Tools to Help You Become a Better Artist

I recently came across a few really amazing websites that I feel would make great additions to everyone’s artistic arsenals, whether you want learn new techniques, get some more practice, or need a way to help stave off dreaded artist’s block!

1. Ctrl+Paint

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This website has been extremely helpful learning digital art and painting with photoshop. The videos are easy to follow, you’re given assignments to help you learn, and most of all, it’s free! There are options to buy more in depth lessons, but from my experience, you can learn most of what you want to know just from the videos provided. The videos are detailed and the narrator does an amazing job teaching different methods and techniques so everyone can learn to use photoshop and adapt it to your own artistic style. All you need is a drawing tablet and photoshop, and you’re ready to learn.

2.Art Prompts

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This site is a little more simple, but don’t be fooled! Art Prompts is an excellent tool for those in need of an imagination boost. Not only does this site contain awesome generators for different situations, but it also contains an excellent blog with additional art resources, a daily collection of digital art from various artists daily, and so much more!

3. Figure and Gesture Drawing

Figure and GEsture drawing

This website is a useful tool for practice and bettering your artistic skills, especially if you don’t have access to art classes in your area, or if you just want to improve your skills. This site offers custom “classes” or sessions that you can tailor to your own specific needs and timeframe. You can choose how long each session is, the area of study, and provides instructions on how to get the most out of your session. In addition, there’s forums for help and critiquing, as well as tips and links to other resources.

I feel as an artist, learning never ends. There are always different ways to experiment, ways to hone your skills, and there is always room for more inspiration to help your ideas come to fruition. As I discover more tools and websites, I’ll be sure to expand on this list in the future! Stay tuned, and stay imaginative!

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National Dog Day

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Titled “Dogder” By Heather Willard Acrylic on Canvas Board

So, today it just so happens to be National Dog Day (Thanks facebook!) and I would like to make a personal post about a very special dog in my life. I realize I have yet to post a personal post, so here’s the opportunity to take small peek into a bit of my life.

The painting above was done by me about 5 years ago, and is a portrait of my Golden Retriever, Tizzy. Tizzy was gifted to me by my boyfriend, now husband, 7 years ago on Easter Weekend. The purpose was to fill a gaping hole left in my heart after a devastating miscarriage I had suffered. We had seen in the newspaper a man selling Golden Retriever puppies, but he only had one left. My husband had worked night shift at the time, and had to leave for work soon, but we felt we felt a spontaneous desire to see this puppy. If you know my husband and I, you know how strange this is, because I am not terribly spontaneous and he is even less so! So we drove over an hour into a very rural part of Kentucky to look at what he hoped would be our new puppy.2962_88417679324_6434059_n

She was so small and shy, and the breeder informed us that his litter had been an accident, and he hadn’t been planning on having a new litter so soon. My husband and I were so surprised this sweet little puppy was the last to be picked. Maybe it was because she was shy, or maybe because she was the only puppy with a white speck on her forehead. The breeder then asked if we had a name picked out, and we said replied with Tizzy. He said, “She doesn’t look too much like a Tizzy!” She had fallen asleep in my arms.

After we got home, she bloomed. She was no longer the shy, quiet puppy at the breeders, but started to live up to her name! And I bloomed as well. After being so preoccupied with my grief, I now had this sweet puppy to look after. Whenever I would cry, she knew I was in pain and would comfort me.4227_103567379324_5751764_n

A few years later, I  gave birth to a healthy baby girl. We were overjoyed, and so was Tizzy. When we brought our daughter home from the hospital, Tizzy knew immediately that we held something precious. Her usual ritual of bouncing and running around on our arrival was absent. We sat our daughter sofa still in her carseat and Tizzy walked over to her, and gently laid her head on the edge, and just looked for several moments, as if in wonder.

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Tizzy had become so ingrained in our family, that my daughter’s first word, besides Mama and Dada, was “Tizzy.”

It’s incredible to think about the bond humans and dogs share. For centuries, dogs have been serving humans as Man’s Best Friend, a title that is well deserved. Service dogs, police dogs, search and rescue dogs… there’s no doubt in my mind that dogs are amazing creatures!

If you have been touched dog in your life, or any animal for that matter, please feel free to share in the comments!

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Dominion Over Purgatory

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So  I mentioned in my first post, and on the About page, that there was a story I was just dying to tell. Well, I’m excited present to you, the book cover! Tada!

Wooooooo!!!

Here’s a little bit about me, first. I am not a writer. My experience in writing has gotten me a Proficient on my writing portfolio in High School and I took a Creative Writing class in High School as well. That’s it. And High School was 10 years ago (We’re not going to talk about that, though…). The idea for this story had hit me like a ton of bricks one fitful night when I couldn’t sleep a wink. And now it’s itching to get out.

