Watercolor Painting (and Creating Before Consuming)

Creative Personality Traits

A daily schedule with habitual, obligatory segments is something I associate with grade school, corporate offices and cats.

But even still, I adore a creative routine. As an artist, my internal compass is calibrated towards distraction and mental-wanderings. 

I have Super-Hero-Skills in the fine art of Not-Finishing. (Here’s a great article about why we don’t finish things, and strategies for fixing that.)  

My random pirouetting through life bewilders my engineer-husband.  My uninformed-but-ardently-thought-about theory is that perhaps artists need some routine to bracket all the meandering, so we don’t trip and fall off the planet.

Little mazes of structure in each day are like protective sand-bag berms around floods of creative twirling.

The Danger in Comparisons

If I start the day with email and posting imagery on social media, I get sucked into the vortex of looking at what other people are making.

Our monkey brains are wired to be curious about our brethren. I mutter to myself while scrolling through instagram that I’m filling the kettle with inspiration.

But really, I’m just burning through studio time by peering at other artist’s conviction to their creativity.

Seeking inspiration can turn into comparisons, and lead to the Perfectionist Trap. Watch the video below.

Beauty in Structure

My strategy for efficiency is to start the day creating, instead of consuming.

If I save the surf-time for evenings, I produce more work each week, and I have more worthwhile images to share.  

If I create before I consume, I’m also able to focus on my work without the intrusion of my friends images re-playing in my visual-mind. 

Another plus from this approach is completing enough work at the end of the week to spend an hour on Sunday nights scheduling (you can do that too) posts to share on social media for the week ahead. Set it & Forget it. ✔

Your Secret Sauce to Creativity

Every artist is different, so what’s your routine look like?

Do you search other artists’ feed for inspiration first?

Does it help or hurt your productivity?

I think it can help, but only after we’ve done a little work first. What say you on that?

And are you better at making art in the morning or the evening?

Do you create randomly, on a whim, or inside structured brackets on a schedule?

Let us know your tips & tricks in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by today, and I’ll see you in the next post!


You Can See the Stars from Here 18×13 watercolor on paper (available here) (sold)

P.S. You can subscribe to this blog (it’s free) to get each new post via email here.

Art Quote

A meeting commonly blows at least half a day, by breaking up a morning or afternoon. But in addition there’s sometimes a cascading effect. If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I’m slightly less likely to start something ambitious in the morning.  I know this may sound oversensitive, but if you’re a maker, think of your own case. Don’t your spirits rise at the thought of having an entire day free to work, with no appointments at all? Well, that means your spirits are correspondingly depressed when you don’t. And ambitious projects are by definition close to the limits of your capacity. A small decrease in morale is enough to kill them off.

~Paul Graham
a monotype ghost print with colored pencil added to enhance details of a woman floating in water with her eyes closed

Seven Questions to Help You Roll Past Creative Block

Yield: Progress
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Stagnant creativity feels like a heavy fog pill slipped into your coffee when you weren’t looking. How do you get past Creative Block?

You want to make things. But there’s an invisible sludge haze blocking creative idea generation, inspiration and motivation to get something started. <---Started is the key word.

If you feel like your creativity is blocked, and inspiration eludes you, try this exercise. Sometimes, you just need a hand to hold on the Start part of making art....


