Live Encore: Quick Creative Exercises to Get You Inspired | Amber Vittoria | Skillshare

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Live Encore: Quick Creative Exercises to Get You Inspired

teacher avatar Amber Vittoria, Artist and Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Prepare to Get Creative


    • 3.

      Draw Your Pet’s Personality


    • 4.

      Draw Your Voice


    • 5.

      Q&A on Staying Creative


    • 6.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Get playful with award-winning artist Amber Vittoria’s creative flow exercises for unlocking creativity!

In this 30-minute Skillshare Live class, recorded using Zoom and featuring participation from the Skillshare community, artist and illustrator Amber Vittoria walks you through two of her favorite exercises for warming up your creative muscles, playing with abstract colors and shapes, and, ultimately, defeating the fear of the blank page by getting something down on paper. 

In addition to drawing along with Amber, you’ll get to hear some behind-the-scenes insights on living and working as a creative artist, from what she’s learned throughout her journey to the specifics of her artistic process. 

No matter your skill level, putting some marks on that paper is the first part. Do some scribbles of your own, or head to the “Projects & Resources” tab for Amber’s prompts to get started. 


All you need to follow along is paper and something to draw or paint with. While we couldn't respond to every question during the session, we'd love to hear from you—please use the class Discussion board to share your questions and feedback.

Meet Your Teacher

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Amber Vittoria

Artist and Illustrator


Take the class here!

Want to learn how to paint flowing, abstract forms like Amber Vittoria—and, more importantly, how to find creative inspiration all around you? In her upcoming class, Amber will walk you through her entire process from inspiration to final painting, including:

Unique places to find inspiration, and how to see the world in new ways to create abstract work Ways to incorporate experimentation as you plan out your piece, playing with different forms and colors along the way  The special acrylic painting techniques she uses to create her signature work

