Category Archives: 30-minute daily painting

Have you met Lucy, the Yoga Chicken?

In my recent daily paintings, I did a mini series featuring Lucy, the Yoga Chicken.

What got me started was this illustration of the chicken sitting and meditating. It was particularly a busy day, and I was feeling like a chicken with its head cut off – but wanted to feel calmer.

Meditation chicken

A friend saw it on Instagram and suggested I do a series of chickens in yoga poses, so I thought, “Why not? That sounds like fun!”

So, for 10 days, I illustrated a chicken in various yoga poses!

Triangle pose
Eagle pose
Standing Bow Pulling pose

I used to be an avid Bikram Yoga (a.k.a. Hot Yoga) practitioner and many of the poses in the series are may favorite from the practice then.

Pigeon pose
Tree pose
Child pose

Along the way, I started calling her “Lucy.” It just came to me out of nowhere and I thought it would make a cute name for a chicken 😀

Camel pose
Rabbit pose
Savasana, the corpse pose

She’s such a good yogini!! 🙂 It relaxes me just to see her in these poses!

Do you practice yoga? What poses are your favorite??

I hope Have a centering day 🙂

xo

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My Favorite Tools: Sakura Koi Watercolor Field Sketch Box

You probably know I’ve been painting 30 minutes every day since November.

(You can see my daily paintings on Instagram!)

My favorite painting tool to use is this Sakura Koi Watercolor Field Sketch Box. You’ve probably seen it in many of my drawing tutorials 🙂

It comes in several pre-set colors (between 12 and 48), and the colors are so fun and vibrant!

I use the 24-color set, by the way.

Since I’ve been painting with the blues a lot lately, my blues are almost gone!

Exhibit A

But since I have the exact colors in the Sakura Koi watercolor paint tubes, I could just refill the slots and keep working with the same set.

pretty blues ❤

Needless to say, this Field Sketch Box is super handy to take with you when you’re out and about, but I use it even when I’m painting at home.

With this box set, your set-up is so easy. You just open up the box, and you’re ready to paint.

I usually paint on my crowded desk or a small dining table and don’t have a lot of room to spread out, so its compact size is ideal.

I also mix Sakura Koi watercolor with other watercolor or gouache (an opaque watercolor) paints.

Here is an example of a painting where I used watercolor and gouache.

I just squeeze a little bit of a paint on the palette and use it as is or create different hues by mixing them up with the existing colors.

The set comes with a refillable water brush.

(By the way, don’t throw away the black plug that’s attached to the barrel handle – that’s what keeps the water vessel filled while transporting it in the box. You can still transport the brush filled with the water with the brush tip and the cap on, but it won’t fit in the box. Just FYI! I totally threw it away when I first opened my box and deeply regret it :D)

When I paint at home, I typically use regular watercolor brushes with a jar of water, but the water brush is convenient when you’re traveling and don’t have access to water.

It’s got small sponges on both sides of the paint cakes to clean your brush with. I just use paper towel to clean my brushes, though. Just a habit, I guess.

My palette tends to get messy – I’m ok with that unless I need a clean surface to blend my paints on.

Embrace the mess!

I just take a wet paper towel (or you can spray some water with a spray bottle) and wipe the area clean. That’s it! So easy.

If you’re looking for a fun and economical way to play with watercolor painting, you should give it a try! You can locate a store near you here 🙂

xo Yuko

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Flowers & Snails!

Most of my work is born out of simply playing around.

I wrote about how creative play time is importatnt to artists in this post a while back.

I’ve just released a new line of greeting cards, and most of my designs have come from my 30-minute daily paintings!

Let me show you some examples.

Blue Bouquet Sympathy Card

You may know I’ve been really into painting in blues lately.

Blue is one of my favorite colors, and using just one color challenges me creatively. I really like the feel of my blue paintings, so I’m continuing with that until I get too tired of it. (I learned this technique from Lisa Congdon’s Creative Boot Camp on Creativebug.)

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Sympathy cards are so nice – even if you don’t know what to say or the “right” thing to say, you can still let your friend know you’re thinking about them.

That’s really the best thing anyone can do anyway – to let them know you’re there for them when they’re having a hard time.

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I felt this blue bouquet painting would be perfect for sympathy card because it’s calming and peaceful. I added my simple hand-lettered message, “I’m so sorry.”

