Category: 2017

Studio Party 2017

I’m Going to Disneyland (A Studio Party Recap)

Now that your studio party is over and you raised over $600 in support of CEPIA Costa Rica what are you going to do, Marika?

“I’m going to Disneyland!”

Yes, I did.

That photo is kind of how I felt everyday leading up to the party.  And I’ve sadly dated myself by referencing this old advertising campaign. Yes, age has crept up on me.

After the party, life sped up a bit; some residual sales, oncoming thanksgiving holiday, an early celebration, visits from out of town friends and a final three day Disneyland extravaganza with the family.

If I didn’t say it before, thank you. Thank you for your support, messages, sales, wine, chocolate and visits. It meant the world to me and I’m so proud of my first solo effort to raise funds for those in need in Costa Rica. Thank you! To those that made the donation possible to CEPIA Costa Rica thank you double.

There were so many gifts from the night!

A a minimum, I was able to get my working feet under me again. This year has been flooded with so much change and transition that I had created a habit of unfinished work. My studio hid many works about 95% complete, unready to show or sell. They quickly needed to be finished for this studio party and I got a lot of basic painting and administrative work done. I needed this work done to motivate me through the party and beyond.

A step beyond minimum was the chance to host you for some food, wine, art and friend-making. So much awesome fun!

But the party was so much more than the minimum.

For the curious, here are some highlights from the party.

Both workshops were full – thank you. Did I say thank you already? I was inspired by your inspiration and curiosity. As the holidays roll around, it is fun to see people make thoughtful gifts for loved ones in my Watercolor Necklace Workshop.

I had fun experimenting with techniques to access creative wisdom and intuition in my Explore Intuitive Painting with Watercolor workshop. I hope to explore this concept more in future workshops.

See my post: 4 Tips for Finding and Bringing Inspiration .

Personally, as a teacher, I learned a lot from you. Some nuances about teaching through the artistic process clicked and revealed themselves for me. For example,at this workshop one participant said “I’m afraid.” I’m so grateful for the full frontal honesty. Fear is exactly what blocks action and as much as I try to help facilitate a fearless approach, fear is always a solid companion. This insight alone will help guide my teaching materials but also the dialogue of living with fear that I bring to the workshops.

Usually, I don’t condone a fight but….

There was a small skirmish among family members for Shifting Worlds multi-media painting.

Shifting Worlds (c) Marika Reinke 2017
Shifting Worlds (c) Marika Reinke 2017

A little argument about love ensued when one buyer claimed My Heart is Gonna under the buying nose of another.

My Heart is Gonna (c) Marika Reinke Watercolor 8" x8" 2017
My Heart is Gonna (c) Marika Reinke Watercolor 8″ x8″ 2017

A dear friend bought In Need of a Guide a story close to my heart.

In Need of a Guide (c) Marika Reinke 2017
In Need of a Guide (c) Marika Reinke 2017


Life Begins at Sea was bought by another turtle loving, sun worshiping lady. This was a special pairing my daughter designed and named. You can see the story here.

Life Begins at Sea (c) Marika Reinke 2015
Life Begins at Sea (c) Marika Reinke 2015

Florgasm Three is on the road to Canada and then Costa Rica. The buyer snapped it up after seeing it online and it was a good thing too – this one attracted a lot of attention at the party.

Florgasm Three (c) Marika REinke 2017
Florgasm Three (c) Marika REinke 2017

The goodies table was wonderfully plundered.

  • All Community mugs are gone but can be ordered and shipped to you here
  • All the small pendant necklaces sold out!
  • All but one pair of newly released earrings sold out.
  • Half my copies of my new book; The Art Ritual were bought up. You can have a free digital copy of your own here or buy the printed version from my shop.
  • I have many cards left for sale and I’ll stock my online store.
  • I have one Mantas: A Love Story acrylic block leftover for just $29.99
Mantas: A Lovely Story Acrylic 3" x 3" block
Mantas: A Love Story Acrylic 3″ x 3″ block

And I’m re-organizing my online store and will soon have the paintings and pendant that remain from the party easily available for to buy online. Check out some of the new photographs and available paintings. I’ve been having fun playing with my creative soul and seeking out Fall colors.

For those that went out of your way to express your condolences for not being able to attend, there will always be another party.

Happy holidays and new year to come!  Thank you for helping this year end on a high note!


