Have a destination for your brush stroke


 I never mentioned that I have a motorcycle license. I used to ride a small 250cc motorcycle to work back in California. I sold my motorcycle after we moved here to Seattle. It is unlikely I will be getting another motorcycle soon, but I always remember one of the important tips when I was taking the riding lesson. My instructor kept telling us that don’t look down while we ride, look where you want to go. Look at your destination as you will end up where you were looking at. That was a very important tip. It is very dangerous if I don’t look ahead to where I am going while riding. The same thing can apply to paint watercolor. You want to have a destination for your brush stroke. When you put down your brush, you should have a clear idea where it will end up. You want to make every brush stroke count. 

 This is especially important when you are painting something very specific such as a portrait. Some students tend to dab a lot. I think one of the reason is they are unsure where to put the brush stroke, so they dab a lot and hoping they will hit the right spot. It is similar to when someone is trying to draw a straight line with many tiny little marks. If they draw those type of hairy-looking lines, chances are they dab a lot when they are painting. Instead of doing that, think about where you want to put down your brush and where you want to lift it. Don’t just mindlessly put down marks on paper and hope it will work out. That is like shooting a bunch of basketballs without aiming and hope one of the balls will make it in. 
  It is not easy, in fact, it takes a lot of practice. You also need to train yourself to resist the temptation of trying to “fix” things. Follow this threes steps: press, move, lift. Press the brush down, move towards the destination, and life the brush when you are done. This will help your painting look cleaner with confident brush strokes. 

What NOT to do to keep the wash clean

 A first clean wash is really important for a successful painting. If your first wash is dirty, it not only affects the look of the painting, it also affects your moral negatively! Imagine you set up your painting materials and did a good drawing. Then comes the first wash. All seems well and good until you did something irreversible and messed up the first wash. It will really kill your motivation to continue painting. The thing is, it’s not so much about what you should be doing to keep the wash clean, is more about what you should NOT do.  

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Finding time to paint

 Lately, I've been getting emails from people telling me it is difficult for them to find time to paint. The older we grow, the less time we seem to have. With all the chores and errand we need to take care every day, this can certainly be a challenge to face. My wife is a full-time mom which I argue is one of the most difficult job in the world. To alleviate her stress, I help her to get my kids to bed during the evening. After that, I am facing dirty dishes in the sink while trash piling up waiting for me to take them out. All of these while that white piece paper on my easel is waiting for me to turn it into a painting.

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Confidence boost along the journey

 There are so many things we can compare with other people. As an artist, I often compare myself to many other artists. As a YouTuber, I also compare my content and channel with other YouTubers. However, I know this is a mental trap I need to avoid. The art world is not a zero-sum game. Just because someone's work got praised or sold doesn't mean I become less of an artist. And just because someone's YouTube channel is getting more subscribers doesn't mean my channel is losing followers.

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