Psykopaint Blog

Giving up? That’s crap!

What is a teacher’s worst nightmare?

Grading papers? (nope).

Parent Teacher Conferences that don’t end? (close, but no).

A teacher’s worst nightmare is having the student who doesn’t give a damn about school. No matter what is tried – positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, contracts, Premack principle – nothing works.  What can a teacher do?

Last year, I had a student just like that in my 8th grade chemistry class. I’ll call him Jack. No matter what I did, or what approach I took, Jack did jack squat. I couldn’t engage him.

Granted this young man came from a troubled home and was given a bum rap at school; he was a troublemaker and had learning issues that were not being addressed.

So, here I was handed this 8th grade boy and told – teach him.

“You teach him!” is what I wanted to tell my administrators… but that would have landed me nowhere.

Now, I ain’t a rookie teacher. I worked with this type of population right out of college for two years. And subsequently I have taught for 15 years. So, suffice it to say I had some experience. My belief is that the most important aspect to teaching is – the students (surprise!). So, for the first three months of school I was like Don Quixote on a quest to conquer the windmill of apathy and disinterest and to dream the impossible dream of lighting the fire under Jack’s butt.

At first, I tried the close proximity trick of regularly checking in with Jack; that only led to my wishing for a lance. Each time, I would see Jack close a window on his Chromebook or just staring off into space. When I would approach him and ask him what he is working on, he would say the same thing, “I am not sure.” While I didn’t think I was teaching Dory from Finding Nemo (you know, the fish with no memory?), I did get the clue that I needed to do something more. I then selected specific tasks that were small and manageable (e.g., just read the first two pages and answer a question; just follow the lab directions and work with this group on the experiment). Nope. That bombed, too. I tried offering incentives such as he could earn playing a game for the last 5 minutes of class if he completed what I assigned him. Guess what? He didn’t play a game because he friggen didn’t do the work.

One day, I sat with Jack almost the entire period, forgoing my attention to my other students; I realize it’s not good teaching practice, but I wasn’t about to give up on this knight of the woeful countenance. That proved so torturesome that I would have prefered a root canal, or a dinner prepared by Aunt who cooked everything until it is 95% carbon. Jack just wouldn’t engage either with the material or me. He offered grunts and one word answers.

I will be honest… I was ready to give up. Over 15 years of teaching under my belt, a masters in special education, a dad… and yet, I couldn’t get Jack to crack.

What a nightmare indeed. What an impossible dream!

Then, one day, Jack slipped. He let me in… just a crack. I finally got a glimpse into this boy’s soul – he drew a picture of an atom. And the drawing was unique. It had color. It was asymmetrical. And had what looked like a tear or drop coming from the nucleus. I casually asked Jack what he drew. He told me it was an atom. I asked him how did he come to the design.

And then the world stood still.

He shared in depth how he came to design it. He took the bits and pieces he learned from class and redesigned the atom. And the drop (which was a tear), well that was the best – he said, “We are made of atoms. We cry. So, atoms should be able to cry.”

Holy crap! This is what is inside Jack?? Such talent and introspection and reflection.

I then did what my gut told me to do and what I knew my principals would hate.

The following day, I pulled him out of class and said, “Your drawing of an atom was awesome.!Do you like to draw?” He said, “Yes.”  “Tell me the reason,”  I said. He replied, “It’s how I think. I am able to share my ideas this way.” I then said, “I know that school is not your thing. I know you have a reputation of sending that message to everyone. But yesterday, your drawing proved that not only do you have a passion but you can use it as a tool. So, let’s forget chemistry for now. Let’s focus on art. How would you like to learn about digital design?”

Jack then gave me “the look”… you know the look that a teeanger gives an adult as though the adult has twelve heads and is speaking Akkadian? Yeah, that look. I told him I was being honest and really meant it – I wanted him to focus on a subject that (a) he was interested in and (b) would crack that shell of his and allow some of himself to come out.

That’s when Psykopaint came in.

I introduced him to this cool site I found referenced on an edtech blog. I showed him how he can take any image and repaint it using the brushstrokes a several painters. He was also able to design his own.

