Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists


The more you give expecting nothing in return, the more you shall receive.” Michael Crossland


Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists


“While I was writing the last page, tear after tear fell on the paper. But I must cheer up — catch — An astonishing number of kisses are flying about — The deuce! — I see a whole crowd of them. Ha! Ha!… I have just caught three – They are delicious… I kiss you millions of times.”



Action Painting – A Straw, Acrylic Paint and a Toothbrush

Straw and watercolour painting Dec 20141611 006

Today’s exercise is a variation on the drip technique and really easy to do. You can probably remember doing this as a kid. I used acrylic paint, a straw and paper to get this effect. You can use watercolor just as successfully.

The idea is to make puddles of paint on your paper and blow patterns into them with a straw.

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You can add more or less water to your paint in some areas or change colors to get different effects. You can be even more creative by drawing on the paper with a wax candle to create another layer before you drip the paint. I did this on the work above.

It’s fun to allow one colour to dry and then put another on top. There is no end to the variety of compositional ideas for future paintings to come out of this process.

For more on Action Painting see my previous post, “The Painting That Creates Itself.”

Here is a 2 minute YouTube video showing a person creating a drip portrait by using a toothbrush,  enjoy!

The Painting That Creates Itself

Art from Inutitiuon Ex1a


Today’s practice exercise is all about Action painting.  It’s about dripping, dabbing, smearing and spilling colours all over the place with no particular idea or plan.  Don’t be surprised if you come up with something worth framing, I did.

Action painting (sometimes called gestural abstraction) was used in the 1950s by Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.

Both artists created masterpieces by pouring, dripping and spilling paint over the canvas. And you can too, all you have to do is give up control and allow the paint to create its magic.

I have found watercolor to be the most exciting medium for this exercise, especially when used in conjunction with a wax candle although this is optional.

It all takes about 30 minutes plus some time for the first application of paint to dry.  For success my tip is always to “put the paint down and leave it!

This is what you’ll need:

  • 1 sheet watercolor paper (any size but A2 is best), newspaper or butchers’ paper is okay for other mediums.
  • Masking tape
  • A board to tape the paper on
  • 3 different sized brushes including 1 large one
  • 3 or 4 tubes of cheap watercolor paint
  • Plastic containers for water and paint
  • Rags
  • Rubber gloves if desired
  • 1 cheap household wax candle (optional)

First, tape your paper to the board. If you don’t have a board you can just lay the paper down somewhere where you can make a splash without worrying. I put down an old sheet or a piece of plastic to catch spills.

Draw over the paper with the candle (the marks will be invisible but will reappear later.) You can use straight lines as I did or any type of squiggle works. I usually shut my eyes and use my left hand for this just to continue with the “giving up of control” theme we are using in this exercise.

Now choose a color and mix it with water. Drip, splash from the brush or pour the paint over the paper. Make sure not to overdo it and leave some white paper. Now choose another color and drip a small amount of this color over the existing color and allow it to blend by itself. Do not touch the paper at all, allow the paint to run together.

Art from Inutitiuon Ex1c Art from Inutitiuon Ex1d

For the first painting I used blue and purple and the second one red and blue. The first was created by pouring and the second by dripping. With the first one I used a spray bottle of water to soften the edges and create a staining effect.  See how the colors are starting to run together?

You will now start to see the lovely candle marks and the way they separate the paint by creating resistance. It is best to have a break now for 30 minutes at least to allow the painting to dry.

To create impact and after the painting had dried, I used the complimentary of the dominant color (opposite on the color wheel) to create energy on the page. This works if one color is dominant and the other is used in small amounts and is why a Christmas tree catches our eye.  The green of the tree is the dominant color and the decorations are a dash of red. Great energy!

Here is an image of a color wheel for you to find your dominant color’s opposite.

Colour Wheel

Can you see how the opposite of blue is yellow/orange and the opposite of red is green?

Don’t forget to drop the complimentary color on at the end and after the work is dry.  Use a small amount for maximum impact.  Allow the paint to run together without touching it.

Here they are finished.  The first one looks like a vase of flowers, oh my goodness, the painting has created itself!

Art from Inutitiuon Ex1a

Art from Inutitiuon Ex1b

Action painting can also be done using enamel paint, acrylics and even house paint.Here is an example of a work done using acrylics.

