Drawing Sketch Books: Which ones are the best for pencil art?

Why is there so many different types of drawing sketchbooks on the market? And How does a beginner know which drawing sketchbook to choose?

 

Various drawing sketchbooks by Canson and Strathmore
The common drawing sketchbooks on the market.

 

In this article we will go over all the types of drawing paper and sketchbooks and how they are used for different types of art.

Many beginners often ask about drawing materials and which ones are the best to use for any kind of art.

The short answer is It Doesn’t Matter.

Drawing, painting and doing any kind of art is a matter of skill not materials. To be honest you can draw on toilet paper using a simple pencil if you have the patience.

But seriously, the choice of paper depends on what materials are used for drawing.  For example,  water colors, ink and markers requires a thicker paper to prevent the colors, and ink  from bleeding through the paper. Certain forms a charcoal require a heavier textured paper to hold the charcoal particles in place.

Since this is pencil art we won’t cover all the various types of paper used for drawing. As you advance in your artistic journey,  you can investigate the other types of paper that are used in water color, heavy charcoal and pastel drawings. There is even a specific paper used for long term archiving of art.

As you can imagine the price varies depending on the type of paper used.

Drawing Sketchbooks can be broken down by:

  • weight,

  • texture or tooth

  • size

  • and color.

Weight: The specified weight listed on the sketchbook, is what a ream or 500 sheets of paper would weigh when stacked on top of each other. For example in the sketchbook below,  5 sketchbooks of 100 sheets stacked on top of each other with a medium surface would weigh 50lbs.

 

 

sketchbook by Biefang 100 sheets @ 50lbs
Sketchbook by Beinfang. Note the weight and the amount of sheets

To give you an idea of the thickness of the page:  a single sheet of paper rated at 50lbs. is slightly thicker than a sheet of photo copier paper. It’s still malleable for writing and drawing but not so malleable that it will wrinkle easily. Therefore it’s easy to draw on and  render realistic values.

Heavier paper rated at over 100lbs. would be like cardboard. This type of paper is suited for watercolors, markers and heavier charcoal.

Here’s a break down on the various types of  Drawing sketchbooks and their weights

  1. Colorline Black Drawing Medium Surface by Canson 40 sheets 92lbs. Approx 13 books would weigh about 92lbs.
  2. Toned Gray by Strathmore Medium surface 50 sheets 80lbs. 10 sketchbooks would weigh 80lbs.
  3. Mixed Media by Canson Heavy surface 60 sheets 98lbs. Approx 8 sketchbooks would weight 98lbs.
  4. 4 sketch books of 24 sheets Vellum Bristol Pad weigh in about 100lbs.

 Texture: Sketch books or drawing paper comes in 3 different surface textures, smooth, medium and rough. The surface texture, is also referred to as the tooth of the paper. Smooth textured paper has no tooth and is used in copier machines. The smooth surface makes it ideal for writing and photocopying.

On the other hand, Heavy Charcoal, markers, or pastels would either bleed through or rub off the paper’s smooth surface.

Paper with a rough and medium texture would be suitable /for pastels, and charcoal. The surface is relatively smooth and doesn’t have a lot of nooks and crannies that are present in thicker paper. The surface of the paper has enough tooth to absorbs graphite and other forms of charcoal without rubbing off.

Size: As you can imagine sketchbooks come in different sizes. Starting with 8.5 x 11 in all the way up to 18 x 24 and beyond called Newsprint. As a beginner the bigger 8.5 x 11 should be fine. But if you get into human and figure drawing bigger format paper 18 x 24 should be used for that life-like quality.

Color: Sketch book comes in various colors. The different colors  helps in rendering the different shades of grays in pencil and charcoal drawings.

What is Acid Free?

Acid Free is how the paper is processed. Acid Free paper will last longer and will not yellow over time. Beginner artists need not worry about this designation most paper is ACID FREE

To Sum up

Drawing sketchbooks rated at 50lbs to 100lbs with a, medium to smooth surface will be more than adequate for pencil art. Heavier weighted paper will archive the drawings for a long time in case you want to frame your masterpiece.

Artists that work with markers, or water colors etc.  need multimedia sketchbooks with a rough texture to prevent the colors and markers from bleeding through the paper.

Bottom line:

Don’t be overwhelmed by all the drawing sketchbooks on the market. As a beginner there are two things to look for in a drawing sketchbook : the weight of the paper, and surface texture. Any sketchbook that fits that criterion will be fine for beginner work.

 

Hard Work and discipline will produce quality results

There is no substitute for quality drawing. Only daily practice and hard work will improve the skill sets. Keep in mind the renaissance artists  did not have access to all these drawing materials. They had to make their own drawing materials from scratch which proves that you can draw on anything.

Be sure to  let me know in the comments some of your favorite  drawing sketchbooks. The next article will talk about different pencils

 

Back to product reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Product review: Drafting Table Desks: Are They Worth It?

This review will simplify the process and help with that purchasing decision.

 

Drafting tables are not just for architects and artists. They can be used for school work, DIY projects and home businesses

 

The combo drafting table desk can be used as a drafting table and a computer desk.

Don’t Buy A Drafting Desk Until You READ This

 

 

More and more people are delving into the wonderful world of art.  And more and more people, like you, are wondering about what equipment and supplies to purchase. I’ve included a basic list of supplies needed to get you started on the artistic journey.

But for now,  this article will  focus on drafting desks.

First, should you buy an easel or a desk?

It depends, on your comfort level and the amount of drawing and painting you do. The neat thing about pencil art you don’t need fancy easels or large desks to draw on. Any old table, desk or chair will do. All that’s needed is a flat firm surface that provides good support when drawing.

But if you want to take your art to the next level then you should consider at least a drafting table that has an adjustable desk top.

Some artists like to stand when drawing. Others like to sit. And some like to do both. However, if you are still experimenting with the perfect drawing position then drafting desks are great options for the aspiring artist.

Should I sit or Stand when Drawing?

Most Drafting desks have tilting desk tops which are great options for people that want to vary their drawing positions. Depending on the size of the desk and the angle of the top you can even stand up and draw.

I use a drafting desk with a top that angles from 0 to 60 degrees to complete various projects such as drawing, writing and wrapping presents. The drafting desk is the most versatile solution to my space issues, since I don’t have a big room.

The drafting desks can accommodate the artist, writer, and anyone that works from home. It’s a great option for people that are budget conscious and have limited space.

