How to Blend Oil Pastels or Markers in a Zen Doodle Drawing

Here at ArtistsNetwork, we’ve been sharing Zen doodle techniques and tangled art, including how to draw tangles and doodling ideas. If you’re new to the style, let me explain: Zentangle® is a way of drawing geometrical or organic patterns that weave throughout each other. In its most authentic practice, artists try to reach a Zen-like meditative state while drawing, which is what makes Zentangle stand out from other forms of art.

While some artists prefer to keep their doodle art in its purest form of black-and-white drawings, others like to spice it up with color. That’s where Tiffany Lovering comes in. Below, you’ll find her advice for using oil pastels or markers–yes, markers!–to blend color for new effects.

Oil pastel Zendoodles by Tiffany Lovering |

Zen Doodle art (oil pastel) by Tiffany Lovering (Pin this!)

How to Add Color to Zen Doodles

by Tiffany Lovering

Oil Pastel Tips: To color with oil pastels, choose two different shades of the same color. Take the darker shade and make a mark of color. Next take the lighter shade and make a mark near the darker color. Take a blending stump and move it in a circular motion to blend the colors together over the entire area. Your hands will quickly get dirty with pastel residue when you blend. Keep some baby wipes nearby to wipe your hands when you switch colors. Avoid using your hand to wipe away residue because this will smear the color. Instead, shake the paper over a garbage can, and the residue should come off.

How to blend markers |

“This process of blending Sharpies can be somewhat time-consuming,” Tiffany advises, “so it’s recommended for small areas. This method is great for accenting focal patterns.”

Marker Techniques: To blend Sharpie markers, use new or almost new markers because these have the most ink. Choose two shades of the same color. Draw a line of the darker color. While the ink is still wet, take the lighter shade and, using a circular motion, color over the darker color and right next to the darker color. This will allow the marker to pick up the darker color and blend beyond that line with the lighter shade. Next, still using the lighter color and a circular motion, blend to the outer edge without touching the darker color. This will create a three-color blended effect. ~Tiffany

Get your Zen Doodle Unleashed: Love to Color collection today and learn how to draw patterns, add color to doodle art, and also blend color with watercolor and colored pencils. You’ll discover basic patterns as well as take on advanced tangles, all at your own pace. Tiffany’s coloring book for adults, Love to Color: Petals, Patterns and Doodles Coloring Pages is part of this exclusive collection. Cool bonus: this kit even comes with a set of Chameleon tone-changing markers. They make it even easier to blend colors into beautiful gradients that will give your drawings dimension.

Have fun,
Cherie Haas, online editor
**Subscribe to the Artists Network newsletter for inspiration, instruction, and ideas, and score a free download on How to Zentangle®, Step-by-Step.

The Zentangle® Method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Zentangle® is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc.

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Creating Digital Art: From Inception to Conception

In the November issue of The Artist’s Magazine, Michael Woodson writes about two concept artists doing great things in their field of digital art: Gilles Beloeil and Lauren Airriess. Enjoy the excerpt below, where Beloeil details how he accomplished his digital painting, Le retour.

Beloeil focuses on the design of the environment and then incorporates his subjects (or “characters”) into the world in ways that make them feel integral.

From Inception to Conception

by Gilles Beloeil

Gilles Beloeil walks us through his process for concept art, beginning with a preliminary sketch that combines traditional media with digital media.

I. Drawing: I began with a drawing on my Wacom tablet with a thin Photoshop brush, my focus mainly on composition, perspective and organizing all the elements. I inverted the drawing (white on black) to use as a reference point throughout the entire process.

Step 1 for Digital Art

2. Blocking: Using the lines of the drawing as a reference on a separate layer, I began a block-in. A layer is like a transparent paper you put on your image, but digital. I “paint” in Photoshop very fast and constantly make different artistic decisions to see what looks best. I picked colors from different references, photos or paintings; I changed the values, the hue, the saturation, etc.

Step 2 for Digital Art

3. Details: I refined everything before starting the more time-consuming stage: the details. I more precisely created every shape using the lasso tool and big brushes in Photoshop. I know where the piece is headed, and I’m satisfied, but not yet excited. What if it were moodier?

