How to Capture Everyday Perks

Do you have little things in your day that lift your spirits? Little visual moments of beauty, joy, or just simple satisfaction? I’ll show you how to capture those perks through three little adventures last Thursday.

First, after finishing some work, I met my mom and sisters at a baker in Lawrence, KS, about an hour away from us. We had lunch at a little artisan bakery, Wheatfields. What I ordered was more like breakfast for lunch, as you can see.

The breve cappuccino was so beautiful and the little quiche so pleasing that I thought I’d immortalize it on paper.

How do you capture those little perks?

Well, it all starts in the ol’ noggin. How you’re acting starts with what you’re thinking. You’ve got to have the right mindset.


Your acting (in this case, capturing your perk by painting) is directly affected by how you think about your acting. Three easy steps of build, shoot, and coach liberate you to capture what you wish. Here is how I did it in these three little adventures.

  • Build the picture by focusing on what you like about what you see: This was told to me by an amateur photographer. His images are always uplifting and so well composed: they always seem to say the right thing. His advice was “Focus on the thing you like about the picture, and everything else will fall into place.” (Kinda like life too, right?)
    • So, how does that fit with the cappuccino and the quiche? Well, I loved the satisfying shape of the classic cappuccino cup, as well as the contrast of the frothy milk and the espresso laced foam, and I liked the overall idea of the yummy, somewhat colorful quiche next to the coffee.
    • Those things I put in bold = my focus. So I sketched out those quickly without agonizing over perfect details.
  • Shoot down the naysayers!
    • I don’t know about you, but the feeling I always get when I begin to paint/capture my subject is a feeling of overwhelming insufficiency. How about you?
    • The narrative goes something like this: “Ha, you want to paint that?! Who do you think you are?” “There’s no way you’ll come anywhere close!” and “What if you mess up?” All the time. Seriously.
    • Well, you can choose whether or not you’re going to listen to those inside voices. Do they make you open to action, light, joy? No: they make you squelch those good flames. Silence those voices -they don’t help you, and they certainly won’t help anyone else.
  • Be the coach you wish you had -tell yourself what you wish you could hear from someone else. This is one of the best things I’ve learned from doing art. If you can talk to yourself kindly, you’ll be able to share this with others who wish to follow you.
    • That’s what I did when I began painting the cap and quiche. “It’s okay, it doesn’t have to be perfect!” “Have fun doing it!” “You’ll get better each time you try!”
      • At the end of 20 minutes, before the specimens got too cold, I was happy with stopping and, what’s more important, confident enough to do it again.
      • Later I was so relaxed with it that I played around with more shading and trying out an ink pen on it. Exploration leads to discovery!

So, after that delicious lunch and visiting over the coffee, we walked out sided the bakery. I saw the scene below and said “Oooo, I want to try capturing that!” (Yes, the poor patient people who travel with me!)

I compromised and took a photo of it and kept walking.

My mouth was drooling (figuratively) when I saw the architecture lining the street. I have a weakness for churches too. “Draw it.” the good voices whispered repeatedly.

Resisting, yet toying with the idea, I walked my mom and sisters back to their car, and then with no one to worry about keeping waiting, I went back and sketched the scene.

So, let’s reinforce the mindset of capturing our perks by seeing how I followed those three points:

  • Build the picture by focusing on what you like about the picture: the vertical lines of the architecture, mixed in with the new spring green.
  • Shoot down the naysayers:
    • Well, the sketch came off well, but the painting…
    • I painted it later from the photo reference (it was chilly out, so I skiddalded after the sketch). While I was painting it, I was not enjoying a conversation I was having/listening too at the same time. I think I took it out on my painting.
    • I also was impatient with getting the painting done. I was so focused on finishing that I put off checking the details of the architecture. But the architectural details were what I loved about it in the first place!!!!
  • Be the coach you wish you had: I didn’t even stop to listen to what the coach would say.
    • The coach probably would have helped me focus on those architectural details.
    • I was bullheaded and stubborn, and trying to ‘escape’ while painting. Is a coach really going to keep talking to you if you’re not going to listen?

Maybe that’s a little harsh, but it’s the truth.

Don’t worry though, the third perk ends a little more happily.

On the way back form Lawrence I decided to try to capture this scene below.

It may not look like much from this view, but it’s such a darling “off the beaten path look,” especially on a sunny day. I pulled on to the gravel road and proceeded to capture the picture while sitting in the warm confines of my car.

Lets apply those three points:

  • Build: focus on what you like about the picture: the wrought-iron white fence leading down to the old school (?) building. It leads to the farmhouse, and then invites you to wander down the dirt road, off the fast paced highway.
  • Shoot down the naysayers: I made sure to paint when I was in a peaceful setting, and filtered out those dark thoughts.
  • Be the coach you wish you had:
    • Again, I told myself just to give it my best and have fun with it. “Do it because you enjoy it!”
    • “Simply doing it will make you better.”
    • “Remember what James Clear says: 1% better everyday!”

The result was pretty satisfying for sure. I am sure I could have taken my time and honed in on the details more, but I was afraid I wouldn’t finish it if I got too perfectionistic about the it!

This system of build, shoot, and coach did lead to more fruits just days later. But that’s for another day.

I hope that you enjoyed this post. It’s a deeper look into how I do what I do.

I hope that in doing it, it’s certainly given you the confidence to begin to capture your everyday perks whatever your artistic medium is! Remember, build, shoot, coach!

If you’d like to check out what helps me do what I do, check out the links below. (Note: when you click the link below, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.)

This is what I do all of my travel-journaling in. They’re clothbound, sewn, and so durable! Plus, the paints don’t buckle the pages. If you’re only interesting in sketching, the sketchbooks are very nice too!

Here’s the pencil I use -the softer lead makes it easier to sketch faster. And, let’s face it, if you invest in a good tool, you’re going to take better care of it, and will better remember where you left it!

And I quoted Jame’s Clear earlier: “1% better everyday.” Here’s his book:

Thanks again for visiting! Have a great week!

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