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Inspiration for Conquering The Blank Page

Hello Get Messy Family!

If you are anything like me, sometimes you just can’t think of what to do in your art journal. It’s one of the reasons I created my Mixed Media Inspiration Deck — I needed the inspiration during the creative lull times. When the lull happens we can literally find ourselves staring at a blank page for hours.

Here’s the thing about a lull, we can get out of it so easily by simply starting. But what do we start with?

In this post I’m sharing a list of ways to conquer the blank page. My hope is to give you a few “starters” to add to your toolkit. I’m including some of the ways I approach my art journal using pre-planned pages and stencils (one of my favorite tools). Of course I’m showing you “my way”, but encourage you to do what feels exciting for you!!! That’s what’s most important in the creative process.

*NOTE: I am a book artist first, so I’m ALWAYS working in at least three or four journals at a time. Most times, more than that if you count the ones I’m using to teach classes and workshops. :-). But what I’m sharing here are things I do with almost every journal.

Pre-Planned Pages: I have a pretty standard set of pages I start every journal with and a few I like to repeat in every journal. Using stencils (or stamps) to pre-plan my pages is a fabulous way to get a journal started. Here are some of the pages I try to always do in my journals (not always in this order).

THE INTENTIONS PAGE

Every journal I’ve ever created (or purchased) has an intention behind it. A few years ago I started actually writing out the intentions in the journal so I could see it easily. I like to use the first one or two pages to state the intentions for the journal. This serves as a reminder to me of what I originally planned to use the journal for. It also gives me the chance to fill the first page with something that matters to me. By far, the intentions pages are some of my favorites in every journal.

Word stencils and rubber stamps are great for the intentions page because they take away the need to draw something. I also love to make individual cards that I slip into my journal as intentions. Here’s an example:

My favorite word stencils from StencilGirl are: Sacred Words & Marks, Verbiage, Uplifting Words, and Journal Words.

GRIDS AND GRIDDED PAGES

I’m a huge fan of grids on pages. I love to use grids for journaling, swatching supplies, and doing daily thumbnail drawings and/or zendoodles.

I typically create blank grids for the month or the week ahead of time. These give me pre-planned spaces to come to and help reduce my fear of the huge blank page spread. By using grids, I’ve sectioned off the page and it makes it feel a little less intimidating. Instead of needing to fill the entire page spread, I only need to fill one box a day.

Above is a blank monthly grid. Here’s an example of one of my zendoodle monthly grids that I filled out one day at a time over a one month period:

      

I used a combination of the Simple Geo Squares stencil and hand drawn rectangles to make my sections.

Here’s an example of a weekly grid page waiting to be filled.

And here is an example of a yearly grid I created to set a creative intention at the start of each month. You might also use something like this to document your creative energy at the end of each month.

Grids can be a great way to track gratitude, memories, moods, journaling, and anything else you’d like to document on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

I love to leave a space for gratitude in my journal. My favorite thing to do is make gratitude trackers that I can return to at the end (or start) of each day. I love to take something as simple as watercolor circles and use them as journaling spaces. This could also be a neat way to create your personal color palette and then combine that with your gratitude tracker!!!

The thumbnail idea I learned from my artsy pal Kelly Johnson of Wings, Worms, and Wonder. It’s also great for all those Instagram challenges we try to tackle each month.

Let’s face it, some days it feels almost impossible to create. When that happens, I just write the words “I was busy.” or “LIFE” to fill in my box. I kinda like how that looks when it’s all said and done.

  

I’ve even thought about tracking the fountain pens I use on a daily basis but that would be crazy making since I switch pens three or four times a day :-).

PERSONAL COLOR PALETTES AND COLOR WHEELS

Another way you might start your journal (or just fill a page spread) is by doing a personal color palette or personal color wheel. If you’re like me, this can change from journal to journal, season to season, and day to day. You might create swatches on the page that show your current mood or maybe you want to dedicate a journal to using only a certain color palette.

For the moon color wheel I used a stencil then went back over it with sketchy lines using a permanent black pen.

I love to make circles outside of my journal then tape or paste them onto the pages of my journal.

For this personal color wheel, I used a stencil by Pam Carriker to draw out my circle. I then took my time over multiple days filling in each wedge with my personal zodiac chart.

The pictures above are examples of how I like to document my favorite colors or colors that speak to my current mood. Sometimes I’ll just do a color study to help me move past the creative lull.

WORD OF THE YEAR

If you are someone who picks a word of the year, you might pre-plan a page spread in your journals dedicated to that. I’ve done that three years in a row, but only in one journal. Maybe one year I’ll try doing a word-of-the-year spread in every journal then compare them all at the end of the year.

ART BITS

And finally, one of my newest obsessions is keeping little bits of my art projects and making a page spread for them in my journal. I call it my Art Bits Page. Here’s an example:

Each time you sit down to make art don’t forget to take those little bits you cut or tear and put them on a page in your journal. You might even consider writing a little about the “bit” just to jog your memory later.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I hope some of these ideas will resonate with you and help you conquer any fear you may have of coming to a blank page. Pre-planning your pages can be a tremendous help for moving past creative lulls and jumpstarting your practice.

When I start a journal, I go ahead and plan out the pages I’ve mentioned here so that when I return to the journal, it feels less blank and more like an invitation to reconnect. Sometimes it takes me multiple days to finish the page, but that means I can never say…”I don’t know where to begin.”

I would LOVE to see your take on these ideas. Be sure to tag me if you share on social media so I can give you virtual hugs and high fives.

With joy and gratitude,

Kiala

KIALA

Kiala Givehand is a published poet, bookbinder, creative business strategist, teacher, fountain pen collector, and radical nomad. She believes in surrounding herself with ordinary humans who live extraordinary lives, gathering with people who make her laugh & love uncontrollably, and living a life intent on cultivating happiness.

8 Comments

  1. Ashley Rodgers

    There are so many great ideas here! Thanks for sharing, Kiala!

    • Kiala Givehand

      YAY! Glad you found these useful Ashely. I can’t stop making color wheels and personal palettes. They are my favorites so far. Tag me if you take an idea and run with it. Happy art making.

  2. Jenny Sehlstedt

    Brilliant ideas!!

    • Kiala Givehand

      Thanks Jenny! Loved sharing these.

  3. Chris Silker

    Great ideas to add to my repertoire – thanks! And I think I need to buy that color wheel stencil stat.

  4. CIndy Jacobs

    I love this! And some of them I really used to do and I loved them – but I had forgotten!! Especially those box/grids! Thanks so much!

  5. Patricia Shimozo-Allen

    Two thumbs up for this post! No more blank pages 🙂

  6. Maura Flood

    Oh, Kiala, these ideas are perfect for stimulating me when I’m stuck. Thank you so much. I’m sure I’ll come back to read this over and over again.