Starting from scratch…..

There are many ways to SEE an apple….


Yesterday I received this message from a new follower: –

“I would like to learn to paint from you.   Where to start?     I am scared even to pick up a paint brush.”

The person who wrote this is not alone, and so I am prompted to write a post on the subject of starting from scratch and releasing fear.

I came up with the ‘apple exercise’ many years ago because in principle it is simple and effective.

Any materials can be used – most of them can be found in your home or local pound shop.  (you don’t need to go out and purchase expensive paints, brushes and paper)   


I believe that the reason so many people feel a sense of fear and trepidation when they begin to make marks on paper is because we are taught from an early age that what we draw or paint should be perfect and look exactly like our subject.       Striving for perfection can cripple….. 

The first lesson is to WARM UP and PLAY.      PLAYING  and Doodling on inexpensive paper can help us move from a place of fear to a more relaxed and receptive state of mind.       For more seasoned artists it’s an excellent way to move into the day’s work. 

I will demonstrate using this image.      After I sketched the apples,  I ate them:)


Learning  the many different techniques of painting takes years of practise and dedication.       I can’t teach this, but what I can do is encourage and share tools and techniques.   

Getting started is always the hardest part.     It’s like jumping off a cliff.   Once you have done it there is a sense of personal satisfaction and freedom.    The key is to jump off that cliff every day.          

Here are three warm up exercises…..

  1.       Pretty much anyone can find an apple and piece of newspaper.

20200428_112954After roughly sketching out the apple and its shadow,  I apply some juicy watercolour.    Remember this is simply to warm up and its only newspaper.   20200428_113127

 2.     Using white paper….I sketch out the shapes. with a felt tip pen.    I then add a little of the same colour to each segment.   I am thinking in shapes rather than apples and shadows – this is very important.    20200428_113911When we paint shadows they always reflect the colour of the object making the shadow.        I have allowed the paint to bleed (run from one colour into another)


3.   I  drew this apple on an orange background which I painted earlier.        I often draw or paint over old sketches to warm up.   20200428_114750I then applied some juicy red paint to the apple and shadow…leaving some of the dry orange background as a highlight on the apple and in the NEGATIVE SPACE –  (the area surrounding the apple and shadow).     Note the thin slither of orange between the apple and the shadow is key in separating the two areas.20200428_115052Using a wet brush I then added Permanent White Gouache  into the background allowing it to merge with the red….This is an exercise of ‘LETTING GO’ – not trying to control the paint but seeing where it takes you.       Watercolour is transparent – Gouache is opaque20200428_115558


  1. If you can write your signature – you can learn to draw.   You didn’t emerge from the womb knowing how to write…..
  2. IGNORE the Chattering Monkeys that clutter your mind with negative nonsense.
  4. Use photographs as a JUMPING OFF POINT – don’t become a slave to them.
  5. NEGATIVE SPACE – the space surrounding the subject
  6. Move colour around the picture to achieve balance and harmony.
  7. Everything reflects on everything else.    All of life is interconnected. 
  8. Fifteen minutes a day practise can do wonders.
  10. Painting with children helps us to free up.
  12. Stay away from negativity….

Observe everything in many different ways.

Go to  (Janet Weight Reed) where you will find some short videos including one of me painting an apple on newspaper.

Most importantly ENJOY the process….and don’t compare what you do to anyone else’s work.    Only compare yourself with your own progress.

Old paperback books are an excellent source of paper……..Think out of the box and be curious.



37 thoughts on “Starting from scratch…..

  1. Judith

    Oh, Janet, this is so wonderful! This is exactly what I need right now, and I know there will be many, many other readers who will eagerly soak this all up. I can’t wait to grab a bit of newsprint and have a go at painting this morning. Watercolor definitely gives me a feeling of freedom and playfulness — and that is precisely what I’m needing in order to really grow as an artist.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Judith you are wonderful…your enthusiasm shines through. Another good tip is to buy a roll of inexpensive wallpaper lining…it’s fantastic for PLAY and WARMING UP…and very inexpensive. You can get it on Amazon. J.X

      1. Judith

        Great suggestion! Thanks. πŸ™‚ I’ll be linking to your blog in tomorrow morning’s post. I know lots of readers will love what you’re sharing. πŸ™‚

  2. chandijoshi

    Dear Janet, thank you for a very through blog for someone like me who just wants to play with paints. I will start my journey of colours . I will check the you tube videos out .

  3. chandijoshi

    I have had a long career as a dentist. I was going to burn all my CVs but now I will paint over them . This feels so amazing – 😊 πŸ™thank you so much.

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  5. Jane Owen

    Janet your pictures are amazing. You are definitely blessed with lots of talent. I too am hoping I can try this out soon. Is it just regular kids paint that you buy? I will be checking out the tutorial and video too. Always a pleasure to read your emails. Thank you and stay safe. πŸ˜„πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜€

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      If you read my last blog ‘Starting from Scratch’ you will see that anything is good…stuff that you might already have at home or you can purchase at a pound/dollar store:). the key is too PLAY…and have fun…hope you enjoy a lovely weekend. Janet X

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  8. chandijoshi

    Dear Janet, I did a warm up with paints and an apple yesterday. It is the first time in a long time I was able to let go, stop the chattering in my mind, and play with paints. I would like to thank you for your guidance and this extremely useful blog. This exercise will become my daily 15 minutes of playfulness. ????????

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