How One Artist Won Inktober for the First Time

How One Artist Won Inktober for the First Time


This year, 2022, I was delighted to discover the artist, Sandra Sobota @faerenn and she took up the challenge and completed all thirty days of Inktober using the AHAtober prompts for self-care.

I recently interviewed Sandra and I am thoroughly excited to share her thoughts on this art challenge with you.


About Sandra

Are you a full-time artist or do you have a day job?

In everyday life, I am an English teacher. After failing to get a well-paid job in a big city to continue living there after my graduation, I decided to return to my hometown, the furniture industry. I thought I’d end up as an office worker with English skills, but the local job market was in a dire need of good English teachers. I teach in high school, and in a private school, in which I conduct remedial classes for students that fall behind, extra classes for ambitious students, and courses for adult groups. My working hours are irregular but I generally work from 8 AM to 8 PM. I am often tired, but I love my job and the people I work with.

My students’ age varies from 11 to even 77 years!

What city/country do you live in?

I’m from Kępno, Poland. Kępno is a small town with about 15 thousand inhabitants. It’s situated 75 km from Wroclaw, and about 160 km from Poznań where I used to live for 6 years, during my university years. I also mentioned before that it’s the furniture industry, having about 800 furniture-making companies here!

Do you consider yourself as a hobby artist or a commercial artist or something else?

I’d say, I’m more of a hobby artist. Drawing helps me relax, and it gives me some joy, it defines me and reflects my feelings. Sometimes I decide to share my creations, and it makes me happy when people share their enthusiasm towards my works. But the number of followers I have is mostly people I know. I guess I don’t have it in me that would make people stay, or I can blame the algorithm for this. But I’d still want to remain myself, and create art out of joy.

However, I did sell some pieces. I had some paid commissions, once I drew a girl from a photo I liked, and her mother wrote to me that she wanted to purchase the drawing from me. And I drew for a charity auction, the drawing was sold for an amazing price, in USD currency it would be around US$75, in my country, that’s a lot of money.

Did you go to art school or design college?

Imagine that I wanted to go to art school, but I was rejected! They preferred students who mastered some well-known techniques, e.g. cubism, and realism. I found a lack of creativity and uniqueness in their works. It felt like those students weren’t people but machines programmed to produce some art. While creating something, I live by this quote found in The Cat Returns (2002) by Studio Ghibli  (Hayao Miyazaki):

“Whenever someone creates something with all of their heart, then that creation is given a soul.”

And the creations I saw back then, had no soul. It opened my eyes and made me give up on the idea of going to any art school; I didn’t want to be abused by some strict art teachers, produce fine art masterpieces that no one would even hear of, and, most of all, be a nobody. I’ve never heard of any famous graduates from that art school I tried to apply to. I didn’t want to end up sitting on the street, begging for someone to buy my art.

Most artists I know and admire are self-taught and didn’t finish any art schools, I find it redundant.

Are you into self-care in general?

It’s hard to tell. I know self-care is important, but I’ve just only realized it not so long ago. It was the end of summer 2017, when I set myself free from a heavy burden that destroyed me mentally, I was a total wreck. I remember I was seeing a psychiatrist, I was on antidepressants, too. And while still recovering, I managed to get my master’s degree. It gave me a lot of power and feeling invincible. I alluded to those events in my other work, DAWN (no. 19)

However, I do struggle with body positivity. I do suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, which was triggered by the past trauma, including comparing to others, bullying and lowering my self-esteem by the third party. I’m still trying to find my way around self-care. I consider myself a student in this field, but a sloppy one (laugh). I tend to sacrifice my needs for the greater good.

What inspires you and to whom do you look up?

I enjoy works of Neimy Kanani especially her works from the prior years, when she used sketches, ink and watercolors. I like her style and way of coloring. Some works may be similar to hers, at some point. I love her lining.

However, my watercolor guru is none other than Gris Grimly. I love his watercolor coloring and the way he draws figures. I am into spooky stuff, and his characters. It’s way different from my doll-like characters, but this makes his figures interesting and original, he isn’t afraid of playing with geometry. When it comes to his coloring, I know he uses Holbein’s watercolors and masking fluid, something that I still have to get familiar with.

What is your favorite color and why?

I have 3 favorite colors, black, yellow and red (and I even mentioned them on no. 26, LIGHT! 😊.

I like black for its uniqueness. I don’t find it a solemn color, but rather elegant and intimidating. I feel good wearing black and this color attracts me.

Red, for its vividness and energy, and I love combination of black and red. My room in my family house is actually red, and I feel good in it!

Yellow is my favorite color from childhood, I consider it a happy color. All things I loved as a  child were yellow – chicks, the sun, daffodils and other yellow flowers. I like returning with my thoughts to those happy moments.


How many times have you done Inktober in the past or is this your first year?

This was my first year of doing Inktober. I’ve always wanted to do it, but I never had time, or I thought so. Some events in my life allowed me to have extra time and made it possible for me to participate.

Why did you choose to do the AHAtober self-care prompts in 2022?

I was looking for something different from the original prompt list – Honestly, I didn’t like it. Not because there was something I couldn’t do, but I like themed lists. I read the entire prompt list and I was able to envision each one of them, so I decided to stick with it.

How did you manage to draw thirty images in October? Was it easy or a challenge to complete them on time?

I had to cheat a little, I admit. There were times which proved to be impossible to draw during that day. Some drawings, sketches or outlines were made way earlier before their time, for example LOVE (no. 29), which was made at the end of September!

Did you have a special time set aside in the day for making the artworks?

Continuing the answer to the previous questions, some sketches or outlines were made earlier, e.g., during the weekend. On Saturday I could create up to 4-5 sketches/outlines, which would leave me with the coloring part.

I tried to color them when there was natural light available, usually between 8AM to 10AM, and this is also the time when the drawings were posted online. Later on during the day, I’d have little time to draw or color. I sometimes started coloring late in the evening, to finish it in the morning.

Please can you share some of your process with us?

I don’t have much photos from the process but I could describe how the work process looked like. I started with some coffee, and scrolling through some of my daily pages. Then, I turned to Pinterest on which I watch some color aesthetics. This way I know how some colors work. I started imagining characters with the given colors, sometimes choosing the colors prior to the sketch. I have no problems with ideas or concepts, but sometimes I needed some guidance, I have two:

After envisioning things, I started drawing with my mechanical pencil – as a child I hated them, but with time, I started appreciating how thin they are, and my hand also became more gentle, so I had no issues while using it. When I considered my initial sketch done, I started the lines with Pigma MICRONs, then I could erase the pencil with a kneaded eraser – I like those erasers, because they don’t damage the paper, and don’t leave any flakes. I can tap them to easily remove the pencil.

After it was done, then I started coloring. I colored whatever I saw fit, but usually I started with the skin.

What was your favorite prompt from AHAtober this year?

It’s hard to choose my favorite.

However, I like what I did in SKY (no. 8). A girl and a dress made of clouds, semi-transparent. In here, I made quite realistic clouds, as I’ve tried a little bit of Bob Ross in my life. I’m glad I still remember how to do it 😊

I also love the smoothness of skin in JOURNAL (no.12), I think I did an amazing job with the blush, but it was a matter of the right timing.

And I like FRAGRANCE (no.17), I thought I’d ruin it while coloring but the robe turned out amazing. This is the drawing I loved from the very sketch, and I was struggling with the decision whether to color it or not.

What was your least favorite prompt from AHAtober this year?