Best of all, her easy and fun process is accessible to artists of any level—and even inspiring if you prefer to work in a different medium! You’ll walk away with a finished ... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Something that I like to play with these exercises is like how far can I push myself to make it go into a realm that's a little bit more abstracted. Then what elements from that can I take and pull back to make more representational? I'm Amber Vittoria and I am an L shooter living and working in New York City. So today's live class is really exciting. They are a series of activities to help unlock creativity, but shows the series of exercises because they are my personal favorite in regards to be inspired and putting something on paper. The fact that these drawings don't have to live anywhere outside of your sketchbook, is super important. Both of these are really great because you need do them with any type of artistic utensil. They could take five minutes, they could take 50 minutes. They're just really fun ways to play and have fun as artists. So I love to use these exercises to inspire myself and to unlock creativity that has been dormant for a while. The really great thing about this class is that it was filmed live with audience participation. So I've got to hear questions from the audience and answer them as I went through each of the exercises. Ideally at the end of this class, everyone feels good for just taking the time to draw for themselves. Hopefully they feel a little bit more inspired and creative and the ideal above all ideals is that they take away in these really fun exercises and then use them in the future. Thank you so much for joining. I'm so excited to get started. 2. Prepare to Get Creative: Hello everybody. I'm Kaye. I'm a Senior Content Producer here at Skillshare. Emma and I have worked together on her class, her live thing and now this. Emma, do you want to introduce yourself? Yes, thanks for having me. This is super awesome. For those of you that don't know my work, I am an illustrator and a lot of the work that I make is either editorial or for client-based projects. The theme behind all the work that I make focuses on femininity and the female form. When I started making this work, I really struggled relating to women depicted in advertising and in fine art, so I wanted to make work that I could relate to myself and that has since manifested and grown. I have a few examples that I'll share. These are some recent pieces that I have to finalize and scan in. But the idea behind my work is just trying to make relatable stories that other people can connect with on a way that I feel is important and that speaks to me. A lot of my work places a lot of bright colors and abstract and forms to create different shapes in different figures and how they relate to each other. Today we're doing two really fun exercises to just spark inspiration and creativity. I feel that at least for me, being inspired and to make work has been tough and I just think that's because a lot has changed in the world that we're in. These are two really exciting exercises that I like to do in quarantine, not in quarantine, before a project or just want to have some time for myself to like sparks, something interesting, so I'm really excited about both of them. For our first exercise, we're going to be drawing our pets personality. It's totally okay if you don't have a pet, definitely get creative. I'm going to be drawing my pet plant. For our second exercise, we're going to be a little bit more abstract and we're going to draw how our voice sounds to us. You could be literal if you wanted to, you could literally draw your vocal chords, or you could be more abstract and just draw shapes and colors and patterns that really evoke how your voice sounds to you. I feel like for both of these exercises, it could be interpreted quite literally or very abstractly, and there's really no wrong answer for either of them. The goal behind both is it just really explore and have fun with line color and shading. I think they're great because they don't require too much prep work in advance. I think that's great for a live class, especially with all of us in quarantine, getting supplies or something that's a bit bigger is a little more difficult. It could be something like I did my drawing of my plant the other day, and you can use color, you could just use one color, today I'm just going to use one color. You can collage things if you have collage, if you're a painter and you've got paint lying around, you can paint. Both of these exercises are really fun to just put ideas out there and not have to worry about what the final product looks like. Yes, they are both really just to have fun and take a break from our usual day to day. Love it. What do people need to have ready right now? Though I would say, any type of drawing, or painting, surface. It could even be folded piece of paper. I'm going to be using my sketchbook just because I like to put all of my ideas in the same place or else I would lose them. Then some form of like drawing, painting, or writing utensil. I'm going to be using are called Tambo ABT, brush pens. I really love these because they have regular pen, so I usually just use it for writing notes. Then they also have a brush tip on them, which is really fun. I really love these because they don't bleed through the pages of my sketchbook. I also really love in the [inaudible] they do read Prismacolor. Same concept, regular pen on one side and a brush pen on another. Both of these brands come in a million colors. They're really nice. They're great to travel with. It gives you a very inky-paint really feeling, but in a way that's a little bit more controlled, and that's the balance that I like with my drawing utensils. But you can use a regular pencil, sharpie pen, anything that you've got is all good. 3. Draw Your Pet’s Personality: Let's get into it. Let's do the first exercise. The first exercise, and we pulled the example in my sketchbook, is