Back With a Fan Brush – And a Bit Too Excited

I’ve been going through my painting equipment lately.

Selling what I don’t use, to be able to spend more time with what I enjoy most.

I knew there was a lot of stuff in the first category, but I have to say that I was amazed.

I had loads of brushes, now I have about 15.

And that’s brushes for both watercolour, acrylic and oil.

I had loads of palette knives, now I have about five.

And I had piles of tutorial books I’ve never taken the time to read.

Now someone else gets to.

And so it went on.

Pens, pencils, markers, paint tubes, sketch books, watercolour travel kits.

It simply towered up.


And the funny thing is, I haven’t missed any of it for a second.

Quite the contrary.

I have more room in my shelfs now, and more time to spend.

And thereby more peace of mind.

I’ve also deleted my Instagram account, as it was a pure source of stress for me.

I hate algorythms.

And I like likes more than I want to.

And I did definitely give a like for a like, without it being a conscious choice.

I had complete control over how many followers I had.

And over how many likes I expected on each post.

The constant craving for confirmation is something I need to work on.

Or, rather, something I need to not work on at all.


Anyway, got sidetracked there for a bit…

The great thing about letting all of that stuff go, is that I found a few things I’d forgotten that I had.

One of them was my old fan brush.

I’ve always used my fan brushes with oil paint, but now wanted to try them out on watercolour as well.

And, I ended up getting a bit too excited…

One tree led to another.

And soon there were four.

Branches all over the place.

And then some bushes as well.

So there’s not much scenic view left in this painting.

Just a lot of fun.

And I am very much looking forward to spending more time with my fan brush.

55 thoughts on “Back With a Fan Brush – And a Bit Too Excited

  1. These trees are beautiful, they look nice in a group. There are trees like that around here, and they really cry out to be painted, so I’m glad to see you’ve painted them. 😀

  2. Good post that resonates for me in my slow attempts to simplify my life, …. not there yet!
    Coincidentally, I used my only fan brush for the first time in several years earlier today in the painting I just posted, to do a bit of fine feathering in a couple of sections. It’s a brush I rarely use but am very glad of on those occasions.
    Best wishes.

    1. Thank you! Simplifying life is exactly what it’s about for me, by forcing myself to narrow my options a bit. I hope you find the balance you are looking for 🙂

      It’s a fantastic brush to play around with, the fan brush. I love how it sometimes give an impression of detail that I could never match by purpose 🙂

  3. I’ve discovered fan brushes recently – they’re great aren’t they! But yes I’m beginning to agree with you RE instagram. I also compose, and have a lot of stuff on soundcloud – and it feels sometimes like I’m trading likes for likes and shares for shares, rather than really valuing what i listen to and possibly thereby what I produce.

    1. They really are, Adam! At the moment I’m really enjoying not being on IG, but I had a very hard time staying true to myself on there. I got too obsessed with likes and followers. I wish I was stronger. Sounds cool being a composer as well, by the way 🙂

  4. Hi Kim,
    A really interesting and thought-provoking post!

    I, too, decided to get off Instagram and Social Media a few years ago. I then grudgingly got back onto LinkedIn at the insistence of my small biz mentor. And this past week – after vowing NEVER to go back to social media – I got back on IG. My reasons for getting off were right along the lines of yours (i.e., I was too consumed with trying to “crack” the algorithm. And, like you, my self-worth felt totally tied up with my Likes and follower numbers.)

    What’s changed for me? The realization that if I want to create art that people will enjoy seeing, I need to find ways for them to see it. That means that I need to keep trying to reach people in the way they want to be reached. I know from experience that some people will never visit my website unless I lead them to it via Social Media. (Of course, there are many people who will never have an interest in what I create. But for those that do, meeting them halfway, now makes more sense.)

    My need for approval definitely goes deep and is something that I have to keep chipping away at. That need didn’t go away when I left IG. For now, I’m looking at each new follower (and my IG followers are still in the double digits!) as a precious gift – a connection to be nurtured and explored.

    I wish you well on your journey! Keep creating your beautiful art and sharing it with the world!
    🙂 Joana

    1. Thank you so much, Joana! 🙂

      I really appreciate you sharing your experiences on this, and you have some good points there.

