Why do Artists use Texture?

Owl by collage artist Megan Coyle

Texture is the feel, appearance, or consistency of a surface. Artists use texture to add depth, interest, or balance to different areas of their artwork. Texture can exist as the illusion of different textures (feathers, sand, etc.) or it can exist as actual layers that create a feeling or consistency when touched – such as thick paint applied with a palette knife or layered paper.

Artists use texture for a number of reasons, depending on the vision behind their work. Sometimes texture is used to give the illusion of depth or making a piece seem more realistic — the more detail put into the use of texture (such as the texture of leaves, skin, etc.), the more realistic a work of art can look. Texture can help set up the atmosphere of a scene.

Other times, an artist may use texture to add interest to his or her work. It can be a stylistic choice, where an artist makes use of texture for representational, realistic works of art, or nonrepresentational, abstract works. Use of rough and smooth texture can help craft an artist’s vision.

Related to using texture for adding interest, it can also be used for balancing out compositions. Artists can use texture to help guide a viewer’s eye through a work of art. They can use smooth or rough textures in different areas to either call attention or ignore different aspects of their composition.

Texture is one of the many elements an artist can use to construct a work of art. It’s something that varies from artist to artist, with how he or she chooses to incorporate it. Artists use texture to shape their unique works of art, by using it to add depth, balance, or interest to different area’s of their artwork’s surface.

How to Stay Organized as an Artist

Yellow Flowers is a collage by Megan Coyle

It’s easy to be unorganized as an artist, especially when the materials you use for your craft keep piling up over the years as you collect or save various tools. It’s also easy to lose track of your artwork, or allow all your promotional materials and original art to clutter up your studio. Instead of letting your studio get in complete disarray, here are a few tips to keep your creative life organized:

1. Use organizers for your materials

There are all sorts of plastic drawers you can use for organizing drawing tools, scraps of paper, paint, clay, and more. Organizers will help keep your tools and materials in order, so they don’t end up scattered around your studio or home.

2. Use portfolios for 2d work

Portfolios can help organize your flat or 2d artwork, and can also serve as an excellent way to transport your artwork to other places like galleries or studios.

3. Keep track of your art inventory with a spreadsheet

Over the years, it’s far too easy to lose track of the artwork you’ve made and where it is. Creating a spreadsheet inventory, can help you keep track of where everything is. It helps to keep a thumbnail of every work of art in the spreadsheet, along with the date of creation, dimensions, location (at your home, in an exhibit, or sold to a client), client info and date sold (if applicable), exhibits/publications it’s appeared in, and if you have any additional notes on a specific work of art. Then you can keep your inventory updated whenever you create new artwork or sell and exhibit existing art.

4. Create a filing system for your marketing materials

On your computer, keep a folder filled with marketing materials that you use to promote your artwork, such as your artist resume, biography, artist statement, and any digital files of postcards or other mailers you’ve used to promote your work. By having everything maintained in one place, you can easily find your art-related materials whenever you need to promote upcoming shows. You can also throw out outdated, printed marketing materials that are no longer relevant, especially when it’s easy enough for you to print out a new, updated copy.

5. Keep a calendar dedicated to your art-related activities

Maintain a calendar that has all the dates related to your exhibits, gallery application deadlines, and art-making schedule.

6. Stick to a schedule

By sticking to a schedule for when you make artwork, and when you plan to take a couple of days off from it, is important to ensure that you are consistently making artwork and working on your craft.

7. Designate a space

If you have a studio, that should be your dedicated space for your artwork. Try not to let your artwork and materials clutter your home or non-studio spaces. If you don’t have a dedicated studio, dedicate a specific section of your home to your art-making. By defining your art space, you can constrain the materials and art to that one space, and you don’t have to declutter it from other sections of your home.

8. Get rid of what you don’t need

If you haven’t used something in a couple of years, chances are you won’t end up using it any time soon. Remove the excess by tossing out, recycling, or donating anything you haven’t used in a while. By simplifying your workspace, it’ll be a lot easier to stay organized.

 

Staying organized makes any job a lot easier. Instead of sifting through piles of marketing or art materials, having a proper filing system can make it easier to locate what you need when you need it. By keeping your creative space more organized, you’ll have an easier time running your art business.

Why is Art Important?