I hated it when the prompts were similar, e.g. SUNRISE/DAWN, with little technical difference. But the piece I can say I hate the most is RELAX LOVE (no. 28).

Honestly, there was nothing wrong with it, I liked it as a sketch, but I felt I ruined it with the coloring. I thought the colors would work the way I thought, but I was so wrong. I insisted on adding purple and then green hues, and it made it a total mess. I think if I used just blue colors, it’d turn out better.

To win Inktober you must create thirty drawings during October, what advice can you give our readers who want to try Inktober or AHAtober in the future, so they can succeed?

If you know that you have little time in your pocket, start a little bit earlier. Some artists had half of the Inktober pieces ready before Inktober even started!

What is your favorite art medium markers, colored pencil, watercolor paint or other?

Actually, it’s watercolor markers, or, Aquamarkers by DecoTimeCrafts, that I found in Action store.

I love that they have a tray. So far, I’ve got a collection of 80 Aquamarkers (80 in a tray, and 10 in a minibox). Above the tray, there’s a framed sampler that I created, to learn how they behave raw, and if you add some water. This way I can easily navigate between the colors.

On rare occasions, I also like watercolor pencils by Koh-i-Noor.

I like to dilute the sketch with water, I also feel I have control over the drawing. It’s actually a great starter if someone wants to begin working with watercolors, especially if this is a shift from colored pencils to watercolors.

I am aware that there are better tools or paints, but I believe that you don’t need the most expensive ones in the world to create the best works, as long as you know the possibilities of the said tools.

Where can our readers see more of your work?

Only on Instagram, here @faerenn.

Honestly, I have two DeviantArt accounts, but I don’t remember the mail and password, it’s a shame. But I feel that DeviantArt is slowly dying – it’s not what it used to be when I was still using it.

How would you sum up your AHAtober experience this year?

It was a very nice experience. Tiring, required some sacrifices, but it allowed me for a moment of reflection. There was even a moment where I allowed myself for a little bit of anger, so the narrative changed from my original concept. I guess I needed this.

My mom told me that she liked it when I elaborated on something. She doesn’t understand English but she pressed “translate” option on Instagram. I know my other friend was also reading my monologues, as I had some discussions with her later on.

Pin this image to your Pinterest board.

What do you plan to do with the AHAtober images which you created?

In my area, there are many children in need, that are trying to get money for life-saving surgeries. For example, a boy with a heart disease which was getting money for a surgery in Boston, MA. Now, there’s a 3-year-old girl with a neuroma. I think I’ll set them up for an auction, where all the money would be donated to their cause.

But prior to that, I’d like to scan my pictures.

What activities will you do the same next year in your art practice to win Inktober?

Definitely making up the most on days off, this is what helped me in catching up (or rather, being ahead of the curve).

What will you change next year for Inktober?

I think I’ll start planning a bit earlier (laugh). I decided to do Inktober quite late.


Do you have any further comments that you would like to share?

It kinda felt lonely, as I thought many other people would join your challenge. But who am I to say, I’m not an influencer either, and when my drawings got 30+ likes, I was like, “wow”.

Do you have other hobbies and interests? 

Apart from traditional art, I’m also into digital drawing, sewing and flower embroidery.

Thank you.

You’re welcome 😊 I’m glad I could be a part of your Inktober/AHAtober challenge 😊


Alison Hazel

Artist Bio: Sandra Sobota


Sandra Sobota is a teacher and talented watercolor artist from Poland.

She is a mutable water Pisces and loves dogs, animals and nature. Apart from traditional art Sandra enjoys digital drawing, sewing and flower embroidery.

Go here to see more of Sandra’s work.

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Weird Gourds – Colored Ink Art

Oh, My Gourd!

I was in my local grocery store yesterday and spotted these weird looking gourds in the pumpkin section.

This is not a vegetable I usually prepare, cook and eat, but I thought maybe this time, as I wanted to add a drawing to my Perpetual Nature Journal, I would see what I could do.


Hi, I’m Alison and I call myself a hobby artist.

I am on a journey to get better at art and I’m doing this for self-care.

In a digital world I find that slow-paced activities which are creative support my drive for a slower lifestyle.

You can read about my journey.

Art Supplies

Get Your Stuff

I urge you to use the paper, sketchbooks, pencil, inks and paints which you have at hand.

I believe that artists already have what they need and there is no requirement to let not having the exact equipment I used to stop you from creating art.

No excuses here.

Look around and gather your art tools.

Specific Art Supplies

These are the exact art supplies which I used for this artwork.

Part 1 – Drawing the Outside

Perpetual Nature Journal

I added this drawing to my Perpetual Nature Journal on the October page.

This is the first sketch I have for October as I only began this journal earlier in the year in May.

Pencil Sketch

Once I had handled the gourd and rolled it around to find a good side, I lightly sketched the gourd out.

I used my favorite pencil which has a 2H lead. The 2H describes light lines on the page which are easier to erase later.

I took care to get the knobby bits and the color changes as patches as well.

Colored Ink

When working with these inks you do need to shake the bottles beforehand, but you also must wipe off the screw tops before you close them otherwise the stick and you can’t get the lid off next time.

There is an art to looking after your Windsor and Newton inks pots as well.


I began with some Canary Yellow ink in my palette and thinned it down quite a bit with water.

I like to keep the paper quite dry and not add too much water, but it is a balancing act.

It seems I prefer to work with the wet on dry technique and not the wet on wet. One.

This opinion may change, but for now it is my selected method of working with colored ink.


Next, I added some Orange to the palette and dabbed it in where the gourd was much darker.


The green was the Emerald Green to which I added a little Canary Yellow to make it more like a sage or olive green.

I watered down the ink mix quite substantially and then slowly built up the color after each drying.


I let this artwork dry in between and then added more color with a light touch.


Finally, I went over the whole drawing with a 0.3mm black pen to define the main outlines.

With this pen I held it loosely and let it wobble a little.

The pen part does give this a flavor of an ink and wash piece.

Part 2 – Drawing the Sliced Half


After I’d completed the outside painting of the gourd it occurred to me to look inside.

I struggled considerably to cut this vegetable in half.

I tried my main straight-blade kitchen knife, but to no avail.

Then I got out my big South African cleaver forged from one piece of steel and heavy, oh so heavy, and I managed to push the blade into the gourd.


Next, I set about sketching and inking the sectional slice of this gourd.

To be honest there were some interesting seeds in the main cavity, but not much flesh on the gourd only about half an inch of orange pulp.


Cooking the Gourd

After finishing the painting, I tried to cook with the gourd.

I had so much trouble chopping this vegetable up that I gave up.

The skin is so tough.

In the end I had about six one-inch cubes of flesh which I added to the pan with my other roast red potatoes, onions and other vegetables which I was cooking that night.

A gourd is not a vegetable that I am likely to buy to consume again.

However, I am likely to buy them for still-life autumnal center pieces which I love to create and draw.

You can see this year’s Seasonal Art Group story here.

Aspiring Artist Activity


This is an activity which can be done by anyone who has vegetable, which I’m assuming is everyone.

Get the kids involved as well.

Find a knobby vegetable that is interesting, perhaps with multiple colors or is a weird shape, which you want to draw.

In your Perpetual Nature Journal and on the appropriate month’s page please do the following:


  • On the appropriate month’s section find a suitable page.
  • Draw a light pencil sketch and remember that we are not engraving.
  • Color in or wash with watercolor, colored ink or your favorite art medium.
  • Pen over to add definition to your artwork.
  • Write the name of the plant in pen below.
  • Sign and date somewhere near the bottom left.


