Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

Jan 11

Clean Tables – Happy Custodians

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

Clean Tables Happy Custodians

Clean Tables – Happy Custodians

Clean Tables – Happy Custodians! If you have ever taught in a space that is not your own, you know the wrath a custodian or classroom teacher can bring for dirty tables left after an art class. Ever hear the saying, “Happy wife, happy life?” I go with the saying,”Clean tables, happy custodians.”Teaching art in a multi-purpose room, a regular classroom or a cafeteria is not ideal. Have you ever had to speed clean tables so that school lunch can be served? What about being scolded by a classroom teacher for stained tables in their regular classroom? I’ve been there wmy friend! Classroom teachers and custodians definitely frowned upon messy stained tables. So what do you do to keep your tables clean while creating an extraordinary curriculum for your student’s art class at the same time?

Options for Covering Tables

There’s the oldie but a goodie of newspaper spread out on tables and overlap so that they stay clean. I find that newspaper is a great thing to use if it’s very temporary. It’s also usually a cheap or free option to use.

Some teachers choose to order paper rolls to cover tables. Part of me feels like this is a waste of this heavier type paper and sometimes it can be expensive. Not all school budgets allow for purchasing such materials for table covers.

Fabric or Plastic

In the past, I have gone to stores after holidays and I’ve purchased their clearance plastic and vinyl tablecloths. This is a much cheaper and reusable option to cover your tables. There are multiple different sizes you can purchase to fit whatever shape of tables you use. I can usually get through at least a half a year with one set a table cloths. Sometimes an entire year depending on which grade and level I’m using them with. They are very easy to wipe off and fold up to be placed on the cart or the smaller storage area if needed.

I have also used regular fabric and cut it to fit the size of the tables and then cover that fabric with clear contact paper. With this option I am able to create the sizes that I need with cutting the fabric myself but I also make it easy to wipe off with the plastic contact paper that is on top. Adding the contact paper also gives your students a stiffer and smoother surface to work on.

You can also find the same type of vinyl used in table clothes at craft and fabric stores. This is also a good option when you need to cut certain sizes for tables while still getting the benefit of easy cleanup.

Garbage bags either taped or cut flat to the table works well. Another less expensive reusable table cover idea.

Twin size fitted sheets also work very well to cover tables. The drawback to using a fitted sheet is the fabric moves on the table if the sheet is not taped down tight. It’s also hard to draw directly on the table because of the soft surface. But sheets are a very effective way to cover a large area all at one time.

Just Keep ’em Clean!

Whatever option you choose to cover tables and protect art making surfaces, always make sure that they are easy to use. Quick prep and clean up is a must. Child friendly is a good idea so that the kids can help you clean up too.

Jan 10

Rules Of Engagement

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

Rules of engagement are tricky sometimes. Have you ever thought to yourself,”Man, I just can’t reach these kids.” Ya, me too. It’s tough motivating students to get excited about a class or a project. I mean there are some Monday mornings I need to hold a mirror in front of my students noses to make sure they are breathing. Getting students engaged right off the bat is a tough task some days.

For The Rules of Engagement there are a 5 crucial things you can do to engage students the moment they enter your class or you enter their class that will make a difference?

Rules of engagement can help kids to jump in to what you have to teach and create an amazing atmosphere in your class. I know instructional time is if the essence, but these little things will make a big difference for you and you really students.

1) It’s as simple as greeting them!

This may sound just too simple but stand outside your door and greet the students as they come in. If you are entering their classroom space greet the entire class with a big hello. And SMILE! It’s amazing the immediate engagement you will get just by saying hello and using student’s first names.

2) Tell the kids you missed them.

Saying something like, “I really missed you guys!” will do to the atmosphere of your class. I’ve had students tell me that no one ever tells them that they missed them. Or they ask,”Are you serious or are you just saying that?” I always answer,”I’m totally serious!” It’s amazing what kids will do for you when they feel important.

3) Get to know them personally.

Ask your students some questions before you dive into the curriculum and work. “Hey, how’s your day going? How did the game go last night? Anyone do anything fun over the weekend?” Show your students they aren’t just s kid in your class and that you care about what they do not just in school but out of school too.

4) Share who YOU are!