That’s when the nightmare began to end.

The young lad came in to class excited to use Psykopaint. He was fully immersed in learning all of its functions and applications. I had never seen Jack so focused and engaged. He drew beautiful art. He was able to explain to me (and his friends) the difference between the artists’ brushstrokes.

I had hooked Jack! Well, let me be honest… Psykopaint hooked Jack. Jack found his sidekick Sancho.

But wait… here is Act II.

Because Jack was so infatuated with the program, I reached out to its developer, Mathieu Gosselin. It took me a few tries (you know how these artists are!) and eventually we connected. Here was my plea to Pyskpaint’s creator:

Hi Mathieu,

I have an 8th grade student (I teach 8th grade chemistry and physics), who “walks to the beat of a different drum.” When he was younger, he was very much into art and 3D design. Over the years, his creativity and motivation dropped to near zero, due to his homelife being a wreck and his previous teachers quashing his love for the sake of learning “what everyone needs to know.”. As a result, he not only has tremendous gaps in his learning but also he lost his passion for the arts. He internalized everything and is hurting inside and heading down a path that does not lead to anywhere good.

I introduced him to Psykopaint and he was totally enthralled with it. I For the first time in many years, I see his interest and passion starting to ignite.

My question is this – I was wondering if you would be willing to show him how you came to design Psykopaint and how your passion for art brought you to where you are today. I am sure your schedule is busy, but any time that you could give to this young man would make a big difference to him.

Thanks in advance for your help.



Mathieu did not disappoint. He was very willing to speak with Jack. We set up the Google Hangout and Jack Matthieu spoke… and spoke… and spoke. Here was my follow up letter to Mathieu:

Hi Mathieu,

You made Jack’s day! He came out with a huge smile on his face and was telling everyone about the conversation he had with you. I have not seen him this happy and engaged in a very long time. He went right back to his project! Thank you again!!!

What were the magic words that Mathieu said to Jack? I will tell you – in order to follow one’s dreams, one needs to work hard. To learn digital design, one needs science, math, and grit.

Wow… I have never heard those words before… oh wait, I say them all the time until I am blue in the face!

The difference was that Jack finally heard those words. It took someone in the field to tell him that (a) this is what he needs to do to follow his dream (b) science and math are necessary and (c)  someone believed in him.

Having Mathieu say those words to Jack made all the difference in the world. Jack buckled down and learned as much as he could about Psykopaint’s features and began an online digital design course.

Talk about chasing windmills. “Hear me now oh how bleak and unbearable world!”

Now, it goes without saying that I got flack… a lot of flack…from my bosses who felt I was not preparing Jack for high-school. Yet, I didn’t care, for I knew that Jack finally was doing what all his previous teachers tried to do and fail (that list of teachers included the principals) – he was learning. He was engaged in his learning. And he was learning skills that would carry him throughout his life because he was learning a topic about which he was passionate. And so I accepted the flack and knew I was right.

It’s been almost a year since I have seen Jack. He is now in 9th grade, and is doing well in high-school because he had people believe in him. Mathieu and Psykopaint made a difference in Jack- he and it saved Jack. He is now succeeding and following his passion as he takes art classes and digital design.

As to my bosses… well, guess what?  I was the only teacher Jack came up to at the last day school and said, “Thank you for teaching me.” Beat that!

I dreamt the impossible dream and fought the unbeatable foe.

Hillary Clinton stated that it takes a village to raise a child. In today’s global market, I would say that it takes people from all over world who (a) give a damn about kids (b) believe that who they see in front of them is not the be all and end all but rather a canvas with potential to be a great piece of art and (c) who don’t give up. It would have been easy for me to give up on Jack… VERY easy. Yet, I didn’t. And I didn’t let my pride get in the way of trying to solve it myself. I searched out help. With Mathieu’s help (and if you ask him, he will say that he doesn’t deserve the accolades, but he does), together, we were able to help Jack.

To you artists, coders, developers, entrepreneurs – you do have influence on our future – on our students. Here me now for you will be tapped.

