on getting unstuck & painting, painting, painting

sometimes i get to this point with my artwork where i'm just stuck. i look at all of my past paintings and wonder why i can't paint like that anymore. 

my fun in creating comes when i reach something new. i could never have fun painting the same characters or scenes over and over. that's part of the reason  i love mixed media...because there's always a new supply or technique to try. yet in pushing myself to discover something new in my artwork, it always takes a lot of trial and covering things up.  

i know i get stuck whenever i try and paint something beautiful or try and paint what i think others will adore.

i'm currently working on this piece for an upcoming gallery exhibition called 44 presidents. it's a larger piece, which i don't often do. but it's also supposed to be US president andrew johnson. 

if you know my style, you know i hardly paint boy-ish things, much less anything that might resemble a president. so when i began this painting, i knew it wouldn't look like a president, but the idea that it should cramped my creativity.

so, i decided to let everything go and went back to my usual ways of getting unstuck...

*i painted with my favorite colors (currently neons, white and turquoise) 
*i played with art supplies i have the most fun with (currently india ink, tissue paper, acrylics & water-soluble oil pastels) 
*i even found inspiration in things around me, especially objects that kept turning up in my every day (like the full moon and feathers)
*i went off and worked on other paintings 
*i took a break 
*i sat and sipped tea

yet none of this has worked. and i'm still stuck.

luckily i learned to take photos of my paintings from start to finish, which reminds me that each piece i create always goes through an ugly, stuck phase, especially the good ones. 

i've also learned that when i REALLY get stuck with my artwork it's because i'm pushing myself to try something new. i'm trying to uncover that story that's inside and just dying to be expressed. yet i don't know what it is yet. i remember feeling that way when i first started painting my new long-nosed Snooter characters

i am certain that what i am trying to create now is a merge between some of my owls and the long-nosed characters. but in a new way. and so i'm off to the art store to stock up on new supplies, new colors and new mixed media elements that inspire me. i'm also painting, painting, painting and trying every new technique that comes to mind...just to see what happens.

it's all just waiting to unfold.


ps. i'm getting so excited for my newest online painting workshop...HOW TO CREATE WHIMSICAL ANIMALS. registration opens this week. class begins in september! 


  1. Beautiful flowers. What a lovely garden you must have -inspiration in itself.

    Whenever I get stuck and spend some moments looking through sketchbooks from years ago, I always feel, as you say, that I used to be able to paint and draw better than I can now. But, yes, it's just that we take a different direction and keep struggling with something new.

    1. yes, it sometimes seems like it would be easier to paint what i've painted before...but i know there is no life to that for me.

      best wishes!

  2. Thanks for sharing not only what you do when you get stuck, but also for being so honest that these sometimes don't even work. I'm sure it'll be one of your best when you complete it!

    When I get stuck, I work on another painting, or do some art journaling.

    1. great suggestion to go back to some art journaling...getting off the canvas and onto plain paper that i'm not so attached to is always good. i think part of the thing with me and painting big is that the canvas is a bit intimidating :)

      best wishes!

  3. Juliette, I can so relate to this entire post!! There are times that the creativity just pours from me, and wont stop almost as if I have to force myself to stop due to time constraints and obligations to STOP. Then there are times when I am trying so hard that I cut my own imagination off and have to do some of these same things....step back look at it from the perspective of a photograph which helps greatly to see things a different way actually...take a break...work on another work of art..so many artist will probably response to this post and say they too can relate I do believe it is the universal imagination cycle for creative beings..Thanks for sharing and reminding me and probably others we are not alone in this!
    Going shopping for new supplies and techniques is the most fun EVER! Have a blast searching and please do share with us what you find! :)

  4. Lovely flowers! I hope you get unstuck soon... That's always distressing to me... I would love to take one of your online classes... Unfortunately, it's just not in the picture currently... One of these days!


Feel free to say hello and ask questions. I would be delighted to hear from you! xo -juliette

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