What to do if you don’t like your painting

What to do if you don’t like your painting


What to do if you don’t like your painting


When I started painting this morning, I did not like the result. Often when I paint, I feel happy and uplifted because the painting rolled out of me seemingly without any effort. But some days I look at my painting and just don’t feel satisfied with it. Moreover, I still feel the forcedness and restraint that I felt while I made the painting. And if I don’t feel in a flow while painting, it usually shows in the result.

There are (at least) two ways to react on this. Firstly, you can focus on the product you made. Secondly, you can focus on the process you went through while making it. (If you want to read more about my personal experience with this, you can read this blog post).


Focus on the product.

If the product of your painting session did not turn out well in your eyes, looking at the painting is usually not a pleasant experience. You are disappointed by your ‘failure’, and this never feels good. All kinds of self-degrading thoughts might accompany your feelings: ‘I can’t do this.’ ‘I don’t have the talent.’ ‘I am just not the kind of person that is able to make beautiful paintings.’

You might throw away the painting as soon as possible, and try to forget it. You push away your feelings of disappointment and go on with your life. The next time you paint you are a bit afraid because you might make another painting that you don’t like. And maybe it even makes you avoid painting altogether.


Focus on the process.

When you focus on the process of painting, you might still not like the painting. But instead of getting frustrated by this fact and pushing your painting away, you take a closer look at it. What is it exactly what you did not like? Are there any technical problems you did encounter? At what moment did you get stuck, and why? If you ask yourself these questions, you can learn a lot about your art-making and yourself as a painter.

And if you go even deeper, you can look the feelings of inhibition and forcedness that you experienced while making your painting straight into the eye. Those feelings are a fundamental part of your human experience, and denying or avoiding them gives them more power over your life. If you accept them and allow yourself to feel them in your bones while painting, they can transform into a fierce energy that makes your art come alive. The result is that your paintings become more powerful.

This might seem a beautiful but theoretical statement, not attainable for us, ordinary people. But that is not true. The first time you make another ‘ugly’ painting, you can honor it as a tangible proof that you committed yourself to this wonderful process of art-making and that you stuck to it. You can give the painting a place of honor, and breath in the feeling that it gives you. This way you slowly but surely integrate the parts of yourself that you don’t like.


So, if you make an ugly painting shortly, rejoice! This is a beautiful chance to permit yourself for being an imperfect, struggling, inhibited and limited human being.

Doing so, you give yourself permission to live life to the fullest, and make your best art along the way.



Simone Nijboer, Dutch abstract artist, online art teacher, daily painter, creativity accelerator


PS: What do you do when you don’t like your painting? Leave your comment below, or join the discussion in the ArtNow Community!



Throw away the art you don’t love!

Throw away the art you don’t love!

Throw away the art you don’t love!


I am writing this blog at the first workday after two weeks of Christmas holidays. In these weeks, I have been busy with cleaning up our house, decluttering cupboards and closets, and throwing things away that are old, broken, or that we don’t love anymore. For a few years, I have been inspired by the Japanese declutter-guru Marie Kondo to do this on a regular basis. Her motto is that if your house is cluttered with all kinds of things that you don’t really love, your life gets stuck. You literally don’t have space for new things to enter your life. She encourages you to take a look at every object in your house and ask yourself: ‘Does it spark joy?’ And if it doesn’t: remove it from your life!

In past years, I decluttered my house quite a bit, but I never asked myself the spark-joy question for the big pile of old paintings that I have in my workroom. They are mostly studies on paper, so they don’t take up too much space. Therefore, I could get away with them piling up for a few years. But since I paint every day, and make a lot of studies, my cupboards were getting completely stuck with big heaps of paper. So I decided to go through all my past paintings and ask myself for each and everyone: ‘Does it spark joy?’

To my surprise, I threw away almost all the studies that I had, and only kept a very few that I really loved. Doing so worked out very well. Decluttering my paintings this way gave me lots of new energy and a lot of eagerness to start painting again in the new year to come.

I have thought about why this throwing away was such a positive experience. There are at least five reasons for that.