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If you would like to read more on action painting, here’s a great link:

It is a site for kids but the methods are also excellent and easy for adults.

Gift Like an Artist

My Name

This little piece of artwork makes a lovely gift and looks amazing in a frame.  Your friends will not believe it has been done by you!   Would you like to create either your name or your friend’s name as an artwork?  It is easy and fun to do and takes only 30 minutes or so.

All you need is:

  • Some good quality paper (able to take ink and water based mediums)
  • a stick or twig from your back garden or wherever.
  • 2 or 3 rolls of masking tape, 1 wide, narrow and medium widths. ( If you only have once size on hand, tear it up to make smaller pieces.)
  • A bottle of black ink, or you can use another colour for the background if you wish.

You can make your work on a plain white background as above or put in a watery wash as I have done below.  This was done with some sienna coloured ink and lots of water.  Be random with it and put down the strokes arbitrarily.  Once the ink is down, leave it to allow the water to run everywhere and make interesting shapes. One thing, keep it light, mine was a little too dark for my liking here.

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Next, tape your page every which way and that using all three widths of masking tape.  Allow this to be very random, I usually shut my eyes when I do this.

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Grab the twig, dip it in the ink and write the name (in this case “Christine”.)  Do not keep dipping the twig into the ink.  Dip in once and keep writing until there is no more ink on the twig. Then dip the twig into the ink and start again.  This is what gives the work a different quality of line throughout.

I did my writing in an upright style but you can use any cursive style you like.  Printing could also work, just try it.  Experimenting is fun and the more you do the greater choice of artwork to give away.

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If you find it difficult to write over the tape, proceed anyway as best as you can.  Be gentle and try not to tear the tape.

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When the ink is dry (about 30 minutes), peel the masking tape off and voila!  What magic you have.  Make a dummy frame, put it around the work and the magic will continue!

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Doing this exercise to your favourite music can unlock different scripts depending on the speed and sound of the music…..and the magic continues!

If you like to work in water based mediums check out my post on how to create an easy cityscape after Paul Klee

How to Make an Easy Abstract Painting Using String and Oil Crayons

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In this exercise, you will learn how to make a beautiful abstract painting using the string exercise as a starter, see my post “Be Random – Make and Easy String Painting

In the above post you will see where to stop the process and continue here with this exercise.

Allow 2 hours for this exercise. Find a quiet place, set time aside for yourself, just relax and enjoy the process.  To be unconcerned about the outcome will bring out your best work.

You will need:

  • good quality watercolour paper, at least 180gsm
  • a box of oil crayons (childrens’ quality is okay)
  • an inexpensive set of watercolour tubes, (you can make all the colours you need with red, yellow, blue, black and white)
  • rags for spills
  • a container for water
  • a palette, (I used an old kitchen plate)
  • a large brush (I used a new household paint brush)
  • string
  • acrylic paints, (red, yellow, blue, black.)
  • a board and tape if you have them, this is helpful but optional only
  • scissors
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This is similar to what you will start off with. I actually pressed the string a second time with this one using a lot more paint on the second application.  I did not pull the string through as with the first pressing,  I just laid the string down, pressed it and lifted the paper off. Make sure to allow the string pressings to thoroughly dry before proceeding.  This should take from 15 to 30 minutes depending on the weather.

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Proceed to colour in the shapes using oil pastels. Try to choose either red, green and yellow, OR blue, yellow and green.   See if you can isolate some shapes (in this case I imagined  fruit, cut oranges or similar.)  If you can see shapes, colour them in and in some places go over the original colour with another to make it interesting.  In the background follow the lines made by the string using parallel strokes every which way and that.  Try to leave lots of white space if you can.  This is called “repetition with variation”,  a very powerful tool when making art.

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Continue to colour in the work and you will notice it start to look interesting.  Make sure you leave lots of white spaces for the surprise step that comes next!

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Next, absolutely flood the paper with a watery watercolour paint mix (see image below.) To make a watery wash see below * Remember it is not wise use paint out of the tube directly, always make sure there very small amounts of the other primaries e.g. red, yellow and blue to make a beautiful tertiary colour.  It seems best to  choose your wash colour as the opposite of the main colour you used in the isolated shapes. For example, if you have used mainly yellow in the isolated shapes, the opposite is purple, mainly orange, the opposite is blue, mainly red, the opposite is green and vice versa.

