Creative Color Combinations

Mixing paint colors can be tedious. Especially if you’re a student and the teacher says we’re not using black to create darker colors or shadows in paintings.

I’ve started to learn about the color wheel and color combinations very quickly.

I’m currently painting a close up of an angel from Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Baptism of Christ (below, far left of frame) for that class. You can see my progess in the video at the end of this post, but here’s a visual so you know what I’m up against. 

The Baptism of Christ Leonardo Da Vinci

[Sidenote: I’ve also learned in my Art History course that the only appropriate short cut for saying Leonardo Da Vinci’s name in the art world is Leonardo or Leo; never say Da Vinci in reference to him, she says. Da Vinci refers to the village or area that he’s from, therefore, there were many “Da Vinci’s” so that part of his name is essentially irrelevant. Even though he seems to be the only world-renowned Da Vinci, so I think it can still work for the masses when referring to Leo.]

Just like Leonardo, painters need to mix colors besides black and white into other pigments in order to get the most realistic and varied color palette. While I’ve been trying to match his on a small scale, I’ve picked up some things about mixing colors that I’d like to share.


Complementary colors are directly across from each other on the color wheel, for example, green and red or orange and blue. Mixing these colors results in a darker, neutral color. (AKA the way artists create shadows without adding black)

Primary colors everyone should know: red, yellow and blue. The mixture of these three, though, creates a neutral that with the addition of white can create a strong base for skin tones.

In the video below, I create a neutral, mixing the primary colors and white, and by adding more red, create a nice (in my opinion) baseline for the lips of the angel (near Hinder reference for music fans).

The physical action of mixing these and other colors is important, also, because you don’t want streaks of red or yellow coming out of your brush onto the canvas. Combining colors thoroughly with a palette knife (like I use in the video) can significantly help create an even color in the end. Continually piling up the paint and flattening it out helps accomplish this as the colors blend into each other.

I’ve named the video “Happy Painting” after Bob Ross’s many reference to “Happy clouds, happy clouds” and the like, and also for the general sentiment it expresses. Happy Painting!

Hopefully this has encouraged you to start/continue painting and experiment with your color palette!

The Millennial Age of Art

Millennials, Generation Y, no matter what you call them, they’re changing the world. For better or worse and in nearly every way possible. Especially the art scene.

Millennials make up the largest portion of the U.S. population as of 2014, so it’s rather clear that current art opinions and tastes are changing as a result of this new generation. In order for artists and curators alike to attract this wider, younger audience, they have transformed their methods and collections.

Research shows that Millennials differ from their predecessors, the Baby Boomers, in their collecting of art and reasoning behind it. Millennials live in a world full of technology so it’s logical to assume that the way they are getting and collecting art is also transitioning online. Similarly, the way of thinking Millennials are accustom to differs from Boomers in that Millennials are not concerned as much with the background or type of art they collect. They like what they like, regardless of the name in the corner or the prestige behind it.

I interviewed a fellow student, Callie Salske, about her tastes in art in order to get another Millennials opinion first-hand. Salske admitted to feeling overwhelmed sometimes when it came to certain art pieces, because she says, “Sometimes people get appreciation from things I don’t get at all.” She explained that on a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago she saw a work in the contemporary section that was essentially a pile of candy wrappers (below). Salske said that in her opinion, “painting is more art.” She doesn’t see art as something that she could’ve thrown together herself.

While not all Millennials (or Boomers) might agree, this shows the diversity of opinion and taste that is the current generation. Many Millennials, similar to Salske, though, wouldn’t want to spend money on art that doesn’t inspire or attract them somehow. Regardless of whatever powerful meaning or execution was behind the candy wrapper pile, this generation will tend to base their opinion about it based on their initial reactions.

Salske went on to say that the “sunburst is neat” near Discovery Park, not necessarily a strong opinion, but she outlines her taste in the bright colors and the eye catching size and final result.

Oh The Places They’ll Go

Theodor Seuss Geisel, or as he’s more commonly known, Dr. Seuss, was a talented author, illustrator and animator. In that respect you could say he wore many hats. You could also say he literally wore many hats because, well, he literally wore many different kinds of hats (below).

Seuss had an entire closet, hidden behind a bookcase in his house, dedicated to his collection of around 500 hats. As you can see from the pictures above, many of the hats were elaborately decorated and each has their own stories to tell. In order to bring those stories to life he would even have his house guests don one and ask that they embody the character for the evening. The different conversations and interactions that were then created would serve as inspiration for his books and the characters in them.

He would also wear the hats himself when he was facing artist’s block or in a creative drought. I don’t imagine it would be quite as entertaining as the improvisation that results from the above scenarios, but it was clearly still effective.

Many characters in Dr. Seuss’s books wore hats (Cat in the Hat, Grinch, etc.) that either directly or indirectly played into the plot of his works. The obvious influence in his stories aren’t the only effect his hat collection has had. Parts of his collection have even been part of a touring exhibition to celebrate him.

I hope this look at Seuss’s inspirational experiments was enlightening and encourages you to create in the most creative way you know how!

Short and Tweet

Twitter has around 320 Million active monthly users (as of 2015) and while this pales in comparison to the 1.3 Billion Facebook (the #1 social media site) has, it still contests to the large, growing audience Twitter is attracting.

In a short 140 character tweet, you can express anything from what you ate that day (not recommended) to your political and social views. Many prominent figures and organizations in society have taken to twitter to advertise their work, share opinions and gain followers.

Twitter offers artists a unique advantage over other social media. The ability to post pictures, videos, gifs and links, with a short description allows artists to display their work and ideas in a more attractive and user friendly way.