      I had about 1100 followers. When I published a post, I got about 30 – 40 likes. I know that algorithms play a big part in this, but it also told me that I had a lot of followers originating from the follow for follow concept. And I nurtured this concept in the beginning, being all about those numbers increasing. If I got over 100 followers I would be good enough. Then 200, 400, 800, 1000 and so on.

      I got some really meaningful connections with some users, but I would say that about 90 percent of everyone I followed on IG didn’t really notice or care about my posts at all.

      On the other side, I was no better. I got so occupied trying to like eveyones stuff that I basically just liked everything I saw that appealed to me in some kind of way. Maybe they would give me a like in return. Or maybe a follow. I’m not proud of that, but that’s how it was.

      And when I checked the referrers to my home page, Instagram stood for about 2-3 visits a month. So not much achieved there, either.

      So I took the shallow road through IG, which mainly gave me numbers and no meaning.

      When I, in addition, got stressed out by using it, there was no reasong for me keeping it.

      The funny thing is that I’ve spent so much time on IG trying to get noticed, when I at the same time haven’t been brave enough to “push” my work out there. I want to sell, but I’m scared of the ways to approach it. I think I hoped that if I just put some photos out there, without being either personal or selling, people would just DM me and say they would like to buy stuff.

      So I need to take many steps back, and kind of start over. My home page I could never let go. It’s like my soul gathered on the internet. But everything else is something I need to take step by step. And before I try to reach the world, I need to reach my local community first. And that’s the scariest thought of all 🙂

      This was a long reply….

      1. Hi Kim,

        Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. I certainly can relate to everything that you wrote – both about your use of IG (and frustrations with it) as well as feeling like it’s beyond scary to actually reach out “live” to those around you instead

        Prior to the pandemic, I worked with a small business mentor. In the US, using the resources of the program SCORE, you can team up with retired business professional and get free help from them. Working with someone who had no knowledge of art/illustration was actually totally eye-opening. My mentor forced me (nicely) to refine what I was offering/selling and then who I wanted to reach. Of course, that process takes quite a bit of time – it doesn’t happen overnight.

        Most of my sales and my bigger illustration projects have come via the internet and from strangers. To be honest, my colleagues (my other career is as a classically trained musician) often say that they “love” my work but then seem to expect that I’ll work for free – or close to it.

        Hence, my decision to get back on a more visible platform like IG. My goal is to put up only the illustrations that I really feel proud about, rather than to try to post constantly in order to “game” the system. I’m also trying to engage with my followers and with the work of others whom I admire.

        I find it sad when I write to someone whose work or writing inspires me and they never write back. There are many people out there who seem to have figured out how to have thousands of followers and lots of influence. I probably will never be one of those people. But I also won’t ever be the person who is too busy to respond to a kind comment or sincere question. Maybe the two are mutually exclusive?

        Anyway, I hope you’ll share any success tips you get with reaching your community. And I promise to do the same!

        With all best wishes,

      2. Thanks again, Joana!
        I’d like that, if I find any success in sales 🙂

        The most important thing for me, though, is what you just described. Taking the time to talk and reply to all those nice people who reach out.

        And by giving such a thorough and much appreciated answer to my long reply, you’ve proven that you do 🙂

  5. I see my original LONG comment was lost in an internet failure. I won’t be able to recreate all of it.

    I’ll simply say that it’s good to declutter and cut out internet/media that, truthfully, doesn’t feed our souls (it just makes us THINK it is positive). But, it’s also good to hang onto things we MIGHT yet use, later, when an opportunity appears, rather than spend money twice. You bought the stuff. Unless you need to be a nomad artist, those books and tools might, yet, serve a purpose, other than discard.

    I’d also be inclined to say I’d happily have adopted some of the discards (as my family is horrible with gathering the discards of others)…buuut I know I’d not use them until I felt free-er to express myself through art. Right now, under present circumstances and pressures, I don’t feel that.

    1. You have a lot of good points, but, I do actually think, like you said, that I need to be kind of a nomad artist. Having that many things stressed me out, and I’d rather restrict myself to using less stuff than keeping it around. I think it’ll be good for my creativity as well.