Gratefulness for the fun and the development

First, I loved going through all of my old paintings. It made me realize the development that I made, and the joy that I had making them. At the same time, I realized that I am not going to continue working on these particular paintings anymore and I am not going to show or sell any of them. They were in my cupboards to witness the past. By going through them and being grateful for the painting years behind me, they had fulfilled their function, and by letting go of them I could make space for new things to come.


Dedication to the process

Second, throwing them away made me dedicate myself even more to the process of painting ahead of the product. I am a big advocate of process-oriented painting, as I have written about a lot in my articles about developing an art practice. By throwing away old paintings, I emphasized the importance of working in this process-oriented way, day by day, being in the present moment, not caring about the future to come, and not clinging on to what I left behind.


Attention for the loved ones

Third, by keeping only the things that I love, I have given them more space to shine. Because they were covered by dozens and dozens of other paintings, they could not get the attention that they deserved. Now they are uncovered, I can really enjoy them.


Trust in the flow of creativity

Fourth, I realized that I kept my old paintings as a kind of proof that I really am a painter. Now that I have removed the traces of the past, and stand with bare hands before the new painting year, I have to trust the flow of creativity that is going through me, instead of leaning on old work to reassure me. And that feels good since I believe this natural flow of creativity is the real basis of making art.


The blog as archive

Fifth, the fact that I keep my daily painting blog makes it easy to throw things away. If I would ever like to go back and take a look at my old work, I have my daily painting blog as an online archive. I probably won’t do that often, because I hopefully will rather be painting new work than scrolling through old work. But the possibility is always there.



How do you deal with old work? Let me know in the comments below, or join the conversation in the ArtNow Community!


Simone Nijboer, Dutch abstract artist, online art teacher, daily painter, creativity accelerator



The (un)importance of consistent art-making

The (un)importance of consistent art-making

The (un)importance of consistent art-making


If you read what experts write about blogging on the internet, you find the same advice everywhere: be consistent in your content creating. Choose a regular interval, for instance once a week, and stick to that. If you write blog posts, do it every week, no matter what.

I believe these experts have a point. If I write a blog post only when I feel like it, you don’t know what you can expect from me, and you might lose interest. But what’s also important is I then don’t know what I can expect from myself either. If I don’t write on a consistent basis, I don’t commit myself. And once I skip a week, why should I not skip the next week, too? Procrastination is self-reinforcing.

I write about this self-reinforcing quality of procrastination in the first episode of a series of blog posts titled The power of daily painting: ‘Once you start procrastinating and skip one day of painting, it becomes more probable that you skip the next day too. The things that hinder you today will probably still hinder you tomorrow. Your life situation or your psychological makeup will not have changed overnight. Next day you can feel still uninspired, doubtful, busy and tired. The counterforces that keep you from painting have probably not changed.’



And what is true about consistent painting is also true for consistent blogging. Both are creative endeavors, which ask a certain amount of discipline. Once you let go of the rhythm you have set for yourself, it is very seductive to skip the whole thing altogether or slowly let your good habit die a silent death. I am a firm believer in the importance of creating on a consistent basis.

At the same time, I believe equally in the unimportance of consistency, and this applies to blogging as well as painting.

Discipline is a good thing but, if you drive it too far, it turns into rigidity. That does not serve you well. You deplete yourself, and you don’t give yourself enough rest to recover from intense work. Undue discipline makes you inflexible, and holding on to your self-chosen rhythm too tightly makes you a slave of your own good intentions. You start to dislike painting, and your art feels forced and unnatural.

The borderline between pushing yourself too hard and not being disciplined enough is very thin, and everybody has to find out for her- or himself where that border lies. It can depend on circumstances, of course, and can change in time. Moreover, it doesn’t matter that much if you don’t draw the borderline right every time. You can take that lightly.


Not beneficial

In the case of blogging: pushing your determination to write regularly too far does not serve your audience either. You might write your blog posts in haste, and therefore they become superficial and boring which makes for a waste of your readers’ time.

