It’s Never Too Late to Become an Artist | Here’s Inspiration to Get Started

New Year, New Artist

Finding Inspiration to Become an Artist | Artists Network

If you’ve always wanted to be an artist, why not start off the new year by making this an achievable goal, or better yet, your New Year’s resolution? Whether you’re eight years old or 80, it’s never too late to start making art. Give in to your passion, find the right inspiration and dive right in.

Take artist Annie O’Brien Gonzales, for instance. She decided to become an artist after completing her education, raising children and having a “real job” while doing lots of arts and crafts on the side.

Ready to get started on your own artistic journey? Below is an expert from Gonzales’ book, The Joy of Acrylic Painting, on how to find inspiration. This book is geared toward those of us who just discovered our desire to make art, or who may have set our passions aside because of other life primacies. Enjoy!

Getting Started

Finding Artistic Inspiration | The Joy of Acrylic Painting | Annie O'Brien Gonzales | Artists Network

Breakfast by Annie O’Brien Gonzales

Twelve years ago I decided to pursue my dream and take the leap to finally become a full-time artist. Though I had many doubts, I decided it was now or never. I took painting classes, attended workshops, read lots of books on painting and painted almost every day.

After all, I have tried to remember what Georgia O’Keeffe said: “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life, and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.”

I have never looked back, and I kept going forward until I discovered my style and clarified my artistic goals. I have learned a lot about learning to paint — what works and what doesn’t — and I want to share what I have learned.

For many years I taught adults in professional fields, but it wasn’t until I started teaching painting that I ran into adults with so many doubts and insecurities about learning.

For most adults, going to art school is not an option, nor would it be the right option unless the goal is to teach art at the college level. Fortunately, there are so many opportunities to learn to paint. The trick is finding what works for you.

Finding Inspiration

Finding Artistic Inspiration | The Joy of Acrylic Painting | Annie O'Brien Gonzales | Artists Network

Alameda Garden by Annie O’Brien Gonzales

Inspiration is all around you. Start to notice what attracts you and record it as a reference for future paintings. The more you begin to notice the inspiration around you, the sharper you will get at recognizing it.

Open your awareness to your own history, talents, interests and fascinations that make you who you are. What activities bring you true joy — cooking, setting a beautiful table, dressing creatively, hiking, gardening, movies?

There must be many things, and these things tell you something about what inspires you and holds your interest. Make a point of stopping in museums and galleries when you are traveling. They are practically in every town, and you might be surprised by what a random visit triggers in you.

Some artists find inspiration externally and others internally. It’s a personal frame of reference. Think about the direction you consistently look toward for inspiration:

  • External Focus: You are inspired by what is around you — travel, people, nature, etc.
  • Internal Focus: You are inspired by your own heart and emotions.
  • Both: Georgia O’Keeffe, for example, painted what she felt but was inspired by natural beauty.

Check out popular design magazines (home design, gardening, cooking, crafting, etc.) that contain brilliant color schemes and composition ideas created by some of the most talented designers. Start to look at them with an artist’s eyes.

Take note of display windows, nature, clothing, antiques, music, people in cafes, the sky. … There is no limit. The more you exercise your creativity, the more it will grow and show up for your art.

Pinterest Power

It’s a good idea to collect your inspirations before they fly out of your mind. Three approaches I recommend include Pinterest, inspiration boards and what I refer to as Painting Notes, or art journaling.

For instance, if you haven’t already, join Pinterest so you can create separate boards for your art inspiration categories. If you are fascinated by birds, start a “Birds I Love” board, for example. Additionally, make Pinterest Boards for all your Artist Ancestors (artists who have inspired you).

If you prefer not to share your interests publicly, you can always make your boards private. You could also share your boards with a select group, so it’s possible to form your own critique group online. The possibilities are endless on this platform.

For ideas, check out my Pinterest Boards on the five Elements of Art. I have a board for each one: Line, Shape, Color, Value and Texture plus way too many other boards!

Make Your Own Inspiration Board

Inspiration Board | Finding Artistic Inspiration | The Joy of Acrylic Painting | Annie O'Brien Gonzales | Artists Network

If turning to an online platform, such as Pinterest, is not an option, or if you also want to work with something physically in addition to virtually, then create your own inspiration board.

As artists, we respond to and actually require visual stimulation. Inspiration boards are visual references of what excites us at the moment.

Create an inspiration board right away in your studio or painting area and pin on it anything that excites and delights you — color chips from the hardware store, swatches of fabric, photos, postcards, clippings from magazines and quotes that inspire you to keep creating. But be careful not to put your to-do list on your inspiration board or you may decide you never want to look at it.

Here is what you will need:

  • Cork bulletin board, largest size to fit your space
  • Inspiration — clippings, swatches, photos, quotes, etc.
  • Pushpins

After you have all your necessary materials, first you should hang your inspiration board in your studio or work area so you will see it every day.