      It was a really nice, enthusiastic guy who bought it from me. And that made me really happy. I know he’ll get more joy out of it than I did.

      About social media, however, I’m loving not having an Instagram. And I’ve decided to stop craving approval for my artwork. It’ll be hard, but I need it.

      1. Having things shouldn’t stress you out unless someone is pressuring you to clean house…like my family! If you are guilting yourself, why? What is it about that filled space that troubles you? Others would feel contentment in knowing they have an ample supply. You’d rather live by the skin of your teeth, hit the road and stop to paint wherever the inspiration strikes? You’d rather get rid of all that you invested in and buy more, new stuff when you realize you need it? What if you have to buy something you already bought?

        Imagine if I got rid of my astrology books because I’m not reading them RIGHT NOW and feel guilty for them collecting dust and taking up space; they’re one more thing I have to pack and move if I must relocate. And, that could be a hassle. Now, ten years from now, something comes up that requires something found in one of the books I discarded. Now, I have to go find another copy of that book and spend more money on it. I think I would have been better off searching a library and/or just borrowing a book, if that is possible.

        I’m not sure I’ve given up seeking approval of my work. It’s “graded” into me. But, I think I have stopped caring? about it. If someone tells me my art is great–or if they say it’s crap–I kinda sift the information through my brain and try not to get too emotional, either way. I’ve been given the whole spectrum of comments. Nothing is new. And, I know what too much praise does. I can assume what too much complaining does, too. And, if that ever happened, I’d feel worse than Van Gogh.

      2. I think that «need» is a word that can be graded a lot. If I want some of the stuff I’ve given away in ten years, do I need it or do I want it? I think I can live without it, and I’d like that to be a challenge for me to find pleasure in what I have.

        This is not something I’ve just done without a second thought. It’s something I need to do to keep my mind clear, and practical issues comes second to that.

        We will always seek approval in some way. But I need to stop craving it. For me that means to not make decisions based on what I think others would like, but based on what I like. And I don’t need to sell stuff to enjoy it. That’s just what I’ve been telling myself for too long.

      3. As an artist myself, who is constantly getting impulses to try things, sometimes new things, I never know when I might want to use something and then realize I don’t have it.

        Ask yourself, why did I buy this only to get rid of it? Do you just chalk up the purchase as foolish and move on?

        But, sure, we can all live without…just about anything. We could live without all the art supplies in the world and just imagine we could create something, rather than actually make it. I can imagine the paintings I would paint, instead of painting them. But, who would appreciate that?

        If you travel somewhere to achieve something but then leave before you achieve that something and erase the progress you made to get there, isn’t that a waste? If you buy stock to throw it away, what interest did you earn? Did you gain anything before you dumped the stock? Is there sufficient wisdom found in lightening your load to compensate for the sacrifice?

        But, I guess, ultimately, for you, you felt distressed by the “clutter.” Just remember, next time you feel the impulse to buy up everything…which is REALLY easy to do when you walk into an art supply store!…grab yourself by the wrist and shout NO!

        From now on, when you shop for art supplies, you buy on assignment; you buy what is needed for a particular project and live project to project, instead of having an ample supply.

        But, if you need something from one project to work on another, what then? Did you hang onto that? Is it piling up?…like the previous pile?

        Then I guess you haven’t aged enough to stop seeking that approval. Granted, I am not sure I have stopped completely. But, do we really know what is foolish versus what is just human or natural?

        Well, you can still make decisions based upon what others (might) like IF you are catering to a customer’s needs. If you are creating work for yourself that you MAY sell publicly, you don’t worry about what others think; it’s your own personal expression…though I’d be cautious with personal tastes and selling just anything. Some artists get really careless and think they can advertise some rather horrible work (because, if you see those art auctions at those wealthy establishments, it seems anything will sell). [And, I don’t just mean slop painted by an elephant. I mean lewd, violent, disturbing artwork that should be kept private…or not made, at all because it is the product of a perverted, polluted mind.]

