The Apple Exercise – for anyone wishing to begin the new year on a creative note.

Happy, peaceful, healthy and creative New Year to one and all.

The  ‘Apple Exercise’ is a positive way  to begin the new year for anyone wishing to express themselves and explore their creativity.

Throughout my many years of painting and teaching, I have heard over and over the frustration of those who would like to explore their creativity, but always seem to find that life gets in the way……..

The new year is a good time to re-think and re-look at the way we live our lives.   A good time to make new and positive habits.


In principle this exercise is very simple and effective.   If followed three positive changes will occur:-

A new positive habit will be formed which will benefit all areas of our lives.   

Fifteen minutes of PLAY every day for one month will hone observational and technical skills.    

Participants will begin to ‘see differently’

There are three simple rules:-

Pick the same 15 minutes every day – a time that works for you. 

Set up a small table, such as a card table, which doesn’t have to be moved or shared. 

Turn off mobiles and any other potential distractions……

Here are just a few of the things you can use to explore and PLAY with.    If you don’t have artists paint, use house paint or anything else you can get your hands on. 


If you are scared to mark a new piece of paper, then use newspaper, old magazines, wrapping  paper or inexpensive wall-paper lining.

Playing – using magazine paper, felt tip pen and some paint……20190104_112054

Allow yourself to doodle until you begin to relax.    Artists, writers, dancers, musicians all need to stretch and warm up.    PLAYING  is the best way to do this.

Remember that the apple is simply a ‘jumping off point’   – it doesn’t have to be copied perfectly.

This image helps us to remember the importance of Negative Space....the space that surrounds the subject we are painting.     By putting colour around the apple shape…the apple is revealed.

20190104_113225Given the fast pace of our lives today, and the fact that so many of us are plugged into technology of one kind or another, our collective senses are being deadened.

Along with this comes a feeling of loss.   A loss that in many ways we are unable to identify.

As we constantly try to fill the ever widening holes within us, with more and more frenetic activity and stuff, our frustration levels grow.

Feeding our senses through the creative process in all its many forms can produce almost miraculous changes, which can lead to a sense of well-being and fulfilment.

Warning  –  Beware of the Chattering Monkeys….


Chattering Monkeys are the little demons that fill our minds with reasons why we should not, and cannot do something!

I am sure as you begin this exercise, they will be shouting out…‘you don’t have time to do this’, and you can’t draw or paint anyway…..


As you move forward with the apple exercise and establish a routine, you will find that the Chattering Monkeys will go away…….

Note these apples cast their natural colour into their shadows.    Each apple reflects upon the other.      All of life is interconnected….

20190104_120714When we first enter this world, we are naturally full of curiosity and wonder.

By the time we come to the end of our formative years, at around seven, the narrow definition that our culture has imposed upon us has taken hold.

By the time we reach adulthood most of us have lost touch with and confidence in our inner creative energy.

Colour effects our every mood and emotion.    Allow yourself to PLAY with colour….Apples can be any colour you wish them to be…..Be bold – make marks and surprise yourself with the satisfaction and joy this brings. 20190104_121604When we think of an apple we might visualise the iconic Apple Max symbol, or the shiny red apple that children take for their favourite teacher.

What the Apple Exercise will demonstrate is that the apple, along with everything else in life, can be seen in a myriad of ways.

Seeing the apple differently…….


If we could time travel back to our earliest formative years, when the world was a kaleidoscope of colour and shapes and our young minds were full of wonder, we could regain our natural curiosity and love for colour and form.

Instead of just looking straight ahead, look in every direction, including up and down.

Instead of always sitting in the same chair view your favourite room from many different points of view

.Look at the whole – not just the shiny red outer image….remember there are fascinating pips inside the apple.      



The creative process is all about experimenting.    Letting go of the logical information that our brains have processed during out lifetimes and embracing the concept of seeing our world in a much broader sense.

It is about awakening the senses.  

Stride out in confidence into this new year and enjoy the transformation that creativity and colour can bring.          watercolour/collage from one of my children’s book illustrations. 


My book ‘The Apple Exercise’ can be found on the products page of my website at 

My next painting course will be in Portugal beginning April 18th  at 

a bientot




96 thoughts on “The Apple Exercise – for anyone wishing to begin the new year on a creative note.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much Ka. I wrote the little book quite a few years ago and self published. I have had to re print several times which is satisfying. A very Happy New Year to you. Janet 🙂

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much, Evelyn. I started giving this exercise about 40 years ago….and if completed it works very well…however, not many people actually manage to do one month consistently every day….which is why I made it a 15 minute a day exercise. Happy New Year to you. Janet 🙂

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very Andrea. I find that I need to be reminded over and over again to PLAY. By activating the more playful side of our thinking we open up a whole spectrum of thoughts and ideas that tend to get blocked when we are deeply involved in something. I hope your New Year is very creative and productive. Janet 🙂

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  2. Writing to Freedom

    Thanks for sharing your creativity and wisdom Janet. A month of play sounds like a great way to awaken my creative, playful self. I look forward to seeing where it all takes me. Happy New Year!

