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Painting For Joy, Not For Perfection

Colourful watercolour leaf exercise for painting for joy, by Kerri Awosile


If there is one thing that will make the joy of painting disappear, it’s aiming for perfection. In fact, that’s true of any creative activity. Of course, there are times as a professional artist when I need to be conscious of how something looks at the end (clients don’t pay me to create something that looks bad!) but, when you’re wanting to get something from painting – whether that’s enjoyment or relaxation – letting go of the end result can be a big release. So, with that in mind, here’s a little watercolour painting exercise you can do for joy, not for perfection…

Colourful leaves

Using any colour you like, and without worrying about how it will look, paint a leaf shape. The leaf can be as simple or as detailed as you like. Just don’t get hung up on achieving ‘perfection’. Whatever shape it takes on the page, go with it.

Then, whilst it’s still wet, drop in another colour of your choice. It doesn’t matter what colour you choose. Just load your brush with a colour, gently tap the tip of your brush on the wet leaf in a couple of places and watch the colours blend.

As the leaf dries the colours will continue to mix and create different tones across the leaf.

Try another leaf. This time, choose different colours.

Allow yourself to enjoy trying different combinations, different shapes of leaf, and different amounts of colour. There is no right or wrong outcome. It doesn’t matter what the leaves look like at the end, or if the colours blend into a muddy puddle. It doesn’t even matter if you end up with an abstract ‘mess’. The only purpose is painting for joy, and not thinking about perfection.


I hope you got some enjoyment or calm from that little exercise. If you wanted to take things to the next level, you could try my ‘Simple Flower’ watercolour kit. With step-by-step tutorial sheets and a template to start you off, it’s a lovely kit for beginners and more experienced painters alike to try a different technique and just enjoy playing with watercolour.