There are lot of drafting desks to choose from and all do the same thing: provide a working surface for various projects. The only differences are the materials and the size of the desk.

As you can imagine, the larger and better quality materials the higher the price.

We will cover the drafting table by Little Tree

 

Drafting Table by Little Tree

 

  1. Little Tree Multi-function Drawing Table with Adjustable Tiltable Stand provides a desk top that be angled from 0 to 60 degrees.
  2. The desk comes equipped with 2-tier shelves that can store art supplies, books and files.
  3. The Little Tree drafting table is made from Engineered Wood and heavy-duty powder-coated finish metal legs.
  4. Instruction and tools are included for easy assembly.
  5. The purchase price on Amazon is approximately $189.99.

Dimensions:

  • Length: 55. 1 inches
  • Width: 23.6 inches
  • Height: 29. 7 inches
  • Work Space: desk size 55” L x 24”
  • Weight: approx. 50 lbs.

Super Sturdy And Durable

  • Max wt capacity : 180 lbs.
  • Attractive Wood grained pattern:
  • Furniture Finish: Oak

 

Pros:

The drafting desk can convert to standard desk and easel just by lifting the desktop to the preferred angled. The desk is pretty compact and is great for small home offices and studios. It can be used for drawing, writing and other projects. The illustrations for assembly are easy to follow. Every part is numbered or lettered and the desk can be assembled in under an hour.

Cons:

The shelving space is limited. Which can be a draw back for storing files or large books. The desk surface isn’t waterproof and will bubble up if liquids are spilt on it.

Overall impression of the Little Tree Drawing Table

For the price you can’t go wrong. The Liittle Tree Table is an attractive piece of furniture that can fit any home décor. The table comes in different colors and wood grain patterns. The desk top angles to a maximum of 60 degrees which is more than enough to do art work, writing and other projects.  The surface board surface can be fragile and easily scratches when cutting or slicing. Be sure to use a cutting board or mat when using crafts blades and razors. Be sure to keep liquids off the desk or wipe off immediately if spilled. .

Be on the look out for future articles on Art Supplies and equipment

What about you? Do you sit, stand or a little of both when drawing?

Leave comments about your favorite drawing desk or easel.

How to set up a home art studio for the pencil artist

The Home Art Studio: Keep it Simple. Keep it Functional

Desk and easel in a home art studio

All that’s needed in a simple home art studo is a desk, chair, sketchbook and pencil

There are many ways to set up a home art studio and so many supplies to choose from. Easels, chairs, tables, desks, and lighting are just some essentials. But the choices can be overwhelming and expensive.

Luckily as a beginner you don’t need all the high end studio equipment to produce quality art.

In this article we are going to help you to set up your own home art studio without the stress or the expense.

There are three things to consider for the home studio: space, lighting, and seating

The Space

Many artists struggle to find the space needed to draw. As a pencil artist you don’t much space or any space at all. The space can be a part of a larger room sectioned off with a screen or curtain.

A small closet, or a small cubby hole can be great options as well. If you are one of the fortunate few and have more space,  then a spare bedroom or home office can suffice.

The important thing is making sure that the space is conducive to a creative environment without too many distractions or poor lighting .

Lighting

To render accurate shades of gray from dark to light, the space has to have adequate lighting to illuminate the work space to differentiate the various shades of gray.

Natural lighting with a northern exposure provides the most consistent lighting throughout the day. The glare from the sunrises and sunsets makes it hard to render accurate values.

What if you don’t have a northern exposure or a windowless room?

Then, incandescent lighting is the only option. Just make sure the light is evenly dispersed either with a shade or ceiling mounted light fixture with cover. Floor lamps positioned on either side of the drawing area should provide optimal lighting.

Try to use warm lighting in the 2700 K range. Do not use white light that is used in clinical environments they produce too much glare. The subtler shades of gray must be seen to produce accurate drawings.

 

A range from 2700 K to 3500 K will illuminate the workspace with the proper brightness.

 

Drawing Desks or Easels 

There are many surfaces to draw on, desks, easels or a combination of both. Desks with a built in easel such as the one below can be used for drawing, painting and writing.

 

 

Do you need an easel ?

Not necessarily but….

It’s important to have the work at eye-level to provide a distortion free view of the drawing. A drawing/painting easel is the practicle choice to use for holding a piece of art. Eventually you are going to want to get one.

In this illustration, the easel is positioned slightly below eye level and at just short of arm’s length.

An easel can be set at various angles and heights to the size of your project. There are many easels to choose from and some of them are small enough to fit on a table and large enough to stand on the floor.

I encourage you to check out the easels at on your local arts and crafts store. Make sure the easel can be easily adjusted and that it provides good stability for your work. Make sure you have enough room for larger easels. The bases can be quite wide and take more room than you think.

The size and type of easel is dependent on the size of the canvas or paper used. Obviously, large formatted paper or canvas will require a floor standing easel and for smaller pieces a desk easel could do the trick.

Drawing Boards

Pieces of plywood from the lumber yard or home depot could be used in lieu of easels.

In fact that’s what I use.

 

 

This 18 x24in board was purchased from Amazon. They are lightweight and provide great stability while propped up against another chair or desk for drawing.

Stand or Sit to Draw?

To sit or not to sit? That is the question

Answer: It depends. Some artists like to sit while they draw using an easel. Others like to sit using a drawing board. Still, others like to stand no matter what. There is no right or wrong way. Just make sure the drawing surface is at eye level and you have enough room to draw and view the model or object.

I like to do both sit and stand so instead of adjusting the height of the easel I just adjust my height from standing to sitting

Chairs

There are many chairs that can be used Including stools. again Just make sure what you’re working at is at eye level

Lots of artists use stools so that they can easily change positions. Some like using chairs with good back support. It’s up to you and your comfort level on what you want to use.

Make sure to have FUN when drawing!

Don’t get overwhelmed by all the choices in equipment out there on the market. You don’t need all the high end supplies to draw.  Just stick to the basic equipment and you should be fine.

 

To Recap:

What is included in a home art studio?

Keep the space simple

The basic home art studio can be a kitchen table, home office or a spare bedroom. Even a closet can do the trick. Try the local library, coffee shop or the park. Even the lobbies of public buildings can offer a decent spaces to draw in.