The effect on yourself is not beneficial either. You force yourself to work harder than you actually can, and you start to get behind on your schedule. That causes stress which in turn makes it less likely you can inspire your audience well.


Take a break

I first wanted to hold on to the rhythm of writing these blog posts on a weekly basis, no matter what, but then I realized that I would get stressed. Creating blog posts in advance of holiday weeks would clog my schedule too much.

Suddenly I realized that I don’t hold on to my daily painting that strict either. I paint every single weekday, but I take off every weekend and holiday. At those moments my children are at home and I prefer to spend time with them. Apart from that, I like to have a break from my painting regularly. I don’t feel ‘guilty’ I don’t paint because I deliberately choose not to paint at these moments.


Staying inspired

I am very happy with this rhythm of painting and not painting. Not painting gives my subconscious the time to come up with new ideas and to digest what I have been doing. This way, I stay inspired, and it is less likely that I get in a rut. Why wouldn’t the same be true for blogging?

I am writing the above, first because I wanted to inform you that I decided that I am not going to write blog posts on school holidays (and there are a lot in the Netherlands ;-)).

Also, I write this because I want to encourage you to paint on a consistent basis, if possible daily. Daily painting is incredibly powerful. I write about this extensively here.

At the same time, dare to be inconsistent. Don’t force yourself too hard, don’t become your own slave driver, and take time off if you need to.

Thirdly, make your inconsistency consistent. What I mean by that is that you can create a schedule which includes painting as well as not painting, activity as well as rest, work as well as pause. This way you don’t have to decide in the moment whether or not you are going to paint on a given day; you already made the decision. Doing so provides clarity.

And, last but not least, there is nothing wrong with happily slacking without any good reason every once in awhile!


I hope you enjoy your holidays immensely and I wish you many blessings!





How do you create a rhythm of painting and not painting? Tell us in the comments below, or join the conversation at the ArtNow Community, in which you are more than welcome!

Simone Nijboer, Dutch abstract artist, online art teacher, daily painter, creativity accelerator

The power of Daily Painting. Part 1:  Reclaim your creativity!

The power of Daily Painting. Part 1: Reclaim your creativity!

The power of daily painting (1) – Reclaim your creativity


Daily painting is the fundamental element in my art practice. I paint every single day. I make exceptions, though. I never paint on weekends and holidays, and I skip my painting practice when something urgent happens that I have to deal with. But if that’s not the case, I paint. Period.

There is so much to say about the importance of daily painting that I could write a whole book about it:

  • Daily painting helps you to reclaim your lost creativity
  • Daily painting kills procrastination
  • Daily painting undermines self-doubt and fear
  • Daily painting helps you to handle your inner art critic
  • Daily painting lets you tap into your creativity
  • Daily painting grows your craft
  • Daily painting is a spiritual practice, similar to meditation
  • Daily painting gets you from thinking to doing mode
  • Daily painting gets you from thinking to being mode
  • And last, but not least, daily painting is fun!

Because there is so much to say about daily painting, I will break it down into pieces and write more than one blog post about it. This first blog post is about how daily painting helps you to reclaim your lost creativity. If this rings a bell, read along!


It is not always easy

Art making is a fantastic thing to do. It gives color to your life and makes you happy in very many ways. Contrary to what many people think, however, it is not always fun and easy. When I do my daily painting practice, I often dread starting. Sometimes I don’t feel inspired, or I get stuck because I don’t know what I should do since there are so many possibilities. Sometimes I feel that I fail as an artist, while everyone else seems to paint without any effort, and many days I feel rushed because there are lots of other things on my plate.In short, starting to paint is not always fun, and sometimes I run into a wall.


Art feeds my soul

At the same time, I know art-making is very important to me. It feeds my soul and keeps me centered. I love the smell of paint, the sound of scratching Indian Ink on paper, the excitement of making bold marks. I love forgetting myself and disappearing into a magical world of colors, lines, and shapes. One thing is for sure: I don’t want to stop making art.