  1. Secure 30 minutes, a pen, a note pad, and some quiet time. Sit in a favorite chair, in a sunny spot in a quiet corner. If home is too chaotic, go to a coffee shop and sit in a sunshiny spot. In either case, if it helps, use earbuds or headphones, and listen to instrumental (no words) music. Fill in the blanks below…
  2. If I were the King/Queen of the world, and I could sweep a magic wand to clear time and space to create a beautiful piece of art, I’d work in (fill in your medium: oil, acrylic, pastel, watercolor, pen and ink, colored pencil, graphite)._____________________________. tin watercolor palette
  3. I could make something abstract, or impressionistic, or representational – and since I have a magic skill wand, I think I’ll choose _________________________________. watercolor-sketching-landscape
  4. Since I’m in charge, when I think about size and format, I’d like to make something (small, medium large, huge)__________________________, and in a (horizontal, vertical, square)___________________________ format. using a magnifier light to paint tiny details of a face in profile
  5. I’ve got a hankering to work on (paper, yupo, aquabord, canvas, panel, gesso’d paper)_____________________________________. three hahnemuhle paper blocks
  6. I’m imagining colors that appeal to me right now, in this season of my life, so I’ll focus on a prominence of these three colors, with supporting hues around them: ______________________________________________________. watercolor test swatches for wet in wet painting experiments
  7. I know I can choose any subject that appeals to me, like figurative, portrait, still life, landscape, city scene, interiors, sky/cloudscapes, animals, ocean/shorelines and genre scenes. So, right this second, I feel like painting a __________________________________, with elements of __________________ and ____________________ included. shading a graphite drawing of roses and a bowl of apples
  8. Now, flip open to a fresh page on your notepad, and stomp on that creative block by doodling some layouts, angles, and compositions (no details, see below) that might fill the format of your paper or canvas. 9 tiny pencil sketches of still life flowers and fruit arranged in different compositions


Feel free to print this, and alter the questions or add new ones that fit your style. Think about times when your art-making was more active, and jot down elements from that time (positive, encouraging) that you can visualize and pre-plan to help you get past the hump of stuckness.

You aren't alone in this. Every artist in history has felt creative block at one time or another, so we are all rooting for you. Set some time aside, and slay it. You've got this.

Have you made one of these?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

23 thoughts on “Watercolor Painting (and Creating Before Consuming)”

  1. I am so caught in that vortex. Here I am at 10 am reading blogs and looking at other people’s work! I’ll try to swing this around.

  2. Pingback: Drawing: Vin (inspired to draw more) - Belinda Del Pesco

  3. Good advice! One of the things I find extremely difficult is balancing social time vs studio time – not to mention home time! I schedule my internet and social media browsing – with my morning tea and toast I watch some art videos 45 minutes tops, mid day rest at studio I check Facebook and Instagram and email after I have posted images of my own and then some night time browsing which takes up most of my time. My best days are when there are no exceptions to meet or do anything other than just work in the Studio !!!!

    1. Hi Patti! It sounds like you have a great system, and no troubles sticking to it. So many of us get si=ucked into the vortex of the internet that our intention of 20 minutes of keyboard time spreads to a few hours, and there went our creative day! Bravo on your stick-to-it-ness!

  4. Monica Vernay

    Hi Belinda. Great advice -thank you! I have a chunk of time when my youngest child is off to school to get in the studio and work. If I’m not careful I burn that precious creative time doing everything else that needs to get done around the house leaving only an hour to create before school pick up. So now I set a mental timer. I’m in the studio by 10:30 and all chores can wait till later. It works….usually. So here is my newest dilemma. I’ve set a goal of starting my website by March. I find it a daunting task so I keep putting it off till ‘tomorrow’. I just have such a hard time switching off my creative side to do the technical stuff. I should have a tshirt -“I’d rather be painting/printing…” I don’t want to hire anyone as I’m a do it myself kind of girl. Any advice from a tech savvy artist to one who is not ..so ..technical?

    1. Hi Monica, You’re describing the script that was mine a few years back. Bravo on the bracketed schedule around the kids’ school time, and delaying the house ops till later. On your web site: Hire Someone. You’ll have *plenty* to do once it’s up: load content, configure links, write content, share on social, add affiliate links and passive income sources, etc. The list will never, ever end. Trust me. I played the same notion about building it myself, and 18 months later, with nothing to show, I hired someone. I should have moved sooner on it. Don’t be like me. 🙂 If you need a referral, email me. Good luck!

  5. Dear Belinda, this post is exactly what I needed to read today! I was thinking about the same things….
    Create before consume, Bingo!
    Wonderful painting. I am especially enchanted by the way you treated the light.

    1. Hi Cristiane, It’s nice of you to stop by, and I hope your comment was followed by a long, lovely session with your art supplies! Here’s to more dates with art-making, first thing in the day!

