Fuel Your Creativity With Small Art

Dear Wonderful, Creative You:

One of the things that most fuels my art practice is working small. It gives me so much permission to play, experiment, and try out new things without feeling the pressure of time. Small things also just feel so easy to manipulate and mix and match. I’ve been playing this way since about 2017, and I still find it fascinating. I know you can fuel your creativity with small art too!

The Inchie Challenge has past, buuuuut, I still want to help you play with tiny 2 x 2 squares – that I loosely call “inchies.” It’s totally free and so much fun. You can sign up for my free weekly slow drawing workshops. We create on small pieces of watercolor paper that fit in your hand with nature inspired drawings that are simple enough that anyone can draw them. Sign up here:

Join me each week for our FREE Slow Drawing Workshops:

To get you inspired to create with inchies , I wanted to share some of the ways I most enjoy using my 2 x 2 inch squares. Sometimes I start with plain paper inchies, and draw patterns on them, like my Rice pattern:

If you want to learn even more, I show how I build these larger pieces in my class BIG ART. Isn’t it fun to see how a simple pattern can arrange itself in different ways and start to build? These are the pieces that eventually led to the 99 square piece that you see in the top photo of the post. It was a lot of work – but slowly and playfully over time. I didn’t set out to make a big piece. I just set out to play, and I did! You can see how I fuel creativity with small art.

Another way you can play with our inchies is to use paints to create wild patterns, and then use pens to elaborate on these patterns.

It’s also fun to start big and then go small – like with this sheet of abstract leaves in watercolor. I liked it, but it’s not a standalone piece, so I cut them into smaller pieces and used those as a starting point for inchie art.

Once the pieces are free from the page, you can create a grid with a select few that speak to you in this new arrangement. This is one of the ways we build BIG ART from inchies.

Sometimes this new arrangement is really interesting all on its own. Or, you might decide that you’d like to add drawing, painting, writing, or collage to your pieces:

This process is all about fueling your creative engine – creating an incredibly open, permissive environment where you are free to explore and play, but with the constraint of size that allows you to work quickly and innovate with small art.

Join me each week for our FREE Slow Drawing Workshops:

BIG ART

I made a class that will really supercharge your small art game.

In BIG ART, we make BIG ART 2 inches at a time! We will draw and paint on lots of tiny “inchie” watercolor squares just 2 x 2 inches. I’ll show you several playful drawing and painting techniques in 11 projects. You’ll create a lot of little art at your own pace, and before you know it, you’ll put them together to create your unique BIG ART.

Share What Intrigues You About Small Art:

What do you love most about small art? Tell us about it in the comments. One of our commenters won a free spot in my class, The Little Book of Wonder, where I teach all about gathering your slow drawings, slow paintings, and inchies in a unique little book with pop-ups, doors, windows, and flaps. The perfect place to keep your special inchies.

Creatively Yours,

Amy

30 Comments

  1. Tracy Hommersom

    I think that what I like most about small art is that it feels more manageable. I can be creative in a small space, I don’t feel overwhelmed by a large piece of paper needing to be filled, I don’t need large amounts of paint or paper – making it more affordable and I can be creative in small time intervals. I also think that details are easier for me to manage on a small scale and I love little patterns filled with detail!

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      Oh yes, Tracy – these are a lot of the reasons that I enjoy working small too! Plus, there’s something about working small that feels precious and special.

      Thanks for being here!

      Reply
      • Annemarie

        I’m going to a Sleep lab tonight where I will be tested for sleep apnea. I’m taking some blank inchies with me to help me relax whilst creating!

        Reply
        • Amy Maricle

          Oh that sounds like an excellent idea Annemarie! Good luck tonight. xo

          Reply
          • Cheryl Kirk

            I like small art because when I make a few things in a class I collage it onto a card later. It lets me have something available to use to give to someone rt away

          • Amy Maricle

            This is so special Cheryl. I love that too.

    • Sheila Letwiniuk

      I love small art creating in a limited space with unlimited ideas it’s portable and comforting to bring with me anywhere. Small pieces of art allow me to have a sense of completion when I’m dealing with challenges in life. Getting whatever I’m going through comes out in my art. Having documentation in art feels good

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        Hi Sheila:
        You name well a lot of what I find helpful too. I think it’s cathartic to get things out in art too. Cheers!

        Reply
      • Liz Beauchene

        I love small art. I feel i can try new things & if i don’t like it i don’t worry about it. I love patterns and creating them in small spaces is so satisfying. I love creating “Inchies” and am trying to get all my art friends to do them with me. I’m teaching an art journaling class and I am definitely going to incorporate it.

        Reply
        • Amy Maricle

          Liz that’s how I feel too. I hope you get lots of friends to join – it’s fun with a crew! xo

          Reply
  2. Lucy L

    I have never created small art, that’s why I signed up for the in hue challenge, I need to try something different. I’m self taught, currently not really knowing where my art is going, I’m autistic too, only diagnosed two years go, I need to learn to quieten down my head, and learn to just be, I’m hoping making little art helps me.