drawing your pet's personality, which is really fun. Don't worry if you don't have a pet because I don't have a pet either. I wish, but I feel this is a very dangerous situation for many pets. You can draw, it could be a pet rock, even it could be a stuffed animal. It can be, what I'm going to be doing is a plant. I love this plant, it's a very sassy, demanding plant. I'm going to try to reinterpret the personality of her. It could be whatever you define as a pet. The nice thing about this is the idea of a personality could be very abstract. Hopefully, none of you are like, "I can't draw animals or I can't draw plants. " Totally fine, it doesn't have to be representational. It can be, but it doesn't have to be. I'm going to be drawing my plant and I'm going to situate my camera a little bit so you all can remember. I haven't really named this plant yet, but this plant, very sassy, leaves a lot more of it. I picked leaves literally three days ago, some leaves are starting to pass and the new ones are growing, so it's got a very spunky personality. I'm going to draw and if you want to do this too, it's actually a fun exercise. I'm going to draw while looking into the camera so you can see what I'm doing as we're doing it. I'm going to do this plant a little more literally, I started playing around here right before this class, it's just having fun and abstracting leaf shapes and seeing how they overlap on top of each other. Hannah would like to know if the process illustration you showed at first, was that something you made with these markers or do you use other materials as well? For the full color pieces that I showed, that is actually done with a combination. The flat colors are done digitally and then I print them out on a Lesser jet printer. Then once they're printed they have a nice texture to them from the printer. I use these exact brush pen set details by hand and then I'll scan them back in which I haven't done to those two pieces yet. I'm going to do that after this. Scott would like to know if you want to name your plant Verde? Yes. I want that. That works. It would be like Verde Rosa, which is like green, pink, I think in Italian if my memory is serving correctly. It's got some pink tips. What are you thinking about as you're getting these shapes down on paper? Yeah. This plant, as I said earlier, is all spunky. I feel like it always tries to outgrow itself in a way, so I'm just going to try to fill the page as best as possible, just to show the presence of this plant takes up. That's how I interpret its personality. You're going to stick with one color, do you think? Yeah. For these, I'm going to stick with one color. For the next one I'm going to experiment with multiple colors. But for this one I like to stick with one. But there is really no wrong answer for whatever is working for you in the moment. You might start with one color and then in a minute or two you might be like, "No, I want to add some blue," and then add some blue. The best part about these two is they don't have to be these masterpieces that you're showing other people, like this is just for you to explore and have fun, and if ideas come a bit, great, and if not, then hopefully, the idea of just loosening up and making something that's a bit more abstracted, is inspiring and of itself. You have to use these exercises in your professional work too. Haven't you? Yes. A good one is actually, we talk about it in my sculpture class, is drawing with your less dominant hand and drawing with your eyes closed. I actually use both of those in a lot of my professional pieces, especially if I'm over analyzing a line in a specific piece, I'll just either switch to my left hand or just close my eyes for a few seconds, and for whatever reason, and that it works. It takes me out of that thought process of over analyzing, which is very helpful. Like that, we can hear your boyfriend. I know. I really miss him right before I was like, "Det, keep it down. I got a class." He's like, "Come on, I'll keep it down." I'm like, okay. [inaudible] I can't message him as I draw and be like, "keep it down." I apologize for that. [inaudible] special guests. Yeah. If it gets through all, let me know. I can always put myself on you for a few seconds. Sarah says that she has some trouble abstracting things. Sarah, big same. [inaudible] map more representationally, do you have any tips for people who want to expand into drawing more abstractly? Yeah. What I would say is like a good example, I'm going to turn the page. Actually, I'll just use this page because it's empty. Say you're drawing a leaf and it's pretty literal like this leaf as an N, in and out, and then align and then it has some details. To begin to abstract that, you take that and widen it and then extend the form and then really play with the weight of the line. Then beyond that, you can start to distort the form. That's really where you're going to be able to get into something that is a little less representational as a leaf. We know it's really because you see me jump from to the other. But if you were to just look at this or just look at this, that's where it becomes a little bit more abstracted. Do you think that could be going for extremes as you're getting used to abstracting forms, isn't helpful? Definitely. I feel that the more you make yourself feel uncomfortable as you're making abstractive work, the better because then, you can see what your limits are, especially for my work because it is representational of human form. It's what boundaries can I push, so people when they look at it, see that it is a composite of all these abstracted shapes. But then at the end, they do recognize that it is a form and that's something that I like to play with these exercises. This is like how far can I push myself to make it go into a realm that's a little bit more abstracted, and then what elements from that can I take and pull back to make more representational? How long would you recommend that people work on these exercises individually? Well, sentences [inaudible]. I wouldn't say for as long as you need, but I prefer to keep them pretty short. I'd say for the sake of our workshop, we can definitely wrap this one up. But it is something that you're working on and you feel that it's not quite finished, feel free to go back to it. I do that a lot with my sketch book, like this one, I'll probably go back eventually in the future, whether it's tomorrow or a few months from now, just fill in and build off of it. But for now I would say, this feels good. I'm going to turn it up so you can see my face. [inaudible] really captures her essence, I feel. Yeah. That's a nice thing about drawing the personality of a pet. Or if you're drawing a friend, or a plant, in my case, the ability to abstract and evoke emotion through abstracted lines or colors, is something that's a really fun exercise to push yourself into thinking a bit differently. 