In my opinion, Twitter has a better balance of text and imagery than similar social media, like Instagram. I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to read the description on Instagram posts unless the picture is really intriguing. From my experience on Twitter, though, the description on a tweet tends to attract my eye regardless of the media and while I might not read it very thoroughly, it definitely captures my attention quicker.

Some Twitter users, like @thefoxisblack, promote other artists (below) as well as their own work. The tweet below also has a link to the users Instagram, which allows for avid followers to check out the users other social media sites as well.

The short description allowed for tweets puts emphasis on the word choice and message that the artist wants to express. They’re almost like small advertisements for the actual content. Users have limited space to attract others’ attention and persuade them to retweet, like or follow a link and/or comment. The artist above uses humor (and emojis) to attract their followers’ attention.

How would you describe your art or creative process in 140 characters or less? Tell me here or tweet at me: @shenery14

Celebrity Collections

“Nothing’s better than art.”

While this is a relatively controversial statement (depending on how deep you want to get in your argument), Sylvester Stallone showed his clear appreciation for art when he said this.

Many other celebrities appreciate art in a similar manner, not necessarily in so many words but in their collections.


Beyonce and Jay Z have an impressive collection of contemporary art with work by Andy Warhol, David Hammons and Picasso. Jay Z claims that his appreciation for some of Hammons’ work is powerful because it reminds him of his childhood.


Elton John collects modern and contemporary pieces of fine art. His collection is so expansive, part of it was even exhibited at the Tate Modern in London. The private collections of many prominent celebrities such as Elton John’s were featured in this exhibit, a true testament to his valuable collection.

It’s interesting that many of the celebrities with sizable art collections are also musical artists. I think it shows the connectivity of the arts and specifically musical and visual arts. Check out other famous people with incredible art collections and go on creating!

Artsy Spring Break

Spring Break is this coming week (for Purdue students at least) so prepare yourselves for the onslaught of hashtags (#SB2k16, etc.) and beach pictures (usually with a keg or two in the background) if you haven’t been seeing them already.

Personally, I will be heading to Nashville for a few days and then going home for the rest of break (unfortunately no beaches or keggers to post about on my side). This also means that I will not be posting here during SB2k16 but I’ll leave you with some interesting art inspiration to tide you over until I return.

For those who aren’t into the fabled, drunken college spring break or would like to experience some great art on the occasion you’re sober, I’ve decided to spotlight some of the fine art museums in Chicago. Since it’s only a two hour drive from Lafayette and bustling with creativity (and people), it’s a great spot to consider for a spring break trip (did I mention there are bars?).


The Art Institute of Chicago (pictured above) is a popular choice of many visitors and it’s easy to see why, as it hosts the largest collection of Impressionist works. I’ve visited the Art Institute a few times (I live near Chicago) and I would highly recommend it to those who haven’t. There’s plenty of mixed media compositions that appeal to all audiences.


If you’re looking for an experience off the beaten track, though, Chicago is also home to the National Museum of Mexican Art, exhibiting the historical and creative traits of the city and the Mexican culture. I haven’t been to this museum myself but it seems like a great experience to learn more about art and the Mexican culture.


The artwork at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago has a more modernized style (see balloon animal sculpture above). I don’t personally like a lot of contemporary art so I won’t be likely to visit this museum any time soon, but if it’s your style this is definitely the place to go. The MCA has many collections  and different programs and exhibitions going on throughout the year.

I hope this summary of some big art museums in Chicago has inspired your next trip and appreciate all the art you come across along the way.

Women in Art

“This is so good you wouldn’t know it was done by a woman.”

It’s amazing to think this was said about a woman’s artwork only half a century ago (especially as a compliment). About Lee Krasner’s  work too, the wife of Jackson Pollock, both prominent abstract artists. Krasner is just one example of many women who have been belittled or underrepresented in the art world.

In acknowledgement of International Women’s day I thought I would explore the progress that female artists have made over the years and bring awareness to the inequality that continues today.

Women face significant disadvantages in the world, economically and socially, and have for hundreds of years. Specifically in art, women have generally been considered muses or inspiration, serving as subjects for male artists, rather than being recognized or judged fairly for any talent they possess.

For example, in 1723, Dutch painter Margareta Haverman was expelled from the Académie Royale when a painting she submitted was judged too good to have been done by a woman (example of her work previous to that below).

A Vase of Flowers by Margareta Haverman, 1716

The negative repercussions of female artists’ work have discouraged many women and explain why there are so few in the history books. In my Art History course, we haven’t gone over any female artists. I almost didn’t notice until now, but it’s true, halfway through the semester and not a single woman’s work yet. Nearly every piece has had a woman in it, so it’s obvious they were a part of the art community, but it’s clear women were not encouraged to create art themselves, or at least not celebrated for it.

Granted we’ve mostly been discussing the Renaissance, when dowries and hoop skirts were popular and women had extremely limited freedom and rights in general. Surprisingly, though, while we no longer need to trade livestock or money in exchange for our hand in marriage (usually), women artists are still significantly underrepresented in fine arts.

Similar to how International Women’s day brings attention to the inequalities suffered by women in today’s society, an organization called the Guerilla Girls  highlights these and others through art (see picture below).

Do Women Have To Be Naked To Get Into the Met. Museum? 1989 by Guerrilla Girls
Do Women Have To Be Naked To Get Into the Met. Museum? 1989 Guerrilla Girls

This group of female artists and art professionals has helped re-frame the question “Why haven’t there been more great women artists in Western history?” to instead ask “Why haven’t more women been considered great artists throughout Western history?”

I’ll leave you pondering that question, and I hope this post has inspired you to pay more attention to the female artists you come across and pause to give them their due recognition (or even a little more to account for lost times).