The Basics of Charcoal Drawing

Oct 02

If you have been drawing with pencils and pens for most of your life, you will find the dramatic strokes of charcoal a bit more challenging.

Here are some essential things you need to know about charcoal drawing before trying the new medium.

Basic Charcoal Drawing Materials

To practice drawing with charcoal, you will need the following materials:

  1. Charcoal
  2. White chalk
  3. Kneaded eraser
  4. Tortillon or blending stump
  5. Chamois
  6. Drawing paper
  7. Drawing pencils and sharpener
  8. Sanding block or sandpaper (for compressed charcoal)
  9. Fixative

Charcoal can be in any form; such as charcoal sticks or vines also known as carbonized wood, charcoal pencils or compressed, conte crayons or charcoal mixed with gum binder or wax or clay, charcoal powder or ground charcoal, and willow charcoal that came from burnt willow vine.

You can experiment with any of these materials to determine which can achieve the desired affects you have in mind. When you purchase a set of charcoal materials, some labels will have a hardness rating similar to graphite pencils, such as H, HB, and 2B. Some labels, however, vary among manufacturers, so be sure to try the product on a piece of paper before purchasing.

The chamois and tortillon are used for blending, while the white chalk can be used to create the lighter portions of the drawing. As for the drawing surface, use heavyweight paper that is at least 70 pounds so it can hold the charcoal.

Basic Charcoal Drawing Techniques

Before doing any sketches, you should try creating lines and shapes using the different types of charcoal you have purchased. That way, you will get a feel of how to properly hold each material and how hard you need to press to achieve the desired effect. The pencil, for example, should be held differently than the stick and vine charcoal.

Most of the drawing techniques you have learned with graphite pencils and pens can be used with charcoal, but you should master techniques for shading and hatching to make the most out of the dramatic and expressive lines of the medium.

When you have selected a subject, start by drawing lines to create an outline. Refine the lines and curves of the sketch until it resembles the subject matter. Then, using a chamois or blending stump, rub on some areas to create a contrast of darks and greys. To create highlights, use the kneaded eraser and gently wipe a small piece on some areas to lift the charcoal. After that, it’s time to create values by repeating the same steps until the drawing is finished.

Fixative for Charcoal Drawing

Charcoal drawings can smudge easily, that is why you will need a fixative to keep the material on paper. There are different types of fixatives in art shops in Singapore, so find the product that is non-yellowing, doesn’t have a strong odor, is quick-drying, and is designed for charcoal and pencil (some fixatives cannot be used on pastels).

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How to Care for and Clean Your Paint Brushes

Oct 02

Part of an aspiring artist’s responsibility is to keep all the art materials in good condition. Perhaps the most challenging of this is keeping your collection of paint brushes clean and organized. But what if you frequently use water-based and oil-based paints?

Here are some tips to keep your paint brushes serviceable.

Buy the Right Paint Brushes

It starts with buying the correct paint brushes for each medium. While you might be fond of certain shapes, hairs, and brands, not all paint brushes can be used for all of three popular media, such as watercolor, acrylic, and oil. Acrylic and oil paints can shorten the life of your paint brushes if you do not clean them properly.

For watercolor, most experienced artists choose brushes made from soft synthetic materials or squirrel hair and have the quality of springing back to their original shape and will hold a lot of paint and water. For acrylic, choose brushes that are stiff to create texture, but others also use synthetic brushes made for watercolor to create a smooth texture.

It should be stiffer than brushes for watercolor, but less thick than that used for oil. While for oil, pick synthetic brushes that are thick and dense. Synthetic bristles made from nylon are cheaper than most animal hair, so they are more practical. Lastly, use separate brushes for each type of paint to make cleaning easier.

Cleaning Your Paint Brushes

Cleaning the paint brushes also take into factor the type of paint you are using. Some manufacturers include cleaning instructions on the package, so make sure to follow those. Clean your brushes immediately after use and do not wait for the paint to dry on the bristles, because that will make it more difficult to remove. Do not use the same brush when switching from water-based to oil-based paint, as discussed above.

For both water-based and oil-based paints, do not soak the brushes in water or solvent, because that can weaken the bristles. To remove the oil, varnish, shellac, and lacquer from the brush, use only the correct cleaning solvent recommended by the manufacturer then dip the brushes in the solvent several times.

To remove latex paint, mix soap and warm water in a container then dip the brush repeatedly before rinsing in clean water and remove the excess moisture. In some cases, you might need a paint brush comb to remove residues (especially on a ferrule) and a paint brush spinner to remove excess water and solvent.

Storing Your Paint Brushes

Before storing your paint brushes, make sure that there are no paint or residues left, then let them dry on a clean towel. Once dry, store the brushes separately in a clean, dry container. Some artists advise to place the brushes horizontally, but you can place them in paint brush holders as long as the bristles do not get bent or damaged. If you need to transport them, buy a plastic tube or brush case.

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Things to Discuss with Your Partner If Your Relationship is Falling Apart

Sep 04

There will always be that time when you’ll question where your relationship is going. Sometimes it can feel like the relationship might end sooner or later. Other times you just know there are still ways to save it. Either way, you’ll have to discuss the situation with your partner one way or another.

Why or how you were hurt

Mostly, you’ll feel that the relationship is going downhill when your partner keeps hurting you be it physically or emotionally. Of course, you’ll have to lay it all out! In some cases, you’ll also have to say how your partner hurt you. This is because there are a lot of people who don’t know they’ve been making a lot of mistakes already. No matter how you put it, this is something important to discuss before the breakup, or if you’re looking to make your partner change.