The Wise Lizard is a collage by Megan Coyle

Art is important for a number of reasons – it makes life more interesting and cultivates an inspiring environment. It helps define our culture and reflects the state of the world when a work of art was created.  Art is a wonderful tool, that allows us to:

1. Express Ourselves

Art allows us to tell stories visually, and share the way we see the world. There are so many different mediums or materials that can be used to make artwork, which is part of the beauty of using it as a form of expression. This makes it easier for artists to craft their own unique style and voice.

2. Inspire Others

Artwork can inspire others in the arts and even serve as motivation for people in different industries to create something of their own. Making your own artwork, and making it to the best of your abilities, can inspire others to make their own art – which can inspire others as well. Art-making can create this fantastic chain reaction of inspiration and creativity.

3. Make the World More Interesting

Without art, our lives would be pretty dull. We wouldn’t have artwork decorating our walls at home or work, and we wouldn’t get that inspiration from visiting art museums and galleries. There wouldn’t be designs and patterns on our clothing, bags, or rugs. There wouldn’t be cartoons or illustrations in publications or on TV. Quite honestly, the world would be a pretty bland place. Art makes the world a more vibrant and interesting place to live.

4. Record our History

Even if we’re not aware of it, the art we make helps record what life is like at a given point in time. This can be done simply with the materials used that can date the work, or the subject matter depicted. Art serves as a record of how life was when the work of art was created.

 

Overall, art makes the world a more interesting and beautiful place to live. It helps us make sense of life, and add meaning to different moments in time. Art is something that makes life a little more magical, allowing us to express ourselves and communicate our different viewpoints.

Why Should You Plan Out Your Art Composition?

What a Pair (the Otter Sisters) is a collage made entirely from magazine strips by Megan Coyle

Art is a process, and figuring out your composition before you get started, will speed up the art-making process. So what does planning out your art composition really mean? It means figuring out what you’re going to create:

  • Define your subject matter
  • Define your color palette
  • Research (let that be via practice sketches or studying the subject in more depth)
  • When you’re ready to get started, sketch out your composition. That way you’ll have a guide to use as you develop the piece.

Why does planning out your composition matter?

1. Saves Time

Sketching out your composition first, saves you the time and effort of reworking your artwork when the composition you had in mind isn’t panning out. Planning this out before you start using your materials, will help you figure out what may or may not work.

2. Saves Money

Time is money after all, and if planning can save you time, it will save you money as well. Also, eliminating compositions that don’t seem to work when you sketch them out, means you don’t have to learn those lessons while working with your materials. For instance, if you’re making an oil painting, you won’t have to waste time and materials painting over an unplanned composition that just doesn’t work. Planning will uncover possible issues.

3. Defines the Vision for the Artwork

Planning can also assist with the direction of the art – with the tone, and overall look and feel.

4. More Control Over the Progress

By determining what your work of art will look like beforehand, you’ll have a better handle on how things progress.

5. Get More Consistent Results

If you have defined the vision of your work and have more control over the progress, you are more likely to get more consistent results. Identifying potential issues by working them out with sketches, will also give you more successful results.

 

Even after planning out your composition, there is still the possibility that it won’t work out the way you were hoping it would. These things happen, and they’re simply a part of the creative process. However, planning will ensure that more times than not, you’ll have a product you’re satisfied with.

Why do Artists use Sketchbooks?

All in a Row sketch by collage artist Megan Coyle

Sketchbooks are a great tool for artists to practice their craft. You can think of sketching as creating a rough draft of a work of art. Sketchbooks often hold a collection of sketches or ideas for new work.

Here are a few reasons why artists keep sketchbooks:

1. Practice

Sketchbooks can be used to master the art of drawing something specific, like the figure.

2. Exploring Ideas

Before committing an idea to canvas, or whatever the materials are that the artist is using, the idea can be explored with a series of sketches. That way the artist can determine beforehand what the piece might look so she or he won’t waste materials.

3. Troubleshooting Layout Issues

If the composition for a work in progress isn’t quite working out, sketching can help figure out possible solutions to the composition’s layout.

4. Journaling

They can be used like a visual journal where an artist can sketch out his or her thoughts on a daily basis (or however frequent is necessary).

5. Inspiration

Through the sheer force of practice, if an artist forces his or her self to frequently sketch or do different exercises in a sketchbook, even when feeling uninspired, it can help spark inspiration.

6. Works of Art

Other times it’s simply an easy way to store polished works of art.

 

If you’ve used a sketchbook for some other creative reason, feel free to share about it in the comments below.

