Online Resources for Artists

Paint palette, Diana Willard

As I'm going through this whole becoming-an-artist thing, I am constantly getting bogged down by not knowing how to do things.

If you will allow me, a brief list:

  • How to hang paintings
  • How to create an inventory
  • How to use a digital camera to photograph art so it doesn't look entirely gray
  • How to market my art
  • How to set up a commission
  • How to not spend an entire day on Pinterest "researching"

You get the idea. So I decided to start keeping a running list of good resources I've found -- mostly for my reference, but hopefully some will be helpful for other people!

I'll be updating this as I go along -- if you have an great resources, I'd love to see them and add them to the list!


  • How to prep a canvas >>

  • How to set out an acrylic palette >>

  • How to use acrylic gels and mediums >>

  • Golden Acrylic's color mixer tool >>

  • How to deal with green (actually one of my larger problems) >>

  • 7 steps to creating a huge landscape painting >>

  • How to use watercolors - via Yao Cheng >>

  • What supplies to get for oil painting - via Emily Jeffords >>

  • How (and why) to apply an isolation coat to acrylic paintings >>

  • How (and why) to varnish an acrylic painting >>

  • How to clean an acrylic paintbrush >>


  • Basics of print-on-demand companies + a list >>


  • Craftsy's guide to drawing the human face >>


  • Photography 101, blog series by Latrina from Of Trees + Hues >>

  • How to photograph art (video) >>


  • How to write an artists' statement >>


  • How to wire a canvas >>

  • How to sign your art >>

  • How to prep for a studio visit >>

  • How to hang a gallery show >>

  • How to package a painting for shipping >>


  • How to price your art >>

  • How to set up commissions for success >>

  • How to get your first gallery show (still working on this one!) >>

  • How to find the right gallery for your art >>


  • "The Art of Chasing a Dream," from Alisa Burke >>

  • "How to Dramatically Improve Your Art," from Doug Hoppes >>

xo Diana

The Practice Project // part 1

The Practice Project, DW Draws

Now that I'm my own boss, one of my biggest day-to-day challenges is knowing what to actually work on. Sure, if I have a deadline for a project, I'll work on that, but otherwise. . .

Maybe I should read up on marketing?

Or web design?

Or photography?

How about I just get some of the laundry out of the way?

Not that doing any of those things is necessarily bad (ok, I'm trying hard not to do housework during work hours), but I noticed these types of activities were taking up more and more of my day.

Eventually, I realized I could go an entire day without painting or sketching at all. And that was a problem because it meant I wasn't growing in my real field of choice: art.

The Practice Project, DW Draws

Yes, art is a business, and I want to improve at the business side of things, but what I really want to become great at is painting and drawing.

Which is where my Practice Project comes into play.


I'd previously heard of the 10,000 hour rule from an interview with Malcom Gladwell. Studies have shown that it takes 10,000 hours of practice before you can achieve mastery in any complex skill. This goes for anything: from composing music to public speaking to skateboarding to being a doctor.

And so, of course, it also applies to art.

10,000 hours always seemed like an unattainable ideal until I saw this infographic, which broke down the hours a bit better for me.

10 hours of practice per week >> mastery in 20 years

20 hours of practice per week >> mastery in 10 years

40 hours of practice per week >> mastery in 5 years

60 hours of practice per week >> mastery in 3.5 years

I realized that at my current rate of painting, oh, maybe two hours a week, I was headed for mastery around retirement age. Not super ideal.

Mastery tracker 1


So I set a very basic goal for myself: to spend at least 20 hours every week with paintbrush or pencil in hand.

Being the list-oriented person that I am, I decided to track my hours spent painting and drawing.

I felt really motivated to get to mark another hour well-spent and it was incredibly satisfying to see how quickly I started increasing my practice time.

Within three weeks, I'd more than quadrupled my time spent. (Note: it didn't take a lot. The first week I painted exactly zero hours and sketched for two.)

The Practice Project, DW Draws

I wasn't sure how interested other people might be in tracking time spent practicing different skills -- I'm also tracking my yoga and Hindi practice for fun -- but I thought I'd include the worksheet I used for the first month. You can download my Practice Project tracker here!

I'd love to hear what types of skills each of you is working on mastering. How are you going about developing your skill? What ways of practicing or learning have worked best for you?

xo Diana

Online workout favorites

Yoga pose

image source unknown

So it turns out that painting, blogging, and emailing don't lend themselves well to getting exercise. It is way too easy to just sit on my butt all day. And eat things.

I've been making an effort to go for walks, runs, and spin classes (oh the pain!), but sometimes getting out just doesn't happen. Which is where these online workouts come in. My top three (free!) favorites:

Do Yoga With Me

Offers a nice mix of videos you can search by level difficulty, length of session, or yoga style. I particularly like this quick one and found this one almost ridiculously relaxing.


I believe this is a subscription service for ballet-themed exercises, but you can can try it out for free via Darling Magazine's promotion, which I was really excited about! Darling has also paired up with the Barre3 founder to create some nice short videos for their site.

