Mindful Digital Art: 5 Creative Prompts for Personal Development | Morgan Harper Nichols | Skillshare

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Mindful Digital Art: 5 Creative Prompts for Personal Development

teacher avatar Morgan Harper Nichols, Artist, Designer, Writer

Watch this class and thousands more

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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.

      Discover Your Creative Curiosity


    • 3.

      Prepare Your Canvas


    • 4.

      Exercise 1: Embrace Oneness


    • 5.

      Exercise 2: Redefine Landscape


    • 6.

      Exercise 3: Build Personal Layers


    • 7.

      Exercise 4: Relate to Texture


    • 8.

      Exercise 5: Reflect and Letter


    • 9.

      Continue Your Practice


    • 10.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Breathe in…Breathe out…And breathe easy after cultivating mindfulness and personal development with Morgan Harper Nichols.

From the start, Morgan Harper Nichols’ art has been inspired by the stories, people, and places around her. What started as a way to respond to other’s experiences, her instantly relatable illustrations transformed into so much more. Now with over 2 million followers across her social platforms, partnerships with brands like Target and Hallmark, and four published books, Morgan’s work continues to welcome and warm the hearts of her community.

In this 75-minute class for artists and newcomers alike, Morgan guides you through five of her favorite exercises to ground, reflect, and flourish through mindful illustration.

Working alongside Morgan you'll explore:

  • Making room for yourself in your creative practice
  • Playing with color, texture, and pattern
  • Infusing meaning, emotion, and story into your work
  • Finding inspiration and motivation as an artist

Plus, Morgan shares her tips for growing a community online, and provides an exclusive download with prompts to continue learning and creating after class.

This class is for everyone, as long as you’re ready to slow down, be kind to yourself, and breathe. For full-time artists, you’ll get permission to take the pressure off and create just because you can. For first-time artists, you’ll discover practical ideas and tips for how to bring mindful craft into your everyday life. By the end, you’ll have five one-of-a-kind art pieces to share with the world or treasure for yourself—plus the tools to make every day a little bit more centered and creative!

This class is specifically designed around digital illustration, though many of Morgan's principles are universal regardless of your medium. While Morgan uses an iPad, Apple Pencil, and Adobe Fresco, you can use your tools of choice. Any tablet and stylus or Wacom will work, as will Procreate.

Meet Your Teacher

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Morgan Harper Nichols

Artist, Designer, Writer


Morgan Harper Nichols is an artist and poet whose work is inspired by real-life interactions and stories. Her art has been featured in collaboration with various places such as Target, Starbucks, Anthropologie, Athleta, Hallmark, TJ Maxx and more. Morgan's book of poetry All Along You Were Blooming is a Wall Street Journal bestseller with over 100,000 copies sold. Morgan is originally from Atlanta Georgia, and is also the creator of the Storyteller app and Garden24.