Students need to know that you’re a real person. I know, crazy thought right? I always think it’s funny when students see us outside of school. The uncomfortable glance and the embarrassed little wave. Kids want to know you. Yes, even high school students. Let them in a little bit. Share events from your weekend. What are some things your family likes to do? Did your pet or child do something funny this morning? What are some of your favorite things? Opening up and letting them see what your life outside of school is like, helps them to see you’re a person too.

5) Tell stories

Everybody loves a good story. I don’t care who you are! I tell my students stories all the time. Many not even art related. When I was your age, I… is always a class favorite to talk about. Other times I talk about when I was growing up or what college was like. Some of the mistakes I made and other things I’m really proud of. I have parents thank me all the time for just being a “real” person.

The rules of engagement are important BUT remember  you are not your student’s friend. Of course always keep what you do and say grade level, and overall appropriate. You are still a teacher and a respected professional. There’s a big difference between being real and being appropriate.

Dec 05

Are My Art Supplies Safe?

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized


As an artist and art teacher my awareness & concern for non-toxic art materials is always on my mind. I just recently noticed the AP labels on some paints I wanted to use on dishes, but I really wasn’t sure what the letters exactly meant. I read the words non toxic but should not be used on surfaces coming direct contact with food. Wait … what? So in looking up what the different letters mean I have tried to sum it up for you.

So what makes art supplies safe?

Just like any product, knowing what the potential hazards and proper handling protocols are can make your art making safe. Generally, art products that are safe to use are those that are nontoxic and do not cause any immediate or long-term reactions or harm to your health. By this I mean things like skin irritation, breathing problems and heaven forbid even cancer. In 1998, the US “Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act” was set as a standard where artist materials need to be labeled appropriately. Most art supplies have labels listing if the supply is unsafe for children to use them. This is very important when smaller children are using art supplies who may have the tendency to put things into their mouths.

Art Materials and Labels

Art materials must clearly have their hazardous ingredients specified on the label, and have instructions for how to use them safely, identify that it complies with Federal Law, and provide information on how to contact the manufacturer for more information.

I found out that The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI) are responsible for the little labels you see on all sorts of artist materials. Their team of toxicologists makes sure that every ingredient in every product is safe.

How Can I Check To See If Art Supplies Are Safe?

So an easy way to check to see if your supplies are safe is to look at the directions on the label as well as for the ACMI seal on your art supplies… and if you want to find out more details, check out the ACMI online directory of Certified Products, where you can find out the facts on everything from paints to glue listed there in all your favorite brands. The main seals you’ll see on artist products are:


AP Seal (Approved Product): Artist materials with the AP seal are non-toxic and are deemed safe even if misused. Situations like being eaten by a small child… that doesn’t mean eating them won’t make you sick. Always use common sense and safety measures when using supplies yourself or with small children. “The new AP – Approved Product Seal, with or without Performance Certification, identifies art materials that are safe and that are certified in a toxicological evaluation by a medical expert to contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, including children, or to cause acute or chronic health problems.”  Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI)

CL Seal (Cautionary Label): “The CL Seal identifies products that are certified to be propecl-labelrly labeled in a program of toxicological evaluation by a medical expert for any known health risks and with information on the safe and proper use of these materials. This seal is currently replacing the HL Health Label (Cautions Required) Seal over a 5-year phase-in period. These two Seals appear on only 15% of the adult art materials in ACMI’s certification program and on none of the children’s materials. These products are also certified by ACMI to  be labeled in accordance with the chronic hazard labeling standard…”  Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI)

Taking Safety Seriously

Working with various art supplies on a daily basis and knowing many artists and art educators who have fallen ill with various kinds of cancer in the past, I do take safety and the safe use of art supplies and materials very seriously for myself and my art students. I can not stress the use of common sense and all safety measures when creating your artwork. When using hazardous materials, and some art mediums are dangerous to use, but a must use for various work, please make sure you are using equipment like ventilators, gloves, etc. to keep yourself safe.

Nov 21

I Don’t Like To Draw

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

For those of your who say,”I don’t like to draw.” It’s probably because you are comparing your work to other artists who’s work you really like or you just haven’t had enough practice to make it fun. The first question I would ask you is, Who are you drawing for? If the answer is just me then I don’t understand why you don’t like to draw? It’s for YOU! Ever pick up a pencil and just doodle to doodle during a meeting, while you’re on the phone, when you have a pencil in your hand and a piece of paper in front of you?

I have different drawing lessons I really think you will enjoy here.

