F A QFrequently Asked Questions
- Are you a full-time artist/ Do you have another job? Yes, I am a full-time artist. No, I do not have another job. Making videos, making my own art, and co-hosting a colored pencil podcast is enough work for 3 people.
- Where did you go to school? I am self-taught. I learned through trial and error. Lots and lots of error
- Do you sell your paintings? Yes, almost everything I paint and draw is for sale. I have some of my available paintings here. I also have Prints available here.
- How long have you been an artist/how did you become an artist? I’ve been a professional artist since 1999, and a full-time artist since 2001. Watch How I became an artist and the impact of fibromyalgia.
- What Mediums do you work in? Primarily Oil paint, Acrylic paint, Colored Pencil, and Graphite. I do occasionally work in other mediums, but those are my favorites.
- Can you paint my dog/cat/child/hamster? No, I do not currently take commissions.
- Can you talk slower/you talk too fast. No, I can not talk slower. Yes, I am aware that I talk fast. I also can not grow taller as much as I would like to. This is how I talk, how I’ve always talked. If it helps, I’ve been told that the more you’re around me or the more you listen to my videos, the easier it gets to keep up with me. The best I can do is to make sure I speak clearly and enunciate well
- Will you upload slower videos to YouTube? While I do have slower versions of my painting and drawing videos, they are only available through Patreon. I do occasionally post short real-time clips of whatever I’m working on over on my Facebook Page, so you may want to check out the videos there too!
“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
General F A Q
General Art FAQ
- How do you add a watermark to your paintings? Watch this video.
- Is it OK to use black paint or colored pencils? Personally, I LOVE working with black. I use it all the time, but I generally glaze or layer another color over it (like blue or purple) to create a bit more depth so that it doesn’t look flat.
- Can I paint a photo I found on the internet? What about a celebrity photo? Watch this video on copyright.
- Can I paint one of your paintings or drawings? I hold the copyright to all of my work, including those that I’ve made videos out of, however, you are welcome to practice painting or drawing one of my pieces for your personal use as long as you give credit to me as the original artist wherever you post your piece online. You can not sell/make prints/enter art competitions with that piece.
- Where can I find reference photos to paint from that I can sell and make prints from? I use photos from jasonmorgan.co.uk (who has some free and some paid options available), wildlifereferencephotos.com (paid), Graphicstock (paid – I’ve done promotions for them in the past) morguefile.com (free), Pixabay.com (free). Of course you can also take photos yourself, just about anything with interesting lighting can make for a great painting!
- How do you get your drawing onto your canvas or paper? You have a few options, personally, I either freehand my drawing onto another piece of paper, then use transfer paper to transfer the image cleanly onto my canvas or paper, or I trace the image onto the paper (or tracing paper to be transferred if using a canvas). Watch this video: is it ok to trace? And this one: how to use your monitor to trace and my friend Jason Morgan’s video showing how to use a grid, projector, and other tools here.
- How do you store your art? Watch this video
- Can I mix oil and acrylic paint or other mediums? You can, but make sure that you do not apply a water based medium over an oil based medium (for example, don’t apply acrylics on top of oils). You can apply oil based over water based though.
- How do you design your paintings? Usually in photoshop. Watch this video and this one showing how I try different backgrounds in photoshop.
- How do you make a living as an artist? Watch this video
- How much should I charge for my artwork? Watch this video
- Do you have any tips on drawing or painting a (insert your subject here). Yes. Practice. Then practice some more. When you’re done with that, practice even more. If your drawing skills are slow to improve, try tracing your subject a few times, then go back to freehanding. This will force your brain to see things more accurately.
- How do you photograph your artwork? Watch this video
Colored Pencil F A Q
Colored Pencil FAQ
- What are you using to blend your colored pencils/ what is on that paintbrush/ is it water? I blend with Mona Lisa Odorless Paint thinner. Water will not blend an oil or wax based pencil. Watch the video here.
- My colored pencils aren’t blending like yours. What am I doing wrong? The most common issue I see is in not applying enough colored pencil to the paper. Apply several layers with a light hand (if you push hard you will flatten the tooth of the paper preventing many layers). I usually apply 4 or 5 layers, blend with the paint thinner, then apply 4 or 5 more layers, blend with the paint thinner, rinse/repeat until I have the color saturation and smoothness where I want it. This is not a fast process. I work in small circles to get as much coverage as possible on each layer.
- How can I get my white to show up like yours? Colored pencils do not work like paint. The colors are all semi-translucent. Some more than others. My Luminance white pencil is the most opaque that I use, but even then I make sure to leave the white of the paper showing through where I need areas to stay truly white. I usually lay my white Luminance down in areas I want to stay white (like the shine in the eye) to protect the paper from getting dark color where I don’t want it.
- How do I lighten an area that accidentally got too dark? My usual method is to erase what I can with the Faber-Castell Ink eraser, I then apply my white Luminance to lighten the area as much as I can. It will never be totally white again, but you should be able to lighten it enough.
- What brand of colored pencil should I buy? I can’t answer this completely for you. It depends on the techniques you use. My two favorite pencils right now are Caran d’Ache Luminance and Faber-Castell Polychromos. Watch my video comparing the two here.
