GUEST ARTIST: “Stay Curious And Make A Mess!” by Autumn Linde

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Autumn Linde - Doodlewash

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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Autumn Linde - DoodlewashI 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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Autumn Linde - DoodlewashI 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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Autumn Linde - DoodlewashIf 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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Autumn Linde - Doodlewash

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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Autumn Linde - DoodlewashMy 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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Autumn Linde - DoodlewashSometimes, 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!

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Autumn Linde - DoodlewashWorking 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.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Autumn Linde - DoodlewashIn 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.

Happy creating!

Autumn Linde
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Recommended11 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists

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!

33 Comments
  1. Annie Unwin 8 months ago

    Autumn, you are my kind of painter. I love your idea of making blobs into something. I used to do this especially with a flower/nature painting. I also love your quirky characters you create! Such a great way to enjoy the art. What I have found is if you lose the fun in painting/creating, then you won’t want to do it. After I do a commission piece, I take some time off to regroup. When I create for someone else, I put a lot of unnecessary stress on myself. I don’t know why I feel this way because the commissions I’ve done, have all been well received. The only thing I can attribute it to is that it’s “not my idea.” Realistically, I know that’s not true because I put my heart and soul into anything I create.

    The bottom line is I need to work through the fear of someone “not liking” my work. Your kind of exercise, takes that fear away. Thanks for sharing this story with us. Keep up the good work. I’m your newest fan!

    Annie Unwin
    Washougal, WA

    • Autumn Linde 8 months ago

      Thank you so much, Annie! I love how you make sure to take some time off after a commission to regroup. We put so much energy into making a piece for someone else. It’s a beautiful thing but equally exhausting with that stress we put on ourselves to make it special and as perfect as possible for the receiver. I get what you mean by “not my idea.” Whenever someone asks me to paint something for them, especially a pet portrait, I immediately feel inadequate and incapable because I try to imagine what it is they want in the end. I feel all of my limitations as a self-taught artist despite knowing that the person chose me to make the piece for them because of my style. I think the stress comes because you care so much, but I think the care you put into each piece makes it special, makes it your art. Thank you for being willing to do it, Annie!

      And, in all honestly, I have yet to work through the fear of someone not liking my work. I still struggle with this daily. There was a long period in my life where I hid my work from the world. In fact, being a guest artist on Doodlewash makes me nervous for that very reason! But, it’s good practice for me to confront the fear. I know not everyone will like my work or connect with it. But there will be a whole lot of people who will.

      Thanks for leaving a comment, Annie. All the best, never stop caring and keep creating! The world needs the kind of art only you can create.

      Autumn

  2. Rod Fletcher 8 months ago

    Neat fun work ideally suited to doodlewash

  3. Sandra Strait 8 months ago

    Howdy, neighbor! I live in Fairview, Oregon. I love your sense of whimsy. Just looking at your art lifts the spirit!

    • Autumn Linde 8 months ago

      Hello, fellow Oregonian! Thank you for your kind words! I so appreciate it. And, it means the world to me that my art can lift the spirit. 🙂

  4. Pamela Smith 8 months ago

    What delightful art you make,thank you for sharing your process…

    • Autumn Linde 8 months ago

      Thank you so much, Pamela! It is my pleasure and a blast to talk about. Happy creating!

  5. Karen Howard 8 months ago

    I love I see here, from color and shape to content and fun.

    • Autumn Linde 8 months ago

      Thank you so much, Karen! I greatly appreciate your comment.

  6. Mary Roff 8 months ago

    What an inspiring approach to art! Your whimsical characters would bring a smile to anyone’s face. Thanks for sharing and welcome to Doodlewash!!

  7. Sharon Nolfi 8 months ago

    Thanks for for sharing your artistic process as well as your wonderful art. I’m sure you are a fantastic teacher, too.

    • Autumn Linde 8 months ago

      Thank you, Sharon, for your kind words. I do appreciate it.

