Creating art is a process of unpacking the things in life which fascinate; a wonderful way to explore obsessions and better understand curiosities.

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Creativity is a process of discovery and exploration. A process of trial and error. A process which can sometimes feel vulnerable, like leaping into the unknown. A process of failures, mishaps and mistakes, but hopefully ones which hold beautiful lessons. A process of discovery and adventure.

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By making art, I have discovered more about my self and the world I inhabit.

It has encouraged me to meet myself on the page, to become clearer on what moves me, motivates me, interests me and lights me up. To follow the threads of my curiosity and weave them together.

The process of creating art has ignited multiple and diverse love affairs for me; my love has burned bright for ancient textiles, feathers, pine cones, seaweed, fossils, found patterns, painted ceramics, fish scales, pigeons, old maps, insects, snow flake structures, leaf shapes, trees, roots, sacred geometry, weeds, patterned rugs, reflections on water, hand embroidery, the moon, tidal patterns, folk art, iridescence....

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I try and not wait for inspiration to find me. Instead I like to go out and find it. And through seeking and hunting, I have indeed found it. The process of making art has helped me to see more wonder and experience more awe. It has helped me to view the world through a lens of enquiry and discovery; to see things anew and with fresh eyes; to be delighted and charmed by the magic of the natural world; to find beauty in the mundane and see the extra ordinary in the ordinary.

I believe that through creating we are able create for ourselves understanding and meaning.

I hope that in some tiny way, that by sharing the joy that art has brought to my life, I may encourage you to think about how you could create a little more space for creativity in your life.

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Sensory pleasure of making art

There is something about the physicality of creating art which I love. I relish the sensory and tactile nature of mixing the paint, touching the materials, the smoothness of the paper, the physical connection to what is on the page.


I delight in taking something from my head, my heart and making it manifest through my hands.


Inspired by the process

I try to let my art unfurl. To respond to what is on the page, to follow an impulse, embrace the accidental. I use lots of different types of art materials, watercolour paint, pencils, felt tip pens, collaged papers, acrylic paint, graphite pencils, tracing paper, coloured inks. I enjoy the contrast, the juxtapositions, the interplay of colour and shapes, the unusual and the unexpected. The alchemy cabinet of art materials.

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I consciously try and enjoy the process and not be too attached to the outcome. I remind myself that the magical element is often what is happening in my brain rather than what is happening on the page. The beauty can come from what I have learnt, what I have discovered, what I have experienced, not necessarily what I have created.


Part of the joy of creating art is that it helps me to reflect upon the things in life which I am fascinated and curious about.

Creating is a way to follow and explore my fascinations and bring them together on one page.

I’m obsessed by colour, lines, drips, dots, layers, shapes, and the mind blowing awe and wonder of the natural world. I’m fascinated by textiles, fabric, colour and what different colours represent and why we are drawn to certain colours.

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In my art, I’m layering both materials and meaning. I’m exploring the patterns of life and how we make a mark in the world by actually making patterns and marks.

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For about ten years in my 20s I avoided drawing or painting because I always wanted the outcome to be perfect. The weight of my expectation was too heavy. It’s a sadness to me that I allowed fear of failure, fear of not being good enough to stop me even starting: that I allowed my high expectations to steal so much joy, so much experimentation, so much development.

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Now that I’m in my 40s and working as a professional artist I want to share some wisdom with my younger self. I want to tell her that she has absolutely nothing to lose from starting and a whole wonderful world to gain.


I want her to know that the pain of not creating is so much more crippling than the pain of creating something she doesn’t like. That she needs to create despite the fear, that she must work with the fear and let it dance along beside her.

Helen Wells Artist


I want to tell my younger self that mistakes are how you learn. That being kind and gentle with her self when she is creating helps her to develop and grow and be braver and bolder.

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I want her to know that pressured perfectionism gets her stuck and that half the fun is the journey to the end result not the end result itself. I want to tell her to be playful.


Play, experimentation and childlike curiosity is part of making things manifest, is part of creating art, an important part. So I thought I’d share some of the ways I play and incorporate it into my artistic practice.


Helen Wells Artist

I frequently go wandering outside with my camera, looking for inspiration. I try and really look with fresh eyes and notice what makes me curious, what stands out. I look for patterns and shapes, colours and textures. I find that the more I actively seek on these meanders the more interesting things I find.

The shots in this blog post are from a wander in my local park just before sunset. It took me a little while to look up and see lots of striking silhouettes of trees and twigs, lines and patterns on the water, reflections and outlines.


