Introduction: Great Artist Warm Up Exercise

Picture of Great Artist Warm Up Exercise

This is a method that I kinda stumbled onto. I am a very messy person and always always spill things and so I made this up to utilized the many ruined sketch book pages i have amounted.  This is a great way to break though your morning fog and get drawing. It loosens you up and gets your mind thinking creatively you have to do very little to start it.  Sometimes the blank page can be your most daunting obstacle.  So here we go.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Sketch book.
Cup of coffee.
Spoon or stirrer or finger.

Step 2: Sip and Splash

Picture of Sip and Splash

Okay so just open you sketch book to a new page and take your spoon or whathaveyou and dribble
all over the page. I usually add a couple slashing motions in there for good measure.  Take a sip of you coffee and let dry a little.

Step 3: Sip and Draw

Picture of Sip and Draw

So this is easy.   Just look at your little splashes and streaks and think of what they look like.
Just like looking at clouds the images come to you and before you know it your done with your first cup of coffee and drawing like mad.  Enjoi!


Orchid-Black (author)2010-09-20

I'm going to try this right now. I've used tea and coffee in other drawings, but never like this. Thank you!

HannahLegutki (author)2009-12-10

This is SWEET! I hate blank pages:[[

pfred2 (author)HannahLegutki2009-12-12

Not a huge fan of Minimalism are you? I am when I'm doing car body work.

Buttermonkey63 (author)pfred22009-12-12

It's almost impossible to be a minamilist while sketching :D Im paranoid about tidy pages... but looove it when drawings r' messy but still look cool, or i have like a whole page full of random doodles with barely a trace of graphite-less paper left :)))

That's how I sketch, but usually only in ink. I find it's much more freeing that way.

HannahLegutki (author)pfred22009-12-13

lol its just that I usually dont have an idea and the paper is like taunting me. 'll stare at it for an hour before I have a idea

popocops (author)2010-06-22

The first time I tried airbrushing I did something similar-really nice effect!

TheClock (author)2010-05-31

Very interesting and cool. Good job.

maltice (author)2010-03-29

I do love this. I use to do this with crumpled up paper. Just crumple it up, then uncrumple it. You'll find hidden pictures just like you find in clouds! Or spilled coffee splotches =) Or diet cherry cola. I do love that one.

bbwalls (author)2010-02-25

LOVE IT.  I looked all through your website too...and I love your work, especially the photos.

pfred2 (author)2010-02-11

Now didn't I leave a comment here with an attachment? Where is is?

GeekyGirl1103 (author)2010-02-09

Ooh, very cool! I'm definitely going to have to try that sometime. :]

ROCAMADOUR (author)2010-01-19

Very nice ! :- )

lmadler (author)2010-01-12

Wonderful. I will try that in the morning with my cup of jo. I love it, what an inspiring idea.

bfly911 (author)2009-12-24

That is a great idea :)  Thanks!

tecteach (author)2009-12-21

 I'm a teacher and always thankful for people like you! For many many reasons this excercise is wonderful! 

Ruina (author)2009-12-21


smbarne (author)2009-12-19

Delightful idea.  I think I might put a paper towel below the pages to make sure the coffee doesn't stain through to multiple pages though.

Zetheros (author)2009-12-13

Aww, I thought this was an Instructable about warming up one's hands for better sketching performance.

Good idea though!

Aqu (author)2009-12-11

The world needs more of this kind of Instructable. We see shapes even in random formations, which is a perfect way of killing artist's block! Genius. Thank you.

pfred2 (author)Aqu2009-12-12

Sometimes a stain is just a stain.

runningdog (author)pfred22009-12-13

if that is what you see.

dragonember (author)2009-12-11

cool instructable!

Nicolas Jara (author)2009-12-11

Me gusta. ¡Es bueno!

Aqu (author)2009-12-11

You're the first instructable-er to not include a warning that putting your finger in a scalding hot cuppa may hurt. I salute you.

Andyjonescreative (author)2009-12-11

okay so dont forget that this is a " warm up" not a method for finished art.  Also forgot to mention to always listen to music while you are creating.  Thanks everyone for so much support and keep drawing!!!!

Check out my website:


quantumz (author)2009-12-08

This is great. I used to draw the little shapes and shadows that I could pick out of my walls from the drywall treatment and see what they would turn into.

Do you have much trouble with it soaking through multiple pages?
You use the proper 'sketchbook' version, right?
With thicker pages.

