Creativity in everyday life – Abstract Art

Creativity in everyday life — 3 Things that you didn’t know about abstract art

Go to the profile of Doris Charest

Creating abstract work is more difficult than you think. Abstract work is emotional, intellectual and conceptual. These are elements that touch our basic, primal emotions. Here are some basic points about abstract work to think about:

1. Abstract art can be about emotions. With abstract art, you are trying to create an impact. You want people to notice your work and react to it. This means touching their feelings. In contemporary work, the goal is not always to make a pleasing painting; it is about creating a reaction. This reaction can be positive or negative. If someone reacts and says ‘That makes me feel frustrated’ or ‘That makes me feel happy’ or ‘That makes me feel like…’, you have achieved your goal. You want people to react and comment. You want them to feel the emotion that you put into that painting.

You can create that painting by expressing your inner feelings or you can totally plan that feeling. When you make certain kinds of marks on a canvas like bold black calligraphic strokes, that provokes a kind of feeling that is different from marks made with soft pastel colours. Think about what you want to express. Do you want a relaxing feeling or an edgy one?

2. Abstract art can be about color and how colours react when near each other. There are artists that have spent their lives working on this theme. If you look at the work of Jack Bush and …., you will see that their work is about color. When one sits next to another color, a certain vibration is created. Try it. Put yellow next to purple then put yellow next to orange. You get a whole different feeling with each of these.

The impressionists were the first to experiment with color. Monet, placed dabs of color next to each other on his painting and expected the eye to do the blending. If you look at his water and garden series, you will see how he did this. Rather than put down a green, he would put down a yellow and a blue next to each other. The eye would read it as a green. Since his works a large and meant to be seen from far, this works really well.

3. Abstract art can be about the materials. Some artists like texture. Some artists like the way paint drips, blends and semi-covers other paint. The whole experience is about what the materials will do. Elements of composition are important too but what happens when thick paint goes over thin or vice versa is what is really interesting to some artists.

One artist to look at is Willem de Kooning. He was a Dutch abstract expressionist artist. He was born in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. He moved to the United States in 1926, and became an American citizen in 1962. He loved the paint and the way he could layer different colours, cause it to drip and layer some more.

I hope this helps you .

Doris’ website:

I have creativity courses and art courses online at:

For more information on mixed media by Doris Charest:

All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

Thanks for reading, and please do recommend, like, share, comment, etc. Thanks.

Till next time …

Creativity in everyday life – Why I picked mixed media

Why I picked mixed media

Mixed media has become my ‘go-to medium’ because it allows me to experiment. People get mixed media and multimedia mixed up….

“Mixed media” tends to refer to a work of visual art that combines various traditionally distinct visual art media — for example, a work on canvas that combines paint, ink, and collage could properly be called a “mixed media” work, but not a work of “multimediaart.

“I love trying ‘what will happen if…’ with different art mediums. In another life, I must have been a scientist. I just love mixing and matching to see what will happen. In my current practice, I mix collage, acrylic, watercolour and graphite. Different combinations lead to different results.

In the cove

The texture of the graphite appeals to me while the soft subtle tones of watercolour blend nicely with the black and white but I get the ‘punch’ with the acrylic. I add collage for texture too. 

Because I have chosen landscape as a topic, all these elements fit right in. I get land-type texture from the graphite. I get soft subtle colours for the water with watercolour and the drama with the collage and acrylic. 

When I worked other themes, I loved these elements for the same reason. I worked on a theme of dreams with figures for a few years. I could get the best dramatic effects by combining mediums. 

I often tell my students that if you are not happy with your painting when doing mixed media, you just keep painting and collaging. The worst thing that can happen is that your canvas will get heavy and you will need a bigger nail to hang it up. You need not stop if your painting is not working. You need not throw it out. Often an under layer adds to the painting. You can see subtle effects peeping through that you would not have if you had a white background. Having a varied underpainting is an asset. 

