You guys, the fear of the blank canvas (in any area of life) is real. We’re often afraid just to take that first step. The good news is that after that first step, it gets easier. Blank canvas syndrome can be something that relates to anything new: jobs, relationships, projects, writing, and yes, art (of course).
I feel there are so many lessons in art that can apply to life. In the following video, I talk about (and show) some of the ways I like to begin a painting. Each of these ways are quick, simple ways to get past the intimidation of the blank canvas.
First Step Always: Start With a Color You Love
One thing I find helpful is just doing something that moves you forward, and a good way to do that is by making a choice you can say yes to. How about color? There are probably one or two colors you love. Choose these and just add them to the canvas. Don’t overthink it or worry if the color will still be there at the end of your painting. You are not thinking about the ending yet, you’re just trying to begin.
Once you make that first (yes!) choice, you have something you can build on.
Got Some Leftover Paint?
Artists notoriously hate to get rid of paint. If there is anything leftover from a painting I finish, I instantly pull out a blank canvas and add it to that. I don’t worry about if the paint will go together or wind up in the final picture or anything like that. Again, I use this as a step to move forward. Using up old paint makes me feel good and then I also have the benefit of a new canvas being started so I’m not starting at plain white when I finally get ready to paint again.
I love started canvases with paper. I combine things like maps, book pages, verses, poetry, scrapbook pages, wrapping paper, napkins… LOL, whatever I have and whatever I like. Again, I don’t overthink this step, I grab the things that appeal to me for whatever reason and move forward knowing that I’m choosing it just because I like it. I enjoy giving my paintings that positive first step.
Use Your Non-Dominant Hand
In Getting Closer to God With Mixed Media Painting, we go over several ways to move forward from a blank canvas, and one of these is to use your non-dominant hand. Doing this is awkward, especially if you’ve never done it before, so it helps you focus on something other than all that blank canvas area.
Place Positive Words of Intention on the Canvas
This might be my favorite one of all. I enjoy painting words onto my canvas in the beginning stages, even though I know they will be covered up. Words are so important to me, and while I often have lots of them on the top layers that add poetry and meaning to paintings, I also like placing them in the early stages this way.