Michelle Trapp's Livestrong videos

S and I recently got some dumbbells and realized we had no idea how to use them. I think Michelle's videos are really clear and reassuring -- she spends a lot of time explaining how to do moves without injuring yourself.

Do you have any favorite exercise resources? I'd love to hear them!

xo Diana

P.S. I managed to mess up my RSS feed somehow, so if you haven't had a chance to read my interview with Hannah Braime, the lovely self-kindness coach, you should check it out here!

Tips for hanging a gallery wall

black and white gallery wall

unknown source

Recently, S, who is usually completely happy to ignore interior design, commented on a couple of paintings I'd hung on our wall.

He very gently asked if I was sure that the arrangement in which I'd put them was really ideal.

Which was how I realized I had no idea how to properly hang my paintings.

I mean, I could attach a painting to a wall, but I didn't know how to hang them in an aesthetically pleasing way. Strange for someone who spends all her time looking at and making art, huh?

There is a lot of advice out there on hanging gallery walls -- and even some templates for hanging patterns -- but below are some of the tips I found as I obsessively combed through Pinterest and tried out an embarrassing number of hanging patterns (sorry landlady!):

A Beautiful Mess gallery wall


> > Choose art that has some common element -- a similar color, style, or theme.

I love how the image above features mostly very graphic black and white art, which allows your eye to be drawn to each piece in turn, rather than sticking on the brightest painting!

Neon gallery wall


> > Use similar framing styles to unify the gallery.

Some art works well with minimalist frames, other art looks great with thrifted vintage frames. And personally I love painting the edges of my canvases so I don't have to frame my pieces.

Doorway gallery wall

source unknown

> > Align, align align!

A common theme among literally all the gallery walls I liked was their use of alignment. Some used a strict grid system and others simply lined up the edges of the pieces in all different directions. This turned out to be key for having a gallery wall that didn't look like a sloppy mess.

(I realized later that this was what S had been trying to point out to me. Sometimes you just need to hear it from the internet.)

Gridded gallery wall 1


Gridded gallery wall 2


Gridded gallery wall 3


> > Test out the arrangement first.

This is for the patient ones among us (read: not me) but this post from A Beautiful Mess has some nice ideas for trying out a gallery wall without putting a ton of holes in the wall.

Do any of you have gallery walls in your homes or offices? Any tips for how to hang a great one? This is definitely still a work in progress for me, although I'll be sharing the gallery wall I hung using these ideas later in the week!

Have a great week everyone!

xo Diana


While I'm on this crazy new journey into the world of art, design, and business, I often feel like a (slightly desperate) sponge -- sucking up all interesting tidbits from any source I can get my hands on. These become my inspiration, guiding directions, or simply ideas to mull over.

Most recently I came across these Japanese principles of aesthetics. I was intrigued in the tremendous history behind them, and how they continue to evolve today.

sources of beauty // principles of aesthetics 

emphasis on nature and transience

mindfulness and the beauty of imperfections

elegance + refinement

simplicity + subtlety

originality + spontaneity

begin, accelerate, end

mysterious + profound

discipline, ethics

"circle," indicating the void or enlightenment

modern phenomena of "cute," may signify harmony

As an experiment, I want to keep these in mind as I go through my work this week. I'm curious which ones connect most with my creative process, and which ones challenge me. Do you find any of these principles ring true for you or your work?  

xo Diana

I started this year doing a lot of new things I had no clue how to do.

Starting and running a business.

Marketing and promoting myself and my work.

Creating an artistic portfolio without the guidance of an instructor.

Working from home without coworkers or classmates to keep me on track.

Some things, I'm proud to say, I've figured out.

How to cram all of our belongings into less than 200 square feet (okay, we cheated and stored stored some stuff in the trunk of the car). >>

How to get myself to eat a healthy lunch each day. >>

How to keep my calendar and ideas organized. >>

Because I'm working on learning so many new skills this year, but for the first time without the benefit of a structured school or training program, I've been turning to online courses a lot more. I've been especially enjoying some Skillshare courses, and thought I'd share some of my favorites with you guys!

Skillshare is a website where teachers create online courses in their area of expertise, post video lessons, give step-by-step assignments, and provide feedback. Probably the nicest thing about Skillshare is that each class has a built-in community of classmates who share their own projects and also give great feedback and encouragement.

I've taken five classes, but these are the ones I learned the most from and really enjoyed:

Meg Lewis // introduction to photoshop

This is perfect for people who literally don't know how to open photoshop, as Meg walks you through everything from setting up a document to using some of the more advanced tools. 

I thought her videos were some of the best I'd seen, and her pacing and explanations were extremely clear. Plus, the end-result projects are super helpful -- I used it to create a mood board (above) for my redesign of my personal website!

Joe Fairless // launch a no-fail business model

This class walks you through a process of goal-defining and market research in a really accessible way. It gave me a structure to think about business decisions and left me with a lot to think about in the way of big picture ideas for my business. 

I also found that Joe was by far the most engaged instructor of any of the classes I'd taken, and he actually chatted with me on the phone for thirty minutes to answer my questions!

Molly Jacques // introduction to calligraphy

This was my just-for-fun class, and I thought it was fantastic! Molly spends a lot of time going over some really important fundamentals: which materials to use, how to hold the pen, and what the basic strokes are. 

