Getting Past the Blocks of Uncertainty


an in-progress journal page; she's gone through a few layers, but I'm still a bit uncertain as to where she's going!

Sometimes, we have no idea what we’re doing in our journals.
Ideas come to mind, and we rush to execute them, afraid that, if they’re left uncaught for too long, they will fade away, taken on the wind like a clearing mist. So we put them down, sit back, and wonder what the hell we were thinking. Why that color? Why is that image there? How is this going to work out?

There are a few things you can do when this happens:

1. Push through it.

This requires bravery and a silent critic. Just keep putting paint and paper and drawings down, collage a bit more, add another layer of paint, and work faster to keep yourself from thinking too much. I remember reading an interview with Teesha Moore where she said something like keep going until you hit some resistance, and push through it -- that’s where the best stuff comes from. Whenever a page seems to not be working, pushing through it and adding bits can help unlock magic you’d never have found if you simply let the page win.

2. Shift to another page.

Working on more than one page at once can help you keep the energy and art mojo flowing when the page you’re confused by throws a brick wall in your way. Switch to something else -- grab a collage bit from your stash, or a paint color you adore, and put it down on another journal page. Dina often has three journals going at once; when she’s in the flow, she’s working fast and switching between them so there’s no static moments while something is drying.
3. Take a break.

Sometimes, this is what you have to do. When you slam into that blockage, that moment of what is going on here? it may just be time for you to push your journal away, stand up, and move somewhere else. Go for a walk, have a conversation with someone near you, listen to music. Don’t, whatever you do, look online for inspiration. There are two reasons I warn you against this: first, because you may find something you love and feel you’ve no business even journaling anymore because oh, who am I to try when someone else can do something that amazing? and second, because the internet can really suck up your time, and before you know it, an hour has passed, the paint on your palette’s dried out, and it’s time to make dinner. Try walking away for maybe twenty minutes, then come back and try again.
You may want to give up. Shut your journal and ignore it for a few days. Wonder if you’re any good at all. Here’s what I have to say:

You are amazing, wonderful, and unique, and have every right to keep going, keep playing, keep creating. Being an artist isn’t about paintings in a gallery or being recognized for talent. It is a frame of mind, an outlook, and a willingness to run right up to the blocks and tear the thing down, brick by brick, because you want to know what’s on the other side.


I've also updated the Studio View gallery with several shots around my outdoor art space.