Marcia BeckettMany thanks to today’s guest blogger, Marcia Beckett. An elementary art specialist who teaches at a school for gifted children, Beckett shares her love of color and whimsy on her blog.

This is a tutorial I recently posted on my other blog Art is Basic, which is all about teaching art to kids. I thought readers here might like it as well.

Easy and Fun Watercolor Doodles with Flowers
I hope you are having a good summer. I have spent some time doodling with watercolors, my favorite artsy thing to do. Today I am going to show you how I transform puddles of watercolor to flower doodles. Here is an example of a finished watercolor flower doodle.
detail flower shot up close
This step-by-step is fun, summery art project for you or your kids to try. I like to share what is fun and exciting for me, because maybe you will take something from it and create your own spin on the idea. Here’s what you need:

Step 1: Dip your brush in water and create a small puddle of water on your paper. Dip your brush in a color from your watercolor palette. Touch the puddle with the color and watch the colors spread. watercolor circles close up
Drop in additional colors to create different effects.
Watercolor dots

Fill a whole page with the watercolor blobs.
watercolor dots
watercolor dots
Step 2: Allow your watercolor puddles to dry. Use permanent black marker to outline the puddles. Or, you can draw flowers right on top, radiating from the center of the petal.

20160711_155524 (740x463)

Watercolor Flowers Step 2 (617x740)

Step 3: Draw flower petals in various shapes and sizes around the outside of the outlined puddles.
Watercolor Flower Doodles with Black Pen
You can stop right there, or you can add additional color with brush markers or your other favorite type of coloring tools.
Step 4: Add additional color and patterns with markers. Use a white paint pen on top to make highlights and embellishments.
Watercolor Flowers with Pen and Marker
I had so much fun, I covered several sheets of paper with watercolor flower doodles.
Watercolor Flower Doodle
Flower Doodles
Detail of flowers
Detail pic of doodles
detail shot
Flower Doodles Close up

Watercolor Doodles of Flowers

Video of the Week #61: The Secret Life of a Street Photographer

Video of the Week #61: The Secret Life of a Street Photographer

You might want to watch this full-screen, so that you can see the magnificent photographs better.

Wordless Wednesday: Fences

Wordless Wednesday: Fences

Photographs © by ARHuelsenbeck

My 8 Go-To Writing Books

My 8 Go-To Writing Books

I love to read reading lists. I recently read 14 Books Every Writer Needs on Their Shelf by Pamela Hodges. As a writer and book addict, I have 2 ½  shelves devoted to writing books; Hodge’s list got me thinking—which are the books I refer to over and over again?

So here they are, the writing books I consider to be the essentials:The Art of Work

  1. The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. Not specifically for writers, but for finding your purpose in life. As it happens, Goins is a professional writer, and much of the book deals with how he found his path to a writing career. It also convinced me I’m on the right path. Click here to see an in-depth review.
  2. The Artist's WayThe Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. Not just for writers, The Artist’s Way is a twelve-week crash course in removing blocks to your creativity. I went through the whole process many years ago, and I still practice many of the concepts I learned, but I feel the need to go through the process again (I’m putting it in my creative goals for 2017). Cameron’s spirituality is Zen-like, but I can adapt her ideas to be appropriate to my Christian worldview.
  3. Bird by birdBird by Bird: Some Ideas on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. I will always love Lamott for giving me permission to write sh*tty first drafts. I’ve read several of her books and her essays on Salon.com and I love her voice. She’s earthy, witty, and despite her unorthodox theology, incredibly spiritual. The title of this book refers to advice her father gave to her brother when he procrastinated writing an ornithology report for school—“Just take it bird by bird, son, bird by bird.”
  4. Little, Brown HandbookThe Little, Brown Handbook by H. Ramsey Fowler and Jane E. Aaron. Although many writers swear by E.B. White’s Elements of Style or The Chicago Manual of Style, when I have a grammar, punctuation, or formatting question, I grab this book. It’s well-organized and I can find what I need immediately. A detailed table of contents is laid out right inside the front cover, and a glossary of editing symbols lives inside the back cover. The St. Martin’s Handbook (I have that, too) is set up much the same way, as are many other high school and college level grammar books. Use whatever you like, but you need a good grammar reference.
  5. On WritingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. I like this book not so much for the writing advice (he’s a pantser, I’m an outliner) as for insight into his process and his life. I love his break-out story. I like many of Uncle Stevie’s books, but I can’t force myself to read through some of them. I’m a little concerned about a mind that can conceive so much evil…
  6. PlatformPlatform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World; a Step-By-Step Guide for Anyone with Something to Say or Sell by Michael Hyatt. As the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S., Hyatt knows a little something about marketing, especially as it applies to authors. Reading this book two years ago convinced me I ought to write a blog, and that I probably needed to learn how to tweet. It got me out of my comfort zone, and I will probably reap the benefits for the rest of my writing career.
  7. poemcrazypoemcrazy: freeing your life with words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. Wooldridge conducts poetry workshops, and this book is sort of her textbook. I originally bought it for my daughter when studied poetry in college (she went to Bennington and I think she got to take a class with Mary Oliver; eventually she graduated with a degree in German); but when I flipped through it, I couldn’t bear to part with it. I’ve been working my way through the exercises in it this year, and when I’m done I’ll write a review of it for ARHtistic License.
  8. Writer's JourneyThe Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters by Christopher Vogler. Based on the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell. Vogler, while working as a story analyst for the Walt Disney Company, penned a seven-page memo called “A Practical Guide to The Hero with a Thousand Faces” distilling Campbell’s magnus opus. It’s reputed to have served as a plot guide for many of the Disney movies. This book grew out of that memo. I’ve used it to outline my novels. I was lucky enough to have Vogler sign my copy years ago when I met him at a writer’s conference.