  3. Noa

    I enjoyed your tips. I am not a painter … but I will play let’s see what happens! Thank you also for being so kind of supporting allways my blog! ☺

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      thank you very much Noa for your comment. I really appreciate it. This exercise can apply to so many aspects of our lives and no matter what creative pursuits you may have. Let me know how it goes for you. Happy New Year. Janet 🙂

  4. Gallivanta

    What a wonderful exercise; or is it playtime. 🙂
    I suppose one should ignore chattering monkeys but yours look so entertaining. I could easily be side tracked by them!

  5. davidjrogersftw

    Hello dear Janet, I love this special post and its calming advice about creativity. Every sentence is a jewel worthy of being treasured. I have your book, of course, and do use it, trying to develop my meager talents with a brush.

    I wanted to tell you that Diana and I spent Christmas in Seville–what a joyous place it was–the people filling the streets and dancing all day and night. Then we spent New Years Eve in Lisbon. We covered a great deal of ground in Portugal and Spain–literally– and saw Picasso’s Guernica and in a tiny church in Toledo a magnificent El Greco that stole my breath. We ate in a restaurant in Madrid that Hemingway liked. Now we’re back home where I am working on a piece about creative genius that I’ll put in a blog next week.

    Best wishes,
    David. .. .

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Dear David, Thank you for your kind words about my blog….and now
      How wonderful that you and Diana has such a lovely time in beautiful Seville – which as you say such a joyous place filled with colour. It’s not too far from the school in Olhao and so many students drive onto Seville for the joy of it after the workshop. I love it there…it’s alive.
      New Years in Lisbon must have been fun and I can well imagine how much territory you covered.
      Now for the greatest part or your news. Seeing Picasso’s Guernica is, I believe, one of the most moving experiences that can be had. I could sit in front of that extraordinary tableau for days on end.

      I am so pleased that you found one of those tiny churches that one can find all around Europe – this one in Toledo, with the magnificent El Greco. I can imagine it bowling you over with it’s beauty and strength.

      Your thoughts must have been on overdrive when eating at the restaurant that Hemingway liked.

      Although there are those who complain about Europe – I don’t – I love everything about it… is a place where we can see the most wonderful artworks. Next time you must visit Barcelona…..

      I cannot wait to read your blog about creative genius. After this trip you will certainly have enough material to inspire.

      May your pen dance across the page.

      Best wishes to you and Diana and all the family for a year filled with all good things. janet 🙂

  6. Teagan R. Geneviene

    Janet, this is perfectly wonderful. An apple is such a nice choice too — so much lovely symbolism in it. Did you know that if you cut it horizontally, rather than the normal vertical (wedges) way, the core’s seeds show the shape of the apple blossom, the 5 petal flower? Apples are marvelous in so many ways. And so are you! Hummingbird hugs.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much for this Teagan….I did NOT know about the apple blossom shape…Love it. I have used apples in my work over the years as a symbolic image and so when I devised this exercise about 35, possibly 40 years ago, I thought the apple would be perfect….. You are so right apples are marvellous in so many ways. Hummingbird Hugs to you my friend. Janet 🙂

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much. I actually wrote and self published this book many years ago…and came up with the consept 40 years ago. It is on it’s umpteenth printing and so that’s good…talk about keeping things simple:) Happy New Year to you my friend and may it be a very productive and successful one. janet.

  7. dancingpalmtrees

    Happy New Year to you and your family! Art is very helpful in recovering from accidents, disease, and sickness. Not that it cures your specific symptoms but it helps you to change your focus. From a child I was always drawing, sketching and Thanks to my parents all type of arts and crafts.

    For several years I have enjoyed Photography as a Creative Expression.

    Of course having worked for a Museum for ten years that helped me step up my art game. I was a Museum Security Officer and most of the Security Officers and Custodial Staff were artists. Right before I retired last Year I found art to be my Salvation after a head injury. Prior to the accident I had been creating Collages but around April I expanded to painting. This lead to me being in several art shows between September and December 2018. When I create Collages and paintings I’m in my Zone only concentration on my Creativity as opposed to pain. Ive been Blessed to share my Photography, Collages and painting on my Photography Blog Roaming Urban Gypsy.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much for this comment. I find it interesting on several levels. I completely agree with you that art can help in the recovery of illness or accidents. As you so rightly say it doesn’t necessarily cure the symptoms but does change the focus from pain or discomfort onto something totally different.

      Making art is a form of meditation and when we are in that wonderful ‘zone’ place – we are removed from logical thinking and consequently pain and discomfort.