Step 3 for Digital Art

4. Values: Here I changed the entire value relationship of my painting, making everything except the sky and the path darker. I digitally pasted a photograph of the sky for a more dramatic effect.

Step 4 for Digital Art

5. Environment: I focused on the background and gave bright colors to the cloaked figure (the king). I painted over my photo of the sky to make it more dramatic. The movement of the clouds helps guide the viewer’s eye to the main figure. I reworked the silhouetting of the background, playing with the fog with an airbrush or a cloud brush, and perfected the opacity of the layer. The castle now has more character, thanks to the fog mass at the bottom, which also helps separate the king’s head from the background.

Step 5 for Digital Art

6. Redesign: I realized the foreground figure wasn’t interesting enough and changed him. A soldier is more convincing and gives more insight into the era—it makes sense that a king would be escorted by his army. With digital art this is easy, because I can paint endlessly on the same image without adding thickness. I changed the silhouette of the castle too, trying to represent a variety of shapes.

Step 6 for Digital Art

7. Adjustments: At this point I found the color palette too cool, so I added more yellows and reds with adjustment layers. I readjusted the drawing of the top of the tower on the right, curving it a bit more. I also changed the value of the sea and castle, making them brighter and darker, respectively, using adjustment layers. I highlighted the sea behind the castle to increase depth and to define the overall castle shape.

Step 7 for Digital Art

8. Finishing Touches: I added more fog at the bottom of the castle and changed the shape to add more variety. I painted textures on the rocks to the right with textured brushes and made sure that the scale of all the rocks diminished with the distance. I added the figure on the top right and some birds. Lastly, I chose to motion blur the foreground figure with a special filter in Photoshop so he wouldn’t compete with the main figure.

Step 8 for Digital Art
above: Le retour (digital media) by Gilles Beloeil

See his website,, for more of his work. Pick up a copy of the November issue of The Artist’s Magazine for the full article on Beloeil and lots of instruction!

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Jamie’s Critique Corner: Nature’s Ballerina

I had the pleasure of speaking on the phone with Teresa Johnson who, like many of us, is balancing work, life and creating art. She’s primarily an oil painter looking to improve her painting skills in order to expand her art career.

Art critiques at | Oil painting by Teresa Johnson

Art Critique: Focus on the Details to Convey the Big Picture

Though we reviewed several of her paintings, this critique focuses on Nature’s Ballerina (above; oil on canvas, 20×24). Teresa wanted to capture the grace and movement of the central tree’s branches that appeared to her to be the arms of a ballerina in motion. During our discussion, we concentrated on overarching strategies to add impact to her work.

The painting evokes a solid sense of depth—the values decrease and the colors become less intense as they recede into the background. This is a common approach to landscape painting and creates a realistic effect. We talked about the importance, however, of not losing detail in the process.

  1. Here are the suggestions I gave Teresa:
    1. Adding minor details throughout the scene will make each element unique. Adding detail not only creates a more believable scene, but also creates interest in the painting. Details hold our attention and make us want to look longer. For example, the tops of the mountains would be more impactful if the edges had more variety. Additional details on the mountainsides would add subtle variations and move our eye through the composition.
    2. Varying brushstrokes will help to define the terrain, and show how light reflects differently in different areas. Note the cluster of shrubs and trees that surround the central tree (the ‘ballerina’) in the upper-right quadrant. A lot of attention and detail is given to the focal tree, but the surrounding area is not given the same level of attention and doesn’t reflect the same highlights and shadows as on the central tree. Because they are on the same plane, the light should be creating similar highlights and shadows.
    3. Adding sharper edges throughout the painting, in appropriate places, like the trees in the middle ground, will create more variation and detail, which translate to the viewer spending more time processing what he/she sees.
    4. Increasing the range of values and colors will bring detail to the work. The painting has a solid range of values, but could contain more. Identifying the key shapes and values, and then creating subtle value (or color) shifts within those shapes will add more detail to the painting, which in turn will create more interest.
    5. Developing a unique color palette can help give the artist a signature style, as well as give the painting a more dramatic and expressive feel.