One of my favorite exercises to do with my students is to draw a doodle on a piece of paper for them and then let them take that doodle and make it into a drawing of whatever they are inspired to create. I’m always amazed at the many different drawings I get from the same doodle. I love this exercise because there are no preconceived ideas it’s simply creative problem solvingcreativity-test in it’s purest form. It’s looking at the line and creating what you see from the line. YES, it’s just that simple. to the left is an example of a creativity test I use. Just


screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-8-43-05-ama little direction  and then I let them go. The creativity that people display is pretty darn amazing! I am always taken back by the ideas that people come up with.

So let’s see what you can do. Click and download your own 


Share what you created with the Visual Art Academy Facebook Group! Remember, this is a judge free zone.

The Visual Art Academy Facebook Group



Nov 09

Creating An Inspiring Work Space

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

studio before

After studio

When creating an inspiring work space for yourself after studio 2or others it’s important to make the space creative and fun. A place you

enjoy and in some cases can’t wait to get to. As you can see in the picture above, the photo on the left is my space before I turned it into a place I love. It was dark and cluttered and there was nothing creative about it. I wasn’t producing much art because let’s face it… It wasn’t an inspiring place to be. It was basically a basement dumping ground. The photos on the right are the after of my at home studio. I used my favorite colors on the walls, I purchased better lighting and changed the organization of the entire room.

Whenever I have taught classes for any age of students I always set up my classrooms to feel like a big hug. I want it a place that students want to come and work and really do not want to leave. A place to inspire creativity and to take thoughtful creative risks.

At Home Studios

When you are creating an area for art making at home you want to make sure it’s an area you enjoy being in and if it’s not, you need to make the changes for it to become inviting. You do not need to have a formal studio. Any area of your home that you can designate as your “inspiring creative space” is good. Keep in mind the materials and mediums you plan to use and use common sense. For example you wouldn’t want to use toxic paint solvents in a kitchen, dining room or even bedroom. Be safe, be creative but find  your place!

Color –

What colors make you happy? For me it’s warm colors. I like rich browns, reds, rust oranges, greens and yellows. When you think of autumn, those are the colors I love to be submerged in. Everyone is different and has their own preferences of course. But your goal is to make your space as welcoming and enjoyable as possible. Color has a lot of affect on mood. There have been plenty of experiments and scientific studies done on the affects of color on the human psyche. Choose colors that make you feel good.  


When organizing your creative space, you will need to think about where you will store your supplies when you are not using them. Are drawer semi permanent storage units suitable for the mediums you use? Or is more of a permanent storage unit right for you and your space?

Shelving units are nice to keep supplies off of the floor, but I have found that things look very cluttered after a while and I start to put more and more on them. I prefer to use permanent cabinet and drawer units so all of the supplies are not in plain site.

You will also need to think about project storage. Depending on the type of mediums you are using and the size you plan to work you will want to find a safe place to store your artwork while you are working on it and then also when it’s finished. Will you need a drying area? Will you need space for 2 dimensional work or 3 dimensional work? These are just a few questions you will need to ask yourself.

Work Surfaces – 

When you think about the work surfaces you will be using in your studio or work space think about what will work best in the space you will be using. You may be using a space that is already designated for another use such as a dining room. To create art work you do not have to have a “studio”. Find a place you can work no matter where it might be. The most important thing is that you are creating and making art!

Think about the table space or direct work surface you will be creating on. It could be a counter, or a table. You may want to consider using something to protect the surface from scratches, paint, glues, etc. It’s very frustrating to be trying to do a smooth quality drawing on a rough scratched up surface.

Depending on what kind of art you are doing, a drafting table is nice because you can angle it for drawing and painting so it’s more comfortable and easier to maneuver. You can also leave it flat when you need a level flat surface as well.

Lighting –

A well lit area is a must for doing any type of artwork. If your studio lacks natural light and there are few, if any, windows or you work at night, then try using light bulbs with full spectrum lighting. I’ve started using daylight bulbs which brighten the room nicely as well as keeps colors more pure.

Studio Safety –

It may seem quite obvious, but safety in the use of materials, mediums and tools is super important. Make sure you read labels and follow directions. I’ll be the first to admit that I am never good with this. I’m kind of a “When all else fails, read the directions kind of gal.” This doesn’t work folks!! Your health and well being is too important. Make sure you know what type of ventilation you need for various products, and use mediums and tools as directed.