4 Tips for Finding and Bringing Inspiration

It happens frequently; a blank stare, the wandering brush, a few extra dips in the water and a heavy sigh. The question is palpable. “What am I going to paint?” An artist doodles hopefully on scrap paper, she explores wet on wet techniques and brush strokes, the little experiments that emerge from free exploration bloom in beauty and richness. Then, as soon as her brush is placed on her “real” painting the fluidity and untethered joy disappear and everything tightens then muddies on the paper. Frustration ensues.

Frustration is part of the artistic process. Not just the artistic process, it is part of learning. It is an indication you are on the journey from here to the there you want to be. We should celebrate healthy frustration, it signals the verge of some new finding and an indication that we are engaged in deliberate practice. Each step we take to explore our frustration, we will learn. It is a beautiful thing.

While some freeze with frustration, others bloom. In workshops, the goal is to create just one pendant in three hours. I’ve had a couple people make as many as five that they love. Yes, one was a part-time artist and the other was an engineer with no painting experience. How do you make sense of that?

How do I? Mindset is 90% of everything. That’s how I make sense of it.

But mindset is a tricky beast. I can’t tell you to fix your mindset and you simply change on the spot. There is a lot of internal dialogue to struggle with and sometimes it’s downright stubborn and insidious. That damn voice wont stop telling me that I’m never going to paint another painting as good as…..fill in the blank. I know it isn’t helpful, and the voice should go away and I tell it to go away but the stupid voice is still there. Ugh.

And there is this:  sometimes there is no voice. Just an indistinct discomfort in the pit of the stomach. That is a sneaky beast and potentially paralyzingly to creativity and inspiration.

Certain people are more comfortable handling discomfort and sneaky negativity. They come armed with coping mechanisms and inspiration to deal with it.

Here are a few to keep in mind at the next workshop or creative endeavor.

Ask Questions – Lots of Questions 

The engineer that happily made five necklaces asked a ton of questions. She had no experience but she had endless curiosity. From asking about the nature of pigments to advice about composition she made use of my experience and got as much as should could out of it.

Simply asking “How did you do that?” can speed up inspiration when the answer starts to unfold. Or “I want it to look like this. How do I do that?” Can save you miles of doodling aimlessly. Ask the questions, even if they seem stupid. The next question will be even better.

Remember, from my perspective as a teacher, it is an honor to be asked. I love questions.

The Golden Light 2 (c) Marika Reinke 2017
The Golden Light 2 (c) Marika Reinke 2017

Bring Color Inspiration 

Color triggers emotion. Consciously or unconsciously, we have strong opinions about color. You love them, you hate them, you want a room full of them or a room subtracted from them. A strong opinion creates fantastic art. Own your opinions with a full and fearless heart and embrace color.

Joy (c) Marika Reinke
Joy (c) Marika Reinke

Do you have a favorite color combination? Or hue? What about your favorite swimsuit, t-shirt or outfit? Match the colors of your favorite jewelry. Bring the colors your love, they will incite and inspire your creative process.

The colors we use in my workshop are the best, professional quality and I only use best paper for a reason. These color explode with intensity and vibrancy. This is no average color experience, take advantage of it.

Look Around & Bring Your Favorite Images 

The natural world is the most amazing artist. Sunsets, ocean water, landscapes and other abstract work are all awesome sources of inspiration. Abstract work is naturally inspired by both the environment and emotion which are perfect fuel for inspiration. A flower, a tree, a stone and a texture that you find inherently beautiful can motivate your brush and vision. Bring them and study them. Surf the internet or take some photos on your phone.

Or use what you see at workshop, I have my own jewelry and paintings available to view. You can also check out some of the writing and paintings in my little free book, The Art Ritual.

Inner Fire 2 (c) Marika Reinke 2017
Inner Fire 2 (c) Marika Reinke 2017

Once you have a small collection of what you like, notice what you like and don’t like. Start answering the question, why do I like this photo, image or piece of art?

And remember…

It’s okay if a painting starts to look like something you have seen. Really, it is fine. This is part of exploring and finding your voice. It means you are defining what you like, developing taste and starting to form your artistic vision. Embrace this as part of your artistic awakening.

Invite Surprises 

Keep the tension between what you think you will create and stay open to the surprise of what you will actually create. Dissonance between the two is natural and part of learning and creating. It is easy to cling to a vision and stubbornly insist the art in front of you doesn’t measure up. That mindset is easy to maintain. But often, it gets in the way of actually seeing the value and beauty of what you have created.