I might then print out a few of the photographs and use then as a starting point, as a springboard, as reference material, as an entry point to something. As the start of something.


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I often like to cut up a large piece of thick heavy paper into many small pieces. I find that playing about on a small piece of paper is liberating, less daunting. I will paint and splash, daub or draw on more that one piece at a time. Just playing. Just experimenting. Just responding to what’s on the page. Just having fun.

I often might get out lots of different materials, watercolour, ink and experiment, see what works, what doesn’t. Because I might have a pile of 15 pieces of paper on the go at once, there is no preciousness, there is expansiveness and abundance.

These playful bursts often result in something interesting, a seed of an artwork, a happy accident, something that I will develop into a larger, more significant art work. I find this playful approach leads to a much better end result than trying to create something of significance from the get go, this exploration and experiment leads to discovery, that I can work through the mistakes to unearth something more valuable and beautiful.

Helen Wells Artist
Helen Wells Artist


I own this beautiful 800 page book called The Book of Symbols from Taschen which explores and reflects of the archetypal meaning of different images. I find it fascinating and intriguing how different images and motifs hold meaning and I find this book so helpful in unpicking some of these meanings and sparking my curiosity.

In the preface the book’s Editor, Ami Ronnberg, quotes the words of Meister Eckhart, a German philosopher who died in the 1300 hundreds:

“When the soul wants to experience something she throws out an image infront of her and then steps into it.”

I love the thought that images can help us to reach new understanding, new meanings, perhaps provide illumination for things which can not be easily articulated, light houses for our soul.

When I am looking for inspiration I often open a page of this lovely book and see where it leads me.

Yesterday I randomly opened the book on page 110 which explored the symbolism of 'valleys’. Now, when I think of valleys, I instinctively think or ruts or troughs, the low to the high, the opposite of peak. I found the book’s description of valleys to be so much more nuanced and enlightening, so much more considered than my own:

“It is often an area of plentitude, amassing rainfall and providing rich earth for vegetation, a longed for destination after rugged treks. The valley is associated with the earthy, the humble…linking us with the way and oneness…”

I just thought this was such a lovely sentiment, that it can be the valley or low ground that leads us on our way to the higher ground, the valley where we collect the rain which helps new growth burst into life.

It chimed with me because I’ve been thinking about the pattern of my own creativity, the peaks of achievement and valleys of uncertainty where I am not so productive.

I mostly like to strive, to reach higher, to look for the peaks and feel uncomfortable when I’m not climbing.

Perhaps opening the book on this page was a reminder that the space between peaks, the lower times of quiet observation, the restorative times where I’m collecting my rainwater are a valid part of mine and everyone’s creative journey.


I’ve been reflecting recently on why I make stuff. Why I paint, why I draw and why I experiment in my sketchbook and I thought it may be useful to share some of these thoughts with you.

Perhaps my musings might help you to reflect on your own creativity and motivations. Perhaps they might act as an invitation for you to consider your own ‘why’ or perhaps these words might even be a tiny rallying call for you to start something, to take the smallest of steps or the biggest of leaps.



When I was a kid I just loved drawing from life or playing about with colour and pattern. I was always drawing. Then I became an adult and some of that colour and pattern left me. I didn’t pursue art as a career. I put it away in a box marked ‘childish’ and did more studious things. I lost a lot of my playfulness. I tried to be serious and sensible. During my twenties I didn’t make anything at all, I just stopped. And in this stopping, I lost a lovely and important part of who I am and it took me nearly a decade to find it and reopen the box.

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I was 29 (I am now 43) and feeling a little bruised after a breakup with a boyfriend, not sure how to use my holiday as a single person, feeling a bit lost and lonely, a little uncertain and stuck. On a a whim I signed up for a two week painting course at the Slade Art School in London. It was the most magical fortnight. I felt alive and excited. Curious and contented. Playing with colour and paint all day, every day felt like a home-coming for me. I felt energised and alive. Like I was learning a new language. The act of drawing from life, literally meant that I had to look at things in a new way. See things in a new light, under a new microscope. I remember that one of the first small activities was drawing an office chair. I looked at that chair and I saw the beauty in its lines. I began to actually appreciate the curve of the arm rest and the shadows it made on the wall. That course re-ignited my love affair with drawing and painting and set me off on a path of re-discovery. Importantly for me, it also helped me to see the beauty in every day objects, to reconnect with the physical world with a child-like sense of wonder and awe.