Inspiration Board | Finding Artistic Inspiration | The Joy of Acrylic Painting | Annie O'Brien Gonzales | Artists Network  Inspiration Board | Finding Artistic Inspiration | The Joy of Acrylic Painting | Annie O'Brien Gonzales | Artists Network

Next, collect your inspirations and pin them on your inspiration board without thinking about editing. Stay in your expressive, creative brain rather than your analytical brain.

Inspirational Boosting Tips

Here are nine strategies to try in case inspiration just doesn’t want to strike.

+ Go to your studio or workspace anyway. Don’t talk yourself out of it. Show up, and see what happens.

+ Do busy work: Wash brushes, gesso canvases, organize collage paper and clean your studio space.

+ Grab an old painting and paint over it. Slap paint around in ways you’ve never done before, like you have nothing to lose — which you don’t!

+ Sit in your workspace and look through inspirational art books or magazines. Put tags on anything that intrigues you.

+ Take your sketchbook or art journal outside, sit and make lists: song titles, quotes you’ve overheard, flowers you love, favorite animals, etc.

+ Fill the pages of your journal with doodles or just shapes or lines.

+ Turn on your favorite music really loud in your studio. Put a large blank canvas up, dance and throw paint on it.

+ Pick one of your favorite Artist Ancestors’ paintings and copy it. It’s good practice and quite an acceptable way to learn. Just don’t sign it and show it as your own!

+ Try a technique you’ve never done before, like collage with junk mail, cutting up old drawings or paintings, origami from art magazines, etc. Just wing it!

Finding Artistic Inspiration | The Joy of Acrylic Painting | Annie O'Brien Gonzales | Artists Network

These Little Things by Annie O’Brien Gonzales

We hope Annie O’Brien Gonzales’ advice and tips help you discover the motivation you need to start making art. And, be sure to tell us in the comments below if you have any more tricks for finding your inner artistic spark.

Whether you’re a beginner artist or a pro, consider making a New Year’s resolution to work toward enhancing your artistry. Here’s to a successful 2018 filled with lots of art-making, artists!

The post It’s Never Too Late to Become an Artist | Here’s Inspiration to Get Started appeared first on Artist's Network.


Mighty, Miniature Paintings

We’ve all been in situations where we have to dig in and endure hardships and setbacks in order to continue doing what we love. We do it because humans are driven to create, to express, to do that one thing that we know in our hearts we were born to do. For many of us, creative expression is that thing. It certainly is for Joyce Washor, author of Think Big, Paint Small, a book dedicated to the art of miniature paintings.

Miniature paintings, how-to | Joyce Washor,

Painting small: “Self Portrait” (oil on board, 3.75×2.75) by Joyce Washor

Joyce didn’t start out working on tiny substrates, but a developing problem in her shoulder left her unable to lift her arm to paint as she had in the past. Of course, that didn’t stop her from making art. She simply began working with more manageable, even miniature, boards and canvases, and with positive results.

“Many of the painting principles that I learned throughout the years didn’t make sense to me until I started painting on a smaller scale,” Joyce says. “Working small gives me more time and energy to devote to each painting, from mixing the right colors to paying attention to the brushwork and composition … The small paintings have all the same attention to detail that my larger paintings had. I don’t need to choose different objects to paint, but how I paint them has changed. I need to be more decisive with color choices and concentrate on using brushstrokes to define space and forms concisely. This has made my paintings stronger.”

Curious to try painting small yourself? In the following excerpt, you’ll learn how to arrange a composition for a miniature painting. Discover the rest of Joyce’s tips and lessons when you get your copy of Think Big, Paint Small today.


Miniature paintings, how-to | Joyce Washor,

Featured: Still Life with Orange Vase (oil on board, 3×4) by Joyce Washor. Article contributions from Cherie Haas.

Scaling Down Your Compositions for Miniature Paintings

Miniature paintings, how-to | Joyce Washor,

On painting small: Create a Small Composition. You can use your hands or two L-shaped pieces of cardboard to help you see how much you can fit within a small format. Photo by Paul Saltzman

One of the hardest things to get used to when painting small is scaling down your composition to fit within a sight size of 2.5×3.5. Obviously, whatever reference you’re painting from is probably not that small, and it can seem like an overwhelming challenge to scale things down. When I was first struggling with this concept, I came across a postcard from a two-person show I was in that featured an image of my 11×14 painting at about 3×4. Seeing this visual was a great help to me–it was a realization that I don’t have to sacrifice anything to paint on a small scale.

While setting up your still life or contemplating a landscape, you can use your hands or two L-shaped pieces of cardboard (fits together to form a frame) to block in a composition at the size you want it. This way, you can see exactly how much you can comfortably fit within your format at the very beginning of the process.

If your resulting drawing is still too large for this smaller format, you can use a photocopy machine or computer to scale it down. If you usually paint at 16×20, try going from an 8×10 to a 5×7 and on down until you reach the small format that you’d like to paint.

