Monthly Archives: March 2017

Color Art Stability Machine

When you get the opportunity to go behind the scenes with paint-makers and manufacturers–you take it! Explore Winsor & Newton’s “Art Machines,” which pull back the curtain to reveal the company’s unique investment in craftsmanship, research and development of premium paints.

Stability in Your Work

The right materials matter to any artist. But how do you guarantee your paint performs well every time you use it? Winsor & Newton test their paint rigorously to make sure you can rely on a perfect finish. And now you can get a first look at how this level of precision is achieved. They’ve just released some must-watch footage showing the machine precision that goes into developing their Professional Acrylic range.

It’s thanks to rigorous in-depth research and development that Winsor & Newton can deliver such precisely engineered products. Their commitment to innovation in materials involves rigorous testing at their London laboratory.

It’s where the colour stability machine comes into play. Last post, we looked at how the Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic range is analyzed to ensure exactly the right level of opacity. This time around you have the chance to see the technology they use to guarantee colour stability in every one of their paints.

The colour stability machine is an advanced piece of equipment that helps ensure each batch will keep its vibrancy of colour for up to five years from purchase–while maintaining perfect consistency. Paints are incubated at extreme temperatures inside the appliance and carefully monitored for how they perform under duress.

To begin the test, wet paint is loaded into beakers. These are then placed in the colour stability machine on a sliding metal shelf. Once the door is closed, the temperature is turned up. Then the paint is cooled and tested. Next, the paint is frozen and thawed and checked again for any changes in its colour or texture. This test ensures the paint can perform after it’s been subjected to a range of different conditions.

It’s thanks to the Winsor & Newton “colour men” based at the company’s London headquarters that new paints are brought to this testing stage. These colour experts work on developing vibrant colours, and are helped in this by an in-house artist. Such a wealth of experience ensures the highest quality paint.

Making the acrylic paint itself is a four-stage process that begins with the pigment and wetting agent being combined into a pigment paste. The paste is then mixed with beads and ground. Next the ground paste is combined with emulsion and water to make acrylic; and, finally, any excess air is removed from the paint.

This is just one of the ways Winsor & Newton guarantee exceptional quality in their Professional Acrylic range. Check out their other test videos and discover more about their pursuit of perfection.

Instagram for Artists Why Hashtags are Important?

If you’re an artist, Instagram is great for sharing your artwork. This powerful platform can increase your exposure and allow you to engage with people who appreciate your art. This increased exposure and reach can lead to more sales of your art/

However, artists must know how to fully take advantage of this visual social space. And, using hashtags correctly is one such way to boost your chances of success. Here’s why.

What is a Hashtag?

Back in the day, the symbol # was primarily recognized as the pound sign. By now, you’ve probably heard that this symbol preceding a word or phrase is known as a hashtag. Hashtags (often referred to as “tags”) can be single words or phrases.

Capital letters may be used to make phrases easier to read, and hashtags can also contain numbers and even emojis (the heart is the most common) but never spaces or special characters. Basically, think of a hashtag as a keyword or search term.

How Do They Work?

Anyone who clicks on a hashtag is taken to a stream of all posts that have also included that particular tag. Searches can be done for anything created as a hashtag.

The right combination of hashtags helps expose you and your work to a larger but also targeted audience by making what you’re specifically offering easier to find.

Being searchable in this way also tends to impact the number of people who follow you. If you’re trying to increase your exposure and build your art business, this is always a good thing, too.

Where Should You Put Hashtags?

Hashtags can be included in your caption. But, some Instagram marketers feel this creates a cluttered look. And, as artists, we’re all about the visual appeal!

An alternate and equally effective way of placing hashtags in your posts is to put them in the comments. This way, you’re still getting the benefits of the hashtags without bombarding your followers with tons of pound signs in the initial caption. The ultimate win-win, if you ask me!

What Is the Ideal Number to Use?

The answer to this question is highly debatable. Instagram allows users to place up to 30 hashtags per post — that’s a lot of hashbrowns…er, hashtags! But, few experts advise using this many. Some say only two are ideal; others suggest using five to 11.

I recommend testing out both theories, each for roughly a month or so, and seeing which way brings you the most exposure.

Which Hashtags Should You Use?

This may sound obvious, but look to what you’re posting when crafting tags. If you’re posting a photo of your studio, consider: #studio, #artinspiration, #artiststudio, #creativetime or even #metime. A watercolor painting of a seascape might get: #watercolor, #watercolorart, #beach or #seascapes.