Here’s a basic list to get you started:

  • Desk
  • Chair
  • Easel
  • Any room, corner, cubby hole will do

 

You can always draw with sketch book in your lap while seated on a park bench.

 

Remember, only hard work and dedication will produce quality art. Not fancy high end equipment or an ideal home art studio.

 

Final Thoughts

High end equipment will not improve your skills and may give you the illusion that the right equipment is needed to produce quality work. It is only with hard work and practice that your drawing skills will improve.

Please,  let me know in the comments sections about your home studio setup.

 

 

How to Practice Drawing: Do you need a live model to practice life drawing?

That’s the question on every beginner’s mind. Should a student use a Life model or photograph? What is the best way to learn to draw human figures and portraits?

I posed this question in different online forums and social media groups. And here are some of the answers

  1. Pick inanimate subjects: buildings, furniture, cars or sculptures
  2. Ask friends and family to pose for you
  3. Draw your own figure and portrait using a full-length mirror.
  4. Host a drawing party where everybody agrees to model for each other
  5. Pitch in with other people for a model
  6. Draw people at the store or on the street.

I dove into the wonderful world of portrait and human figure drawing during the lock down. I scoured the Internet and watched YouTube art tutorials until my eyes fell out. A lot of those artists used photo references to draw from and it seemed like a good way to learn. After all where is a beginner going to find a life model during the quarantine? And how are they going to practice drawing?.

This article will address the advantages and disadvantages of using photo references vs. life models and why using a life model is the ONLY way to learn. Keep in mind “life models” don’t mean living and breathing people. Life models also includes still life such as buildings, and fruit.

How to practice life drawing without a model

I brought many books on drawing and developed some portrait and human figure drawing skills. Armed with all this knowledge left me wondering is this the way to learn? I still couldn’t draw on my own and needed to refer to the tutorial for step by step instruction. I also discovered that using the techniques covered in that tutorial didn’t apply to other subjects. My other portraits didn’t come out …great at all.

I started thinking what is the point of drawing from a photograph? You are just making a copy. Where’s the originality or the art? I can achieve the same result by taking a picture with a camera.

Then I came across a website that offered to teach art and drawing in the comfort of your own home. The program was taught by classically trained Russian art tutors, that were educated in the most prestigious art schools in Russia.

A Unique Way To Learn How to Draw:

What intrigued me was their philosophy of teaching. Most online videos drew from photographs using the grid method, proportional dividers and site measurement. The life drawing academy didn’t use any of those methods. In fact, they spoke out against those methods stating that it would stunt the artistic growth. Instead, they emphasized drawing from knowledge of the subject and using comparative measurement to draw realistic pictures of human figures and portraits. once the student develops intricate knowledge of human anatomy then they can draw accurate images of the human form.

But what if you do not have access to a life model or you can’t afford one?

Most Life drawing classes are on hold throughout the USA because of the pandemic. And life models charge $200.00/hr to pose.

So is it possible to learn to draw human figures without a model?

The short answer is yes.

However, There is so much to learn about drawing before delving into the subject of human figure and portrait drawing. Any kind of drawing requires mastery of basic concepts such as perspective, overlapping, shadow, etc. And some concepts are covered on this site. These topics are certainly not exhaustive but are applicable to advance work.

And even then….. Portrait and figure drawing has its own special challenges that must be mastered to render realistic images based on knowledge of the subject. Once armed with this knowledge then the student can draw from life and imagination without relying on copying or using measuring instruments.

The “Bowl of Fruit”: An alternative to live models

Why do artists draw bowls of fruit?

Still life such as a bowl of fruit is a great learning tool to draw anything. Fruit such as oranges, grapes, bananas, etc. represent the basic shapes and forms that will be used in figure and portrait drawing. Also, bowls of fruit are patient models and don’t need breaks from posing.

In fact any inanimate object is fair game to study drawing. Don’t limit yourself to fruit and vegetables. Consider kitchen items, trees, bushes and objects in a park are great subjects to draw

But what about using a life model vs. a photograph?

Well here’s the longer answer..

Photographs offer a limited view of the subject. They don’t show the real rendering of the person only a two dimensional view. Drawing from the live model shows the actual shapes of the arms, legs, feet, and  toes, etc  Plus, what is the point of copying a picture? You are basically drawing a picture of a picture.

Live model offers more nuances than a photograph or a piece of sculpture. Most schools of art argue that drawing from photographs limits your skill development in fine art.

According to Life Drawing Academy, “When it comes to drawing from photos the artist limits his learning opportunities. The student learns how to copy instead of learning how to draw from imagination or life. In fact, the student may never develop these skills and will be limited to restoring or copying pictures. A photo or painting restorer is a fine profession but if you want to produced original works of art then drawing from life subjects is the way to go.

 

 

We covered the advantages and disadvantages to drawing from life and photos.

The question was ‘Do you need a life model to learn how to draw? Yes you do,  if you want to learn to draw from the imagination or life. But if you want to restore old paintings and pictures then copying is fine.

The advantages:

  • Live models offers a realistic 3 dimensional view of the subject
  • Using life models helps the beginner to develop drawing skills to be used later for advance topics

The disadvantages:

  • Live models cost money
  • May be hard to find due to the lockdown

Here are the alternatives to professional life models

  • Use still life or other inanimate objects
  • Ask friends and family to pose for you
  • Offer to pose for fellow artists in exchange for posing for them.

Where to find fellow beginning artists?

  • Try searching for local forums on line and seek others that live near you
  • Start a group of your own using the MeetUp app. Great way to start any group and a great way to find fellow artists just like you
  • Check out local community centers that offer art classes and see if anybody is interested in meeting at your home for life drawing sessions.

Remember there are other ways to find life subjects to draw. Don’t let the excuse of lack of money or resources to resort using photo references or pictures. Seek out the life subjects now! Bowls of fruit, kitchen appliances, cars, street scenes etc. And don’t forget about asking family, friends and fellow artists. Also, consider starting your own ART group on social medial such as facebook, MeetUp.com and Pintrest.

Wait for a future article on sketching!!

Let me know in the comments some of your ways of finding life models or other subjects to draw.

 

The Secret To Drawing Portraits: The basic Loomis heads

Andrew Loomis was an illustrator and art instructor in the 1920s and 30s. He developed a system for drawing basic heads and figures for advertisements, magazines, and fashion illustrations. His system is still used today by art students, illustrators, and animators all over the world.

