choosing paint colours

Don’t be intimidated!

I’ve heard from a lot of new artists that they just don’t know how to navigate themselves through an art store.

…really, what I think they are saying is that they are a bit too embarrassed to ask for help…     They needn’t be.

But in the space and time before a ‘new’ artists feels that they can speak the language of the art store, here are the suggested colours that I’ve been directing people towards for years now.

See the chart below. Starting from the upper Left corner, the most basic colours for a starting palette are listing below. The more you wish to invest, the lower you can continue on the page. Or, you can use the alternates on the Right side of the page. Or, if you want a more-full range to get started on, then fill your basket with the entire sheet.

Did you find this useful? Do you have any different suggestions to offer? Please let me know.


colour palette for Reckless Painting

colour palette …after Reckless Painting

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WalkAround Face

An activity from Reckless Painting for collaborative “art making”.

This activity was also completed using magic markers – at a UBC Adult Education class March 2013);

walkaround face - with magic markers

walkaround face – with magic markers

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Experiencing Creativity Rather than Trying to Create “Art”

Guest blog by Amy Walker

My favourite Reckless Painting moments were when I really felt free to just “keep going” with a painting instead of thinking about what I was trying to do with it. Arthur told us that one difference between the way kids approach painting and the way adults do is that kids don’t tend to get stuck like adults do: “They just keep going.” In this spirit, I tried to keep going, simply enjoying playing with the colours and releasing the need to make it look like something in particular, or even make it look “good.” It felt exhilarating and so much more fun than when I’m concerned with what the final product will look like, and how other people might judge it.

creativity for adults

Amy recklessly painting w/Blindfold

It also helped that in our class Arthur had us all working on each other’s pictures (pieces of cardboard that we painted on). We worked on a different piece each class, so we never became too attached to one painting. We just kept building layer upon layer, collaboratively, but with no plan, just responding and adding to what was there before.

Everyone has experienced creativity. We’ve all felt an energizing, fun, in-the-flow feeling while experimenting with colours, structures, movement, music, symbols or language, and most of us have also known a feeling that is not so fun, when we become self-conscious and critical of what we are creating. Often this is what stops us from taking part in creative activities, “making art,” using our imaginations, or simply playing.

Even though creativity is something we’re all born with, we live in a world that places a lot of emphasis on the aesthetics of the end product and unfortunately that superficial attitude turns a lot of people off – literally!

You could argue that life IS creativity.

So why would we want to be creative other than to try to make something beautiful and breathtaking? Well creativity makes us feel alive. You could argue that life IS creativity. It brings us energy and connects us to ourselves and to each other. We open ourselves up to the universe when we are being creative – we have access to something bigger. You could say that creativity is a form of prayer. A way of participating in the great mystery and saying “Thank You!” to life.

A way to get back into creativity is to have no expectations. Tell yourself it’s going to look /and or sound like a terrible mess when you’re done. Give yourself permission to play and enjoy the process no matter what the result. Reckless Painting provides the situation and materials for this. It seems very simple – and it is in a way – but I felt that the energy I gained and the freedom I felt in the class was of great value and I’d encourage people to give it a try (without expectations) to experience your own creativity – and feel for yourself what I mean!

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Art classes teach adults to:

art classes teach adults to...

art classes teach adults to…

I “liked” an image posted on Facebook the other day*. It was preceded by an intro/caption of: Why Art in Schools Matter. And it continued to describe 18 values that are derived from teaching Art in schools… to children.

Of course, the very same argument could be made that these same values apply to adults.

So, here I go, thinking out loud that participating in ‘Art’ is beneficial to adults – possibly more-so than for children! Art classes help adults to;

  • respect other people’s opinions,
  • open themselves up to dialogue in a way that would not otherwise surface,
  • experiment with more creative materials,
  • observe,
  • find their inner (less-listened to) voice,
  • self-evaluate & self-let-go,
  • make connections through self-reflection,
  • express themselves without censor,
  • learn from their mistakes unexpected creations,
  • share the tasks of cleaning up,
  • reflect on their work,
  • embrace diversity and alternate points-of-view,
  • persevere – even in the early stages when their painting “looks crappy”,
  • have an opinion,
  • appreciate beauty – even in the details of a painting that “looks crappy”,
  • break away from stereotypes,
  • envision solutions & un-reality, and
  • value aesthetics of the paintings they are pleased with, and the paintings that “look crappy”.

