Stretching Boundaries, an Art Journal Page and Prompt

To dream anything that you want to dream.  That’s the beauty of the human mind.  To do anything that you want to do.  That’s the strength of the human will.  To trust yourself to trust your limits.  That is the courage to succeed.

~ Bernard Edmonds

I am fighting a bit of growing pains.

I know, growing pains are quite the drag.  I sort of thought I was past those by now.  That’s what I get for thinking, right??  But it’s happening again, I am feeling a bit like I’m standing on the edge of a plateau, looking over the edge, wondering what’s on the other side of the huge expanse of air in front of me.  And more importantly, how the heck do I get to the other side??

Reaching for new horizons

I have been working with new techniques, and trying to expand my color horizons.  I tend to want to stay somewhat mono-chromatic in my color schemes, leaning towards the cooler colors.  Lots of blues and purples.  Even when I’m in the cooler realms, I stay within a color scheme that has one or two main colors and then all of the shades around those colors.  I’m aiming towards using some of the other warmer colors, and towards using wider variation of color in my works.

I’ve also been working with new texture mediums.  How to get texture in new and interesting ways.  How to add dimension not only visually, but dimensionally.

All of this poking around has me a bit scattered, feeling a little confused, a bit like I don’t quite know what’s coming next.  How am I going to put all of these new-found things together?  What do they actually do for my art?

Those questions and feelings have me a bit stagnated, it seems.  I walk around, handling the tools and the paints and the pieces of ephemera.  I just stand in my studio looking at my cabinets wondering what to do next.  I stare at my art journal, flipping through pages of really cool and really weird backgrounds, wondering where they’re headed.  Waiting.  Waiting for something to speak to me.

Just keep swimming

I know that I just have to get active.  Just grab some paint and start painting.  Just get something out onto the canvas.  Something will come out.  It’s the activity that breeds the inspiration when I’m stuck.

I have been fighting with a particular page in my journal, everything I added actually made it worse.  I wasn’t getting to the point where it started to turn around.  So I just decided to force myself to keep going and do something.  Anything.

While I don’t usually use a bunch of words clipped out of magazines (that’s because I can’t usually find exactly the right words), I opened up an old sailing and cruising magazine that a friend had left here a long time ago.  I was hoping the beautiful pictures would be soothing.  I was looking for some sign, some wordage about Where is this all going??

Inspiration strikes

I did find inspiration.  I actually found lots more fodder in this magazine than I typically do in my arts and crafts and mama mags.  The whole thing is about Where is this all going!!

I clipped and pasted strips of paper and bits of words.  Kind of ended up like the dream-speak prose of a beatnik in a coffee shop.  Christopher stopped and looked and then snapped in applause.  Cute.

This final page has been through a lot with me.  It started to actually disintegrate by the end.  The paper was ready to call it quits on me.  If I hadn’t finally decided I was done, the paper would never have held up.  My journal is groaning with the effort, I think.

Paper, Mod Podge, image transfers, magazine clippings, Neocolors, Sumi ink, gesso

Prompt: I really would love to hear from y’all on this topic.  What do you do when you feel a bit stagnant?  How do you work through it, how do you incorporate all of that into your work?

14 thoughts on “Stretching Boundaries, an Art Journal Page and Prompt

  1. It can be so difficult to bear those periods of stuckness, those transition phases when a breakthrough may be just around the bend and you try to believe it’s on its way, it’ll come, any minute now, but there’s always a moment of panic. For me, anyway. It requires so much faith! I’m primarily a writer, but I also have had these moments with songwriting and painting, and I don’t think it’s so different. When I approach the edge of panic, I walk. I force myself to get up, walk out the door, down the sidewalk, and away, turning impulsively, wherever feels good or right. At first, I’m just walking off that feeling of panic or frustration, getting myself out of the loop of doubt in my head, and then once that subsides a bit, I am immersed in the flow of images moving past me. At a certain point, something shifts, something does come. Some idea or new perspective or approach arises from the soft buzz of my thoughts and then I turn around and head straight home. And the urgency of having to cross that distance to get back to my keyboard helps immensely. I want to be there again, with my work. It’s all I can do to get back to that desk and keep working. I crave it again. And by the time I get there, I’m ready.

    • Hi MacKenzie, ahh, thank you so much your feedback! I also write a lot, was primarily a writer before I started in the visual arts as a way to help my writing! And you are so correct, it’s not so different when we get stuck. My hubby tells me to get out and walk also…I think I get stir crazy and don’t even realize it.
      Your words are words of wisdom, I so appreciate you visiting, I have your blog up on my computer to browse when I get back from walking 🙂
      xoxo MotherDana

      • Thank you! Walking around your landscape must surely have its own brand of inspiration. And it’s interesting how moving between art forms and media can help feed us and keep us going. I really like your work. It has inspired me to go home and do something with all the scraps of ephemera collecting on my shelves. Thank you for checking my blog out, too. I hope WordPress directed you to That’s the current and up-to-date one. All the best.

  2. I’m actually working with the same challenge.

    I figured out that it’s easier for me to start experimenting/playing with scraps of water color paper that I’ve cut off and saved from other projects.

    This way, I don’t have the paralizing fear that I’m about to “waste” a full page on “mistakes”.

    With these chips or strips, I see what the result is of different color, mediums, tools, and layers. While I’m doing this, I also have note cards, or a large sheet of water color paper (that I glue the experiment results to) and a fine tip Sharpie to make notes under or alongside the resulting color/texture reaction.

    Part of one of my art journals incorporated this, and I wrote: the dark is more forgiving of my mixing mistakes, and: waterbase require scuba diving lessons (deeper layers seems to bring more out of the “cool” charactersitics). One layer of a color that I thought was more yellow than I wanted it seemed to transform to more and more orange-ish when I kept adding layers of it.

    Because I love to paint over print, handwriting, and black and white clippings, I have trasluscent acrylics in magenta, cerulean, and cadmium yellow that I use for my primary colors, and CLEAR GESSO (which lets me lift wet paint with dry or wet paper towel if I get too much without it already soaking into porus paper ephemera).

    For my “ideal” orange, I use a jeweler’s flat-head screwdriver to take and add magenta to water or medium FIRST, and then to the yellow so that I don’t get it more red than I want.

    Also, I’ve found that I get the results I like most by putting the lightest colors down first and then adding the darker ones and bringing them into the lighter ones.

    My goal is to creat realistic looking flames/fire. I love candles, and bonfires at beaches, and campfires, fireplaces…

      • Thanks! It was a real birthing process, I don’t “quit” on my works, it may take me a while to come back, but I am stubborn thataway haha.
        Thank you so much for your thoughts, I look forward to seeing more of you!

    • Hello and thank you so much for sharing how you’re dealing with these challenges! I love how you’re dealing with experimentation on the scraps of watercolor papers. I seem to get so impatient, lol.
      And great tip on the lighter colors down first, it seems counter-intuitive, but you’re so right.
      xoxo MotherDana

      • No! I totally worded that wrong! I totally reversed. I’m really really sorry!

        I actually lay the DARKER color down first, and blend the lighter color into it.

        I was practicing painting flames and had to drop things and check what I wrote in my reply to your post.

        Yeah. I’m actually laying down the darker color first and bringing the lighter color into it. Derpa!

  3. Pingback: Be Lovely, Be Unique Art Journal Page and Prompt | St. John Studios

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