5 Fun Habits to Release Your Inner Artist

http://www.orlagilkesonart.com Recent Art Commission by Orla Gilkeson

For many of us creative pursuits are a luxury, something to be done on the weekend or at the end of the day when all the ‘important’ things are finished. Unfortunately that means we seldom get around to artistic pursuits because we are too tired and burnt out by the time we get some headspace. 

The true beauty of it is that we can help ourselves by building habits into our day to coax the artist within to give us a fresh passion and perspective. Now that the pace of life has slowed for many of us because of the global pandemic, there has never been a better time to release our inner artists.

1 Be Intentionally Open to Being Creative

Many of us have been hardwired to believe artistic pursuits do not pay your bills and are a symptom of having your ‘head in the clouds.’ We tell ourselves and others that to live in the ‘real world,’ we have to be practically minded and if we really must indulge such activities we should do it outside of a job we don’t really like. This means we need to be intentional about being creative, to give ourselves permission to let the artist within out for a little air. 

This is a really fun and liberating way of living. All the human made objects you see around you started as an idea or vision in someone’s mind – from architecture to sports cars someone had to live in the world of ideas, with their head in the clouds for a while at least. It’s part of the process. Give yourself permission to begin. Tell yourself the right kind of story. Be intentionally open to being creative. Start to really see things instead of just looking at them. Get a sense of what Frederick Franck meant when he wrote, “Merely looking at the world around us is immensely different from seeing it.”

You are effectively telling your brain that it needs to be more aware, to see a bigger picture. You are giving your brain permission to be creative, and unconsciously it will be processing ideas which later come out as ‘inspiration.’ 

2 Stop Working so Hard

For artists (aspiring or otherwise) creativity often knocks at the door when you aren’t trying. The American artist Barnett Newman complained that his wife didn’t understand that he was working while sitting in an armchair smoking and staring out of the window. Einstein apparently had his best ideas while shaving. Other people have their best ideas while driving or running a familiar route, or like Newman sitting in a favourite armchair. While you may not be trying to compute cosmic calculations you can definitely be open to solutions about your improving painting techniques, and rendering your subjects in novel ways. 

3 Create a Physical and Mental Workspace 

Find a physical space where you can paint. It doesn’t have to be a huge studio or even a whole room. Clear a corner somewhere you feel comfortable and set up an easel. If you love the outdoors and have the right weather go into nature or your back garden, even your shed. As long as it’s a place you’ll want to go back to time and again. Somewhere you associate with enjoyment and peace of mind. If necessary get some cheap plastic sheeting to keep the paint off walls and furniture to eliminate possible worry. 

Creating a pleasant physical place will help your mind associate making art with pleasure and keep you free from distractions. 

As the great Sufi poet Hafiz wrote, it will help you “Change rooms in your mind for a day.” Hopefully a lot longer.

Not only will you clear out a physical space you could find that you also experience something of what the highly successful businessman Dee Hock writes, “Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.”

4 Feed Your Inner Artist the Right Diet

While it’s important at times to stop trying to force creativity it’s also true that we need to intentionally feed our inner artist. Read books and poetry, watch films that give your brain material to work on. Draw your inner artist out by paying attention to artworks, and various art forms. Daytime TV is probably not going to help much here. Neither is Social Media overload so choose carefully what you feed your artist with.

One of the funny things about our minds is that when you stop focusing on something, for you it all but disappears. You really do get more of what you focus on. If you just focus on paying the bills you forget about finding creative ways to help you pay those very bills. If you shut down your inner artist and close your mind to creative possibilities, you get more and more shutdown of creative possibilities. If we focus on creativity we get more creativity.

5 Build Mindfulness into your Day

We all know that mindfulness is good for us, but spending long periods of time meditating isn’t for everyone. 

It is possible to build mindfulness into our daily routine in various ways however. Intentionally slow down. Think of how each morsel you eat tastes. Consider how the light behaves in your surroundings. Take a few moments to pick an inspirational quotation and really break it down, asking yourself how you might apply it to your life. Artists do these things naturally while creating, but try to practise these things when you aren’t making art too for maximum impact. Adopting an approach of reverence and gratitude for the world around us can only lead to greater creativity. As well as aiding your digestion. 