The truth is our imaginations are often much better than our skill set.  Our imagination is what drives us to be better but also what drives us to be overly critical. Follow the process through and let the painting teach you something. Invite the surprises in your learning process. You may not measure up to your initial vision but what emerges may offer you more when it represents a small step or leap in the direction of your creative life.

A sense of possibility will unwrap a multitude of possibility.

Inner Fire (c) Marika Reinke 2017
Inner Fire (c) Marika Reinke 2017

Ready to Dive In? 

Are you ready to test the theory and put this inspiration to the test? My next workshop is coming up soon.

Watercolor Necklace Workshop (Mimosas and Brunch) $39
Sunday, December 3rd from 9:30 am to 12:30
More information here. 




My Heart is Gonna (c) Marika Reinke Watercolor 8" x8" 2017

something better than a slug

Late one night at a sleepover, when I was nine-years-old, my friend taught me her newest passion; sewing. Maybe it was her enthusiasm or mine, but we were hooked.  We couldn’t stop sewing once we got going.  We spent the whole night sewing and stuffing any kind of fabric we could find. We found googly eyes, we stuck those on them and cheerfully exclaimed that we could make our own stuffies. We made more. The end result was a pile of stuffed sock-like creatures of multiple patterns and threads.  We put some hooks on them and called them Christmas ornaments.

We were brilliant.

Tragically and fatefully, late into the night when we were delirious and sleepless, we decided it was a genius idea to sell them at the elementary school Holiday Arts and Crafts fair that next weekend.  Sticking to the general design theme, we made even more. We were going to be rich.

Believe me, they were ugly.  They were hideous; poorly crafted (I mean we were 9!) stuffies. They were unfortunate attempts at lumpy stars and misshapen teddy bears. A Christmas tree looked like a green snake and I glued ribbon on it to try to save it – just enough.  We focused on creating as many as we could; quantity over quality.  We needed lots, because we were going to sell lots.

In the end, we had a pile of handmade slugs. Slugs with grandma flower patterns, googly eyes and Christmas ribbons dripping with glue. We were so proud of the pile of them, we had no idea how horrible they were.

With hearts full of ambition, we boxed these things up and took them to the Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair which was in a school building hallway.

As we walked down that hall, clutching our box of crafts, I understood too late: this Crafts Fair was not a crafts-by-9-year-old affair. It was crafts made by moms event. We were completely out of our league. We walked past ladies unpacking beautiful wreaths, lovely ornaments, ceramics, knit stockings, handmade mittens and baked goods reeking of sugar and cinnamon on tables draped with festive cloths, lights and beckoning signs. The kids that were there, were helping their parents set up and clearly had a well guided hand in the business.

We were literally the only parent-less kids with completely 9-year-old handmade ornamental slugs-like stuffies for sale.  We were so original, we were original and that was about it.

We both knew that we were in it, so we had to finish it.  Our stall was the last one.  We laid out all our slugs neatly in rows on the naked table and waited. And we watched.

This is what happened:

Almost everyone came to the end of the row of tables right before us, very subtly stood on tip-toe lifted their chin and looked down at our pitiful slug-display from a safe and unsellable distance and gracefully pivoted away and back down the hall as if they hadn’t even seen us.  But you know they had, they just didn’t know how to respond to two 9-year-old friends innocently selling hand-made 9-year-old *crap* at a fair like this.

Only one person, a kind and curious lady with pity and sympathy, bought one slug – I mean Christmas ornament.  We sat there the whole day and we sold one slug. Aside from her, we only spoke to our parents who stopped by to see how we were doing.

This memory comes up as I prepare for the studio party on November 12th.  It comes up a lot. Honestly, this experience may have scarred me a little.

I *hope* I’m not selling hideous Christmas slugs or their equivalent. I really don’t think I am. I *hope* I’m compelling enough to have guests come close enough to actually take a look.  I *hope* I’m interesting enough to have a conversation about art. I *hope* I’m original but in a good way not a holy *wow* out of your element way.

If I sell something better than a slug, that’s a good goal too.

Hope to see you there.

In Need of a Guide (c) Marika Reinke 2017

In Need of a Guide

In Need of a Guide (c) Marika Reinke 2017
In Need of a Guide (c) Marika Reinke 2017

Early one morning, I walked up an urban Queen Anne hill about 50 feet behind a blind man with a walking stick.  I have seen this man many times.  I remember his independence and courage.  He regularly walks up this busy hill to his work, home, or office.  This was the first day I ever walked behind him.