Daily Life

This is not the most exciting painting you are likely to create.

Rather, it is a part of paying attention to the world around you and noting the details that go in to make up daily life.

Sketch Journal

This sort of activity can also be created in your sketch journal as a drawing about your day.

If you are the sort of artist who constantly draws your coffee cup in your sketch journal, then doing a gourd will spice things up a little.

Celebrate Seasonal Changes

Celebrate the changing seasons with this type of painting.

It could be a part of your Phenology Wheel as well where you observe nature around you and, during Autumn, the fruits and vegetables ripening into maturity.

Thank You

Thank you for spending part of your day with me.



Alison Hazel

Author Bio

Alison Hazel is a woman who shares her ongoing journey about becoming an artist later in life. She creates simple art that anyone can make. She hopes to inspire you to reach your creative potential in the area that suits you.

Read more about Alison’s story.

Send Alison a quick message.

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Seasons of Art – Vancouver Group

Seasons of Art – Vancouver Group



The “Seasons of Art” is a group that meets once each season with a focus on developing creativity and self-care through simple art and journaling.

The first meeting was on Saturday, October 15th, 2022.

There was a still-life in the colors of the current session on the middle of the table for everyone to draw if they liked.

They did not have to draw the seasonal still-life if they had other art or journaling projects which they were working on.


Hosted by Alison of Alison Hazel Art a hobby artist in Vancouver, Canada.

Alison is building a community of people who love to paint and draw and write in a safe and supporting atmosphere where everyone is valued.

You can find out more about Alison here.

Spring23 Group

Find out about our recent Seasons of Art group meeting for Spring 2023.

Autumn 2022 Seasons of Art Group

I was delighted to have two guests join me at the first session.

As an ice breaker, there was a white board where everyone was invited to draw their avatar and write their contact info if they wished.

See below.


Meet and Greet

We all met and got to know each other a little.

They are great gals whom I knew did painting who I reached out to with an invitation.

We fixed some nibbles and poured a glass of cheer.

Then all three of us settled in to sketch and paint the autumnal still-life I had composed earlier on the table.


Satvvir’s Artwork

Below is the art that Satvvir created.

Her focus was on the texture of the fruits, the gleam of the copper jugs and the mini cauldron.

She used wax and colored pencil for her delightful composition.


Arwynne’s Artwork

Below is the art that Arwynne created.

Her focus was initially on the greenery.

Then she honed in to make a well considered composition of the multiple elements in the still-life arrangement.


My Painting

Below is the watercolor artwork I created during the evening.

On my Strathmore watercolor paper I first did a pencil sketch with a 2H pencil then began painting with my Sakura Koi watercolor paints.

I used a fine size 2 paintbrush for all the details.


Thank You Keepsake

As a thank you, as the evening wound down, I gave my friends each one of my Winter Circles Neurographic Artist Trading Cards as a keepsake.

In the future, I plan to create other mini take home artpieces as momentoes of the event.

I may even encourage people to bring some to share too. Who knows?

Autumn Seasons of Art Meeting Roundup

I think our evening went well.

We enjoyed sparkling conversation in a safe and supportive environment and we created some original artworks together.

To open a space for creative growth is a wonderful thing.

A win for everyone.


Guest Feedback

“Thank you for hosting, it was a fun evening.”

“Thank you for inviting me over and being such a lovely host.”


More Details of the Seasons of Art Group

Weekend Evenings

We plan to meet one Saturday or Sunday evening from 6pm to 8pm each season, so we will get together four times a year.

The four seasons are Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter so we plan one session every solar quarter which is three months.

Winter 2023 Date

The proposed date for the Winter Seasons of Art was for January, but it will have to be sometime in February.

I’ll post the exact date when I have it.

If you are interested reach out to me here.



Downtown Vancouver at Alison’s place and later, when we get bigger, in a booked venue somewhere in Downtown Vancouver.

The Summer meeting could perhaps be in a park or at the beach.


Hobby Artists and those who Journal

People who want to be creative.

The Vancouver chapter initially attracts people living in or near the downtown area.

What to Bring

Bring your pencil, pen and sketchpad.

You can bring your watercolors or other mediums.

Bring your open heart.

If you do forget your art gear I have some paper and pencils to share.


What Not to Bring

Please do not bring your dog.

What is Provided

A seasonal still-life arrangement to draw or paint.

Water pots for your paints and paper towels.

Background music.

Light snacks.

Tea, coffee, tap water or something else.



To help people tap into their natural creativity perhaps through:


  • Doodling
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Sketching
  • Art challenges like Inktober, AHAtober and Nature Journaling Month (every June)


Final Thoughts

I’m doing this as I want to build community for hobby artists and journalers.

I initially invited five people I know who do art and dabble to the first event.

I was delighted that two lovely warm and compassionate friends could make it.

I believe there is a future for this group and time will tell.

Let me know if this is something that interests you.



Alison Hazel

Author Bio

Alison Hazel shares her ongoing journey about becoming an artist later in life. She creates simple art that anyone can make.

She hopes to inspire you to reach your creative potential in the area that suits you.

Go here to read more about Alison’s story.

If you want to send Alison a quick message go here.

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How to Do Morning Pages

How to Do Morning Pages

Cameron’s Original Idea

I first came across morning pages as a technique in the glorious book by Julia Cameron, “The Artist’s Way” which was published in the nineties.

At the time, I had the tenth anniversary edition.

I was a younger woman then. I did practice her two main strategies of morning pages and artist’s dates for over a year. 


Fast forward many years.

Recently, I once again got into the habit of writing morning pages.

I felt the need to have someone to talk to, and the pages helped get the angst out of my head so it can be seen and not be so scary.

Day Job

I work a day job in retail. At the end of the day, I feel drained after hours grappling with competitive co-workers, demanding bosses, and mean customers.

I sought to have a creative outlet of writing and drawing and I started practicing art and watercolor painting as well.

Once I began creating and publishing idea books for you, I could see the possibilities and it satisfied my drought stricken creative needs.

Benefits of Morning Pages

The benefits of morning pages are:

A Mind Dump

First thing in the morning. All that is buzzing around in your head can get out onto the page.

It clears your mind of the chaos and leaves room for the calm.

Dream Capture

You can capture dreams, or nightmares, from the night onto the page almost like a dream journal.

This practice helps to unpack ideas from your subconscious mind as well.

Challenging Inner Dialogues

You can write out the hard things that happened the day before which are trying to cloud and intrude into this fresh new day.

Difficult conversations that are running around in your head like, “…and then she said…” and, “I should have said…” can get out onto the page and you become free of them.

Build Good Habits

If you are trying to build good habits (or kill off some bad habits), morning pages will help with that too.

You can write down that you had a no-carb day, if you are doing keto, or perhaps that you did not have a cigarette or drink alcohol yesterday.

Then you can and write about how good you feel about yourself this morning. This is important.

How To Do Morning Pages


  • Get a notebook. I use an A5 sized notebook.
  • I recently created a special morning pages notebook for use in my morning pages.
  • Note dates from and to on the first page as a record.
  • Lines help but so do doodles
  • Doodles are little drawings like emojis to help you express the words as well.
  • I’ve always only written on the right-hand page and drawn an image on the left-hand page. In my morning pages ritual, I write on both pages however, I start each new day on the right-hand side then flow over to the left-hand page. It is easier as I am right-handed. In total I use a two-page spread for each day’s writing.