A serious promise

At the same time, I know that if I had not made a serious promise to myself to paint on a daily basis, I would have skipped the painting by now. I would have started procrastinating to make art and would slowly have drifted away from painting on a regular basis.



The thing is, procrastination is self-reinforcing. Once you start procrastinating and skip one day of painting, it becomes more probable that you skip the next day, too. The things that hinder you today will probably still hinder you tomorrow. Your life situation or your psychological makeup will not have changed overnight. Next day you can still feel uninspired, doubtful, busy, and tired. The counterforces that keep you from painting have probably not changed.



This sounds exaggerated maybe. Why talk about counterforces? What on earth can be so difficult about making marks or putting paint on paper? At first sight, this is true. Just pick up a pencil and make marks! Buy a bottle of paint and try something out! Don’t make such a big deal out of it! But for most grown-ups, it is not that easy.

This is different for an average child. If you give a four-year-old child a piece of paper and a few crayons, it scratches happily along without any barriers. Expressing oneself through art is for most children as natural as running, laughing, screaming, and crying.


Things change

Once you become older, things change, though. There are other people around who have opinions about your painting. The cat you just drew should have smaller ears or a longer tail. The trunk of your trees should be brown, not purple, and the leaves should be green, not blue. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Your parents or your teachers tell you how special and beautiful your paintings are, so you feel there is a standard set that you have to meet next time.


Reclaiming the right to create

Once you are grown up, there is usually not much left from the freedom and unconcerned joy that you experienced as a child. The bold and wild artist within has withered and become uncertain and insecure. Nonetheless, the blocked and inhibited adult that you have grown into still remembers how it feels to paint without constraints. You know deep inside that it is still possible to paint wildly and with abandon. You still realize that it is your birthright to create.



Once you reclaim this right and start painting again, your first steps on the path of art can feel wobbly. It is very seductive to step back to the safe path and the well-known territory of coloring within the lines. You have to unlearn seriousness and let go of the constraint and the neatness and relearn to be bold, wild, intuitive and playful again.

This is no easy change. You can feel very uncertain while making this change, and we as humans generally don’t like this wobbly feeling. Subconsciously we are wired to stay away from unknown territory.


Baby steps

So when you want to rediscover the wild artist within again, you need to take a steady approach. Your playful self might not feel firmly on his or her feet yet, so taking baby steps is the way to go. Daily painting is a beautiful way of taking such baby steps. Doing so, you slowly and gently guide your inner artist back into your world and your daily life. By painting every day, you steadily rewire yourself. You learn that it is not necessary to feel comfortable and safe when you create. By taking one baby step at a time, a new path arises. Because you paint every day, you reclaim your creativity and start to trust yourself as a creator again.


How have you reclaimed your creativity again? Let me know in the comments below, or become part of the ArtNow Community and join in our shared art journey there!

Simone Nijboer, Dutch abstract artist, online art teacher, daily painter, creativity accelerator


How I started painting – seven tips for aspiring artists

How I started painting – seven tips for aspiring artists

How I started painting – seven tips for aspiring artists

Maybe you have never painted, but you would love to. However, you are afraid. Afraid that you can’t paint, that you will only make ugly things, that you will be making a fool of yourself. You fear that you will not be able to carry through. Or maybe you are worried that you don’t have money, time, or energy to start painting.

It is true: it is not always easy to start painting. There can be many obstacles in the way and many thoughts in your mind that stop you from going ahead and just doing it.

I would like to tell you my painting story, about how I became a painter. About what stood in my way, and what helped me to overcome my doubts and fears. In my story, I will break down the things that helped me in seven tips:

  1. Develop a creative practice, painting daily if possible
  2. Put the stakes as low as possible
  3. Value process first, product second
  4. Start cheap
  5. Start small
  6. Connect with other artists and make art friends
  7. Capture your development


My history of painting

When I was about 30 years, I developed a very profound yearning to paint. I had never painted before, but I just felt I needed to start painting. I didn’t know where to begin though. I had no experience at all! Yes, of course as a child on the kitchen table, in kindergarten, and in primary school. But I was not the girl who always had brushes in her hands or who made the most beautiful drawings from early on. When I went to high school, I had drawing lessons where I had to paint vases of flowers and bowls of fruit. I did not like that too much, though, and I was not very good at it – so my grades for the drawing class weren’t very high I came to see myself as somebody who wasn’t good at art. And art became something that other people made. Not me. So when this desire to start painting emerged, fifteen years later, I was standing on a foreign and frightening territory. I had no idea where to begin.