There was construction ahead and he walked under the scaffolding that ran the length of an apartment building.  He kept walking but about 8 feet from the end of it, his cane hit the scaffolding.  Then it hit the other side. He stopped, looking confused.  His shoulders began to sag and he reached out to grab the scaffolding. He had no idea what it was.

There was another man walking between me and the blind man. So he did what any shy, busy, inconvenienced young man would do, he detoured into the street to get around the slow and distressed blind man.  I was disappointed by his shyness.

As I approached, the blind man was starting to look panicked and turned around in a circle.

“It’s scaffolding.” I said.

He turned to me, his eyes opaque and sightless, listening intently to the sound of my voice.

I kept talking.

“You are under some scaffolding.  There is construction here, but if you keep walking three more steps uphill you’ll be out from under it and on your way.”

“Oh my god, thank you!” He continued, “I thought maybe I was in the street.”

Could you imagine his panic and disorientation?

“No, not at all.  You are still on the sidewalk and well on your way.”

“Thank you, again.” He said.

“No problem. Have a nice day.”  I walked on. He seemed to think I had done enough, but I wondered if I had.

Everyone needs a guide.

It is impossible to see or know it all. It pains me to accept this. There are moments when it can feel like my deepest and darkest fears are manifesting, I am a failure.  But maybe instead, I’m a few seconds from impossible-to-see lightness.

Only time and maybe-if-I’m-lucky guide will help.

Why Do Flowers Bother? (c) Marika Reinke 2017

Why Do Flowers Bother?

Climbing Gym 10 Scary Wall

Ugly Truths about Just Pretending

I’m a moderate climber, I’m not bad-ass.  I can climb close to as well as any recreational climber, man or woman, but I’ve mostly approached this sport as entertainment.  Moderate is challenging for me physically and mentally. I don’t think I can compare to the people I see the gym or at the outdoor crags.  I’m kind of a scardy-cat, fear gets the best of me and I certainly don’t train for climbing seriously.

I’m beginning to learn that I love it enough that taking it seriously may be the best I can give myself, husband and kids.

What do I love about climbing? The challenge and adventure.  I like not being awesome at something. In fact, I’m so far from awesome I don’t even have to worry about being awesome.  I have improved over time. Work and play pay back but awesome is a faraway goal.

I really love that climbing houses wonderful analogies for life. It has been said that the way you approach a climb is undoubtedly the way your will approach life.

I’ve been reflecting on this.

I recently worked on a 10c climb at the climbing gym and it taught me some ugly truths about myself.

Let’s start with this ugly truth.  Truthfully, I don’t work hard on climbs.  The term in climbing jargon is “to project” as in “I’m projecting a climb”.  This particular 10c climb gets the best of me so it is a perfect “project”.  It overhangs, which means I have to use my upper body.  It angles a bit, which means it pushes me into an exposed and scary state. It is long and that scares me too. I don’t feel in control when I climb it, the wall controls me. Why don’t I project climbs?  When you project a climb, you must begin to take the climb seriously.  You become committed to getting to the top. I don’t project climbs because I don’t want to make myself vulnerable to failure and fear.

Next ugly truth.  I don’t care if I get to the top. Why is this an ugly truth?  Well, why am I climbing if I don’t want to get to the top? Isn’t that the goal? I get something back from climbing, don’t I? I think so.  I think I like the image of being a climber.  I like to think I’m daring and adventurous.  I like to think I’m pushing my boundaries but when faced with a climb that pushes back, I balk.  I climb because my ego likes it and likes what most people think of me because I climb.

What kind of climbing narcissist am I? When I realized this about myself, I gagged a little.

Oh ugly truths!  Let’s summarize them. 1.  I don’t like to work. 2.  I don’t want to be vulnerable or fearful. 3. I don’t care if I reach my goal.  4. I just care that people think I am a person that does the opposite of those things.   

Am I doing this in life too? Undoubtedly, the answer is yes.  Let that marinate.  And I’m not saying that I do that ALL the time, but these are subtle mental distractions that keep me from my goals, the tough ones that take perserverence.

These ugly truths have kept me from getting better at climbing and more in-tuned with something that I really do love and respect as a sport.

So I must somehow work on change. To start, I must project this climb.