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1. Introduction: [MUSIC] There's something that happens when we just slow down and we say, what's true in this moment. You're going to find that permission to just take the pressure off and just create just because you can, just because you're curious, just because you want to. My name is Morgan Harper Nichols. I am a poet and an artist. I've been able to collaborate with Starbucks, Targets, Atlanta. I am the author and illustrator of the books All Along You Were Blooming and How Far You Have Come. Across social media over two million people follow me and what I share is daily reminders and inspiration in the form of poetry and art. Today's class is about creating and making mindfully. What I mean by that is creating, thinking about one thing at a time. What I learned in that process was stillness, how to be kind to myself. I want to invite you to do the same. We will be working together through five creative prompts. We're going to start with the visuals and from the visuals, we're going to look at words and look at all these different things we can add to make art that can connect with others, but also here so. This class is for the creatively curious. If you've never picked up a paintbrush, if you've only taken five photos on your phone, but you just keep thinking about, I wonder if I have something I haven't tapped into yet, it's for you. So let's create something together. [MUSIC] [LAUGHTER] 2. Discover Your Creative Curiosity: I am so glad that you're here. Mindful digital art is a way of approaching technology and this digital landscape with our humanness. Which when you think about who we are as humans, we're people that we need to be able to breathe and pace ourselves, and I have to just rush through everything. This is important because sometimes a lot of ways technology can seem to be the antithesis of that. Many of us just don't have time to slow down and think. That's where mindful digital art can really come in handy, and it can be a very beautiful, powerful tool that we can bring into our daily lives. One of the biggest things that I have found to be challenging in my life and also so many other people that I talk to, not just with making art. Is feeling like you have something to say. It's no secret that the world is filled with talented people who can do all things, who are great storytellers or have really interesting lives. It can be really easy to feel like, but me though? Am I really allowed to enter into the space? The answer is yes. I was diagnosed with autism at age 31-years-old. There's been a lot of times where I've really questioned and doubted myself. I was so excited when I discovered digital art because for the first time, I could just sit for hours and just explore. What I learned in that process was stillness, how to be kind to myself. I want to invite you to do the same. Every time you open a new canvas or you try something new, you are owning that space, you are saying, yeah, I'm allowed to be here. I just want you to think about that as you're creating, because that is what's going to fuel your creativity. As your skills grow, unfortunately, that confidence doesn't always just grow automatically too. I have found myself learning all kinds of skill. But then I'm so questioning myself, like, am I good enough to do this or am I wasting my time? Those questions may still come. It's important that we are kind to ourselves when those questions rise up. We also just allow ourselves to look in front of us and see what we're making and say, this is a visual reminder that I have something to say. This class is an invitation to the creatively curious. What do I mean by that? I mean someone who is looking and is open to that child-like wonder that is within you, that notices the butterfly, that notices the bird that flies by. You're like, that caught my attention. The reason why it's creatively curious is because if you take five different people who are curious and you ask them, what did you observe throughout the day, what did you see? Even if they were all in the same room the whole day, they are going to give you different things. They're all going to give you a different version of that, and that's creativity. Creativity is diversity because it's people taking different ideas, putting them all together, but every person is going to do it in different way. I'm just naturally very sensitive to a lot of things like I'm sensitive to color, I'm sensitive to light, I'm sensitive to sound, I'm impacted by all of these different things. What I have found through making art is this is a way that I can take my unique way of being in the world and all the unique ways I see things and turn that into something in front of me, which is visual art a lot of the time. Even if you don't think about it on a regular basis, but there's a unique way that you see the world. That's a part of what makes you, you, and it's valuable, and it's a part of what you make. In this class, we'll be working from five creative prompts. In the first prompt, I will be showing you how to make your first visual art piece using one canvas, one paintbrush, and one color. In the second prompt, we are going to be going just outside wherever you are to take a photo that helps us redefine landscape. We will be making art from that piece as well. In the third prompt, we're going to be working with layers to help us slow down and learn something new about ourselves. The fourth prompt, we're going to be choosing one person that we know and creating something that can connect with them. The fifth prompt, we are going to be reflecting and writing a letter that helps us find beauty and meaning and story. Finally, I will be giving you practical ideas and tips for how you can carry this practice with you into the world. First, take a deep breath, loosen your shoulders if you need to, crack your knuckles, wherever you need to do to just loosen up and just remember that there is no pressure. If you just really don't like what you're making, you have that undo button. I will see you in the next lesson. 3. Prepare Your Canvas: To get ready for class, you are going to need a tablet of some kind. I'm using Apple's iPad Pro, you're also going to need a stylus. I'm using the Apple pencil. However, if you'd like, you can even use your phone and your finger as an alternative way of doing this as well. On my iPad, I have a screen protector that's like paper called paper like that makes the surface of the iPad feel a bit more like paper as you're writing on it. I will be using Adobe Fresco for this class to make everything in this class, however, you are free to use your favorite drawing art-making app. Just a reminder, if you've never opened this app before, that is totally okay, I will walk you through the step-by-step to get started. There's a lot to learn here and I really want to just break it down so you definitely feel like it's something that you can do and also find your own style and way of doing it as well. The first thing you want to do is turn on your tablet if it's not already turned on. Then open the app. Go over here at the top where you can select a custom size for your Canvas. Now, when you open this, you're going to see a lot of different options. But I like to start with 8.5 by 11 under the print tab. It's just a basic Canvas so you can get started with. Once you get that, you are ready to go. The first thing that I actually like to do whenever I'm creating something is I actually do the very first feature which is I zoom out on the Canvas so I can see the whole Canvas. Over here on the left you will see different options for brushes. You have your pixel brushes, and then you have what are called live brushes and then you have your vector brushes. We're going to be focusing on the live brushes. I'm super excited about that because these brushes are just so much fun to play with. You'll see here there are watercolor brushes and oil brushes. We're going to click on watercolor. We see five options. You can use any of them but what I would like to recommend you start with is this one right here called watercolor wash soft. The next part is to pick our color. In this particular lesson, we're just going to pick one color. In order to find your color, you are going to need to go to the color wheel. The color wheel is on this panel over here on your left, you'll see a black dot here. The way that I want you to think about picking your color is to not really think about it. [LAUGHTER] Just find a color that you are drawn to. Pick this little circle that's in this left-hand corner here. Drag it over here in this right hand corner range. Notice how I said range. You don't have to pick the exact