Category: Workshops

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. 




Renewal by Marika Reinke 2017 Acrylic Painting 72" x 48"

Need a Reason or Two to Celebrate? Here are Even More for My Studio Party on November 12th

On SundayNovember 12th I’m hosting a series of workshops and studio party. Why? To celebrate community, art, friends, food and wine and to give back to those in most need to our former community in Costa Rica. I’d love for you to join us at my house and studio.

This communication is an attempt to tempt you to come celebrate and outline what you can expect when you do.

Here is a quick agenda:

10:30 – 1:30:  Watercolor Necklace Workshop  ($39)
2 – 4: New! The Art Ritual: Explore Intuitive Painting with Watercolor ($29)
4 pm – 9 pm:  Welcome Back Studio Party (FREE)  


About the Party

Let’s start with the party and work backwards.  Here is a list of the top reasons to come to the Studio Party

Reason 1: Inspiration

This party is an attempt to share a story that I hope inspires you to follow your passion and change a world or two while you do it.  As I prepare for the event, it is clear that above anything, the night will represent a celebration of color, light, whimsy, thought, intuition, transformation and a journey.  If you are inspired when you leave, I’ve done my job.  If you laugh, make a friend or two, have a good time and like one painting a little, I’m happy too.

I will have my paintings and jewelry on display in two rooms and my studio will host the open wine bar. The journey will include older watercolors and newer acrylic paintings, as well as my larger scale work like “Community” and “Renewal“. The point is to tell the story of an evolution of passions, ideas, technique and inspiration.  And talk about the future.

Reason 2: Good Food and Wine

We will have red and white wine available and a good spread of good food.  I love good food which will include both vegetarian, meaty and gluten free options. I also love chocolate, so expect some chocolate too. I’ll throw in another non-chocolate dessert for those that prefer it because everyone deserves dessert.

Reason 3: Meet and Hang Out with Great People 

Seriously, this is a great community.  I love the people in my life; smart, inspiring, insightful, loving and interesting. You only make my life better.  This party is dedicated to all of you, and thankfully there a lot of you that I’m proud to know and hope will be there. I can’t wait to see you there.

Reason 4: Everything is a Special Gift 

All paintings, jewelry, greeting cards, limited edition prints, books, stickers and mugs are for sale but absolutely no purchase is required. Whether you are thinking of something special for yourself or for your loved one, you just may find a wonderful meaningful gift at this unique event. Many people have told me how much receiving the gift of original art means to them. This is a chance to find a gift that will bring that joy to your friends and loved ones.

Reason 5: Your Purchases Will Help Those in Need in Costa Rica and Give Again

Hurricane Nate and heavier than usual rains have caused death and displaced many people in Costa Rica.  It has been a hard rainy season for those most in need in our former community.  For this reason, I’m dedicating a portion of the proceeds to CEPIA Costa Rica for those most affected by flood damage.  The details of these proceeds will be explicit at the party.

Convinced you are coming? RSVP Here:

The Art Ritual: Explore Intuitive Painting with Watercolor

Inpiration's Night Play by Marika Reine 2017 12" x 16"
Inspiration’s Night Play by Marika Reinke 2017 12″ x 16″

This is a new workshop and the purpose is to introduce you to my process and approach to abstract paintings and drawings. Here are some reasons to sign up:

Reason 1: Tap into Your Intuition and Let Go 

We will begin with an intuitive focus; a meditation or a theme of some kind and let those thoughts guide the watercolor. Of course art principles are guides, but the tapping into creative wisdom we all have will lead our way. Our painting will begin with a centering exercise that includes shifting the mind frame from thinking to opening our physical, mental and spiritual channels to creating. This will be an active state and much less analytic (there is no analysis paralysis here). Instead, we will let intuition and an inner coach lead.

Reason 2: Learn Something About Yourself

For some, this is natural. For others, this will be an active mental exercise. For all, there will be struggle, the rich and instructive kind that reaps many benefits in painting and self-discovery.

Reason 3: Create a Painting about Self-Growth

The end result will be a painting, maybe beautiful, but much more likely deeply meaningful. A painting that has taught you something about yourself and maybe what you can take with you into other tasks in life.

Reason 4: Hang out with Great People

I know, I said that already.  But you are great even if you don’t believe it all the time.

Come join me. RSVP and more information here:

Watercolor Necklace Workshop 

I’m going to keep this list short. If you know me, I’ve been talking this workshop up quite a bit lately.  Here is a quick and dirty list of reasons to come and join me: 
  1. Connect you to your creative wisdom and intuition to create jewelry you love.
  2. Make a personalized gift for a loved one
  3. Discover something new about yourself in the process.
  4. Have fun
  5. Create some awesome memories with new and old friends.
  6. Mimosas
  7. Brunch – yes, brunch.

Reserve a spot here:


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.

Make Your Own Watercolor Necklace - Paint and Sip

Here is a Great Deal on My NEW Watercolor Necklace “Paint and Sip” Workshop in June

Just a little curious? Curious people ARE Creative.

Are you curious about how I make my watercolor painting necklaces?  Do you want to learn how to access your creative wisdom to create your own?

I’m looking for a group of curious people to join me for a trial 3 hour Watercolor Necklace workshop.  This offer is Win-Win.

  • You will create your own unique watercolor necklace that you love while sipping some specially selected wines.
  • I will learn to refine my workshop and teaching skills.
  • AND we will have fun; listen to some music, and share some good laughs.

I’m offering this workshop on three different nights in Seattle and one in Costa Rica for a over 50% discount of just $19 each (usually $39). In return,  give me your honest feedback about the process and my teaching so I can refine my approach and materials.

Here are the dates and times. The Seattle location is currently scheduled in Queen Anne.

Sign up here:

Round up 5 people on your own, I will come to you and host a private party in June only. Contact me directly at [email protected] to make arrangements.

This offer is for everyone, so  invite your friends.  I have a 5 person minimum and 8 person maximum.

  • I want to connect you to your creative wisdom and intuition to create art and jewelry you love.
  • I want you to discover something new about yourself in the process.
  • I want you to have fun, sip some specially selected wine and create some awesome memories with new and old friends.


Paint and Sip Night

I had the good fortune to host a watercolor lesson at Stoneway Crossfit as one of their community building ladies’ potluck and sip nights on December 6th.   And if Success = fun + learning – I’m confident this night was successful.

This was my very first attempt at teaching others some painting techniques and definitely a challenge for someone that largely paints intuitively. But with over a dozen years of experience teaching I could hardly plead that I didn’t have the skills to tackle it.  And I’ve always loved teaching, so why not?      

To begin with the supplies we used:

  • Arches 140lb 100% watercolor paper mounted on 11″ x  14″ panels.  The best watercolor paper is necessary for success and to really experience the full characteristics of painting with watercolor!
  • Winsor and Newton Student Grade watercolors:  Cadmium Yellow Hue, Ultramarine and Cadmium Red Deep Hue
  • daVinci #6 round, #2 round (and a #4 flat that we didn’t use) synthetic brushes.  These are stiff brushes that are easy on beginner hands, but need a bit of water massaging to loosen up.  I recommend getting familiar with only one or two brushes in the beginning.
  • Q-Tips and cotton pads for dabbing up water and pulling up mistakes.
  • Jars of water
  • Strips of paper for testing the paint before painting
  • Wash cloths for cleaning off the brushes.

Because this was a crossfit night, I was asked to teach a crossfit theme and used my Lady of Power, the Overhead Squat, as a template.

A Healed Body is a Fit Body: Overhead Squat copyright Marika Reinke
A Healed Body is a Fit Body: Overhead Squat copyright Marika Reinke
painting party template
painting party template

I used tracing paper to trace the basic composition for the class and this allowed me to focus the course on techniques of watercolor.

katies woman





This exercise allowed us to walk through some very basic techniques circle by circle, letting everyone build skills.  Then we combined skills to create more advanced effects.  We were able to cover:

  • Wet on dry washes
  • Wet on wet  techniques
  • mixing colors in the palette
  • layering colors on the paper
  • using gravity to paint
  • planning painting
  • fixing mistakes
  • combining wet and dry techniques to create shading

By the time we worked on the final shape, the difference in confidence and technique was apparent as everyone tackled the nuances of shading.

Some lessons I learned:

  • Show how to fix mistakes first to build confidence in painting from the beginning.
  • Beginners like lots of guidance, they want step by step and examples.
  •  A end goal and final picture kept everyone focused and motivated.
  • Focus on less for quality in the final product.  These students want something they can hold up and be proud of creating.
  • Repetition is always good.
  • Get permission to post pictures of people on my blog!

Overall, the night was fun, satisfying, challenging and a learning experience for everyone.