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After those first tentative steps, there were some road blocks along the way. Looking back, most of the road blocks were entirely of my own making. I was hugely self critical of anything I created. I was the opposite of kind and nurturing to my newly found creative ember. I was mean and critical. I would stamp on it with wild abandon and large heavy boots. I hated everything I made. Everything I painted or drew was rubbish.

My internal radio was tuned to Critical Witch FM and the volume was turned up to the max. I nearly let this internal negative dialogue dictate my actions and stop me from creating, but I knew I had to carry on and nurture my curiosity. I knew I had to keep taking small steps, to keep on exploring, even if the radio was still on.

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I’m not sure if you can ever turn this radio station off, but I’ve certainly learned to turn it down, tune it out, to create and experiment even though it might be playing away in the background.

Now, I do not believe everything it broadcasts. And I no longer let it stop me, because I know that it is through creating, that I understand myself, feel energised and express myself.

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I also now know that I don’t have to love everything I’ve created. It is totally fine for some of my creations to be completely rubbish. By making stuff I don’t like, I might move to the next stage of making stuff I do love. I have realised that it is through making, good or bad, that I develop, learn and make better work. There is no such thing as perfection, there are things that have worked and things that haven’t.

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Since attending that first art course as an adult 15 years ago, I have followed my curiosity and it has taken me on an amazing and circuitous journey. I had no idea how the film of my life was going to play out, no idea that attending that one class would be a turning point, an important moment, pivotal to my story.


But what I do know is that in following the thread of my own curiosity, I have patched together a different kind of life and a different way of seeing the world. I now take more seriously the small things which fascinate me, interest me and enliven me, that pique my curiosity and I feel more ‘me’ as a result.





I use expressive mark making to create abstract, decorative pieces which feature repetition and rhythm, layers of complexity and organic forms. I’m fascinated by the interplay of colours, shapes and patterns. My paintings are rarely envisioned but develop over days as I respond to the materials and the marks on the page, creating complex illusionary landscapes.

My artworks have been described as having a magical or other worldly quality, although I am very much fascinated by the magic and wonder in this world. I’m mesmerized by the beauty, colour and pattern in our natural world. I’ll frequently have a love affair with something where I become obsessed with it for a while; from snow flake structures, to patterns on shells, or the colours and patterns on fish scales, or antique Indian textiles, or bird feathers or butterfly wings, or the patterns on maps… I also have some magpie tendencies and am rather drawn to the glittering and glinting, iridescent or luminous… 




I experiment in my sketchbooks and will sometimes take a germ of an idea from these and use it as a springboard for a larger work. Most of my work features watercolour. There is something about the unpredictability of this kind of paint which I find alluring and magical. I love the way the paint and colour mixes with the water on the page and creates unexpected patterns. I love the transparency of it, the ability to build up layer after layer of paint. There’s a slight wild-childness about watercolour, it doesn’t always do what you want it to do, and I love it all the more for that. I also love mixing mediums, experimenting with combinations of different types of paint, pen or materials creating layers and different textures, and effects.




Sometimes being an artist is like being a visual adventurer. I am always on the lookout for colours, patterns, tiny inspirations that I can collect, expand upon and use in my paintings. Sometimes these come through active searching, I might take a walk on the beach or in nature to actively seek-out some inspiration, looking at the details of plants and the shapes of the leaves, patterns on pebbles, or the way the water creates lines in the sand.



Patterned paper on my desk

Patterned paper on my desk







IN my sketchbook

IN my sketchbook


Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.

I’ve recently been working on this series of small paintings on paper. They are somewhat other-worldly landscapes which celebrate my love and fascination with trees. Inspired by an early morning walk where the sunlight danced through the tree canopies and created pinpoints and orbs of shimmering light.

The four paintings are made by adding layer upon layer of watercolour and acrylic paint and are all finished with white ink detailing which adds a slightly surreal and ethereal effect to the images. They are all painted 100% cotton paper and are available to purchase in my shop.

Light Dancing in the Trees series by Helen Wells
Light Dancing in the Trees Series by Helen Wells
Light Dancing in the Trees Series by Helen Wells


Sometimes you have to stop doing and just be. Creativity can spring from stillness and contemplation, as much as it can from action and endeavour.
— Helen Wells
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This Summer, I've taken a slower than usual, meander through life.

My natural tendency is to do, do, do.  To try new things, to spin fast. To be keen and eager. To be conscientious and hard working. To be busy and whizy and always striving to get stuff done. I'm usually high in energy and I like the feeling of having achieved something new or taken action. I revel in a continual sense of forward momentum, to-do lists, activities, actions, endeavours...