What to Buy Creative Kids for Christmas

Get Your Kids Painting Like Only Kids Can

“All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” Pablo Picasso

Got creative kids? More often than not that means having to be pretty creative yourself to choose the right gifts this Christmas. Fortunately help is on hand to get you moving in the right festive direction.

1 Arts and Crafts Supplies Kits for Kids

You really can’t beat these for the hours and hours of fun that can be had from them. We’ve all had the bad experience of buying kids really expensive presents that they lose interest in within a few days, if not before. That’s not the case with these kits though – they have 1500+ pieces including; pipe cleaners, pom poms, googly eyes, feathers, and beads. There are so many creative possibilities here to keep kids from 4 right up to 12 amused that these kits border on free childcare. See for yourself here:


2 An Acrylic Paint Set

Why not get them started on the good stuff early? These quick-drying non-toxic paints are perfect for kids who love to paint or want to start painting. They aren’t too bad for adult beginners either. They are for using on canvas, cardboard, wood, paper to mention but a few. They are easy to mix and have a very wide spectrum of colours to keep the boredom of creative kids at bay. 

Have a look here:


3 ‘Kids Draw’ Big Book of Everything Manga

Manga has never been so popular with kids, and this book is an all-in-one collection of how-to-draw manga lessons. Your kids can learn to draw manga heads, faces, eyes, and bodies. There are also detailed lessons teaching them how to draw manga fantasy characters and monsters. There are over 1000 illustrations in this book, providing plenty of inspiration. This will keep them amused and off their phones for hours and hours.


4 Wacom Intuos S, Bluetooth Pen Tablet, Wireless Graphic Tablet for Painting, Sketching and Photo Retouching

For older kids who have proved themselves to be super interested in art, and likely to stay the course you could invest in a wireless Graphic Tablet. It’s perfect for home, school or on the go. This tablet is among the best in its class for digital drawing and the 4096 pressure level stylus included allows for impressive precision. The bluetooth connectivity really takes things to a new level. You really can achieve an authentic looking hand-painted effect, as well as enhance existing photographs with the creative software which comes with it. For kids or teens interested in comic book art you can download Clip Studio Paint Pro which has everything that a young comic book or manga artist could need at this stage.

Find out more here:


5 3D Printing Pens for kids 6-12

We’ll leave you with a particularly creative and fascinating idea – the 3D Printing Pen. You’d be forgiven for not having heard of these but they really do create physical entities using plastic filament which is shaped by using the pen. Then you leave it to dry, and you have a 3D representation straight from your mind into reality. 

Have a look here to check out these brilliant gadgets:


If you want to go the whole way and get an actual mini 3D Printer it could be really worth the effort:


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5 Creative Exercises to Help Make You A More Productive Artist

1 Head out for a solitary walk

There are so many voices screaming for attention in most of our lives. Sometimes we need to learn to tune them out if we are to be creative and productive. It might seem counterproductive to go out walking instead of working but nothing could be further from the truth. The German Philosopher J.G. Hamann wrote, ‘When I rest my feet, my mind also ceases to function.’ 

Where you go is less important than how you go about it. It makes sense that if you are planning on painting a landscape or seascape that you go to similar scenes in Nature, but in general it may not matter. It’s best to try and clear your mind of the usual clutter. Walking is like meditation and an opportunity to be mindful. If you need a place to start you could think about the things you are grateful for in your life. Something about our feet moving along the ground helps us to feel more grounded. It also helps artists and photographers build up a bank of images, as if our minds are unconsciously shooting video or taking photographs. We need to really ‘see’ the world around us. As Mary Oliver put it, ‘the world offers itself to your imagination… announcing over and over your place in the family of things.’

2 Write a Timeline of the Decade You are in Right Now

Some people recommend writing a timeline of your whole life up to this point, around 5000-20,000 words. While this is far too long for most of us the general idea is brilliant for creativity and productivity. Including the decade you are in, or an outline of where you are right now is enough. It needn’t take too long to have the desired effect. For example you could start like this; ‘In my thirties I feel…’ ‘The most significant events in the last year have been…’ ‘What drives me most at this point in my life is..’ ‘My attitude to my art right now is…’

Some thoughtful reflection on our present needs, desires and wishes helps us recover our sense of self and can serve as inspiration for what we want to do with our art. The Sufi mystic Rumi put it perfectly in these beautiful lines, ‘You already have the precious mixture that will make you well. Use it.’ An artist could substitute ‘you well,’ with ‘your art.’