  6. Hi Belinda,
    Love your idea. But there is nobody home in my artist’s soul until I’ve had three cups of coffee. I need to read, and read and read before I get to work. Then I work in fits and starts. Last year I got some pretty large pieces done with that practice. This year health issues in my family have sidetracked me a bit, but I know that I am fine with short bits in the studio, lots of breaks, and more short bits. If I want to be lost and stay for hours, I put on a movie I’ve already seen (maybe several times) on my computer, and listen to it while I work. Depending on the programming, the radio also holds me.

    Love your work, love this piece today, and the quote.

    XOXOXOXOXO Barbara

    1. In response to Barbara: reading your method of working was like looking in a mirror – yep! that’s mostly the way I work too, coffee and all – substitute movie for audio books, and podcasts, and that’s how my fragmented self can pull itself together for longer sessions. That’s why I’m endeavoring to stick to at least one weekly routine these past few months…..hopefully the training will work into a “daily” routine….Good to know I’m not alone in my “fits and starts” LOL!.

      1. Hi Gayle, Good for you on testing the theory that regularity of practice will blossom into good habits. Fingers crossed that this test (& jugs of coffee) will lead to your best year ever.

    2. Hah! No one is home in your artist’s soul? Even without the coffee, I find it hard to believe that. You are an artist’s artist, through and through. Perhaps your artist soul is simply napping in there, until the required coffee warms the room. Thanks for sharing your tips here! xoxoxoxo B.

  7. Oh Belinda, you are a much better version of myself I’m afraid! I am not a morning person, at least not early morning. I spend my mornings with the Lord, and that sets me up for the day. It also takes the pressure off to produce, which is a real blessing. I find time to make lots of work, sometimes in the afternoon and even the evening, and to feeely explore other media, styles and subjects. I find I have to resist the insistence on a schedule, because I am just not wired that way. And if I fall off the planet, such is life, I know Whose hands I fall into.

    1. Hi Sharon, It sounds like you’re not in any danger of falling off the planet, because you get work done. This post was written for all my art pals out there who haven’t touched their work for weeks or months because they use all their time consuming instead of creating. Sounds like you’re all set. I’m glad you have a flow that works for you. Happy creating! B.

  8. BINGO! Another winning blog and inspiring video (which I’ve shared with some friends). Here’s my very first attempt to hold myself to a routine: since January, I committed to doing a little still life each Friday at a friends house (she has lots of interesting props). This is also a way to get used to packing up my gear quickly and efficiently so I can get out to do more plein air this summer. I’ve held myself accountable by emailing a picture of each completed piece to about 15 close friends. However, a bidding war started, but I’ve had to explain that these are not for sale (because that would stress me out each time and let the perfectionist out of its cage) – I proposed that, when the series is finished by late spring, we would have an afternoon tea at my friends house, and each one on the list would each draw a number, then, choose their painting (no charge) in the order of their number. So, it’s a commitment, without the commitment to perfection. I’m approaching this like a self-imposed classroom assignment – Perhaps when I “graduate”, I’ll go more public (or not!).

    1. I love this arrangement, Gayle! It’s a beautiful, generous and encouraging idea, and it’s with friends. I can’t wait to read how it all plays out over time. Fingers crossed that you have so much fun with this system, you start another one right after the swap! B.

  9. I had a good chuckle while reading your blog on this sunny Saturday morning. Today’s set aside for the studio and some printmaking but just thought I’d check my email… and then I read your blog! Okay, logging off now and heading to the studio. Really, though, you are so right! Mornings are my best time for creating — so making a pact with myself that on studio days no checking email or doing just a “little” inspiration search until evening!

    1. You and me, both, Louise! I’m high-fiving you in a pact that we do a=our darndest to stick with the program of creating before consuming until it becomes habit. And I suspect that the increase in work getting finished will be a natural and effective incentive. All the best – B.

  10. Dear MIss DelPesco,

    You are a wonder and an inspiration. Thanks so much for helping us meandering types not to fall off the planet — I for one am trying to stay here a bit longer, so I can paint more! <3

    1. Dear Miss Grubinger, It’s always a slice of heaven when you visit. More tea? How about a crumpet? I’m so glad you plan to paint more. The world will be a better place for it. Thanks for the kind encouragement. xoxo B.

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