Learning lots of new skills lately, including Posca paint pens with the surf art and sacred geometry art master, Drew Brophy! 


Because as we all know: if you’re serious about learning something new, having a great coach / mentor who’s done it already is the fastest and most effective way to get it yourself. 


Of course, you must also be coachable! Meaning, being willing to give up what you’ve already been doing and try on their mindset and methodology. It’s darn uncomfortable at first, but if you’re anything like me, it’s way more uncomfortable to stay where you are.


A great teacher / coach /mentor can show up in many ways, including group skill-building workshops, individual 1-1 coaching, and mastermind groups; having a combination of all these modalities, both online and in-person is best. 


Whatever you choose, make sure to have a great support structure(s) in place for the long term, and be ready to put in the work yourself. As in clear your schedule to practice the new techniques you’ve learned, follow-thru on taking other new actions, and trouble-shooting new ideas and projects with your mentor and/or learning group. 


So back to painting with Posca pens. Why a new medium? While I and my clients love using the tried and true water-based markers on large paper murals, I now need to be able to expand beyond it for various client projects, as well as executing on some new ideas that I’m currently developing. 


Why paint pens? They will allow me to paint and draw quickly in an opaque medium on non-paper surfaces, come in a variety of colors, are easy to blend, and easy to travel for live events and even classical plein air painting. 


Why work with Drew Brophy? I’ve been a long-time fan of his super dope and thought-provoking artwork, love his outlook and approach to creating a thriving artistic career, and synchronously was out in sunny Southern California when he was hosting workshops and 1-1 lessons.


In this case, I dove right in with Drew having only dabbled with the paint pens to date, but he met me there and unleashed a wealth of technical know-how and experiential approaches that I’m still absorbing (probably for a long time to come).  


We worked from a sketch in my journal – just some word art that I’d been playing around with for fun. Drew demonstrated various techniques, then came the practice and of course the critique of my work…around and around like this for what was meant to be the afternoon, but once we got into a flow it was hard to stop! 


A few key gems of Drew’s wisdom garnered over his 30+ year career include:


* It all starts with the sketch

Create a loose (or detailed as the case may be for your client) pencil sketch of the overall concept. This is your roadmap. 

* Get rid of the white

Start with darkest darks and lightest lights, and blend in between. Then make it look pretty: tighten it all up with drop shadows, etc for a graphic look, or blending for a more classical, painterly look. 


* Work quickly, with confidence

Don’t worry too much about being perfect, just get the idea out (this usually involves less thinking about it with your brain and more feeling your way thru the piece with your heart / gut). People will resonate with your attitude and energy during the creation process as well as the finished piece. 


* Go big

Big canvases yes, as well as the biggest size paint pen you can use. Why? It’s easier to flow the paint and your own energy. Smaller works can get more technical, requiring less dynamic linework (and less of your body movement), resulting in (possibly) more technically accurate paintings but losing the energy of being in creative flow. Back to that energy thing!  


* Mix up your media

Don’t be afraid to start with some airbrushing or spray painting and/or add in some acrylic-paint brushwork for special effects too. 


* Try different “canvases”

With paint pens we can go beyond the traditional cotton / linen / paper to fiberglass, wood, rock, etc. Experiment first: the smoother ones (gessoed board, fiberglass, etc) have a longer dry time than the more absorbent (canvas, etc).


* Finish strong 

Use spray fixative between layers as needed to lock in color. Sign everything! Photograph it. Varnish and/or urethane depending on final use (art piece vs surfboard for example). 


* Observation + Imagination = Awesome artwork!

This is the winning formula to creating great art! It’s the essential combination of taking a keen interest in noticing the world around you (training your eye to see what it really looks like) and applying your creativity (to imagine what could be going on) and then articulating it onto the canvas. He cited Salvador Dali as an example, but Drew himself has some pretty trippy artwork too (check it out here)! 


Drew was great about showing me his own techniques while also identifying and encouraging me to pursue my own style, topics and personal tastes. After all, as he says: the objective is not to re-create his style, it’s to learn his (generously-shared and hard-earned) tools and techniques and make it my own! 


This type of real-time, in-person learning is simply priceless. I highly recommend it in general, and specifically Drew as a great teacher!


Do you have experience with a great coach or mentor? Leave the deets in a blog comment below! 




Do you have a super cool new project where you’d like to bring paint pens into the picture?


Email me today: we’ll create something totally rad together! 



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