How to Create a Portfolio

Portrait of a Horse by collage artist Megan Coyle

If you want to start exhibiting or selling your artwork, it’s important that you build out a portfolio so people can sample the work you’ve done, or see the work you’re capable of doing. Review the artwork you’ve made thus far, and select the strongest pieces. How do they compare when they’re grouped together? See if you can meet these requirements to ensure that you have a good portfolio:

  • Is there enough variation?
  • Do they show that you have range?
  • Are they consistent?
  • Is each piece memorable in its own way?
  • Do you have at least 10 pieces?

If you weren’t able to meet all the requirements, or if there were any pieces you weren’t thrilled with, you can make more art so you can fill in any of the gaps. Your portfolio should be a body of work that you’re proud of, so you should replace anything that you’re not crazy about with newer, better art.

If you’re compiling a portfolio to apply for an exhibit:

  1. Make sure the artwork speaks to the gallery – meaning do the research on what they’ve exhibited previously, and if your art looks like something they’d show there.
  2. Make sure it fits the requirements.
  3. Organize the art in such a way that it flows nicely – that each piece can call attention to itself and that there’s a good balance of color.
  4. Have someone look over the portfolio and provide feedback. Often times it’s easy to stare too long at our work and get to a point where it’s difficult to curate or edit the pieces.
  5. Provide supplementary information with your portfolio, like an artist bio, artist statement, resume, and any good articles that have been written about your work.

When it comes to pulling together a portfolio when you want to sell your artwork, you’ll want to use it to mainly market your work:

  1. Make sure the portfolio has a good sample of the work you want to sell
  2. Have someone take a look at the art you selected and provide feedback. Does the work make them want to see more?
  3. Come up with a strategy for how you’d like to market your art from your portfolio. How will you share the images?
  4. Have an online store where you can direct users to.

As an artist, you’re never done building your portfolio. You will constantly review the new work you’ve made and update your portfolio when needed to keep it current.

What to do with your Older Artwork

Rebellion by collage artist Megan Coyle

Over the years, artists can accumulate a lot of artwork. We make art when we take classes, experiment with different mediums, and create different bodies of work for a series or exhibit. And an artist might want to find ways to get rid of that older work since it can show visual inconsistencies with her or his inventory.

So if you’re an artist looking to get rid of older work, here are a few ideas of things you can do:

1. Sell it Online

Create a separate site or section of your site to market and sell your older artwork (especially if the style varies greatly from your current style).

2. Donate it

Donate your work to a charity art auction. If you’ve grown tired of your older pieces, and have no desire to market and sell them anymore, why not give them to an organization that can benefit from your art?

3. Run a Giveaway

I think giveaways are an excellent way to declutter your studio by removing artwork that is no longer relevant to your visual style or career. It also helps generate some excitement for your fans who follow your work. And people who are truly interested in a piece will enter, which is much better than giving away your work to just anyone.

4. Rework it

Try revisiting your older work to make it better. You can turn one of your older pieces into a newer work of art by working on it again. Who knows, you may even improve it in such a way that you’d want to proudly feature it in your portfolio.

 

When you’ve gotten tired of your older artwork, or want to clean up your studio a little bit, there are plenty of ways to find a new home for your work. Or if you don’t want to find a new home for it, you can always revisit and rework it.

How to Give an Artist Talk

Megan Coyle giving an artist talk

It’s important for artists to know how to talk about their artwork so they can promote it to the public. Giving talks helps others understand your process, technique, and the underlying meaning behind your work. If you have to give an artist talk, but are a little stuck on how to get started, here are some ideas to help you out:

1. Brainstorm

Take some time to brainstorm possible topics to cover. What sets your work apart from other artists? How does your artwork fit in with what’s currently available on the market? What projects are you most proud of? Or what projects or series are you hoping to complete in the future?

2. Write a rough draft of your talk

I generally like to create an outline first of what I want to talk about, and then I expand on the details later. I like to use the following format:

  • Brief overview of my background and studies
  • How I got started with being an artist
  • Who are my influences
  • A walkthrough of my process and technique
  • More details on the subject matter I cover
  • A look at the meaning behind some of my work
  • My plans for future projects or series to work on
  • Closing remarks

3. Expand on the topics in your rough draft

Think about the narrative you can write for each topic. What stories can you tell? Sharing anecdotes can help make your talk more engaging for listeners.