You can see more of Teresa’s work on her website at Scroll down to see how you can have your artwork considered for an upcoming art critique.

Jamie Markle mixed media artist

Jamie Markle

As group publisher of F+W Media’s fine art community, Jamie Markle oversees the development of fine art magazines, books, videos and websites.

Want to receive a FREE art critique?

Send a link to your website or 6-8 lo-res images to with the subject line “Jamie’s Critique Corner.” If your work is chosen, we’ll be in touch (please do not send follow-up emails). Chosen artists will receive a thank-you gift.

For a more in-depth art critique that includes an overall evaluation of your artwork’s strengths and weaknesses and clear suggestions on how to move forward with your art, visit Artists Network University, where we have more artists on hand to critique your work.

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Deadline Extended to 10/30 in 2015 Shades of Gray Competition


Attention artists! The deadline in Drawing magazine’s 2015 Shades of Gray drawing competition has been extended to October 30, so you have a few more weeks to send in your best drawings.

Winning works will appear in Drawing magazine, and the top winners receive cash prizes up to $1,000. Artists at all levels are encouraged to participate–past winners have ranged from professionals to undergraduate students.

Click here for full details and to enter the competition. Best of luck!


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A Time for Change | Announcement and Art Workshops

Where does the time go? I’m about to finish up my last drawing seminar of the year here in Kansas City, and it’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone. It seems like just yesterday that I was putting my 2015 art workshop schedule together on my calendar! And now it’s nearly over!

It was a very interesting year for me, full of ups and downs. Life is always a roller coaster, but this year seemed to come on a little bit stronger than usual. I’ve been faced with some huge life changing decisions, all of which came at the same time. While it’s hard to let go of the things that are so familiar, I’m looking forward to the new adventures that wait ahead of me. Lee Hammond Art Workshops |

I want to thank everyone for the support and encouragement so many of you have given me. My mother has been very ill this year, and I’m afraid we will be saying good-bye soon. Never has anything been so difficult and heartbreaking. I’m sure many of you who are my age have experienced the same thing, and know what I’m going through. It will be hard to not be someone’s “little girl” anymore. I lost my dad back in 1991.

With this event, I will also be losing my childhood home. We moved there when I was only four years old, and I still sleep in my old room and bed when I visit. So many memories … to have that no longer as my safe haven is almost a concept too large for me to accept.

Friends of the Florida Panther, art by Lee Hammond |

Pastel painting for Friends of the Florida Panther Group

Along with that, I’ve made the decision to sell my home in Kansas City and relocate to Florida. Wintering there for a number of years has made me aware that I’m much more creative and inspired in Florida. I’ve had a lot of opportunities come my way, with the appointment as Artist in Residence at the Rookery Bay Research Reserve, the Friends of the Florida Panther Group and the Naples Zoo. I also hope to be working with the local police departments of southwest Florida when I settle, offering my services for forensic and composite work. As you can see, this is a relocation, but hardly a retirement situation!

I totally underestimated the emotional response however, to having so much loss and change all at once. It’s gut wrenching to say the least. I realize that it’ll be like pulling off a bandage once I do it, and that the healing will be swift. But the anticipation and reality of it all is very traumatic. Thank God I have my art to hide in and wrap myself around, for it is the one thing in life that makes me feel complete and at peace.

Change is hard, as well as exciting. It’s a good thing I’m also writing a motivational book now, for I have to read my own material everyday to keep the positive principles hard at work for me. One of the methods I stress in this book is about keeping a “doodle notebook” full of positive, happy drawings and symbols. The good news is REACH! (my book) will be finished and released in the fall of 2016, so if you’re experiencing any difficult times as well, you can use my methods for maintaining your sanity! (Not to mention being creative!)

And so, as I wind down my last summer of teaching art workshops here in Kansas City, I look forward to my new winter classes at Rookery Bay. Below is a list of all the classes being offered in 2016. I hope that some of you will want to ditch the cold weather and come be creative with me! I can show you all the cool scenery and wildlife that I love so much! And yes, that includes alligators, which I’ve become somewhat obsessed with.