3 Practise the ‘Deathbed Meditation’

This isn’t as morbid as it sounds. It’s a way of discovering what you really want in your heart of hearts. 

Find somewhere comfortable and quiet to sit. Close your eyes and imagine yourself on your deathbed surrounded by your loved ones. As you reflect back on your life consider what your biggest regrets are. What do you wish you had spent more time doing? What do you wish you had spent less time doing? Think specifically about your art. What do you wish you had done with your artistic gift? What should you have painted more of? What mediums and techniques would you like to have more of? What subjects should you have studied more of? How would you like your art to be remembered? Now open your eyes and starting noting down your answers to these questions. You should have plenty of material!

4 Try on Colours that You Never Wear

Most of us have an inbuilt preference for certain colours and this is reflected in our fashion and paint choices. We might think that red is too ‘tacky,’ or that orange is too ‘loud’ or ‘gaudy.’ Even artists fall into this trap which is palette-limiting to say the least. Why not trying wearing a colour you never wear? Try on a mauve shirt or a lavender dress. People might even tell you it’s ‘your colour.’ The effect of this can renew your perspective entirely. It can impact your mind and it might even have rethinking your palette and mindset. 

5 List 5 Encouraging Friends Who Back Your Art-Dreams

Every artist needs to have people who mirror back their positive self beliefs. It can be a lonely life at times in front of a blank canvas. Think of at least 5 people (or more if you are very lucky!) who supportive and positive about your art, and make positive steps to communicating with them regularly and cultivating the relationship. Friends like these are hard to find and they act like energy conduits for positivity and productivity, especially when inspiration is drying up.

SEO Tips for Bloggers 2021


With so much talk of what doesn’t work on Google anymore, how can we plan for search engine optimising going forward in 2021? As bloggers, we need to know how to optimise our content to rank highly in Google as much as ever. Yet so many bloggers don’t pay attention to SEO often due to ignorance, fear or disinterest.

Let’s cut through the fluff, and the nostalgic hankering after the good old days when ‘it was so much easier to rank,’ and carve out a somewhat smoother path for the year ahead.

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO for short) has become a different animal since the mobile revolution. Not too long ago bloggers could get away with a substandard mobile version of their site, or worse relying on a clunky slow Desktop version for their mobile readers. These days most people are browsing on their mobile so it’s top priority for you to make sure that your platform has a speedy and up to date mobile version, and that the AMP feature is turned on or if necessary an app or plugin is added to your blog. And yes, the speed with which your blog loads is a contributing rank factor in the search engines. Not to mention maintaining the attention of would-be readers. Studies show if your blog takes more than two seconds to load you’ve already lost your reader. 

Dwell Time or Bounce Rate

The amount of time people spend on your site is one of a handful of crucial ranking factors for your website. The All-Seeing eye of Google is looking at your ‘bounce rate,’ as in how quickly people come out of your blog and return to their search results. This is good news for us bloggers though because we thrive on appealing to people who actually want to read a long article. We should in theory have readers engaged for longer provided our content is good. More on this later. 

So if your blog looks like a wet newspaper a Jack Russell just played with, it’s time to rethink or you just won’t rank as high as you otherwise could.  

CTR (Click Through Rate)

Another important ranking factor that Google uses to place your blog is your CTR. This is obvious when you think about it because Google wants to provide the most relevant results to a search query, and sites that people aren’t clicking through are sites that don’t provide enough relevance for searchers. If your blog ranks No.10 on Page 1 but more people are clicking through your site than whoever is at No.1, sooner or later Google will move your blog higher. You can see how this works hand in hand with dwell time and overall providing a better user experience.


Backlinks are just as important as ever to help optimise your blog. Domains that refer back to you, especially if they have high Page and Domain Authority are like money in the bank. Again we bloggers need to think about the importance of this for us. We need to reach out to reputable sites (dodgy backlinks could get you into trouble with Google) and try to get them to link back to us. In some cases that could definitely be a blogger or influencer within your own niche who has a similar audience. Why not include them in your blog and then contact them to let them know about the mention? 

