How to paint with oils - still life
"Breakfast is Served" (12 x 16 in., oil) by Susan Blackwood. Good illustration of MAPs - My new video to be released for oil painters in Spring 2022

Learn what Susan Blackwood means when she refers to an artist MAP to make your paintings a success. 

Artists Need MAPs (and not just to get to the next workshop or show)
by Susan Blackwood

You can dramatically shorten your learning time by using what I call MAPs (Making Artistic Plans) before you pick up your brush.

We use all kinds of maps in our lives. In January 2022 I flew to Austin, Texas for an exciting week of filming 3 videos for Streamline Publications. I depended upon my GPS to guide me to the hotel and the filming studio. Without this modern day map, I would have been lost. We depend on maps to get to new destinations.

So why do we create any new painting without a “map” to get to our destination of success!

How to paint figures
“Gardener’s Helper” (20 x 24 in., oil) by Susan Blackwood, as demonstrated in new video on MAPs for oils – to be released in Spring 2022

Like any teacher, my desire has always been to help artists quickly move through the typical artistic struggles to swiftly achieve artistic victories.

For 47 years, I have been teaching artists all over the world to draw and to paint in watercolors and oils. All the while, I have been studying the many teachings of the Masters, searching for ways to achieve visual success through a “Big Picture,” and I found it! By applying this discovery, my paintings, my students’ paintings, and my teaching improved and reached our destinations.

But wait! We all must learn to walk before we can run, no matter what medium we are using. If we want to be artists, we all go through that beginning stage. “Trial and Error” practice can take years to express emotion in our paintings. Learning to communicate with a brush and paint takes time and practice.


Is there a better, faster way? YES! I now know there are paths, when applied to our painting process, which will successfully create the emotional communication we are seeking.

"Girl with Basket" (10 x 6 in., watercolor) by Susan Blackwood
“Girl with Basket” (10 x 6 in., watercolor) by Susan Blackwood

Ever wonder why one of your paintings gets most of the attention? It wasn’t “luck” or the “Art Muse” that tapped the corner of your creation. You subconsciously used a process (I am now calling MAPs) leading you to the success of that painting, no matter what subject.

What did I discover? Artists need MAPs, the GPS of the art world. Successful artists, past and present, have used these MAPs intuitively letting their subconscious guide them through their painting process. They spent years trailblazing these paths into subconscious MAPs. These successful paintings, then, are the ones that catch our attention, stop us in our tracks, and win awards. Once I discovered this big picture, the challenge became to articulate the many subconscious MAPs and teach it in a way that will be easy for artists to train their subconscious to paint like a Master.

"His Tender Care" (24 x 36 in., oil) by Susan Blackwood. Find out why this painting is successful through the use of MAPs for oil painters in my upcoming video
“His Tender Care” (24 x 36 in., oil) by Susan Blackwood. Find out why this painting is successful through the use of MAPs for oil painters in my upcoming video

Watch for my two new art video workshops on MAPs, coming out in Spring 2022 – one video is for watercolorists and one is for oil painters. Join me as we travel these MAPs to successful paintings.

For now, how do you make artistic plans for your paintings and drawings? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

About Susan Blackwood: Starting with crayons on walls, I’ve been an artist my entire life. My favorite medium is the medium in my hand at the moment. Art fulfills my passion to express myself visually. I paint everything. My favorite subjects are the ones right in front of me, in life and in my photos. If these images stir my heart and my imagination, then they become paintings or sculptures to be passed down for generations. My greatest desire is to capture this glorious life, full of quiet beautiful moments, and transform them into lasting visual words of emotion, the universal language reaching the heart, no matter what style, from Realism to Abstract Contemporary.

I have won many awards and been honored many times, such as teaching for the Plein Air Convention & Expo and demonstrating for Eric Rhoads’ Podcast. In January 2022 I was one of 30 award-winning international artists teaching at Watercolor Live. I am a signature member of many watercolor societies as well as Oil Painters of America and American Impressionist Society.

"Peonies" (15.5 x 14 in., watercolor) by Susan Blackwood; reference painting for my upcoming teaching video on making MAPs for artists
“Peonies” (15.5 x 14 in., watercolor) by Susan Blackwood; reference painting for my upcoming teaching video on making MAPs for artists

The three biggest loves in my life are painting, teaching, and my husband, artist Howard Friedland. I am blessed to live my life looking through the eyes of an artist.

Related Workshop: Simple Watercolor Secrets – Using the MAPS system

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