Art process, articles and videos

Here it’s not all about the final work, but about the steps I take to get there. Peek over my shoulder as I paint, and let’s talk about all aspects of art: inspiration, techniques, materials, and challenges.


The truth about dark art

The truth about dark art + spooky colored pencil drawing process

Have you created any dark art, and are a bit confused because you don’t know where these spooky images are coming from? Or is your loved one creating dark art and you’re worried about their mental health? In this video I’ll help you make sense of dark, spooky, creepy, gory, and macabre art and explain why some people find it so appealing. Read more...

Mixed media sketchbook tour 2016-2021

Mixed media sketchbook tour 2016–2021

I recently completed this 132-page sketchbook that I've been using since 2016, so it's time for another tour video! This ended up being one of my favorites, filled with fantasy portraits, quirky portraits, floral portraits... you get it, a lot of portraits. There's also animal and landscape studies, as well as abstract-ish mixed media experiments and a healthy helping of doodles. Read more...

Art and creativity for mental health and wellbeing

Art & creativity for mental health & wellbeing + mixed media self-portrait process

In this episode of Nela’s Art Chat I’m sharing the process of creating a mixed media self-portrait, and discuss how creativity and the arts can improve our mental health and help us maintain a healthy outlook on life, give meaning to our life, and help us deal with daily challenges and grief. I would love for more people to learn about this power of creativity that anyone can use in their life. Read more...

Doorways of inspiration

Doorways of inspiration

How is it that sometimes I can be so full of inspiration and drive to create, but other times I can’t even get myself off the couch? Why is it so difficult to remain in the state of forward momentum? How could I reinvigorate that creative spark after the fire has died out? I’ve tried to answer all of these questions, and more, in this essay. Read more...

How to balance personal and commercial creative work

How to balance personal & commercial creative work + Mixed media cat painting process

Finding balance between personal creative practice and paid work can be a challenge. Our jobs may not give us 100% of the creative fulfillment that we need, and we also may have our own inspiration and ideas we want to follow. Personal practice is an excellent way to stave off creative burnout, and it helps us keep our skills sharp and develop our unique style. In this episode of Nela's Art Chat, I offer tips how to justify spending time on creative practice, and incorporate more spontaneous creativity into your life. Read more...

My favorite black, white and red mixed media art journal supplies

My favorite black, white & red mixed media art supplies (video compilation)

In this long 3-part video series, I share my favorite mixed media art supplies for sketchbooks and art journals, along with examples of how I use them. I’ve been keeping sketchbooks since 2006 and experimented with lots of different mixed media techniques. My approach involves a lot of drawing, doodling, and painting, usually of figurative and surreal scenes and creatures. I combine drawing mediums that allow for a lot of precise detail, along with some more fluid and expressive painterly techniques that add atmosphere, depth, and texture. Read more...

Illustrated journal page by Nela Dunato

Integrating words and images (my creative journey)

Since I started using sketchbooks in 2006, I alternated between drawing and writing. I occasionally combine the two, but it’s still not completely integrated. It’s like I have a “drawing mode” and a “writing mode”—when I’m using one, the other one is turned off. I want to evolve this part of my practice, so I’m giving myself assignments to integrate words and images. Read more...

Creatives have a responsibility towards social justice

Creatives have a responsibility towards social justice + Colorful portrait drawing process

In today’s episode of Nela’s Art Chat, I’ll show you my process of drawing the ink and watercolor painting “I See Color”, while talking about a somewhat timely subject: how creatives can support social change, and why we should. Our talent and skills have power. We can use those powers to uphold the status quo, or we can use them to inspire and enact change. If you already aren’t convinced why we all need to take a more active role in our society, I hope this video will make you at least consider joining me and thousands of creatives across the world in this effort. Read more...

Stop comparing your art to others

Stop comparing your art to others + Winter fairy drawing process

There are positive and beneficial sides to comparing our work to that of other artists, and there are also plenty of drawbacks. In today’s episode of Nela’s Art Chat I’m drawing a magical winter fairy colored pencil portrait while talking about how to productively compare your art with others’ so you can learn from it, and how to change your mindset so you don’t fall into the black hole of hating your own work because it’s not “good enough”. Read more...