        When I was at my best with my art–which isn’t saying much (because I still do not feel I have been totally free to be me with my art, to find a style and comfort with my abilities)–I didn’t even think about selling anything. I thought I was doing something that kept me busy and made people happy. Of course, I was brainwashed by my mother who just wanted a peaceful house and me to not disturb her fragile sanity. I was talented in the eyes of those who told me I was talented. The only opposition I faced was from opinionated art teachers and one art college HR person who was full of himself and blind to the filth his school was advertising in every corridor. I grew up thinking I was great and should sell my work. But, I didn’t often think about selling anything; the more people talked about its monetary value, the more I valued my work; the more I cared about protecting it. I have a sister who is quick to think about making money by selling something. I have never been like that. I would be bewildered to discuss prices on my own work. I’d be more inclined to give my work away to people I encounter who I hope will appreciate and respect it. I also, now and then, have worrisome thoughts about being another Van Gogh, never selling anything and dying too young before my remains, my remaining creations, get tossed around at ridiculous prices, money I’ll never see that could have improved my way of living.

      4. I have oils, I have acrylics, I have pens, I have pencils, I have an Ipad with Procreate, I have brushes, I have palette knifes.

        If I want to be creative I have lots of stuff to achieve it, and I’ve already tried out a lot of mediums to be able to chose what to go for. And then I have to be creative about how I utilize what I have.

        I think we see it a bit differently. I believe it’s a way to get more creative, and to have more time to be creative.

        I’ve been spending all my money browsing art supply stores lots of times, so I know the urges I’ll have to fight against.

        But I won’t go through life from now not buying anything. I might buy a new piece of equipment from time to time. But it’ll have to be something that is well thought through, and which can either substitute something that’s broken or add something new to what I already have. It’s not black or white. Nothing is. This is no stagnation for me.

      5. Ookay. Calm down. I think I rattled you a bit.

        An amount of stuff should not have anything to do with time unless you spread out all of your stuff and then have to put it all away every time you create.

        “Spending all my money browsing art supply stores” is not a good sign. As I said myself, it’s dangerous going into an art store without a plan, like grocery shopping when you’re hungry and don’t bring a shopping list. Shop with a mission/plan. Don’t walk in and get infatuated with possibilities.

        Anyway, you know what you’re doing…hopefully. I will button my lip and fingers.

      6. I have no problem with your reply, I just gave you my honest answer and thoughts around my choices.

        I agree that the amount of stuff should not have anything to do with time. But that’s theoretically. For me it does take up time, because I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to use, where to go with it and how to get going. I also have a need to use everything, which limits my freedom. It makes me stressed, even though, in theory, it shouldn’t.

        I never know if what I’m doing is right in the long run, but now it feels right. And you don’t have to button either lip or fingers. Having opposing thoughts is good.

      7. Your tone just sounded…irked.

        Ah, so more options slows you down. I understand. Perhaps, instead of dumping useful items you already purchased, you could request input on what materials to use, if you lack decision-making skill. [But, that reminds me of an episode of Seinfeld in which a carpenter could not make any good decisions and drove everyone else crazy.]

        If you have tried them all, you should be able to know what works best for a particular project, or just go with your gut. Buuut, again, if you feel that’s asking too much of your decisive abilities, then, sure, limit your options until someone wonders why you don’t have option B, anymore, which they happen to prefer as a discerning art lover. [Like when I use markers for crappy coloring when someone thinks I would have done better with brand C colored pencils.]

        And, if you are low on workspace, that’s another concern for being a totally-free-to-express-myself artist.

        ‘Sounds like you have a number of magnetic psychological quirks that could use some sorting.

        I am the same, never knowing how to classify right from wrong, just being bombarded with input from outside sources until there is none…and then I am left to wonder without that nagging input.

        Yea, but I am so tired of conflicts, being wrong and being told I’m “judgy” or confrontational. Honest and open is good, but sometimes it gets ugly and spoils the whole.

      8. If I got ugly that was never my intention. You have some strong opinions on things, and that sparked some strong opinions in me. I wasn’t angry when I wrote it, I was just more direct than usual to get my points clear.

        And, for now, I’ve decided to not focus on sales. If someone wants what I make, then superb. If not, the paintings will stay home with me until I either sell them, give them away or throw them away. Right now I feel no desire to produce stuff based on others preferences.

        That’s one of the reasons I like digital and watercolor painting, by the way. It takes little equipment, and has less spacious results.

I would love it if you left me a few words