My top 3 tips to improving your art

Everyone has a secret tip or two that helped take their art to the next level. Here are mine for all things calligraphy, lettering and watercolor.

Have you started your art journey and are wondering if you should be ahead? I know it might not make much sense, but, here's an example: You started taking classes, you can make art on your own, or sometimes you follow the instructor step by step, and even after much practice, it doesn't look as good as you think it should? I am not talking about perfection, and obviously you can't compare your page one to someone else's page 20 (best advice I ever got), but let's say you are dong watercolor lettering. You got your watercolor paper, your brush pens or water brushes, your ink, and you are following along a fun tutorial. Then, you get a little discouraged that although you have already done this before, the blending doesn't look at smooth? Well, these 3 simple tips below might help you "unstuck" yourself:

  1. Use the right paper. Do you know that you need different types of watercolor paper for different types of watercolor art. Well, sure you don't NEED it, but it will help minimize your frustration (if you are having any). If you are doing brush lettering, with let's say a Tombow brush pen, you need a more smooth paper. A cold press super texture watercolor paper will fray your brushes and the blending will not be seamless. If you like the high textured paper, you should be be using a regular watercolor brush, or a water brush. Arches for example will allow for some really awesome watercolor blending. If you are set on using Tombow pens, then you should probably switch to Legion Stonehenge which is much smoother. If no blender is required, you should just get out of the watercolor paper altogether and get pad of Bristol paper. Your brush pens will thank you. Conclusion: For things that are made with watercolor, paper should be the main focus, and you should choose a brand/type depending on what you will be creating. The same goes for calligraphy. ditch the watercolor paper (unless it's a commission that requires it of course), and practice on smooth paper.

  2. Use the right tool for your skill level. This doesn't not mean cheap tools for beginners and fancier tools for the advanced artist. Now let's focus on calligraphy for a second. If you just started or are about to start, make sure to get the right NIB. That's right, not the best nib, not the smallest, the pretties, the cheapest, the shiniest. The right one. That beginner nib is a "G" nib. Either Nikko, or Zebra, or Tachikawa. It's sturdy so you can practice your pressure level and still deliver a good amount of ink into the paper. If you must try a different one, go for the Blue Pumpkin. Once you know if you are heavy or light handed, you can try more flexible nibs.

  3. Make some ugly art. No one intentionally makes ugly art. But sometimes you just have to make something. In fact I think making ugly art is very helpful in getting your brain in the groove. But i don't call it ugly art though. I call it "intuitive" art. You just start lettering/painting (inset other art medium here) and just let it flow. I tell my students that all they need to do is to start simple, don't complicate things. start with simple shapes. then refine. then refine some more. Some of these pieces will become masterpieces. Some of them will be forgotten. But many of them will help you master your technique, style and flow. And THAT is what you want to get to. And remember 2 things: you won't be making ugly art forever, or what you THINK is ugly. I lost count how many beautiful work I have seen that the artist thought it was ugly. which brings me to the second thing to remember: what you might think looks ugly, might look awesome to someone else.

Bonus tip: Just start!! You can read all the tips and tricks, watch all the tutorials. But if you don't actually start making art, you won't improve anything at ll. So just start. Today. No, seriously, stop ready and go make some pretty things.

Until next time!


The Vintage Nib


  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Instagram

©2020 by Simone Sloan Arts and Letters. Proudly created with