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But at the beginning of the summer I realised I was feeling a little washed out and worn out. A little too tired. A little less energetic and energised than usual. So,  I decided to give myself permission to take life at a gentler, slower pace, to replenish my reserves and respond to the natural ebb and flow of my energy levels.  I've allowed myself to take my foot off the gas a little and work a little less and relax and rest a little more. 

I've engineered a little more space in my life and carved out a little more me time. I've said no to more things than usual, and gone to bed earlier and read books and rested. I've organised and tidied my studio. And played about with paint and experimented just for the joy of experimentation. I've drawn and painted in my sketchbook. And I've found this little leisurely lull has done me the world of good. I am now feeling more energised and energetic and more raring to go, just by doing a little less, and forcing myself to enjoy life at a slightly more leisurely pace, I have more ideas and more get up and go.

During my slightly slower summer I have also been thinking, pondering, musing and mulling away in the background about the online class on Expressive Sketchbooks I am developing. I was hoping that I would have finished it by now, but I haven't. I apologise if you have been awaiting its arrival. 

I don't yet know when I will launch the finished course. It has been taking me longer than i thought, and I've decided that this is not a bad thing. It's a good thing to let it mature and develop and come into being without an enforced or arbitrary deadline.

I want it to be the best course I can make it and for me that means it may take longer than I hoped. I've decided I'm okay about it taking longer to spring into life and I hope you are to. If you are interested to know when it does launch into life you can sign up to receive an email here.

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Wet paint, work in progress.

Wet paint, work in progress.

I had one of those great days in the studio this week, a day when everything seemed to work and I was in a wonderful creative flow. Paintings seemed to unfurl and burst into life with ease. Everything just seemed to work. It was like magic. 


And that got me thinking about the days when the magic is missing. That these wonderful easy days, the days that feel full of artistic alchemy are not all that common. There are so many days when the creative process is harder, days when I feel stuck or uninspired.

So incase you feel the same, I wanted to share with you some of the tools and techniques I have found that work for me. Things I find so valuable on the 'unflowy' kind of days.

Tricks to magic up the 'flow' when it doesn't seem to be appearing on its own.  Ways of getting unstuck whilst creating and ways to start yourself creating when inspiration seems elusive. 

Getting perspective

When  you are  stuck whilst in the process of creating, getting some perspective can work wonders. 

Sometimes you are just too close to the piece of artwork that you are creating. A little distance can be so useful to get some perspective so you can see 'the wood for the trees'. There's the classic, 'leave it and come back to it the next day' technique. This time away from an artwork allows you to see it with fresh eyes. It gives you the objectivity that might be missing whilst you are actually working on it.

But sometimes you need to magic up some in-the-moment perspective when you don't have the luxury of lots of time. My go-to technique is taking a photograph of the work on my phone. Somehow I see the work with more objectivity by using this one-step-removed method. I invariably see things in the photo that I didn't see whilst working on the painting. I might even take a black and white photograph so I can see the tonal differences.

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Another way to get perspective is to move yourself physically away from what you are working on. Look at the work from a more removed vantage point, I might put it on the wall and move away or just put it on the floor.



Another technique is to turn the painting upside down. Basically all these methods help me to see my work with new eyes, give me a new perspective and often this is all I need to release me from being stuck in that moment.

More than one on the go

I find that working on more than one painting or piece at a time helps to get me unstuck. By working on several different pieces at once, I'm creating my own flow and momentum.

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In some ways this is also practical for me, as I  use lots of layers of paint and it stops the 'waiting around for the paint to dry'. It also creates an energy and if I'm feeling stuck on one, I can just move on to the next, it creates a break in routine and means that I'm not just looking or obsessing about one piece, it’s just another way of gaining valuable perspective and a little bit of distance.

Don't wait for inspiration

I read somewhere that 'inspiration is for amateurs' and whilst I think this is overly brash, I do agree with the sentiment that you can't just wait around for inspiration to find you, you have to go and find it. If you're waiting for a time when you feel truly inspired, you could be waiting around for ever.

I find that sometimes I have to actively kickstart my inspiration. On days when I'm feeling decidedly under inspired, I have to manufacture my inspiration. I find that taking some action, doing something, turning up at the blank page and just starting is often enough to get the ball rolling. When inspiration is elusive I set myself a small task or project to manufacture my missing inspiration. (See setting boundaries for some ideas.)


Setting boundaries

Sometimes infinite possibilities are paralysing rather than liberating. Sometimes it can feel daunting to know that you could do, or create absolutely anything. Limitless options can lead to lack of action.