That way you will be giving them something before you begin a relationship. They will probably be flattered and then you might go about politely asking for a link or a mention on their site. Maybe you will get ignored but if you don’t ask you don’t get. All of us bloggers had to start somewhere and some of us don’t mind helping each other out. This is where guest posting comes in. This involves writing a guest post for a blogger in your niche or a similar one, and earning backlinks, authority and new traffic as a result. One easy way to get started is to use this simple formula as a search term in Google: “keyword + guest post by” or “keyword + guest blogger.” If you write in the marketing niche then your keyword could be marketing blogs, and at the time of writing if you use the above formula the first result in Google is “35 Digital Marketing Blogs that Accept Guest Posts.”

Another way to reach out is to find an actual journalist who wants to write an article about a topic that you happen to be an expert in. How cool would it be if they mentioned you and your blog in their article? This can really bring quality traffic to your site and boost your rankings. The best way to do this is to head over to HARO or Help A Reporter Out and become a source for articles that reporters want to write. If you are really fortunate you could end up being featured in ‘The New York Times’ or ‘Time,’ Magazine!

Consider the Priority of Video

Have you noticed that when you search in Google video results come up first? That’s because video is considered by Google to be priority content. Would you rather watch a 5 minute video ‘how to’ where you can see it all in front of you or read 1000s of words which may or may not be relevant? 

Bloggers need to be aware of the value of videos despite how much we like our words. Remember, Youtube is the second biggest search engine in the world. I know what you are going to say – you blog because you would rather write than take centre stage.

You don’t have to feature yourself in the video. Why not consider scrolling through a new article or part of your blog and playing music behind it? You can use the screen recording app on your phone or desktop and stop at key pictures or headings in your blog to show what it’s really about. If your blog is a lifestyle one grab your phone and take videos related to your niche, not necessarily involving you. You knows you might find yourself itching to feature on the screen.

You can also link back to your blog from Youtube, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and so on, and so on. The list is long and goes on and on. And on.

Where to Share Your Blog to Increase Your SEO Reach

We have all experienced something a little like this. You pen the best article known to humankind. Your hands shake in anticipation but somehow you bravely hit the publish button poised for total takeover and conquest of cyberspace. You hear an angelic fanfare in your head as you sit back, fold your arms and wait for the views to surge like the tides. 

And nothing whatsoever happens. Not even a like from that nice fellow with an embarrassing ton of followers who always likes your post. 

You need to spend around 50% of your blog-time writing great blogs and 50% of your blog-time promoting them. 

Here are some of the best places we have found to promote a blog, it isn’t meant to be exhaustive – like many things in life you just need to sign up and find out for yourself. Obviously some of these are niche-dependent and you need to treat them on a best fit basis. 

1 Ello is a great place to share your content if you are blogging about the artistic community and related subjects. This is a site for artists and fans of art to share posts and the engagement is very high. Art, Photography, Design, Architecture, Fashion, Lifestyle and many other categories are represented so there is a fairly high range.

2 Twitter is uniquely set up to facilitate blogs as it allows for short precise posts about specific topics.

3 Instagram is more useful than you might think, especially if you create videos for your blog and focus on images. You can add your link to your blog in your bio.

4 Facebook is good because you can join various niche groups on almost any topic and share links to your blog from time to time. (don’t spam too much though!)

5 Reddit is known as the front page of the Internet and you can join specific subreddits on almost any topic. Depending on the rules of each subreddit you can share links to your blogposts but be warned there are some very rude/committed people on there who react badly if they perceive you as spamming them!

6 Mix is the new version of StumbleUpon and and well set up to share blogposts on.

7 Medium is a site that curates content from the Internet and another blog friendly zone to freely enter. You can share your posts and they do have a lot of traffic.

8 Digg is also a site that curates content from around the Net. It’s useful because you can share your articles directly with them, meaning that you have a chance of being featured if they consider it newsworthy enough.