Have I missed a book that you as a writer can’t live without? Let us know by sharing your favorite titles in the comments below (and a little bit about why you like them).

Monday Morning Wisdom #64

Monday Morning Wisdom #64

Via Twitter:Cleary

From the Creator’s Heart #60

From the Creator’s Heart #60

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle (Proverbs 23:4-5 NIV).

Another Snippet of The Unicornologist, Chapter Twelve

Another Snippet of The Unicornologist, Chapter Twelve

It’s time for Weekend Writing Warriors! Every Sunday, a bunch of writers post 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs. There’s a lot of reading, commenting and great writing. Click on the link to see the full list.

Coming home from school on the day of the previous snippet, Hillary meets her Dad in the driveway. He’s concerned about asking the neighbors (Allie’s family) if Hillary can stay with them while he and Kate go on their belated honeymoon. But Hillary has other plans for that week…

“Not to worry, Dad. I asked Allie about it on Saturday.”

“Still, I need to clear it with her parents.”

“I’ll take care of it–I’m going over there now to do homework with Allie.”

“Okay, Hilly Billy, thanks.”

Hillary bounded inside the house and up the stairs to dump her stuff in her room. She took one textbook and a pen and her unicornology notebook with her back down the stairs. “I’m going,” she called as she pushed through the back door. Taking to the woods, she turned away from Allie’s house, knowing Allie wouldn’t want her there. Her conscience twinged about the lie she told, but it was the only way she could set her plan in motion.

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 12? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please leave your comments below.

Three Poems for August




aneroid barometer

Photo by stockarch via freeimageslive.co.uk

The sky’s been weird lately,
black swirling clouds,
out of character for the desert.
Do cacti and tornados even go together?

Thirty years ago,
the sky was always turquoise,
the sunset always peachy.
Why the paradigm shift?

What has changed?
Has the earth been nudged out of orbit?
Is it falling,


into the depths of the universe?

O Rock, O Rock

Female_Quail by Alan Vernon

Photo by Alan Vernon

Three days in a row
A stock-still quail beside the path startled me
I studied it to discover
It was only a rock.

The third day
I picked it up
Sure it had wisdom to share with me.

I kept it in the laundry room
On top of a tower of storage boxes.
Every time I saw it
I remembered how it surprised me anew
Every day
Even though I knew it was hard cold unbreathing.

It’s gone (where did it go?)
Yet it retains its ability to surprise me
Popping into my memory at the oddest moments.


Blue jeans
Blue moons
The blues
Blue skies
Blue seas
Blue blood
Navy blues
Baby blues

Loneliness is blue
Regret is blue
Memories of childhood are blue
Fading into the distance

Poetry © by ARHuelsenbeck 2016.

Creative Juice #3

Creative Juice #3

Creative Juice is a Friday feature on ARHtistic License sharing online articles about the arts or the creative process to help get your juices flowing.

Here’s what I’ve got for you this week:

In the Meme Time: The Vicious Triangle

In the Meme Time: The Vicious Triangle

Found on Twitter:Art Flow