This one goes out to @pomin8r otherwise known as the lovely Mantis from #gotgvol2


This one goes out to @pomin8r otherwise known as the lovely Mantis from #gotgvol2 - great job 👏🏻 props to @renatocampora too #pomantis #fanart #pomklementieff #marvel #art #artist #actress #hollywood #digitalpainting #digitalart #njartist #mikebone #mikebrennanart #myart #illustrator #illustration #illustrationoftheday #dailydrawing #artwork #creative #guardiansofthegalaxy

My Secrets to Creating Mixed Media Art

Have you ever wished you could peek over an artists shoulder to watch them work? Ever wondered about the process or tools & supplies used? Or wished for a peek into an artist's working studio space? Lean in closer for some secrets!

Well, I recently had the opportunity to participate in a Facebook Live broadcast where I did just that, as well as completed a live demonstration finishing a mixed media pet portrait. 

See how it went from this...

See how it went from this... this! Watch the video below! this! Watch the video below!

And although it will live on in the archives over at the Vango Art Facebook page, I thought it would be great to share with all of you who frequent my blog.



While you might not have the benefit of watching it live, you can still ask me any questions you might have. Just leave your questions in the comment section below!

Like the final piece? It's called "Van Gogh's Dog" and is a mixed media piece on 11 x 9 paper. It's available for purchase.


A Bite-sized Tip For Creating a Series of Art

  “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”    — Vincent Van Gogh

 “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

— Vincent Van Gogh

The thought of doing a 365 day daily art project can seems daunting. What will I do for that long? What if I get bored or run out of things to draw? What if I quit after a week, like that diet I tried last year? I had such good intentions and high hopes, but at the end of the day, it amounted to nothing, except a reminder that either i’m a failure, a quitter, or I just seem to be missing something in my DNA to enable me to complete the task at hand.


I learned early on that I needed SMALL projects. I can’t think in 365 day chunks. But I can do 30 days. Or even 100 days. So after a little bit, I started to identify a topic that I wanted to tackle for 30 days. 30 days of self portraits, 30 days of pets, 20 days of toes, 30 days of faces... you get the idea. I started to incorporate Instagram and social media. I would sketch people’s photos who would show up in my feed. I would then tag them so they could join in the fun too. It was a great way to be held accountable because I was posting publicly, as well as meet new friends. I started to sketch celebrity photos they posted on Instagram, and tagged them too. Some of them even liked and shared (and occasionally commented to my delight as well) I mean, who wouldn’t like to be included in being sketched by an artist, right? Most people consider it an honor.


I also joined in a 100 Day Project that was being hosted by another artist I was following on Instagram, Elle Luna. She threw out the challenge to join in with creating or making anything for 100 days straight. We would all start and end together, posting and hash tagging so we could all follow along and encourage each other. I did this project twice. The first time, I sketched a black line drawing based on the photos of others, using only my iPhone and a stylus. The second time I did the same, only this time, adding in color to the background and key parts of the drawing. Every day was a new adventure. I would look for inspiration, and others would follow along wondering what I would post next. And some, hoped that they might make it into my project. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I did attempt another 100 day project recently, but I got behind and the subject matter wasn’t engaging me enough, so I only made it to day 60 or so. You've got to choose carefully, or you won't follow through when things get tough.)


It was always a thrill at the end of the 100 days, to create a photo montage of all the images. One giant image to chronicle the past 100 days.


I talk about the importance of this process and gaining momentum in an art making practice, more in depth in my video course “Your Artists’ Journey”.

Check it out if this sounds like something that would be of interest.


What bite-sized tips have you discovered along the way that helps in your art making practice?





Show Up And Work

439197_80220216 Over the next week, I'll be sharing "3 Rules for Creating". Rules? Yeah, maybe they are more like guidelines (because rules are meant to be broken right?).

Only 3? Honestly, there's probably more, but let's face it – that's the number that made you land here to read this. That's what we all want - "3 easy steps to..."

And while I'm not "selling" you anything here, I hope these thoughts challenge you where ever you find yourself on this journey. So on to #1...

#1 Show Up And Work

I know. Sounds basic, but you might be surprised how many people, when it gets down to it, really just don't want to work at "it". They want to get paid (well, I might add), get fame and recognition, but all while traveling the path of least resistance.

While I'm all for working smart, there is no substitute or shortcut for putting in the work. That's where the magic happens though. As an artist, that's where you explore, find your voice & style, and grow. Why would you want to short change that process?