Yes. I’m convinced, Art classes teach adults a lot.

If you are over 16 (& live in/near East Van), sign-up for Reckless Painting.


* Image adapted from FB post entitled: Why Art in Schools Matter by Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

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Development of Creativity – by Letting Go

A recent tweet/re-tweet led me to a very complicated article about creativity.* Luckily, another link led to something a bit more tangible; Development of creativity.

reckless painting set-up

reckless painting set-up

I’ve always had a great interest in “creativity” and how it can sometimes be out of grasp for the average person who might consider taking a Reckless Painting course. So, I read on….

According to this article, there are four categories of creativity: creative process, creative product, creative person and creative environment. Maybe, for the purposes of Reckless Painting, I should add another category: letting go.

For the majority of my “students”, Reckless Painting sessions have aimed to free-up a creative environment so that shy but under-encouraged creative persons might find a creative process unburdened from the creative product that starts to form in their mind.

Taking it step by step;

  1. creative environment: Anyone who says to a friend or a partner, “see ya later, I’m heading out to my Reckless Painting class” is on their way to a creative environment. Even before they arrive, that person has scheduled themselves into 2hrs of painting each week. (Or more.) They have allocated precious time to be in a place where …well, most participants arrive without a very clear sense of what they’ve allocated time for! And that letting go, is a wonderful part of the creative environment which we build from.
  2. creative persons: Each season I open the door for some Reckless Painting without really knowing who will show up. Of course, each participant is there because they would like to either, see more creativity within themselves, or else to re-allocate some time for creativity that has slowly been squeezed out from life, work and relationships. i.e. There is a desire to let go of the day-to-day routine.
  3. creative process: Each of the Reckless Painting exercises aims to suspend expectation so that participants refrain from trying to think about what comes next. I guess that the session where we paint blindfolded is a good representation of this letting go of the @ reckless painting
  4. creative product: There are a few signals to a newcomer that the Reckless Painting classes aren’t about creative products – and that these large sheets of paper and salvaged & flattened cardboard boxes will not end up framed on their living room walls. Even more, with paper stretched across tables, the paintings are a shared process, with a shared result. So, by this time, letting go of the product isn’t really a shock.

Letting go. Maybe that is what I’ve been seeing as a necessary component within the development of Creativity.

Next Reckless Painting course begins Wed. Jan 30th 2013. Are you ready to let go?


* An Autopoietic Systems Theory for Creativity

** Development of creativity as a basic task of the modern educational system

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8 1/2″ x 11″

It seems that standard paper sizes are too much around us.

paper stretched across the entire tabletop

paper stretched across the entire tabletop

Just as the parking and movement of cars shape our buildings and cities, the 8 1/2 by 11 of the printer & photocopier shape the dimension of many workspaces and bookshelves. (A4 outside Canada & the US.)

It can be very limiting; …unless you break open to engage the arm and shoulder. i.e not remaining confined to the movement of an adult, human wrist.

And what the 8-1/2×11 ‘letter-size’ paper is to the pen …or keyboard, the 18×24 ‘cartridge pad’ is to the paintbrush: limiting.

sharing the canvas

sharing the canvas

So over the past few years, I’ve shifted towards rolls of paper for my Reckless Painting classes. And I’ve liked the results.

By covering the entire table with “canvas”, people are able to take up the space that they need. …someone who has had a very full day might need the chance to pull up a chair and focus in, …others might feel inclined to stand back and get their shoulder moving.

Table-tops covered with paper allow that. And, they create spaces in-between that help lead to the next few paintings. The shared canvas also allows for more movement across the table.

The shared – and larger – canvases allocate space and movement with fewer limits than people are used to working up against.

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Winter Solstice gift – 2012

Looking for a Winter Solstice gift for a friend who’s hard to buy for? Why not give them FIVE Wednesdays of Reckless Painting…

Winter Solstice gift 2012

Winter Solstice gift 2012

You can sign your friend or family member who is in need of some reckless painting at Britannia Community Centre in East Vancouver.