Blue Handlettered Thank You Card

A couple of weeks ago, I did a survey with my newsletter subscribers asking them why they like my art.

Their responses were so nice and kind, and I was reminded again how lucky I am to have people who support and encourage me to do what I love!

So I dedicated one of my paintings to people like you –  who like and support my art!

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Of course, as soon as I made this painting, I knew I had to turn it into a thank you card. I try to express my gratitude as often as I can, and sending someone a handwritten thank you card feels extra special ❤

01_blue-thank-you-card-product-photo_1000pxParty Snail Birthday Card

This snail painting was from one of August Wren’t 30-Day Painting Challenge on Creativebug. I’d never thought of painting snails before! I guess I just see them eating our plants in our garden so never really had positive feelings towards them 😀

But when I painted them, I thought they were so cute and really loved them. They just seem so happy!

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So I painted the party hats separately and created a design for a new birthday card! Aren’t they adorable??

01_snail-party-birthday-card_1000pxGouache Bouquet Birthday Card

I painted colorful bouquets with gouache (an opaque watercolor) for several days for my daily painting back in December. Flowers are one of my favorite things to draw/paint – I just can’t get enough of them!

So I designed a birthday card with my flower paintings. Flowers never go out of style, don’t you think?

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My 30-minute daily painting practice forces me to be loose and quick. I’m learning to express my voice without thinking too much or trying to be perfect.

It’s helping me to clarify what I want to say through my creations : art is fun and should make you happy!

How do you get ideas for your work? Do you get a lot of inspirations from your creative play time, too?

xo Yuko

p.s. You can follow my daily paintings on Instagram (@honeyberrystudios) with a hashtag #yukosdailypainting

p.p.s. I’m gonna be on a sabbatical this coming week, so there won’t be a blog post next Sunday! I’ll see you in a couple of weeks 🙂

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Feeling blue? This will make you feel better.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know I’ve been painting exclusively in blue lately.

I was inspired by Lisa Congdon’s Creative Boot Camp on Creativebug, where she shows us how to paint using only one color.

Here is an example of her painting in red.

I started painting using 4 blue colors in my Sakura Koi Watercolor Set and got immediately hooked.

I didn’t have a goal of painting so many works in blue. But it’s one of my favorite colors because it’s soothing and calming. So I just kept painting in blues! (At the time of writing this article, I’ve painted in blue for 31 days straight. Wow!)

I like the challenge of using limited colors (and of course the limited timeline I set to complete a painting). Restrictions encourage creativity. The more limitations you set on your creative practice, the more creative you think!

Just think how you’d feel if you have a huge blank canvas with unlimited color palette and materials to play with, and you can paint whatever you wanted vs. someone tells you you need to draw a cat using just red and blue on a 4″x4″ piece of paper? See what I mean?

Of course, there is a danger of your practice becoming stagnant over time if you’re not intentional about working in a limited color palette.

When I feel my blue paintings are getting stale, I switch to different subject matters or add different elements. For example, I was painting still life at first, then abstract, and then more representational works.

One day, I did a lettering piece for one of my daily paintings and really enjoyed it, so I created a series of encouraging quotes in blue.

You know I love creating art with encouraging/motivational quotes! First of all, I do it because I need a positive reminder. And I know I’m not the only one who needs to hear it, so I like to share them 🙂

Art has the power to make you feel. When you see a powerful message represented in an art form, it goes directly to your heart, doesn’t it?

That’s how I feel about these paintings – somehow, these encouraging messages resonate with me on a deeper level than just hearing someone say it.

If you’re feeling blue today (pun so intended!), I hope these paintings will cheer you up! 🙂

Have a lovely day, friend!

xo Yuko

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Behind the Scenes: 30-Minute Daily Painting Challenge

I’ve been painting every day for 30 minutes since mid November of last year.

I started my daily challenge to invigorate my creative practice and keep those creative muscles strong and flexible. (You can read more about my motivation here.)

I’m on my day 114 today (!) and wanted to share my process and how I find my inspirations every day. Enjoy!

When I Paint:

I reserve my mornings to writing, whether it’s a blog article, newsletter, or marketing copies, and other admin tasks like doing the finances and researching new retail shops to reach out to for my greeting cards etc. Mornings are the best time for me to think and do work that requires focus.