4. Rehearse your talk

I usually like to over-rehearse my talks, just to know for sure that I know everything I want to say by heart, and so I won’t stumble over my words. I’d recommend practicing in front of a mirror, as well as practicing while staring across the room, so you can have a couple of different ways of experiencing the artist talk delivery process.

5. Brainstorm other topics when talking to individuals after the talk

Think about talking points about your work that you don’t cover in your talk, that you can use when chatting with people in the crowd.

 

So there you have it – a few ideas to help get you started. And feel free to let me know if you have any questions. I’m always looking to improve on the resources I’m writing.

Why Do Artists Create Self Portraits?

The New York Diner by collage artist Megan Coyle

A self portrait is a representation of an artist created by that artist. Self portraits have been made in every medium imaginable – photographs, paintings, drawings, sculptures, and many more. If you’re an admirer of art, and have frequented museums and galleries, you’ve most likely seen quite a few self portraits – and I have to admit that I have made quite a few self portraits over the years. So, why exactly do artists make self portraits? Here are a few reasons why:

1. Practice

Self portraits help artists tackle the figure. The more an artist can render a portrait, even if it’s just of her or his self, the better an artist can get at depicting people. The human form is a pretty complex subject to tackle, so the more practice, the better.

2. A Convenient Model

It’s common for artists to draw from life, which means using models. Hired models can be pricy, and that expense can add up, so drawing from life by looking in a mirror is a lot cheaper. Also, making self portraits is really convenient – you can always pose for yourself whenever you want to, while hiring models or having someone pose for you means you’ll have to figure out scheduling.

3. To explore themes and ideas in their artwork

Self portraits can also be used for a series exploring various compositions with underlying meaning, such as the exploration of the artist’s self.

4. Record the artist’s self

Self portraits can also be used to record the way the artist looked at the time the portrait was made.

 

So there you have it, a few reasons why artists make self portraits. If you’re an artist and have another reason why you make self portraits, feel free to reach out to me and let me know what it is!

How to Make a Paper Collage

Pretty as a Peacock by collage artist Megan Coyle

Pretty as a Peacock by collage artist Megan Coyle

Collage is a medium that involves layers – usually layers of paper, magazine cutouts, or photographs – although there are artists who make collages with other found materials. If you’re new to making collages, paper collages are a great place to start since the materials are relatively easy to find, and the medium is so flexible. You can easily add layers of paper as well as peel back previous layers, which is especially useful if you want to “undo” any of your work during the process.

Here’s how you can get started:

1. Decide what you want to collage

Figure out if you want to make an abstract or representational collage, and think about what color palette you’d like to use. Do you want to make more of a traditional collage, or do you want to paint with paper?

2. Find your inspiration

If you’re using reference photos, collect photographs you’ve taken to help guide your work.

3. Gather your materials

If you’re working with found paper, take some time to find a variety of paper you can use. Or sift through magazines and photographs to find possible imagery to use. Sort the paper based on color and texture to make it easier to assemble your collage. You should also find:

  • Glue
  • Varnish
  • Scissors
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Paper (or the support you want to collage on, let that be canvas, panel, etc)

4. Plan your collage

With pencil, sketch out an idea of what the composition will look like on your support. If it’s going to be more of an abstract collage, plan out the general look and feel you’re going for. You can plan as little or as much as you need to.

Pretty as a Peacock sketch by collage artist Megan Coyle

5. Start collaging

With scissors, cut the paper into different shapes and fragments. You can arrange the pieces of paper on the page before gluing them down, or you can cut out shapes and glue them as you move along. Layer the paper where needed, and peel back layers when needed. To make the collage process more flexible, use an acid free glue stick. Glue sticks are a much less permanent glue, which makes the process more flexible since it’s easier to peel back previous layers.

Pretty as a Peacock work in progress by collage artist Megan Coyle

6. Varnish your collage

Since paper collage is made up of paper, it’s a very delicate medium. Varnishing your collage will help seal in the pieces so they don’t easily fall apart. UV protective varnishes will also protect the paper from light.

Pretty as a Peacock by collage artist Megan Coyle

7. Frame your collage

Once your work of art is complete and the varnish has dried, you should frame your new collage to help protect it even more. Use acid-free matting and UV-protective glass. Since custom framing can be pricy, consider making your artwork with dimensions that fit standard sized frames.

Now you’re ready to share your artwork with the world!