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Here is the finished work!  See how the oil pastel marks have resisted the water colour to make a lovely abstract painting.  In the right frame with a colourful matt board this work could possibly look fantastic! :

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This image shows how to use horizontal strokes to flood the paper using a large brush.  Make sure to always put the wash down and leave it!  It is best to let the paint run in its own way.  Then magic happens!

* To make a watery wash blend about 1/2 cup of water with small amounts of pigment. You may need to use a small flat plastic bowl for this.   Always test on a piece of paper first to check the colour.

How did you go?  Did you have fun and enjoy the process?  Inbox me your work if you like at  I would love to see it!

An Easy Naive Cityscape Painting After Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele Landscape with Houses0912 003

Egon Schiele was a very talented artist from Austria  He was born in 1890 and died of Spanish flu at only 28 years of age.  Schiele created many erotic paintings for which he was eventually jailed.  His unconventional use of colour and line had never been seen before.  You can make your own Schiele painting quickly and easily, here’s how.

Schiele Exercise – Allow 1  to 1 ½ hours

What art materials do I need?

  • A piece of good quality paper , I have used A3 sizd but you can use whatever size takes your fancy.  Not too small is good.
  • A piece of willow charcoal (easy to rub out with your finger)
  • A medium sized watercolour or acrylic brush.
  • A tube of white acrylic paint.
  • A few watercolours.  Work with either red and yellow + black and white (see below *) or blue and green + black and white.  If you use colours with these combinations you will not end up with a rainbow painting.  By restricting yourself with colour this way, you automatically create colour harmony without you knowing it!
  • Rags or disposable kitchen towels for spills
  • A palette, I used an old white kitchen plate.
  • A plastic container for water.

What to paint on?

I selected a hard piece of cardboard (off the back of an old watercolour pad) and primed it with my own homemade gesso primer.    You don’t have to do this; working directly on to paper is fine.

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Select a photograph to paint from

Next I looked at Egon Schiele’s paintings of houses, which I love!  I then selected a photograph of a similar scene and went to work.


How to draw the houses

I did a very rough charcoal drawing of the houses. Don’t worry if your shapes are wonky, you can go over them with paint later.  Actually, I got lost in the drawing and eventually created my own shapes, doors and windows.  I just kept on joining the lines and decided to add some crazy trees in the foreground at the end.

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Let’s start painting

Next I painted between the lines with white acrylic paint. Don’t worry if some of the charcoal moves into the paint, this is what will make the painting interesting.  I used the paint directly from the tube with no water to make the surface as textured as possible.  This will create lovely variations in colour when the paint runs all over the place!

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Allow the painting to dry

I had a cup of tea while I allowed this to dry.  Usually 30 minutes is enough time.  Putting the work out in the sun helps too but make sure your work is not in a dusty spot.

Let’s paint with watercolours

Next, select your watercolour tubes according to my colour recommendations above. * TIP: You can make a lovely green with black and yellow, just add white for a lighter green.

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Then check out your photograph and lay colours down according to what you see.  Put the background in first, then the dark colours, the mid tone colours and then the lightest colours last.  Your colours do not have to be exactly the same as the ones you see.  Just try to make sure the dark, mid and light tones are true to what you see otherwise your painting will look great but will only be shapes of colours.  And we want houses, don’t we?

TIP:  Put the watercolours down once only and leave them.  Watercolour has magical properties when left to do its own thing!

Watch your paint brush create magic

At the end I went over the charcoal lines with a thin brush dampened with water.  The charcoal will run and make a line.  I also put in the windows by using black (with a dot of red) watercolour paint and a thin brush.

My finished painting

This is my finished painting, it looks kind of naive but I ended up really liking it.  Putting it in a frame turned it into a magical piece of work totally suitable for my hallway!  So put yours in a frame if you can and see what happens!

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A tip used by professional artists

To make the houses come forward in the painting, paint them in warm colours.  The background or sky will recede if painted in cool colours.  This would require you to buy warm and cool versions of the watercolours mentioned above.  Ask at your art shop if you’re not sure.

You may also like to check out a later post on how to create a vibrant and interesting still life after Schiele.