spot. You can just find the range you would like. Then in this outer circle of color, move around and see all kinds of colors that you can choose from. Move around that wheel a few times. If you just really can't decide just close your eyes and just just pick one. Funny enough the one I just slowed down to was the color I wanted to pick any way which is blue. I have a rule that I've just completely made up. It's just a Morgan rule and it's just like when in doubt use blue. [LAUGHTER] Which is just like, [LAUGHTER] I don't know where to start. I find it to be very hard to go wrong or blue. I want to warn you, this watercolor brush acts fast. [LAUGHTER] Actually where the default is actually set, it's actually pretty big. I'm going to show you how you can adjust the size. Tap that number over here, so the default is set to 512. That's the biggest this brush goes. As you move this along, that is the size of that brush. We're getting started. Somewhere around 300. I feel like that's not too intimidating. [LAUGHTER] Now that you've got your Canvas, you've got your brush and your color, you're ready to paint, you're ready to create visual art. 4. Exercise 1: Embrace Oneness: Now what we're going to do is start at the bottom of the canvas. Our intention here is to make a painting that has some variation in color value using this one color. What I want you to do when you're starting at the bottom is I want you to apply pressure. Let's practice. Hold this like you hold a pencil, and just begin pressing into the corner. If you can see as you're pressing this watercolor brush, it moves. That's why they call these live brushes, because these brushes are alive. [LAUGHTER] This right here I can do all day, [LAUGHTER] and I actually do spend a lot of time just watching this brush. The technology here is just so fascinating. What you're going to do is just cover one-third of this page, so the bottom third using that level of pressure. It doesn't have to be perfect. I'm actually inching into the middle now. It doesn't have to be a perfect bottom third. You can even go back in, and you'll see some areas that you may not have fully covered in. You can go back and color those even more and finish this section however you like. Now, using the same brush, the same color, the same even pixel size of the brush, the only thing that we're going to change here is the pressure. In changing the pressure, that's going to give us just a little bit more of a range of color and dynamics in this painting. Find a spot on the edge of the whole area that you just colored and I want you to gently press your stylus over the top part of where you've painted. I'm actually doing a circular motion here to slow myself down a little bit and make sure I don't press too hard. I'm actually getting lighter and lighter as I go. Just allow yourself to fill this next third with that lighter pressure. If you're just not liking what you made and let's say you maybe press a little bit too hard, you're like, no, the whole thing's ruined, it's not. You could press Undo, just keep going. Just like that, we have this middle part of the canvas painted, and we have new texture created right before our eyes. Now, I'm going to show you another technique that I will use to finish this. You could continue going lighter and lighter, but I am very heavy-handed, so [LAUGHTER] I can only go so light. What you can do is you want to take your finger and hold down somewhere in the canvas. What this does is it ignites the color picker. What the color picker does is it takes the color that's already existing on your canvas, that you have right in front of you, and then it helps you move that color to your paintbrush. Now you'll be able to paint with that color. What I like to do is go all the way to the very top, where it's almost at the whites, but not quite and find that lightest color. If you have a hard time with precision and really getting that, you can just zoom in and get all the way down into the pixels and [LAUGHTER] just find the right light blue. This is something that I actually do quite a bit. I spent a lot of time getting down as close as I can to the pixels to find just the right color. You're allowed to do that if you'd like. Now what you're going to do is you're going to start at the edge again. Now we're about to fill in this top there with this lighter color and you just want to do the same thing. Actually, a very similar motion that you did for the last third. I'm going to go back and darken this just a little bit because I did pick a color that was too light. If you look very closely, you can see that every single time I run into that middle color, it bleeds together and it's not a problem. It's actually really pretty. This is just one of the many things that I think about when I'm creating is, wow, there's these things that happen that where colors run together and it's a beautiful thing and I get something that I can't really plan. The reason why I'm taking all that time to explain that is because me talking through all of that, what I'm noticing, what I'm experiencing is actually what's going to help us round out the piece. Because I want you to take a moment to think about what was coming to mind as you were creating this piece. How do you feel? How does this color make you feel? I know for me, when I look at this, originally I was thinking, it's probably going to look like an ocean landscape because I've done many abstract ocean landscapes. But the more I look at this, to me, it actually looks like slowly rising over the clouds, like when you're flying at sunrise, you see the clouds just maybe the dark clouds are on the bottom and it gets lighter and lighter as you go. When I look at this I feel very free in this really calming way. That is actually how I want you to start thinking about what this painting is about and how you're going to name this painting and where this painting might live. As you think about that, we're going to add just a little bit more dimension to this just to give you a little bit of time to think it through. [MUSIC] Now that you've finished think about, what is the one word that comes to mind? For me that word is free. You can come up here to the very top. You're going to see a little down button. Name your canvas. I'm going to name this one free. The final step that I want you to do for this particular piece is go up to the top right corner and click on this option here. What this does is this creates export options and then press Export As, we're going to select Export and it's saved. The reason why this piece was as simple as it was and why the final thing was to just save it on a device that maybe only you will see, is because that is creating room in your creative practice for things to be created that are just for you. Things to be created that are about the process, because there are a lot of options here and we're going to get into some more details and a lot more stuff that you can do with making visual art. But this piece is all about how can I just be with one color and find something that is reflective of my own story, my own journey. You've done just that. In this next lesson, we are going to be redefining landscape. We're going to be building on the skill that we worked on in this lesson to create an all-new piece. 5. Exercise 2: Redefine Landscape: In this lesson, we are going to be redefining landscape. What I have found in working with visuals and making art is that there is a way to really tap into that feeling that we get when we're in a beautiful place. Just by using a simple photo. Yeah, you heard me right. Taking a photo on your phone. This is a regular practice of mine and I want to invite you on a journey of exploring what looks like it could be mundane or an interesting and recognizing the beautiful landscape that actually exists in those simple things. What we're going to do is we're going to go outside and we're going to take a photo that just has two elements in it or two objects in it. Now, it can be a leaf on a sidewalk, two sticks that are right next to each other, or three sticks that are right next to each other. Or it can be one of my personal favorites, branch of a tree and the sky, that one's my favorite because it actually creates a really interesting contrast that we'll be able to do a lot with. I have my photo here on my phone and I just have it right out of the camera. I'm not going to add any effects or anything like that. I'm just going to go ahead and just AirDrop it right to my tablet. Now that we have the photo on our tablet here, it's just head on over back to fresco and we're going to create a new canvas. We're going to use the same type of canvas that we use in the previous lesson. You click up here