Pen or Pencil

  • I like to use a black pen, but you can use any pen that you enjoy writhing with.
  • I embellish the pages as well with Washi tape typically along the bottom or the right-hand edge.
  • I like to add stickers that relate to what I’m talking about in my morning pages.
  • I draw a little artwork, usually with a black pen. Then I highlight it with one or two colours using my TomBow markers or you can use brush pens or crayons. I like to use neutral colors like beige and grey for this as well.
  • It is always a good idea to colour the background of your doodle with a light grey, soft pink or taupe to bring the image forward. You do not have to get too busy coloring the doodle as a few strokes usually suffice.

How Much to Write

Cameron suggests writing three pages. Personally, I write for about 15 minutes then I’m finished. I sometimes set a timer for quarter of an hour.

This time frame usually works out to one and a half page to two pages of writing in my A5 notebook.

Write until you are spent.

On somedays more words flow and on somedays less.

On a few days I don’t do morning pages at all.

Those typically turn into the days that I wish I had written my morning pages.

It comes to me later in the day when I’m still grinding about things in my head that I could have wrestled to the page first thing and so be shut off by now.

Aspiring Artist/Writer/Creative Activity

Creative Preparation

Do this the night before so you are ready in the morning.

  • In your journal open it at a fresh page
  • Lay a pen by its side.

Challenge Yourself

Make a challenge with yourself to write for seven days straight.

Write these words on the first page of your journal or morning-pages book.

“I will write morning pages every day for seven days. I will not judge myself for what I write. I will love the words that come from my head, for they are a part of me. I am a creative person. It is through love for myself that I write these pages.”

Creative Activity

Please do the following:

  • As soon as you wake up write what is on your mind.
  • Draw a little doodle.
  • Close the book.
  • Get on with your day.

Do this for seven days.

Know that you have started a self-care regime which will stand you in good stead for years to come.

Thank you for sharing a part of your day with me.



Alison Hazel

Author Bio

Alison Hazel is a mature woman who shares her ongoing journey about becoming an artist later in life. She creates simple art that anyone can make. She hopes to inspire you to reach your creative potential in the area that suits you.

Go here to read more about Alison’s story.

If you want to send Alison a quick message go here.

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7 Morning Rituals for Artists and Creative People

7 Morning Rituals for Artists and Creative People

Author: Alison Hazel   –   Published: May 2022

Seven Morning Rituals for Creatives

These days everybody seems to be doing morning rituals or maybe its just that now they are called morning rituals, but we used to do these things anyway.

I gave this a lot of thought because preparation for my day is essential to me as well.

To be honest there are many things I do in the mornings, but there were only a few rituals that are important for me.

After giving this topic quite a bit of thought, I distilled it down into the seven main things that I practice, and which support my creative life and my self-care through art as a artist.

I’m going to share these seven things with you now and of course you may have other things that you do to support your creative life, but I just want to give you a glimpse into how I get organized mentally, physically and spiritually for the day.


I wake up at around 5am each day. I do set an alarm for 7am, but I’m usually awake before then. When I wake up there is no immediate rush and I like to keep things calm.

1. Breathe Deeply

The first thing I do when I wake up before I even opened my eyes or got out of bed is breathe. Now of course this is quite a laughing matter because we’re all breathing all the time anyway, but the point here is that you are focusing on your breathing.

Whilst I’m lying there, I take ten specific breaths and when I’m taking these breaths, I’m doing a count. As I am breathing in one, two, three. I count to three breathing in and then when I breathe out, I count at the same pace for five – one, two, three four and five.

It’s actually on the exhale that the breath is longer and I fully empty my lungs. After you’ve done the very first in/out, on your second breath you really breathe in deeply because you must fill your lungs as they are now totally empty.

Fully breathe in one, two, three to fill up your lungs which is then followed by a controlled breathe out for a count of five. I do ten deep breaths this way. It is the very first thing I do.

2. Stretch in Bed

My second morning ritual is to stretch in bed. At this point I have opened my eyes, but I’m still in bed. I haven’t got up yet and I roll onto my back and go for a full body stretch.

I stretch my fingers wide, my arms wide, I stretch my toes wide, and my legs wide. I make like a big starfish lying in the bed which I hold and stretch. This is much like how a cat stretches.

I also pay close attention to stretching my spine so that my head, neck and shoulders are fully aligned. Now the reason I do this in bed is because I’m a little older than most people and I find it easier to get a full stretch when I’m lying down.

When I was younger, I would stretch standing up and put one foot on the counter and touch my toes and all of those kind of stretches. When I’m feeling strong, I might do that, but for my morning ritual stretch, I stretch in bed.

3. Make Your Bed

My third morning ritual is to make my bed. At this point I’ve got up, been to the washroom and come back. Ideally you want to open the covers and let your bed breathe because the moisture from you sleeping in it overnight needs to evaporate.

You never want to make your bed immediately you need to give it 10 to 15 minutes to air, so now I fling open my bedsheets let the bed refresh well. Now I go into the next step and make tea.

Do step 4 here

But when I come back from having the kettle on and making the tea I bring the tea back to my bedside and I will then make my bed. I straighten the bottom sheet I order the top sheet and I shake out the duvet. I plump up the pillows and prop them up against the top of the bed.

Always make sure that the opening of the pillow faces away from the door. Smooth all the sheets. I don’t go round folding hospital corners or anything like that and I do let my top sheet just hang as I don’t like it tucked in at night.

First Win of the Day

The point here is that you have already got a win when the bed is made, and your bedroom looks tidy now. At this point I do not put clothes, books or other junk on my bed. The bed remains almost sacred as this is a “made bed” and let’s celebrate it. Now I move on with my day to set the world on fire

4. Make Tea and Rehydrate

I drink tea first thing in the morning.  I may have a glass of water at my bedside for in the night and often I will finish that first.

The tea I love is Twining’s Earl Grey with 2% milk. This is a tea I’ve been drinking for thirty years and I still enjoy it. In fact, I almost never drink other teas except a green tea with lemon now and then.

Imake my morning tea and slowly drink it. By this time, I’m usually looking out of the windows at the new day. I love to catch the sunrise if I can, but this does depend on what time of the year it is. I take about ten minutes to sip my beverage.

5. Wash and Cleanse Your Body

Next is washing. Typically, I will have a hot shower, wash my hair and brush my teeth. However, if I did have a hot bath the night before I’ll skip the shower.

I’ll do my light makeup and towel dry my hair. I rarely wear perfume. I don’t wash my hair every day but do it about twice a week. Next, I get dressed and add jewelry and select a handbag and shoes to complement my look.

Evening Prep Tip

I usually choose the outfit that I’m going to wear each day the day the night before. This is a step during my evening ritual. Not having to decide what to wear every morning helps delay decision fatigue early in the day.


Next, I blow dry my hair and fringe which is by now only slightly damp. In this way I don’t overheat stress my fine hair too much. Now I am ready to start some creative work like writing, art or perhaps recording a video.