,And, to all you teachers out there, do you see yourselves riding on horses to fight the windmills of student apathy and lack of grit? Or, do you simply hold up the mirror to the student to say, “This is all you are?” If you are riding the horse, God bless you and keep up the good fight. Better yet, find yourself a Sancho (as I did in Mathieu) and together, you will help, encourage, foster, and believe in every student becoming a work of art.



Featured User: Ben Leighton

1) Can you tell us about yourself?
I’m a 36 year old User Interface designer. I grew up in Bermuda, but i live in Oxford in the UK now. I did a degree in Design & Art Direction because it seemed a sensible way to get a job afterwards but fine art and music have always been my real interests.

2) How did you find out about Psykopaint?
I really can’t remember. I think I came across it in someone’s social media when trawling through the internet. It caught my eye because I had been learning Corel Painter (and was finding it pretty tricky), and I was up for trying other things in the same vein.

3) Tell us more about your work. What’s your process.

A few years ago a friend of mine who is a professional painter showed me how easy it was to paint from photos using the computer, specifically that the photo actually sits on a layer directly below the painted surface. This takes most of the draughtsmanship skill out of the equation (assuming you’re aiming for realism in that respect). I was impressed, but my immediate thought was that to get more creativity into it one should really mess around with the photos before applying the digital paint. As such, my work is part Psykopaint and part Photoshop. The process is:

– get a photo, either from my own camera of from the internet

– manipulate it in Photoshop. This is everything from removing backgrounds to distorting shapes to complicated photo-collaging. Obviously if it’s other people’s photos from the internet you have to change them as much as you can.

– into Psykopaint! I go back to Photoshop after so for me Psykopaint is all about brushstrokes. I usually cover the entire surface with one brush, then change to another brush and rework the entire surface (leaving some parts of the original brushwork showing), then finish off with a 3rd pass. I frequently change the settings of the brushes (every 4 or 5 strokes).

– Save as a big jpeg then back into Photoshop. I then do a lot of colour adjustments and adding multiple layers of semi-transparent textures. I often use the Liquify tool to distort the shapes one last time.

Pictures I have printed so far I got done as Giclée prints on cotton rag paper. I’m very pleased with the result. It’s a bit odd to see simulated impasto on a very flat piece of paper, but it’s still nice.

4) What are your artistic inspirations?

My Pinterest page for Art is a pretty good summary of what I like.

If someone asked me to say who my single biggest influence was, I’d have to say Goya (after he went deaf/mad). Of course part of what is so impressive about Goya’s personal late work is the date that he painted it; most other western paintings of that time are in many ways very controlled or repressed, either by the person paying the commission or by the system (f.e. the Royal Academy, or the French Salon system), but Goya’s Black Paintings are pure emotion. Stylistically where I’d like to be is somewhere between Goya, Rembrandt and John Singer Sargent.

Aside from pictures of people, I love the work of Turner and Casper David Friedrich. I haven’t tried any landscapes myself yet as I feel like it’s much more difficult to say something meaningful with them. When you paint a person’s face, the picture almost automatically becomes about the human condition. You don’t need to think up a theme if you don’t want to.

The weirder side of my work (the Chimeras on stems from a love of collage and mythology.

5) Something you’d like to share with the world?

If you peak too early in life, everything else will be downhill. I want to be doing amazing work when I’m 80.

How to tesselate with Psykopaint

Posted on June 7, 2013

Chris Little created a really cool tutorial on how to tesselate. In fact we didn’t even know one could do that!!
Also you can learn how to do a great original painting from toe to head (did i get the order right?)

So we’re really pleasantly surprised by it!
As a result we decided to create a new special achievement for those who share with the community.
The ‘Master’ Achievement:

In fact more than that it’s a new status for the ones who create amazing work and share with the community. And i think Chris deserve this. Check it out:

Psssss: there’s a secret in this video ;-)

Psykopaint creator interview

We recieved a very cute email from A young girl named Vanessa who

“was wondering if i could do an interview with you it’s for school i have to do an interview with someone who has done something amazing and you have
and maybe I’ll get the full version of psykopaint if you choose that i have it .”