and you can actually see there's a shortcut for your recent canvas so because we've used this letter canvas here, we can just click on that and make a new one. The next thing we're going to do is head over to this tab, which is going to show us all of the photos that are on this device. You have a lot of different options. Click on "Photos" select. You might see this prompt here that says auto-create color palettes. If you do see that, it's really cool because what it's going to do, it's going to pull some colors from this automatically, which is really neat. You can press "Okay" and it appears over there now that you have this photo in your Adobe Fresco canvas, you want to actually just go ahead and duplicate this layer and I'm going to show you how to do that. There are three dots over here on the right-hand side and when you click on those three dots, you will see the option right in the middle here that says duplicate layer. Click on that first layer that you select here and we're just going to hide that layer, make it non-visible by clicking on the eye. That's just like an extra backup layer that you have just in case you're like, I do not like what I did and I want to start over. Now you just have it. It's easy to access. I do that all the time. If I weren't making art, I never would have stopped to take this image. I see trees all the time and that's why I love it so much because from this, we are going to be able to look a little bit closer and see something new from something that we might pass every single day. The next thing that I need you to do is to convert this image to what's called a pixel layer and the way that we do this is we go back over to these three dots here and we're going to press "Convert to pixel layer." What that has done is it's given us some more flexibility to be able to work with this image in a variety of different ways. What I want you to do is to pick a corner from your photo and then after you've picked that corner, I'm going to show you how we can then bring this corner to life in a new way and redefine landscape, I'm going to zoom out even more to about maybe 25 percent or so. Then we're going to go over here to the left and there's a transform feature and when you click on that transform feature, you'll see that it gives you options to drag the image to a certain degree. I'm not really looking for any type of exact measurements here. I just know that this general area, the bottom-right corner of this, is what caught my eye. Take a look in this area over here on the right and you can see as you move the image, it actually shows you a preview of what it looks like, of what that crop is going to look like. After you have found a crop of the image that you're satisfied with, press "Done" and just like that, it has cropped the image. The next thing we're going to do is we're going to add another layer. It's going to give you a little bit more cushion to be able to create without the fear of ruining your crop and this new layer, everything you paint on this layer is on that layer. It's not going to appear on the previous layers. We're going to go back up to our newest layer. Now that we have this part of the image that we just feel drawn to that we want to explore, we're going to start painting over it and one thing I want you to ask yourself is, what color stands out to me the most? For me, it's this blue here. What I want you to do with that color, now that you're on this separate layer is I want you to tap on your screen and take your time here and just explore and say, I think I like this blue. Now that we have our color, we're going to go back to our live brushes and we're going to select that, that watercolor brush that we used before. Over here, the second option, we're going to use a water color wash soft. Then we're just going to paint over here in the corner. I'm just going to paint at the edge of that color. What we're doing here is you're just warming up to the idea of essentially creating this [LAUGHTER] new version of this moment. Whether you can ease into it, just go to the edge of that color and just see where that leads you and if you look, you'll see that I'm doing some circular motions here. And I'm doing that just to keep it really soft, but you can press into a harder if you'd like to. know, I'm coming up on some power lines here, painting over them now, I guess I didn't really have much attachment to them. At this stage, you don't have to go that deep. You're just thinking aesthetically about what you would like to see, what colors you would like to play with. That's just one of the cool things about digital art is that you get to explore that and it's not a final decision. You still had that photo, you can always just go back to that photo and just look at it if you'd like. As I'm doing this, to me, it feels like, the skies opening up. There's something interesting happening here. There's a lot of feeling of openness about this. Now that I'm thinking about that, I want you to think about what was it like using that color. How far did you go? Do I want to keep going without color or do I want to add something new? For me let's add something new face. What I'm going to do to find my next color is zoom in, even more. Zoom in to the point that you can barely even tell us the picture anymore and I'm going to find another color that really just stands out to me. I like this green and I'm going to go over to the pixel size and just bring it down a little bit, 60. I'm going to zoom out. Now I'm just going to add some little dots in here. Just make this a very magical row of trees here. Right now I'm just picking other little colors and you can go on and on with this for however long you want and if you're trying to decide how you feel about this, I want to show you one little trick. Go back to the original crop where we've worked, we're cropping image and hide that image and just like that, let me zoom in. You'll start to see a little canvas unfolding [MUSIC] and actually, the more I paint this, the more it's becoming a different landscape altogether. When I pull back just a little bit, I actually see how this looks a little bit like a mountain. This is all just using one brush. Just to add a little bit more of a touch, I will show you one more little brush. Go back to your live brushes. Step out of water color, so press that backwards, arrow and click on "Oil." These are some fun oil painting brushes. Click on one of these. Hold down, get your color. If you look closely, it's adding even more texture there. Acting a little bit like oil paint would. Just like that. We have two options. Have this one and this one, and of course, our original image as well. What I love about this is that it's through taking that photo and by zooming in and spending a little bit more time with it, we can begin to redefine what landscape means and begin to see landscape as, yes, it's that beautiful far off place that we may like to go or long to go someday and yeah, it's also right here and we're free to explore that right here. I'm going to keep working on this and I hope that you can keep doing the same and we're going to head into our next lesson where we are going to be looking at working with personal layers. 6. Exercise 3: Build Personal Layers: In this lesson, we are going to be doing what I like to call building personal layers. I as an artists love layers. I love working with layers and I actually get asked a lot about like, wow, how do you bring all of these colors and different dynamics into your paintings and what you create? A lot of it is layers [LAUGHTER] I'm working with lots and lots of layers. What I love about that even beyond just the artistic side is just how much that reflects the human experience. We all have so many layers to who we are and what I have found in both making art and in life is that the way that you can really start to unpack those layers and get to know who you are is by slowing down and just taking time to just listen. That's what we're going to be doing in this lesson. We're going to be making something and taking time to slow down in the silence and just listen as well. The first thing we're going to do is open Adobe Fresco and we're going to pick our 8.5 by 11 Canvas. We're going to be focusing on creating one layer. This layer is going to be a little bit similar to what we've already been practicing before. However, we're going to go just a little bit deeper. Instead of just picking a color that you just like, I want you to think about a color that represents how you feel. Now, if you're anything like me, sometimes answering how do you feel it takes a minute. I'm going to show you what that process looks like for me. The