I told myself, through my passivity, fear and negativity;  Just do it 3 times.  That is all.  You don’t have to get to the top, get to the scary part and see what you can do.  So I did.  By the third time, I was tired, thinking halted and I laughed when I failed. Laughter is better than beating yourself up over failure, wondering what people think or not even trying.  So logically, I climbed to failure a fourth time.  You know, just because.

Laughter and learning are the enemy of these ugly truths.




Blugh and Marika ClimbingBlugh and Marika Climbing

Growing Up Past the Bolt

Blugh and Marika ClimbingBlugh and Marika Climbing
Blugh and Marika Climbing

That’s my husband lead sport climbing.  I’m below him belaying.  As he climbs, he pulls the rope up with him and secures it with a quick draw in pre-set bolts in the wall.  As he climbs past a bolt, he enters “scary fall zone”.  If he falls once he is beyond a bolt, the fall is longer, he is more likely to scrape himself up and the force of the fall will pull me off the ground, just a little.  In reality, he is safe. The gear and my belay will catch him.   We have learned and done everything we can to make it so.  He has a harness, a secure rope, knot, knowledge, practice and all our attention.

There are times when he is leading a climb and I get scared.  He climbs past the bolt, gets stuck and searches for a route to get to the next bolt.  He is nervous, clearly unsure and struggling.  I get anxious.  The last time I watched him struggle, I wondered why I bothered to watch him.  If he falls, he will be okay.  In reality, my anxiety doesn’t help him.

This is the essence of growing up past the bolt and parents should pay attention.  Why?

Ideally, parents do everything we can to provide safety for the risks of childhood and growing up.  We talk to them about the risks, we instill values, we set limitations, we teach them, provide an environment for growth and high standards.  But, eventually, they will have to climb past the bolt and enter “scary fall zone”.  Us parents can watch and get anxious or, provided that we have invested in learning, creating and communicating a safe structure, just let them fail or not.

Undoubtedly, climbing past the bolt sometimes means failure. It is the nature of risk-taking to fail.  In climbing classes, we always practice falling which is in essence, practicing failure.  It makes you a better climber to get comfortable as you climb past the bolt and fall. Get used to it.

I want my kids to fail (and succeed) a few times as they climb past the bolt and out of their comfort zone.  Failure shouldn’t scare them to paralysis – though it might always be a little scary.  The greatest learning in life happens when you climb past the bolt and into the risky unknown.



Watercolor Necklaces are Poems You Take With You

Personal and Meaningful

These necklaces are crafted with the intention to create a personal and meaningful connection for you and to ground you in that intention.

I’ve just posted  whole new bunch of necklaces with their stories.  The stories and poems are thought-juice and reflection.  If you like the idea of wearing an idea, take a look at this video where I’ve highlighted some of the new poems… I mean paintings.


Need Color?

These necklaces are perfect pop of color and sparkle that grab attention.

A Great Value

All necklaces are just $45. They come with the story, a cord or chain and certificate of authenticity and are packaged to perfection.   

You can take a peak here and browse My Online Store: 

New Watercolor Necklaces
New Watercolor Necklaces
New Watercolor Necklaces
New Watercolor Necklaces
New Watercolor Necklaces
New Watercolor Necklaces
New Watercolor Necklaces
New Watercolor Necklaces

One of a Kind Gifts

I spent time considering the packaging for the necklaces and decided the necklace cards were best.  You can slip them into a card and envelope easily and they easily showcase the poems and stories written for each one.  These stories are often the reason people gift them to their loved ones.

Corazon Watercolor Necklace Pendant
Corazon Watercolor Necklace

You Look Good – As Usual

What it really comes down to is how they look on you.  And that, my friend, is the best part.

Browse My Online Store: .

Just $45 each.  


Watercolor Necklaces: Top 3 Reasons to Try It, Some Common Problems and Solutions


After five workshops mentoring 43 mostly-beginner watercolorists create stunning pendants, I’ve learned some things about people and watercolor and I’m excited to share this with you. First, this workshop did not turn out the way I expected which is a good thing because unpredictability is the nature of adventure. And I love a little adventure.

Just like people watercolors are:

  • Temperamental
  • Require patience
  • Distinctly individual
  • Absolutely stunning, surprising potential just waiting to break through with the help of a soft touch and guidance.

My initial reaction to being asked to teach this project was “Oh my god No! It’s too hard, watercolor is too hard and I don’t know anything.  It’s too much pressure. People won’t succeed. I’m not the right mentor or teacher for this job.”

