How to lift your painting game instantly.

The most important thing I ever learnt about painting was one of the most obvious - using a flat palette and palette knife. As a self-taught artist, this took me years to figure out. So I was probably pretty behind the 8-ball with this one. Which is exactly why I thought I'd share this with you all! Just in case there's anyone else out there like me being a noob.

Now, I used to use one of those bumpy palettes with all the little wells and grooves in them for separating all your different colours. I'd clean it a couple of days later, and by then all the paint has gotten stuck in all the nooks and crannies. So I'd throw it out and buy another one. This sounds completely ridiculous to me now, but at the time I had no process and no idea what I was supposed to be doing. On top of that, I used to mix my colours using a paint brush. Which would absorb half the paint I was mixing and mix the colours unevenly. Totally impractical. And with the newly mixed colour all spread out from the brush, it would dry up fast and I'd have to mix the same colour again 10 minutes later. At the time, I just assumed this was the way things were. Frustrated, I found myself deterred form painting simply because of these procedural nuisances.

What I needed was a completely flat surface, and some sort of tool to mix with other than a brush. Searching for answers, I remembered I took a painting class a long time ago. The teacher had used a palette knife to mix the paints. So I went out and picked one up from the local art store. Had no idea if it would actually be helpful, but I thought I'd give it a go. Then, as I was chopping up a crap load of mushrooms for yet another batch of spag bol, I was struck with an idea. A chopping board! It's perfect! Off I went to Kmart and bought myself a big flat plastic chopping board.

...And let me tell you - the first time I mixed paint with a palette knife on a chopping board - was bliss. Glorious sweet delicious painting pleasure. A big broad surface that was easy to clean. A tool that would evenly mix paint and keep it in a nice blob. WHY HADN'T ANYONE TOLD ME SOONER!?

Finally I'd discovered the perfect tools for me to paint with ease. Success! I've found that refining my process has been the biggest challenge and most rewarding aspect of learning to paint. It's all these little things that allow the creativity to do it's thing without hindrance. Considering it's taken me a while to refine my process thus far, I'd love to know if there's any more tips and ideas people use in their own artistic processes? Doesn't have to be painting necessarily, but anything you do to help let your creative juices out! Tell me your secrets oh wise ones.

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