Looking to Magazines for Inspiration

Looking for inspiration and the desire to learn what other artists are working on?  It can be difficult when you are working by yourself, in your studio, to continue to learn and grow your skills and to continue to feel inspired. Sure there are plenty of things you can Google on the internet, but I often find that can be a bit overwhelming and very time consuming.

But, I can bypass that whole step just by picking up one of my favorite art magazines. I can meet popular artists that are working in the same medium I am; discover their techniques for mastering watercolor and gouache. I wouldn’t have been able to “meet” most of these artists just by doing general online internet searches.

After I’ve discovered another artist whose work interests me, then I like to use the internet to check out their website, see what shows they are exhibiting at (who knows, there may be a show near me so I can see their work in person), or who their recent clients are. And, who knows, maybe actually connect with the artist online or in person!


Three of my favorite magazines to learn about current artists are Watercolor Artist, American Artist Watercolor Magazine and The Art of Watercolour. I know I will be pleasantly surprised by at least one of the artists featured in the magazine and I will discover some new tips based on how other artists work.

For example, the feature stories in American Artist Watercolor Magazine go into detail about the artist and the techniques they use to paint their amazing pictures. My favorite part is when they show the step-by-step instructions of the artists’ paintings. It is so interesting to see how other artists work.

What colors make up their palette?  Is it the same brand of paint I use and is it the same colors I use? What about the paper?  What weight and thickness do they enjoy painting on? What type of reference materials are they working from? Do they work from real life, photos or from memory? Do they make any preliminary sketches? Or do they just go for it and get that paint on the paper?

Seeing the painting going through the different stages as they work is so interesting. You can’t help but compare it to how you paint. When you only look at a finished painting, you really have no idea how the artist got there. As a fellow artist, seeing the process is almost more important than the finished product.

Did they draw a detailed sketch onto the paper first before beginning their work? Do they work from the background to the foreground? Do they work by applying very thin layers of paint over the entire painting, do they lay down all the warm colors gradually moving to the cool colors, or, do they finish each area of the painting piece by piece? The list of questions goes on and on. Discovering how other artists work is a terrific way to learn and grow as an artist. It always inspires me and gives me new things to try in my next painting. It really is fascinating.

I would suggest that when you feel the need for some inspiration, check out a magazine. I am always surprised at how many similarities I have with the artists and the way I work.  When I am struggling with a piece of my art, I assume I would have nothing in common with a popular artist. But then I pick up the magazine, and I surprise myself – we are more alike than not. What could be more inspiring than that?  To know I might be onto something – on the “right track”, that encourages me.

There are plenty of magazines out there to choose from and I listed just a few of my favorites above. I still prefer to purchase the printed copy of the magazines, but they are available at a big discount to purchase and download online. I do recommend checking out the art magazines that are available in your medium for they can be truly inspiring! It is a great way to learn about other excellent, current artists’ working in your medium and in your field.

“Meeting” the artist in their studios and getting a glimpse of them working-now that’s inspirational and educational! For me, reading my favorite magazines is another tool I can use to help inspire me, to learn some new things and make me more knowledgeable about other artists and my favorite medium, watercolor and gouache.


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