I was lucky to meet a very supportive woman at that time. She was a painter, but also a writer, a sportswoman, a mathematician, a saxophone player and much more. She was the kind of person who did not let herself get fenced  in and who pursued her many passions without thinking they should be ‘useful’ or ‘realistic’ or ‘professional.’ She told me, ‘If you want to paint, just start!’

So, I went with her to the art supplies store. It was an overwhelming and intimidating place for me with all those colors and materials. But she guided me through it, and we left the store with some basic art supplies. And then I started painting, inspired by the enthusiasm and the support of my friend.


Abstract painting

I had always been drawn to abstract art, much more than to realistic art. So I knew I wanted to paint abtractly. But, that made starting to paint a lot more difficult. Because, if you want to paint realistically – you have a starting point: reality! You can see the clouds, the flowers, the faces, the landscapes, and you can start from there. And you can find lots of information on the Internet (at that time, the library) that can help you to start painting and find your style along the way.

But painting abstract art is another thing. It starts somewhere deep within; there is no visible starting point. The question is, how can you access that inner world? How can you translate something immaterial into something material? How can you give form to the formless? And how can you do that without overthinking, without killing the spontaneity by analyzing the painting to death?

That was very difficult for me. Actually, I was not even aware of that process. I just stumbled along. It was confusing. I had looked forward so much to painting, but it was not the fun experience that I had hoped it to be. I found myself wrestling on the canvas. Doubting what I was doing.


Thinking about myself

Another thing that made painting difficult for me was that I thought a lot about the role of art in my life. I did not simply paint, but I wondered if I was a ‘real artist.’ I asked myself if this was what I really wanted. And instead of only grabbing my brushes and painting, I worried about my identity as an artist, and about my past and future as a painter.

Lots of thoughts and questions were running through my mind. Should I pursue a career as a professional artist? But I am trained as a counselor, I have already chosen a career. It is too late to go to art school, I have wasted my time. I have made the wrong choices. And how can I earn money with art? Impossible! I don’t have enough talent. Other people’s art is so much better! I will always be second best; I am not a born artist anyway. And so on. And so on.

All those thoughts and worries made my painting experience full of heaviness. Not the light and exciting activity that I had hoped it to be when I started. Soon my painting wavered. And when my life was getting busier with work and motherhood, I dropped painting altogether.


Fast forward to 2014

The desire to paint never left. I was lucky to have a sister-in-law who had lots of art books on her shelves. Every time I went to her house, I could not resist the urge to go through them and enjoy the colors, the structures, and the compositions. And when it was Christmas 2014, and we were all together as a family at her house, I stumbled upon a book about daily painting.

The concept of daily painting immediately struck me as powerful. My history as a painter had been full of trying hard, being disappointed, stopping again, then trying again, being a perfectionist, getting disheartened. And so on. I immediately realized daily painting might help me to break the vicious circle of starting and stopping, always painting between hope and fear.


Develop a creative practice

I searched the internet about daily painting, and I stumbled on the 30-paintings-in-30-days challenge of a painter named Leslie Saeta. I took part, along with maybe 1000 other artists, and it immediately had a huge effect on me. Daily painting indeed helped me out of the rut of perfectionism and procrastination.

I promised myself to make something every single day. Even on weekends, which are usually busy with my family, my children, weekly chores and so on. So if I had no time at all – I simply made a small drawing in black and white on the back of a business card.

That was perfectly fine for me. Doing so, I had lived a small promise I had made to myself of making art every day. I had NOT promised to produce something very refined or beautiful every day, so I could be happy with the small step I had taken. I felt proud of myself: I had developed a creative practice!


