The Complex Beauty of Simplicity

Dear Wonderful, Creative You:

It happens so often with the “simplest” slow drawing patterns – folks initially dismiss them, but once they do the workshop, they say how surprised they were because they loved the simplicity and found a lot of room to innovate and make it their own.

I get it. Last week’s pattern, Cross, was a set of long horizontal lines with short vertical lines intersecting them.

You might ask yourself, “This is so easy, what’s the point?”

The simplicity is the point.

The places simplicity leads you are the point. The beauty of simplicity and all the space it leaves for each viewer’s imagination is the point. I create all my patterns so that they are simple enough that anyone can do it, but interesting enough that you would want to explore it many times, many ways, and make it your own.

+ Drawing a simple pattern is relaxing

+ Relaxing opens your mind to your own creative ideas

+ Drawing simple patterns can lead to beautiful destinations.

See the Cross pattern in the bottom card?

With these pieces, I feel like the pop of yellow color in the circle, along with the black and white of ink on watercolor paper creates a beautiful, simple palette. It’s relaxing to the eye. In this collection, I also enjoy the variety in the density of marks, and textures. Presenting simple patterns and swaths of color in relationship to each other can create a big impact.

This is my secret for making art:

I draw.

I paint.

I make marks.

I create patterns.

And then when the mood strikes, I put them together in interesting ways in a journal or a stand alone piece, or I take what I discovered on a small scale and make it big.

In the page above, I’ve layered watercolor and a simple pattern in the top three layers. In the bottom two layers, I’ve also added a piece with rice marks and watercolor dots. I think the effect is quite interesting because there’s a sense of repetition and variation in the marks, the colors, and the shapes of the cut outs. What do you think?

If this speaks to you, I want to tell you about and invite you to our Watercolor Wonder retreat on November 10th and 11th, live on Zoom. (Update October 5th, 2022 – this retreat is now full, you can check the Live events page in the shop for more live online retreats.)

We will explore watercolor mark making, and layering with patterns in pen.

I will show you how to make beautiful watercolor clouds and swaths of color that will highlight and showcase your drawings.

You’ll find your ways of layering simple techniques with spectacular results.

Early bird pricing ends October 13th, but we are already more than halfway full, so if it’s speaking to your heart, join us now! You can learn more here:

What are your thoughts on simplicity in art? Do you ever create playing with this concept?

Journaling Prompt:

  1. Create a wash of color on several small pieces of watercolor paper.
  2. Draw a simple, repetitive pattern on each card, exploring what feels relaxing or fun to draw.
  3. Write about what you noticed and learned here.

Creatively Yours,



  1. Lynn

    I find I am happiest when I keep my artwork simple. It allows my creativity to flow and really lets me relax into my creation. I love the slow drawing prompts you suggest and even if I have precious little time on a particular day I steal five minutes for myself and float away in my peaceful, creative fog.

    • Amy Maricle

      I’m so happy you are finding your peace in your creative life, Lynn! xo

  2. Liz Parker

    Last week when the CROSS class began, had trouble clearing the clutter from my brain, even during the meditation. After settling into this very simple pattern, realized after 15 minutes that my mind had finally settled into a truly meditative state. Thank you, Amy!

    • Amy Maricle

      Oh Liz, how wonderful is that? So lovely to see slow drawing working for you.
      Cheers, – Amy

  3. Teri Hamilton

    Hi Amy! The link to the Watercolor Wonder retreat doesn’t seem to work. Clicking on learn more just ends up on the same page. I’d like to see the details of the class. Thanks!

    • Amy Maricle

      Hi Teri: Oh darn, I would have loved to have you in the retreat with us. I apologize for the lack of clarity, I’ve redirected the link to the page that lets folks know it’s full and next steps. you can always email me to ask to be put on a waitlist in case of cancellation and I’ll be happy to do that. I also love knowing if you are interested in an online retreat, because then I know there’s enough interest to run it again in the near future. I feel pretty sure I’ll run this one in early 2023 again given the interest. You can see if there are other live events that interest you. I have already scheduled the first one for 2023 – we will be doing the very popular Winter Spells retreat – it’s a way to dwell in the creative cocoon of winter. It’s always a very special experience. You can find out more here.

      Hoping to create together soon. xo

      • Teri Hamilton

        Hi Amy! I thought it might be full. Thanks for updating that. I would be interested in this one if you offer it again. I also have your new book and am enjoying that. Thanks!


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