 

 

This system can help the budding portrait artist draw as well.

REMEMBER: Loomis Heads are just aids for drawing portraits

The previous lessons for portrait drawing are great ways to get STARTED but that’s all that those lessons are… a start. There’s a lot more to drawing realistic portraits than presented in that lesson and that’s what we are going to cover here.

We are adding another layer of practice to drawing heads and faces.

Remember I am a beginner like you … never drawn before in my life and I was able to achieve some decent results. Check out this portrait of Christopher Walken.

 

Graphite drawing of Christoper Walken

Yes, I know very smudgy…

 

Is it a great drawing? Or classically drawn?  Of course not but look at the likeness. What does this prove? That quality art is within reach for ANYBODY. The question is

“Are you willing to do what it takes to master the craft?”

These portraits were drawn by a beginner with nothing more than a graphite pencil in an ordinary sketchbook.

Do you want to know what the key ingredient is for drawing ANYTHING?

I will reveal the secret….later

But for now, get out your sketchbook pen or pencil, piece of paper, or whatever it is your draw with.

Caution: Use a light touch in all these drills

  1. Take the pencil and start drawing circles. Just plain simple circles. Draw about 20 of them or more. Feeling ambitious? draw a hundred more. Fill up the page with circles and draw them on the other side of the paper. Do the circles have to be perfect? Not really but try to make them as round as you can.
  2.  Next, draw some ellipses. Heck, draw one hundred of them as well. Different sizes until you fill-up the page. Do you remember how to draw an ellipse? Try drawing them in different positions for example laying on their sides at an angle etc.
  3. Finally, draw a bunch of cubes

“Circles, spheres, boxes, and cylinders are present in all portraits and figure drawings. Get comfortable drawing these shapes”

How are you doing? Is your hand getting cramped? Try drawing them with your whole arm from the shoulder. Or if you are feeling a little adventurous try drawing them with a non-dominate hand.

Use Large Format paper: 18 x 24 Smooth
Newsprint

Large format paper is ideal to practice with. It’s cheap and plentiful. Plus it helps with drawing bigger portraits and pictures. Commercial artists use it when they’re outlining a painting for Commission. Budding portrait artists will use it to develop their drawing skills.

I want you to get your whole body Into the drawing process. Put the pad in an easel and draw standing up. Or buy a drawing board such as this and lean it up against a chair or desk. You can purchase a drawing board from Amazon. Incidentally, this is what the Ateliers or drawing studios recommend drawing with.

Now stop and take a break.

Exercise, Exercise

Remember to take care of your back and do some exercises.

 

Do some Yoga or core exercises.

All done with the exercises?

Great, let’s continue on.

Now draw some more circles about ten of them.

The next thing we are going to draw is the cross of the face.

Like this

 

 

 

This is the best way to master drawing.

On the first circle draw a centerline down the middle then draw another line dividing the circle in half.

On the next circle draw the vertical line a little to the right of the center. Like this. Then draw a horizontal line across the circle like this.

 

 

Finally, draw a vertical line to the left of the center like this.

Now we will finish this drill by drawing the rest of the head in ¾ view.

Look at the Loomis Book for Heads and notice we drew the same heads look at the Loomis Book you’ll see we drew the same heads. Practice these heads over and over again until you can see the heads turning to the left and the right and looking down and up.

The Profile

Let’s draw some more circles

Next, quarter the circle

Then draw another line from the top of the circle out a 1/4 distance from the edge of the circle like this.

 

 

Finish drawing the rest of the head in profile.

That’s it for this drill.

Remember to do these drills over and over again.

Here’s the secret to drawing portraits as promised.

The secret is a DESIRE to learn. That’s it.

DESIRE is a pretty powerful ingredient. And can make up for lack of talent.

To master anything: music, sports, etc is to practice over and over again until these moves become ingrained. Natural. Like breathing. Do you think when you breathe? Of course not. you just do it. That’s how drawing these heads should be, automatic like tying your shoes.

Drawing Loomis Heads are Challenging..But don’t get discouraged!!

The plates from the book are difficult to draw so don’t feel bad if you can’t achieve a good likeness. In the above lessons, we did not draw in the features: nose, mouths, ears, and eyes. That’ll be done on another day. Right now get comfortable doing these drills.

  1. Draw the circle
  2. Find the cross of the face at different angles
  3. Finish off the head by including the jawline and hairline

But if you want to add the features, then go ahead.

Remember it’s all about the process, not the result. And I’ll bet your drawings look better than you think.

Don’t be discouraged if your drawings lack quality. The quality will come with practice. Just keep up the passion and the desire to learn.

BONUS BONUS

I have another assignment for you. Look in the newspapers, magazines, or find some pictures of people’s heads and faces on Pinterest. Find the centerline and the cross of the face, and divide up the face into thirds.

Here’s to happy drawing and see you on the next drill.

How did this lesson go for you? I hope you found the secret to drawing portraits lesson helpful. Please share some of the drills that have worked for you. I am always looking for other ways to learn. What I am trying to do is to come up with lessons and drills that are beginner-friendly and effective for learning how to draw.

 

 

 

How To Overcome Artistic Block

 

Has that nasty artistic block reared its ugly head and drained your creative juices?

Don’t worry this article will show you how to crush that artist’s block for good.!!!!

You ve drawn some quality drawings and you’ve taken some art courses. The skills are improving and the excitement to learn is growing. You can’t wait to tackle advanced topics like human figure drawing and portrait work.

But lately, you’ve noticed something. The quality of the work is declining and the passion is diminishing.

You wonder what’s going on.

Drawing and painting has lost its appeal and has become a difficult chore.

There isn’t enough time in the day to do everything you have to do to maintain your practice.

In fact, you wonder if creating quality art are within reach.

Self-doubt takes over …then you give up blaming lack of time for the reason.

But … Something deep inside of you wants to create beautiful artwork for all the world to see.

You have to continue on your artistic journey. That little voice inside of you says : “ I was born to create and nothing is going to stop me from showing the world my vision.”

Here are 3 steps to get back into drawing

1. Go back to your reasons for drawing in the first place.

What got you excited? Was it your first awesome drawing? An inspirational art instructor? A beginning art book? Just go back to Whatever it was that got you drawing in the first place and begin again. See if you can reignite the passion.