I'll try this out on the regular notebook variety, but if it soaks through all my pages you owe me two new notebooks! (one for the pain and suffering of losing my sketchbook.) :P

gizmology (author)quantumz2009-12-10

Count in my cheesecloth wallpaper when I was a kid, the stains on napkins when I started drinking coffee, and now add in a new one from just recently when I had to go get my sketchbook and sit on the bathroom floor to copy out all the dreamy hybrid animals I discovered wandering through the designs of the fake-marble pattern linoleum when I got up half-asleep to go pee in the middle of the night...!

boxman1 (author)gizmology2009-12-10

We had that same wall cover at our house when I was little.  It had foxes and raccoons esp.  didn't it? 

shyamiko (author)2009-12-10

I've done this with extra concentrated watercolor and paint we had in art class. I took a composition notebook and added a little splotch to every page before closing them, it's great! everytime i want to doodle I rip out a page and go to town. I might even make an instructable... hmm, should I?

cbergquistf (author)2009-12-10

Strong tea works -- and diet cherry cola makes a great color.  Here is quick sketch I did with a model using just a splash of watercolor to get me started.

pooja_bhatt (author)2009-12-10

wohhh.. this seems interesting.. i'll try it for sure!! :D

gizmology (author)2009-12-10

I do this a lot with watercolors -- random-splashing to start out if I'm not feeling inspired -- but such a great idea with the coffee!

But my reason for commenting is to say that I would love to see a Step 4 showing what you did with those particular coffee splashes from Step 3! :)

Crabby (author)2009-12-09

    This is a great idea. The morning is the best time to exercise the mind and if you don't like coffee, tea and some types of juice would work as well. I have several scrap notebooks made from unused news paper rolls, the liquid bleeds through but I can prevent that by placing cardboard between the pages, I rather enjoy the change of pattern as it bleeds through several pages giving me a great variety of shapes and tones to experiment with.
    If you love to draw then I think you should try this great idea.

Mehehehful (author)2009-12-08

I love this, but did you do something other than coffee for the opening picture?

yeah sorry thats kind misleading, that is graphite.  I guess this is the product of a good warm up.

Oh. Well this is very helpful I tried it this morning and I am UBER satisfied. Great Job.


Salsa766 (author)2009-12-08

excellent sketching

sarahfish (author)2009-12-08

 brilliant! great idea, great intsructable!

andy jones is so creative  :)

crossfirexiv (author)2009-12-08

 I like this a lot.  I did the same thing today with white out.  Nice! :D

iisjman07 (author)2009-12-08

 Nice method, it seems to work really well! I must say I thought something was a slight bit strange when you were pouring coffee over your work, but you turned it into something pretty neat! 

PS: Loving the picture on the first page by the way

mdlmusic (author)2009-12-08

I used to do something similar with my students when I was teaching 4th grade.   I called it "Squiggles". 

When it was the end of the day and we had a few minutes to kill before the end of class, I'd divide the board into 4 sections, then draw a random shape in each section.  Four students would then volunteer to make the "squiggles" into something artistic.  Then the class would vote on which drawing they liked the best.

The kids loved this activity.

Kaelessin (author)2009-12-08

lol i do this every time i put a coffee cup down on paper with a wet bottom . . .i draw tings inside and out of the rings . . . never thought to do it intentionally though! deceptively simple and loads of fun. Thanks!

chrism2352 (author)2009-12-08

This would be great practice for generating imagination and creativity in kids as well.

l8nite (author)2009-12-08

Cool idea ! Ive been doing something like this for years, most of my jeans are covered in mini sketches, every little stain or faded area gets its own little idenity. What starts out on the front of the leg soon turns into jeans on my drawing board so I can do the backs as well...

Treasure Tabby (author)2009-12-08

Oh yeah, that's something I use to do at my old job in between projects when I was on airbrush duties. I was working with lots of inks with nasty thinners in it and some of it would get splashed on the papered tables. Then I ended up looking at those splatters on the table since I was bored est and with my trusty pencil and or pen and draw them in to interesting creatures.  Loads of fun and entertainments.

Thanks for sharing your techneques.

gmjhowe (author)2009-12-07

That is a great idea, good to get going, you can tell how well it works by that cool floating island concept you stumbled upon.

What I like is that the idea was created by random, then focused by your imagination.

lemonie (author)2009-12-07

Good idea, the watercolour effect of coffee is obviously better than jam / curry / sneeze.


Bongmaster (author)2009-12-07

interesting concept :)

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