  8. Shar Kennett 8 months ago

    I love your work and the idea that you are giving me freedom to play. I Need to throw colors around and make blobs and not worry about the outcome. And now I will go and obsess over my little daily challenges. How to break the habit??

    • Autumn Linde 8 months ago

      Hi Shar! So glad to hear you feel freedom and permission to play! Throw those colors around and have fun. ps–Habits are so darn hard to break. You are not alone. 🙂

  9. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 8 months ago

    Autumn, this is one of the best stories ever on this site, and there are lots of good ones. Your art is whimsical and delightful to view. You are the kind of teacher every child should have. You care about what you do and what you inspire in others. You’ve found a way to return to your childhood pleasure and help to make sure your students keep theirs. All success to you.

    • Autumn Linde 8 months ago

      Sharon, Thank you so very much for your kind words and encouragement. What a gift they are to read. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Much success to you as well, friend.

  10. SnehLata Maheshwari 8 months ago

    I really appreciate your different types of art. Awesome 🌷

  11. Linda Murray 8 months ago

    Autumn, I love your story and your work!! I truly get it! You have given me hope of enjoying art again. I need to start with those blobs of paint and lose the urge for perfection. Thank you!!

    • Autumn Linde 8 months ago

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks so much, and what I love more than anything is to give hope and inspiration in enjoying art again. Play on the page and make those messy blobs into little monsters that no longer can scare you. (This is another exercise I do!) Start with a scribble and give it bulging eyes and name it! Then make it as cute or weird as possible. Have fun! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  12. Jill Gustavis 8 months ago

    You know, I’ve done that sort of exercise with scribbles, but never thought to do it with paint! I definitely think I need to try that as a warmup or just on its own during a ‘doodle day’. I always have to remind myself to check in with what I really WANT to do. A lot of the time I get so caught up with admiring others work and thinking I want to be like that, but forget that just because I admire a piece doesn’t mean I’d enjoy painting in that style. Thank you for your refreshing story! Happy painting!

    • Autumn Linde 8 months ago

      Hi Jill!

      Yes! These are great warmups to loosen up the creative flow. I love that you use scribbles. I will have to do those!

      I know that I fall prey to comparing my work to others, which immediately makes me freeze and get flooded with a lot of self-doubt and negative self-talk. I mean, let’s face it, there are a lot of talented people out there doing mind-boggling things with the same media I use! But, my stuff just doesn’t turn out that way. But that’s OK. It’s a process, right? It’s a long game that I’m playing that I have to keep experimenting with. It’s all practice and learning.

      I still have to remind myself to make sure that I spend a portion of creative time on what I want to try out. I even have a certain sketchbook I play in that I have decided no one will ever need to see. This alone gives me freedom to make some terrible messes… in which my gut reaction is to quickly reach for gesso or acrylic paint to cover up and try again. It happens…often. 😉

      Happy creating! The world needs the kind of art that only you can create!

  13. Jill Hanson 8 months ago

    This was a wonderful read, freeing to know by the other comments too, many feel the same. I love your illustrations and was thinking, how fun a teacher you must be. Thanking for sharing from your heart.

    • Autumn Linde 8 months ago

      Thank YOU, for taking the time read the post, Jill. I do appreciate your comment very much.

  14. Janneke Booister 8 months ago

    Thank you very much for your story, your art and all that encouragement you have put in between the lines (besides the stuff in the lines I mean) 🙂

    • Autumn Linde 8 months ago

      Your post made me smile, Janneke! Thank you so much. 🙂

  15. MMcBuck 8 months ago

    Thanks for sharing your cute, quirky art! Love it! Thanks for your story and inspiration!!

  16. Teri Casper 8 months ago

    I absolutely loved reading your words and enjoying your beautiful art. I feel energized! And want to try the blob exercise. Thank you so much for sharing all this.

    • Autumn Linde 8 months ago

      Thank you, Teri! I appreciate your taking the time to read it! 🙂

  17. Beverly Wong-Kleinjan 8 months ago

    Love your work, which immediately evokes smiles and happy feelings! Enjoyed your feature. 🙂

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