Tip #134

Using Your Imagination

It’s wonderful to celebrate what we see, and to try to capture it – or the mood, or our response to it. But it’s also a delight to let your imagination out to play, like a kid!

You can do this in all sorts of ways, of course ... you can “push” the colors you actually see, making the shadows more blue or lavender, seeing more of the warmth in fallen leaves than you may actually be able to observe on a cloudy winter day like the ones we’ve had lately.

You can paint the world in completely different colors ... who says grass has to be green? Why can’t your house be purple and the trees orange? Explore different color schemes, like analogous (next to eachother on the color wheel) or complementary (across from each other.)

Why not paint everything in a monochromatic scheme, with different shades and tints of red? It’s a great exercise, besides.

You can draw an image “out of the whole cloth,” as they used to say. Nothing to look at, just taking off from a magical place in your own head. Maybe you imagine creatures never before seen on this earth – look at some of the wonderful images James Gurney comes up with! Maybe you see dragons, or imagine a castle on a rise in Scotland. Maybe a dance among the stars is more your style. What’s to stop you?



Use yourself as a jumping-off place and draw what you’d LIKE to see, as we covered in Tip #23, the “Why of Self Portraits,” or draw yourself as a knight, a Ninja, or a princess, as we discussed in tip #49, “Fantasy and Myth.” See inside a friend’s face or demeanor to an elf playing a wooden whistle as I did with my friend Kevin!

Check out a favorite photo of your pet or child, then take off from there -- I once turned a beagle into a figure made of sticks and moss for one of my books!

Or take a look at some of the odd burls or roots you may find in the woods. Isn’t that a fantastic creature looking back at you? Draw it and see! You may push it a bit, emphasize a “nose” or eyes or other shape, but you’ll find you don’t need to make it up entirely, if you’re looking for it with fresh eyes – AND your imagination. The world is quite full of magic.

We may be grown up, but imagination lets us explore, discover and play ... we’re never too old for that.




Check out the downloads of books and classes on my website, or give yourself or a loved one a mini-class, available whenever YOU want it -- no waiting on my schedule!

I’d love to have you visit my newly re-born artist's blog, my Etsy store where I’ll be offering original art, prints, and more, or drop by for a visit on Facebook! Check out my YouTube videos for lots more art tutorials.

Close Window


Download Tip #134 for
easy reference or to forward
to a friend or associate.
Tip #134.pdf


The Healing Value of Art, Revisited


Punching Sky Holes
Look Sharp!
• Watercolor Pencil Tip
• Studio Space
• Spatter!
• Fan Brushes
• Masking Tricks
• There are no mistakes!
• Texturing Your Painting Surface
• Drawing for Fun and Practice
• Utilizing Negative Spaces
• Working with Your Wildlife Sketches
Painting Fur with Watercolor Pencils
Capturing the Effect of Distance and Depth
Feature Focus - Painting Eyes
Painting Wood Textures in Watercolor
Capturing Excitement and Drama
Techniques for Painting Foliage in Watercolor
Simple Buildings in Landscape
Finding Beauty Wherever You Are
Painting Rocks in Watercolor
Tricks and Techniques
The Why of Self Portraits
Bravura, Brushwork, Round Brushes
Putting People in your Paintings!
Focus on Animals
Paying Attention to Details
Painting Horses in Acrylic
Utilizing Negative Shapes
Catching the Sense of the Surf
Step by step painting of the ocean
Animals in Landscape
Making Time for Art
Feature Focus - Lips
Sky Effects
Some helpful books -- an artist's bibliography
Using Personal Symbols in Art
Keeping a Sketch Journal
Working on Toned Paper
The Healing Value of Art
Painting for a Cause
Found Art Supplies
The Value of Thumbnails
Working in Weather
Keeping a Journal of a Special Trip
Watercolor Painting -- with a palatte knife!
Shadows -- where and how to use them
MORE Making Time For Art
Fantasy and Myth
Field Sketching and keeping a nature journal
Color and Value
Sketching with Colored Pencil
Zeroing in on Details to Appreciate Nature
Creating a Sense of Scale in Your Art
Wildflowers & Weeds
Drawing and Painting our Canine Friends
A Few Tips on Linear Perspective
Differences in Perspective -- Aerial and Linear
More on Painting Man's Best Friend -- and Woman's!
Watercolor Pencil Revisited -- What's New!
Feature Focus -- The Nose Knows...
On The Nose - Again!
Exploring your watercolor pigments
More exploring your pigments
Painting with Gouache
Accentuate the Negative??
Found Art Supplies
Finding Beauty Wherever You Are
The Humble Sponge
Capturing Light in Landscape
Using Liquid Mask
Graphite Techniques
Feature Focus - Hands
Painting Cats
Cats II
Working with Colored Pencils on Toned Paper
Painting with Acrylics
More Found Art Supplies
Travel Sketching
More On Travel Sketching
Ink & Wash Techniques
Pigment, Paint and Color
Online artist groups
Sketching on the spot in cold weather
MORE found art supplies
Keeping an Art Blog
Keeping an Art Blog - An Interview with Katherine Tyrrell
Keeping an Art Blog - Gabi Campanario on Starting a Successful Group Blog
Keeping an Art Blog - Alyson Stanfield on Blogging for Artists
Make your own tiny travel watercolor kit
Painting on the Spot!
Learning from Nature
Who says you can't fix a watercolor?
Three of my favorite watercolor books!
Artist Trade Cards and ACEOs
Exploring the basics -- round brushes
More Brush Basics - Flats
Putting People in your Paintings -- again!
Still MORE Found Art Supplies!
Focus on Food
Restoring a favorite old paintbox
Use String with Watercolors
Quick Sketching Techniques
MORE on quick sketching
Painting Flowers
Organizing a Sketchcrawl
Unusual Tools
A Review of Waterbrushes
Playing With Yupo
Painting Moving Water, Part 1
Painting Moving Water, Part 2
Painting Still Water, Part 1
Painting Still Water, Part 2
A Place of Your Own
A Studio Alternative
Studio in a Backpack
Studying Nature through Art
Pen and Ink
Ink and Wash
Working on Toned Paper
Quick Sketching Techniques
Watercolor Pencils and Crayons
Ink Pen Comparisons
Exploring Your Artistic Roots with Dip Pens
Unusual (Found) Drawing Tools
Watercolor Crayon Play
Back to Basics -- Graphite Pencils
Using a Limited Palette
STOP - Quit While You're Ahead!
Using Opaque White
Using Thumbnail Sketches - Part One
Using Thumbnail Sketches - Part Two
Testing Your Paints

Archived files are in .pdf format. You will need Adobe Acrobat to view them. Download your free copy!



© Copyright 2004-2014 Cathy Johnson, Graphics/Fine Arts, All Rights Reserved

In order to comply with the Federal Trade Commission's December 1, 2009 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials, 16 CFR Part 255, I share the following information: If you buy something while on Cathy Johnson's Books and More store on Amazon, be advised I do receive a small commission (and thank you!). I am not employed by Amazon nor do I receive free goods or services to review; everything you see here I have personally bought used. For further information on the FTC’s ruling, go here.