- I heard Prismacolor is the best. The prismacolors made today are not what they were 15 years ago. Even if you don’t mind pencils breaking every time you look at them wrong, about 1/3 of Prismacolors are not lightfast (which means they will fade). Watch my video comparing Prismacolor to Polychromos here. Or my video comparing Prismacolor to Luminance here.
- Can I mix oil and wax based colored pencils? Yes.
- What kind of paper should I use? I use two types of paper. Fabriano Artistico Extra White Hot Pressed 140lb watercolor paper, and Stonehenge (the individual sheets, not the one sold in a pad).
- What should I seal my work with? For Polychromos or Luminance, I don’t use anything. Framing them behind glass protects them. Prismacolor makes their own fixative which will help prevent wax bloom. There are other brands of fixative but not all fixatives play nicely with all types of colored pencil, so make sure to test it on a sample before spraying your finished artwork.
- Can’t I just use hairspray to seal my work? Sure, if you want it to yellow and be ruined over time. Colored pencils are an expensive medium to work in, and they are extremely time-consuming. Please don’t cheap out by spraying hair products on your work.
- Isn’t the Odorless Mineral Spirit/Paint thinner toxic? Yes. Don’t drink it. Leave the lid on it when you’re not using it. Don’t sit there huffing it. Keep it away from your pets and children. I’m quite sensitive to toxic things and this has never bothered me as long as I follow the guidelines I listed. As an oil painter, this paint thinner is one of the least toxic materials I work with. You have to decide for yourself what you are or are not comfortable with.
- Can’t I just use baby oil to blend? This is a great way to mess up your paper and make it so that you can’t easily apply additional layers because oil doesn’t dry right. I strongly recommend against it if you’re trying to get the results I do with colored pencils.
- How are you blocking out your subject when you airbrush your backgrounds? With frisket and/or masking fluid. Watch this video
Acrylic Painting & Airbrushing F A Q
Airbrushing and Acrylic painting FAQ
- What airbrush and paint do you use? An Iwata Neo and a Tamya with either createx airbrush paint thinned with water to the consistency of milk. (Watch the video here). Lately, I’ve been using Holbein and Golden’s airbrush paints more since I don’t need to thin those down. I’ve been very happy with the results.
- What kind of acrylic paint and canvas do you use? Watch this video
- Why do you use Liquitex Basics instead of a more expensive paint? I don’t use Liquitex basics because of the relatively low cost, but because of the consistency and matte finish of the paint. Because of how I layer and use a white charcoal pencil or transfer paper to draw the subjects onto my paintings after several layers of background paint, the matte finish is important. The higher gloss of the Liquitex heavy bodied paints do not work well because the charcoal pencil and transfer paper do not stick to it as I need. I apply a gloss finish when I’m finished to give the colors a richer, more oil painting type look.
- My paint dries too fast. Do you use a retarder in your paints? No, never. The retarders and other mixing mediums change the consistency of the paints to something that makes me swear. I mist water with an airbrush over my canvas and wet paint on the canvas as I work which allows me to keep any area wet for as long as I need. Wach this video on blending wet into wet.
- What do you use to thin your paint? Water
- Will thinning acrylic paint cause paint flake off the canvas? The more water you add to your paint, the more transparent it will become, and the less adhesive it will be. That said, as long as you’re using a quality paint and canvas, once your painting is dry and you add a varnish to it, your paint is not going to flake or come off of the canvas. Watch this video on glazing for more info.
- How do you get rid of the pencil lines? I don’t use a regular graphite pencil on my acrylic paintings. Ever. Those lines will always show through a bit if you paint in thin layers as I do. I paint my backgrounds in, then use a white charcoal pencil or transfer paper to get my images drawn onto the canvas. If I want to draw something first in graphite straight onto the white canvas I use a water-soluble graphite so that my lines don’t stay and show through any areas of the paint.
Oil Painting F A Q
Oil Painting FAQ
- Why do my colors get muddy? This happens when you keep applying wet paint on top of more wet paint. If you let your layers dry in between, your colors won’t turn to mud. I use Liquin as my mixing medium, which allows each of my thinner layers to dry overnight.
- How do you clean your brushes? Watch this video
- What kind of paint and canvas do you use? Watch this video
- Why do you paint oil over acrylic? Watch this video
Submit Your Own QuestionHave a question not featured here? Submit your own!
Submit your own question for a video!
I love answering everyone’s art questions. I’m so flattered that so many of you take the time to email and message me. The problem I’m running into is time. A few things you should know:
- I have gotten to the point where I don’t have days off. At all. I’m starting to burn out.
- What may seem like a quick question normally takes me 5-15 min per email to answer. There are a LOT of emails every day.
- I don’t want to ignore anyone, I really am glad you took the time to message me, I just don’t have time to make videos AND answer messages.
Luckily I have a way to keep answering as many of your questions as possible while taking a bit of time back for myself. From now on, instead of answering messages, I’m going to accept questions to be featured in a video where your question might help other artists who have the same questions or art problems! This is win-win for everyone!!
If you have a question (this does not include critiques), ask using this form for a chance to be featured in one of my new Q & A videos!
If you would like your questions answered sooner, you can ask in our Facebook art group where there are tons of great artists to help you out 😀