Low stakes

The daily painting also helped me to put the stakes very low. I started to realize that making a not-so-beautiful painting is no problem at all. If you paint so often and produce so many paintings, it doesn’t matter if many of them turn out quite bad. Tomorrow you have the chance to make another painting. You can simply dump today’s painting in the garbage bin. Nobody knows, and nobody cares!


Process first, product second

The fact that I changed my attention from the product (the finished painting) to the process (the simple fact that I painted, whatever happened) made all the difference for me.

Putting the process first made art-making fun again. It is wonderful to have paint on your fingers, and it is delightful to scratch with crayon on paper. Process-oriented painting is playing like a kid again. You can get ‘in the zone,’ forgetting time, simply adding colors, lines, and shapes, without restraints.

On the contrary, putting the product first makes art-making a stressful thing. If you worry about the outcome, your mind becomes too active. The spontaneity and fun that you long for can easily get lost. And the quality of your painting gets lower because you can see the stress and the overthinking in your painting.

I soon discovered the pure joy that I always had known is the centerpiece of making art. Process-oriented painting got me excited day after day. I felt proud of myself. Not because the products were so beautiful but because I saw myself grow as a painter every day.

The fun thing was that I sometimes really surprised myself with results that I had never imagined I would be able to produce. Other times the products of the daily painting were just boring or ugly. But I did not care. The general tendency was that I made better and better work. Not so strange, of course; even though it feels paradoxical, the less I focused on product, the better my paintings became.


Cheap materials

Another thing that daily painting taught me is that you can make significant progress as a painter with cheap materials. I painted on very cheap substrates, like cheap drawing paper and wallpaper, which were not suited to create perfect results. But it worked out well for me.

Because the materials were so cheap and unpretentious and imperfect, I could drop the need to make perfect paintings. Also, I painted with cheap paint. Professional grade paint was far too expensive for me, and painting with high-quality  paint would have stifled me. Who dares to fearlessly throw some paint around when they know that every tube of paint costs a fortune?

By the way, I did not buy materials that were too cheap. I simply bought the student grade paint in the art supplies store, not the cheaper craft paint. And with my current experience I would advise buying at least one bottle of professional liquid acrylics and, if you like working with crayon, a few professional high pigmented crayons. But that doesn’t need to be too expensive if you choose carefully.

Later on, I started to buy some professional paints, too, combining them with student grade paints. Professional paints can give an additional dimension to the painting experience. Their high pigmentation is a feast for the eye, and the colors are rich and inviting.

But in my opinion, the most important thing is finding the freedom to express yourself without hesitation. And if the price of the paint is limiting that freedom of expression, the quality of the paint is not worth it.


Starting small

The very first time that I started painting, I wanted to paint on big canvases. I had always loved big colorful paintings, and I wanted to make them myself, too. So I bought canvases of 50/70 cm (20/28“) and 100/100 cm (40/40”).

But this did not work out well for me. Those canvases were quite expensive. They were big and difficult to move around and store. I needed a lot of paint to cover the surface. Finishing a painting took a long time. And doing quick experiments and studies was not easy on those large surfaces.

When I started my daily painting practice 15 years later, I started a lot smaller, and I painted on a piece of wallpaper instead of on a canvas. One friend of mine had lots of rolls left from a room makeover, and she gave them to me for free. I prepared them with gesso, and I was ready to start.

I cut out squares of 50/50 cm (20/20”), smaller than the canvas that I used before, and I felt so much freer. Because I worked on paper, I could easily store my paintings. If I did not like them, I threw them away, or painted them over, or used them as a first layer for the next painting. Since I was not that precious about my work, I made massive amounts of paintings. That worked out well because indeed quantity breeds quality.


An art friend

Another essential aspect of my daily painting adventure was the development of a friendship with a fellow artist. During the 30-paintings-in-30-days challenge from Leslie Saeta I met another artist online, Dotty Seiter, who has been my buddy in art now for years.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have someone who follows you, who likes what you are doing and who supports you no matter what. Mutual support is critical. Art-making can be such a lonely endeavor – you are working in your home or studio, usually alone. If you never communicate about what you are doing with fellow artists, it can be easy to drop art-making altogether in difficult or uninspired times.