first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to go back to the watercolor brush that we've been using. I'm going to go to the second tab over here and I'm going to click our watercolor wash soft brush. Now I'm going to be looking for a color. I'm going to go back to our color wheel here and I'm going to move this particular bit right here to the top just so I can get a little bit of range. You don't have to necessarily grab any particular spot but over here in the right-hand corner range, we just gives you something to work with. Then just move around the color wheel. I'm moving around the color wheel now, I'm just looking for something that stands out to me. I like this green, greenish-yellow color. After you've decided on color, I want you to do one more step; find a slightly darker version of that color. What I just did there was I just picked the color without really knowing very clearly how I feel but now, I want to think about that. Why was I drawn to this color? The first thing that comes to my mind, I was like, well, this green makes me feel very grounded. That's the color that I'm going to pick. Just give yourself permission to find a color that speaks to you and go from there. I'm going to increase the pixels of our brush here. I'm going to paint in somewhat of a oval shape, and it doesn't have to be a perfect oval. We're just trying to get a circular shape in the middle of our Canvas here. You can apply quite a bit of pressure, allow yourself to fill in this middle area of the Canvas. I will say the longer I look at the shape and this is the beauty of slowing down is that I actually see and what I've painted to almost look like rings of a tree. Actually, if I look at it this way, it looks like a fingerprints, fingerprints and rings of a tree. These are things that tell a story. There's something interesting here, there's something unique here. That's very grounding for me and that's what you want to experience when you're looking at this it's like, well, I pick this color and there's something deeper here. I want you to think about that. Then I want you to think about how does that feeling, how does that word connect to your environment? I don't mean just the landscape, but the people in your environment, your community, the people that you see and engage with. For me it's grounded. What does it mean for me to be grounded as a community member? What does it mean for me to be grounded in my interactions with people that I know in my life? Just let your mind roam for a minute and see where that takes you. How does this color make me feel relationally? Now that you've taken a few moments to think, what we're going to be doing is create around that idea of like how does this color now relate to others and our connection and relationship with other people? The first thing we're going to do is pick that new layer. Now we're going to pick a brush. There are lots of brushes out there but we're going to go the really simple one. We're just going to use the pencil brush, so I'm going to show you how to find it. You want to go up here to the top and you're going to click on all the pixel brushes here. Under the sketching tab, you're going to see the pencil tab. You can see I actually have this favorite because it's one of the most basic brushes and I use it all the time. The final thing we're going to do is we're going to pick a new color for this layer. There's a lot of color theory we could get into but a general rule of thumb that I go with most of the time is either look at the color next door to the color you're working with or the color on the opposite side of the color wheel. I'll give you an example. I'm over here working with green. I think a good color could be yellow. I will go over here. Then if I want a good yellow, I'm just going to slide up a little bit to use yellow. Let's say I chose instead to go with the color across the way over here. Let's go back to the green that I have. Across the way, we were in that blue range. It doesn't have to be exactly across the way but if you come right around here, you get this bluish color that could go a little bluish-green. Both of those options, yellow or that blue, would look really well on that green. There's a lot of options but those are just two rules that you can go with if you want to not get too overwhelmed with this stage. I actually really like this yellow over here. I'm just going to pick the yellow. Now I'm so thinking about that relational aspect of like, how does this color, this green, I've looked at so much at this point, like rings of a tree, fingerprints, grounded, how is that relational? What does that mean? I have my yellow here and I have my new layer. What do I feel relationally I think of grounded? For me, I'm going to stick with this circular motion here. When I think about grounded relationships in my life, this is what it feels like. It feels like there's circular thing, there's overlap, I know this person but there's still more to them that I'm still learning, there's still more to me that they're still learning. It doesn't have to be like an essay. It's just reflects how I feel about it. What I love about this is, I don't even know how many paintings of mine that I have out there but I have so many little moments like that and things that I've created that nobody else may be able to pick up on but I know it's there. That's why I gives it a layer of meaning that nobody can take away from you. It's just such a good mindful practice. I want to invite you to fill in that space and allow yourself to just draw something that really reflects how you feel with this color in relationship to other people. Now that we have two layers, we have some texture here, we have some story here. I want to invite you to have one more final moment of silence and quiet to think about this. How does this piece so far make you feel in relationship to the world, the world at large? Now that's a really big question, so I want to break it down for you a little bit. The reason why art has such a power to connect us with each other is that art does reach out. When we make things, it starts right here, it starts with our story, but at the same time it has ripple effects in the world. That's something I try to keep in mind and in my practice with everything that I make is who might encounter this somewhere beyond me that I don't know. This is a way that you can just take a moment to really think about what does it look like to bring that into this piece as well. I just want to invite you to take a few moments to do just that. For me, one thing that came up is when I look at this piece, I'm like there's a lot of harmony here to me and my piece feels harmonious. That's still ties in to the original theme of feeling grounded. When I think about that word harmony, I'm like, wow, that's something that I would love to see more of. What I'm actually going to do is I'm going to figure out how I can make this next layer musical. I am going to add a new layer here and now we're going to add another color. I keep picking the colors next door. I'm going to just stay on that path. The color next to I'm going to pick is orange. I'm not going to literally draw music notes. Instead, I'm going to draw something that is reflective of music notes to me. If you can see I'm leaving the circle here and I'm just going to start fueling this outer layer here with something that to me symbolizes music notes. It's going to be very imperfect here, and that's the point. Because as we've already talked about, I'm thinking about harmony but also how really difficult harmony is and how difficult it is to create a harmonious music. This is just the beginning of adding personal layers. When you think about your story and you think about who you are, there are way more layers than Adobe Fresco can even handle. If you're looking at what you're making, you're like, I don't know how I feel about it. That's okay. This is only the beginning working with digital art in this way, there's still room for more. This piece is fine as it is and for me it actually represents a lot, I feel pretty confident that I can look at this later, especially if I named it grounded in community. I'm going to remember this process of thinking about it and saying, yeah, that's what that represents. At the same time, I can keep going. I want to encourage you to do the same. Whatever you started working on, you can continue to play around with this, even with just the few brushes that we've used and the colors we've already used. Go ahead and just experiment a little bit, allow yourself to explore, these themes, explore, these layers, and just get to know this piece and also get to know yourself in a new way. Now that we've created this layered piece, we're going to be going even deeper into relationships in the next lesson using another photo. Can't wait to see you in the next lesson. 