2. Get social

Form an artistic group either on social media or in your local community. Share your interests with like-minded people and offer to critique other’s work. Often creative work can be isolating endeavors and it doesn’t have to be. You are not alone, Just reach out to others who are feeling the same. Sometimes just connecting with people can help with burnout.

3. Try drawing simple objects.

Basic shapes: cones, squares, cubes, circles, spheres, and organic shapes,  are great for drawing more complex objects. Remember human figures, animals and buildings are just made up of basic shapes. Keep a journal and see if you can root out that negative self talk out of your head.

 

There are many reasons why you’ve stopped and some reasons are legitimate such as illness, money or other family obligations.

But…I suspect the main reason is … artistic block

Three main reasons why people give up on any creative endeavor

1. The lack of quality results. your artistic growth plateaus and the skill sets are not increasing. In fact, the skill sets may be diminishing. You ve forgotten how to draw those other drawings and now your drawings look like crap.

Self doubt happens to everyone. Go back and review your awesome drawings and believe you have the ability to learn. Artistic growth comes and goes in spurts. Even the experts feel like a complete beginner at times. Remember quality artwork takes time to develop

We all have our “bad drawing days”. Don’t equate bad drawings with lack of skill. We are not going for exhibition quality work. Art and drawing is supposed to be fun…right? Shut down the internal critic and remember you are learning.

Don’t give up!!

2. Others who started out the same time are doing better than you and some are selling their work

Yep… I’ve experienced this myself.

How to deal with it: Don’t compare yourself with others. Everybody was born with certain set of talents including you. Just pick up on where you left off with your lessons and continue on. If you feel feel really burned out take a break

3. Suffering from Burn out.

Can’t draw or even think about drawing anymore?

Try a different art form

Maybe pottery, maybe music

Or writing poetry or some other creative outlet.

 

Your brain like a computer needs to defrag and get rid of at the useless information stored up there.

You are not losing your skills you just need to reboot. Try hiking, exercising or another hobby such as photography or playing a musical instrument.

Just like working out if you focus on one muscle group the muscles will burn out. You have to vary the drawing exercises. For example, integrate drawing head lay ins with basic sketching or some other simple drawing exercise. Head work should not be followed up with drawing human figures for over 2 hours.

Once you’ve taken a break, the brain/body/emotion continuum will look at the problem in a different way. And, the brain will come up with a different solution to the problem.

“Creativity blocks” happens to everyone. Even the pros suffer from this

Steven King

Bob Ross

Agatha Christie

How to get those creative juices flowing.

First decide where the block stems from

1.  Limiting belief: We all have them find what yours are. A common belief among beginners is that you need to talent to create quality pieces of art. Not true.

2. Boredom: Get involved with a group or organize one and share your passions.

3. Lack of confidence: Practice, practice and practice some more. Focus on the process and not the result. Be sure to chart your progress. You are better than you think.

Reignite the Passion

Remember drawing is HARD to master. Art forms like Human figure and portrait work require lots of concentration and attention to detail. Even the expert artists take breaks every 20 minutes.

Michelangelo suffered from burnout. However, he painted and sculpted all the way up into his nineties.

Check out how famous artists kept their passions alive. 

“You would think that my work was not that wonderful once you know how much work went into creating it.”

Michelangelo

Burn out happens to everyone. Remember why you started drawing in the first place and continue on with the journey!!!

Please share some of your ways of dealing with burn out in the comments below. What are some of your favorite activities to do outside of art and drawing?

 

Recommended reading

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

By Mason Currey

A great book that covers some daily habits of famous artists, writers and musicians. The book includes pictures of their work spaces and how they spent their days creating masterworks.

How long should you practice?

Here’s the simple answer…

ALL THE TIME

 

 

 

Unfortunately….There is no set formula or amount of time to practice.  Depends on a number of factors.

  1. Your daily schedule. Are you a busy parent with lots of family commitments? Or a busy professional with little time for anything else?
  2. Your goals. Is drawing/art a hobby or a career pursuit?
  3. Your level of passion. Do you really like to draw? And willing to do what it takes to get good at it? Or do you think it will be a passing interest like your other endeavors/hobbies?

Here are some examples of practice sessions of other famous artists and musicians

  1. Jimi Hendrix practiced all the time. There was never a time he was without his guitar. He even slept with it.
  2. Mozart has been composing music since the age of 12. The length of practice sessions, unknown
  3. Da Vinci had no formal education beyond math reading and writing but his father appreciated his artistic talent and let him apprentice with the Italian Master Andrea del Verrocchio.
  4. Somerset Maugham: “I practice when only inspired. So I make sure that I am inspired every morning at 8 AM

These experts honed their craft on a daily basis either by working on commissioned pieces or just drawing on their own.  When they were students they copied their instructors and traced master collections. You should strive to do the same.

What to do when you have so much to do?

Ideally, Start off with a half-hour to an hour each day and focus on what to practice.

For example,  plan on practicing 20 minutes on simple geometric forms: circles, ellipses, cones and cubes. Then  practice figure and head drawing exercises. As a beginner look for simple objects to draw around the house: desks, chairs, tables and appliances.

On the Next day,  focus on speed. Practice drawing those common objects  at various angles and levels. Then gradually shave that down to 20 minutes, 15, 10, 5, etc. Don’t worry about the quality at this point just the process of practicing.

There are plenty of beginning art books that can give you ideas on what to practice.

Believe me the quality will be probably better than you think. Gradually you’ll see some improvement.

Remember we are striving for improvement not exhibition quality work.  Focus on the little wins and forget about the failures. Learn from them. But don’t dwell on them.

What Does the early days of Space Exporation have to do with art?

Failure Is Part of the Journey!!

Don’t fear it embrace it.

 

This was a bad launch day!!

Look up those videos on Youtube and watch the disasters the engineers faced with those early launches. Keep in mind each disaster was a step closer to space.

Same with drawing or any other endeavor each mistake is closer to quality work. It just takes time.  Even if you lack the talent the brain will find “workarounds” and soon you’ll be drawing quality pieces of art.

Ok… Now that you have an idea on how to practice

Set up a practice schedule

1. Go get a calendar and mark down the times when you are going to practice and stick to it.

Obviously, you’ll have to workout a schedule based on you other responsibilities.

But…If you can dedicate a 30 minutes per day that’s a great start. Carry a little sketch book around with you on those extra busy days. You can practice sketching basic objects cubes, spheres and cylinders while waiting in line at the grocery store or an appointment. Practice sketching basic objects around you trees, cars, buildings and even people. Or just draw cubes and cylinders in different positions.

