I find myself being inspired by other artists all the time. I pore over Instagram, scrolling, scrolling, looking for posts from my favourite artists to fill my eyes with the beautiful artwork I love and admire. I am inspired to try new techniques, experiment with different media and, more often than not, be more spontaneous and less constrained by the reality of what I’m painting.

‘Loosen up’ is often a phrase banded about by art teachers, but what in theory sounds easy is a million times harder in practice. Take anything that you have spent years doing and perfecting – for example writing, riding a bike, driving – and then imagine someone telling you to do it differently (change the way you write your ‘a’s, pretend you don’t know how to ride a bike, drive your car like it’s the first time you’ve done it). It’s not easy.

A lot of the time it is the fear of making a mess of a page in a nice, tidy sketchbook, or creating something I’m not happy with which stops me creating anything. It’s stupid, but a hard thought to fight off.

Anyway, the long and short of this is that I’ve been watching videos by the wonderful artist Minnie Small (SemiSkimmedMin) on YouTube and she has inspired me to set up a sketchbook for experimenting. A place I can create whatever I want, even it it ends up looking a mess, all in the name of developing my artwork.

And to my surprise, this goldfish in gouache is one of the first pages to have come out of my little foray into the world of ‘looseness’ and I LOVE it! It took one evening. I used reference photos for the fish, but didn’t stick to them rigidly, letting the shapes flow as my hand took them on the paper, rather than labouring over every detail.

Gouache Goldfish

I feel that the result is more vibrant and alive, and I’ll certainly be revisiting this technique. Thank you SemiSkimmedMin!

I’m sharing this post on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour, Paint Party Friday and Blue Chair Diary Illustrations!


It’s so hard to loosen up and just play without fear of getting things wrong! Your goldfish is beautiful, bold and striking. The use of colour is especially lovely and lively.

He’s gorgeous.
I am exactly like you and have been told to loosen up also !! I am really pedantic when it comes to details and I would love to be able to freely slosh and spritz etc but I find it sooooo hard 🙁

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