Turn Your Word of the Year into Art

Do you pick a word-of-the-year each year? Typically, I do not. But the word “Perspective” kept popping up for me during December and I decided it was something I wanted to listen to and remain open about in the year to come. After having worked on Creative Lettering Workshop earlier this year, I realized how much fun it was to make art out of words. Creating something you can display and give prominence to seems fitting for a word-of-the-year, and maybe this will inspire you to give some love to your own word and intentions and create your own word-of-the-year work of art.



  • craft knife and cutting mat
  • glue
  • paintbrushes
  • pencil
  • straightedge (I like using a quilting ruler)
  • Strathmore Mixed Media Paper (I used a couple 9″ x 12″ sheets)
  • tape
  • watercolor (I used Lyra Aquacolors and Derwent Inktense ink pencils)
  • water jar


Here’s an approach for creating a full page of color, marks and texture, but that is maybe more interesting to work on than attacking every square inch from the get go. Begin with one color and a few simple marks—nothing too elaborate. Cut the paper in half one direction, swap their positions and tape on the back to secure. Create some new marks and then cut the paper again (I used thirds in one direction), swap and tape on the back. Without worrying too much about what you’re composing and if it makes any sense or not, keep going, but only add one—two at the most—color each time before cutting/swapping/taping.

I worked on several books in 2015 where an intuitive approach to painting was encouraged (Painted Blossoms, Intuitive Painting Workshop, Bold Expressive Painting) and so that’s the approach I took as I worked and kept my word-of-the-year in the back of my mind. It feels like collectively, circles are a big focus for us right now and I enjoyed using the circle as a continual element to keep me working intuitively and avoid thinking too hard.


To make things easier to keep track of, only make one or more cuts in one direction between artful additions. I alternated between cutting horizontally and vertically.


Continue the painting, dividing and taping process for as many stages as you like.


I was happy with my art when I achieved a grid of 12 x 6. When your page looks full enough to you, you may want to add some final details with paint or pen. Still working loosely and trying to stay in an intuitive state, I brought out details I saw such as leaf shapes and other objects/patterns, but didn’t go too crazy with this final step either. When you painting is finished set it aside and take out a fresh sheet of mixed-media paper.

It’s time to cut out your word! Draw your letters in whatever orientation you like. I wanted to mix things up because I wanted my word to remind me to have a different perspective, but obviously you can leave your letters in the correct order if you like. 🙂 I created my letters in reverse so that I wouldn’t have any lines to erase after cutting, but if you don’t mind gently erasing any pencil left behind, feel free to draw the letters right-reading and cut them out from the front. If you’re shy about drawing letters, try using an alphabet stencil or print something out from your computer. Also, I used as many different letter forms as I could come up with, but you may like to stick to one strong font. So many possibilities here!

When you’re finished cutting the letters out, hinge your cut-out page to your painted sheet to complete.

Frame and display your word of the year to keep the intention alive.

Frame and display your word of the year to keep the intention alive.


To learn more about intuitive painting or making art out of words, check out these other great North Light books.

T5832_160px_72dpi T7854_160px_72dpi T3694_160px_72dpi Painted Blossoms

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One Response to Turn Your Word of the Year into Art

  1. Wow ! Excellent art here . I am amazed to see this. Thanks for this post .