It proves Flattery can get you… somewhere! But please don’t flood with request to get the full version. that won’t work ;-)
Those were really great questions so you (reading this), might also be interested in learning a bit more about Psykopaint’s story.
Here it goes:

1.When did you think of this website?
Mathieu Gosselin: I was doing digital art as a passtime aside of my main job as freelance flash developer, i got inspired by digital artists like Eric Natzke or Mario Klingemann (who’s now a core member of Psykosoft!) who made me realize the potential of visual tinkering. I always wished to be an artist but my mum didn’t thought it was a viable career so i took on IT instead ;-) (and loved it too).
But since i knew how to code i created my own tool to make up for that and expressed my sensibility via programming instead of using hand drawing skills. Then people got interested in my artworks and i thought it would be great to bring this new art form to everybody instead of keeping it to myself and the few who knew how to do creative coding. That’s how Psykopaint was born.

2.How did you create it the way it is ?
Mathieu Gosselin: Designed it and programmed it and then re-designed it and re-programmed it, etc… It took a lot of time to make it what it is today. Getting users’ feedback and always trying to improve it all the time. I did a lot of mistakes along the way and lot of things didn’t work as planned or hoped but by keeping moving forward that became what it is today. And the best is yet to come.

3. Did you create it alone ?
Mathieu Gosselin: Yes i did it alone, it was a personal project that became bigger and ended up being a company. I became overwhelmed with the amount of work needed to keep it going. So now we have new people on board that are working on the next version of Psykopaint and i’m not doing the programming anymore. Our new programming team is composed of the very best people in the world who could be working on psykopaint right now, so it’s in safe hands. I’m still updating actual Psykopaint version from time to time (as i’m the one who knows the whole thing best) to keep our psykopainters happy. But i think next version will really take it to the next level.

4. How do you feel now when you get mail by one of your subscribers?
Mathieu Gosselin: It depends. There are all sorts of emails. Some are irritating because they keep asking you the same questions over and over again. And you wish they would read the FAQ ;-) lol. Sometimes we have really aggressive or weird people too that insult us because they don’t have this or that feature, or some people complains of various things.
So i’ve got to be really strong about that and not let it affect me personally. But by time i know how filter the crap.

Gladly there’s a large majority of great supportive comments, i think we’re one of the few companies for which customers thanks us and cheer us in mass for each newsletter or email we send! It feels great!
And finally we also receive some really moving emails.
Psykopaint had a real positive impact or so many people. Really!
I’ve heard multiple time that it saved people’s life, help them cope with grief, depression, mental illness, pain or simply blank canvas fear.
It seems Psykopaint is a great therapeutic tool. And it’s not something i had anticipated but i’m really proud of that. And that’s what motivate me to keep going and give my best.

Psykopaint goes mobile

Psykopaint is very cool!

I know that’s the lamest self-promotion you’ve ever heard. But It’s true.

Now imagine that it’s 21st century and you’re using a mouse to paint!? Whaaat?

I found my own fingers easier to move than a mouse. Don’t you think?

Well, we’ve been thinking just that and that’s why we believe touchscreens are the logical next step for a painting app like us.

To make it really great, we decided to start from a blank canvas (wink, wink) and to build the whole thing from scratch the result of which is….

Lazy paint!

It will be available on all upcoming Windows 8 tablets. Microsoft Surface and all that…

Yeah I know, it’s not Psyko…paint.

That’s because:

1. It works a bit differently :

You can make great paintings so easily that we think lazies will love it.

2. It doesn’t have advanced psychopathic stuff that Psykopaint have.

But Fear not! Even though it’s almost Halloween.

3. We’re working on a fully featured iPad version of Psykopaint and we aim it to be the very best creative app ever made in the universe since Ms Paint

You can have a look at it on the Windows Store already: Click me

Warm up your fingers!