Simply be mindful that your tags are relevant. A handy tip is to wait for Instagram to recognize what you are entering because it will start to auto-populate the hashtag (and any that might be related to what you have typed thus far) and show you how many times it has been used before.

In addition to auto-populating tags within your actual post, you can also search for a tag in Instagram within the magnifying glass section at the bottom. As you type, Instagram will auto-populate results, showing existing tags and also letting you see a stream of the total number of posts in which the tag has been used. This is a quick way to see which tags are more popular.

Keep in mind, though, some common tags may be so popular your post has a good chance of being buried in the stream. Sometimes a less common but more targeted tag will draw exactly the people you’re trying to reach. Try experimenting with a combination of popular and more niche tags — #watercolorportrait vs. #portrait — as well as general tags such as #artistsoninstagram.

When Should You Make Your Own?

Creating a tag for your brand or art-business name is also a good practice to consider. Although this tag will not be too searchable when you first use it, in time those who follow you can find your work easily in one place. You can direct others to use your branded hashtag as well, such as in situations where they’ve hung your work, or when they want to share your art with others.

Moreover, if you’re running a contest or campaign, you can use an existing hashtag — such as #watercolorwednesday or #shareyoursky — or, you can create one specific to your campaign to engage followers.

We created #artistsnetspotlight to encourage our followers to tag us with their art for a chance to be featured in our ongoing artist spotlight campaign. (Check out an example of this campaign above.)

Popular Hashtags for Artists on Instagram

In addition to directly searching via Instagram, you can search “popular hashtags for artists” through search engines for articles and lists filled with options to consider. Also, two fun tools to use when deciding on hashtags are and RiteTag. These tools provide you with analysis of any hashtag and also give you the top related tags to consider, helping you with even more ideas.

Using hashtags in your Instagram posts increases your following, strengthens your art business and makes what you long to share with the world easier to find. Remember to keep your tags relevant, and use a combination of popular and niche tags.

Finally, spend a bit of time researching the most appropriate tags for your unique needs. And, consider using tag searches to see what other artists are doing and to engage with like-minded creatives.


How to Draw a Face Expression

One of the many challenging aspects of drawing is that if you want to learn how to draw a face, it’s not really just one subject you need to learn, it’s many. This is because faces showing different emotions hardly look the same.

A happy face looks very different than a sad face, or a surprised face. And on top of this, of course, no two people’s faces are the same to begin with. (No one said drawing would be easy!) To help, we’re here with advice about how to draw facial expressions that will “wow” your viewer.

In this article, you’ll discover how the face changes when it takes on six of the most universally recognized emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, anger and disgust.

For a much more in-depth lesson on this topic — including a breakdown of the all-important muscles that create these expressions — check out the Summer issue of Drawing magazine. This issue includes an article by veteran instructor Jon deMartin, titled “Expressions of the Face.”

Drawing Facial Expressions: Six Essential Emotions

post was adapted from an article by Jon deMartin, featured in Drawing magazine.

The facial muscles can produce an almost infinite number of expressions as they contract or relax. Some expressions are emphatic, others subtle. True expressions are involuntary and convey the emotions a person is feeling. False expressions do not; they can be used as a mask or cover.

You can become familiar with facial expressions by using a mirror to look for the action of the muscles on your own face. Many cartoonists keep a mirror handy so they can assume any expression they want when illustrating their characters.

To illustrate the most common facial expressions, I created several drawings of Christophe, a model who has a unique ability to transform his face.

I first drew Christophe in a neutral state, with no facial muscle contractions or discernible expression (see above). We can compare this neutral face to the subsequent expressive faces to determine what actions and movements have taken place.


When we express happiness, the corners of the mouth are pulled up, out and back. Additionally, thenasolabial furrow — the furrow of skin that passes from the top of the wing of the nose down to the corner of the mouth — is pulled in the same direction as the mouth and is deepened.

The fronts of the cheeks are raised and puffed, producing wrinkles under the lower eyelid. The eyes narrow, and the lower face is widened and lifted.


When we express sadness, the inner ends of the eyebrows are raised and drawn together, which usually inclines the eyebrow. Horizontal skin wrinkles develop on the center of the forehead only.

The medial ends of the folds covering the eye — that is, the ends nearer to the middle of the face — are pulled up. The lateral parts of those folds, closer to the edges of the face, are pulled down. The angles of the mouth are pulled down at the corners, lengthening the “long face” of sadness.


When our faces show surprise, the brows are raised straight up and arched. The upper eyelids are raised in more intense versions of surprise, and the white above the iris shows.