You can go as far as you want with this class -- ultimately, the goal is to design your own alphabet/lettering style. I'm still working on the basics of this class, and really enjoying the process.

If any of you want to try out Skillshare for the first time, let me know -- I can send you a link to get a discount on your first class!

Have a great weekend everyone!

xo Diana

P.S. The top image is of my Turquoise Water painting -- you can see more pictures of it on my Etsy shop!
DIY ART 02 // five tips for looking at in-progress works with fresh eyes
There's a principle in psychology called habituation, which says that if we are exposed to something for a long period of time, we get so used to it that we no longer sense it. This is why we don't usually feel our clothes on our skin after we put them on, or why we can eventually drown out a boring teacher's monotone.

The same thing happens to me when I'm painting.

After working on a painting for long time, I get used to it. I think: the piece is coming along pretty well, in fact, it's looking pretty great. Then I talk it off the easel and catch a glimpse of it upside down.

Holy cow! It's a complete mess. All its asymmetries and flaws jump out as I see it from a new perspective.

I've developed a couple of little strategies to see my paintings with "fresh eyes" as I work on them, so I don't end up at the oh-god-what-have-I-done phase after a month of work. These would probably work for other visual media -- graphic design, textiles, photography -- but I'd love to hear what other strategies you've found to get a new perspective on your work!


1. Take a step back. Or ten.

If this calls up to your mind artists in cartoons leaning away from their canvas and squinting, I'm right there with you! But it's so easy to stay a certain distance (usually super close) to the piece, so you can't get a sense of it's overall composition. I've worked this into my workflow by take a circuit around my work table every few minutes to make sure I get farther away from the piece.

2. Turn it upside down. 

(Or sideways. Or the other way.) This really helps in looking for balance within the piece -- if everything is on one side or the other, or all the bright colors are in one section, the piece may feel imbalanced.

2. Look at it in the mirror. 

This is so, so helpful for me when I'm doing portraits, as the asymmetries in my piece just jump right out! (Taking a photo and flipping it horizontally would also work great.)

4. Take a photo and make it black and white. 

Obviously this only helps with colored pieces, but this is fantastic for seeing the true range of lights and darks and level of contrast in your piece. I've occasionally been stunned by this technique, realizing how all my colors are basically the same darkness.

5. Take some time away from it.
Before I decide that a piece is finished, I usually let it sit for a few days (or much longer) and "stare" at me, or put it away and forget about it. After a while, I'll have a better sense of how I feel about the piece -- if I can live with it, or if there are certain things I just have to fix.

What are some of your strategies for getting a new or better perspective on your work?

xo Diana
DIY ART 01 // picking your paint palette

I've been loving Erica's recent series of art-related tutorials -- especially the ones that discuss which materials to get! Art supplies are expensive, and art stores can be really overwhelming, so I decided to share some tips on choosing paint colors if you want to get into painting.

Setting up your palette is really important. If you have a good set of colors to work with, you can create pretty much any color you can envision.

And there are some colors that are so easy to make (I'm looking at you, orange!), that it's kind of silly to spend money on them. Better to mix up the perfect shade for yourself!

I love painting with acrylics, and I especially like Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylics. The photos below show Golden Open Acrylics, which dry in hours instead of in minutes, but the color principles for choosing a palette apply to really any type of acrylic paint.

My plan when buying paints is to do two things: purchase some basic neutrals that can be combined with any color, and get a cool and warm version of each of the primary colors.

These are are nice because they are cheap and great for mixing. White and black tend to be crucial for me, followed by yellow ochre. The two darker browns are especially good for getting skin or earth tones right.

WHITE - I like Titanium White and, as you can see in the photo, I run through it really fast. If you're going to buy a larger sized tube of any color, this should be the one!

BLACK - either Mars Black or Paynes Gray

BURNT UMBER - a very dark, reddish brown

YELLOW OCHRE - a light orangey neutral

BURNT SIENNA - a lighter reddish-brown

Yellow, red, and blue are the primary colors, but when picking paints, I like to get two of each: one that has a warmer (red or orange) tone and one that has a coolor (green or blue) tone.

COOL YELLOW - Hansa Yellow Light

WARM YELLOW - I like Diarylide Yellow, although I also use Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue (which is a more neutral yellow) a lot.

WARM RED - Pyrrole Red or Cadmium Red Medium Hue

COOL RED - Quinacridone Magenta

WARM BLUE -  Ultramarine Blue or Cobalt Blue

COOL BLUE - Manganese Blue Hue

Getting a warm and a cool version of each primary color makes it really easy to mix the secondary colors: orange, purple, and green.

It makes more sense when you arrange the paints in a circle.
If you mix each pair of neighboring paints together, you'll be able to mix the secondary colors and a more neutral version of each primary color.

Once you get started painting, you'll quickly figure out which colors you tend to use a lot, and which ones you aren't really drawn to. If you find one color that you are constantly mixing, it may be worth seeing if there is a bottled version of that paint.

For me, that color is definitely turquoise! (Proof, proof, proof, and more proof!)

xo Diana