      It was Picasso who said that if an artist managed not to self-destruct at a young age….they were likely to live to a ripe old age because for a good part of their life they would be in that ‘other place’ state….I completely understand and agree with this.

      I know this phenomena has saved my life on many an occasion.

      I have often wondered if the security people in museums were in fact artists. You have answered that question for me. It makes sense.

      I would love to see your Collages and paintings and will definitely be following your blog. Again thank you so much.

      Happy New Year to you and your family. Janet 🙂

    2. janetweightreed10 Post author

      I have just taken a quick look at your blog..and love your last post (Scott Joplin)one of my all time favourites:)….I see that this last post was written in February 2018. Will you be posting blogs with your recent work?

      1. dancingpalmtrees

        I don’t remember posting about Scott Joplin. My artwork is on my Photography Blog Roaming Urban Gypsy. I don’t post much on my writing Blog. I stopped promoting that one.

      2. dancingpalmtrees

        Okay I just checked the Blog. The Scott Joplin was from 2017. I have posted since then but WordPress is known for Unfollowing and Unsubscribing People with out their knowledge. They have some serious glitches in their software.

      3. janetweightreed10 Post author

        Thank you so much for the link – I have left a comment. Many moons ago, 1968 til 1971 I lived on Staten Island and so was familiar with Brooklyn at that time. I know there is a very strong art scene there.

      4. dancingpalmtrees

        Yes. That is true. Much of the time Manhattan is celebrated especially those with lots of money to be seen in Fancy art Galleries as opposed to the working class artists who are holding down full time jobs. Sometimes Brooklyn gets treated like a step child but that is rapidly changing. I suppose that we would be considered Outsider Artists but then again who makes up these labels and designations anyway?

        YouTube art videos are very good with suggestions, tips and techniques.

      5. janetweightreed10 Post author

        It’s important to ignore all that social stuff that goes on around art galleries and just get on with the making of art……Youtube is very good.
        I have some quick exercises on there and need to do more.

      6. dancingpalmtrees

        Great! I shall look you up on YouTube. Fortunately all the young artists I have met are very down to earth. Even though sometimes I’m the only Baby Boomer in the midst of Millennials they have been accepting and they do everything to see that I’m comfortable. My participation in Brooklyn art shows all began in a chance meeting at the Daily Press Coffee Shop across the Street from my house. Miracles all around.

  8. Jet Eliot

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post, Janet–the enthusiasm, examples, and gentle reminders and exercises for livening our senses and opening our lives to more art, creativity and fun. A great set of exercises for the new year. I love seeing all the apples, as it is one of my favorite fruits. Especially liked seeing the shadows of the apple seeds. And your paintings, every one, are a delight. Loved the multi-layered apple painting and the monkeys especially. And then I heard myself say out loud, “Oh Wow” when I came to the last painting, the children’s book illustration. As I was studying and appreciating all the colorful hummingbirds, the rooster popped out to greet me, like magic. 🙂

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much, Jet. This exercise is tried and true….always a good reminder to myself of what’s important. So pleased you enjoyed the children’s book illustration. Enjoy your Monday and week ahead. Janet 🙂

  9. Yul

    Your advice to look inside an apple reminds me of the exercise I tried while acting in a drama club. There the actors were asked to imagine and reconstruct their characters’ life history before the story in the script began. The exercise was critical in giving the character depth. I realize that I can do the same to the objects of drawing. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much for this most insightful comment. I really appreciate your taking the time to read my blog. This exercise applies to so many elements of our lives. Hope you enjoy a creative day. Janet 🙂

  10. Patty

    Reblogged this on Campbells World and commented:
    Hello to all.
    This is a great exorcise.
    For those of you who cannot see to draw or paint, never fear, you can change this up and create with words, building blocks, or clay.
    You can knit, or sew.
    The object here as I ‘see’ it is to get creative, to come out of your comfort zone and try something new thus promoting self growth.
    Have a look and then drop us a line either in the comments section of this post or at:
    To let me and others know what you’ve been up to.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much Patty for re-blogging this….and you are so right the exercise can apply to any creative pursuit. It’s simple, and it really does work…and so I do hope that your readers enjoy it….once again thank you so much. Janet 🙂

  11. Pingback: The Apple Exercise – for anyone wishing to begin the new year on a creative note. | Ann Writes Inspiration

  12. Mary

    Thank you Janet, a great reminder to ignite creativity by these simple exercises – I plan to start schedule them into my calendar. As you said, same day – same time to get the mind conditioned the exercise is something that will be done every day. Love seeing the ease of flow from your brush, to paint, to the paper – we are so lucky to be able to enjoy your art.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much Mary…this is a tried and true exercise which applies to all areas of creativity….it’s really about establishing rhythms in life, which I know you are full aware of in your work. May your creative juices continue to flow. Janet 🙂


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