9 Pinterest is an option you simply can’t ignore. It’s a visual search engine that you can use to pique your audience’s attention, say with a picture or video from from your blog and an intriguing title. Pins can include a direct link to your blog so all you have to is making your pin interesting enough to click through. Make sure you create plenty of boards which are similar to your niche to increase your reach. Pinterest pins last longer than any other Social Media posts – far longer than Instagram or Facebook which can get lost in the feed because they can be re-pinned over and over. You can often see Pinterest boards ranking in Google searches for years bringing in a steady supply of traffic for that board. 

The thing to emphasise here is that you need to follow others, like, comment, share, and read other blogs to grow your following. Some people like to choose just one or two to focus on to give themselves a chance, rather than trying to post sporadically all over the Social Media Show. If we had to narrow it down to two as a blog about Art our money is on Pinterest and Ello. 

The Last Word Is CONTENT

The huge thing to take away from this article is that the best SEO Tip we can give is to write great content. The very successful writer Neil Gaiman once gave a speech which was later turned in to a book, called “Make Great Art.” The gist of it is that no matter what happens you must make great art. If your dog dies, make great art. If your wife leaves you make great art. You get the picture. This applies as much to blogging as anything. No matter what, write great content. Don’t spam people and try to cut corners. Don’t try to overstuff keywords into things. Write great content. Create value. Don’t try to hoodwink people. Write great content. Don’t try to create dodgy backlinks. Don’t try to duplicate your content. Write great content.

In the end the Almighty Google will reward you with rankings.

One of the best and comprehensive SEO books is worth a look here:


5 Art Prints to Improve your Home Decor

Looking for thoughtful, artful ways to improve your home decor? Here are 5 carefully chosen art prints to start you heading in the right direction.

Der Morgenthau Plan by Anselm Kiefer

1 ‘Der Morgenthau Plan’ by Anselm Kiefer

Kiefer needs no introduction as he is considered by many to be among the greatest living artists today. This powerfully beautiful painting was created in 2010 but based on US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau’s idea to make Germany return to a country of agriculture so that she would not rearm again after the Second World War. Kiefer renders the outworking of this plan as blooming colourful flowers and pastoral beauty in a style reminiscent of Van Gogh. The painting is optimistic, bright and full of eye-catching colours. Perfect for artistically minded homeowners.

2 ‘Composition VIII’ by Wassily Kandinski

Composition VIII by Wassily Kandinski

The expressive shapes and colours of Kandinski’s work make for a real statement piece in any room. His attempts to render music and sound in his paintings are arresting and dramatic, brightening up any wall. This particular painting was composed in 1923 and explores the correlation between sound and colour and how a musician composing a song is comparable to a painter producing an artwork, themes for which he is now famous. For Kandinsky both colour and music possess transcendent qualities and the painting certainly has something of the ethereal about it.

You can buy a canvas wall art print here:


3 ‘The Tree of Life’ by Gustav Klimt

The Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt

This famous painting is actually the only landscape that Klimt painted during his golden period – a time in his career when he used oil painting techniques and gold paint to produce luxurious artworks. “The Tree of Life,’ has a sense of mythology, mystery and the bold persistence of life. It symbolises growth and reaching up to the sky while being rooted to the earth. And the vibrant colours are still straight forward to match in with.

You can a wall art print here:


4 ‘Irises,’ by Vincent Van Gogh

Irises by Van Gogh

Van Gogh painted this wonderful vibrant painting as part of his recovery in a mental hospital from irises in the hospital garden. Unlike some of his later work there is no sense of loss or tragedy here – it is bright, bold and resounding with life. Each of the irises is painted uniquely and meticulously and he himself called this painting ‘a lightning conductor for my illness,’ believing that he could stay sane by painting. When the painting was sold in 1987 it set a record for being the most expensive painting ever sold.

You can buy a giclee canvas print here:


5 ‘Ski Jacket,’ Peter Doig

Ski Jacket by Peter Doig

The lovely colours of this painting can’t fail to inspire and lift your mood. Doig has painted a number of snowscapes inspired by the colours in snow scenes painted by Claude Monet at the end of his life. If you look close enough at the painting you can see how awkward the skiers are because they are all beginners sliding around and trying to stay on their feet. Doig has compared this to painting at first you gradually try to get more and more control. It’s how we all learn to do anything and this painting reminds us to persevere through uncertainty to be better skiers or artists, or people.