The things you are willing to do

On the other hand, if your partner tells you about your mistakes, tell them about the changes you are willing to make. If you’re sure that you still want to stay with this person, you’ll have to discuss how you can fix your actions and how you can bounce back in your relationship. Listen to each other’s sentiments and adjust accordingly. Of course, if what you did was beyond forgiveness, you can’t really expect the other person to be too understanding.

Figuring out what you need in the relationship

Sometimes what you need from the relationship will prove if you will stay together or not. In many cases, one person becomes dependent while the other one doesn’t think much about the relationship at all. That’s why it is important to discuss and make clear what you both want and need in the relationship. The thing is though, this is one of the hardest things to do. Especially if both of you have different needs already.

Discuss the lack of effective communication

Another very common reason why relationships fall apart is the lack of communication. It’s already obvious that things will go badly if you rarely talk to each other anymore. But there are also times when even if you do talk a lot, you’re not exactly “communicating” with each other. One simple example is when your partner keeps changing his/her story. It’s easily because of this that your relationship turns sour. That’s why you’ll have to talk about it eventually.

Talk about all the good things

Lastly, if you feel that the relationship can still be saved, talk about the good side of your relationship with each other. This is simply because when you’re having a rough time together, it becomes easier for you to see the other bad points in your relationship. So, seeing a bit of the positive side can at least help you see better. On the other hand, if it really is leading to a breakup, then at least you can have better closure.

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Why You Should Learn to Code on the Side

Sep 04

To those who have little knowledge about it, coding may look complicated and intimidating. And it is true that it’s complicated. Though it does take some time to learn, knowing how to code actually has a lot of benefits! So, here are some good reasons why you should learn to code even when you’re not working in IT.

It opens up your career opportunities

With the thriving of technology and the internet, web developers are becoming more and more in demand. But even if you’re not a computer engineer or anything like that, it’s a great skill to acquire. You can just become a freelance coder as a side job and you can still earn some extra money! Or if at some point, your workplace needs a developer, you can at least show an extra set of skills and impress your employer.

It improves your overall knowledge of tech

Believe it or not, having a good understanding of coding can make you more knowledgeable about tech. Of course, this is very important in this day and age, especially because we have technology everywhere. Becoming informed about the digital world can make life pretty convenient for you. That’s because you’ll know of programs and software that can make your work easier. And again, it can be a boost on your career overall.

You’ll become more confident with the knowledge that you have

In connection to the point above, being knowledge will also make you more confident in yourself. Because many people don’t decide to learn to code, you yourself already have an advantage in terms of know-how. In addition to that, the more confident you become with your coding skills, the more you’ll be willing to learn!

It tests your analytical skills

To put it simply, coding involves a system of variables that function in many different ways. The simplest you can compare this to is languages. How you right codes will differ with each program you use just like how grammatical rules differ in every language. That’s why you’ll really have to be analytical with everything. In coding, you’ll have to separate different functions to figure out how they can come together logically. The skills you develop in coding will definitely help you in other aspects of life.

It will improve your interactions with others

Web development usually involves team projects and collaborations. It’s generally hard to do everything by yourself. Coding can help you engage and work together with more people. In other cases, for example, you’ll have co-workers or even friends who will ask for your help regarding web development. In some ways, knowing how to code will give you a better perspective on results and deadlines when it comes to working with teams.

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Tips for Maintaining Your Book Collection

Jul 17

Not ready to give up your growing book collection? Besides investing in a quality bookshelf, there are several things you can do to ensure that your investment will last for decades, so your children can still enjoy them.

  • Determine if the book is made with acidic paper. There are deacidification sprays and interleaving sheets sold at hobby shops if you are concerned about the deteriorating quality of the paper of your books.
  • Place paperbacks in archival-quality storage. You can go the extra mile by investing in bags or covers specially made for protecting books.
  • Do not pile books on top of one another. Some book lovers will not have enough space to store everything, so they will cram everything if there is some tiny space left. Maybe it is time to buy a new shelf or move the books to another room so they do not get damaged.
  • Do not place books in areas where there is direct sunlight. Even paper can get damaged when exposed to ultraviolet rays. Place the bookshelf away from windows or invest in closed cabinets to protect it from the elements.
  • Do not place books near sources of heat. Books are made from flammable materials, so it is common sense not to place them in the kitchen, near electrical outlets, and any home appliance, gadget, or fixture that produces or emits heat.
  • Regulate the temperature and humidity around your book collection. High humidity and high temperatures can damage books over time. How do you determine if it is safe for your books? Try staying in the area for 10 minutes and see if you feel uncomfortable. The most acceptable range is at 35% relative humidity.
  • Books should not be stored in areas that are excessively dry or humid. This is just a follow-up of the previous tip. The components of the book can fall apart when exposed to humidity for a long period of time. Paperbacks for example, will become ideal homes for fungi. You can regulate humidity by installing a dehumidifier in the room.
  • Address musty smell in books. Maybe the paper used is acidic or the room is too humid. If you are concerned by the smell, you can install an air freshener near the books and seal the volume in a dry container for a few days.
  • Clean your shelves regularly. You can dust off shelves at least once a week with a duster, but thorough cleaning should be done at least once a year so you can assess the condition of your books.
  • Do not use paper clips, rubber bands, adhesive tapes, leather dressing, glue, and acidic inserts in your books. There are bookmarks made from acid-free paper you can use. Never ever fold the pages if you need to mark it.
  • Keep food and drinks away from your books. If you need to read while relaxing and enjoying your snack, you should at least keep your hands clean when handling the pages.
  • Expensive and rare books that have suffered some damage can be sent to a book restoration shop.
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