So on the days when my mindset is decidedly 'unflow' like I set myself small tasks just to get myself going and create the momentum that comes with action. I set myself parameters and boundaries that help me overcome the issue of infinite choices.

I might go to the greengrocer and decide to pick one piece of fruit or one vegetable that I find interesting and use that to inspire some drawings.. (I particularly like pineapples and broccoli). I might set myself a limited colour palette, ie I can only use blue or red, or I can only create a piece that is pink or grey.

I might use one small bit of stimuli to create 10 images, i.e. one leaf drawn over and over again.

I might open a magazine at a random page and use whatever text or image I see as a springboard.

I might take myself and my camera on a 10 minute walk, actively searching for inspiration and something I find interesting.

I might pick an artist I'm interested in and use one of their paintings as an inspiration.

I might re-purpose an old painting, cut it up and use it to create something new. I find that setting my own boundaries makes it easier to start and once you've started, it is easier to carry on.


Letting go

Because I'm always happy to start over with a painting if it's not working, to paint over it, cut it up or repurpose it, it means I am now less attached to every piece being perfect.

Some of the things I create are wonderful and some of them are rubbish. Over the years I've learnt to let go of my perfectionist tendencies, the unrealistic expectations which put too much pressure on the act of creating, the expectations which can even stop you creating completely.  I've discovered the hard way that the less I am attached to perfection the better the piece seems to turn out, the more I embrace playfulness rather than perfection the better my work ends up.



Colour in a picture is like enthusiasm in life
— Vincent Van Gogh

I've been working away on some new colourful paintings. The series is called Colour and Joy and I had a lot of joy painting them. 

I love experimenting with different materials and these art works are made by applying lots of layers of acrylic paint to stretched canvas.

I don't use acrylic paint that often, but I'm currently having a good full blown love affair with it. I don't use square canvases often either but I'm really loving the dynamics of using a square. So creating this series of paintings has been a lovely reminder to experiment, use different materials, get out of my comfortable groove, try something different and see where it takes you. 

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I am always obsessed by overlaying colours and patterns on top of each other to create crazy combinations and I've found acrylic paint allows me to do this in a different way to watercolour. So let's see  how this new artistic experiment develops. I'm toying with doing some big canvases.

I've just put these four brand new paintings in my shop where I am currently trialing free international delivery. 

Colour and Joy Two by Helen Wells

Colour and Joy Two by Helen Wells

Colour and Joy Four by Helen Wells

Colour and Joy Four by Helen Wells

Colour and Joy Three by Helen Wells

Colour and Joy Three by Helen Wells

Colour and Joy One by Helen Wells

Colour and Joy One by Helen Wells


I love taking photographs as I work. Often stepping back and looking at an art work through the camera or phone lens gives you a totally different, more objective view. I often see different aspects, areas or dynamics when looking through the lens.

There are lots of good techniques for gaining this kind of perspective, looking at an artwork in the mirror, coming back to a painting on a different day or even turning it upside down, but my favourite is taking photographs. 

My obsession with patterns and colours mean that I often spot an interesting combination as I work. Here are some of my favourite photographs from my studio. A celebration of paint, pattern and colour...

Helen Wells Artist
Abstract art by Helen Wells
Helen Wells Artist
Helen Wells Artist
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Helen Wells Artist
Helen Wells Artist
Helen Wells Artist
Helen Wells Artist
Helen Wells Artist
Abstract art by Helen Wells
Abstract art by Helen Wells
Helen Wells Artist
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The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
— Jacques Yves Cousteau, Oceanographer

This year I've been working on a series of paintings which are directly influenced by living near the sea in Hastings on the south coast of England.

I'm super lucky to have the sea at the end of my street and can see it from my studio window. It's a magical and alluring presence in my life and its influence is evident in my abstract art works. 

it strikes me that there is a powerful connection between this inspirational force and the medium I'm most often drawn to - watercolour paint, which comes alive because of how it combines with water. 

Helen Wells Abstract Art

I love the way the colour mixes with the water on the page and creates unexpected patterns. I love the transparency of it, the ability to build up layer after layer of paint. There’s a wild-childness about watercolour, it doesn’t always do what you want it to do, and I love it all the more for that.

Helen Wells Abstract Art

The Sea and Sky series of paintings I've been working on this year feature this wonderful wild-child watercolour paint as well as acrylic ink & paints and gold paint details.

I love mixing different kinds of medium and paint to achieve patterns and textures, multiple layers and sometimes it creates a total mess, sometimes it creates magic. 

Helen Wells Work in Progress
Helen Wells Work in Progress
Helen Wells Artist work in progress

This new series of paintings is now available in my shop