What a bunch of fear-based self-deprecating BS designed to keep me from moving forward.  Not one word of this is true.  BUT here are some real truths about this workshop:

Truth #1: Watercolor Necklaces are an Excellent Beginner Project.

Why? This project is a low risk, high success and reward activity. Artists can work on larger sized paper and make and experiment with many different colors and techniques. Not every composition needs to be perfect because out of a 8″ x 10″ sheet only one 1/2″ x 1 1/2 pendant necklace will be made. This gives everyone a lot of room to play, learn and even get a little frustrated.  Through this process participants develop a vision as they work, they don’t need to know everything beforehand.

Take a look at my example below.  The first picture is of the paintings I did for possible pendants, there are 7 original paintings.  Notice that they are all larger than the final pendants and overall not very attracitve.  I didn’t like one of them so I up with 6.

small paintings framed in pendants.
small paintings framed in pendants.

Here you can see the final pendants that came from some relatively messy watercolor doodles.  At just a slice of the original, they are the most successful compositions and no one has to know where they came from.

Final pendants
Final pendants

With so many chances to create something you like, you will create something you like.  It’s inevitable.

Truth #2: Participants Learn Fundamental Art Concepts of Color and Composition in a Hands-on Safe and Experimental Environment.

After a couple hours of play and experiment, artists work on re-composing mini-paintings into jewelry.  Participants quickly learn success lies in composition. Composition is the organization of elements in an artwork and is the difference between love and repulsion. Many of us understand it instinctively.  Unlike working with canvas, this project allows you to play and then perfect the composition at the end.  There is no need to know exactly what you are doing when you start.  With the use of viewfinders artists can frame just the right one and hide any mistakes by not including them. Success lays in finding the right color combination for you and framing the composition the way that you like it.

Various compositions can be made from one small painting.
Various compositions can be made from one small painting.

Truth #3. Participants Learn to Let Go of Negativity and Flow.

Low risk and high success creates an environment rich for play.  The Pendants are a mini-exercise in learning to let go and to follow or partner with watercolor.

This is a balance between not just letting go but also learning to think with both an analytical and playful mind. When we analyze we learn, assess, adjust and think.  When we play; we paint, let go, feel gratitude, smile, laugh and have fun.  The place between these two is balance and a state of flow, time stands still and we enjoy ourselves, learn and problems solve, and act.  Flow feels good and it is good for you.

learn, paint, assess, play, adjust, explorelearn, paint, assess, play, adjust, explore
learn, paint, assess, play, adjust, explore


Common Problems with Watercolor

Like anything, common beginner problems have emerged across the workshops too.  After some experimenting, I have some advice for artists struggling with them too.

Problem #1: Too Much Paint

To Much Paint (Hooker's Green)
To Much Paint (Hooker’s Green)

This looks like super saturated color, very vivid as it goes down but completely unworkable, dark and inky afterwards.  You can’t paint over it, the color is too thick no matter how hard you try. Why? Because watercolor is translucent, and any color you lay over too much paint will only turn out like mud or be slightly less than invisible. That thick color is there to stay and heavy with its presence.

Fear not! There is one fix. It is imperfect, but you can lift paint from the paper.

Here is How.

  1. Take a clear wet brush and saturate the color with water
  2. Lift the paint gently with paper towel, Q-tip or clean dry brush
Fixing too much paint!
Fixing too much paint!

Kind of like magic.

After I lifted the paint, I used more hooker green with a smaller brush, some gold and white gauche to highlight.

other solutions

There will always be a little ghost of color with the above solution.  This might be ok. Of course the best way to fix something is to make sure it doesn’t happen at all.

Here are some tips to stop the problem before it starts.

  • Know Before you Paint. Test the brush and use the test paper before painting.
  • Balance your Value. You don’t want too much paint or water on your brush and you don’t want too little. Too much paint and the color is too dark. Too little and you will barely see it.  To begin, go for a 40-60% value or saturation which is right in the middle of the lightest value and the darkest. With practice, you will get good at filling your brush with just the right amount of paint, but you have to practice.
Values in blue
Values in blue
  • Start with Less. Work from light to dark. Choose lighter colors first and lighter values and build layers of colors up to the value you want.
  • Big to Small. Work from big brush to smaller brush. Bigger brushes cover more ground but as you get closer to your goal, select different and smaller brushes to get to what you want.
  • Slow down and use your Imagination. Painting is as much about looking and thinking as it is about painting. Slow down, take  a break, step back and look at what you are doing.  Try to imagine what it will look like if you add more color and if you will like it.
  • Dab and push don’t stroke. Don’t use a brush stroke.  Use a smaller brush and dab along the edges of the painting.  This is particularly useful when the paper is a little damp and the watercolor can blend into the paper.

