Charcoal with Digital Elements

I’ve been working on a new Series of Charcoal Drawings mixed with Digital Elements. After taking Renee Mueller’s Collected Stories class I explored drawing with Charcoal again, but I found that bringing those drawings into Adobe Fresco or Procreate I could then add digital elements to finish the illustrations.

By adding the digital elements I can add textures and colors with the brushes, as well as ephemera and handwritten text that can be incorporated into the background by using layer modes.

These techniques are the same as the ones I use for the Mixed Media Graphic Art illustrations that I teach in my class.

I’m loving the level the emotion I can create in these illustrations by combining the analog drawings with the digital elements.

Mixing Charcoal and Adobe Fresco

I’ve been taking the “Collected Stories” class by Renee Mueller, so I’ve been doing a lot of charcoal drawings.

Charcoal drawings are a bit intimidating for me. I’m not sure why since it’s how I started as an artist when I was a young kid and I always make my way through a drawing, but there’s something about it that always makes me a bit anxious at first.

My beautiful daughter has become my muse for this class, which I love because I get to draw her over and over again.

Renee is such a wonderful teacher and encourages her students to explore ways to incorporate the things she’s teaching with our own style, so I took one of the drawings of my daughter and uploaded it into Adobe Fresco where I added digital elements. First I started by adding tons of live oil brush strokes on different layers and then changed the layer modes. (I teach all how to do this in my class Mixed Media Graphic Art).

Then I used a smudge brush to smooth out the charcoal lines in her face and then with a large brush and broad strokes I blended out the edges so they merged into the oil brush strokes I had added.

I added a couple layers of ephemera and then some handwritten text and it turned out better than I could have planned.

Playing with different elements and techniques, mixing things you don’t normally and trying techniques outside your comfort zone is so important to our growth as artists.

Journaling through grief

Journaling is a common activity therapists, doctors, family and friends suggest when going through loss or grief, not because it makes the pain go away, but because it releases the pressure that builds beneath the surface.

The words you write won’t take away the pain, but they will offer you acknowledgement in a time when anything else is inadequate.

The words won’t be perfect. They may even be ugly and a bit scary, but they hold the power to comfort in a time where nothing can make it right.

Your words are your story, and they deserve to be heard, even if only by you.

I wrote all about each of these steps in this post.

Wade through uncertainty

Being creative comes with an enormous amount of uncertainty.

We get ideas as we create about adding a new color or exploring a new technique but it’s the fear of messing the piece up that holds us back.

What if we gave it a shot and it was the very thing that took our piece from good too great?

What if we gave it a shot and it ruined the piece or we have to do extra work to fix it?

Both of those what if’s bring us to a better place. Those moments of uncertainty are pushing us to be better, even when the thing we tried doesn’t work. We would never know how it looked if we didn’t try.

Wading through uncertainty, and pushing ourselves through the uncomfortable, is all a part of being a creative!

Art After Loss Workshop

The Art After Loss Workshop was created out of my own journey through loss after we lost our baby boy when I was 25 weeks pregnant.

Our Noah’s little feet prints

Art After Loss is modeled after the steps I took to work through my loss, so you’ll take similar steps, but your journey will be a personal one.

Each lesson is offering you a way to express yourself with art. It’s not about creating something that looks just like mine. It’s not about perfection or doing it right.

I’m not a therapist, just an artist who used creative expression as a way to explore emotions, develop self-awareness, cope with grief, and give myself permission to do and say whatever came out.

The lessons are structured in how I implemented them in my own journey, but please feel free to jump around. Start where you feel the most drawn to.

Lesson 1 will focus on journaling

Lesson 2 we’ll explore collage journaling

Lesson 3 brings in acrylic paints as a way of expressing your grief

Lesson 4 we’ll get messy with chalk pastels as we venture outside

Lesson 5 we’ll create field notebooks with watercolor and ink. Here I’ll take you exploring the Oregon Coast and then hiking in the coastal mountains as we work through old fears.

Art After Loss Class

I offer this class on Skillshare, but I’m now offering this class through my website. You will be given a password and life-time access to the class page where you’ll have text to read along side the video lessons and downloads.

The benefit of purchasing the class through my website is any changes I make to the class page, or updated video lessons will be made live here only.

It is my goal to make all my classes & workshops affordable to anyone and easy to watch and incorporate into your day.

Feeling Burnt Out? How to Reignite Your Creativity

What is Creative Burnout?

Burnout at it’s core is exhaustion. Whether that’s an emotional, mental or physical exhaustion it all plays into the burnt out feeling. But what causes the burnout? For me, it typically follows prolonged stress, intense self-doubt, feeling stick in a rut or struggling to manage an unmanageable workload.

It’s rarely just one thing, it’s usually a combination of many things feeling way to intense and no real answers or solutions showing themselves.

Exhaustion = Burnout

When experiencing Creative Burnout there are three ways I use to reignite my Creative

1 – REST

Coming out of a burnout isn’t always easy but it can be done. Burnout does require a time of rest…whether physical rest or mental rest.

The number one thing to do when experiencing burnout is to give yourself permission to REST.

That means to slow down, take long walks in the sunshine, veg out with your family and watching trash TV, or take long naps.

Rest, however, does not mean you hide away. On the contrary, rest means to stop the craziness but not to stop and hibernate away from the world.

2 – Feed Your Creativity

Doing something creative actually provides a spark that can bring you out of burnout. It seems counterintuitive since your burnout stemmed from your creative practice in the first place. My suggestion isn’t to pick up where you were when the burnout happened, what I encourage you to do is try something brand new.

Take a class

Search out classes on topics or mediums you have never tried. Take a class on the business side of things or find something way off from your normal, like Album Cover Design or Embroidery. Trying something new can create new ideas in your own work.

Share your craft with your kids, niece/nephew, or grandmother

If you haven’t tried teaching a child to watercolor, draw or even collage…you’re missing out. Kids are so free and fearless. They try new things and can be so bold with their choices it never ceases to amaze me how excited I am to get back to my own work after creating with kids.

3 – Try adding a new medium

Adding a new medium to your current style forces you to relearn your process and try new things to incorporate the new medium.

Try adding ink, pastels to your watercolors. Add watercolor and gouache together.

What if you added pastels or charcoal to acrylic paint?

Make marks with your current medium of choice…scan in the marks and play with them digitally.

If you’re a digital artist and feeling uninspired, print out your work and tear them into pieces and try collaging or art journaling.

Be Inspired by others

I suggest thing with a warning label. Looking to other creatives for inspiration or even distraction should be done when you are in the right head space. If you do this to early, you may do more harm then good. If you are at the place where other creatives work inspires you, gives you new ideas and insight into your process then go for it, but only when you are no longer feeling the overwhelming self-doubt that brought on the burnout in the first place.

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on

I’d love to hear how you deal with burnout and what suggestions you’d add to the list.

Creative Palette-Find My Heart Background

This weeks Creative Palette is from my “Find My Heart” Digital Mixed Media Graphic Art Illustration.

“Find My Heart” Mixed Media Graphic Art

If you’re interested in learning how to create backgrounds like this yourself or how to use them in graphic art illustrations, check out my latest Skillshare Class.

Creative Palette-Alone Background

This weeks Creative Palette is from my “Alone” Digital Mixed Media Graphic Art Illustration.

“Alone” Mixed Media Graphic Art

If you’re interested in learning how to create backgrounds like this yourself or how to use them in graphic art illustrations, check out my latest Skillshare Class.