Making Art Work In The Time You Have

Dear Wonderful, Creative You:

Last week I had the great pleasure of returning to Maine to camp for the week with my family.

It’s always a time of incredible views, hikes, bikes, and far too many sticky buns and ice cream cones. It’s also a time that I always bring my portable art kit, and try to squeeze in art time whenever I can. I capture lots of inspiration with my camera as part of this practice as well.

We got up close and personal with this bull frog.

I carry around my portable art kit so that I’m ready for those small pockets of time – like this piece of twisted weed that caught my eye as I watched the boys swim and make seaweed constructions.

I had time to draw it twice from life, which was a treat.

Other times though, like waiting for water to boil at the campsite, I’m never sure when I’ll get interrupted, and drawing can feel hard when you aren’t sure how deep you can dive in.

In one of those moments last week, I decided to take my own advice. I found a leaf that inspired me, and challenged myself to draw it and to enjoy whatever was able to emerge in that time. I did this repeatedly on watercolor wash cards, both while making dinner, and the next day at the picnic table with the snippet of leaves at my side. It was very satisfying to see a series of drawings come together in this way, and surprising how calming it was to dive deep, even for short bursts.

I try to be less picky and perfect about when I have the “right” conditions for drawing and exploring. I draw in the long car ride too. See the little moth like creatures in the circle below? We saw moth and insect samples at a museum, I pulled out my journal and drew their simple shapes and marveled at how similar they were. Then that night in the tent, I was struggling to fall asleep, and I shooed a bug from my cheek. She landed on the tent wall next to me. It was a tiny moth, just the shape I’d been drawing earlier. She came to visit and teach me to look at her beautiful antennae waving this way and that in the beam of my headlamp. I had great fun on the car ride home exploring those moth shapes.

If you look at the collection of drawings I did in a week, it’s not that much art work.

On the other hand, because I worked this way, I developed several ideas that I can take much further when I have longer chunks of time, and that’s worth a lot.

I hope this inspires you to find ways to make art in the time you have in ways that are enjoyable and drive your practice forward.

You can learn more about slow drawing, follow my patterns, and create your own with my book, Draw Yourself Calm – order here.

I’d love to hear about how you fit art into your life.

Creatively Yours,



  1. Liza

    Well I salute you! That’s an amazing amount of work given that you were with family and camping. I’m seriously impressed. Would love a reminder of what you take as a mini art kit as I tend to pack too much and use very little!

    • Amy Maricle

      HI Liza:

      Thanks so much for being here and for the kind words. I think you already have a lot of insight – less is more in my opinion for portable art kits. The lighter it is, the more willing I am to carry it, the more likely I’ll use it and not hem and haw about what to create with. Here’s my post on portable art kits. Cheers!

  2. Joy

    Great photos! Maine is definitely a happy place filled with inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

    • Amy Maricle

      Hi Joy – I’m so happy you like them. I take a lot of pleasure in photography – I hope it offers you some too. It’s hard not to love Maine, right? xo

  3. Kathy

    Years back I spent a good bit of time in Maine. I climbed Mount Katahdin and explored Acadia and recall so many different lichen on the rocks. Some of them hard enough to cut you. What a beautiful place to get away and spend time with nature.
    Looking forward to spending time with your new book.
    Thank you for your time and inspiration you share with us all. I know I am grateful. Happiness and health to you and your family.

    • Amy Maricle

      Kathy – I love envisioning you at the top of Katahdin. I haven’t yet climbed that one, but would like to. I can’t wait for you to get the book. Sept. 6 here in the US, and out already in the UK. Cheers!

  4. Jan

    These are lovely and inspiring! Do you do the watercolor before on a number of pieces so they are ready or after the pen work? I’m heading to Maine in 2 weeks and will definitely give this a try!

    • Amy Maricle

      Thanks so much Jan. Yes, I love to do series of watercolor washes, or basic marks. For me it’s all about layering the work, and making it easy to explore in little snippets and layers. Happy creating!

  5. Rima

    I would love to know what’s in your little travel kit and the size of these drawing papers it’s always a challenge for me to have more than a pen/pencil and paper (little travel journal of thin paper). Hope to learn more. This was inspiring.

    • Amy Maricle

      Rima: It makes me so happy to know that I’ve inspired you. What a privilege. I always carry pieces of watercolor paper that could fit in my hand – that makes it really portable. And here’s my portable art kit peek.


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