6. Clean and Tidy for 5 Minutes

I’m not the tidiest person on Earth. I can make a mess. I like to schedule five minutes right at the start of the day for a quick tidy up. For five minutes I do a quick cleanup as follows:

  • Sponge down the bathroom vanity
  • Put laundry in the washing machine
  • Wipe down the kitchen counters
  • Unload the dishwasher
  • Take out the garbage

Sunday Five Minute Clean Up

Once a week, usually on Sunday, I add the following to my cleanup routine:

  • Water my house plants and trim off any dead leaves or blooms
  • Wash and clean my hairbrush
  • Clean my jewelry
  • Polish my shoes

7 Art Journal for 15 Minutes

Now I sit at my desk and work in my journals. I have several journals and it depends on what I am doing later in the day where I will focus.

My current journals are:

I never know until I sit down which journal I will reach for.

To-Do-Today List

I have a jotter made from newsprint paper that is at my right-hand on my desk. This is where I note what has to happen each day. Appointments or shopping will go on here. Other things like emails to respond to and groceries or other things to buy will be written on this jotter. 

I usually prep my jotter the night before especially if there are activities which I have to do that I don’t want to forget. This jotter is also where I test my pens and markers before I write or draw in my journals.

Morning Routine Timeline

From waking up to finishing journaling is about 45 minutes to an hour.

The Workday Begins

Now I note the time on my jotter and begin work. I will plan a tea break around 11am and would typically have some avocado toast then as well. 

This is the first food I consume each day. It is a brunch and covers both breakfast and lunch. If I have a lunch date with family, friends or collaborators I will skip the brunch.

The next time I eat is around 5pm as I like to finish all meals for the day before it gets dark. This is a method from Doctor Mike Hansen which I’ve recently adopted. It supports good sleep and avoids overloading my body overnight resulting in indigestion and broken sleep so it can repair itself properly.

Bonus Tips – What to Avoid in the Morning

I have some firm rules for morning activities, and yes, sometimes I do slip up, but in general I try to stay on track. In the morning until 11am, I avoid all technology.

I do not:

  • Touch my phone
  • Text
  • Check emails
  • Turn on the TV
  • Listen to the (bad) news
  • Turn on the radio


I avoid all digital input to my brain and I concentrate on analog input and expressions only. This comes from studying or reading physical books, reading poetry, handwriting, journaling with a pen, sketching, painting, coloring, designing, creating art or other crafts like crochet.

Alison Hazel

Author Bio: Alison Hazel

Alison Hazel is a hobby artist and she shares her ongoing journey about becoming an artist later in life. She creates simple art that anyone can make. She hopes to inspire you to reach your creative potential in the area that suits you.

Read more about Alison’s story.

Send Alison a quick message.

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52 Herbs Coloring Book – Self-care for Herb Lovers

52 Herbs Coloring Book – Self-care for Herb Lovers

Coloring Book


I have always been a keen herb grower so it seemed a natural move to draw the herbs I love.

The next step was to put them all together in a coloring book.

This coloring book contains all my original herb drawings.

Your can get your copy from Amazon on this link.


Example Coloring Pages


PDF Downloads

To improve your experience with my coloring pages I have made some recent changes (September 2022).

I used to have these coloring pages available as PDF downloads, but people struggled with the download process, so I have now changed things.

Now you can only get the coloring pages in the book from Amazon.

Alison Hazel

Author Bio

Alison Hazel is a mature woman who shares her ongoing journey about becoming an artist later in life. She creates simple art that anyone can make. She hopes to inspire you to reach your creative potential in the area that suits you.

Go here to read more about Alison’s story.

If you want to send Alison a quick message go here.

More Articles

Read some more artciles from our blog.



We would like you to get to know us a little better, so we’re going to share our giving philosophy with you.



Author: Alison Hazel   -   Published:  January 2023   -   Revised:  February 2024 Gifts for You As a strong creative and arty person, for many years, I have generated countless free resources on Alison Hazel Art. These guides, lists and templates are to help you get...

Art for Self-care

Art for Self-care

Art as Self-care

The use of art as self-care is well documented. Art can be therapeutic and many people say this is true. In a busy digital world, there is an urge to disengage from text-based connections with others. Drawing and sketching may help bring balance to the input your brain gets every day.


Personally, I turned to art at a time in my life when I could not deal with another conversation as I seemed to be going around in circles with the issue at the time. I’d wake up and immediately start ruminating about what happened yesterday and replay conversations and situations in my head.

I would think, “I should have said this or that” or “I should have done things differently.” There was no let up. I became weary and tired.

Art Journaling

I turned to my art journal and began again. 

I now write my thoughts on the right-hand page and draw a corresponding picture on the left-hand page. I am right-handed so it’s easier to write on the right-hand page and usually there is more paper underneath to support the pen. We used to do this type of work in grade school way back where it is still used as a learning aid.


You remember things better if you hear them, write notes about then and draw an image about them. Clearly you can go further and make a model out of cardboard or macaroni, dance it out, pen a poem, write song lyrics, sing about it or do a play.

Write and Draw

Let’s keep to the writing and the drawing. Words and image. Make notes and draw a picture about it. This technique is a basis of art journaling.

1. Aspiring Artist Activity

Art Journaling: Coffee Shop

Take your art journal, a pen and go to a coffee shop. Get a cup of coffee and settle down at a table. In your art journal please do the following:


  • Sketch the cup and maybe the people at the other tables.
  • Add the coffee shop name and logo to the sketch.
  • If you have a croissant or other pastry, draw that in too.
  • You can add as much, or as few, details to your journal spread as you like.


  • Write the time, date where you are enjoying the delicious coffee.
  • Note the coffee shop name.

You have now completed your first art journaling sketchbook entry.


Doodling is the act of drawing squiggles and mini shapes and characters on the corner of a page. It is what you do when they put you on hold on a phone call with your pen in hand. Doodling can be lines, curves, faces or whatever. But it is an outpouring of what’s on your mind and in this way it can be helpful.

Daily Art Practice

If you look carefully, you can eke out a quarter of an hour each day for your daily art practice. Fifteen minutes of drawing daily can soothe your mind.

Draw Your Day

For my daily art practice, I have a special small A5 sketchbook just for my quick daily art drawings. These sketches are unlikely to ever see the light of day, but they can often be the basis for later more complex drawings that I create.

I like the idea of letting sketches incubate until they turn into something else. Simple objects around you are great subjects to draw.

Benefits of Daily Art Practice

To establish a daily art practice is of huge benefit for several reasons:

  • You get to improve your art.
  • You express your innermost feelings
  • You can express yourself through words and images
  • You can begin to create a body of work
  • You may realise what your favorite art medium is
  • You initiate the foundation of your art style

Daily Art Practice Examples

Here are some examples I did of daily art practice with pencil sketches of flowers:

Breath Drawing

Breathing, we all do it, in and out, in and out, in and out… Regular breathing tends to be shallow and has the same count for in and out.

You breathe in for a count of three and out for a count of three. Inhale one, two, three and exhale one, two, three. This is natural breathing.

2. Aspiring Artist Activity: Controlled Breath

A controlled breath helps to calm the mind and reduces blood pressure.


Try this activity and the trick is to control your exhale.

  • Breathe in fully for a count of three, and out fully for a count of five.
  • In one, two, three and out one, two, three, four, five.
  • Fully empty your lungs in a slow controlled exhale.



On your paper and with a black pen please do the following:

  • Start at the left-hand edge and draw a line up when you breathe in.
  • Draw a line down as you breathe out.
  • Continue across the page.
  • Turn the page one quarter turn and repeat the line.
  • Continue filing up the page with your breath movement lines.
  • You will end up with an artwork that looks like neurographic art and now you can curve the intersections and color in.