I have been told repeatedly that I am so lucky to be able to paint so well. Funniest thing, the more I paint, the luckier I get. ~ Anonymous

If you are going to be an artist who has something to say, and the ability to say it in a skilled way - plain and simple – SHOW UP & WORK! 

It's the ol' one-two-punch. One: SHOW UP. Schedule it. Get out of bed. Go to that specific place. Two: WORK. Sweat. Then sweat some more.

Rinse. Repeat.

No on with it! Dive into your craft!

30 Days of Selfies

30 days of selfies I know it's common for artists to do self-portraits, but to be honest I have only done a few in my life until now. I'm not someone who has to look in a mirror whenever i'm near one. So this exercise was my most difficult yet as far as sticking with the subject matter. I struggled with thinking about how I could represent myself in more ways than just head on. There were times when I wanted to abandon this project, but I pressed on knowing that the only way to grow sometimes is to push.

Overall, there are a few that I'm pleased with. The rest were playing and tinkering. I did expand beyond my usual watercolors as of late, so that felt fun. Well, off to think up my next project.

Want to see the individual pieces? Check them out here.


If opportunity hasn't knocked, start going door to door.

lucky What do you do if you feel like you're doing everything you possibly can to advance in your art and yet there seems a lack of opportunity? You try and try and yet it's like there's no traction. Where is that "lucky break"?

You have two choices:

1. Complain about the lack of opportunity and become jealous of those around you who seem to be succeeding with such ease. I could so do what they're doing, you think. But you're not. To be honest, you're barely doing what YOU are doing. It's not luck. It's hard work on what is before you right now, no matter how small or big.

2. Make opportunities. Yeah I know. I hear the push back. The truth is though, if you are HUNGRY enough you can take advantage of opportunities all around you. They just aren't those sexy opportunities that thrust you into the public eye with accolades and acclaim. And let's be honest. If we're going to bust our butt, we want it to count for something BIG right?

What I have found is that you might have to redefine your idea of what great opportunities look like.

If opportunity hasn't knocked, start going door to door.

Are you doing work you love? (If not - then get to it. Stop waiting for someone to ask or invite you to do it).

Ok. I'll use myself as an example. Would I like to have my art valued, hung in galleries and sold for a lot of dough, and soak in all that goes along with being a "successful" professional artist? Sure. But I'm not waiting for someone to come knocking. I keep taking the right next step. TODAY (That's my mantra, as you know well if you frequent my blog).

Practically here's what that looks like:

- I committed to a drawing or painting a day for an entire year. April 4th will be an entire year. I have held to that. And even done more some days. Did I do this because some one asked me to? No. I did it to kick to the curb the lie I believed for too long that I because I couldn't draw in a photo realistic style my art was no good. This experience is more valuable than your could possibly imagine.

- I have taken advantage of FREE (and cheap) opportunities. Visit the Sketch book project. Sign up to not only do a sketchbook but every so often they have other projects to join in on. Most recently it was The "Dreadful" Project and it was free to enter. Sign up for a class at a local art center. Take a class from

- A fellow artist i follow on Instagram decided to do a #100dayproject and asked who might want to join in. (see my previous post) So for the past 21 days I've posted an iPhone sketch of someone else's photo in my Instagram feed. This has been great because I get to keep myself sketching and benefit from brightening up someone's day when I tag them in my post. They often are flattered & think it's way cool. And I even won a t-shirt from one post :)

- A few weeks ago I joined up with the NYC Urban Sketchers group. These are people who just love to draw. They meet up every Saturday in NYC and sketch in various places. Urban Sketchers have groups meeting world-wide. And it's F-R-double-E except when there's an admission to a place they are sketching (like the Central Park Zoo, which was $12 admission).

- Make things for other people. Give your art away. Give some to friends and family. Surprise someone with a handwritten letter and draw on the envelope. You'd be surprised how this could make someone's day. I did a watercolor painting of my daughter as a surprise for her 11th birthday. Your art is a gift, and while you need to make money if this is a career, there are also times when you need to gift it.

- Use social media to share your art. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest - you never know who might be exposed to your art, like it or even share it. It's todays networking. And if you're an introvert, this is great news as you don't have to have the personality of a mayor to connect.

- Look for local venues to display your work. In april, I will have one piece in a show at a local library. In August, I'll have my first solo show at another library. While it's not a SOHO gallery in NYC, it's getting your work out there that counts!

I don't say all this to brag. On the contrary, I say it to show that everyone has opportunity. Sometimes you just have to get creative, or change your perspective. And before you tell me it's easy for me because I'm a "creative professional" - all that I mentioned above has nothing to do with my full-time graphic design job. This is extra.

So, still think there's no opportunity? Get to creating...

My Cousin Vinny and The ART of Spinning Wheels

My_Cousin_Vinny_9135_Medium There's a scene from the 1992 movie "My Cousin Vinny" (younger generations - you can google it) where the main characters get their car stuck in the red clay-mud of Alabama. Being from New York and out of their element (to say the least), they seem to be the only ones who aren't aware of this hazard but have to find things out the hard way. But It does becomes useful information for them later in the movie.

"...anyone who’s been stuck in the mud in Alabama knows, you step on the gas, one tire spins, the other tire does nothing." - Mona Lisa Vito, My Cousin Vinny

Ever feel like your Art is stuck in the mud? And no matter how hard you struggle to release it, your wheels just spin? It's tough when you feel like your the Art you're creating lacks traction.

Here are three observations from my own time spent while spinning wheels:

First, allow yourself the grace to be who you are, where you are. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed because you've compared yourself to where other's are. Or because you feel like you've lost time and now it's too late to close the gap of where you "should be."

Second, remember that today you are better than you were yesterday, and if you keep at it, tomorrow you will be better than today. It's a JOURNEY. It's always a moving target, so try to enjoy the journey and process, not just looking to attain a goal.

Third, set yourself up for success. Make small goals, then keep adding to them. You gotta crawl before you run. We know this in other areas of our lives, yet somehow in our art, we convince ourselves it's frivolous to exert that much energy challenging ourselves. Energy is going to go somewhere. You mind as well channel into something that will help you in your art.

No one is going to care about your Art if you don't. Prioritize for it. Work hard. Keep going. Surround yourself with encouragers. Up your intake so you have something to output.

What's one thing you can do TODAY to get yourself out of the mud? No excuses. Go do it! Then tomorrow, do it again, and add to it. Get a taste for momentum!

The Fear of Art

4193432039_475cebc97e_o Sportaldislexicartaphobia is the fear of paintings and other forms of visual art. While most of us will never suffer from this particular phobia, we do in fact suffer from another kind of fear of art. The fear that blocks the creation of art.

I have had conversations with other artists at times and realize that we're all battling some kind of fear. Sometimes that fear gets the best of us and squashes our art (and our desire to create) all together.

Here are just a few that I have seen and/or experienced myself:

Fear of a Blank Canvas

(What if they not only hate me, but hate what I create?)

Fear of Change / Risk

(Doing something new or different seems just too difficult)

Fear of a Blank Canvas

(What if I have nothing to say? What if I'm not inspired by anything and can't find my Muse?)

Fear of Failure

(What if I can't hack it? And crash and burn publicly? What if what I create sucks? What if it sucks and I don't realize it? )

Fear of Success

(What if I succeed and am trapped in having to keep producing the same kind of art that made me successful in the first place?)

Fear of Authenticity

(I can't really show who I am in my work. It's easier to copy others. Hey, I might not even know who I really am, let alone be able to express that in my Art. I'm too lazy to do the work inside to figure out who I am, what I have to say, and what my style and voice as an artist is.)

Just like in other areas of our lives, we might never know exactly what hangs in the balance if we don't push past our fears. Notice most of the questions around our fear start with "What if...". That means it could be true, but also could not be true. And yet we invest so much emotional energy in the worst case scenario.

There's no one time fix all, rather a battle we have to keep showing up for. But when we do engage the fight, we can take ground and find new freedoms and reap the rewards of battle. Our ART can get a new breath and depth.

The thing is, it takes courage. And consistency. And a community of people around you. It's HARD work. Only you can do it. And no one will make you. Not even this blog post.

So, what fear do you need to face that has been holding back your art?

Not wanting to take that art class for fear of looking silly? Afraid to put your art up for sale because you think no one (except maybe family and friends) might buy and value it? Avoiding sharing your work with others because it's not good enough (you're playing the comparison game) or you feel like it's not your "best work" (perfectionism, anyone?)? Think you're too old to get back to your art, like that ship sailed a long time ago (If you ain't dead, you ain't too old!)?

Maybe today is the day you show up for the fight. You know what it feels like on the loosing side. Don't you think it's worth a shot to see what victory tastes like?

Go get 'em.

 {Photo Credit}