My favourite mixed media artists include:Kate Borcherding, Christina McPhee and Anne Bagby. I love Anne Bagby’s rich textured work but I also love the expressiveness of McPhee’s and Borcherding’s work. My goal is to combine the expressiveness with the texture. 

Depending on the style you work in, you can find lots of inspiration from these artists. This article:, will give you even more ideas for your mixed media. It features a wide variety of artistic styles for you to peruse. There a mixed media style for every artist and yours is waiting to be discovered. 

Here is a list of popular mixed media artists on Instagram:

I wish I was one of these artists but this is just another reason for me to practice my social media skills as well as my mixed media skills. No matter what style you pick, the marketing and social media jobs need doing too. Groan! Like most artists, I like creating more than marketing. Well, nice visiting with you but I must get going on my social media tasks. 

I hope this helps you .

Doris’ website:

I have creativity courses and art courses online at:

For more information on mixed media by Doris Charest:

All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

Thanks for reading, and please do recommend, like, share, comment, etc. Thanks.

Till next time …

In the valley

Creativity in everyday life — 5 Tips for Better Abstract Paintings

Improve your abstracts

Go to the profile of Doris Charest

Abtract painting is hard. People are often surprised how hard it is to create a great abstract painting. You can maximize your chances of creating great paintings by following your these steps;

1. Plan and plan so more. Decide what materials you will use, what size the final product will be and what style you will use. Abstract painters, I find, love to work on large canvases. I am one of those artists and because the canvas can cost several hundred dollars to actually buy the canvas and supplies to create this work, planning is essential to endure success and to make the whole experience affordable.

The next step is deciding what style you will use. Will you pour paint? Will you work using pointillism? Will you use only a big 6 inch (15 cm) brush? Will the work be detailed or have large areas of bold colours that are brushed on?

Will you use acrylics? Oils? Collage? Decide on your materials. Buy what you need to buy for the project. For the moment, put it all in the corner and get to your desk to plan the next step.

2. Choose your colours before you start. Your main goal should be to limit the amount of colours you use. Simplicity is best. Ten colours in a painting, all competing with each other, can be overwhelming to the viewer. Three main colours with small amounts of other colours is easier on the viewer.

3. Value sketches. This is essential. If you are not sure what a value sketch is, check out my youtube video:

4. Do a practice run on paper. This is where you decide where the colours go. Is the red for the background? Is gold an accent?

One important detail is that your practice paper should be the same shape as the final canvas. There is no sense in practicing on a different shape. When you work on a paper of the same shape, you can work out proportions of where the lines or colours go.

5. Chances are that you will want to make some changes to your practice run. Re-evaluate your practice run. Feel free to do more than one practice run. Work out the basic shapes until you are happy. When you are happy with the basic shapes, you are ready to work bigger.

A great way to ‘sketch’ the basic shapes in on your larger canvas is to use a watercolour pencil. A blue or a yellow are nice and pale. You can block in where the shapes go, paint then take a wet cloth and wipe the pencil line away. This is a wonderfully easy way to ensure that you have a guide when you start painting.

I hope this helps you .

Doris’ website:

I have creativity courses and art courses online at:

For more information on mixed media by Doris Charest:

All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

Thanks for reading, and please do recommend, like, share, comment, etc. Thanks.

Till next time …

Artists Teaching Art

Teaching art is rewarding in ways that I did not expect.  You create a love of art and an appreciation for the basics in art but there is more to teaching than you think. Students teach you, the teacher, something that you may not expect.  Read more… Monet IMG_9160 small A sample of one of the assignments I gave at Ella  –  Painting in the style of Monet

Many artists end up teaching. Some prefer adults and others children. I don’t think it matters who your favorite students are, sharing your skills with others is a reward in itself.