4. Draw Your Voice: Let's start with the next exercise, and we have a bunch of questions coming in, and I know that you're really great at answering them and working. For our second exercise, we're going to take it a little bit more abstractly and draw what our voice sounds like to us. It's really fun because you can just put different colors on the page and express how you think your voice sounds to you. Before I start drawing, I'll describe how my voice sounds to me. Right now, we're in spring time and I have pretty severe allergies, both seasonal and food-borne allergies, so I feel like my voice right now feels a little raspy, but then it's also a bit higher pitch just because I'm excited that it's actually nice out in New York City. That's the vibe, and I feel like the personality in my voice definitely changes to weather. It's cool out, and dark, or really nice and springy. Right now, given the weather, it's going to be nice and springy. I'm going to just do abstracted shapes for this one. I'm going to draw right on top of that drawing that I already did to ruin the page. The idea behind this it's just me really loose and bright and fun, and that's how I'm feeling right now for my voice. A couple of people are asking how you overcome creative block, and since you just [inaudible] on that, I feel like you have some great answers to that question. To overcome creative block, I usually book in time to have creative block. If I'm working on a project and I have the luxury of building out my own timeline for it, I book in extra time because I know that inevitably I will have creative block, so that's one way. Another way is, once you're feeling down, sometimes it is important to step away. It's okay to just be like, "This is not working. I'm going to go watch Netflix, I'm going to go read a book, or go for a walk," that also helps. When you're not afforded the luxury of time, whether it's on a quick turnaround project, or whatever the case may be, I like doing a lot of the exercises that I did in my sculpture class, which is drawing with your less dominant hand, drawing with your eyes closed, doing exercises like these where it's like drawing your voice, or drawing the personality of your pet, that really just allows you to free up any of the anxiety that you have about the project that you're working on, and about the creative block that you're in, and focus on just making something fun for yourself. What would you like to know that you know now when you started? What would you have told yourself first starting out that you know now? It's a pretty abstracted answer, but I would say that you will figure it out. I feel like humans, we're very resilient and very adaptive. Then as things come your way, you'll figure it out, you'll get over it, it's okay to ask for advice. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. So I'd say combination of all those things. Alexandra would like to know how long it took you to become an artist to paint so well, she says. Fifty years old, I'm just starting out. Which you can be any age and become an artist. I don't think that. I think we would all agree that you can be absolutely any age and become an artist. She thinks painting is really soothing, so she would like to hear more about that. Yeah. Painting is something that I can consider myself like a hobbyist painter, because I'm a professional illustrator, and some illustrators paint and others draw, but I just paint for myself. For me, I think it's about finding the medium or media that you're most confident in, and then just leaning into that. Needless to say, there are some artists out there that can work in any type of medium and kill it. But for me, drawing, working digitally, and then working with ink just felt right. I was like, "You know what? This makes me the happiest. I'm going to continue to do that." I would say that's a good jumping off point for making work. I love that, the idea that when you find something that brings real joy, you should just of dig into that thing and find your voice in that. I love that. Thanks. Magneto would like to know if you have any tips for dealing with critique. Critique, that's always a fun one. I would say for critique, socially, if you're doing a group critique, make sure to set some guidelines and some boundaries so that everyone in your group that is critiquing your work isn't saying, "Oh, I like this. Oh, I don't like that," because liking something is very subjective, whereas in critique you're trying to look for objective things to help improve upon. It's like, "The forms of the light blue and the green are working because of X, Y, and Z," or, "The lines in the top part of the composition aren't working for X, Y, and Z." So I would say, really make sure that you have guidelines set to make sure that everyone is getting something constructive out of it. I feel a lot of critique, especially at the collegiate level could get into an area where it becomes a little competitive, and that's not the point of sharing and critiquing your work. It's to learn from each other and learn how you can better yourself. Hopefully, that answered it. I think that's