Tanyalee Kahler

Tanyalee Kahler is an Australian mum turned artist. She loves creating mixed media art journals, dabbling with watercolours, publishing magazines (Hello, Brush Magazine!), and playing around with other creative outlets. Writing that all down makes her realise that perhaps she has taken on too much, but she loves being creative and will always find something to fill that space in her life.

Have you ever had a period in your art life where things just got so busy and overwhelming that you just couldn’t face making art? Or couldn’t physically make art because you were unwell or moving to a new house or some other such thing? These sorts of speed bumps can really throw our art journey off course and it can be really hard to START again.

It’s Tanyalee with you today, and I am here to tell you that you are not alone! There are many of us out there that this happens to on a regular basis. Me included.

Like most of us, I am a mother, and full-time worker first and foremost, and my art always has to come second. I also have the added complication of other activities that use up whatever spare time I have. And I shouldn’t complain because I live a blessed life and still get to be creative in many aspects. But I really miss my art practice. So, when I was asked to contribute to the Season of Starting with Get Messy, I jumped at the chance. I am going to share with you some tips and strategies to help you START making art again after a forced (or chosen) break. These are tried and true strategies that I myself use whenever I am struggling to get started again.

Tip 1: Limit your supplies

Pick out three or four supplies from your stash and just use them to create something. Limiting your choices can prevent overwhelming thoughts and make it easier to get started. Brush Magazine has a regular ‘Mystery Box Challenge’ which is a great place to start.

Tip 2: Use a Recipe

I taught a class here with Get Messy a couple of years ago called ‘Messy Pages’ and one of the lessons was called Messy Pages Recipes. These recipes are step-by-step prompts set out like a recipe that you can follow to create an art journal page. It takes the thinking out of the process meaning you can get stuck in and make art.
Brush Magazine publishes a Messy Pages Recipe each issue as well and there is a bank of them available on the website for free.

Tip 3: Hidden Journaling

Get those thoughts out of you head and onto a page in your journal. Sometimes freeing you mind of the clutter and thoughts is enough to kickstart the creative juices. I love scribbling down my thoughts in my journal and painting and collaging right over the top. It’s therapeutic and leads to quite memorable pages.

Tip 4: Make a Mood Board

Grab a magazine and pull out a few images that grab your attention and glue them onto a sheet of paper creating a mood board. Beside the image, write down the words that jump into your head, swatch some colours that match the pictures, or even draw some patterns that are appearing. Use the images as a place to start your next spread. Or just keep the mood board for inspiration another day.

Tip 5: Just make a Background

Instead of committing to finishing an entire page, just start by putting down some colour as a background. Use simple techniques like adding blobs of paint and smooshing two pages together. This simple step might lead to another, and another, and another. And if not, that doesn’t matter – you will have a background ready for when your creative mojo does come back.

Tip 6: Don’t Stress, Do something else instead!

Don’t force yourself to be creative. If you aren’t feeling it even after thinking about all of the above tips, give yourself permission to try again another day. Don’t be pressured, just take yourself out for a coffee or watch your favourite show on Netflix instead. Personally, the more I think about the fact that I haven’t made any art for a period of time, the more stressed I feel about it. So, I give myself permission to breath and do something else! It’s meant to be fun and empowering after all, not something that causes you stress.

I hope the above tips inspire you to get back into your art journals, or to START! I look forward to seeing what you make. If you want to share your work on social media, be sure to tag me – I’m @tanyaleekahler on Instagram.

Action Steps


use one or six of the above tips to get you back into your art journal!