The most relaxing watercolor exercise (no really)

You’ve probably sat down to paint at some point, excited to relax and let your creative juices flow. You set up your brushes and paint, get fresh water, grab your paper towels… and an hour later you’re in hell.

Been there, done that.

Even after years of painting, I still have days where everything I make turns to mud and nothing goes my way. Which has only strengthened my bond with the coffee mug exercise.

Imagine sitting down to watercolor, and suddenly, there is no “right” or “wrong”. And, instead of slogging through one painting for a whole weekend, you get to finish a painting every few minutes. Hello, catharsis.

Welcome to the coffee mug exercise.

The goal?
Paint a coffee mug in as many different ways as you can.
You will need:

  • A coffee mug
  • your watercolors, colored pencils, gouache, Sharpies, crayons, etc.
  • 15-20 small pieces of watercolor paper (I use scraps)
  • some good tunes to zone out to

And, go! At first it may feel clumsy and weird.
How many different ways can there be to paint a coffee mug? By the end though, you’ll have a dozen paintings, none of them will be wrong, and you’ll have completed a pile of paintings.

And for the love of god, don’t let yourself fixated on a single painting for twenty minutes! If you’re going to struggle with fixating on one, set a timer for 5 minutes.

And if you’re having a hard time getting going, here are some things to try:

This exercise is my favorite way to try new things, loosen up, and sink back into the pure enjoyment of painting. It’s like taking a wander through art.

Go forth and relax.

❤ janie

"Keep flowers by your bed."

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here, and to start up again in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic feels a little weird.

Still, I’ve had so many thoughts and tutorials swimming around in my head and now, with the world at a halt, I’ve got time. So, let’s roll.

I wanted to share some advice I received from a dear friend and mentor back in 2015. She was telling me about the season in her life when she decided to quit drinking, and her journey to sobriety took her through deep depression. She summed up a big takeaway from that experience:

“Keep fresh flowers by your bed. You need beauty around you, especially when things have turned to shit.”

Over the years, I’ve taken that advice to heart. My home is a little museum of original art, treasures from the woods, books, and flowers. All the things that ignite little sparks of happiness in me.

Art creates a little bright spot in the world. It’s something to enjoy when times are good, and cling to when times are bad. The process of creating it is cathartic, and the process of treasuring it is healing.

And I know right now things are feeling rough for a lot of us. So in the next season, I will share more watercolor tips and exercises to keep you company. I’ll also be launching my own online store and creating lots of new free content in my downtime.

To be honest, I struggle a lot with organization and consistency, and I have a hard time trusting myself to keep up with new habits and plans. It takes a long time for me to find a system that works, so I’m not going to make any big promises right now.

What I can say though, is that I do have a lot of tutorials and content that I’ve been squirreling away, and now I have time to produce them. And I’m very excited about that!
More soon,

❤ janie