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Young artists in Samoa: Emily

I have been writing about so many artists and so for this article I will just share some of my experience and expertise with you. 

Art has been something I have been passionate about, it all started with the colouring books and crayons my parents bought me at age 4.

Somehow the resources kept coming in, they bought me paint and many more coloured pencils and the interest kept growing. 

Yet I did not have the self-belief then that I possess now. It wasn’t until I was 15 and started being immersed into the many talents exposed on Instagram had I noticed that there was so much potential for greater works and that indeed I had the talent.

I had been drawing all my life, creating a little bit too many drawings with the little knowledge I had. But once patience, self-belief and genuine passion engrained itself into my cerebrum had I truly learned and discovered the beauty of art. 

When patience flowed in I began focusing on the little details in the drawing, I truly realized that if I needed growth and wanted to create the best portraits I had to sit down and really learn. I had to focus and enjoy trying to be advance my talent. It is a quick process if you have the passion.

Before you know it, right before your eyes, you will see yourself amazed at your own work! Every artist knows how gratifying and rewarding that feels. 

Look out! As it is not all that rewarding, in some instances there will be hindrances that will stop you from creating that masterpiece. But don’t stop there, keep going! I have come across multiple times when my first layer of sketch looked nothing like the reference photo, throw that in the bin and keep drawing! 

I have come across times when I added so much paint it ruined the paper and I couldn’t erase the mistake, yet I kept going.  Take a deep breath, pray and believe. Keep moving forward.

Enough of all this sentimental talk, let us have a look at some techniques and pointers I can share with you all.

For most of my realistic portraits I use Prismacolor pencils, quite pricey but worth the money spent. I also use watercolour crayons and any kind of pencil or pen I can find. Oil pastels can also be handy for quick details to your background layer. 

Anyone can buy the most expensive resources but what really matters are your knowledge and time dedicated to experimenting with textures, shadows and blends. Be patient and use the resources you have in the best way possible. 

The way I shade, I start with grainy thin layers by circular motion and then continue adding more layers until a smooth and defined layer is formed. Pay very careful attention to detail if you want to create a mirror-image of the reference photo; for a colour that may look black could actually be dark brown or dark green, or what may appear straight could have a slight bend.

It makes a lot of difference using the right colours and it makes your portrait much more realistic. In addition, when blending individual layers, I mostly use white for portraits involving skin-tones but you can opt out for a light blue or pale green for other details such as waves or leaves respectively. 

But again be patient as a lot of time goes into blending, and I am not joking, there is a lot of time poured into blending! Don’t hesitate. Think like a proton, always positive.

Aside from the time-consuming blending part, I have had difficulty with drawing subtle details of the hair. The key to this again is patience and pressure you put on the pen as you hold it. As a child I always put so much pressure in shading that my drawings were a bit two-dimensional, but you can vary the pressure you put on the pen according to the details you want to draw. Start with light strokes, highlight the dark areas first and keep stroking, you really don’t have to think too hard about it: follow your instincts. 

For watercolour painting, it is a whole different structure but you apply the same concepts. 

How did I get there? It was a whole week process, I experimented with the colours, tried out and varied the amount of water I used, then started stroking like I did with the pencil and tried out different layers. 

Even mistakes or carelessness lead to accidental occurrences that led to me discovering new techniques. Embrace your mistakes, learn from them and keep moving forward. 

The rest is history, if you really want to be the best you can be just keep believing in yourself and be committed with the work that you do. I also always include prayer before starting on a project or task and dedicate my works to God the Father in Jesus’ name. 

If the talent is from above, dedicate and entrust it with God who gifted it to you and never do it for the sake of bettering someone else’s work. Just let that pen stroke, let that brush run free and keep doing what you love and continue to be humble.

Before I leave y’all to it, just keep in mind that if you have the talent and passion for art, go for it! But you do not have to be a full-time artist to do so as I highlighted in my previous articles. The talent is flowing through the limbs of a dancer, the larynx of a singer, the mind of an engineer.

 It is also used if not on a daily basis in engineering where vision, physics, mathematics and design are all incorporated into one good ol’ beef soup. Not to mention Medicine where it can come in handy for others who learn better by visualizing. 

So if you can draw the anatomy of your brain and trace the path food flows through your gastrointestinal tract in the process of digestion, it is not a problem! If it helps you learn better go for it! 

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