a great answer. I think art is so personal, it can be hard to hear anyone saying they don't feel it works or whatever, but I'm sure it takes practice. I would love to hear how you got to the point where you are okay hearing critique. I feel like you can still hear critique and you're like, "What? I love this. How do you know I love this?" I just think over time, if the person is coming from a place of wanting to help you, it becomes a lot easier to be like, "Okay, that's interesting. I want to listen to it," whereas if it's like a troll on the Internet being like, "My two-year-old could draw like that," then you're like, "Well, that's not very helpful now, is it?" I think it's also using your own judgment, especially if it's unsolicited critique to know what is something that is important to listen to you, and something that might help you gentle abroad and then something that is not very helpful. What are you thinking about as you're adding these forms to the piece you're writing on right now? I feel like because I've been talking a lot in general just because we're all on the phones, and on FaceTime, and on Zoom, I feel like my voice starts to crack. So that's something that I'm abstractly putting in here just like the ups and downs of the octaves of my voice. That's something that I think is really interesting, and what I'm focusing on as I'm making this beautiful portrait of my voice. GTC would like to know if you have any suggestions on how to capture or distill one style out of the style that's all over the place? My point of view on style too is definitely a little bit contrarian to the fact that all of my work visually looks the same, I would say that if you are making a piece of work, it is your style. Regardless if one thing is a sculpture, and the next thing is a drawing in ink, and the next thing is a neon colored painting, because it's all coming from your perspective, that is your voice and that is your style. Which I know you look at my work and you're like, "Yeah. Okay, I'm very sure." Easy for you to say. But I think it's something that's really important. If you're trying to get your style to be a visual where visually styles relate to each other, really quick tip is to just focus on one color palette. I like to do that a lot and my color palettes evolve over time. Like right now, this is probably a palette, like 8-10 colors. In all of my work, I just focus on that. Then once I'm over this palette, I'll move on to the next palette, and I feel like that creates really nice cohesion. Whether you're doing smaller details in a piece, or really large shapes in a piece, the visual connector between the two is the palette. So that's really quick way to start to visually create cohesion between pieces that you make, even if one is a sculpture, and one is a painting, and one is a drawing. That's a great idea. How much time do you think we should spend on this exercise? This exercise, I'd say this could be pretty fast. It's also fun to do more than one, like if you fill up a page, you go and start on another page, but for the sake of this workshop, I'm feeling pretty good about my voice. 5. Q&A on Staying Creative: We have more questions, so I think we can do Q&A. Awesome. Scrolling back, how much time do you spend on one drawing and when do you decide when you're done? [inaudible] would like to know. It depends on the drawing. If it's for a client those drawings might take longer because you're working with multiple people at the same time. But for drawing for myself, like it could be a few days total with a few hours here, a few hours there. In terms of when do I know I'm finished with the drawing. I had a painting professor in college. His name is [inaudible] , and someone asked him that and he was like, "When you put a mark of paint on the canvas and it gets worse than it was before, that's how you know, you're done." I remember being like that sounds silly but, as I've gotten over there, I'm like, "Oh yeah, that actually proves accurate." When you push it just beyond where you want to go, "I think this is right." Then you put something else on there and you're like, "Maybe not as much. " That's when it's finished. I use that as a guideline. Someone a couple of maybe 10 minutes ago asked how you balance client work and personal work, how you balance the time between those two? I actually in my calendar, I block off time to draw. I literally withdraw. I put that in amongst all of my client work and then all of my life things just because I'm a freelancer and work from home. They like exercise, do laundry, draw, do this client projects, send these emails and I feel like I treated as something where I have to dedicate time to it, it just becomes more natural to just consistently be drawing for myself. Did that work when you had a nine to five job as well? No, nine to five jobs I do few full-time jobs where I had, I would get home at a reasonable hour and then I would be able to draw. But for some of those jobs, it definitely became a little more difficult. In a situation like that, I would during my lunch break, if I could have a lunch break just take 15 minutes and do something even if it was like an abstracted scribble in my sketchbook and I bet felt better. Obviously the ideal would be to block off more time so you can get into it, but all of our schedules are definitely different. Awesome. You like to create relatable stories in your work, you said. Do you think that there is a way for everyone to include their point of view and their work is that's something that's important to you. Yes. 100 percent, I feel that when you tell specific stories about yourself. That intuitively actually becomes the most relatable work that you make. A good example for referencing these two pieces that I have here. I feel like now that we've all been in quarantine for about a month, two months, I've lost track of time. This idea of just being kind to myself was really important. Sometimes even physically giving yourself a hug and that is what drove the inspiration for this