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Thank you for reading. Please share if you like!

Bestselling Cameras to Buy Right Now

With so much to choose from it can be difficult to know where to start. Let us help you on the road by recommending some digital camera bestsellers that everyone is talking about right now. 

Kodak Printomatic Digital Instant Print Camera

This is a low budget but highly popular camera which allows for an instant print onto 2×3 inch sticky-backed grey photo paper. It’s perfect for kids and beginners in particular but can suit all ages of photographers. It’s available in various different colours, very affordable at £49.99 and qualifies for Prime Delivery on Amazon. It also happens to be the #2 Bestseller in the Digital Cameras Category. It actually packs a punch with powerful 5MP sensor and a wide angle f/2 lens. You can find it here:


Canon CAMERA EOS 2000D 18-55 III, 2728C002

This one really is a brilliant camera for the price, and it’s not surprising that it is the #1 seller in the Digital SLR category on Amazon. With a 3 inch screen and an effective still resolution of 24.1 MP, as well as a minimum focal length of 55mm it’s fully capable of taking fantastic pictures. This camera is best seen as an entry level camera for someone who wants to start taking photography more seriously but doesn’t want to spend the money that a professional would. 

The price is right too at £379 and qualifying for Prime. Find out more here:


Nikon D3500 with an AF-P DX 18–55 VR Kit 

This camera is #4 bestseller in the Digital SLR category on Amazon UK. One of the best features of this popular camera is the fact that you can film full HD movies at frame rates of up to 60p. The autofocus system is very sharp and it has an ISO light-sensitivity range of 100-25600. Not only that but it has a 24.2 MP DX-format sensor and 24.78 MP effective still resolution. At £419 without the VR Kit or £429 with the VR Kit it’s a great all round camera which is great for shooting video as well as photographs.

4.8 stars out of 5 in 685 reviews is difficult to argue with.

Click here to find out more:


Sony Vlog camera ZV-1

This little beauty has a vari-angle LCD screen which is perfect for vlogging, as the name suggests, and impressive 4K Video capabilities. It crops up #2 on Amazon’s most wished for cameras list and it’s so easy to see why. It has a soft skin effect for natural skin tones and optimised brightness for faces. 

The sound quality is high and is enhanced by the directional mic and windshield that comes included. 

The ZV-1 also includes Sony’s Real-time Eye AF technology which locks on and tracks people’s eyes, especially when shooting 4K movies. It’s great for live streaming – all you have to do is download the free Imaging Edge app and connect your camera to your computer’s USB port. Check it out here:


Canon EOS 6D Mark II

This outstanding camera is expensive and not for the beginner but it is an amazing product nonetheless. It excels at taking photos from multiple angles and includes a full-frame sensor. The image quality is next level and quite simply breathtaking.

The battery is excellent and can easily withstand a full day’s shooting. Included with your purchase you will find the EOS 6D Mark II, Eyecup Eb, Camera Cover R-F-3, Camera Strap, Battery Pack LP-E6N, Battery Charger LC-E6E, and the User Manual kit. 

Research further here:


Learn the secrets to shooting video on a DSLR camera in this fantastic 6hour course. Sign up here https://bit.ly/39xqa71

Jasper Johns ‘A Story Told in Pictures’

Jasper Johns ‘A Story Told in Pictures’

There may or may not be an idea, and the meaning may just be that the painting exists.

Jasper Johns

The American artist Jasper Johns is often viewed as one of the greatest living artists – fluent in painting, sculpting and printmaking. That being said, he seems to have no wish to explain his art (apart from in a very rudimentary way) and the idea of meaning is particularly elusive in his work. As a result it seems the best way to write an article about him is to include a series of pictures and say very little.


One night I dreamed that I painted a large American flag, and the next morning I got up and I went out and bought the materials to begin it.

Jasper Johns


I am just trying to find a way to make pictures.

Jasper Johns


My work is largely concerned with relations between seeing and knowing, seeing and saying, seeing and believing.