2. Set-up your drawing space

A lot of creative types use a starting ritual. I start off with a, cup of coffee, a quick workout, and  a cold shower. Some creatives wear a favorite article of clothing or  use incense etc. Do something  that gets the mind focused on the task.

Make sure loved ones, room mates and pets etc. understand that once you are in your drawing space you are not to be disturbed:

From the hours of 9-1 1 am or from – 4p to 8p is your practice session and make sure you stick to it. At the end of the session practice is over … period. Put away the supplies clean up the space open the door, anything that indicates that the session is over.

Bonus tip: at the end of the session you set up more goals for the next session. That way you can just jump right in without thinking about what you are going to. Remember you are on a tight schedule. 

Hey I am a Creative type and I don’t like regimentation

 

If this is too regimented and you are not the regimented type then try to practice a little each day fifteen minutes or so.  Whenever you can find the time. Even a few minutes  a day is better than nothing.

Honestly,  to see real progress you are going to have to set up a practice schedule.  Without some kind of structure it’s really going to be hard to stick to your goals and monitor your progress. Be sure to date your work so that you can see the progress.

3. Develop an accountability group

Find a group of like minded people that are on the same path you are on. It would be nice to find a leader that is further along but if this is not possible consider developing your own group. You should be encouraging other and holding each other accountable; what did you practice this week? Or what did you do?  You could do it online or meet in a library anywhere really a park bench could do the trick. Nothing fancy. If you cannot find a space then do it on zoom or FaceTime.

 

Make sure you take some breaks.

Neuroscientists state that most people can only focus a 1/2 hour on an complex activity after that the mind begins to wander.

When that happens take a break. There is no sense in fighting it. Your mind will wonder even more. As your skills increase the ability to concentrate for longer periods will increase as well.

Some people can focus for longer periods and some shorter. The bottom line is to stick to the plan and implement it. Remember…I am going to drill this into your head

Don’t neglect your health!! 

Be sure to exercise, stretch, do some core exercises, sit ups, planks etc. Check out some Yoga videos or sign up for personal training sessions. I’m being serious here..you have to maintain a healthy lifestyle if you really want to progress in your training.  Sitting for long periods of time, (over an hour),  hunched over a desk or easel is hard on the posture and bad for your back. It’s very easy to get caught up in the practice and spending over 2 hours in the same position. Time does fly when you are having fun.

But…your back will not forgive you.

 

There are some ergonomic desks and chairs that can help with posture issues on Amazon. Lot’s of artists and writers use standing desks to vary the positions.

 

 

 

As always, FOCUS ON THE PROCESS… NOT THE RESULT.

You’ll hear me say over and over again.

Make this your mantra. Pin over your desk. Some days the drawings will look great and others well you get the idea.

Believe with practice the skills will improve along with the quality of the art.

Think of it like exercising or training for a marathon art training is no different. The quality will improve over time. Maybe you can only run 2 miles or even less. But with practice you’ll build up the endurance and soon you be doing 10 miles, 15 20 miles etc.

I know that some of the instruction and training can be repetitive and boring but believe me  this is how the masters did it. Developing muscle memory is KEY to mastering any activity including art.

Here’s to happy drawing

Be sure to share some of your practice rituals and what has worked for you and how long it took.

Digital Art Drawing Pads: Are they worth it?

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In this article, we are going to talk about digital art drawing pads and how they can help new artists improve their skills.

Software, laptops, computers, and drawing tablets can be expensive, no doubt. Not to mention the HUGE learning curve involved with some of the newer technology and software on the market.

The drawing tablets, won’t help you become a better artist either. With a click of a button or wave of the pen, you can correct an imperfect circle, straighten out a crooked line or fix up a misshapen square.

As a beginner, it’s important to be able to draw spheres, cones, and squares as accurately as possible. Without the fundamentals in place, the beginner will never reach the advanced levels of drawing or painting.

The tablets do not provide the tactile and visual feedback that a typical drawing surface can give to a beginner artist.

How are watercolor pencils going to look on smooth paper or textured paper? What’s the difference between graphite and charcoal? How does it feel to draw with these items on various surfaces?

Different mediums such as charcoals and colored pencils render different results. The new artist must learn how to work with various mediums to advance from beginner to expert. For example, charcoal can  smudge up the paper, and watercolors can bleed all over the drawing surface. How do you correct that?

Making mistakes is part of the learning process. A drawing tablet makes it easy to correct mistakes or make quick changes. Whereas, on canvas and paper, mistakes are harder to correct.

So…Why am I recommending drawing tablets to beginners?

Technology is a part of life. It’s prevalent in everything we do. All industries use technology and it is going to keep evolving.

The beginner artist has to be up to date on the latest trends in digital and traditional art if they want to pursue an art career. So it would be foolish to forgo any digital drawing pad when it can be a great resource for the beginner.

Digital drawing pads and other forms of technology have their place in artist’s repertoire. 

How can a digital drawing pad help the artist?

Sometimes it’s hard to pick a suitable subject to draw even for advanced artists. Experimenting with different subjects can be time-consuming and confusing. Wouldn’t be nice to see the drawing in all its glory before time and materials are invested?

Paints, canvas, and other drawing supplies are expensive.

  • A set of 6 – 0.7oz bottles of Acrylics can cost $30.00 or more
  • A starter set of 10 bottles of Oil paints 40mL can cost over $70.00
  • A bulk package of 40 16 x 20 canvases can cost about $90.00

As a beginner, you are going to go through a lot of supplies before you get a good painting. With a drawing tablet, a beginner can practice many times before painting the actual picture.

Digital drawing of a mountain landscape using the Ipad Pro and stylus

Technology can help to see a finished piece before drawing it and using expensive supplies.

With a drawing tablet, you can plan out your whole drawing before you set the brush to canvas or pencil to paper. You can pick out the color pallets, test out the shades, map out the whole composition in a matter of minutes instead of hours. It’s amazing the realism that can be achieved using a drawing art tablet.

If you can afford it, drawing tablets can help in the Artists’ journey.

Technology will be a part of the art industry. Robotics, video games, digital art all use technology to create images for various industries.   But tablets do not take the place of learning to draw or paint.

The advanced and beginner artist have to practice every day to develop the skills. Even Michelangelo and DaVinci practiced their craft daily.

