Hi! I’m Autumn Linde. I’m a writer, an artist and an elementary school teacher, among many things. I believe curiosity is the best guide. Cookies are best served for breakfast (actually, anytime really), and sharing your unique gifts is a must.
I live, work and explore in the beautiful and weird city of Portland, Oregon. I love to write. I love to create. I love to live a life of wonder and curiosity. And, I love to inspire a more reflective life in others. I hope to do this through my writing and through my visual art.
I once read that the key to happiness is remembering what you loved to do when you were a kid and continuing it as an adult. What was that thing that you could and would spend hours doing, losing all track of time? What was that thing you woke up thinking about in the morning and fell asleep thinking about at night?
For me, that thing was creating stories through art and words, and sharing them with others. Now that I’ve grown up to be a much bigger kid, I still find myself returning to those things, coming up with stories and illustrations.
I consider my style to be narrative and whimsical. Through my work, it is my hope to inspire potential stories in the viewer or maybe spark a question to ponder about the subject they see—Now where would a rabbit get such a fancy bowtie? Where could be off to? Who lives in that wonky house? How was that made?
Or, better yet, maybe I inspire a timid artist to give painting or drawing a chance.
As an elementary school teacher, I make a multitude of decisions every hour, every minute and, seemingly, every two seconds. I spend my day reacting and responding, attempting to analyze and judge every decision I make in hopes of an improved outcome.
Needless to say, when the end of the day comes, I’m tapped. I’m exhausted. Even deciding what I want to eat for dinner seems laborious. I don’t want to make any more decisions. I just want to be. My guess is that you don’t need to be a teacher to know this feeling.
When it comes to art, depending on the project, sometimes I don’t always want to dwell in my thinking and judging brain, having to make those multitudes of decisions. I want to create using my intuition and instinct. I think this is an important balance for all creatives.
If I am working on a book or commissioned piece, I tend to work with much more intention and from within that place of thinking and judging. I love this work. I love solving creative problems through the thinking and the judging. But, it is also important to give myself a break from this place.
So, at times, I will pull out my favorite supplies— a Canson XL mix media pad, my Koi travel watercolor set, a water brush, a Micron ink pen, a mechanical pencil, and my trusty kneaded eraser — and just go for it. I don’t think. I work from a flicker of inspiration, a doodle, a squiggle and simply start, allowing myself to not worry about making a mess or creating something that will never be posted on Instagram for others to see.
This starting moment isn’t about that. It’s about play and intuitive creation. This is an excellent way to warm up before tackling a piece that needs more precision.
My favorite way to begin, especially if I am stuck, is by making blobs of watercolor on a piece of paper. Many art instructors that I’ve had the honor to learn from tend to guide their students through this activity, and it is one I continually go back to.
After the blobs of paint are dry, then I take my ink pen and make them into something straight out of my imagination. Usually, these little blobs become whimsical animals or crazy birds. What I love about this exercise is that it frees you from wanting to draw something perfectly or specific, which often paralyzes most of us when staring down a blank page.
And, as a bonus, a lot of my finished pieces come from these exercises because it allows me to work things out on a page in my sketchbook and get inspired by something that I never thought of before. Think of these as the rough draft to a finished piece. I also think it’s a great way to flesh out a style.
Sometimes, I scribble with the ink pen first then add layers of watercolor. I make marks with a pencil. I fling and splash paint, adding shading and more layers until it becomes something. At times, the watercolor I first paint with becomes a base layer for other media such as pastels, colored pencils or even acrylics, which I layer on top. If it’s one thing that I have learned about art, it’s all about the layers!
Working this way is a time to be messy. And, I don’t erase. In fact, I love when I can still see the original pencil marks peeking through a piece. I honestly don’t know how it will turn out, and that can be equally scary but very freeing. Sometimes it’s garbage. Sometimes it’s a piece that shocks me, making me question as to whether I actually did create it.
Working from an intuitive place is not only inspiring and freeing, but also healing. It’s a time I practice trusting my abilities, trusting my inner voice, trusting that my hands and fingers will work in sync with that intuition. It’s a time I learn how to grow as an artist and trust my abilities a little more, which I otherwise question and doubt daily.
In fact, I believe very strongly that in order to be a creative, you must practice trusting your inner voice equally as much as learning how to reflect and analyze your work deeply. Lose the fear, if even only for a few moments. Lose the need to control every decision at every moment. Too much of that attempt to control will zap creativity. At least, it does for me.
How can you practice using your intuition today? And in what way can you make space to rely on your instincts and let go of a perfect outcome?
I hope you make a scribbly, blobby mess today.
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!