When I teach, my favorite moment is when a student discovers they can create ‘something’ all by themselves. I call this the ‘aha’ moment. Out of drops of paint and a scrap of canvas, they have created and captured a moment in time or a piece of their psyche and creativity. Whether the work is realistic or abstract, capturing something that pleases the eye and the soul is a magic moment. It is equal to the ballet dancer executing the perfect movement, the baseball player hitting a home run, the musician capturing the essence of a piece of music or a hole in one golf shot. A perfect moment.

These moments come out of us in well spaced moments in time. The trick is learning the skills to create the magic moment more frequently. As a teacher, I find that teaching the students the skills to do this and getting the effects they want consistently is my ‘magic moment’ as a teacher. Seeing the students develop abilities that were not quite there before and gain confidence makes my heart warm with joy.

I had one of these magic moments when teaching at ELLA (Edmonton Lifelong Learning Association). For three weeks every year, Ella puts on courses for anyone ages 50+ to enjoy. You can take up to 4 courses a day in a multitude of subjects. There are courses on topics ranging from archaeology, history, music, politics, writing, fitness, using technology or art. There are interest group meetings and lunch hour speakers.

I was teaching an art class called ‘Introduction to Contemporary Painting’. We started learning about Klimt, Monet and Picasso in the first week then created paintings in those styles. Later we went on to try Pop art, Ready-made art, Abstraction, Minimalism, Sociological art, Linear Minimalism and our final project was an installation.

I had a great group of students.  My youngest student was 55 and the eldest 84.  There is one thing that I realized and that there is no age difference when it comes to creating art.  We all create at the stage we left off the last time we did artwork.  Then, we go on from there.  Skills have no age.  

You can learn them at any time.  The one important ‘skill’ you need is bravery.  You need to create without fear.  What comes out of you is your own particular interests in colours, marks or shapes.  The way you put it out there is totally formed by all your unique experiences.  Those life experiences will always differ from the person next to you.  What you create will always be unique.  What you need to to be brave enough to accept this, be content with it and go on to carve out your own uniqueness.

This is what I have learned from my students.  They have taught me more than I can ever teach them.  Teaching gives back more than you ever give to others.  Remember this fact.

Below are some of my student’s projects.  I have permission from my students but I have kept the names off to protect their privacy.  Enjoy the variety and quality of this work.  I had a great class! IMG_1059 sm IMG_1060 sm IMG_1061sm IMG_1063sm IMG_1064sm IMG_1065sm IMG_1066 sm

Planning a show -your first solo

Tree on the hill 9 x 12 sm IMG_2631 As you mature as an artist, it is recommended that you have a solo show.  This shows that you are now moving into the ‘professional’ category and that you have a solid body of work created.  So, the question is:   How do I get to that point?

First, pick a theme that you enjoy painting.  If you are a landscape painter, pick one area (ie. Elk Island Park) and paint scenes from that area. Or, paint only trees. Or, paint only fall fields…. you get the idea.

Second, pick a color palette that you will use for all the series.  Six basic colors that you will use for the whole series.  You can vary this with a few more colors but stick to those chosen colors.

Third, create at least 20 works that you are happy with on that theme.  This may seem like a lot but when you go to fill a room with your own work, it has been my experience that you always need more work than you think.

Fourth, Work only on this series for a ‘certain’ time period.  If you concentrate on that series, your work will be more consistent.  Consistency is important for a solo show.

Trying something new

I found this painting in my basement and decided to try something new in marketing with it.  I put it up for auction at :

This painting is called ‘Mother Hen’ and it is part of my old style.  This is one of my first oil paintings from my ‘Rural memories’ series.  Let me know if I have changed…..Yes..I have!!

I refuse to tell how many years ago this was…..

Mother hen

Welcome to my new website!

Doris Charest
Welcome to my new website.

I will be blogging about what it is like to be an artist.

Everyday life as an artist.  What is it like?   Well, I can assure you it is not boring.  There is always some new challenge on the horizon.  I will talk about  getting ready for shows, daily life, preparing courses and much more.  Keep in touch and you will find out ….