Again, I want to thank all of you for your loving support as I transition through this turbulent phase of my life. Your friendship and kindness means the world to me, and I could not be more grateful!
Artistically yours,

2016 Rookery Bay Art Workshops and Classes

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Join me at Rookery Bay in 2016 for a variety of art workshops.

January 25-29: Portraits in Graphite
February 8-12: Portraits in Colored Pencil
February 22-26: Colored Pencil Drawing
March 7-11: Colored Pencil Flowers
March 21-25: Landscape Acrylic painting
April 4-8: Acrylic Painting
April 18-22: Animal Drawing in Graphite and Colored Pencil

February 20: Cork and Canvas
March 26: Cork and Canvas
(These are a fun evening class of a quick painting and a bottle of wine!)

Note: I will be returning to Kansas City in May 2016 to sell my home. I will be offering my regular class schedule in the studio until the house sells. We will just take it from month to month. No summer five-day seminars will be offered.)

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Practicing Intuition | 9 Underpainting Exercises

Editor’s Note: North Light Shop has recently released the Pastel Painting Journey: Alla Prima with Richard McKinley kit. Included in this kit are three new DVD workshops teaching you how to paint alla prima, pastel impasto techniques, and composition and design all for landscape painting. Plus, you’ll get a travel sketch box and palette, pastel paper and environmentally friendly soap.

Practicing Intuition | 9 Underpainting Exercises

Whenever I’m demonstrating an underpainting technique, someone—at some point—will ask: Why did you put that color/value in that area? It’s a tough question to answer since so much of what I’m doing is responding to the current painting situation with an anticipation of what will be done with the over-layers of pastel to come.

Laying the Foundation: Underpainting for a pastel painting serves as the setup for the pastel. It can be as utilitarian or as creative as the artist desires. Whether done with pastel (spread with water, rubbing alcohol, mineral spirits or dry-rubbed) or with watercolor, gouache, liquid pure pigments or thinned oil paint, the underpainting is not meant to be a finished painting but the foundation for a painting. Deciding what value, color, tone and shape for the foundation can be a confusing proposition; there are so many possibilities. It’s good to experiment to gain insight into how each affects the pastel over-layer. Most pastelists who employ an underpainting technique have spent years testing various undertones and methods of application, and have as a result developed good intuitions. They don’t over analyze what to do; they just do it.

When I tell students that it has taken well over 40 years of experimentation to make the choices I do when underpainting, the frequent response is: Since I don’t have that many years left, is there a way to expedite the process? My solution has been to devise a series of underpainting exercises.

Underpainting Exercises: Start by selecting a successful painting that you have previously done. Make sure it has strong contrast of shape, value and color. It’s imperative that you select just one painting to copy and that it’s a subject you feel you have successfully painted; the point of the exercise is not to tackle new subject matter. Choose a single pastel surface and use it for all of your studies. If you work on more than one surface, complete the entire series of exercises on each of the different surfaces. Various surfaces have different personalities that affect the underpainting. I’ve listed nine small painting exercises. Keep them small enough to do quickly, but not so small that you don’t have enough room to respond well with pastel (I recommend 8×10 or 9×12 inches). Feel free to use the medium of your choice to create the various surface tones. This exercise is less about the technique of application and all about the response of pastel to an undertone.

  1. Work directly on a WHITE surface, or the lightest version of a surface available.
  2. Work on a BLACK surface (a lighter surface can be stained with diluted India ink).
  3. Work on a mid-value WARM TONE surface (similar to Burnt Sienna).
  4. Work on a mid-value COOL TONE surface (similar to Payne’s Gray).
  5. Do a monochromatic VALUE underpainting representing no more than three value masses (dull tones like Payne’s Gray or Burnt Umber work well).
  6. Do a value underpainting using both WARM and COOL TONES (burnt sienna and ultramarine blue work well). These can be intermixed to create a variety of tones.
  7. Do a value underpainting using local color associated with the subject matter. Use as many colors and mixtures as desired.
  8. Do a value underpainting using complementary colors of the subject matter. Select opposite colors on a color wheel to represent local color.
  9. Finally, do an intuitive underpainting, selecting whatever color, value, or mixture you wish. Let go and have fun!