Drawing tablets are just aids that can help the beginner to master the art and create images. Creativity happens in the brain and technology can helps to bring it out.

Do not discredit drawing tablets

A drawing tablet can help the artist conceptualize a project which will save on time, money and supplies. A digital drawing pad can show what a finished piece can look like before painting the bigger picture.

The bottom line: Digital drawing art pads are worth the investment. Even the pros use them before painting big projects. Technology is and will always be a part of the artist’s life. The drawing pads can help a beginner artist see the whole project before investing time and money into a piece.

What Digital Art Drawing Pad Should I Buy?

In the next article, we will go over some of the drawing pads on the market ranging from very expensive to budget-friendly devices. Stay tuned.

You don’t have to spend the big bucks on the state of the art drawing tablets such as Ipad Pro 2020 (Although it’s very nice.) There are some inexpensive tablets that are just as good. Even an older Ipad can work as well. Be sure to do your research and check out other vendors. I’ll provide in-depth reviews of the tablets on the market that will help in the purchasing decision.

Beginner Drawing Lessons: The next steps on the Artist’s Journey

What classes should a beginner artist take?

In this article, we will explore the various types of classes that are best for beginners and how to research them.

YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram have a ton of lessons that cover all types of art: pastels, oil painting, charcoal, portrait, landscape, and figure drawing.

Maybe you are excited by all the options and want to learn it all.

Or maybe, like most beginners, you are overwhelmed and intimidated by all the options.

Realistic portraits, seascapes, landscapes, can be hard to draw… no doubt. Those subjects require lots of practice and patience mastering. So a beginner wonders what are the appropriate steps to take.

Naturally, after studying the fundamentals, a beginner wants to advance and sign up for specific classes like human figure drawing and portraits. But unfortunately, those courses can be challenging even for intermediate artists. The first attempts usually render poor results and that’s when beginners quit and say

“I do not have talent”

A beginner may not have the skills to draw like the pros. But don’t get discouraged. Drawing takes time to master.

The pros have been drawing for years and have built up their skills. The drawings that you see them doing are the ones that worked. Believe me if you saw their sketch books and earlier drawings you’d be surprised by the lack of quality. Experts say that it over 10,000 hours of practice to render a good drawing. 10,000 hours!!

My personal experience has taught me, as long as the passion is there the skills will come with a little work and a lot of practice

A great place to start is to draw what you love. What got you interested in art and drawing in the first place?

  • Cartoons
  • Animated movies
  • Art Museums
  • Renassiance paintings
  • Other art forms

There are plenty of beginner-friendly FREE lessons both online and live.  I can recommend some great inexpensive online lessons (under $100.00) The Virtual Art Instructor offers classes in all mediums: colored pencil, water colors, pastels, portrait and animal drawings. Also,  check out Art magazines, they list courses that are inexpensive and beginner friendly.

Overall the lessons should instill confidence and passion. Be sure you understand the cost.  Sometimes the course description fails to show ALL the materials needed for the class.

How to determine if a LIVE class is Beginner Friendly

The best way to determine the skill level of the course is to ask. Try to sit in on a live class and talk to the instructor. Most classes at community centers and local colleges are beginner-friendly. Start there. The best classes are made up of both beginners and advanced beginners.

On this website, we are going to make sure that everyone acquires the basic skill set to develop drawing confidence. With hard work and dedication, any type of art form is within reach. Portrait, human figure drawing, or other detailed work can be challenging but doable. All that is needed is the basic skill set.

Don’t Try To Be Original. Be simple. Be Good Technically, and if there is something in you it will come out.

Henri Matisse

Art is not an exact science and there is no formulaic approach. Books, webinars, and online tutorials cover theory or repetitive drills that offer little insight on how to apply those exercises to actual drawings. In the beginning, it’s important to build confidence and passion.

Color mixing, shading, and proportion are challenging even for the pros. And to a beginner, those topics seem out of reach. It’s no wonder why a lot of beginners just give up.

Bottom Line: Remember why you started drawing in the first place

Picking a certain type of art form can be difficult for the beginner. The best approach would be to start with what you love and go from there. Art once learned can open up a lot of creative doorways and it’s important to maintain a positive mental attitude.

Keep drawing and keep learning.

Quality is within reach to the ones who stay the course.

Here’s to happy drawing!

Please comment and let me know what you think about the wonderful world of art.

How To Become a Professional Artist

Do you really want to be a professional artist? Read Below

The REAL STORY behind the profession

In this article, we will cover the realities of how to become a professional artist and give some tips on how to pursue the artist’s life.

Deciding on any career can be challenging. After all, there is more to a career than making great money and doing work that you love. You have to consider the impact that it will have on your personal and professional life. This article will cover the realities of the profession to consider before making the commitment.

Answer this question: Are you a die-hard fan or a casual fan of art?

You might like Classic rock and consider yourself a die-hard fan of the genre. Hundreds of CDs and albums from various groups adorn your bookshelves and CD racks.

You may like a certain band and their music, but you are not interested in who influenced them, how they learned to play, or where they started out. You just like them because their music is fun to listen to.

It’s the same with art…Some people enjoy sketching and painting, but learning about color theory, perspective drawing, advance shading techniques, etc. is a complete turn-off. They’re more interested in drawing the fun pictures, cartoons, landscapes, forests, etc. than learning about life-like portrait work and human figure drawing.

The die-hard fans, on the other hand, want to master ALL the techniques in art. They want to learn human figure drawing, realistic portraits, acrylic/oil painting, and color theory. They are not intimidated by the competitiveness of the profession or the amount of work involved.

How can you tell if you are a Die-Hard fan of art?

It’s easy to fall into the romance of being an artist. Where you imagine yourself painting along the Seine river and selling your work to all your adoring fans. Or having your work displayed at a prestigious gallery 

The art profession is more than creating pretty pictures. The professional artist has to create a body of work that sells. They have to find clients, be up on the latest trends and market their work.

So, the real question is: do you really want to learn the business of art: how to sell and create it?  If the answer is yes, then you have to do the research!!!!!

Start off with a basic google search “how to become a professional artist” and see how many options there are. Sign up for art blogs and subscribe to art magazines and newsletters.

Immerse yourself in the career!

Learn everything you can.  Go to the library and find books on art. Even take a couple of online courses. Find out who the “real players” are in the art community and subscribe to their newsletters and blogs. Maybe, take a couple of their courses.

