Ways to Get Past a Blank Page

Posted September 02 2016
Whenever I’m on Instagram and see a photo with intriguing composition, I take a screen shot on my phone. Later, I’ll sit and do a quick series of loose thumbnail sketches based on those photographs. When I’m done, they look nothing like the photograph, but they act as an starting point for me and my scared brain to start thinking through abstraction and design and get something onto a blank page.

Artist Pat Dews in Designing Great Starts with Texture and Form takes another approach. She takes a small viewfinder the same ratio as her paper and moves it over pages from a magazine. She moves it around until she finds something that speaks to her. She’s looking for interesting shapes and strong value patterns. She then takes that small area and draws it on her large sheet of paper. It will be the guide for her paintings starts and a way to get something down quickly onto her paper.

John Salminen gets that initial inspiration from the 3D world. In abstract watercolor workshop, A Designed Approach to Abstraction, he shows you how you can combine simple renderings of everyday objects (a stapler, a binder clip) and use them to start your next abstract painting.

The blank page can often be uninspiring at best and overwhelming at worst but there are creative ways to get you past it when you need a little help. Maybe you’ll find a new piece of your process along the way.

Let us know how it works for you! And if you have other creative ways to overcome the blank page, share with us and other artists below in the comments section. We’d love to hear how you take on the white.