The Blank Canvas Part 1 – Chance

The Blank Canvas Part 1 - Chance

Getting creatively “stuck” is something that is so common among artists, it’s almost a cliché.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of books which address various aspects of creativity – developing it from nothing, bolstering your own latent creative potential, and getting out of a creative slump.

What I’d like to share with you are the steps I’ve taken to get myself unstuck.   Some of them might be familiar to you, but I hope some ideas might come in handy.

Ice Cream Headache Cartoon by Leah J

Chance.  Sometimes, when faced with a blank canvas, try throwing in a little chaos to get things off to a start.  Sometimes, just “a start” is exactly what you need.  Random elements can include things like:

1) Splashing paint or pouring paint on (my personal favorite)

In My Head ny Leah J

2) Rolling a marble or ball bearing dipped in paint across the surface

Jungle by Leah J

3) Wrinkling or crushing your paper first, then painting and letting the crinkles show, or using the edges to define new shapes.

I feel this is worth trying even if you’re usually a planner.  Someone who typically does thumbnails, sketches, and exact measurements can be the perfect candidate for a little randomness.  You can even treat a surface with random marks or staining, and then crop or cut out those potentially interesting smaller areas to create new compositions, or use in collages.

You might be one of the artists who harness the power of chance.  Do you use random, organic, chaotic elements as creative inspiration?


Leah JLeah Jay (Jakusovszky) has been an artist and illustrator in San Jose for 25 years. She creates using a variety of media including watercolor, acrylic, pastel, ink, and collage. Her illustrative work has been featured in many books, and highlights from her career include directing 2001’s WTC Memorial Art Project to facilitate artist’s responses to 9/11 and successfully crowdfunding her artbook “Amphibian Love” to benefit Save the Frogs in 2015.

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