Problem #2: Too Little Paint

Not Enough Paint
Not Enough Paint

This is sometimes a harder problem to define. The painting looks nice enough but isn’t quite right. Fear is taking over though and the artist is afraid they will mess it up. So she/he stops. But something isn’t quite right.


  • Self-Check. Slow down and think about how you are feeling. Match that with how you want to feel. Often times, fear keeps the painter from painting. Are you scared you are going to mess it up? Does it look just good enough? Check in and find your courage to explore. Often times, you can take good to awesome by working through this fear.  Just swallow, assess and use your imagination!  What do you think you could do to improve it?
  • Check the Value Contrast. Contrast is key to creating dramatic art and often times what looks kind of nice can be transformed by checking your variation in value.  What is value?  Value is best described by understanding color in shades, like gray scale, color can flow from a low percentage to saturated.  The more variation you have in value, the more interesting the art, especially abstract art.
Value scale from white to black
Value scale from white to black

Often times, people have a hard time seeing values in color.  To get around this, try this simple trick.  Take a photo of your work with your cell phone then change it to black and white.  Immediately, you will see the variation in value regardless of hue.

In this example there is only value contrast in the dark yellow, the rest of the colors blend into each other with little variation.  It looks like two yellow eyes in grey clouds.

Not enough paint in values
Not enough paint in values


  • Go Small. This is a great way to add variation in value.  Use a smaller brush and create more value contrast and details, follow the paint and look for how to enhance the drama.
  • Dab and push don’t stroke. Don’t use a brush stroke.  Use a smaller brush and dab along the edges where colors transition or in areas you want to enhance.  This is particularly useful when the paper is a little damp and the watercolor can blend into the paper.

Here is the finished painting from the original.  I used the original swatch as a the background  and played up the yellow but added a lot more contrast and depth in the high and low values.  Can you see the difference in the variation of value from above?

Enough Paint
Enough Paint
Enough Paint in Grayscale
Enough Paint in Grayscale


Problem #3: Creating Mud


I see problems 1 & 2 the most, but the top question people ask me is how do I work with the paint and not create mud.  In this case, the paint seems to have a mind of its own and turns into a great swath of muddy gross non-descriptive color.

A little patience and knowledge of the color wheel helps do wonders for this problem.

The color wheel
The color wheel

The fundamental problem is that any two colors on opposite sides of the color wheel mixed together directly will produce a grey or brown of some kind. Honestly, if you like grey and brown sometimes the result is pure awesomeness. But often times it is inadvertent and frustrating.

According to the color wheel and put simply:

  • purple + yellow = mud
  • blue + orange = mud
  • red + green = mud

However, painting the colors next to each other are complementary and do look lovely together too. It is a dilemma.

My Jungle by Marika Reinke


Here are some solutions.


  • Slow down! Wait for them to dry before painting the another color next to or on top of them. A hairdryer comes in handy if you are in a hurry.  You can also move onto your next painting while you wait for this one to dry.  I did not paint red or orange into the painting above until I had laid most of my greens and yellows and they were dry.
  • Keep them separated. Paint the colors on opposite sides of the compositions and work towards each other until they are dry. In fact, some of my first paintings I didn’t let colors touch at all!
  • Develop good habits. All the solutions for problem number 1 apply here as well, practice those good painting habits and you will have some great results.

That my friends is my list of the top 3 reasons why, problems and solutions for you to try out this fun project.  You can check out my workshop page for workshop dates and details or my resources page and try it out yourself.

Love to you.

Bent Rib drawing by Marika Reinke 2015

This Year, I Own Mother’s Day

Bent Rib drawing by Marika Reinke 2015
Bent Rib drawing by Marika Reinke 2015

This year, I own Mother’s Day.

It used to be about others; my mother, my kids, the mothers I know and many birthdays.  I let the day pass without a thought but a card, a few texts from friends and some flowers for my mother.  It was an afterthought; “Oh yeah, I’m a mother too.”

This year is different.

This year it is about me.  I accept that I am thoroughly, totally and bone shakenly a mother. It has taken me 11 years to consciously get it.