Neurographic Art

Neurographic art is an art movement that I recently discovered as I was searching for art and mindfulness. I began with some basics and now enjoy making neurographic art.

Neurographic Art Examples

Some examples of my beginner attempts at neurographic art are here:


Journaling comes in several flavors:

  • Bullet journaling – to do lists and calendars
  • Art journaling
  • Sketch journaling
  • Morning pages journaling – Follow the guide of Julia Cameron and write three pages longhand every morning to dump your cluttered mind
  • Nature Journaling
  • Perpetual Journaling

Art Journaling

Art practice sketches and thoughts. Some of my examples of art journaling are here:

Sketch Journaling

To my mind, sketch journaling is drawing what you did and where you went.

Nature Journaling

Nature journaling is drawing the natural world. You would typically start with plants and insects in your own garden. This is a great activity to do with the kids or grandkids.

Perpetual Nature Journal

A perpetual journal is divided into twelve months and you capturing some images each month.

Example pages:

Pin this image to your Pinterest board.

Perpetual Anything Journaling

A perpetual journal could be for anything that interests you. The benefit of a perpetual journal is that it is evergreen and grows every month. 

Perpetual journals can easily become records of your life and can be handed down to the family like an heirloom. Think back to Edwardian women embroidering stitch samplers which show what they could do. These cloths are most desirable today as family records. Perpetual journals can be your legacy.

Perpetual Legacy Journaling

A legacy journal is one you leave behind for those that follow. Typically, it was a family history book containing the family tree, but it can be focused on what and who you are. Examples of a perpetual legacy journal that you could make are:

  • Family recipes
  • Our family Christmas book
  • Family tree
  • Family homes
  • Your gardening tips
  • Family anecdotes
  • A home book about the property and renovations you did

I’m sure you can think of many more perpetual legacy journals. 

Alison Hazel

Author Bio

Alison Hazel is a woman who shares her ongoing journey about becoming an artist later in life. She creates simple art that anyone can make. She hopes to inspire you to reach your creative potential in the area that suits you.

Read more about Alison’s story.

Send Alison a quick message.

More Articles

If you enjoyed this article on Art for Self-care you may like some other posts from our blog.

Acrylic Overpainting: Ikea Artwork

Acrylic Overpainting: Ikea Artwork

Author: Alison Hazel   -   Published: January 2024 Overpainting Last month I decided to paint over, or overpaint, a large Ikea artwork I had in my living room. Over painting is a technique used by many of the great artists when supplies were short and canvasses hard...

Seasons of Art Challenge

Seasons of Art Challenge

Author: Alison Hazel   –   Published: April 2022   –   Revised: February 2024

Seasons of Art Challenge

4 Seasons

Every year brings four seasons spring, summer, autumn and winter. Technically each season starts as the Sun crosses an equinox or solstice point in the year.

In the northern hemisphere spring occurs around March 21st, summer occurs around June 21st, autumn starts around September 21st and winter begins around December 21st.

In the southern hemisphere spring begins around September the 21st, summer begins about December the 21st, autumn begins near March 21st and went to begins near June 21st.

Note: Each year the dates may be slightly different, so for the purposes of this post I’m sticking with the 21st of each month. It just makes things easier.

Winter Solar Quarter

Winter is from December 21st for thirteen weeks until the Sun again crosses the equator at the equinox on March 21st. This means that winter contains just over thirteen weeks or around three months. But the three months period of a solar quarter is different to what we would normally call the fourth quarter or Q4.

Four Quarters

Time quarters refer to the four quarters found by dividing the year directly into four. Each quarter contains three months. The four quarters are:


  • Q1 contains January, February and March.
  • Q2 contains April, May and June.
  • Q3 contains June, July and August.
  • Q4 contains October November December.

These are the usual time quarters that are used for business. The seasons are different and start at specific dates in the year. They begin are around the 21st of March, June, September and December.


Season Months Alison Hazel Art

Natural Rhythms

I like the idea of aligning myself with the natural rhythms of the Sun much like phenology. I thought it would be a good idea to create the Seasons of Art challenge which will happen four times a year during each season. It’s up to you whether you do the full Four Seasons in any given year.

Season of Art: Winter

The first Season of Art kicked off in winter. Use the hashtag of #seasonsofartchallenge asthis avoids the winter is north and summer is south issue completely. December 21st, will align to the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere and for those of you living South of the equator, it will be the beginning of summer.

Northern Hemisphere Centric

Because I am writing this from Vancouver, Canada in the northern hemisphere, I will refer to northern hemisphere seasons although I do respect the southern hemisphere folk as I did live in South Africa south of the equator, for most of my life. If this all sounds complicated, then I apologise. The point is to work with the natural seasons created by the Sun.

Wheel of The Year

The Wheel of the Year is a diagram that divides the year up in a natural way.

Solar Quarter Days

The division start with the two solstices and the two equinox divides the wheel of the year into four solar quarters. The four quarters are the Four Seasons. Each season begins as the Sun transits the equinox or solstice points.

Pagan Quarter Days

The pagan quarter days have special names.


  • March the 21st is known as Ostara.
  • June the 21st is known as Litha.
  • September the 21st is known as Mabon.
  • December 21st is known as Yule.

Cross Quarter Days

The cross-quarter days are the midpoints of each of the four quarters. Each of the solar quarters can again be divided by the midpoint day which is typically the first of the month’s February, May, August and November. In the Pagan world the cross-quarter days have special names some of which may be more familiar to you than others.

Pagan Cross Quarter Day Names

  • The first of February is Imbolc.
  • The first of May is Beltane.
  • The first of August is Lammas.
  • The first of November is Samhain, and this time is better known and celebrated on October 31st as Halloween.

Seasons of Art – 13 Weeks

Each quarter contains 13 weeks. The idea of Seasons of Art is to draw thirteen artworks in each season. Below are the thirteen prompts for each season upcominging. Even though each quarter may start at a different day in the week, I’m counting the weeks from Sundays.


Week one would be from the Sunday to the Saturday and then week two would start on the next Sunday. The reason I choose Sundays is because I believe it’s the first day of the week.

How to Win the Seasons of Art Challenge


Every Sunday draw a picture using the Seasons of Art prompt for that week.


Seasonal Prompts

You may start by just completing one season’s worth of artworks. Perhaps you will do the Winter or Summer season.



You can use your favorite medium like markers, pen and ink, colored, pencil watercolor, acrylics or oils etc. It’s up to you.



You have one week to complete each drawing, so there is no rush. Once you have completed the first season you can continue on and create 52 artworks for the year.



You win when you have completed the whole challenge and you have 52 artworks to be proud of. Good luck.



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Winter Prompts Page

Below is the Winter prompts page in my Seasons of Art Journal. I’ve written the prompts in the first quarter (or season) of the book. This will act as a reminder of what I was doing when I look at the journal in years to come.

Seasons of Art Challenge: Week 1: Silver

In this image I imagined the Moon to be silver and to have a silvery glow to the top side of the tree’s branches. I may still have to get out my actual silver inks to bring this one more to life.

Seasons of Art Challenge Winter:  Hibernate

Here I drew a grizzly bear hibernating in a cave through the cold winter months. I noted the proper name of Ursus Arctos as well. Who knew?


Seasons of Art Challenge Artworks

Below are some more of the artworks from the Seasons of Art Winter Challenge. Some are not quite finished yet but I though I’d add them anyway so you can see how far I’ve got.