Capture the development

Another thing that helped me very much to stay on track as an artist was the fact that I started a blog about my daily painting. I did so, because I participated in the 30-paintings-in-30-days challenge. This way, my online fellow painters could see what I had painted that day.

I immediately liked my blog. Because I photographed my work every day, I kept track of my development. After a month of painting, I could see that I had created a considerable body of work. When I scrolled back through my blog, I could easily see what I had learned, and how I had grown. My blog helped me to take my painting seriously, and it created accountability.

The blog made it also possible for my art friend Dotty to react on my daily painting. That made me feel connected on a daily basis. The first year I kept my blog hidden from the public. I published it on a free blog site (Weebly) and used a pseudonym to keep it secret. (In the free plan of Weebly it is not possible to keep your site hidden from the public, so if you want to keep your blog private you have to use a pseudonym).

After a year I moved my blog to a public site under my real name. (It was too big a hassle to move the Weebly posts over to the new website, so if you like the idea of a public art blog, I would suggest starting your own WordPress site straight away. When you want to keep your blog hidden at first, you can hide it behind a password.).

Of course, you can use a paper notebook to keep track of your developments, too. That is perfectly fine. The advantage of a blog, though, is that it gives you the possibility to easily showcase photos from your artwork. It also helps you to connect with other painters all over the world. And you get used to showing your work publicly on the Internet.


Keep going

My daily painting practice still is vital to me. I now skip the weekends and holidays, and on days that are very busy I don’t paint. But on ‘normal’ work days I always take time to do something creative.

Sometimes it is only a short study – I just scratch with crayons, dry brush some liquid paint around, and that’s it. I often use my fingers and a foam brush, and I paint unpretentiously for 15 or 20 minutes. I enjoy the colors and the lines; I use it as a kind of meditation. I photograph what I have done, write something short about it on my blog, and then the rest of my day starts.

At times I work on larger canvases, with more colors. That usually takes up more time, which is not always possible in my schedule. I try not to push myself, but I also keep challenging myself not to give up, and not to escape in the usual business of the day.

Contrary to what most people think, painting is not always ‘easy.’ Every day you are confronted with a blank piece of paper or a blank or half-finished canvas. If you paint abstractly, you never know what your next step is going to be. It arises at the moment – you can’t force it. Abstract painting nails you down in the present moment. Which makes it such a beautiful thing, but which can also be challenging. Human beings usually love it when things are predictable, and when they know how to get results beforehand. Abstract painting does not give you this clarity.


Stay in the moment

But if you dare to stay in this moment of not-knowing, beautiful things can happen. And these beautiful things don’t only appear on paper, but also in daily life. If you learn to trust your impulses and intuitions while making art, you simultaneously get to trust yourself in the rest of your life.

The creative process is of course about playing with color and about creating beauty in the world. But even more importantly,  it can teach you so much else. By following the creative path, you learn to live in the present moment, to let go of what is not serving you anymore, to dare to take risks, to look at things from an unexpected angle, and to experience life on a deeper level.


Try to find time!

I realize that since I am self-employed, and since my children go to school, it might be easier for me to paint daily than for someone who is working at a day job or who has kids at home. But even if your day is very full and you can’t control your schedule you can try to make space in your day to do something small.

Maybe something that does not make a big mess. Maybe you can use watercolor pencils, or water soluble crayons, or only a black marker. Or use dry brush techniques with only one color of paint. There is always something small possible.

The most important thing is that you get your creativity flowing. And once you have a longer window of time – maybe on the weekend or holiday – you are ready to paint. You can express yourself freely since you have practiced it day after day on a small scale.

I wish you so much joy and freedom making art. If you desire to make art, start now! And if you feel inclined, write me an email with your questions and remarks.


Good luck!

Let me know in the comments below about your painting history!!