7. Exercise 4: Relate to Texture: In this lesson, we are going to be looking at a concept called relating to texture. Texture is something that you can add to an image, whether it's a painting or a photograph, to just bring a different layer, a different level of substance to what you've created. One place that I like to add a lot of texture is when I'm working with photos of people and people that I know. What I'm going to be showing you how to do is take a photo of someone that you know, and it could be a photo that you took of them or a photo that they said that you can use and adding more texture to that photo. I'm actually going to be using a selfie that me and my sister took. I'm just going to go over to my photo tab here and I'm going to click on "Photos". Then I'm just going to pull in the photo of me and my sister. First thing we're going to do is duplicate this layer just so we have a backup right here ready to go if we need it. Then we're going to go back to the previous layer. Then we're going to press that little I there so it's hidden. Go back to our top layer here. I'm going to zoom out just a little bit because I like to be able to see the whole Canvas. The next thing we're going to do is convert this to a pixel layer. What I'm going to be doing is removing parts of this photo so that I can focus on what I want to focus on, which is the other person in the photo, my sister, so not myself. What I'm going to start doing is just erasing myself from this photo. In order to erase, you have different options. You want to click over here to this tab. I like to use the hard round variable. I'm going to increase the pixels of this eraser. That makes the eraser brush a little bit bigger, about 100. There's technically more proper ways to remove certain things from an image. But for these purposes, I'm going to just do it this way. The more you apply pressure, the more it expands that pressure a little bit. Looking at this photo of this person in our life, we're asking ourselves questions about how does this person make us feel? To break that down a little bit further, what I want you to do is think about something that this person likes, and it could just be a color that they like. My sister here that I'm doing, you could probably guess she likes purple. I'm already thinking with this image, doing some purple and pink here could be a really good direction. The next thing I'm going to do, and I want to invite you to do the same, even if you don't have a full crop of the person's full shoulders, both shoulders, and all that, that's okay. Come over to the Transform tab, drag it somewhere to the middle, come back down to the default base layer. When you first opened it, there's a layer that appeared here. Drag it just above our backup photo. This is going to be our new background. The way that I want you to find your background is by pulling from a color that's in this photo. We're going to zoom in. I'm going to do a dark pink. Let's try this one. Then I'm going to go to our pink bucket tool over here. Tap on the screen, make sure you're on this layer right here. Pixel layer. There we go. Now that we have our background, click on your top layer, click on this plus sign to create a new layer. For our textures, we're going to primarily be using one brush. I'm going to show you what's possible with the pencil brush. It's a very basic brush, I feel just a little underrated. I love this brush. Come back up to our top position here where we can see all of our brushes. Pick our pencil brush, it's already selected most likely, but just in case it's not, that's where you can find it. We're going to just keep playing with this color. You know how this is not a perfect crop. I didn't get every single tree or everything removed around the hair. That's okay because these are all colors that we can work with actually, and they can find their way into this piece. What we're essentially going to be doing is filling in the space around this image to just add more texture. My sister really likes color. She really likes color, she has a very energetic personality, lots of fun. I want this image to feel very fun. I'm going to come back down here and I'm going to find some more colors. I really like the lavender that's in her hair here. I'm just going to start working with the very edge of this photo here. I have my Apple Pencil turned on the side, so I can get this effect here. This feels very fun to me and I also feel like my sister would think that these little dots are fun. That's what I want you to think about when you're adding different textures like I'm doing right here is does this feel fun to me? The person I'm giving this to, will they also think it's fun? Maybe you're making something with a friend who the two of you like to laugh a lot. Could you put some little funny doodles in there that are a part of an inside joke? My sister is also an artist. She and I, we talk a lot about color and different things. I've actually even done some album covers for my sister, she's a musician. I have a little bit of insight as to the kind of aesthetic that she might like. But you don't have to know what someone's aesthetic is to be able to do this. You can just slow down and look at the shirt that they're wearing. Maybe they're wearing a pocket t that has a little lake on it or a mountain, and maybe I could do some little pencil mountains behind their head or something like that. As you can see here, I'm actually pulling from some of the green here in this image, and that's actually why I left that there, because I was like, how cool would that be to just add these little dots that are maybe not as prominent? This color green is not prominent. But because me and my sister took this photo in front of some trees, it works, the color works. It works with the color of everything else in the image. It's amazing what you can do just by pulling from an image. Working with images can be very intimidating, but the way that I come up with the texture is thinking I just need to frame the image. Start with framing those edges where it was cut off in a hard way. Right now, that's what I'm thinking about with this top section up here where I've added a different texture. What's interesting about that is that when you're working with images of people and you're working with someone's real lived story, lived experience, it's a really good thing to actually try to build around what's already there. If you're feeling stuck, like I don't know what I should do, just think of it as literal framing. We are framing the image. As you are pulling colors and you are working with this image, there are a few things that I want to invite you to think about, even just take this practice even deeper. What are the words that come to mind when you think of this person? It could be two or three words. For me, those words from my sister would be joyful, hilarious, and empathetic. As I'm thinking about that, those things impact the way that I'm even drawing simple dots. If the word that you chose was calming, maybe your lines will look a bit more like this. Maybe your lines would be lines that you slowly draw. There's so many different approaches, but these questions are helpful because when you're making art, sometimes it can become a little bit like, oh, I don't know what to make next, I don't know what colors I should add and all of that. Just taking time to really slow down and think about the meaning of it can help bring you back to what creative decisions you want to make. Finally, what I want to invite you to think about when you are creating this image of this person is on their best and worst days, what do you hope they know to be true? That can be something really simple. It can be I just hope they know that they are loved, their personality is amazing, or that they're doing really great work and that we see them and that we care about them, I just want them to know that I see them and I care about them, and say these things to yourself as you're creating them. Because what that does is that it grounds you in the piece in a way that technicality never will. We can learn all the techniques in the world and learn all the strategies, but if we lose the heart of why we're doing it, then we can so easily just overthink it and just tell ourselves that we need to quit. This is why I just absolutely love to create inspired by real stories. It's the hearts of the piece that keeps me being present to it. Looking at this image, I am very satisfied with the textures and everything that I added. There's one more little thing that I would love to show you that I like to add to an image that I'm creating just to bring it together. Come over here to this option here, click on "Brightness and contrast", and you'll see that it creates a new layer here. Then I'm just going to adjust the settings here just a little bit to make these colors come to life just a little bit more. You can just bring the contrast up, you can even bring the brightness of it down. That feels good to me, and it just adds a little bit more of a pop. Now that you have finished this image, we're going to stay in this space a little bit and go a little bit deeper with words. I can't wait to see you in the next lesson. 