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Tip: Southern Hemisphere

If you live south of the equator then switch the seasons so they make more sense. For southern hemisphere people please swop summer with winter and spring with autumn.

Seasons of Art: Full Year Challenge

Because the very first Sunday in the December winter season falls on a different day each year, it makes it that there is usually only one week in the first year. All the rest of the weeks for the winter season will be in the next year. This makes Seasons of Art a great art project to do for the whole of the year if you would like.

A Year of Art Prompts

In theory, you could do a full art journal for 52 weeks which is broken down into four seasons of the year. Alternatively, you may decide to do one season, perhaps the winter season, then skip spring, and go straight onto summer if you enjoyed doing the winter season.

Art Challenges

The big thing about art challenges is that they get you into the habit of doing art regularly. Whilst I like to do art daily, I can’t always manage it, but I know for sure that I can create art on a seven-day cycle, and this is where weekly art challenges come into their own.

Share Your Work #SeasonsOfArtChallenge

Use the hashtag #seasonsofartchallenge. Can you see it could be said as, “seasons o fart challenge?” Well, we can live with that. 🙂


Weekly Art Challenges

A weekly art challenges such as Seasons of Art where once a week you make a drawing in your sketchbook is ideal to keep an art practise going. Ideally you can have a dedicated sketchbook for your Seasons of Art for the Year.

If you are going to do the whole year then it makes sense to get a lovely sketchbook beforehand that has at least 52 pages in which you can do your drawings. This type of weekly project can result in you creating a huge memento or even heirloom art book showcasing the type of art you created during this year.

Other Artworks

Now of course you will be doing other artworks on the side. For example, I will be working on my other journals such as my perpetual nature journal. Also, I’ll be doing other work in my grimoire, but the point is that if I have a dedicated Seasons of Art journal it will end up being a delightful reminder of the type of art and the technical skills and media interests that I had during this year.

Looking back, I can reflect upon how revised my approach, developed, or pivoted, my art direction that year. Join us.

Alison Hazel

Author Bio: Alison Hazel

Alison Hazel is a hobby artist and she shares her ongoing journey about becoming an artist later in life. She creates simple art that anyone can make. She hopes to inspire you to reach your creative potential in the area that suits you.

Read more about Alison’s story.

Send Alison a quick message.

Seasons of Art: Spring

Seasons of Art: Spring

Seasons of Art: Spring 2023 Group Meeting Learn more about the recent Seasons of Art group meeting. See more about the Seasons of Art group here.  Satvvir's Artwork Below is Satvvir's artwork (Instagram @theambivertsbb). She used watercolor and combined orabges...

Aspiring Artists

Aspiring Artists

Author: Alison Hazel   –   Published: April 2023   –   Revised: January 2024


To be an artist is frequently to be seen as someone who:

  • Went to art university, college or school.
  • Has a fine arts degree or art diploma.
  • Has been professionally trained.
  • Knows a lot about art history like Byzantine, Greek and Baroque art.
  • Knows about art movements such as impressionism and fauvism.
  • Can tell a Caravaggio from a Cézanne.
  • Other.

This is the standard meaning of when we say “Artist,” but can someone who does not have all, or any of the above, be considered an artist? The answer is yes.

To be an artist is to create either with drawings, paintings, music, weaving, dance, sculpture or in other ways. The activity of creating something that was not there before is artistic. You do not have to be trained to be an artist.

Hobby Artist

A hobby artist is someone who makes art for the joy of it.

Aspiring Artist

An aspiring artist is someone who works on their techniques, practices art most days and who enjoys making art.


I believe that most people can be an artist. I see myself as an aspiring artist. I create every day. I sometimes post my work online and on my social channels not only for you to see, but so that next year I can go back  to this year and see my progress.

You can be a great artist overnight, but you can be a great artist with practice. Believing that you are on the road to becoming and artist, or an aspiring artist, is the first step. Self-belief is critical to your ability to have faith in yourself.

What Aspiring Artists Do

Aspiring artists are those people who enjoy art and may have done art as a hobby and they like how it makes them feel.

Aspiring artists…

  • Aspiring artists are more likely to doodle on occasion and sketch out mini drawings almost days.
  • Aspiring artists draw their feelings rather than talk about them.
  • Aspiring artists express inner emotion through art.
  • Aspiring artists love art and want to make their own art.
  • Aspiring artists may have a plan to run an art business one day.
  • Aspiring artists want to be an artist deep down in their soul.

Perhaps you can think of a few more statemenst about aspiring artists.

Finding Time to do Art

Aspiring Artists may squeeze art practice into lost corners of time in their day.

For instance:

  • Early morning before the family is awake.
  • Sitting on a bench on the park at lunchtime.
  • Waiting for someone in a waiting room.
  • In the evening after dinner.
  • Weekends.


Aspiring Artists Secretly Want to Create

Aspiring Artists may take their sketch book with them everywhere they go. 

  • Aspiring artists frequent art galleries
  • Aspiring artists visit art exhibitions.
  • Aspiring artists join art workshops.
  • Aspiring artists go on art retreats.
  • Aspiring artists read about art, artists and art movements.

Artists are Everywhere

I believe that are hundreds of aspiring artists working away in attics and coffee shops and at their kitchen tables around the world. Maybe you are one.


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Alison Hazel

Author Bio

Alison Hazel is a woman who shares her ongoing journey about becoming an artist later in life. She creates simple art that anyone can make. She hopes to inspire you to reach your creative potential in the area that suits you.

Read more about Alison’s story.

Send Alison a quick message.

More Articles

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Acrylic Overpainting: Ikea Artwork

Acrylic Overpainting: Ikea Artwork

Author: Alison Hazel   -   Published: January 2024 Overpainting Last month I decided to paint over, or overpaint, a large Ikea artwork I had in my living room. Over painting is a technique used by many of the great artists when supplies were short and canvasses hard...

Summer Garden Art – Ink and Wash

Summer Garden Art – Ink and Wash


This summer I was fortunate to take a week off to visit some good friends of mine who live on the Sunshine Coast in west British Columbia, Canada.

Their delightful home is perched high on a hill with sea views that overlook the local bay.

This is a wonderful spot to observe sailing boats, cargo ships and cruise liners navigating up and down the coast.

We also spotted hawks and eagles.

In early evening, the full Moon rose from the east, climbed high and bathed us in shimmering light that danced across the water and set the scene for a perfect moment.

Garden Layout

Due to the rugged terrain, the front garden has deep lavender and cone flower terraces supported by tons of bedrock underneath.

The house is perched right at the apex of a rocky outcrop.

After a 3m wide terrace, the back garden falls off at a steep incline plunging to the lower garden level below.

Water Restrictions

Due to the incidence of forest fires and a lack of rainfall in the area, there are stringent water restrictions in place during the summer months.

This means that you can only water with handheld hosepipes or buckets for two hours each day.

Therefore, this garden must contain chiefly indigenous plants which can survive these dry hot conditions and those which can make it through the harsh winter snows that may accumulate up to two feet deep.

Because of the natural terrain, the back garden is particularly interesting with a walking path that winds throughout.

Looking with my artist’s eye, I decided to draw a plan view of this garden rather than to select one part to draw.

Garden Plan View

I created the sketch for the plan view from the terrace by lightly drawing the outline shape of the perimeter fence and the outside walls of the house.

I later realized that the garden is not actually square, but it’s a bit more of a rhomboid shape and that the house has a few more ins and outs than I had in my sketch, but in general, there are two rectangular shapes, the fence and the house.


