Looking for quick and easy ideas to loosen up your art? Read on!

This whole idea of shaking up our art and moving away from tight habits has been on my mind a lot lately. So I decided to ask some artist friends for their tips and advice.

From scribbling on your work to using a timer, there are plenty of very easy-to-do ideas here – take your pick and get painting!


Sonal Nathwani

“One thing I love to do when my work feels too tight is to simply scribble over part of my painting with a children’s coloured pencil (I like the Woody from Stabilo*)….it usually messes it up nicely and then I refine some parts if  I need to. Actually scribbling is an integral part of my work.”

Sonal’s website

Becki Petersen

“When I feel as though I need to loosen up, I hide my pallet knives and smaller paint brushes so they are out of sight and (usually) out of mind! This forces me to stick with a smaller number of brushes and larger sizes to keep me at the loose and flowy stage I always even up overworking.”

Becki on Instagram

Veronica Funk

“The best way that I find to loosen up my art is to move away from my studio and use tools that aren’t necessarily typical for painting – printmaking brayers, lids, spray bottles, spray paint, stencils, old gift cards…it’s a great way to cover a blank canvas which can be intimidating.”

Veronica on Instagram

Renata Abma

“I have been trying two things to loosen up when making art: One is starting a new painting with a more intuitive drawing, no reference photo and no preconceived idea, just get on the ride and see what comes up. The other is a small quick 4″x4″ water color painting a day. Similar thing, no time to think and the size helps me edit stuff out and be playful.”

Renata on Instagram

Tracey Downing

“I’ve been taking my mini sketchbook out when I walk my borrowed doggy and making 3 small sketches of our surroundings, mostly trees, shadows and sky. I’ve then used the sketches as a basis for painting made on a larger sketchbook with a view to using the painted images as a starting point for larger paintings. In terms of loosening up I’ve worried less about the final image and concentrated on a few “themes” from the landscape before me.”

Tracey on Instagram

Shawna McComber

“I have a few strategies, but my most effective strategy is to use a palette knife. Sometimes I do the whole painting with a knife and other times just use it in conjunction with the brushes. This is the painting where I learned this lesson. It was causing me no end of trouble and I was getting tighter and more frustrated until I took some blobs of paint, my palette knife and just painted big, loose, abstract flowers.”

Shawna on Instagram

Jane Hinchliffe

One of my favourite ways to loosen up, is to include some delicious ‘wabi sabi’ (even love the term!) as secondary elements along with a ‘tighter’ primary element. I enjoy both the physical action of tearing paper (very satisfying and almost naughty ;)) and also the visual juxtapose between the detailed work I’ve created against the imperfection in the torn paper. ” 

Jane’s website

Gina Axlund

“When I realize I have gone into the “detail” mode far too early I try to take away the parts that cause trouble. Sometimes it helps to paint them back in a new way and sometimes the painting lets you know that only the essentials should be there.”

Gina on Instagram

Alison Hart-Arkley

“For loosening up – I look at other people’s work and try to remind myself that perfection is boring!”

Alison on Instagram

Suzie Chaney

“When I need to loosen up I actually remove choices so I go A5 or A6 and only one colour. I think about the play of light on something I’ve seen that day.”

Suzie on Instagram

Laura Lineback

“Allow myself to make the painting as tight as my brain wants. Then make another painting with the original as the inspiration or jumping off point.”

Laura’s website

Niya Christine

“When a bit stuck or tight while painting, my go to is scribbling. Either to scribble on the canvas in front of me or grab my iPad and start scribbling on glass which I love. Sometimes words come but the idea is complete wild and unhampered letting go. Then I get back to it.”

Niya’s website

Stacey Mitchell

“One thing I love to do to loosen up my art is to set a timer for particular time, say 5 minutes. Then in that time I just stop thinking about what I’m creating and just see what happens. It never fails to loosen things up!”

Stacey’s website

Nothing like a bit of crowd sourcing to open the doors to even more ideas and possibility. 🙂 What do you do when you want to loosen up your art? Let us know in the comments!

Fancy some guidance and company on your loosening up quest? I have a course for exactly that  – cryptically titled Loosen Up! Simply click here or on the image to find out all about it and join us!