Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How to jump the hurdle of a creative bloc

We all know this annoying feeling: we are surrounded by loads of wonderful stuff to create with and we would so love to enjoy some happy creative time at our craft table and yet not a single idea hits the mind. The tag/ canvas/ art journal page/ object in front of you remains naggingly plain and untouched while you try hard to focus on a concept or an idea on how to start...

Servus and welcome to today's blog post by Our Creative Corner's Resident Guest Designer - which is - oh, ME! (I still feel so honoured and thankful for being given this post by lovely Laura! Mwah! X)

Having been struggling with a severe creative bloc for almost two weeks now (which feels even more stressful when you know you're being counted on as a RGD ;) I decided to find and try out a way to help jump that hurdle more effortlessly than by endlessly wracking one's brain and getting more and more frustrated (which doesn't help at all...on the contrary!).

I remembered that I had read about creativity prompt cards somewhere - which aren't a bad idea at all...but I wanted something that felt more playful and spontaneous. I love playing boardgames and rolling the I decided to use dice instead. There are not only six sided ones but also ten-, twelve- or twenty-sided dice to choose from. So how about advising each number on a die a certain technique or medium from the wide range of mixed media and having the die choose for me?

I made a list of materials and techniques I love to use on my projects, but also made sure I included two to three techniques that I usually try to dodge (like using my own handwriting or turning to the colour wheel for reference) so there would still be the option for a challenge. And I thought it was important to have one "free choice" number - just in case inspiration might hit during the dice-rolling process.

I wasn't able to figure more than ten (due to the creative bloc I am afraid) and also thought that twenty options might be a bit overwhelming - so I decided to use a ten-sided die this time.
For starters I rolled a 4.....erm, well, the colour wheel it was (and for me a true challenge therefore). So I chose a base colour and the matching triad complementary colours and put them on my desk. Then I rolled an 8 (fabric), a 2 (doodle) and a 1 (stencil). So I browsed my stash for some ribbon and fabric, a black china ink marker and some stencils.

I know some prefer to immediately use item No.1 before they roll the die again (or pick the next prompt card), but I thought it might be a good idea to collect about four to six items/techniques and then stop and see if these would spark an idea for a project. My goal was to just use the dice-rolling as a little kick-start and proceed freely from the point where mojo would take over. I definitely didn't want to find myself struggling with how to put all the rolled for media and techniques into one unified looking piece (as sometimes this simply isn't possible and will have you end up with a piece that looks as if you had decided to wear several complete outfits from your wardrobe at once).

As I had bought the fab Dylusions journal by Dyan Reavely aaaaages ago (without daring to work in it) I thought this was the right time to be brave and dive right into art journaling in a book (instead of using journal cards or spiral bound art journals where you can always leave out any messed up pages without leaving any trace).

I applied some paint dots from the paints I had chosen according to the colour wheel and scraped the paint onto the page using an old credit card.

While doing so I found that I needed another rule added to my "creative dice-rolling game": to be able to incorporate black and white at any time (as both colours help unify the elements on a page - the stamped or doodled ones as well as the white from the page substrate). So I scraped on some Titanium White too.

Then I used some black Gesso to stencil on my Andy Skinner childrens image.

Uh oh! My first "accident" - the outlines of the stenciled image turned out to be heavily smudged. Luckily the stencil comes with masks too, so I used the mask and a white pencil to draw the outlines to get a crisp image. Phew!

Next I applied some white paint through a small dots stencil.

By now two of my four rolled for techniques had already been used. The "fabric 8" gave me a hard time, but I finally decided to add a piece of rough ribbon as a kind of page tab for starters. After I had glued it on (with matte Decou-Page) I spontaneously decided my kids needed crowns. So I collaged some dictionary page crowns to their heads too. That also made the silhouettes blend in a little more with the background.

The left border of the page was stamped with a grungy texture stamp from Deep Red and I also remembered a texture stamp (from one of the Tim Holtz Classics stamp sets) from my stash that matched the crowns design perfectly.

Then I turned to No. 2 and did some doodling on the crowns and some of the stenciled on dots. During that step of doodling tiny circles around some of the white dots I spontaneously drew a rough circle on the glued on piece of fabric.

I hadn't thought any further at that point but when I looked at that circle it seemed to be a perfect sun. So I glued the French word for sun to it.

I also decided my children needed some ground to stand on, so I sketched one using a black Faber Castell PITT artist pen.

Then I got carried away while adding some lettering by hand ...

...and doodling with black and white and also with some of the paints from the background (using a very small fine detail brush).

As you can see the sun got some beams as I felt this corner looked a bit empty or too "calm", whereas the doodling on the children's dresses had gotten too "noisy", so I painted over some of it with black Gesso.