This is what the underpainting stage looked like for my painting “Homage to Inness” (12×16), below.



“Homage to Inness” (pastel, 12×16) by Richard McKinley


After applying pastel and completing these exercises, you will have internalized a lot of information about what it takes to react to a specific undertone. Don’t make the exercises too precious. They do not have to be finished paintings worthy of framing. Remember, the exercises are meant to be a tool to expedite underpainting intuition. An accomplished pianist just thinks of the music, not pressing the keys.

Learn more with the Pastel Painting Journey: Alla Prima Kit with Richard McKinley, ONLY available at North Light Shop. Available while supplies last!

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Tips for Hanging Your Artwork Professionally | Art Business

Editor’s Note: Get your copy of Lori McNee’s new book Fine Art Tips: Painting Techniques and Professional Advice today at North Light Shop!

Hanging and displaying art and photographs baffles many, but there’s a simple art gallery industry formula that you can learn to help you professionally hang your artwork. Whether you’re preparing for a show in a coffee shop, your studio or hanging art in your home, these simple guidelines will help you showcase your art in a professional way. Art gallery business with Lori McNee |

Tools you will need to Hang Your Art:

  • Hammer
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Measuring tape
  • Wall hooks

Helpful Tips:

  • Always use brackets or picture hooks – don’t just hammer nails into the wall.
  • Make sure to follow the weight recommendation on the hardware package and use hardware that will support your artwork.
  • Check the hardware to make sure it’s firmly secured with screws to the back of the frame/artwork
  • If the artwork is heavy, use two D-ring hangers – one on each side of the painting to hang the art
  • When hanging a frame from a wire, use two hooks in the wall for added stability.

Installation Instructions:

  • Find and mark the center point, from left to right, of the space in which you’re displaying your art.
  • If using D-ring hangers without a wire, measure the art from top to bottom and mark the center of the piece under one of the hangers.
How to display art, with Lori McNee |
  • If using D-ring hangers measure from the center mark to the top of the picture hanger and add 60” to that measurement for a standard height. This will put the center of your art at eye level.
Tips for displaying art, with Lori McNee |
  • If using a wire, measure from the center mark to the top of the tightened wire and add 60” to that measurement for a standard height.This will put the center of your art at eye level.
  • Measure and mark that distance up from the floor near your center mark on the wall. Align the marks with a level. This will be your center height mark.
  • Measure the distance between the centers of the picture hangers on the back of the art. Divide that measurement in half. Using this measurement, hold that number on your tape to the center height mark on the wall and mark the distance between the hangers. For example: Let’s say your hangers are 20” apart, set the 10” mark in the center height mark. Mark the wall at the end of your tape measure and at the 20” mark.
  • Use the level to align these marks with the center height mark.
  • Position the bottom of the wall hooks on your marks and hammer in place.
  • If hanging from a wire, makes sure the wire on the back of the artwork is tight enough to hide the hanger when the artwork is hanging on the wall.
  • Lift the art onto the wall hooks. Use the level to check that the art is level.

Art Gallery Business: Key Points for Hanging Art

  • Artwork should be hung so that the center point of the painting is at about eye level for the ‘average’ height person.
  • Of course there are exceptions and breaking the rules in art can be allowed – but, only once you know the ‘rules’ of course.
  • Make sure your artwork is ready to hang with appropriate wire for the weight of your artwork or with D-rings for heavier works.

Once you learn where the appealing eye level is, you can then hang your art without all the above measuring. These art business guidelines will help insure a professional look whether in your home or for an art show.

Feel free to join in the fun at Fine Art Tips Facebook Fan Page, I also hope we can meet on Pinterest,  Twitterand on Google Plus! ~Lori

Check out these great books to learn more helpful tips on becoming a professional artist.

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