Art For Non-Artists

One of the greatest causes of anxiety for writers is acquiring artwork to complement their writing. Because we are a visual culture pictures are a great way to attract attention to our work.

The downside, of course, is that original artwork is expensive. Also, you might have an idea of what you want, but you can’t find it anywhere.

You might not think of yourself as an artist. You may have been discouraged in the past to think you can create art. Or, perhaps you think that it’s too late in life to start.

None of these reasons should discourage you from trying your hand at creating your own art. With all the aides for artists out there even the least skilled among have a chance to put out interesting images.

Take me, for example, I can hardly draw a straight line with a ruler. Also, I don’t have much time to spend on drawing and painting – I’d rather be writing in my free time. Still, I want to add color and artistic impressions of my writing to my website, so I’ve been trying out several low-cost options over the past year.

If, like me, you feel you completely lack any artistic ability I suggest starting with a type of art called “ZenTangles” or “Zen Doodles.” This is a kind of judgement free zone where the artistically challenged can feel comfortable and confident enough to give pen and pencil artwork a try.

The book below is a great place to start and I still find myself turning to it. There are many other excellent books available and I will be discussing some of them in this series of posts. Also, there are many websites and groups on social media (like Facebook) where you can get ideas for free, but this book below will get you up and running quickly.


Amazon Link: One ZenTangle A Day

I’ll be writing more on this kind of drawing, but I would like to point out three things that make Zen Doodling an excellent choice for the novice artist or late starter or non-artist:
1. ZenTangle books have step by step drawings in them. This hand-holding helps the non-artist have confidence that they can repeat the design.

2. Each element – or type of doodle – has a name. This has two positive effects. For non-artists this helps us to find a design whenever we need it. Secondly, it reminds us that artists collect images as writers collect words. (Artists probably don’t usually give their images names, but the more images you feel confident drawing the more you want to add more to your visual collection. And it helps – in the beginning – to name them.)

3. Zen Doodling teaches you to use up all the space on your canvas. Young children fill up pages – doodling re-teaches us how to draw as freely as children do.

Below is one of my first tangles. It’s not the best and I’ve seen far, far better designs, but this one is mine and I like it.




The photo above was taken with my cellphone so you can see it’s pretty dark. Fortunately, for me, I have access to Adobe’s Photoshop so I opened it up and changed the exposure and enhanced the contrast. Then I cropped the picture and resized it into a new image. Tangle1clean

Photoshop Image

There are plenty of photo apps available, but if you can afford Photoshop, I highly recommend it. It is a subscription, so that’s something to keep in mind. Their website is here:

Finally, I used a painting program that I love to play with called Artrage. It gives “texture” to the painting. And, with the lighting from the cell phone image it created a “shine” across the photo where I used the “paint can” (fill) option for the background.


Also, you can see I painted over the original initials (Zen doodlers are encouraged to create their own “signature” (see Day One in One ZenTangle A Day). Then I created a new signature for my pen name, Alexis Seay.  It’s very large, but I’ll be correcting that with newer images by using the sizing options on Photoshop or Artrage.

One final note: I think non-artists worry because they have had a bad experience with art in the past and they feel they have no business wading back into unfamiliar territory.

But, it’s just doodling. And everyone has permission to doodle, don’t they?  😉



12 thoughts on “Art For Non-Artists

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s