The changes may seem rather small to you, but the doodles on the girl's dress (to the left) were drawing the focus too hard towards them and the painted inner lines also split the black shape into separate sections which made the silhouette partially fall apart.

At that point I thought (for the first time) that my page might be finished:

But then I thought some of the areas still looked as if they lacked some depth, so I decided to risk overdoing my page and added some washi tape in black and yellow:

I love washi tape as you can easily remove it if you don't like the outcome! But there it was and I definitely liked it. ;)

My table had turned into the crammed state it usually is in by that time...

...and my tea had grown cold. Which is always a good sign as it means I had lost myself in the process of happily messing around and letting one thing lead to another.

So obviously my approach to taking the creative bloc hurdle was a success! Yay! And it had also led to some more decisions on how to continue with my new art journal. So I decided for example to not decorate the cover but let it take on paint and smudges from my desk as I proceed to work in my journal. I suddenly remembered a visit with an art class at a school in Dublin where the desks were completely stained and covered with paint residue of all shades and kinds and how I loved that as it felt deeply inspiring and encouraging to create some more happy messes over and over again ;)

I hope you liked joining me on this creative hike today! And I hope that maybe some of you will find the dice-rolling as helpful with overcoming creative blocs as I did! I am convinced that as soon as creative work starts feeling like a struggle it isn't creative (the creative-from the heart-kind of creative) anymore and that always leads to the lack of "soul" in a piece of art which is "visible" in a way (maybe on a subconscious level). So a rather playful approach to this problem we all encounter from time to time might be a helpful solution.

Remember to always follow your inner sun when it comes to art journaling!

Hugs and happy crafting,
Claudia xxx


  1. Yes Claudia I thoroughly enjoyed the creative ride today ! What a fab idea of using dice to start or jump out of creative block ! I loved your journal page and the doddling make it very Interesting !

  2. What a fun approach to jump start the mojo and I love the picture of your creative space as mine looks like that and the open space gets smaller and smaller. Beautiful journal page.

  3. Love this idea Claudia, it certainly would help to narrow things down when I'm stumped or torn about an approach! Gorgeous page, those colours are stellar! hugs :)

  4. How wonderful! Have you ever seen Dina Wakley's video about creative calesthenics? Similar kind of deal. Lovely journal page.

  5. Aha, now I'm in the picture ;-) you have used the cube method to make a quick and clear decision, awesome!! and a perfect combination from stamps, stencils and colors. Thank you very much for this great inspiration!! Hugs, Kerstin xx

  6. Thanks this was just thing info I needed to get past my block! Super idea and a lot of fun too! xxxxx Laurie Moore

  7. Amazing Claudia, my mojo left me for a while and it's good to have a random choice to play and resume your creativity! Brilliant idea with the dice. I used a grid and a list of ideas from a book I have about journalling. It's good to have different ideas to fall back on. Hugs Jan x

  8. Follow your inner sun... Like follow your inner child... We never do it enough it seems... But here you show a perfect lesson! What a good idea and great inspiration ! Thanks, Claudia!

  9. What a fabulous idea Caudia, whether you have mind block or not this is so useful.
    Wonderful colours and the AS stencil children look amazing. Truly inspirational from a lovely RGD.

    TFS and best wishes Annie x

  10. What a fab idea to roll the dice!! Love your process and finished page Claudia!! Well done! xx

  11. Could it be better? Perhaps for someone else but for me - it's PERFECT. Wow. This is a fantastic page of art - created by your determination to "follow YOUR inner sun"! You did - you know. You just walked right thru the darkness of blocked mind - right into the sun... and took us with you. YOU are one of the children... leading US - the other child... thru the dark into the light. SERIOUSLY AMAZING. Thank you so much Claudia. What a great way to start my day. j.

  12. LOVE this AJ page, Claudia!! Such a clever idea with rolling the dice to see where it would lead you down the creativity trail--I think I would cheat and re-roll the dice over and over ;) :) Fabulous steps and layering of all of the colors, stencils and your doodling & handwriting! This is an AJ page that I could get lost in!! XOXO-Shari

  13. Dear Claudia, I love your idea with dices, very clever! Journal page is also fantastic with beautiful colour palette and doodling...thank you very much for sharing your ideas and for great inspiration!

  14. This was a great inspiration(your completed page) and the "dice" method is cool! Thank you.

  15. What a wonderful way to jump start your creative process Claudia, love it! Your journal page is fabulous, thanks so much for sharing your process and techniques. Off to find some dice!!

  16. I seem to be so far behind with catching up - I'm so sorry Claudia! This is amazing!!! All the more so because I've just made part of a project with that same children stencil and have come to a standstill. Think I can easily move on now after looking at this! You are a very creative lady!!! Juliaxx


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