Let’s Recap

Creating an inspiring work space is not difficult. Figure out the tools and materials  you will need to create your artwork. Once you have a good idea of what you will need, figure out how you are going to keep everything organized, clean and in good shape. Ask your self what type of work surfaces will work best for what you are looking to create. Finally, safety not just first, but safety ALWAYS! Read labels, use adequate ventilation and always make sure you are working as safe as possible for you and those who may also be using or near this creative space.

Apr 13

10 Must Have Drawing Materials and Tools

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

10 Must Have Drawing Materials

Drawing Tools Blog Post

10 MUST HAVE Drawing Materials and Tools To Get You  Started Drawing

I have listed 10 must have drawing materials and tools you should have to create amazing drawings. Most of us start drawing in elementary school. Come to think of it, even before that! Think about it, Whenever I gave my own children as toddlers a crayon and a piece of paper they started making marks. They obviously weren’t thinking about what they were drawing or wanted to draw, they just started making marks and lines. And after they were finished they were more than proud to display their work and show everyone what they had drawn.

As we went through school and got older our use of tools and materials such as crayons changed and grew to pencils, pens, colored pencils, various erasers, etc. The quality of each of the previous mentioned tools varies according to need and function from beginner less expensive drawing materials to professional grade tools and materials.

There’s More To Drawing Than Just A #2 Pencil

Many times when people start drawing we pick up a No.2 pencil and some computer printer paper and get to drawing. There’s not a lot of thought about quality. But as we develop our drawing skills and learn about the tools and materials “out there” we see there is quite a difference in quality.

In this post, I am going to show you 10 of my favorite drawing tools and materials I and my students use on almost a daily basis to draw and create with.

1) Drawing Pencils

While many people start with just a No. 2 (Also known as an HB Drawing Pencil) pencil, you will really want to take a look at getting yourself some quality artist drawing pencils.

Drawing Pencil Sets

My students often use these because they are pretty reasonably priced but produce good quality drawings.

Drawing pencil sets are nice because when you purchase a set you get a good range of H and B pencils. The H stands for harder graphite (Lighter lines and shading) while the B stands for softer graphite (Darker lines and shading). Using a set of drawing pencils with a rDrawing Pencilsange of 6B to 4H gives you plenty of choices and options when you are drawing. Here is the name for each type of pencil. 6B, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, B, HB, F, H, 2H, 3H, and 4H are the graphite types in the set I use. It’s also nice when they come in a box that can stand up, easel style so you can see each type of pencil and they are easy to grab and draw. My younger students also use the General Brand drawing pencils and sets. These are a little lower qugeneral drawing pencilsality, but if you are only worried about practice drawing at this point, these pencils are a good start

Individual Drawing Pencils

Lots of times artists find the graphite type of pencils they like and use most often and stick with those pencils. For example, I find that I use the 4H, 2H, HB, 4B and 6B pencils. These pencils give me plenty of range for shading and drawing. Of course the drawing pencils I use for each drawing differs depending on the drawing. But if I had only these pencils in my tool box, I would be very successful.

2) Erasers

We all make mistakes right? Having a quality eraser is almost as important as the pencils. Have you ever used an eraser only to find that the eraser left red marks on the paper on top of your mistake. I just hate that!! When it comes to erasers I hardly ever use No2 pencil top erasers. When I’m sketching out an idea or making notes a No2 pencil and eraser work fine. But when I’m doing a quality drawing I want to use quality tools.

Types of Erasers

Rubber Erasers – These are your basic pencil erasers. These are the kind usually found at the top of your pencil. Rubbing these erasers over the graphite will usually erase the marks. I highly suggest you always TEST the eraser on a different piece of paper before you use it on a drawing you are working on to make sure you will get the results you are looking for and it also will not leave color behind on the paper. 

Gum Erasers  These erasers are a softer type of an eraser and have a tendency to “crumble” but are really useful on papers that are likely to tear with friction. To use this eraser you rub it on the drawing surface to remove the media you would like. As you use friction to do so, the eraser tends to crumble but at the same time preserving the surface and will usually not cause tearing.

Kneaded Erasers – Kneaded erasers are very soft and moldable. This type of eraser lifts the medium from the drawing surface. These are great for erasing charcoal from paper or making a lighter shade when you are drawing with pencil. When the eraser gets dirty you pull it and “knead it” to clean it.

Plastic or Vinyl Erasers – This is my favorite type of erasers in the bunch. They are tough, erase cleanly and last a long time. These erasers can erase almost anything! But they can tear the paper you are using if you are not careful. So make sure you tailor the friction you use according to the drawing surface you are using.

