Donuts 2.0 Live Painting Tutorial & Starving the Inner Critic…

Howdy friends! I am very excited to paint with you today, after a project I was not happy with I came up with this for today’s tutorial:


Originally I planned to paint 3 donuts on a board. I was using a few reference photos and it started off strong but in the end the result was flat and I was frustrated.


I wondered if it was just me so I asked a few trusted friends what they thought and the word “flat” was mentioned several times so I knew I had to go back to the drawing board but I had no big desire to paint this again and if I am not excited to paint it again why would you be?

I wanted to take a moment and talk about self-doubt and criticism.

We all want to improve and the longer you paint the easier it is to slip into a plateau. Every so often you enter a pocket of growth and things are wonderful. It’s that feeling of learning something new and advancement that keep us addicted to our craft. The dark side is when we level off or even back slide on a project that can make the nasty inner critic come out to play. One thing that helps me be gentler on myself is to pretend I didn’t paint it. I can let the time I invested in a painting or the frustration I felt (I used masking fluid on this, y’all know my thought on that!) while working on it and it can really alter your perspective. if a student of friend showed me this panting I would see the all of the good stuff, the rich color, the joyful spirit and the rustic texture on the wood. I’d like it if I didn’t paint it LOL! I look at it and start Monday-morning-quarterbacking it:

  • Ack, why did I use masking fluid, it would have looked just as good to use an acrylic paint pen or gouache for the sprinkles!
  • Why did I paint the background so light? Now I can’t have a chocolate donut.
  • For goodness sake, sharpen your pencil, you have a sharpener right there, look at those messy lines!

I would NEVER allow a student to be so hard on themselves and when I think that if I criticize my art a student could see this and think “well, if that painting isn’t good enough then mine isn’t either.” Now, that my friend is a sure-fire way to shut up that nasty little judge in my mind for good. It’s important to improve and grow. There are several things I am changing to the painting we are doing today because it will look better and be quicker. We should only criticize our work to help up improve, not to berate ourselves. We can honestly look at our work for what it is without taking it personally but let’s not be mean to ourselves because other people are watching. If you are painting and you say it’s not good and your children or grandchildren hear you they may be discouraged from trying, especially if it looks great to them! When we are kinder to ourselves we are also kinder to those who we love and are influenced by us and I think that is a great reason to fire out inner critic and retrain him for work in quality control.

And now, Let’s paint!

You can watch the live broadcast or the replay in the player below but if you want to chat with other fun painters in the community or ask me questions during the live stream be sure to tune in at 12:30pm ET on YouTube.

Supplies (affiliate links used)

  • Watercolors: SHINHAN I recently bought these paints after several viewers asked me to review them and I really like them, I did both donut paintings with them and they are a steal! I will post a review once I have used them more and investigated some of the pigments I am not familiar with. I used colors with pigments known to be lightest in this painting. Colors used: Red, Brown, Ultramarine, Permanent yellow deep, Raw Umber, Viridian, optional-white. I have the 30 color SHINHAN set $25.73  but the 13 color set for $13.91 can be used if you substitute raw umber for yellow ocher so you can try out these paints for even less money. Per tube the 30 color set is the best deal tho.
  • Watercolor brushes
  • Watercolor paper
  • Optional: White gel pen or posca pen and Colored pencils
  • pattern

I also wanted to let you know that it’s August (in case you don’t have a calendar hahaha) and that means I have new original art for sale in the shop. Prices start at $40 and USA shipping is included ($10 for international) and is available for the month of August on a first come, first served basis. Click here to see this months paintings!


I hope you will paint along with me at 12:30pm ET! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

11 Responses

  1. Excellent comments on how to deal with the inner critic! I especially like the “pretending I didn’t paint it” part. And you’re so right about the example that it sets for others.


  2. Everyone should read this blog and take it to heart. We are always our own worst critic. I’m struggling to learn watercolor and, when my family and friends tell me how great my paintings are, I wonder if they don’t all need eye exams! However, I want to learn and, occasionally, I think I can see a tiny bit of improvement. If it wasn’t for your tutorials and a few other artists, I’d have given up after my first attempt. Even if I don’t paint every picture you share, I still learn from just watching you paint. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love these posts.
    While the donuts on the board are a little flat, you are looking at them from the top. If I was looking at real donuts in that perspective, they’d look a little flat. It reminded me that all you needed was to change your perspective, a little angling to a more natural perspective would have made your donuts come back to life (compare the board to your plate – looking down vs looking sideways).
    In the end, a little perspective alteration can change everything.


  4. I love what you say about improvingfrom your self criticism NOT to berate ourselves. That can actually paralyze us from trying anything again. I thank you for that because I have that same problem.


  5. I reacted strongly at your statement that you would NEVER have criticized your student with that harshness, so why would you criticize yourself that way? That is a really good question and something we should ALL ask about anything we condemn about ourselves: weight, appearance, habits, etc.

    Thanks for writing this.


  6. I never get to see this live, but I’m so glad you post it on your blog to watch later. Love to watch and learn. I really need to find a class in my area so I can really learn some basic techniques. maybe when the fall credit free courses come out, I’ll find one. Thanks for sharing this with us. I’m so glad I’ve found your blog.


  7. Hello! I just came across your videos on YouTube and I fell in love immediately with your art and fun attitude. I wasn’t really sure if it would be appropriate to make a comment on a video or not. I just had a small question. When you use watercolor pencils, have you ever used a watercolor pen? They are clear and you just put water in the end to make it work. I’ve always had trouble getting into details with regular brushes, and I was wondering if you possibly had any experience with these. I’m already ordering set of alcohol ink pens and those wonderful watercolor pencils you use.

    Here Is what I mean:


    • I use them on occasion, like when traveling or in a place where I really can’t have pots of water. I thing regular brushes are better for detail but for convienience they can’t be beat!


  8. This is awesome I will have to find time to watch. Have you done videos on painting animals?


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