Have a lazy Halloween



Psykosoft Captain



Featured Artist – Spotlight on: Charis Tsevis

Posted on August 1, 2012

This week’s artist spotlight is Charis Tsevis. Charis is an award winning visual designer who lives and works in Athens, Greece. Alongside having clientele that are highly respected advertising agencies and companies, he is a part time professor at a design school in Greece – teaching Editorial Design and Typography.

Not only that he has written 2 books on imaging in Photoshop, and countless articles on design-related material, the man is something that many new digital artists might consider to be a “digital design freak extraordinaire” for want of a better term for ‘accomplished artist’.

Like many a bad fashion wearer, whose footwear and fabric colour combinations might make them stand out (not always in a good way), many artists are recognised for their particular style (this though, usually in a good way). Style is what many artists are characterised by.

Tsevis is known for his intricate Mosaics. For those who are unsure, a mosaic is a picture or pattern produced by arranging together small pieces of material. Traditionally it was coloured pieces of hard material, such as stone, tile, or glass. Digitally it is smaller images or objects. He often collages these together to create amazing new objects. When you look closer you can see detail, but when you stand back they create a fuller picture.

His subjects are often celebrities, athletes, famous faces and objects. Let’s take a look at some of his work.  Be sure to click on the picture and click again to enlarge them so you can see the detail close up.

This Julian Assange – made up of small Earth globes. You can see them in the detail…

Made up of general images of Americans
The young Steve Jobs
Made of Apple related headlines, covers, packaging.
This is one of my favourites.
London 2012
Made completely from type (letters, numbers)
One of a range of typographic posters for the 2012 Olympics ~

Shaquille O’Neal – Famous Basketballer made up of all sorts of logos, endorsements, recognised branding icons and sports related stuff that he promotes. Check this one out close up. [To be honest, I too was pulling this face when I saw some of his works as large images. Yeah, they are pretty darn creative!]

So as you can see, Charis Tsevis is really quite amazing at what he does. His work is playful, layered, colourful and almost neo-futuristic.

Hopefully this will inspire you to be BOLD and try a few things in your own art making! Feel free to play around with PsykoPaint and try new things, new techniques. Don’t forget that part of the beauty of things being digital is if you make a mistake you can always UNDO ;) but perhaps in trying new things, you can discover your own unique ways of doing things. You’ll never know until you try. Go on, I double dare you!


Featured Artist – Spotlight on: Erik Natzke

Posted on July 18, 2012

Hi there. We’re starting a new series to feature people who influenced Psykopaint and who are exploring new ways of visual expressions.

So it’s natural that we start this series with Erik Natzke.

Erik Natzke is an Artist, Designer and Programmer who enlists code to create tools that extend and form his creative process.
A self-confessed “consistent risk-taker”, Erik claims that his success stems from “having the willingness to fail and the stubbornness not to give up.”
Code is the basis for his art.

Instead of using paints or Photoshop, Natzke instead fires up Adobe Flash and starts programming.

Here he twists and tweaks lines of code and variables until everything is to his satisfaction, before letting it run.

This is where the magic happens! Who needs Harry Potter, huh?
His style lies somewhere between the abstract and quite expressive spectrum.

With a love of exploring texture and depth, dynamics and movement, the end result is really quite fascinating. Some examples of his work:

© All work copyright Erik Natzke
As Mathieu Gosselin, PsykoPaint’s creator remarked, five words that could sum up his work would be: Colours, Technology, Nature, Play, Sensitive.This is spot on.

Erik manipulates technology to create playful scenes, colourful landscapes and much of his work is inspired by nature itself. Owls, flowers, birds and vistas.
Many of you may have noticed the Natzke preset hidden within the fun of PsykoPaint. [see the examples here or here  .

“Oh so that’s where I’ve seen the name!?” you might be thinking. (Or you might be just as likely to be thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch, but that doesn’t sound nearly as interesting and we’re going off track).
So how is it all related to this…what were we talking about??

Oh yes, I’m glad you asked.

Well to make things easier, I asked Mathieu some questions, to help connect the dots.
Q. How did you initially ‘discover’ Natzke and what drew you to his work in the first place?
I was at a Creative Technology conference called “Flash on The Beach” (before the time when some random dudes decided that flash was evil); which gathered a lot of people – those who are too cool to go to plain tech conferences and too geeky for just design conferences. Flash happens to be the best platform for that crowd: halfway between design and technology, and that’s exactly where i fit in.
So i sat there in the room and was blown away by not only his work, but his passion, sensibility and humility.
I felt like i was seeing a new kind of art form being born in my very own eyes and he was one those explorers who discovered new ways of expressing himself visually.
That’s what i think art is about – no matter how sophisticated the tools are; it’s about exploration and curiosity. So it may sound geeky and techy, but I feel like this is how you recognize artists. Those who are ‘ahead of their time’ are actually creating the future. And that made me want to explore as well in my own direction.

Q. Can you explain how he partly inspired you in your quest to create PsykoPaint software?
This technique of colour sampling has been used before him. But, never with as much depth as Erik.
He makes pieces that are not just displays of new technology but technology in the service of the art.
What I’ve learnt from him is to continue to keep moving forward and explore deeper and deeper.
But I’m a bit of an anti-conformist so i wasn’t going to go in the exact same direction.
I had to program new tools to create more interesting artworks.

(It seemed like such a) shame that this stuff is just reserved to the few who know how to code.
So that’s where PsykoPaint was born. I wanted to democratize this new art form.
It happens that the majority of people use it more in a conventional way to emulate things of the past than exploring new visual possibilities. But the original intention was clearly to push the boundaries of what has been done before visually just like Natzke did. timor-leste The only twist is that i want to bring it to the masses ;-)
(Thank you for that insight Mathieu)
You can try the Natzke preset by clicking on ribbon brush and selecting it in the list.

Now back to Erik.

I’m going to l leave you with some visual inspiration.

Someone once said, that “some things are said best, by not saying anything at all”.

Oh wait, it was me.

Still, this is especially true when the opening sentence starts with “Oh by the way, you owe us…” hehe – though also for art that is best described by your own experience of it.

In the video below you can watch part of Natzke’s artistic process – from the initial inspiration, to the code being executed and magically unravelling into a final piece.

This was commissioned by Adobe, so yes; he has worked for some big names.

PLEASE NOTE: you won’t have to grab your sunglasses for this. Whilst he’s known for his love of bold, bright colour, I chose something more neutral ;)


Create Unique Facebook Cover Photo in a minute

Posted on June 26, 2012

Facebook Timeline

Ever wondered why some of the Facebook timelines look so good (like the one on the right;)? And why the others are just really boring? Like – I WANT TO CLICK AWAY – boring.

Well, the secret is pretty simple and it’s called the Cover photo.

The new Facebook timeline heavily focuses on that big space at the top of your profile (if you only see your small avatar picture and big empty space – then you need some psyko cover there). This means that choosing a great photo for your Facebook profile is just really important!

But finding a great photo representing your personality can be hard. So how to do it?

Luckily for you – Psyko is here to help you again!


1. Create a Psykopainting and share it with your friends on Facebook

Alternatively  you can also just browse around the Gallery and Share any other picture you like. Psyko tip: there are some great paintings in the Staff pick section.

Share to Facebook from Psykopaint

Great – now you have your desired picture on Facebook and the only thing left is to go to Facebook and set it up as a Cover picture.

2. Go to your Facebook profile and click on Change cover (or Add a Cover if you don’t have one at the moment)

Change the cover Image

3. Select your Psykopainting within the Psykopaint Photos album

Facebook Albums

4. Reposition the image as you wish and Voila! you have a great looking unique Cover image

Reposition image
And that’s it – really easy stuff indeed. So try playing with different photos in different positions to find that sweet spot and make your Facebook profile timeline standout. forum

Featured Painter: Susan Holsan

Posted on June 23, 2012

Susan Holsan has been with Psykopaint from the very early beginnings. Many of you have probably seen some of her beutiful works in the Psykopaint Gallery. We have decided to feature her on our blog, so you can all meet her better – it’s quite a remerkable story she has…

Great to finally have a chance to talk with you Susan, could you first tell us a little bit about yourself.

We live in a very small town (population 491) in a sparely populated area in western Nebraska. The cattle far outnumber the people! It is a far different world from my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, but it has been a wonderful place to raise our three children.

There are many people on the site with tons of talent and no formal art background!! Unfortunately, I have been away from my “creative side” for many years while being a full-time stay-at-home-mom and then later entering the work force. I recently needed to quit my job and I have just begun getting back into my art in the past couple of years. I have done some acrylic and watercolor paintings and dabbled a bit in photography. But my love at the moment is digital art!

This is a whole new area for me and I am having fun learning all the ins and outs of digital painting and photo editing! Psykopaint has been a great program to help me in my exploring!I majored in Art Education in college (class of 1976) with a second major in English and I taught art for a total of five years for grades kindergarten through high school. I don’t feel that necessarily gives me any advantage other than maybe having a bit more of an eye for composition.

So, what’s the story about your psyko beginnings? Why did you start painting, how did you find about it?

Our second oldest son introduced me to Google Chrome. From there, I started looking through the different apps and came across Psykopaint. It sounded interesting so I tried it. I had experimented with a different (well known) painting software, but found it somewhat complicated and way too expensive.

After playing with Psykopaint, I found I could do many of the same things much easier, for far less expensive, and still get amazing results! After just a few paintings, I became “hooked” and wanted to try more. And that lead to even more!!

How do you share your paintings with others? Do you use Facebook, maybe a personal blog/gallery? I know you are also the starter of a quite popular Facebook page My Creative Corner – how has been your experience with it?

Right at the moment, most of my paintings have been shared in the Psykopaint gallery or on My Creative Corner. My Facebook page experience so far has been good. Spending time with our daughter and their new baby and then with our son and his family recently, has kept me from being as active with my page as I had hoped to be.

But, I hope to expand my page more in the upcoming months. I am not sure exactly I want to do, but I do have some ideas I am considering. I hope people will stop in from time to time to see what’s new on my page! I am also looking into some other avenues to share my creations.

Where do you find your photos to start painting on? Any good sources of free photos that you can recommend to the rest of the psyko community?

Some of my source photos are my own. We live in an area that has a lot of great nature and landscape subjects. In 2007 I was VERY fortunate to travel to Europe with my daughter when she was a member of a state-wide music group. It was one of those “once-in-a-lifetime-opportunities” so I took literally hundreds of photos! Some of those have already been turned into Psykopaintings.

I used to belong to a couple of graphics groups online and now have a large collection of copyright-free art/photos. I have found a lot of good free public domain photos by searching under “free public domain photos” or “copyright free photos” or similar search keywords.  A couple I have found helpful are:  and  (you need to register but the images are free). The list of websites on the blog have also been very helpful!

Which paintings from your really big collection are you the most proud of?

That’s a hard question to answer! I have always liked the first painting I had chosen as a staff pick, “Up In Smoke”. I learned after doing that one, that it is important to remember HOW you do a piece. For the life of me, I cannot remember exactly what I did!

I love restoring old photos, so two more of my favorites are “Welcome Sweet Spring” and “Lady With a Pink Rose




If I had to choose just one, though, I think my favorite is “Sunflowers at Giverny”. The source photo came from the actual garden where Monet did so many of his famous paintings. I tried to find my “inner-Monet” with this one!

If you had to choose your all-time favorite painter, who would that be?

There are so many! My favorite painters were the Impressionist. I like Monet, Degas, etc., but if I have to choose just one, I think it would have to be Vincent Van Gogh. His paintings just exploded with color in a style all his own!

I would love to hear what’s your favorite psykobrush?

I think I am still trying to find my favorite brush! Seems every time I think I have found my most favorite brush, I try a new one or a new setting and have yet another favorite! But I think the one that gives me the most “special effects” has been the soft madness brush. It is what I have used to create mist, smoke, clouds, and dream-like effects.