3) Sketchbooks

Sketchbooks are an amazing tool and I highly suggest that you get your self one or 10. Sketchbooks do not only need to be used for drawing. It’s a great place to keep notes, resource photos, thumbnail sketches (Plans for finished pieces) and whatever else you want to keep in one place for quick use. I often have multiple sketchbooks going in all different sizes. I have a Daler Rowney 5.5 X 8.5 sketchbook in my backpack, at work, at home, in my purse, etc.  I carry it where ever I go.

Daler Rowney Sketchbook  sketch example

I do have one smaller sized sketchbook just to practice drawing each day. Sometimes it takes more than one day to finish a sketch simply because life gets in the way, but it keeps me drawing and practicing which is important.

What? You mean you have to practice drawing? But it’s Art! If I have a dime for every time I have told students that they need to practice and they gave me a shocked look and a loud WHHHAAAT?

Compare drawing to anything you want to get good at. You may have some natural talent, but to get really good you need to learn the basics and practice, practice, practice. I always ask, “What if you wanted to learn to play the guitar and didn’t know how. Would you know what to do in the first or even second lesson? Would you be able to get on stage and perform for an audience after your 5th or even 10th lesson?” So why do people think they can pick up a pencil and create drawings of art show and museum quality. It all comes down to a lot of practice!

4) Drawing Surfaces


 When we look at various drawing papers the options are almost endless. It’s important to think about what you what your final drawing to look like when it’s finished. There are 3 things you will want to keep in mind when choosing a paper for your project.

Strathmore Drawing Paper Pad        Strathmore Mixed Media Paper

drawing paper

               mixed media paper

I prefer to use a medium to

heavy weight drawing paper.

Play with the weight of papers

to find what you like. 

1) The Tooth The texture of a paper’s surface is called the tooth. The tooth of the paper determines how it accepts the drawing medium onto the surface. Heavier tooth or texture will give the drawing a “rough or broken” appearance. While a smooth drawing surface gives the smooth appearance and the shaded gradients (value changes) are also smooth. The tooth of the paper you choose depends on the type of drawing and the look you are going for as well as the medium you are using. Drawing with pastel or charcoal is usually done on a heavier tooth paper because of the softness of the drawing medium. The artist will determine if a smooth or rough paper will work best for their finished piece.

2) Paper Weight A papers weight refers to how much a rim ( 500 sheets) weights. For most papers, the weight is directly related to the thickness of the paper. So for example usually 100 lbs paper will be thicker than 60 lbs paper. Once again, the weight of your paper is dependent on the look and feel of your final drawing and the drawing medium you are using. It’s also based on artist preference. For me, I love a smooth tooth heavier 80 lbs drawing papers. Play around and experiment with different kinds of paper to see what you like and what works best for your style of drawing.

Here are a few papers I really like to work with:

3) Acid-FreeOver time and due to the elements paper tends to break down. You always want to make sure that you use an acid-free paper when you do your artwork. Acid-free papers will not yellow and are more fade resistant in sunlight. 

5) A Good Pencil Sharpener –

Pencils need to be sharpened and if you do not use a quality sharpener you will end up really “chewing up” your pencils. You will waste a lot of pencils with a bad sharpener so go for quality in this area. Sharpeners are either manual or electric.

Electric Sharpeners

 Electric sharpeners get pencils to a point very easily and very quickly. With my students and at home I use an Exacto School Pro Sharpener. It’s very tough and stays sharp for a long time.

Because colored pencils have a softer “lead” than regular graphite pencils and contain a lot of wax in them that will build up over time and ruin your sharpener you shouldn’t use them in an electric sharpener. Also, never stick short pencils into the sharpener. It’s very difficult to get short pencils stuck in the sharpener out. When pencils get too short for the electric sharpener, it’s time to pull out the manual sharpener.

Manual Sharpeners

While electric sharpeners are quick and easy to use, manual pencil sharpeners are hand held and are convenient to take where ever you go. There are many different kinds of manual sharpeners. Because I do a lot of drawing on the go when I am riding in the car and I’m not always near a garbage can, I like to have a manual sharpener with a bottom to collect the shavings from the pencil.