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      HI Lucy: It’s great to have you here. I think this is a great way for you to dive into small art with low expectations. That’s the point. I hope you take advantage of the prep class once you sign up. It’s meant for you to do a few days or weeks in advance so that you are set up for success. Also, I’m a big fan of the author Katherine May who wrote Wintering. We share the same sensibility for nature and quiet. I recently read her book, The Electricity of Every Living Thing where she talks about discovering her autism as an adult. I don’t know if you are aware of it yet or not, or if it speaks to you or not, but I figured I’d mention it. Cheers

      Reply
  3. Karen Houlding

    Small art has become a regular practice for me since participating in the inchie challenge for the past 2 years! I keep small pieces of watercolor paper cut up in advance so that all I have to do is grab them when I see an intriguing pattern in nature (which I see all the time since doing the Live slow drawing!). I even see nature patterns when I’m staying in hotels in the carpet, wallpaper, fabric, etc. — and I sketch them. I’ve been saving them to gradually place them in a handmade journal when the moment feels right. It’s such a wonderful practice to fit into my “pockets of time” during the day and feel like I’ve had creative moments sprinkled throughout my day! Thank you, Amy!

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      Karen – this all makes me so happy to see! What a wonderful thing to see patterns in nature and the world, isn’t it? I too enjoy those moments immensely.

      Happy inching!

      Reply
  4. Cathy

    What I love about small art is the realization that I don’t have to make my art “look” like anything. The repetitive drawings fill my soul with satisfaction in the natural geometry and shape of the world. I can’t get enough of it and I’ve drawn my friends into it as well. I want them to feel the peace and strength of making art and surprise with their talent

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      Wow Cathy – well put. Well put. xo So happy you are here.

      Reply
  5. Maree

    What I love about small art is it is teaching me how to relax into enjoying the process of making art again. With less and less judgement or focus on the product or outcome, inchie by inchie I’m learning to be in the moment and to believe in myself and my art again

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      Oh Maree, that’s exactly what I’m hoping folks will get from this process. I’m so happy to hear it! xo

      Reply
  6. Marjanne

    This will be my first Inchy Challenge and I’m looking forward to it. It will be quite a change. I am used to painting big, mostly with acrylics and oils. I started slow drawing a few weeks ago and even then I worked bigger. What I like about slow drawing and small art that it is so doable. No big preparation (yay, I already own a 2 inch paper punch) and even better: no clean up ((almost) no washing brushes!!). That makes it so much easier to start, even when there is little time or energy.

    I have had a question about the Fluid Art class for a while and may as well ask it now: I found your website years ago as I was attracted to the Fluid artworks you made. But the price of the Golden High Flow Acrylics where I live stopped me from jumping in. Can the class also be done with e.g. acrylics inks and get the same results or are you using characteristics of the paint that are specific to High Flow acrylics?

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      Hi Marjanne:

      It sounds like you are all set to dig into these tiny works. YAY.
      In regards to Fluid Art – yes the qualities of the paint is very unique. I do have folks who have added their own fluid medium or acrylic inks and report great results. I also think that some of the techniques can be achieved with an intense watercolor – but of course it’s not the same. You could certainly do three small bottles and do a lot with three colors, or you could try with another medium. I hope that this helps. xo

      Reply
  7. Rebecca N

    What I love most about small art is that it is quick, portable, ready to pickup and put down based on my schedule. It is so easy to fit in to life both with time and with cost of supplies. I love incorporating small art into my day!

    Reply
  8. Clarissa L.

    I read once, years ago, that important things should be whispered, to oblige the listener to lean forward, come close in order to hear. Over the years in my art making practice, I have held this idea loosely, with metaphorically open hands, the way that whispering open-handedly holds important ideas and imagination. To me very small art is whispering and THAT is what I like about it.

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      Clarissa – You articulate so well one of the things I most love about small art. It’s precious and makes you comes in close and intimate.

      Happy creating!

      Reply
  9. Carol-Lynn Constable

    The small format definitely feels less intimidating, there is more room for play and experimentation!

    Reply
    • Kelsey Swearingen

      I could not agree more, Carol-Lynn! I love how playful the small format is.

      Reply
  10. Emily Geleske

    I like small art because it’s less intimidating than a huge blank canvas. I’m trying to learn how to scale up and work bigger, but for now I enjoy working in miniatures best.

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      Emily – I agree – it takes courage. 🙂 I think the BIG ART approach is a nice stepping stone – build from small to big, but without needing a grand plan before you begin. Cheers!

      Reply
  11. Joseph

    Hi Amy.

    What will be the exact measurement of the paper when I will cut them into pieces? The creative is really nice. I would do them in the big paper. I learn a lot form your new art.

    Reply
    • Kelsey Swearingen

      Hi Joseph! The “Inchies” that Amy does are 2X2, but you can make small art at any size that feel right for you! It is always great to put your own creative spin on small art! Happy Creating!

      Reply

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