Jasper Johns


I tend to like things that already exist. Jasper Johns

Do something, do something to that, and then do something to that. Jasper Johns

I have no ideas about what the paintings imply about the world. I don’t think that’s a painter’s business. He just paints paintings without a conscious reason. Jasper Johns

One works without thinking how to work. Jasper Johns

I don’t want my work to be an exposure of my feelings. Jasper Johns

You can buy high quality Jasper Johns prints here:


Link Roundup of The Best in Art News This Week

Portraits of NHS Workers

It’s time for our weekly roundup of the best Art-related News from around the Web. What better way to start than with a tribute to our NHS workers?

The artist Aliza Nisenbaum has produced a series of portraits for the Tate Liverpool of doctors, nurses, porters and even a hospital chaplain. She based these paintings on Zoom calls and photographs. You can read more here:


A masterpiece from Renoir is to go on show at the Ulster Museum in Belfast for the first time. ‘La Loge,’ is a picture of a couple watching a play at the theatre and is set to be unveiled Friday 18 December. You can read more about this here:


Maggi Hambling defends her nude sculpture of feminist icon Mary Wollstonecraft by arguing there are plenty of sculptures of men nude. You can read an interview with her here:


Berlin-Based Artist Tracy Snelling Received the 2020 Foundwork Artist Prize. Find out more here :


Pantone announces its pandemic colours for 2021 – Ultimate Gray and a bright ‘lemon skin’ yellow. Fascinating reading here:


The abstract Korean-American painter Young II-Ahn died over the weekend in LA at the age of 86. Read more here :


Christie’s has reported a drop in sales for 2020 of 25% but forecasts $1.2Billion in private sales.

Find further information here:

Christie’s Reports 25 Percent Drop in Sales for 2020, Forecasts Record $1.2 B. in Private Sales

Christy’s NYC Headquarters

Ten Things You Should Know About the Old Master Caravaggio

1 His real name was actually Michelangelo Merisi and he was born in September 1571 in Caravaggio, the town which later gave him the name he was known by.

2 Caravaggio had a tragic childhood due to many of his family dying from the Bubonic Plague. His father, his grandfather and grandmother and even his uncle Pietro had succumbed to the plague epidemic by the time he was only six years old. His mother lasted another four years before also dying of the plague. Some believe that his sense of abandonment and his fearsome temper developed as a result.  

3 It seems likely from historical evidence that he was involved in the killing of a policeman. He left the country of Lombardy for Rome 1592 under a suspicious cloud, and sold his family’s lands never to return. 

4 His first years in Rome were unpleasant and difficult for him. At one point his master and benefactor was Pandolfo Pucci who apparently gave him nothing to eat in the evening but salad. Caravaggio called him ‘Monsignor Salad,’ and left after just a few months.

5 His first public work was decorating Contarelli Chapel in Rome with scenes from the life of St Matthew. He soon became known for his unique realistic style and his bold contrasts of light and shade (later called tenebrism). He painted these older biblical scenes set in the present day, with St Matthew’s calling by Christ being set in a modern tax collector’s office located in what looks like a Roman basement. 

6 There is some evidence that he operated as a pimp to provide extra income as well as female models for his painting. It was against the law for women to pose for painters at the time, so prostitutes were a way out of this dilemma. He probably used the women for casual sex as well. 

7 Not only was he a master of painting, he was a master brawler, not to mention an excellent swordsman and duellist. Famed for having a terrible temper, he killed his rival Tomassoni in a duel (disguised as a game of tennis) by stabbing him to death and had to flee Rome. This was right at the height of his fame and his crime sent him off as a fugitive around Malta, Sicily, and the south of Italy.

8 He was offered a knighthood while he was in Malta by the Grandmaster of the Knights of Saint John. He lost it because he assaulted a higher ranking knight and ended up in prison. He escaped prison and ended up in Sicily where he was ambushed by men associated with said knight and ended up with a permanently disfigured face.

9 In 1609, Caravaggio was seriously wounded during a fight in a tavern in the city of Naples. In 1610 he was pardoned for the murder in Rome, but unfortunately he died from a fever not long after in July of that very same year.

10 His work inspired many artists including Rubens and Rembrandt. Interestingly his influence even extends to the present day with film directors like Martin Scorsese saying that Caravaggio’s realistic and stark contrast of light and darkness, as well as how the settings are often arranged like movie stills has been an influence on his cinematography.

You can find Caravaggio Art Prints here :



Are you looking for some curveball, out of the box ideas for art products? You have come to the right place. Let’s hit the ground running.