I’m an artist. I’ve put in hours upon hours to hone my skills as an artist, to convey emotions and ideas through artwork, but to do that with words? Well, that’s entirely new territory, scary new territory, but it’s a new avenue of creativity that I’m extremely excited to explore. And I would like for you all to join me!

Now on to the fun stuff. Here’s a little teaser of what’s to come.

A mysterious man awakens in an underground compound with no memories of who he is, the only clue being the word ‘Avick’ etched into a metal plate that was found with him. He escapes, only to find the world in ruin, with the human race unable to remember what had caused the apparent apocalypse that had killed 4 billion of Earth’s inhabitants.

Jace Warren is a mercenary with a rough past. When his parents were killed as a child by the ruling government, The Sovereign Federation, he develops a thirst for vengeance. Now as an adult and a hired gun for the Syndicate of Revolution, his one goal is to find answers and exact revenge.

When Avick meets the enigmatic mercenary by chance, the two set out to uncover who exactly Avick is as well as to seek the answers to Jace’s past. But what they find out about both of their lives is far more than they ever bargained for.

So there you have it! Dominion Over Purgatory, a post-apocalyptic tale. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I enjoy writing it. If you would like to see more, please feel free to follow Willard’s Imaginarium for chapters and related artwork coming soon in the upcoming weeks!

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18 Tips On How To Become Inspired

18 ways to become inspired (2)Over the years, I had sometimes found myself bursting at the seams with creativity. I could feel it under my skin. That itch to get my hands on something to get the ideas out, whether it’s paper, digital, writing. Something! But alternatively, I’ve also found myself wishing to no end that an idea would just COME to me already. I would sit and look at a blank piece of paper or an empty screen, get up, pace around, huff and puff and annoy my husband to no end, but nothing seemed to happen. Yes,  it’s the dreaded case of Artist’s (or Writer’s) Block. It’s bound to happen to anyone who seeks to express themselves creatively. So to combat this all too common problem, I’ve made this handy list of 18 tips to help you earn the favor of the muses!

  1. Set the mood in your workspace. Surround yourself with items that make you happy. Even light a candle or play with scents.
  2. Tidy your space. Nothing seems to kill my inspiration and creative mood like a messy, cluttered workspace. Take a few minutes to tidy up before beginning.
  3. Remove distractions or remove yourself from distractions. As the mother to a toddler, I understand that this can be difficult. Wait until the kids are in bed, turn off the television, even unplug the router if you find the internet to be a distraction.
  4. Take a nice relaxing bath.
  5. Go for a walk. Make sure you take a moment to take in the fresh air, and pay close attention to the details of your surroundings.
  6. Doodle.  Don’t think, just draw and let your mind wander.
  7. Read a book. If you are wanting to create a new piece of artwork, pay attention to how the author describes the characters and scenery. If it’s writing, pay attention to how the author uses words to paint a mental image of the story they telling and how the author weaves their story to help organize your own ideas.
  8. Keep a dream log. Keep a small notebook by your bed and jot down a description of your dreams before they fade. Dreams are a plethora of creative ideas with little to no effort from you! Harness these free bits of inspiration.
  9. Carry a notebook while away from home. Jot down little bits of what you see around the world as they strike you, and come back to your notebook when you are lacking ideas.
  10. Carry a sketchbook while away from home. This can have the same effect as carrying a notebook. You could even combine the two.
  11. Meditate. Meditating beforehand will help clear the clutter in your mind so ideas can flow freely.
  12. Do some light exercise. Exercise can help get the blood flowing, which means more blood to the brain and also boost energy. Make sure you aren’t wearing yourself out, though. It’s hard being creative when you are exhausted!
  13. Listen to music. Better yet, listen to music based on the mood you are looking to capture. Painting an angry picture? Break out the heavy metal! Writing a romantic scene? Put on some soothing romantic tunes.
  14. Search works of art. Remember, not to plagiarize, but to become inspired. Pay close attention to colors, composition, and the mood the artist was trying to capture.
  15. Take photographs. Much like with the notebooks, capture pieces of the world around you that strike you with quick photos. They don’t have to be amazing photographs. The camera on your phone will work just fine.
  16. Watch a movie. This can serve two purposes. The first is relaxation. The second, is story and scenery. Three for one!
  17. Take a nap. Also like meditating, taking a short nap will help clear your mind of stress and clutter, and also give you the bonus of a nice recharge.
  18. Eat a light snack. Being ravenous will do little to help you focus. Eat a snack large enough to stave off hunger, but small enough to keep you from feeling bloated and heavy.

