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).

Fur Your Viewing Displeasure

2016 marks 100 years of Dadaism. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the term (like myself) Dadaism, or Dada, is a genre of art that challenges the established social norms of beauty and pleasantry.

Dada is essentially the ‘anti-art’ art movement. It incorporates much creativity but to the audience can seem nonsensical, nontraditional and easily creates discussion.

One of the most powerful pieces during the beginning of Dadaism was by Meret Oppenheim, called Object, in 1936 (pictured below).

“Object” by Meret Oppenheim, 1936

The inspiration for this work began as a joking remark at a lunch with Oppenheim and Picasso. Oppenheim wore a bracelet covered in fur (she had designed) and Picasso claimed that one could cover anything with fur, even the tea cup she had in front of her.

Oppenheim clearly ran with the idea, wrapping a tea cup, saucer and spoon in fur. This piece created much discussion and mixed reactions but the Museum of Modern Art bought it, making it the first work of art by a woman in their collection.

Many of the reactions about Oppenheim’s “Object” are strong; viewers are either excited by the creative and unconventional nature or disgusted. Personally, I think it’s a fascinating piece and is the perfect example for explaining Dadaism. The unnatural pairing of texture and shape confuse the senses and it definitely creates a strong reaction.

Similar to some opinions, it grosses me out, mainly because I think of using the tea cup and spoon for their normal function and the addition of the fur makes it something out of a bad dream. This doesn’t make it an unsuccessful piece of art, though, in my opinion. I believe Oppenheim was successful in creating something that disrupted the natural flow of the art world. Rather than another sculpture or painting depicting aesthetically pleasing scenes, Oppenheim challenged those standards and helped expand the realm of what is considered art.

Overall, I think this piece is creepy and a little unsettling but the ultimate effect it has had on the art community is impressive and clearly memorable. I believe it encourages creativity in a more unconventional sense and serves as inspiration for many artists.

Rockwell Exhibit and Reception

Rockwell Kent wasn’t just an illustrator or printmaker as most of the world knows him for; during his life he had worked as an architectural draftsman, painter, lobsterman, ship’s carpenter, dairy farmer and illustrator and printmaker.

Kent also participated significantly in the political arena, supporting radical causes, resulting in fluctuations of his popularity in the 1940’s and 50’s. Nevertheless, Kent has been influential in the art community with his symbolic and meaningful illustrations.

Purdue Galleries will be showing an exhibition based on this famous artists work “Generator of Jobs” (pictured below). The exhibit is titled “On or About: Rockwell Kent” and will be showing from March 8 through April 23rd.

“Generator of Jobs” by Rockwell Kent, 1946

Pieces in the exhibition will be by students from Purdue as well as the Dayton Art Institute and members of the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette. Each artist has taken inspiration from Kent’s piece and created something new based on their own contemporary perspective.

In addition to the exhibition (which is free to the public), there will also be a reception for the artists and anyone who would like to stop by (again, free to all). This event will be March 25th from 6-7pm at Fountain Art Gallery in downtown Lafayette.

I haven’t been to this art gallery (for directions check below), but this seems like a great opportunity to see some interesting perspectives and elaborations on Kent’s piece. Maybe you’ll see me there!

To better summarize the information for this exhibition and reception:


  • “On or About: Rockwell Kent” Art Exhibition
  • Reception for “On or About: Rockwell Kent”


  • Exhibit dates: March 8 – April 23
  • Reception: March 25


  • Gallery Hours: 12pm-7pm, Tuesday-Saturday
  • Reception: 6pm-7pm


  • Fountain Art Gallery, 330 Main St. West Lafayette, IN (Both events)



Acrylic Paint

Painting has been a central form of fine arts since the beginning of time. If this sounds a little extreme, let me explain. Before we even began calling art “art” cavemen were finger-painting on walls using crushed up pigment, though that’s not what they called it. They probably had some kind of guttural sound they made to refer to it, but that’s another post.

This extremely basic example is actually very similar to what we paint with today. A very, very basic example, but acrylic and other paints are pigment mixed with a binder – something that essentially makes it spreadable.

Surprisingly, acrylic paint has only been in use since the 1940’s. Since then, though, we have learned many of it’s characteristics and uses. Some of acrylic paints main attributes are listed below.

  1. Water SolubleTo remove acrylic paint you only need to apply water and the paint will thin out or even wipe off a canvas in some instances. This feature can make it resemble watercolors and also make clean up a lot simpler. Oils, on the other hand, require a thinner to clean or remove paint.
  2. Fast Drying. Depending on how quickly you paint, this can be a pro or a con. On the bright side, it doesn’t take as long as oils to harden and subsequently be hung up or sold. Unfortunately, though, this means that if you leave paint on your palette for too long then you’ve missed your window. Luckily, there are retardants that can slow it’s drying time so you can work at your own pace.
  3. Mixing Mediums. Acrylics can be mixed with many different mediums, such as pen and ink, charcoal or pastels, thanks to its other listed traits. Oil and acrylic can also be used on conjunction, but never mixed together. Due to their consistencies and drying times, oils can be applied on top of dried acrylic paint if you’re looking to layer the two.

For more information on acrylic paints or to learn different painting techniques, check out these Pinterest boards: