Psykopaint Blog


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 Two

Posted on May 29, 2012

Last week we considered a few ways in which art can be used as a means of therapy. To continue this little series on how chillaxing it can be to get down and dirty with creativity, let’s shuffle onto part two on the benefits of art therapy and how it can help you feel awesome.


There are many instances where drawing and painting has been used to help people. And not just to win games like Hangman, Pictionary or ‘Draw Something’! Lots of psychologists use art therapy to help their patients. When people have issues that they cannot easily put into words, painting or drawing is another way they can describe what they are feeling. Art therapy has been used to help victims of abuse to work through their experience. It has been used in hospitals as a means of helping cancer sufferers come to terms with their situation. Children are particularly receptive to this technique.

Other times something in someone’s life inspires them to find solace in art. James Castle was an outsider artist who was born deaf. Having never learned to read, write or sign, he expressed himself with art, and left over 20,000 pieces by the time of his death in 1977.

[I was going to insert a joke about how producing that many pieces of art is usually ‘unheard’ of, but that would be a terrible pun… ]

Untitled (Duck) by James Castle, Mixed Media


Studies show that art heals by changing a person’s physiology and attitude. When you are focused on something relaxing that also exercises your creative brain, you move into a more relaxed state. Hopefully not so relaxed that you wake up face down in a tin-full of paint, but you get my gist.

Self-taught artist Parker W. Lanier is a recovering alcoholic who uses art to come to terms with his alcoholism. His chosen medium is generally textas and markers. You can see some of his work here:

Art therapy is a body-mind therapy. It’s been used to help facilitate cancer recovery in a growing number of places worldwide. A study that was published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Managementfound that art therapy can reduce a broad spectrum of symptoms related to pain and anxiety in cancer patients. After spending an hour on a personally chosen art project, participating cancer patients reported significant reductions in 8 of 9 symptoms measured by the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS). They measured tiredness, nausea, depression, anxiety, drowsiness, lack of appetite, well-being and shortness of breath. These 8 symptoms improved; the only one that did not, was nausea. Which can be the result of medications anyway.

Dr. Jack Lindh of Umea University, Sweden, and colleagues in the European Journal of Cancer Care, concluded that their different study’s findings “strongly support art therapy as a powerful tool in rehabilitation of patients with breast cancer and, presumably, also in the care of patients with other types of cancer.” They say it was empowering “helping them to maintain a positive identity, to deal with pain, and to feel control over their lives.”

It’s use as a complementary therapy for cancer patients is growing. It has also been used to treat paediatric cancer patients and may be a good option for those who don’t respond well to the usual touch, talk therapies.


Yes, that is what I said. You won’t necessarily wake up feeling like Einstein the morning after you paint something (unless of course you’ve had far too much wine whilst doing so). But learning a new skill creates new neural pathways in your brain. If you practise being creative, it can equip you to come up with better solutions in life.

If it wasn’t for creative thinkers, we wouldn’t have most of the items we take for granted. Creative people are the ones who invent things! Planes, cars, light bulbs, telephones, the internet…and of course, software like PsykoPaint ;)


Whether you are aged 2 or 122, you can benefit from making art. However to be painting at 122, would make you extremely clever – since currently the oldest person in the world is 115…

For children especially, not only is it good for therapeutic reasons, but learning to manipulate a pen or paintbrush can increase hand-eye coordination skills. Of course you might beg to differ if you’ve ever caught your three-year old  red-handed with a permanent marker drawing on the bedroom wall / your carpet / their siblings.

Kid drawing on the family dog

If this is a problem for you, or you actually like the idea of drawing on walls to decorate a space – be it a child’s bedroom, the kitchen or an office , I actually came across a solution for this. It’s a special wall paint that gives you that luxury: IdeaPaint. It’s durable and you can actually apply it on any smooth surface – it doesn’t have to be just a wall. Once dried, that surface becomes just like a whiteboard. And when you don’t want it anymore you simply paint over it. Would be great even at youth centres, schools, in therapy centres or boardrooms for brainstorming ideas. Find out more about IdeaPaint here:


Famous artist Pablo Picasso said: “Art washes from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” Art can be used to enrich your life. To retell it. It’s just fun. It is so easy to get lost in doing creative things, that you lose all sense of time. If that happens, you’re doing it right.


Seriously, what other reason do you need??

*if you do need more convincing, then I guess you’ll have to wait until I twist your arm in part three…