piece and even though it's something that's very specific to me, hopefully other people can resonate with that sentiment as well. I feel when you put specific stories that have happened to you or people in your life into your work, that's when other people connect to that specificity. [inaudible] asked how did you develop the distinctive style that you're so known for today? My style is something that if you look back in all of my sketchbooks from when I was a child and I would have shown them today, but they are at my parents house. Hopefully when I see my parents, I will bring them back down to my apartment. But throughout my life, I've drawn figures and noses and faces in a pretty specific way, subconsciously actually. It's been interesting as I got older and it's like, "How do I put this all together?" I started taking these subconscious decisions that I was making and consciously starting to put them in my work then I let that build upon itself. That's what evolved into the style that I have currently. [inaudible] , we'd like to know how you overcome blank page fear, sometimes she feels like drawing, but when she sits down, you can't really think of what to draw or she overthink. I feel you on that, usually what I like to do if it's digital piece or even if it's done by hand, it's just go and then start drawing, because now I know that's [inaudible] those are dramatic. I feel the ability to ruin a page, then you can either build off of what you've done there or you can draw around it and that idea of preciousness escapes emotionally and then you feel better at the fact that there is no perfect page anymore. Yeah. In your class that we did together, you recommended when we exercise you actually do is drying over a previous sketch for something that already has marks on it. You want to talk about that a little? Yeah. Another great thing to do is, I'll circle back to my plant drawing that I did the other day. This one I started [inaudible] This one I did, and I started with just the one color and the black ink and then eventually it came back to it on another exercise that was evoking. I forget what it was, I think my own personality and be able to draw on top of another drawing pays off two-fold one because you're not afraid of messing up the new piece of paper. Then two, at least for me, really interesting ideas can come of it. The relationships of color and then the relationships of shape and they're abstracted form. That's something that will and has directly inspired some of my final projects that I've been doing for clients. It's really nice because it takes off the pressure off of yourself and then also lends itself to creating some really full on unique ideas that you may have not made otherwise. [inaudible] would like to know, if you have any tips for helping apply your ideas on paper? Whenever I have an idea. When I was younger, if it didn't look exactly like the idea that I envisioned in my mind, I would get really upset about it. That in of itself can be really limiting, so whenever I do have an idea and as I start to translate it onto paper, if it doesn't look exactly the way that I'm envisioning it, I lean into that and like that okay. Really good example is this piece of the self embrace. Originally I wanted it to be a piece where the faces were bigger and it may have been two bust up portraits instead of two full body portraits. Then as I started putting it on paper, it morphed into something that ended up being two full figures instead of two shoulders and heads and that's okay. I think that as long as you are kind to yourself form the fact that your ideas may translate as you put them into reality, that is something that's really helped me. We have time for just two more questions. The first one is from [inaudible] she asks, do you make a lot of research time for the projects to find your ideas or do you work more intuitively? I'll say I work more intuitively if it's a project that has a specific brief that's given to me from the client. Then I'll do some research into that and some exploratory sketches and drawings. If the client is very interesting in me where they're like, "Hey, this is the dimensions, this is how it needs to be output, you do." That's when I start to really start to explore form and shape and things like that. So I would say I'm a bit more intuitive, but there's no wrong way, both ways are fine. Last question, [inaudible] would like to know if you have any tips on how to get out of your comfort zone if you already have a specific style, she's a fashion illustrator and she would love to be a little bit more loose in her illustrations because she's also a crazy perfectionist which mood? [inaudible] It's funny because people will look at my work and your perfectionist and I'm like, "Yes." I would say, you push yourself things that I like to do is experiment with different types of media. I say now I'm a hobbyist painter, painting always somehow unlocks things that I then take to my professional work in my drawings, just because I feel like it's a different application and it's something that I don't do every day. Doing things that make you uncomfortable, but just from the fact that you don't do them consistently, can also help your brain realign and learn new things about the work that unique that you can then put into the work that you make on a consistent basis. 6. Final Thoughts: Hopefully, these exercises are something that you can take into the future with you, especially if you are working on a project and you are struggling or you just have 10-15 minutes to yourself. I just appreciate you all taking the time to hang out with you today. It meant a lot to me. You can find me on Instagram. Instagram is just my first name, underscore my last name. That's pretty much where I live all the time because can't go anywhere else. Thank you so much for joining this class. Now let's get to drawing. Thanks everyone for tuning in for more about Amber and her sculpture class, intuitive illustration. Check out her skills, her profile.