The lower jaw drops with the mouth open, the lips relax, and the face lengthens.


In fear, the brows are raised and drawn together; they become straight and horizontal, with a kink at the medial ends near the center of the face.

Wrinkles develop across the entire forehead. The mouth is usually open. The entire lower face widens and flattens, producing high, rigid folds on the front and sides of the neck.


When our muscles express anger, the medial ends of the eyebrows are pulled down and drawn together. The nostrils flare; the mouth squares, exposing the teeth; the lips tense; and the neck becomes engorged.


The last emotion we’ll study here is disgust. In this expression, the middle portion of each side of the upper lip is pulled up, and the skin on the bridge of the nose becomes wrinkled.The front of the cheeks rise and bulge, and wrinkles develop below the lower eyelid.

Because the lower eyelid is pushed upward by the rising cheek, the eye opening becomes narrower. Extreme contraction of these muscles will part the lips, exposing the upper teeth.

Facial expressions, like figure gestures, are fleeting. But with knowledge of the underlying muscles and plenty of thoughtful practice, we can draw them with conviction, widen our creative horizons and convey the entire spectrum of human emotion.

7 Paintings From Opening Described

The Young Pope is a new drama television series created and directed by one of my favorite directors – Paolo Sorrentino (known for Great Beauty) for Sky Atlantic, HBO, and Canal+. If you haven’t checked it yet, I highly recommend you to try. The young pope, Pius XIII (real name: Lenny Belardo, played by Jude Law) is an illiberal orphan who smokes like a chimney and drinks cherry Diet Coke. His mission is to restore the authority to the church. He installs the nun who raised him (Diane Keaton) as his chief of staff and proposes to boost the quasi-divine mystique of the office by rationing his appearances in the style of JD Salinger or Daft Punk.

Everything takes place in Vatican (of course…), so the sets are just beautiful. There are also a lot of references to art, architecture, culture… Just watch the episodes’ opening:

Do you know all the masterpieces shown there? No? It seems that they are the clue to the episodes’ narrative, but maybe we won’t give you spoilers, only a short info about them – that should be enough. So here you are, all of the paintings deciphered:

1. Gerard van Honthorst, The Adoration of the Shepherds

The Adoration of the Shepherds is a scene in which shepherds are near witnesses to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. In painting it is often combined with the Adoration of the Magi, in which case it is typically just referred to by the latter title. This painting was destroyed in 1993 by Italian Mafia in Via dei Georgofili bombing.

2. Pietro Perugino, Delivery of the Keys

The scene, part of the series of the Stories of Jesus on the chapel’s northern wall, is a reference to Matthew 16 in which the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” are given to Saint Peter. These keys represent the power to forgive and to share the word of God thereby giving them the power to allow others into heaven.

3. Caravaggio, Conversion on the Way to Damascus

This painting depicts the moment recounted in Chapter 9 of Acts of the Apostles when Saul, soon to become the apostle Paul, fell down on the road to Damascus. He heard the Lord say “I am Jesus, whom you persecute, arise and go into the city”. Tge scene shows the very moment Paul is overcome with the spirit of Jesus Christ and has been flung off of his horse.

4. The Council of Nicaea

The First Council of Nicea was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. This first ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom. Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the nature of the Son of God and his relationship to God the Father, the construction of the first part of the Creed of Nicaea, establishing uniform observance of the date of Easter, and promulgation of early canon law.

5. Francisco Hayez, Peter the Hermit riding a white mule with a crucifix in his hand and circulating through the cities and villages preaching the Crusade

Peter the Hermit was a priest of Amiens and a key figure during the First Crusade. The legend say that Peter the Hermit was the true author and originator of the First Crusade, although later Catholic historians disagreed with it. Everything happened because during an early visit to Jerusalem some time before 1096, Jesus appeared to Peter the Hermit and bade him preach the crusade among the paupers.

6. Gentile da Fabriano, St. Francis Receiving Stigmata

Here, St. Francis is receiving the stigmata of Christ, whom he sees in the form of a seraph (yes, this is how seraphs looked like in Middle Ages and at the beginning of Renaissance) while praying on Mount Alverno.  That’s a classic manner of representation of St. Francis – first time presented this way by Giotto around 1300.

7. Mateo Cerezo, St. Thomas of Villanueva Distributing Alms

St. Thomas of Villanova was a Spanish friar of the Order of Saint Augustine who was a noted preacher, ascetic and religious writer of his day. He became an archbishop who was famous for the extent of his care for the poor of his see.