Creativity Workshop: Get Real, but Not Too Real


In the October issue of Watercolor Magic, we kicked off our new Creativity Workshop column with a lesson from Nita Leland on bringing imagination and invention into the painting process. Leland challenged readers to release their creative spirits with this Creativity Workshop Activity:

“Select a realistic subject from a photo or from life. Decide what you want to say and how you’re going to say it. Draw it, plan the composition, select dominant design elements, and work out the color scheme. Then put away your source materials, sketches and plans. Everything. Out of sight. Do the artwork from memory. Your memory and imagination will tell you what to do as you work. The reference material only gets in the way during the painting process. Have fun!”

See a selection of reader responses to Leland’s challenge below:


Parody of Parrots by Kay Smith of Big Spring, TX

“My Puerto Rican parrot photographs provided me with vivid hues and eager excitement. I wanted one large central bird on a full sheet of paper to say ‘tropical foliage and feathers.’ Drawing from memory, I placed a large head at the top. Using curved line dominance in a vertical format, I repeated interlocking shapes for movement with the main parrot’s body. The medium and small birds’ heads were created by using negative painting. White areas were left untouched. Finding my background too busy, I unified its abstraction by adding mint and turquoise green acrylic and letting small pieces of underpainting show. This was a fun process.”


Iris and Poppies by Carol Taylor of Tucson, AZ

“It was with great surprise that I saw your exercise and the painting Respect for Blue by Shirley Eley Nacktrieb in your magazine. You see, I was bored and thinking of what to paint next. I was leafing through Nita Leland’s book and I landed upon the page with this watercolor and like the colors. I used this painting to inspire my own painting.


Water’s Edge, Misty Pines by James Monte of Fairpoint, NY

“I humbly submit my work for your Creativity Workshop Activity. Thanks for the opportunity.”


Pond Saver by Eugenia Algaze Garcia of Houston, TX

“I enjoy reading and learning from your magazine. I was amazed to see the intuitive process that I used in creating this piece articulated so well in the Creative Workshop Activity. It’s very fun painting this way!”


To see more Creativity Workshop Activities and galleries of reader responses, click here.

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