Why so long?

I’ve been busy figuring out motherhood while simultaneously being in denial and clinging to the remnants of my past life. Apparently, I’m a slow learner.

I have been surviving; occupied with the daily, physical and psychological tasks of being not only a mother, but a wife, a colleague, a teacher, a leader, an employee, a daughter, a traveler, a sister and friend. Amongst all this, I didn’t quite realize I had transformed into a mother, if atypical.

Add to that that I’m a whole bunch of “nots”.

I’m not amazing. I’m not super woman. I’m not loving, ever-giving and kind. I’m not the mother in flowery greeting cards with perfumed and pink envelopes. I don’t bake cookies in a flowered apron. I dislike pink for what it stands for. I don’t know ego-less love. I’m not an archetype. I am not always there for my kids. I’m not a perfect role model. I’m not like other moms.

I admit, sometimes I swear in front of them.  I definitely get mad at my kids. Sometimes, I put myself on time out so I won’t scream what I want to scream. Sometimes I yell anyway. I have endless guilt. I fear I will ruin their lives.  I’m sure I will ruin their lives.

I am an anti-mother. I’m hard on my kids. I push them and sometimes I make them uncomfortable and cry. I have been honest and direct with them, choosing truth over comfort even when it made them tense.  I have given them cupcakes for breakfast and stolen their Halloween candy. I have been inconsistent, kind and ruthless. I have been selfish, selfless, loving and cold. I have failed my kids individual needs. I have given my kids what I needed.  I unconsciously and always put my family first even when it wasn’t for the best.  I am a fierce fighter. Do not stand between me and my kids. I will not be soft, kind, graceful if you do. I will not hesitate to use my fists if I have to. Write that on a Mother’s Day card and make it black.

And there is this…

I tell my kids that their job is to make me happy. I tell them that other parents don’t love their kids as much as I love them because I don’t let them (fill in the blank). I tell my son he is nagging and needs to work on better strategies for managing his boredom.  I tell my daughter her organization skills suck. I tell them that fair is a fairytale.

I tell them they are perfection. I tell them I’m so grateful for them. I love them, passionately and deeply, every single day.

I have been physically transformed by them, my hips are wider, my breast varying shapes and sensations from them. I have a bent, sometimes achy rib from my son’s pregnancy. I endured the richest and most deliberate pain giving birth to my kids. I experienced crazy, irrational love, exhausted relief and accompanying rage.  I have not enjoyed sleep as luxuriously as before motherhood. I have been in the worst shape of my life after their birth.

Motherhood almost took my life after a black and bloody miscarriage. I sobbed silently, numbly and uncontrollably in the recovery room after an emergency DNC. It scared my husband and I intensely. A byproduct of motherhood is that it can kill you.

I have been isolated by motherhood.  I lost friends as I learned to mother.  My energy to give generously to others waned. As my social world collapsed into hyper-focus on two little souls, I became a shitty friend. I became a crappy daughter that desperately didn’t want to become my mother. I am a strange mother, an outsider with parenting quirks. I chose natural childbirth, breastfeeding, a career throughout and I believe nurturing looks more like tough love than coddling.

Motherhood was a 9.0 earthquake to my marriage.  Now, it is rebuilt and an unrecognizable form. I almost can’t remember what it was.

I’ve not paid attention to Mother’s Day because I’ve been so busy picking up the pieces of my identity since it rocked us.

It has been my dirty, messy, disturbed hero’s journey not into spiritual enlightenment but into grounded and unhinged motherhood. Not a cycle, not a pretty path, not a journey into something better but a journey into furious acceptance, a rich relationship with anxiety and fear and a deep, layered and textured understanding of love.

I believe…

Motherhood happens to a mom. Mothers do not courageously lead families. These kids and their experiences, they choose us as their adventure. We manage the damage as it occurs.

I have learned deep lessons. The hardest and longest ones of all have been about having compassion for myself. Compassion for my kids, that is easy.

The best thing so far; I removed the expectation that I control my kids character or destiny. Barring the crazy mind blowing miracle of pregnancy, I don’t make them into anything.  I can set up a framework; schools, activities, communities, nourishment, vacations, and most importantly a clear understanding of my views and values, that they work within and then I let them go.

They teach me. It is a deep truth. I must be a better person because of them.  They lead and I follow.   I survive. I am molded.  I will never return.  Motherhood defines me.

I own Mother’s Day, and it is everyday.