8. Exercise 5: Reflect and Letter: When it comes to expressing and finding beauty and meaning in the work that you do, words can really help bring a message or the heart of a message to life. I like to write a lot and I get asked a whole lot about how do you find the inspiration and motivation to write. I'm going to be showing you a practice that I use all the time to help me write and help create a meaningful message with words, and one way that I love to do that is by using some template. These are all templates that I make myself. I'm actually going to be offering one to you to be able to use and you can find it in the resource tab. We're going to be taking that template to really write a meaningful relational message. After you have already downloaded the image onto your tablet or whatever device you're creating on, is open a new document. We're going to use our 8 1/2 by 11. I want you to import that template. I'm going to grab a template here from photos. Just like we've done in previous lessons, we're going to just duplicate this layer, just to have an extra layer there, and then we're going to convert this to a pixel layer. Click on these three dots, "Convert to Pixel Layer", and now we're good to go. What we have here is a template to help you write a letter to someone who is meaningful to you or special to you. I will recommend you pick someone that you do see or talk to you on a regular basis. Once you have that person selected in your mind, we're going to write, dear so-and-so whoever their name is at the top. I am writing to Leah, and there you go. Dear Leah, I just wanted to take a moment and write you a letter to let you know how much I appreciate you. For all the time I have known you, I have known you to be, thinking about what you would say if you were actually talking to them. I've always known you to be really kind or really optimistic, really hilarious or funny, or always to be the person I can count on to send me funny memes, whatever it is. It doesn't have to be deep and profound and it's a very casual, informal, just-in-the-moment letter. I've always known Leah to be kind, understanding. It's okay if the lettering doesn't really look perfect or anything. Even with tons of practice, I'm still not lining up all my letters correctly, and that's okay, and generous. There we go. I have three different words here, and I actually want to redo this u here. You have your eraser tool over here. You can just erase and write it again. Now we're onto. This has been such a great example for me because in my own life, maybe you have been wanting to learn how to be more laid back yourself. Like maybe if you said that they're really laid back or you could say this has been such a great example for me because of my own life I also want to be, repeat the same words, kind, understanding, and generous, whatever it is that you feel that can answer this question. For me, this has been such a great example for me because of my own life, I have been growing in this area. Then the next sentence is, from you, I have learned to be present to the moment. It's okay if you go a little bit over the lines or it's not perfect because we're not done yet. Then finally the sentence, and through it all, I hope you can continue to be the kind soul that you are. The final thing I want you to do in this section is write your name at the bottom and give yourself just a little bit of space. Now that we've done this, I'm going to show you how I would clean this up just a little bit. The reason why I separate these processes is because whenever you're making something, it can be hard at times to have to fight that urge to edit yourself while you're creating. I just wanted to give you permission to not worry about making sure it all fits exactly right, and you say all the right words the right way. I just wanted to give you permission to write because especially when we're working with these digital tools, we have a little bit of flexibility. If you would like to clean this up a little bit and make everything fit on the lines, while you're in this still there, that's very important. You want to make sure you are still on the layer that you would like to clean up. Head over to this button right here, we're going to use the Lasso selection tool. What this is going to give us the chance to do is clean this up a little bit. I want to get these words back on this line. I'm just going to use the Lasso tool to select this mine, click the transform tool, and then you can drag it down like this, and you can also do this. I do this all the time. In order to keep that in place where it is, you want to press "Done", and there you go. The last thing you want to do is press "Deselect". Now, that has been permanently moved to that location. Do that once again right here. This right here, this process that I just did, it is a little bit messy, but that is intentional. Right now, we're focusing on getting the words out and giving ourselves something to work with. Take a little bit of time to further customize this letter and make it your own. I want you to read this again. Find a word that you would change, a word that you would change to make this your own. Let's say that you want to change the word how much I appreciate you to how much I am grateful for you. You could erase the word appreciate here on that template layer here then write, I'm grateful for you. You can go on and on with this. Let's say you wanted to keep some of the words that I have, but you just want to write it in your handwriting. Let's say you wanted to erase for all the time. You could just erase that and then write it in your handwriting and you just keep doing that. Then eventually, just like that, you have a whole hand-lettered letter that speaks to you and it's meaningful and it's your handwriting and it's even formatted in a certain way, and that's the wonders of working with the template. If you'd like to just take it even further, create another layer and add some images to it, add some doodles. I would love to add some flowers to this piece. Slowly but surely you can just begin to make this your own, however, you would like to add to this letter, add a little sun, some of those little birds that are shaped in the letter V. Just like that, you began the process of creating this letter with your writing voice for someone that you care about. There is some format here. There is some story. If you would like to just keep some of the letters I already had, maybe you can just erase some of the lines. Just make it fun. There's no rules. It doesn't have to look a certain way. In life, there are a lot of rules, but this is one of those places where it's not like that, and there's freedom for you to explore what's possible, how you can make something your own and make something that will cause someone to just slow down and really look at it and say, I can tell this person took a moment to think about me, and that's really special. If this letter doesn't quite feel like you, and there are some adjustments that you want to make, I just want to invite you to spend time adjusting, spend time editing, erasing, writing words in different ways to really make it your own. Now that you have created these letters, we are going to be moving into our final lesson which is called continuing your practice. We're going to be looking at all the many ways that you can take the skills that you have learned here today, to continue nurturing them and growing them, and I cannot wait for you to join me in that lesson. 