Be sure to attend open houses at local art and design schools and talk to the instructors about training and employment opportunities. Even if you don’t want to pursue a degree, the information is valuable.

Most instructors will tell you the cold hard truth about getting jobs and finding clients. That’s the information you want because that’s exactly what you’ll have to do after graduation. Listen to them and don’t fall for the hype.

What can you do as a professional Artist?

Some artists teach in schools, community centers, or studios. Freelance artists, sell their work online, art fairs, and studios. Others may work for Ad agencies developing comics and illustrations for magazines. Some artists get into video game designs, animation, or work in architectural firms.

Again, do your research. Find out about the business and how competitive the job market is. There could be some things that you can combine with art such as psychology, and sociology and become a licensed art therapist. Or you could become a Special Ed teacher and develop art lessons for special needs students.

Keep thinking and keep researching. Be creative. After all, you are a creative type, right? Check out Greg Houston’s “Book Illustration That Works.” The book covers the how to’s of illustration and typical assignments that a client would give to an ad agency. Another book to check out Andrew Loomis’s Book “Figure Drawing for all It’s Worth.” It covers how to draw human figures in proper portions for magazines and ads. The does give drawing assignments that a typical Ad agency would give for a campaign.

Having a passion for art doesn’t equate with having a career in art.

If nothing that you’ve read so far resonates with you, then a career in commercial art may not be for you.

That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it as a hobby and sell some of your pieces. But pursuing it as a career could prove to be more challenging than learning about the medium.

It really depends on what you want to do with art and what your skill level is. Most people want to enjoy art as a hobby while they are employed. There is nothing wrong with that approach and if that describes you then GOOD for you! You found a lifelong pursuit instead of a job.

Watch out for online courses that promise a lucrative career.

There are tons of online courses that promise to help get your art career off the ground. But keep in mind it’s still hard work and there is no substitute for hard work. You won’t have a lot of help in the beginning.

Here are three things to consider before spending your hard-earned money on courses.

1. Learning the craft could take years to master depending on how quickly you pick up the skills.

2. Developing a body of original work also could take years depending on how quickly you can produce work.

3. Finding an audience that likes your work could be challenging.

Legitimate online art programs will teach you how to paint/draw and market the work. But there is no guarantee that your work will sell.

Some courses claim you can become a paid artist in a year. Keep in mind everybody’s abilities are different and so are the results. Positive reviews and testimonials are from the people who succeeded.

But…what about the ones who failed or are struggling? Does the course provide options and help for those people? Be sure to find out if there are additional resources that help if you are struggling.

Everybody is different. Just because the course worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you.

“One size does not fit all”

Do your research and make sure the course is a good fit. Don’t fall for the hype and promises.

The courses can be expensive and don’t include the materials in the fee. Some courses cost thousands of dollars plus materials. The legit courses will give a guarantee after a few weeks of signing on. Be sure you understand the terms of the guarantee.

Be Ever Vigilant

There are a lot of scammers out there preying upon “creative types”. They promise heaven and the world too. Just be smart and realize if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. There is no such thing as a get-rich-quick scheme.

But I really want to be a professional artist!

Ok, I get it.
You love to paint Seascapes, landscapes, people, and animals. The passion is deep and nothing is going to stop you.

Take this little quiz to see if the profession is for you.

The Realities of becoming a professional artist.

At the beginning of the career, you have to play many roles, business planner, marketer, writer, builder, teacher, secretary, and website developer, until you start making money. Or pay someone to do these things, which can get expensive.

Setting your own hours, being your own boss, and keeping all the money for yourself sounds like a sweet deal. But running a business is HARD work. Furthermore, you are not really your own boss you still have to answer to the client’s wishes and demands.

Lots of people fall for the “romance” of starting a business and later realize that there is nothing romantic about it at all especially when the money runs out.

Quiz Time

There are no right or wrong answers. The questions are designed to give insight into the commercial art profession.

There are two avenues to follow:

  1. Work for someone else.
  2. Or, start a business.

1. Are you willing to take all the risks of running a business? Like financial risks? Especially, during an economic downturn. Think about the Pandemic and how many businesses closed down and how many people lost their jobs. What about health benefits? Dental medical etc.? What if you need major surgery and can’t work? Medical procedures are expensive.

2. Do you like working for someone else where the work and income are predictable? Believe it or not, even if you are working for someone else the same principles apply for the self-employed. You’ll have to hunt down good art that will sell, find clients, schedule showings, and work on tight deadlines.

3. If, want to open up your own studio, are you willing to learn about business practices:, marketing, planning, financing, how to obtain permits, licenses, etc.

4. How long are willing to stick with the business until you start making money: one year, two, three years, etc.? Most start-ups fail within two years, due to a lack of planning and effort. Treat your business like a job then you have a better chance of success. Make sure you get up a certain time, make your own hours, look for clients, set daily goals, and finish projects by a certain deadline, etc.

4. Are you a competitive person? Would you enter art contests, bid for commissions on jobs or assignments? Are willing to provide free samples of your work? Even if you are working for someone else, the agency needs to make money and you have to produce work that sells or puts them ahead of their competition. Commercial art is competitive.

5. Do you have a large body of work that can sustain you throughout the years or can produce work on a regular basis?

6. Are you willing to use all means available to you to sell your work including going to art fairs throughout the world and utilizing social media?

7. Finally, How do plan on sustaining yourself while building your business? Would you consider teaching or working part-time etc.?

Do you see why most people work for someone else and use their creative talents as side gigs?

Do not let the above questions turn you off.

There is no reason why you can’t pursue art as a career if you are passionate about it. You will find a way to make it work. You don’t need to spend money on a degree or formal training. The internet is a great resource for art instruction for beginners.

In fact, some of the best artists in the world are self-taught. What determines your success is YOU. How hard are you willing to work? Are you willing to take the time to develop the skills, and set-up your business?

A truly passionate person doesn’t have a back-up plan. Nothing is going to derail their goals to become a professional artist.

Are you that kind of person? Because there is no one to urge you on if you quit. It’s up to YOU.

Don’t underestimate the value of working for someone else to learn the business

The best approach to learning the business is to work for someone else. The experience will give insight into business practices. Then you’ll be able to make an intelligent decision regarding going into business for yourself.

For more information on careers in art visit the occupational outlook website

Did this article help? Please leave comments below.

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