PS: The seven tips again:

These were the seven tips that helped me to start painting:

  1. Develop a creative practice, painting daily if possible
  2. Put the stakes as low as possible
  3. Value process first, product second
  4. Start cheap
  5. Start small
  6. Connect with other artists and make art friends
  7. Capture your development

Stop consuming & start creating art

Stop consuming & start creating art

Stop consuming and start creating art!


If you love art and art-making, it can be so easy to keep looking at other people’s art, instead of making art yourself. But at a certain moment, it is time to stop consuming other people’s art, and to start creating your own!


Just a few clicks away

In this era of the Internet, there are so many ways to get into contact with fantastic art from all over the world. When I visit Instagram or Pinterest, I can find so many inspiring people all over the place. Amazing art is just a few clicks away.

I can get completely stuck to my computer screen and view other people’s art for hours, being in awe of how all those artists can create such beautiful bodies of work.


The computer age

When I became interested in art, the computer age had just begun. The Internet was still only for the real nerds. The rest of us went to libraries for information and inspiration.

So did I. If I wanted to see art, I went to the art department of my university library to borrow books. But the artists represented in those books were famous. The girl next door who makes art wasn’t in there.

I could admire the work of famous artists like Antoni Tapies or Jackson Pollock, but I could not personally relate to them. They were too far away from my everyday life.


Pinterest and Instagram

Today, this is different. Hooray for Pinterest and Instagram! If I look around Pinterest, I instantly feel which art resonates with me. If I love somebody’s work, I visit the website and start following this artist on Instagram.

I have learned so much by following people who are building their art practices and improving their skills while leading their everyday lives and mixing all kinds of responsibilities with making art. Therefore, I am very grateful for all the opportunities the Internet gives me.


The other side of the coin

But, the danger of having so much art around you is that you quickly can get stuck in consuming art instead of creating art. It is like living in a neighborhood with many fantastic restaurants that serve delicious and cheap meals every night. It is so easy to go out for dinner, get to know all the cuisines of the world, and never have to cook a meal yourself.

However, there is a drawback. If you never cook, you will never experience how it is to go to the market and buy vegetables, to buy a good pair of knives, to bake your first egg, to prepare your first dinner, or to throw your first dinner party with friends. You don’t get to know the pure joy that arises from the process of cooking.

It is true, you will not have to deal with all the frustrations that making your own meals can give you—when the soup is too salty, or your pie has turned black in the oven, but you don’t feel the pride either when your first boeuf bourguignon or your Thai curry turns out wonderfully.


Give more than you take

Making art is tremendously rewarding. Therefore, it is such a pity when you keep yourself from being creative by losing yourself in other people’s art.

A few days ago I read a beautiful statement on somebody’s blog (I am so sorry I can’t find the source again). It said, in order not to lose your creative mojo, you should always give more than you take. In other words, if you don’t want to lose your ability to make art, you should create more art than you consume.

I love this statement, and I believe it is true.


Take days off from Pinterest and Instagram

If you feel that you are losing contact with your creativity, this might be the moment to take a few days or weeks off from social media, and deliberately not open Pinterest or Instagram. That gives you the inner space to dive into your soul and start creating yourself.

That might not always be easy. Looking at other people’s art on the Internet can be seductive, and starting to make your own art can be difficult.

You have to face your fears and doubts, and the path of art-making is sometimes crooked or difficult to find. Beautiful results are not guaranteed, and you will probably make a lot of mess along the way.


The joy of painting

Once you start creating, though, you will feel the joy of painting, too. And if you keep going, you will reap the benefits of making art. Your courage will grow, and you will become more resilient and feel proud of yourself.

Then, once your art practice is flowing, Instagram and Pinterest can come into the picture again. If you use these social media wisely, they can be fantastic ways to share your process and your paintings. They can give you tremendous opportunities to support your fellow artists all over the world. If you create connections, those artists will support you, too. They will provide you with ideas, and they will motivate you to keep going.

And with this renewed inspiration and courage, you can dive back into making art, while keeping your art practice fresh and alive.





Simone Nijboer, Dutch abstract artist, online art teacher, daily painter, creativity accelerator

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