After I spent a couple of months painting at the 2.5×2.5 format, it began to feel the same as an 11×14 or a 16×20. It’s a little hard to explain, but the paintings feel so large and complete to me it’s as if I can walk around in them.

Miniature paintings, how-to | Joyce Washor,

Shrinking Your References for Miniature Paintings

One of the best things you can do to render what you see as life-sized into a small format is to draw the composition as a single unit, not as individual items. Miniature paintings, how-to | Joyce Washor,

  1. Draw the Basic Outline

Start by blocking in the outermost edges of the objects—but as just one shape, not individual shapes.

  1. Fill in the Outline

Draw the edges of the shape made by the objects, and add the table top.

  1. Finish the Sketch

Now you can look at each object individually and add in each distinct shape.



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9 Gift Ideas for Bob Ross Fans

Bob Ross Gift Guide | The Joy of Painting | Artists Network

Photo by Acey Harper/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

I grew up watching Bob Ross teach the world how to paint. So now that this beloved artist is making such a well-deserved comeback, I couldn’t be more thrilled.

In case you, or your loved ones, love this iconic artist as much as we do, here’s a list of Bob Ross-inspired gift ideas perfect for the holiday season. Help your Bob-loving friends and family make happy little trees all year round. Enjoy!

Paint Like Bob Ross

Want your colors to look like Bob Ross’s palette? Well, you’re in luck! You can peruse through an assortment of Bob’s favorite pigments on You can even search for your next color combination by your preferred painting subject, whether its landscapes, wildlife or florals!


In addition to paints, you can find basecoats, gessoes and other mediums, as well as easels, frames, canvases, brushes, palettes and more. The Bob Ross enthusiasts in your life will love upgrading all of their art supplies to mimic those of their favorite artist!

You can get your shopping on here.

Coffee + Bob Ross = Happy Little Mornings!

The way Bob painted was magic. And now you can have a little bit of that magic each morning with this heat-changing coffee mug! This gift is perfect for Bob Ross fans who also love coffee (but really, who doesn’t?). Once you pour a hot cup of joe into the mug, watch as a lovely landscape emerges from the darkness.

What’s more? Bob’s famous quote is also written on the mug, so you can get inspired while you sip!

See the mug in action for yourself, below!

Find this happiness-inducing mug here. 

Play Games with Bob

Who doesn’t love a fun card game to pass the time? Throw in a Bob Ross theme, and it becomes nearly impossible to pass up. Made for two to four players, see who can paint like Bob the fastest! It’s a race to happy little trees and charming cabins, artists!

See how the game is played below, and get ready to compete here.

Discover the Joy of Growing … Chia Pets

Although they may not be little trees, Bob Ross Chia Pets are still sure to bring The Joy of Painting fanatics everywhere tons of delight! “Easy to do and fun to grow,” these plant-based gifts take only about one to two weeks to grow and can be enjoyed again and again by replanting with fresh Chia or herb seeds.

Get your Bob Ross Chia Pet here.

Cozy Up in a Charming Cabin … or Anywhere Else

Stay warm this winter wrapped in a happy little throw blanket featuring Bob Ross painting one of his masterpieces. Sold by ThinkGeek, the website encourages you to “cover yourself in happy little trees and remember the good times that you and Bob spent together.” Sounds like a great way to spend a cold, rainy or snowy night to me!

Bob Ross Gift Guide | The Joy of Painting | Artists Network

Bob Ross Happy Little Blanket from ThinkGeek

Cozy on up to this comfy gift here.

Take Happy Little Notes

From mini easels to tiny paintings and even mini versions of the artist himself, the Bob Ross addicts in your life will love The Bob Ross Joy of Painting Sticky Note Booklet to keep them in organized serenity!

A post shared by Noelle Rice (@noelle.rice) on


You can find the Bob booklet here.

Have a Pop of Fun with Bob Ross

Funko is releasing a Series 2 version of its Bob Ross Pop!s featuring some of the legendary artist’s furry friends: from raccoons to squirrels — and just in time for last-minute holiday shopping!

In addition to his animal companions, Funko is also releasing the mini artist dressed in overalls and equipped with a giant brush. These are all so adorably fun, you might just want to collect them all.

The good news is, if you can’t wait for Series 2, you can still get Funko’s just-as-cute Bob Ross with tiny palette.


Learn more about these miniature Bobs here.

Give the Key to Happiness

I am always impressed with the arts and crafts featured on Etsy, and the Bob Ross selections are no different. From key holders to holiday sweaters, you are bound to find tons of Bob Ross-inspired goodies.

Bob Ross Gift Guide | The Joy of Painting | Artists Network

Bob Ross Holiday Sweater sold by Turtlenecknchains on Etsy

For a great key holder, click here.

Gift a warm bundle of joy with this festive sweater here.

We hoped you enjoyed this gift roundup for the Bob Ross buffs in your life. Tell us your favorites or share your own in the comments below. Happy holidays, artists!


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