What Will I Need?

Most of the time we take this to mean “What supplies will I need?” I’m going to give you some suggestions about supplies, but I encourage you to consider other things you might need to get the most from this course:


Of course, you’ll need time to work on each module, but you may also want to build in time between modules to 

  • reflect
  • extend your work on prompts of particular interest
  • fit this course in around other projects and commitments

There are 30 modules in this course. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should do one module per day. I’m recommending you don’t go any faster than one module per day. If you have a busy life, going a bit slower may work better. 

But not too slow! If you decide on once a week, it can help to have a scheduled time, and an alternate catch-up time, in case something interrupts your scheduled time. You don’t want to lose your momentum.

How do you want to remind yourself to make time for working in your studio notebook? 

Some possible approaches:

  • schedule it (Every morning at 8 am or On Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3 pm)
  • habit-stacking (After my yoga class)
  • noticeability (I always leave it on my favorite chair, so I don’t just see it, I have to actually pick it up before I sit down.)


When I say “studio”, that’s shorthand for wherever you keep your supplies and work on your art.

Your studio could be:

  • a dedicated room
  • a wide shelf and a folding chair in a walk-in closet (my first studio!)
  • a small table in the corner of the family room 
  • a tote bag of supplies, a board to work on and a comfy chair (this was my “studio” when I was traveling in my camper)

That said, if one of your struggles is giving yourself permission to make time in a busy schedule for your art, it can really help a lot to make it as easy and enticing as possible to sit down for just a few minutes to work. 

Clearing a space where you can leave your journal and a small tote of supplies on or next to your favorite chair is a good strategy. 

Permission and Freedom to Explore

Do you only get to work on your art after all your chores are finished? You know where I’m going with this: there is no end to the chores we “should” do. 

If you want to grow as an artist, you need to give yourself permission to explore, experiment, and brainstorm freely. It can help to identify—and maybe write down—some reasons why making art and continuing to grow as an artist matter to you. (My top reason: It keeps me sane!)

Curiosity and Open-Mindedness

A studio notebook can be a little like a compost pile. Ideas that start out ugly can develop and combine with other ideas in unexpectedly useful ways. This takes time, and plenty of compostable materials. Try not to rush to judgment.


Keep your everyday setup simple. You can always bring in other materials as needed. 

The basics:

  • a sketchbook—A watercolor sketchbook is nice, but you can also work in an inexpensive sketchbook, and glue in activities you do on watercolor paper. 
  • your favorite tool(s) for writing and drawing—pen or pencil, or both
  • your usual watercolor supplies (or other art supplies, if you work in a different medium)
  • not too many additional supplies: It can be fun to add things like a waterbrush and a tiny palette, or a set of watercolor pencils, but be careful not to add too much to your everyday kit. If you find yourself dithering about what to use or not working in your notebook because it takes too much time to pull everything out, pare back.

Note: In the last lesson in this section, I’ve added a short video showing you my current studio notebook and everyday supply kit, plus some of the features I add to all of my studio notebooks. This is just to give you some ideas; trust your own instincts and choose supplies you think you’ll actually use. You can always add or subtract as you go along.


As you plan how you will use this course, it’s worth considering what rules you want to break instead of what rules you want to make. I call them “anti-rules”. 

Here are some of mine to get you started thinking:

  • I don’t have to have “something to show for it”. Browsing through my studio notebook and enjoying previous work, or looking at pages in progress and thinking about how I might like to develop them, counts as working in my studio notebook, even if I don’t add anything new today. The work is engaging my creativity, not making a picture.
  • I am not required to finish a drawing, painting, sketch or page. I can come back and work on it more later, if I want. Or never, if it doesn’t call to me.
  • I am not required to use the pages in an orderly fashion. I can start on any page I like. I can skip pages. I can doodle or make notes in the margins, or write on top of previous work. 
  • No one else gets to tell me whether working on my art is time well spent. 
  • I don’t have to share my studio journal with anyone. Just because it’s in a sketchbook doesn’t make it entertainment for someone else.

Where do you find yourself getting stuck? Can you create an anti-rule to free yourself to work the way you want to work?

What else?

What else do you need to make the most of this course? How might you go about getting it?

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