The Power of Starting Simple

simple drawing patterns, art journal line drawing, simple pattern ideas

Dear Wonderful, Creative You:

What is the simplest thing I could do artistically right now? I’ve found this is such a powerful question for my art practice. I don’t ask: What masterpiece could I make? We need to build our skills over time. You’re not going to reach those big creative goals if you don’t reach the little ones first. Plus, I love layering simple things to make something magical.

And I find that as I focus on process, I gain mastery more quickly without the pressure from the inner critic.

I also really appreciate a minimal approach to art journal pages sometimes. We don’t need to fill every inch. Our work needs room to breathe.

That’s why I love to work on simple little ideas – I’ll cut little swirling shapes out of a circle, or explore watercolor dashes that move from one side of the page to another. Another day I’ll draw my dog, trying to capture the graceful turn of his paw before he shifts in his sleep.

Over time, I find I’ve created a treasure trove of beautiful bits and pieces. I love to put them together and see how they “speak” to each other.

Sometimes this leads to ideas for larger works I compose on paper, but often it leads to collage, and often in my art journals.

Sometimes simple lines, writing about your feelings, or a natural pattern is all a journal page needs. These simple things lead to further creative action, and when we layer simple things, they gain depth and beauty.

If you’d love the idea of making simple things, check out my class: The Simplest Thing Journal.

I hope that you enjoy these tips on starting simple. I’d love to hear what helps you do the simplest thing and create more.

Creatively Yours,

Amy

26 Comments

  1. Holly Lemieux

    I love to randomly doodle

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      Yes, doodling is a wonderful way to create. Happy drawing!

      Reply
    • Vera Zappala

      Just getting started. Finding time to start has been difficult. But…I have started. Doodling is fun. Just have to have my mind focus on it is okay to have this time to myself.

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        Yes, it’s powerful to get started. Let that be enough, get the win, and then build on it! xo

        Reply
  2. brigitte

    je suis super motivée mais avec un frein : celui de la langue. Je vais faire ce que je comprends !

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      Bonjour Brigitte! Je comprends. C’est dificile. Vouz pouvez faire ce qui vous vient à l’esprit en fonction de ce que vous comprenez. Just do your best and be inspired. I’m glad you’re here! xo

      Reply
    • Jenn Smith

      I love that these simple, nature-inspired patterns allow me to focus only on what I’m doing at that moment and quiet the rest of my mind. It’s a meditation.

      Reply
      • Amy Maricle

        It sounds like we are on the same page, Jenn! xo

        Reply
  3. Joann Tomsche

    Observing a scene, I isolate colors and paint a page of vertical stripes with my travel watercolor set.

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      That sounds so fun! I love this simple idea – thank you for sharing! xo

      Reply
  4. valerie lowens

    thank you! cannot begin to explain how helpful this was!

    Reply
  5. Lava

    Thank you Amy for everything. I always found excuses to not sit down for myself. It had more to do with me being a beginner and the works of all those talented people made me apprehensive. Then I discovered you and it all changed. Starting simple has its own magic and seeing what you do with it has got me going. I now join you every Wednesday and I am enjoying it all.
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      Hi Lava: Oh I’m so happy to see this. What you say is true for so many and I’m thrilled that my approach has invited you into a new space of creativity. YAY! xo

      Reply
  6. Linda Higham

    Thank you Amy for these morning “Thought Filled” e-mails I’m printing them out and marking the YouTube videos to replay again

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      It’s so lovely to know that I’m making a difference for you, Linda. Cheers! And happy creating!

      Reply
  7. Suzie Amelia

    Such a lovely video with a new prompt: I think I will just…!

    Reply
  8. Marilyn

    This was very helpful. Thank you!
    “And I find that as I focus on process, I gain mastery more quickly without the pressure from the inner critic.”
    I’ve been mindful of approaches like this before, but how you said to focus on the process really simplifies it for me. You articulated it perfectly for me!I love that. Thank you for the video and blog post. 🙂

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      Hi Marilyn:

      It’s so kind of you to take the time to let me know that I’m hitting the mark for you! YAY that makes my day.

      Cheers

      Reply
  9. Angela

    Like other Amy fans have mentioned, I’ve been greatly inspired by your accepting, open approach! Thank you for your warm, generous spirit. Imagine all the creative souls you’ve helped by affirming the value of play and curiosity over making the masterpiece.
    I carry my small watercolor palette with me everywhere so I can intuitively doodle away, wether in line for five minutes or unwinding for an hour at a local park. It’s soul-filling, just like your slow draw sessions. I look forward to joining an in-person retreat with Amy one day.

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      Hi Angela:

      Oh I would love to have you in an in person retreat! It’s lovely to hear that you have found the suggestions about making art accessible so successful. Big hugs.

      Reply
  10. Lise Levert

    I arrived at your site by chance, I won’t let go, I am a subscriber and mentally too. I understand ”l slow drawing I was wondering how to get there. Now I say to myself slowly, Lise. Thanks Amy.

    Reply
    • Amy Maricle

      This is wonderful to see Lise! Welcome to our community! xo

      Reply
  11. Rose in the UK

    I was rather baffled at first, not understanding why you thought such tiny doodles helpful, but hearing and seeing how you build up from the tiny little starting fragments it began to make sense, and I think it’s really wise advice. I’ve seen so many insta prompts..do this, do that, and the ideas look sweet and colourful but I have not understood what they are for. Once you started explaining about working in a series, allowing the little ideas to develop and find their own way, I’ve begun to understand. Once I get going with painting and drawing I find that the ideas build themselves, but right now I’ve got lost. I think this will help me find my way back. Thank you x

    Reply
    • Kelsey Swearingen

      This is wonderful to hear, Rose! We are so glad you found this post helpful.

      Reply

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