6) Spray Fixatives –

Workable Fixative

A workable fixative is used on drawings to lessen the chance of the medium moving or smearing while and after you work. Using a workable fixative means that after the surface is sprayed, you are able to go into the drawing and “work” on it more. It also helps to give the paper back it’s tooth when using mediums like pastel. Always use a quality workable fixative because some fixatives tend to yellow over time. Also be careful because sometimes fixatives can change the color of drawing mediums such as pastel.

The fixative I use and have my students use is the Krylon WoWorkable fixativerkable Fixatif. It brings good tooth back to the paper and changes the color of the drawing medium very little. You can respire pieces over and over again while you work and it doesn’t coat the paper. 

Make sure you use this spray in a very well ventilated area as it does have quite a strong oder when sprayed. I try to spray my pieces outside whenever possible as the smell tends to linger for a while.

7) Blending Stumps and Tortillons –

Blending stumps and Tortillions are used by artists to blend and move mediums on the drawing surface. Now you may wonder why you wouldn’t just use your finger. Sometimes I do use my finger if I am just doing a quick sketch or just practicing to blend and shade values. But because your fingers will have natural oils from your skin I wouldn’t recommend using your fingers on a final piece you might be drawing. Tortillions and blending stumps are also very useful in very “tight” areas you need to blend and you are able to get smooth gradations in detailed drawings.

8) Art Supply Storage –

Taking care of your art supplies and keeping all of your drawing tools in one spot helps with organization as well as productivity. Art supplies are expensive and if you take really good care of them, they will last you a long time. I have my Prisma Colored Pencils in the same storage bag from High School 25 years ago. (Yes, I gave away my age) I’ve had to replace some of the colors I use often, but they are still in really good shape.

Materials On The Move

I started using a tackle/tool box for my art supplies in high school. I felt like such a hot shot carrying my supplies around school. But it was a great way to keep all my art supplies available to me on the go. As time has progressed my tool boxes have gotten larger and I have more of them for various mediums I have worked with. I have 1 for all of my metals supplies, another for polymer clay supplies, one for watercolor and other painting supplies and of course one for all of my drawing supplies.

Permanent Storage

Permanent storage can be done in multiple ways. It is a must have in your work space to organize your supplies. I have multiple cabinets and bins for various supplies in my studio. Using this type of storage helps me to be able to organize all of my supplies and know where to find what I need. Having permanent storage also keeps my studio clean and uncluttered.

Other Storage and Organization Options

There are other ways to organize and store supplies for easy use and accessibility. Here are a few that I use in my own studio at home.

9) Art Work Storage –


There are a multitude of different kinds of portfolios to transport or store your 2-dimensionall

artwork. Your artwork is important to you and needs to be protected.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a portfolio:

  1. The size of the artwork you have to transport or store
  2. The rigidity needed to keep your work from bending
  3. The type of surface your work is done on. Paper, canvas, canvas board, etc.
  4. The length of time you will be storing your work

Paper Portfolios

These types of portfolios are cheaper in price and are nice for short term transportation and storage of artwork. The draw back to using a paper type portfolio is that they do tend to tear and lose handles over time and a lot of use.

Canvas Portfolios

Canvas portfolios are durable and long lasting. They cost a little more than the paper portfolios but I really like them because they are sturdy, rigid and can be used for temporary storage and transportation as well as long term.

Leather Portfolios

Leather Portfolios are very rigid and offer a lot of bend proof protection of 2 dimensional artwork.  They are also very good for long time storage of finished art pieces. This type of portfolio is great for large artwork.

10) Other Drawing Materials and Mediums

Drawing Pens

There are many different kinds of drawing pens just like pretty much all the other art supplies out there. When it comes to drawing pens, just like drawing pencils, they are available in sets and come in various widths depending on your need. My favorite brand for drawing pens is the Micron brand. Micron pens There is a large width variety , have permanent archival quality ink and also are a in colors. My students often like to use the very fine tip Sharpe Brand markers to do drawings with. Sharpe ink is permanent but not archival so it will fade to a brownish color in UV light over time.

Because felt pens and other drawing pens are less forgiving if you make a mistake there needs to be more thought before marks made. When a mistake is made is causes the artist to go into problem solving mode. The mistake is simply a little change in direction and figuring out a solution.