What ways have you found to help you become inspired? Feel free to comment and give us your own tips and tricks!

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Your Worst Enemy

Fanart of the 10th Doctor by Heather Willard 2014

I’m sure you have all heard the saying “You are your own worst enemy?” Well, it’s true, and I am no exception. Maybe when it comes to artwork, or creating things in general, there’s an annoying little voice in the back of your head saying, “What if I’m not good enough?” “What if no one likes my work?” and worst of all, “Why even bother?” Well, here’s what you can do – tell it to shut it’s piehole and do what you want anyway! And here’s some tips and pointers on things to keep in mind to help you do just that!

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  • First of all, a lot of people have more failures than successes, whether they are professionals or not. Maybe especially if they are “pros!” The fact of the matter is, you’re going to fail at some point. There’s no point in denying it. And as frustrating as it is to spend time to work on a piece and then feel it’s not up to your standards, nothing is technically a failure. Use failure as a learning experience. If there’s something about your work that you find lacking, build on your weaknesses. You won’t know what those weaknesses are, until you have tried and failed and tried again. The rungs on the ladder of success are made of failures. Use them to your advantage.

  • If you are worried about other people’s opinions of your work, make sure first and foremost, what you are making is for yourself. If you have a passion and a drive, the passion will override that annoying voice every time. What matters most is you have something you made and are proud of. There’s no obligation to share your work with the world, but if you make something you are truly proud of, you will probably want to share. DO, however, be willing to listen to constructive criticism! Most of the time, those offering constructive criticism genuinely wish to help, and having an outside perspective can be a valuable tool. If you do happen to come across someone being hurtful, remember, everyone has an opinion and a right to it, but opinions aren’t facts. Don’t let them get you down.

  • Lastly, “Why even bother?” that voice is saying. At this point, you may be feeling pretty down on yourself. You’ve tried and failed and just aren’t satisfied. Well, this touches back on Number 1. It’s better to try and fail than to never have tried at all. If whatever you are doing trying just isn’t for you, then it’s ok to quit, but, if it’s something you truly want to accomplish in life, don’t quit! Quitting is a recipe for regrets. Sometimes, it may feel like that ladder never ends. That is perfectly ok. Enjoy the journey. Take pride in every hurdle you manage to cross. Every rung on that ladder you climb will leave you a wiser, better person than you were before. And maybe, just maybe, the ladder doesn’t end. It may just be about the journey all along.

Everyone is going to have their bad days. Sometimes your confidence will be in the dumps and you will feel like there’s no point.These are days I am all too familiar with. I am not an expert. Every single day I am still learning and honing my skills. This list are just things  I try to tell myself on those awful days where that part of my brain won’t quit beating me to a pulp.  Hopefully this post will help you on your darker days, and help make it easier for your creativity to flow free. Until then, just keep climbing, and I will be right there on that ladder with you!

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The Big Bang

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In the beginning…there was a blank page and a bunch of ideas! And I sat here and stared at this little box for a long time. but here it is! The first post. The Big Bang of this little universe.

My plan for this little tiny corner of the internet is to post weekly chapters for a story I just have to get out of my head, as well as other bits of creativity my brain manages to spawn. Whether any of them are any good, is yet to be seen, but like I said in my about section, I feel that it would be a shame not to share.

I, by no means, feel I am the best at whatever it is I do, but really, who can say without a doubt, that they are the best? Sure, we know of the great composers and artists, but being the greatest probably wasn’t in the forefront of their brains at the time. I imagine them as people with big ideas that were begging to be broken free of their brains and shared with the world. As an artist, who is to know what will become the “next big thing?” You don’t. You just throw yourself out there and feel hopeful, that someone out there can be affected in some way by what you create. At the very least, you know you gave it your best.

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So, who the heck am I? Well, I think I’m someone different to a lot of different people. To my husband, his wife and mother of his child, his soul mate and partner in life’s mundane and not-so-mundane moments. To my three-year-old, I’m the provider of food, and the person who bugs her incessantly about going to bed, and giver of hugs. But who am I to me? Well, that is a good question. I think, simply put, I’m a person who generally enjoys life, even the smallest moments. I’m a person who strives to see the best in what life has to offer, and someone who loves spreading that joy to others in the best ways I know how, whether it’s to my husband, daughter, friends, family, or even you.

So what I hope to accomplish with this blog, is to be able to spread a little bit of joy and imagination from my world to yours. I hope you enjoy your visit to Willard’s Imaginarium!

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