Just call them up at 604-718-5800, or go online at (registration for Jan 2013 courses begins on Tues. Dec. 11th) and print out this card to let them know.



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Retrieving Creativity

Workplace Seminar & Social Year-End Wrap Up

When the David C., the Go Green Choices Co-ordinator* for a Vancouver-area municipality arrived on-site for the Work@ Reckless Painting seminar, he wasn’t quite sure what he’d gotten himself into. Go Green Choicesstaff were helping workshop leader Arthur Orsini set up the workspace by laying down tarps and covering tables with newspaper. David looked at a pile of men’s shirts on the chair and paused… “Are we painting?” he asked. You bet!

retrieving creativity for work colleagues

Arthur leading the troops at the most inspirational seminar of the year

Painting is the technique that Arthur uses to help people re-capture their creativity and explore new approaches to situations. Since people are often intimidated by creative or artistic pursuits, like painting, we had not mentioned specifically what exercises the seminar would employ to help people retrieve their creativity. (2012flyer 400KB)


Work@ RecklessPainting (2012 flyer)

As Go Green Co-ordinators, we are often confronted with negative reactions to the Transportation Demand Management initiatives we might want to implement.

I can’t carpool / take the bus / ride my bike / walk / etc. to work.

There’s no money for incentives / shower and change facilities / bike racks / preferred vanpool parking, or subsidized transit passes.

…are phrases that Go Green Co-ordinators often hear.

After a while, this negative refrain impacts our motivation level. It is important that when we feel discouraged or unmotivated, for us to re-examine the sources of our inspiration.

Through several painting exercises, Arthur encouraged us to think about the reasons we started doing the type of work we do, in or official jobs, and as Go Green Co-ordinators. Working with a partner, we explained what we had drawn in response to Arthur’s direction, and why.

Building on that exercise, Arthur led us through the next painting exercise in which we were to paint our work-spaces. This was really enlightening – it, and the discussion that followed, helped us focus on what aspects of our workspace nourish us and sustain our momentum. It helped us identify key factors about our workspace from which we draw energy to keep moving forward.

Now that we had the creative juices flowing, and had again connected with our inspiration, we were ready to work collectively. Our next exercise involved partners painting on half of a page, and then matching up the two blank areas, we painted from our partner’s painting back towards our own painting – incorporating and blending elements of both paintings together to find some middle ground.

This is a challenge we face regularly in our daily lives; perhaps even more so as Go Green Co-ordinators as we must work extra hard to meet some people halfway.

The goal of this seminar certainly wasn’t to paint a masterpiece, but participants went home inspired and reconnected to the creative energy in all of us that motivates our work and play!


* adapted from a newsletter article in BEST’s Go Green Choices Getting to Work, Winter/Spring 2001
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I am here to …get out of my head!

One of the lead-off activities in a Reckless Painting class is to ask a few anonymous questions of participants. As the title suggests, it is worth getting an idea of why these people have signed up.

In this current session, a few people gave a similar response of “getting out of my head“. (Which is a good start!)

We can ‘get out of our head’ when we are faced with the unexpected. And comfortable enough to not worry about getting it right. (What ever getting it right means …within the context of reckless painting.)

We can ‘get out of our head’ when we use only white paint for the first hour or so.

Or when we paint on the table.

And then scrub-clean some new canvases to continue painting…

on someone else’s part of the table.

Actually, there are many ways to ‘get out of our head’ in a painting class.

It seems that the first step is to get out of our home’ and over to an art, music, writing, drama, improv, etc.

It’s great to witness art, but don’t forget to participate.

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please refer to yourself as an ‘artist’

Welcome to Reckless Painting

reckless painting table with brushes and paint

reckless painting table with brushes and paint

  • if you don’t already, please refer to yourself as an ‘artist’
  • “Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.” Brenda Ueland 1938
  • as often as possible, try not to think about painting while painting
  • seek honesty, but feel no need to explain (except to yourself)
  • be gentle with the brushes
  • none of this will count for your final mark
  • heed your first reaction
  • ‘suitable for framing’ can be intimidating
  • when painting ignore adversity: disliking work in progress can be an important step
  • criticism – be it constructive, helpful or well-meant – is not always helpful
  • ‘untitled’ only works once
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