So, I schedule a 30-minute chunk on my calendar to paint every day after lunch. It’s a good activity to transition from the admin work, and by the time lunch rolls around, I’m a bit out of focus anyway, so it helps to get my hands and the creative part of my brain working then.

If I know I’ll be out of the office or otherwise busy during my usual painting time (like I’ve been taking a pottery class on Tuesday morning – early afternoon), I’ll go ahead and work on my painting in the morning before I get out of the door. I’d rather finish the painting earlier than later. You never know what’s gonna happen while you’re out or how long your other tasks would take, and I don’t want to be thinking about “oh I still need to do my painting today” all day. Sometimes it means I have to get up 30 minutes early to make sure I have enough time to create my painting.

Having the 30-minute restriction is both great and hard. It’s great because it forces me to rely on my intuition more than my mind. And it helps me to not be super perfectionist about it – it’s all about completing a piece in 30-minutes than making something that’s “perfect.” I just heard Elizabeth Gilbert say in this show (<– you MUST watch or listen to this by the way!) “Done is better than good.” Ain’t that the truth??

The time restriction also makes it less stressful because there is always so much stuff to do, and setting aside 30 minutes a day doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

On the other hand, it’s hard because I have to stop even if I don’t feel the work is “perfect” when my timer goes off. It gave me a great anxiety at first because I really didn’t know how much I could get done in 30 minutes. What if it looks terrible!?

But as I do this longer, I’ve been learning to gauge the time better and know what to focus on. For example, I try to prioritize getting the overall composition, colors, and shapes right than worrying about the tiny details. I’ve also gotten better at painting loosely and quickly.

What to Paint:

You might remember I did a similar 365 day challenge back in 2014-2015 called “Happiness is,” where I created a drawing about happiness every day.

Happiness is practicing gratitude every day.

But this time I don’t have a particular theme – it can be something personal, like how I’m feeling or what I did that day. I get inspired by nature and food often, so things I saw on my walk or food I ate could show up in my art.

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Florals are a natural go-to, and I never get tired of painting them! I enjoy painting stylized flowers and plants from imagination more than painting from references.

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Some days I go from one subject to another totally unrelated subject , and sometimes I keep painting the same or similar things for several days. For example, I painted a series of dogs in sweaters for a while ❤

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For the months of January, I followed along August Wren’s 30-day painting challenge on Creativebug. It was fun to learn from her creative process and painting techqniques, and I found some of the prompts challenging just because I’d never thought about painting them! It’s good to stretch and go out of your comfort zone like that! I love her loose painting style and her gentle teaching style too.

Many of the paintings here are from Jennifer's painting challenge!
Many of the paintings here are from Jennifer’s painting challenge!

In February, I watched another Creativebug class by Lisa Congdon and her Creative Boot Camp was awesome! I particularly enjoyed her monochromatic painting technique using only one color and tried painting using just blue. I was immediately hooked by this particular technique and kept painting in blues for many days!

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And when I got a little tired of painting still life, I started painting abstract works in blue.

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I had also created a random list of subjects to paint for when I don’t have an inspiration. I cut up tiny pieces of paper and just wrote down random things I might draw, like hats and pickles. And when I ran out of ideas for my list, I asked my husband, Dave, to pitch in. He’s a creative thinker and gave me so many random ideas I would’ve never thought of myself! Some of his suggestions were “lederhosen” and “avocado sandwich ” 😀 And then I put the pieces of the paper in a bag, and on days I have no idea what to draw or just  want to switch gears, I can pull out a topic and paint!

Materials I use:

For paints, I use Sakura Koi watercolor field sketch kit even if I’m at home – it’s so easy to set up – you just open up the palette and everything is there!

sakura-koi-watercolor

 

I used them in combination with random assortment of other watercolor and gouache paints (mostly by Winsor and Newton), some were given by friends and some I bought along the way. I just use the palette that comes with the Koi watercolor set to mix the colors (I often mix watercolor and gouache together). My palette tends to stay pretty messy… 😀 and when I need a new fresh surface, I just wipe the area clean with wet paper towel.

As far as papers go, I use the Strathmore paper mixed media pad series 400 in size 11″x14″. They’re thick smooth paper with just enough texture. I started using them last summer and immediately fell in love! They’re not the cheapest paper, but I just like how nice it feels to paint on them, and colors show so brilliantly. I cut the paper in quater so that makes each paper 5.5″x7″, which is pretty small, and I find that size just right for my 30-minute painting (not to mention stretching your  $$!)

At first I was painting on a slightly larger paper and quickly realized it was hard to fill the page in 30 minutes! And I was feeling more nervous about not filling the page than focusing on what I was actually painting, so I switched to the smaller paper, and that’s working pretty well for me.

I use a few different watercolor brushes  – #1 for a finer detail, #4 for detail and small to medium-ish area and #7 for more thicker line or a larger area (I believe I got them at Blick.) I was using the waterbrush pen that came with the Sakura Koi set and still do when I do a quick sketch on the couch, but I like having the different sized brushes and the natural  brush materials paint really nicely. I also use the wider flat brush if I’m painting the background or a larger area. It’s so much quicker!!

I also started using a hair dryer a few weeks ago to shorten the drying time, and it totally changed my life!!! 😀 It’s especially helpful when I want to layer with wet watercolor and don’t want them to bleed. It saves me SO MUCH TIME and allows me to work in more details in just 30 minutes. I don’t think I can paint without it ever again… 😀


I hope you enjoyed learning my creative process! And if you want to purchase any of my small original paintings, go back to my last post and learn all about it 🙂

Have a creative day!

xo Yuko

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New Original Paintings for Sale Every Day on Instagram!

Hi there, friend!

Are you on Instagram?

I’ve been posting photos of my 30-minute paintings every day since November and recently decided to make all of my original paintings available for sale!

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They’re small (5.5″ x 7″) watercolor and gouache (an opaque watercolor) paintings on heavy mixed media paper. I paint a wide variety of subjects from florals to my recent obsession, dogs in sweaters 🙂

Also, there is this series of still life paintings in blue ❤

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These small original paintings are available for only $69 each, including FREE US shipping (+ $10 international shipping).

You can follow these simple steps to view and purchase my paintings:

1. Search for the hashtag #yukosdailypainting on Instagram.

2. Send me a direct message on Instagram and let me know which piece(s) you’re interested in, and I’ll give you the details. First person to claim the painting gets it!

I’m adding new artwork for you to enjoy and purchase every day on my feedFollow along and don’t miss this opportunity to get your favorite Yuko Miki originals 🙂

Let me know if you have any questions! Have an awesome day ❤

xo Yuko

p.s. I’m sharing my behind the scenes creative process next week. Don’t miss it!

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Creating fun patterns with my daily paintings

I’ve been making 30-minute paintings every day since mid-November of last year.

(You can learn more about it here.)

Having a daily painting practice has been great after not making art consistently for a while. I look forward to my time to paint every day, and it’s definitely strengthening my creative muscle!

One day I was picturing a serene wintery forest scene and painted trees in a simple blue/green/pink-ish color palette.

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This painting put me in a Christmasy mood, and I liked it a lot, so I kept painting similar images for the next few days.

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with subjects to paint, so when I get an inspiration, I like to explore and play with it over and over. 

After I finised 4 of these little forest paintings, I made a tile and really liked the effects. They created a fun pattern together even though it was not my intention to create a pattern at first.

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I enjoyed creating a bigger piece by combining 4 small paintings, so I worked on 2 more similar patterns with pomegranates and oranges.

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Fun pomegranates!
Did Santa bring you oranges for Christmas??
Did Santa bring you oranges for Christmas??

For these two patterns, I did intend to create a tile with the 4 paintings, so that’s why they match up pretty well.

When I first started my 30-minute painting challenge, I quickly discovered 30 minutes go by very fast!

I get a little overwhelmed when I work on a bigger piece anyway, so I enjoyed creating smaller, manageable paintings and then putting them together to create a larger piece. It also encouraged me to stretch my imagination further when painting the same subject with a fresh perspective each day.

I’m sure I’ll be working on these tiled patterns more in the future! After all, I need to come up with so many things to paint to keep my daily challenge going, and when I work on these tiles, I don’t have to think of new things to paint every single day 😀

If you have any suggestions on what I should paint, let me know in the comments! I’m always looking for different ideas.

Happy creating 🙂

xo Yuko

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