With a 0.1mm black pen I lightly sketched the main features of the garden.

First, I drew the terrace round the back, the gates on either side, the pathways and the rough hewn stone steps to the east and west.

Seating Areas

Next came the sitting areas of which there are several.

There is the main terrace seating area, the Hummingbird café bench, the lower-level intimate chat section on the path, the main stage forum in an emerald glade of fine grass and finally, a few steps up from there nestled a garden chair in the solitary meditation area.

Along the wall I sketched in some of the massive external boulders as this garden was basically hewn out of bedrock.

Large Foliage

Some of the trees and plants are quite spectacular.

There is a gigantic wisteria on an espaliered fan just at the top of the terrace which I drew first.

A colossal magnolia tree with extra-large blooms dominates the scene right down in the main valley, but still visible from the house.

Around the corner to the left, is a delicate rose garden still under development.

A hardy white grape vine cascades over an aging trellis arch at the top of the western staircase flight.

Against the back boundary grows a towering clump of bamboo which eagerly shot up this summer.

Hard Landscaping

A sun-kissed covered seating area is fondly called the Hummingbird café for obvious reasons.

The guys have hung feeders and the birds flock in.

Down at a section which I think is called the “globe theatre glade” had been erected several vertical poles all around the circle.

This provides a strong statement area.

Topping each post are stylish multi-colored garden lights which can fluctuate from white to colored, warm or cool at the flick of a switch.

To have a wonderful area in which to gather on warm summer evenings is no doubt a serene place where the imagination can soar.

Raised Beds

The folks had strategically positioned several raised beds and grow a striking selection of herbs and vegetables including some immense tomato plants.

Pumpkins cascade out of terracotta pots to seek the warmth and light.

This vegetable heaven is over towards the east of the property, so on the plan view it is represented with oblong boxes.


Once I had laid down on the page the main hard pathways of this drawing, the key seating areas and some specimen plants, I was ready to fill in the rest.

I took my time in the core section and found different ways to illustrate distinctive plants.

Now this really is me using my artistic license as there are many component bushes and trees thriving in this area.


For most of this drawing I used plan perspective which means the viewer is looking down from above.

Plan view lays things out very much like a map.

For a lot of the unknown shrubs, I use the plan viewpoint where I just plonked the leaves on the page, but in some cases, I employed elevation perspective where I created the side view of the plant in its position.

This combination technique adds visual interest to my illustration.


A vast number of birds are attracted into the garden.

The hummingbirds came in their droves.

I saw blue jays for the first time in my life.

Chipmunks popped in and out of the shrubbery busily collecting snacks, peanuts and seeds.

Many chickadee birds fluttered in the trees and around the bench where I was.

As I sat on the terrace with my sketch paraphernalia, a chickadee bird swooped down and landed on the top edge of my sketchbook.

To start with I didn’t realize what it was and I let out a scream that had the household running as I leapt to my feet.

I soon realized it was a cute little two-inch wild bird.

I settled back down to my sketching and five minutes later another chickadee, probably the same cheeky one from before, landed on the toe of my flip-flop as I relaxed, legs crossed, sketching.

This time I kept my cool as by now I was an expert outdoors woman and not just a city slicker.

Evolution of a Garden

I had visited this enchanted garden last year and although the main features were in place and all the hard landscaping had been done, back then the plant life itself was quite a wilderness.

In the year I have been away, the owners have really labored to clear a lot of the vegetation to bring forth specimen plants that were there, but could not be seen.

By the sweat of their brow, they felled dead trees and cut back countless brambles and blackberry bushes to let the light in and which allowed lower growing shrubs to have a fighting chance.

Gardens, obviously, are living things and that they continue to evolve, whether we pay attention on not, is a natural wonder.

I look forward to witnessing how this well-loved outdoor space will develop in the future.


I had my traveling art field sketch equipment with me as I don’t like to take too much art stuff when I go away.

My minimal drawing kit included:



Side Note 

As I have recently been getting into colored ink work, I really wanted to take my tinted inks with me, but it was totally impractical to lug twelve small glass bottles of quick-stain ink my bag.

The thought did cross my mind and then I let it go…

Paint and Wash

After breakfast I set myself down on the back terrace with my field drawing equipment.

My water pen had some liquid in it which I prefer rather than a jam jar of water.

Mixing olive green and yellow ochre, I put two drops of water into the khaki pan and two drops of water into the mustard-like pan and with my paintbrush slowly stimulated the paints.

Then I mixed the two colors over on the paintbox lid palette.

I thinned the colours down substantially by releasing drops of water into my palette.

I’m really working with microscopic amounts of paint here with only one or two teaspoons of each color.


I started coloring the stone steps to the east and west and some of the main boulders with very light watercolor wash

Ensuring to let the pigments dry and to not work on adjacent colors that were still wet, I pushed on.

Lightly washing the shrubberies in different greens, I developed the plant life in the garden.

It was a scorching day around 28C and the paint was drying quite fast.

I turned to the large stones with some yellow ochre and a dab of sepia brown.

Once the boulders were dry, I mixed up a slightly deeper carmine red and added light shadows nestled below and to the left of each rock.

Adding shade again breaks from the plan view to the elevation view, but this is a piece of art, so that’s why I did it.

I believe the combination of top and side views created additional interest in this artwork.

Area Names

The owners have some fun and quirky names for the different zones of their garden.

Where I could remember some of the words, I wrote them on my drawing.


I did enjoy creating this artwork.

Although it is not correct as an architectural drawing or even perhaps a garden layout drawing, it is a perfect sketch representation of this wonderful and magical garden.

As my friends continue to pour love, warmth and energy into their property, it will no doubt mature, blossom, bear fruit and become a garden of anybody’s dreams.

I feel honored to have shared some time with them in their wonderful uplifting outdoor space.

Thanks to my friends for their exceptional hospitality and openhearted spirit.

I simply loved being an aspiring artist in their welcoming haven.


If you have are still with me this far in, then thank you for sharing part of your day with me.




Pin this image to your Pinterest board.

Aspiring Artist Activity

This activity is to draw an artists impression, or illustration of your backyard.

If you don’t have the luxury of a garden, find another natural space which you like to visit.


  • Sketch the perimeter fence of the property.
  • Add outlines of the big shapes like house walls and any other buildings.
  • Sketch in any paths, streams or ponds.
  • Now bring in greenhouses, raised beds, seating areas and the like.
  • Start to add textures to hard surfaces such as wooden decking, stone paths, gravel walkways, brick paving or boulders.



  • Now draw in all the main greenery such as large trees and specimen plants.
  • Using a variety of styles, fill in all the beds with different plant drawings.


  • Once you are happy with your pen drawing, get out your favorite colored art medium, so perhaps this would be watercolors, markers or inks and lightly wash color over your drawing.
  • Start with the lightest colors and work up to the darker shades.
  • It is okay to leave some parts unpainted.
  • When everything is dry, go over it all again with a black pen to sharpen up the images.


  • Add words to your page to add interest such as terrace, greenhouse, fishpond, glade or potting shed.
  • Let everything dry.
  • Frame your artwork.
  • Hang it proudly in your art studio.
Alison Hazel

Author Bio

Alison Hazel is a mature woman who shares her ongoing journey about becoming an artist later in life. She creates simple art that anyone can make. She hopes to inspire you to reach your creative potential in the area that suits you.

Go here to read more about Alison’s story.

If you want to send Alison a quick message go here.

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