Sketchbook tour compilation - watercolor and mixed media

3 video sketchbook tour compilation: Watercolor & mixed media

In the past couple of weeks I've uploaded new recordings of my completed sketchbooks on YouTube, so I'm posting all 3 videos here for your viewing pleasure! The first two are small watercolor sketchbooks featuring seascapes, urban sketches, doodles, and mixed media experiments. The last one is a mixed media art journal featuring all kinds of experimental techniques and approaches to filling sketchbook pages. Read more...

Coping when art turns out bad   Mermaid watercolor painting process

Coping when art turns out bad + Mermaid watercolor painting process

Sometimes you put in a ton of effort into an artwork and in the end you realize that it just sucks. It doesn’t look anything like you’ve envisioned it, and you feel like you’ve just wasted a lot of time on something that wasn’t worth it. In today’s episode of Nela’s Art Chat you can watch me paint a mermaid that did not turn out the way I wanted, while I talk about 4 different ways you can deal with similar “art fails” of your own. Read more...

My 6 favorite mixed media art journal sketchbook techniques

My 6 favorite mixed media art journal & sketchbook techniques

If you’re interested in mixed media art journals, you’ve likely seen it all. YouTube is full of step-by-step techniques if you want to give it a try. But over the years I’ve learned what I like and what I don’t like about making art, and this has led me to develop my own methods which work with my style and personality. In this article, I share some techniques I use to bring more fun to my sketchbook/art journaling practice. Read more...

Art just a hobby

Art “just” a hobby? + Creepy portrait drawing process video

In today’s episode of Nela’s Art Chat, I’ll show you my process of drawing the sketch “Skin deep”, while talking about a subject I feel is quite important: what if you don’t want to be a professional artist? What if you want to remain an amateur forever, or at least at the moment? There’s a lot of pressure on creatives to earn money with their skills, and I can tell you from personal experience that sometimes it’s not a wise thing to do. I’m much happier keeping my drawing and painting practice personal, and I’ll tell you why I made this choice. Read more...

What I did during my Summer Social Media Sabbatical 2019

What I did during my Summer Social Media Sabbatical 2019

I take regular social media sabbaticals in order to clear my mind and make more time for creativity and proper rest. This year I was unplugged from all social media channels for over two months–from mid-June to the end of August. Here's an update on what I did while I was away... Read more...

Mermay 2019 - How it went and what I learned

Mermay 2019 – How it went & what I learned

As I announced in my previous video, I took part in this year’s Mermay challenge and attempted to draw and paint mermaids every day during the month of May. In this article I’ll show you my favorite mermaid drawings from this challenge, and share how I felt about the whole experience and what I learned from it. Read more...

Should you do an art challenge video

Should you do an art challenge? + Mermaid drawing process video for Mermay

Inktober, Mermay, Drawing August, 100 days project, 36 days of type... there's no shortage of art challenges, and many of us are asking ourselves "Should I do one this year?" If you've never done an art challenge, in this episode of Nela's Art Chat I give you some of my tips on how to decide, and how to prepare if you do end up doing one. You'll also be able to watch a time lapse of my ink mermaid drawing from start to finish! Read more...

Sketching with fountain pens

Sketchbook Adventures: Sketching with fountain pens

As a hoarder of art and stationery, I frequently dip into creative obsessions. Lately it’s been going on with fountain pens, which are my new go-to note taking and doodling tool. In this post I share why I switched from ballpoint pens to fountain pens, which pen models I’ve bought so far (there’s quite a few), and my impressions after writing and sketching with them for a couple of months. Read more...

What's the best sketchbook out there?

What’s the best sketchbook out there?

This post is a tribute to one of my favorite sketchbooks: Canson Art Book Universal. I’ve gone through 3 of these sketchbooks since I first discovered them in 2012, and none of the other ones I’ve used so far have lived up to its versatility. Read more...