9. Continue Your Practice: We've acquired some skills in this class and I want to show you how you can take the whole practice that you've been working on and then just expand that loop a little bit. One of the ways that you can do that is to continue to find ways to prompt yourself. I've actually created more prompts that you can download in the resource section so that you can use this mindful digital art that you've been creating and your daily life and in the way that you see the world and respond to things. I want to encourage you to really think outside of just the canvas itself and continue your practice just by being you. The reason why it's so important to make art and make these visuals around things that are important to you is because those are going to be the things that propel you and energize you and motivate you to actually share what you've created. As a professional artist, I get asked all the time, how do you get over the fear or the doubt or the pressure just around sharing what you do? My answer is that I don't get over it. Instead, I have to find a way to push through it, and the way that I push through it is by saying, hey, I know what's backing me up is conviction, it's something I believe in, and that's what's motivating me, that's what's pushing me to press publish and to share it. I want to challenge you to figure out what does that look like for you? What does it look like for you to press publish in some way in your life? A lot of times it is social media but that's not the only way. There are a lot of different ways that we can say, here's me pressing publish, here's me going just a little bit further than what's comfortable but I want to challenge you to figure out what that is. One way that you can start is with a time frame. Maybe you're like, okay, once a week, I'm going to commit to making something that I send in my group text of friends who will let me send them some art that I make and say, "Hey you all, this is just me making a thing and putting it out there because I've never done this, I just need somewhere to put it." That's a small way that you could do that, or you could say, you know what, I want to crank it up a notch. I want to do that. I'm going to start a blog. Start with time, once a month, once a week, once a day, whatever works for you and just figure out what you can do that allows you to continue your practice. I want to take a moment to talk about what continuing your practice and sharing looks like as a professional artist. The first thing that I want to highlight is Pinterest. Pinterest is a platform that I've been using for many years to share my artwork and my poetry, and it was actually the launching pad for a lot of what I do today. It was actually a very personal poem that I shared on Pinterest back in 2016 that ended up getting repinned over 100,000 times. Till this day, I have no idea how that happened, and I'm still mystified by it. It really just caught my attention as a platform because it's a space where you can upload and it takes time for people to find what you've created. A lot of other platforms, there's a lot of instance gratification, and my experience with Pinterest has been, I'll share something and then I'll leave it alone like I did with that one poem. I left it alone for months. That to me is really good to have something like that in your creative practice. You're forced to wait a little bit. You're forced to say, "Okay. It's out there. I don't know how I really feel about it, I don't know how other people feel about it." You have to wait and you have to really be mindful about it and say, "Okay. Yeah, this is just a part of the process." That's just something that I really love having as a part of my creative practice. Another thing that I really recommend trying or just giving it a try if you want to continue your process, especially if you're interested in sharing what you do, it's figuring out a way to share your process. Inviting people into the fold of how you think, why you use the colors that you use, why you're exploring certain motifs, just inviting people into that. I recognize that might sound really intimidating but here is a easy, practical way that you can do that. You can get like a basic tripod that has a way that you can attach your phone to the tripod. If you're willing to do it or you want to try it, you can do a live stream on social media to show people, hey, here's me exploring how to paint on my iPad and that's just a prompt that you can start with. Here's me exploring. If you're not comfortable or aren't able to or don't want to do live stream, that's totally fine. You can just film yourself, just recording, take a little clip of that, share that on social media, and just say, yeah, this is me just continuing my practice, trying something new, and that is more than enough. I've talked a bit about how you can continue your practice by sharing publicly, and I want to take a moment to talk about how you can share with yourself. Here's what I mean by that. The more you're making art, I want to encourage you to save your art and send it to your phone and then your favorite ones, favorite them. You can actually favorite your favorite photos and put them in an album. From there, you just allow yourself to look at this collection of artwork that you've made, that's just special to you. Return to it every once in a while, when you need inspiration. A lot of times we may go to the Internet when we're looking for inspiration. Well, try creating an album of stuff that you've already made and say, all right, I'm going to go to this album and see what was it that I liked about these pieces that I made. Maybe I can continue down that path using that color, using those textures that I use and just keep returning to that. You can really just experiment with that, but I just want to encourage you to find some way offline to say, here's me making this art and I'm making a space for it, and you can do that digitally, right on your phone. The biggest thing that I hope that you can remember when it comes to creating this mindful digital art and continuing your creative practice is that there is a lot of room for creativity and for you to find the version of this that works for you. The way that I've been able to find what really works for me is by getting very, very, very specific. Here is a challenge and it just has three Ws. The first is when, so when are you going to post this? Are you going to do this Sunday evenings? Are you able to say, okay, I'm going to share something on Sunday and Wednesdays, seven days a week for a whole month, so that's 30 days? What is that that time? When are you doing this? The second is, where. Say it's going to be on this website. Maybe you already have a website, maybe you have a website for something else, and you can make a separate blog page that's often the corner somewhere and say, "All right. Here it is. I'm committing. Over here on this URL, that's where I'm going to be." Then the final thing is, what. What are you going to be sharing there? This is where I want you to think about that space where you're sharing. If it's a blog post spot, if it's a Instagram post that you're having to scroll through, I want you to think about that space. It's like, what is the bare minimum that I can do to challenge myself to say, "Okay. I'm going to go through here, I'm going to get the thing, and I'm going to post it." I want to encourage you to keep it simple. Be specific but keep it simple. Let this be your challenge to just decide when and where and what you're going to be sharing. By now I hope that you have been inspired and motivated to come up with some new ideas, to try some new things. Go ahead and start looking at the images that you've already been creating, the things that you've already been saving and even if you don't feel like they're perfect or they're right exactly where you want them to be, you're going to find that that's okay. I'm sharing something honest and true and that's all I need to be able to connect with other people who are doing the same thing. I want to invite you into that and I want to invite you to start sharing. Start sharing some of what you've been creating in the project gallery and let that be a space where you're just able to take a deep breath and say, yeah, this is the area of my life where I'm doing that. I'm just allowing myself to just breathe deep and create and try new things. 10. Final Thoughts: We did it. We have made it to the end of this class. I just hope this can be the beginning of exploring some new things creatively and also figuring out your unique way of sharing and continuing your practice. One way that you could do that is by using the prompts that I have provided and they're in the resource tab. I want to encourage you to share what you've created right here in this space. Upload the art that you save to the project gallery even if you don't feel like they're just right yet or they're exactly what you want them to be, I promise you, you're right where you need to be in your process. It's worth sharing right now. Thank you so much for joining me with this class, I've really enjoyed being able to share what I've been learning. I hope it inspires you to keep learning and growing in your own journey as well.