Colored Pencils

Colored pencils can be used to make spectacular drawing but if you do not know the correct way to use them with a multitude of techniques I would tell you to take a colored pencil drawing course first. Colored pencils come in different qualities from Crayola to more professional grade colored prismacolorpencils like Prismacolor colored pencils. Many times beginning drawing students do little color layering and mixing and their drawings are less that what they hoped. Play with color blending and layering or take a course and learn the correct way to use colored pencil for high quality drawing. (Coming soon here at The Visual Art Academy)

Charcoal or Conté

Charcoal and Conté are softer mediums to use for drawing and can give you some very dramatic affects in your drawings. With  Charcoal and Conté the range of value you are able to attain is quite broad. 

Charcoal comes in various types and can also be found as charcoal pencils. Charcoal also comes in white and not just black. Choose colored paper to draw on and you can really create some dynamic values.

 Conté also called Conté Crayon is composed of compressed powdered graphite or charcoal mixed with a wax or clay base. It’s a little harder and contemore dense than charcoal. Conté crayons are most commonly found in black, white, and sanguine tones, as well as bistre, shades of gray, and other colors.

Let’s Review

So there you have it, the 10 must have drawing materials that will help you be successful drawing no matter what the subject matter. These are the materials and tools for drawing that I use and recommend. If you really want to start drawing all you need is basically something to make a mark with and a surface to make it on. Do not let the lack of different supplies keep you from beginning to learn or practice drawing.

You will find as you get more serious and interested in you get in your work, the more you will want to purchase quality materials and tools for drawing. 

I have no doubt that you will find the materials and tools that we have discussed as the 10  “must have” drawing materials and tools.

Mar 09

The Newest Drawing Craze!

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

color zentangle

Zentangles… Designs To Just Color Or Actual Art? 

Zentangles have become a huge art craze. If you have been to any book store lately you probably have seen the adult coloring books. People are purchasing these in hopes to use them as a technique to relax. I mean, let’s face it, coloring is pretty fun and low stress. You don’t need to think about the drawing, you just color inside (and sometimes outside) the lines and that’s it. You can choose the medium you want to color with, the colors you want to use and just go to it.

But where designs like this come from? They are definitely works of art that incorporate the Elements and Principles of Art and Design. Line, shape, space, value, balance, variety, harmony, texture, etc.

These are the ingredients and recipe to “whip up” some successful artwork. There’s something so enticing about a Zentangle design to me. I see a really well drawn out design and I want to grab my fine tip markers and just start coloring and designing.

bw zentangleWhat is a Zentangle

Zentangles are repeated pattern, line, and shapes drawn to create beautiful designs and works of art. Zentangles are very relaxing to draw and pretty addictive to do. I call it controlled doodling. Sometimes it becomes somewhat mindless but not really. You are problem solving as you go, but in a relaxed low stress way.

I truly believe just like any artwork, to create an interesting and well done Zentangle you need to practice patterns and designs. Sometimes that practice is in the form of just “playing” with lines, patterns and shapes. The practice I think is sometimes as fun as actually doing the drawing because the options are endless! You’re experimenting and there are no wrong answers. So you make a design or pattern you don’t like? No big deal… DO another one!!

 Click here to print your Zentangle Challege!

 Zentangle Challenge PDF


Zentagle Design above by Desiree Johnson

Pattern and Design Practice Examples

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 2.47.08 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-13 at 2.47.31 PM

Click here for your Zentanle Practice circles sheet

Don’t Plan Ahead

The best way to start a Zentangle usually is to begin without a plan in mind. Don’t begin your design with a preconceived idea. Start with pattern and line. Create a small section and then use that section to begin the next section with a new shapes, patterns and lines. Repetitive simple steps are the best way to go about doing a Zentangle. Doing small simple steps supports creativity, relaxation and reduces the chances of getting overwhelmed while you are drawing.

Why We Need This

In a time of computers and cell phones we very rarely put pencil or pen to paper to actually create anything. I struggle from time to time too just because life gets in the way. Using paper and a writing utensil to create uses different parts of the brain than activities like using your cell phone. Humans were made to create things. We need to create things to have a sense of purpose and joy. So pick up a brand new pencil, grab a sketchbook or piece of paper and begin Zentangling!

Let’s Recap

Zentangle ExampleZentangles are repeated pattern, line, and shapes drawn to create beautiful designs and works of art. Zentangles are very relaxing and pretty addictive to do. To develop your design and pattern ideas you will need to practice and “play” with the different ideas that come to your mind. See the practice work sheet and examples of practice I have shared with you above. Keep drawing in simple steps and do small areas at a time so that your design doesn’t feel too over whelming. Finally, just go grab some paper or a sketchbook, a pencil, marker or a pen and get started. You will be surprised at how relaxed you will begin to feel and the amazing drawing you will be able to do. Don’t settle for just one drawing! The more designs you do and full drawings you complete the better you will get. You will look back on the first few Zentangles that you have done and be very surprised at how quickly your skill and ideas improve.


