Practicing Watercolor Painting in the Evening

Small Watercolor portrait of a girl in a striped shirt, looking over her shoulder at the viewer

Save for later & Share!

Practicing Watercolor Painting in the Evening on the Couch

I dearly love painting watercolors in the evening on the couch. It’s the best way I know to unwind the day and relax before bedtime. Practicing watercolor painting might not fit into every hectic day, but I can almost always squeeze in an hour or so before climbing under the covers. Have you tried approaching your painting time this way?

watercolor sketchpads
Laying washes into a sketchbook practice painting a cafe barista

Squeezing Art Time In

My secret weapon for painting watercolors on the couch is a lap desk (like this one). It’s not much more than a hard, flat surface attached to a foam-pellet pillow. The pillow forms around your thighs to keep your “desk” level and still, while also raising your work surface up from your lap to your belly button (give or take a few inches).

If you already know you’d enjoy a surface even higher, and maybe a little wider, a laptop bed tray might be just the thing (like this one). Instead of opening the tray in bed, just keep it tucked along the edge of your couch, or your favorite overstuffed chair, at the ready for a fast hour of art-making at the close of the day.

Painting washes on a figurative watercolor while sitting on the couch in the evening. (More on this painting here.)
a zippered pouch with painting and watercolor supplies inside
Small, zippered pouches work beautifully to carry essentials for couch time painting: a Windsor and Newton travel watercolor palette (this one), a few travel brushes (like these), a water-soluble pencil, a good sharpener, an eraser, a small ruler, a rinse cup and a paper towel for blotting.
Painting a small portrait in watercolor on a lap desk on the couch
If you already work small, painting watercolors on the couch encourages you to focus (More on those beginner artist goals here.)

Painting Small Watercolors on the Couch

One of the aspects of painting (or drawing) on the couch at the end of a frenetic day is the opportunity to FOCUS. Settling down is often easier *after* a lot of physical and mental activity.

Pursue the flow space that artists crawl into, where time disappears and 10,000 thoughts and 8 hours of conversation fall away like sand sifting out of a screened floor. The hectic schedule of the day, with all of its here and there and To-Do’s distill into a quiet little cave of creativity.

I crave (or maybe I should call it need) that opportunity to pull the curtains closed in my mind at the end of the day, and painting on the couch offers exactly that. I also find that working on one section of a painting for that hour on the couch is very restive. I might focus on the upper left corner of the composition, so I can rest my palette and rinse-cup on the right, or vice versa. The next morning, I see my progress on whatever quarter I worked on, and I’m encouraged and look forward to more painting time.

My trusty lap desk measures about 13 inches deep and 15 inches wide, so it holds watercolor blocks like 8×6, 9×12, and 11X14 perfectly.

Painting the right side of the composition during an evening of watercolor on a lap desk on the couch.

Anything That Helps Us Paint More Often

It’s worth a moment to contemplate the wordplay on phrases like “I’ve got no time to paint.” The word “got” implies inventory – like painting time is something you found in your pocket, or at the rear of the pantry. Oh look, we’ve got painting time! When does that happen?

The painting greats in the art world that make us swoon with their skill and output likely spout a bit more assertion than “got”. I bet they grab painting time. They take the time to make art. Perhaps they even kidnap painting time, wrestle it into their basements, and shackle it to the wall. Great artists prioritize making art.

A little watercolor painting in the evenings on the couch might not count as a time-warping bandit painter. But I do feel like painting for a little while in the evenings is akin to posting a flag titled “Mine” into a teeny part of the day that would otherwise get away from me, without any art in it at all.

I hope you’re posting a flag for art-making somewhere in your day week or month, with conviction, and creative passion.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post –


P.S. It’s October, which means it’s also Inktober! If you’d like to make some ink drawings with daily prompts, have a look at the details here.

Small (8×6 inch) portrait painted in watercolors on the couch – Arachis Hypogaea (Peanut) – available in my Etsy Shop here.

Art Quote

The building that would become Wyeth’s studio began as a schoolhouse in 1875 and served in that capacity until the 1920s. Wyeth’s father, the artist N.C. Wyeth, purchased the building for his newly married son and daughter-in-law to live and work in. Restorers returned the kitchen area to its circa 1950s glory with vintage furniture and appliances to give you a sense of what it was like for the young couple and their two boys – Nicholas, and Jamie, who carried on the family tradition in becoming an artist himself. A slide show of black and white photos from family Christmas pasts set in the larger family room makes you feel like you’re sharing the holidays with them. The Wyeths moved to a bigger home in the early 1960s, but Wyeth continued to use the building as his studio until his death—nearly seven decades of creativity in one spot.

~ Bob Duggan What Secrets Lurk in Andrew Wyeth’s Studio
Two travel brushes, a small palette, a watercolor sketchbook, a little water on the side, and a paper towel to blot, and voila! An art studio on the couch!

Save for later & Share!

4 thoughts on “Practicing Watercolor Painting in the Evening”

  1. Richard H Wallace Jr

    Anything that makes us paint more is wonderful advice. Even as a retired person I carve out time in the early morning to make art. Staying awake at night does not work well. I also love simplicity when it comes to materials. Great post. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Richard, We totally agree that more time with art equals a better, happier life! I’m glad you found your best time slot for making new art in the mornings, and I wish you many creative accomplishments in those sessions.

  2. Thank you for the encouragement, the prompt? the prodding ? You’ve inspired me to do more than zone out in front of the TV when on the couch ! In particular the lap pillow tip – so i won’t end the evening with tight shoulders. The technical details are what make your blog the best!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *