In this topsy turvy world where truth and fiction are often hard for us to distinguish, where words can sometimes inspire and often deceive, it is more important than ever to develop our inner awareness, our mindfulness and self reflection. A great way to do that is to release our innate sensibilities and creativity through art.

When we are engaged in the artistic process, our inner nature starts to reveal itself. When we can ease the mind that is constantly churning and worrying or scheming or planning, our whole being relaxes and we can connect with an inner life of calm and open freshness.

Often this is not so easy to do. Especially in a time when we are so overly dependent on devices rather than warm, human touch, life can feel dulled out. We might begin to feel stuck or stir crazy, confused and lonely, or helpless.

But with a few simple and inexpensive art supplies, we can open up our inner world, rev up a different part of our brain, and touch into our creative nature. Don’t worry, we all have one, but we are not well tuned in to how to switch it on.


Blank white 5 x 8 index cards are essential here.* A pack of 100 is around $6. Ideal also are a set of colored pencils, a simple watercolor set, the kind with oval pans of colors and a brush in a plastic case, a medium and/or fine black felt tip pen, a regular # 2 pencil, some scissors, and a glue stick.

Here’s where the fun begins. Index cards* are great to use for ink, pencil, colored pencils, and watercolors. And if you really get into this, they are fine for chalk, oil pastels and acrylics.

Getting Started

Pick 3 or 4 colors you like. Think about how those colors make you feel. Think about each one you have chosen. Is it lively or subdued? Does it make you happy, excited, scared, sad, disgusted? When you see all 3 or 4 colors together, does the feeling change? Maybe certain impressions will come to you or maybe all this is elusive at first. Don’t try too hard. Just be open to whatever you experience, even if you think you are not experiencing anything. Then move on.

The Experiment

Ready to jump in? This is an experiment. You do not have to draw ‘something.’ There is no right or wrong here. The purpose is the path, not the product.

Decide what art medium you will use to start: colored pencils, the watercolors, pen or pencil, or a combination. Now begin. Shapes, or lines, or both. Some boldness, some subtleness, a little variety. Try filling the whole card with something, but know the blank spaces can be creative also. If you end up with large areas of one color or a big empty space, you can make little doodles in those areas. Have blotchy watercolor areas? See what might be hiding there. Draw it out with pen or pencils. Don’t spend too much time with one card. Feel stuck? Move on to another card, and begin anew.

No Trash; No Judgment

Throw nothing away. You could set a goal to do 10 or more in a week, 20 or more in a month. One card might take 5 min. or 30, but not hours or days! Try not to judge it, though you can note your feeling responses. Pleasant? Interesting? Dull? Cute? Weird? Soothing? Just remember good vs. bad is not the way to go.

You might look for a photo album with just the right size plastic sleeves for your card experiments. Some small albums have room to make notes about the work or you could journal about what a particular card evoked.

Do you particularly like some portion of what you did? Cut out those bits and create a collage! Or you might add pen or pencil to some of the color areas or white spaces to create a totally different expression.

Age Levels: If you are old enough to hold a crayon and not eat it, you can do this.

Ideas are limitless. Enjoy!

*My friend, artist Joan Anderson, introduced me to painting on 5 x 8 index cards which helped me get beyond a painting block!