Whimsical art: Let your imagination run riot

Alice par John Tenniel 30Rainbow colored animals, bright happy colors, make believe world, fairies and mermaids, gnomes and elves, monsters and angels – that in a nutshell is whimsical art. Most whimsical artists produce light, airy, happy pieces of art that are meant to fill the viewer up with joy.

But it isn’t all glitter and fairy dust in whimsical land. There are also dark, brooding monsters and sinister characters – like the Corpse Bride and Tim Burton’s more gothic whimsical style.

Whimsical artists play firmly in the field of imagination – flowers with a human face, unicorns, phoenix girls, centaurs – it’s all about the quirky.

When humans make it into a whimsical painting, there’s generally something strange about them – their eyes may be too big, or their lips too small; their bodies may be tiny, or their hair a bright bubblegum pink. And if they look “normal”, the landscape around them will be anything but normal.

Dark, whimsical paintings from the Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot

A lot of children’s book illustrations are also firmly in the whimsical style. There’s something innocent and naive about whimsical art, and yet it can portray immense power and depth, which is why this is my favourite art style.

All of the portraits that I paint in my art journals are whimsical. In fact, a lot of my canvases are whimsical too. They’re just so much more fun and engaging to do than realistic art, or at least that is what I think!

In fact, when I was creating my oracle cards, I very intentionally kept the overall tone whimsical, even if some of them have a slightly illustrative feel to them. Here’s a quick video of some of the cards – can you see their whimsical nature shine through?

Want to try your hand at drawing a whimsical character? Take a look at this step-by-step tutorial on drawing a whimsical face.

Over to you: Do you find this art form fun and interesting, or is it too childish and fluffy for you?

Posted in Art Journaling, Artists Toolbox and tagged , , , , , , , , .

I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?


  1. Its so very interesting. Whimsical art, whether it is from lighter perspective or the darker mood, its so intriguing!! It makes one think, ponder. Couple this with an interesting story write up or a work of fiction, it transports you to the wonderland, your own vivid imagination at play!
    Sure will try out the step by step tutorial! Thanks for sharing!
    Anagha From Team MocktailMommies
    Collage Of Life

  2. I didn’t know this form had a different name. I love whimsical art. It fills me with fascination and joy. Loved the tutorial you shared at the end.

  3. I love whimsical art and many contemporary artists do paint in the whimsical style for children’s books. I encourage children to paint the whimsical style as it is driven by childlike imagination.

    • Illustrations in children’s books are beautiful indeed! It’s really good that you encourage children to be whimsical and free in their painting. That’s the best way to encourage and nurture their creativity.

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