Artist Watercolour Paint Set Glitter Solid 24 Colours

This lovely set comes in 24 vivid colours with Artist’s Grade paint. The paint is high quality and absolutely perfect for blending and mixing. It has a pre-mixed iridescent medium which gives a fantastic glittery effect . It’s portable and reusable so you can paint anywhere you like. It comes with a pink portable metal Case and a palette to mix your 24 colours on. It even has 4.7 stars out of 5 from 568 reviews. 

We recommend the Paul Rubens Glitter Paint set. You can find out more on Amazon here:



A lot of people haven’t heard about this really useful artist’s tool, but it is used extensively by artists to keep their hands steady while painting. It is sometimes called a painter’s rest for obvious reasons, and it comes in very handy at various stages of painting.

Have a look at this really attractive 2 piece mahlstick made of wood and leather on Amazon:


A Heavy Duty Paint Tube Wringer

Let’s face it, paints can be expensive and you want to squeeze every last bit of value out of them before having to buy another tube. That’s why you need a tube wringer, and a heavy duty one at that. You only need to make that once-off purchase and you’ll be laughing all the way to the paint shop. It might even work for your toothpaste too.

You can buy them here:


Pebeo Paints

Pebeo paints really are one of kind oil-based formulas which achieve unique effects. When you mix them with 2+ colours you get a wonderful marbling and honeycomb effect. The can be used on most surfaces such as glass, terracotta, ceramic, canvas, acetate wood or metal. You can even use them to create jewellery! They are also great for abstract paintings in particular to create fantastic textures and colours.

Check out this great Pebeo Prisme Studio Collection paint set on Amazon here:


Set of Palette Knives

Most people have heard of palette knives which can of course be used to scrape and shape different kinds of textures through your painting. What isn’t so commonly known though is that different sizes and shapes of palette knife can really produce some amazing effects. Many artists only have one or two, but a 10piece set isn’t greedy it’s necessary for shaping your individual style and really pushing the boat out in terms of your scraping techniques.


This post contains affiliate links – we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Fujifilm X-T30 Camera Review Worth the Money or Not?

Fujifilm X-T30 The Best Camera for Under £1000?

No-one could suggest that the Fujifilm XT-30 is inexpensive, but compared to its predecessor the X-T3 (£1,699 with the 18-55mm lens) it is definitely a lot more compatible with the average photographer’s budget. So it’s definitely easier on the pocket than its more expensive relative.

Even so, the real question is – is it really worth the money overall? Read on to find out.

The X-T30 can usefully be thought of as being like a smaller X-T3 in shape and features, and it actually uses the same processor and sensor. As a result of it being smaller and lighter it is much better for shooting on the go. The only thing we would say though is that it has a single SD card slot which makes backing up while travelling a bit more of a challenge. 

Thankfully there are still plenty of direct access control buttons and dials which will keep even the most tactile photographers happy. On the right plate you will find two dials for exposure and shutter speed and happily on the left there is a drive mode dial. Unlike the more expensive X-T3 there is a big auto switch which responds well to a quick flick of your finger.  

As you might imagine with Fujifilm the image quality really is outstanding; capturing film-like quality images with a really great dynamic range and vibrantly natural colours. Even in low lighting it still delivers impressively.

The focusing is also quick and accurate in most cases except in very low lighting where it might take a little longer.

The only disappointment for us is the fact that you don’t have image stabilisation in the body, but you can get round this by using quick shutter speeds. If you buy the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens kit option it does have stabilisation. Obviously you can buy the camera with a 15-45mm kit lens which is reasonable but the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens is definitely superior in performance.

If you quite enjoy making a movie on occasion you will pleased to know that you have DCI 4K available in frame rates up to 30p. You also have Standard 4K up to 30p, too, not to mention Full HD and Full HD slow-mo. You can use the X-T30’s USB Type-C port to plug your headphones into, and there is a socket for your microphone.


There are so many plus points here and so little to argue with that it’s hard to resist coming to the conclusion that the Fujifilm X-T30 is definitely worth the money. The pros overwhelmingly outweigh the cons. 


You can buy it on Amazon here:


Or on eBay with just the camera body


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