Looking for more drawing lessons? Click here 

Feb 23

What Is Your Artistic Style?

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

If someone asked,”What is your artistic style?” Would you know what to say?

monet quote

There’s a difference between artistic style and favorite medium. Many artists, especially newer creatives struggle to “find their own style” or artistic voice.

Many times when we first begin learning the basics of art we focus on the use of the elements and principles to practice and create pieces of artwork that go along with an assignment. Sometime we also “copy” the style of a master artists because we are drawn to things we like in their style.  Some artists struggle with this idea of having their own style even farther into their career I have been there for sure. We tend to see what has been popular in the past and try to recreate those popular styles ourselves. It’s important to have knowledge of the past and what other artists have created in history. What time era they were in and how it affected society. But you too need to listen to your inner voice. What is your heart telling you to create and how? Listen closely!

Where is your “POP”

You may be good at drawing horses but what is the story you’re heart is trying to tell? What is your message? Where do you find the “POP”? You may be good at drawing horses, but is this where you find the joy in your art? If the answer is no, then that subject matter has little influence on your style. Keep digging to find something that gets you excited. Your style should focus more on what you want to say than what you feel you are good at.

Art Is A Risky Business

It’s scary to take risks. Even in art you have to be able to get through the fear and once in a while take a leap of faith. This was something that took me a long time to realize. For some reason, I seriously am not sure why, I thought there were certain steps you needed to follow and I waited to find these “rules of art” that I thought existed. People were successful because they did something in a certain way and until I figured out what that was, I wasn’t going to be very successful. Seriously, that’s absolutely ridiculous! Until you start to create what you want to create you will be stifled and will not feel the true flow of creativity. You’re living someone else’s art and that is no way to create.

Creative Problem Solving

When we get into creating art many times we start rolling and things go pretty smoothly until we hit a problem. Many times artists who are new to creating work tend to give up on a piece and start something new. Try NOT to do this. Consider this a challenge and part of the art making process. If something doesn’t work right away, change directions. You may need to set the piece aside for a day or 2 to think about the next move, but do not abandon it. Feeling uncomfortable means you are growing and learning. You are out of your comfort zone and that is a really good thing!

Here’s a piece I have been working on for a long time. I almost said, “Forget it!” But I didn’t. I kept working and problem solving. It’s far from finished, but I’m getting closer and closer to liking it!
Mixed media sculpture Brenda Mullard 2017

So What Are You Saying? 

When you are trying to figure out the message you want to give through your work, you may want to actually write your message out. I really like to do a “Brain Dump” on a piece of paper and just write down as many ideas that come to my head and get them on paper. Even if the ideas don’t make a whole lot of sense, I still get them out and on paper. Doing this helps me to organize my thoughts and turn my thoughts into artwork. Before you start your next piece of artwork answer these questions.

  1. What do I love?
  2. What subjects draw me in? Colors? Mediums? Time Era?
  3. How do I feel when I am around these things, using this medium the way I want to use it?

Your Style Will Evolve Over Time


Weeping Woman 1937 Pablo Picasso

Weeping Woman 1937 Pablo Picasso

picasso early painting

The Old Fisherman (1895) Pablo Piccasso

The paintings above were both done my the well known Master Painter Pablo Picasso. You can see a distinct style difference in the two paintings. You can also see by the dates that his style changed over time. As he found his inner artistic voice his confidence changed from a realistic style to a style called Cubism. It took him practice and courage to change from the very accepted realistic portrait style to his own cubistic style.

Let’s Recap

Learning from other artists styles is important in developing your own. It takes a lot of practice and problem solving to figure out what your own style is. You need to stick with artwork even when you aren’t really happy with what is going on at the time. Don’t give up on a piece. A solution will come to you eventually for whatever it is that doesn’t feel right. Ask yourself where it is you find your “Pop”. What makes you truly happy, what are you trying to tell your viewer? What do you want to world to know? With time and experience, you too will find you’re inner voice. Listen carefully! Bottom line… Keep working, keep creating and keep telling YOUR storey!