ning network from 25th January 2010 - 7th Marcy 2010 for 105 students. Though I might run this course again at some point, I’ve decided to make the course available on DVD so that those who missed out can follow the course as well minus the interaction with myself and other students.

Technical requirements: the .mov files play best in the software program Quicktime. You can also play them in VLC player but I noticed that VLC distorts my videos slightly so I highly recommend playing them in Quicktime (this programme can be downloaded for free off the internet).



The DVDs contains 9 video files covering 6 weeks of mixed media portrait art lessons. Pls note that I have NOT taken out little chats or comments which related to events or circumstances happening at the time.

On the disc you will find 7 PDFs that look at the methods and techniques that were covered in the videos and some of them list exercises and/or homework.

The course goes over 3 diferent portrait positions (front facing/ 3 quarter & profile) and also looks at adding extra elements and background integration.

Course skill level:
Beginner & Intermediate

Course Outline


Student Feedback
(with permission)
"If you've never had ART training before but would like to try out to see if you can bring out that little artsy side of yourself, you'll be amazed how far you can go with Willowing's course. She runs this online Art workshops in a very safe and encouraging environment. She gives you extensive content full of information in her high quality videos and you get to network with students. She gives special attention to every single student in a caring manner. It's really amazing and I highly recommend taking one of her workshop."
- Sung-Hee (Regina) Hong
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"A very well put together course, covering many aspects of portraiture in an easy to understand way, with a direct line to the instructor for tips, tricks, and helpful critiques. "
- Emily Earl, Chatsworth, CA

"the course was the reason why a stayed awake till 1pm... to watch the new video ;)

step-by-step tutorial on how to draw faces and a guide on how to use different materials"

- Nicole Walther

"Hummm... Enlightening. Wonderful and useful advice. More like a guide to help you explore your creativity no limits. Tam is generous with her time, her positive communication skills. Overall... I'll take another course with her in a snap!"
- Isabelle Lauzier,
Montreal, Quebec Canada

"You're gonna learn to draw portraits easily and without stress because Tam is a lovely girl who takes time to explain and give all the details you need."

- Peggy Petit
Paris, France

"Fabulous Faces is a brilliant course, if you are interested in drawing and painting then you really should do this course."

- Julie Stenning,
Forest of Dean, UK

"One of my biggest handicaps with drawing the human body has always been faces, so I have always stayed away from faces. This course has given me the freedom to try, make mistakes and try again, to the point where I am now comfortable to draw faces. The teaching was comprehensive, and very easy to understand. This was also the next best thing to being in a classroom. Learning at my own pace meant no pressure, and feedback always encouraging. A very pleasurable course."

- Kelly, Japan

"I was amazed how much I learned so fast. The shading help and drawing tips were exactly what I needed. Tam is an awsome teacher and lots of fun."

-Kathryn Bernier, Bangor Maine, USA


$55 + shipping


Friday, 9 April 2010

days 14, 15, 16, 17

arrgh, i'm behind again! oh well, i have a good excuse; dylan is just NOT sleeping lately, resulting in me being a total zombie. i HAVE kept up on tumblr though, here are days 14, 15, 16 & 17!!

Day 17.  An art piece - I know it didn't need to be mine, but I liked what I created today. "Girl" as inspired by Igor & Andre :O)

Day 16. A song that makes you cry.

“Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks

Particularly this verse;

“Goodbye, Michelle, my little one, You gave me love and helped me find the sun, And every time that I was down You would always come around And get my feet back on the ground; Goodbye, Michelle, it’s hard to die When all the birds are singing in the sky, Now that the spring is in the air, With the flowers everywhere, I wish that we could both be there!”

Also; “Leaving on an airplane” by John Denver

Day 15 - Something that is currently over-rated.

I wanna say Amanda Effin’ Palmer but that’ll probably get me into all sorts of trouble. ;) She seems like a friendly lady, no doubt, but I just don’t get why some people are absolutely devoted to/ obsessed with her. Now Neil Gaiman I get. AFP not so much.

I apologise in advance to anyone I’ve deeply hurt by admitting this! ;)

Day 14 - A non-fictional book.

“The power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. One of the most significant books I’ve ever read. • • •


Man! Time flies! 




Monday, 5 April 2010

Day 12 & 13

Day 12. Something random.

3 random facts about me;

1. I am really good at mirror writing. No clue why.
2. I used to do karate as a kid. My dad was told I had real talent and should be encouraged to compete in matches. I totally screwed up my first ever match and thereafter lost all confidence. I was also terribly bullied so gave up.
3. I once “owned” a teenage crow for a day. He couldn’t fly very well, had probably fallen out of its parents’ nest and I had found him stuck on my father’s balcony. I proudly paraded him around my home town, perched on my shoulder for the day. When, at the end of the day, he’d clumsily flown off and I couldn’t found him, I was distraught. I had really fallen in love with the creature and had fantasised about a bright future for us together. I had named him Karel, or Carl in English. I still think about that bird once in a while.

Day 13 — A fictional book.

There are many fictional books that spring to mind when thinking of just one, but "The Witching Hour" by Anne Rice is still one of the main ones 'shouting out' at me. I absolutely loved it when I first read it. It completely absorbed me. The intricate, rich family history, the witching stories, the paranormal aspect. All very wonderful. :)

Info from Rice's site:
The Mayfair Witches
The Witching Hour

The first in the Mayfair Witches series, The Witching Hour introduces the fictional Mayfair family of New Orleans, generations of male and female witches. This tight-knit and deeply connected family, where a death of one strengthens the others with his/her knowledge. One Mayfair witch per generation is also designated to receive the powers of "the man," known as Lasher. Lasher gives the witches gifts, excites them, and protects them. Unsure as to exactly what this spirit is, the Mayfair clan knows him variously as a protector, a god-like figure, a sexual being, and the image of death. Lasher's current witch is Deirdre, who lies catatonic from psycological shock treatments.

Deirdre's daughter, Rowan, has been spirited away from this "evil" and has happily become a neurosurgeon and has an uncanny gift to see the intent behind the facade. Rowan also has a gift few doctors possess--she can heal cells. Yet, though she uses it to save lives, she also fears that she hs caused several deaths. She rescues Michael from drowning. Michael then develops some extraordinary powers that compel him to seek New Orleans and to seek Rowan. He finds both, and pulls the tale closer together by meeting people connected to the Mayfair family who now fear Rowan because she is the first Mayfair who can kill without Lasher's help.

Michael dives into learning the history of the Mayfair witches: Deborah, Charlotte, Mary Beth, Stella, Antha, and many others across hundreds of years and three continents. When Michael looks up from his reading, he learns that Rowan has come to New Orleans to attend her mother's funeral. Rowan learns of her family history, her ancestral home in shambles, and Lasher waiting for the next one. Rowan dedicates herself to stopping Lasher's reign. Michael too has his own mission, but it is foggy and unclear to him. But Lasher is seductively powerful and Rowan's gifts offer him the opportunity to achieve his ultimate goal.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Day 09 & 10 of 30 days of tumblr

Day 09. a photo you took.

(a golden oldie for some)

Day 10 — A photo of you taken over ten years ago.


:0) x


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