Have you ever maybe thought of presenting your digital Psykopaintings in a real life exhibition?

I have been thinking of making some of my work from my own photos and artwork into larger prints and trying to find a market for them online or possibly displaying them in a real life exhibition.  But, I haven’t quite decided if I will go forward with that or not. (I often times lack in self-confidence!)

Last question Susan ;) Any painting secrets you would like to share with the Psyko Community?

I don’t really have any “secrets.” I like to paint with larger brush stokes to bring out the colors and shapes and then work down to the details. Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir are all good for the background and larger areas. I then like using the dirt and spray can brushes set at the smallest settings with greatest opacity to bring out the small details.

I did a tutorial awhile ago on how to do an under painting which can be found on the blog. If I have any other techniques people find interesting, they are always welcome to ask me about them. I am always willing to try and share those techniques or help with advice. I would just say to other members, experiment and try new ideas, new brushes, and  different settings. Have fun at seeing what develops. If you don’t like something hit the redo button or even clear the whole thing and start all over. Psykopaint is a FUN program – so have fun with it!!

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The Benefits of Art as Therapy – Part Three

Posted on June 6, 2012

During the last weeks we discovered the awesomeness of art therapy (part one) and explored a number of ways it can help you be a better you (part two). Or me. (I mean me be a better me, not YOU be a better ME!?). Some of you may still have reservations. And not the kind you make for a restaurant dinner. Let’s address some of those concerns…

But I suck at art. Does this matter??

Heck no! In fact sometimes not knowing a single thing about ‘creative technique’ can be a blessing in disguise. People who aren’t ‘trained’ tend to do things more spontaneously – without spending hours fussing over a simple brush stroke (like some artists do). Sometimes the best parts of a drawing or painting or song come from mistakes. The decision of going with the flow and allowing yourself to make mistakes is what can take you in fantastic new directions.

The point of using art as a means of therapy, is not about how great an artist you are or aren’t – it is about enjoyment and how that benefits you.

“The object isn’t to make art; it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable” — Robert Henri


This quote by the 19th Century American Artist Robert Henri, does a wonderful job of summarising the whole point of using art as therapy. It alludes to the fact that the final result/finished product is not the most important aspect of being creative; rather that it is the feeling you get from doing it.

I’m not sceptical, but I’d like to see some fancy diagrams and proof.

Sure. Well let me begin by name-dropping some people with important letters after their name, and show you some scientific things that will otherwise convince you. ;)

Professor of Neurobiology and Neuroaesthetics, Semir Zeki, from University College London, has found that viewing art triggers a surge of Dopamine, the body’s natural feel-good neurotransmitter, into the orbito-frontal cortex of the brain, resulting in feelings of intense pleasure.

While inside an MRI scanner, Study subjects were shown images of art on a screen – including works by Botticelli, Turner and Cézanne, and their brain activity was mapped.

“There have been very significant new advances in our understanding of what happens in our brains when we look at works of art,” explains Zeki. ‘We have recently found that when we look at things we consider to be beautiful, there is increased activity in the pleasure reward centres of the brain. Essentially, the feel-good centres are stimulated, similar to the states of love and desire.”

You can watch the video HERE

If that makes you scratch your head confusingly and ask “what the…?” then allow me to break it down for you. Essentially this study proves that looking at art stimulates the happy parts of your brain. See below.

If a person can get this excited merely ‘looking’ at art, imagine how AMAZING the act of ‘doing’ art can be?!

So what next?

So if you still have reservations (of the non-dining kind), it’s time to release yourself from holding back. The best way to do this? Dive in head first. Remember what it was like when you were a kid playing with things? Have fun. Try new things. Make it up as you go. Frolic with that same reckless abandon. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments. Don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect and finally, move from a state of fear to one of CREATIVITY and INSPIRATION!

If you’re an art therapist seeking tangible clinical research or a doubter wanting technical proof on the efficacy of Art Therapy, here is a link to a list of studies.
Also more recent studies for Alzheimer’s.
Cancer here  and here.
And Health & Depression here and here.


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