Mark making

I have a special to-do list for occasions where either pain, fatigue, Resistance or muddled concentration keeps me from the projects that require thinking/planning/energy, but also don’t want to “just” read or knit. Or simply to shake up a stuck imagination by doing something new and relaxed.


Continue reading “Mark making”

All black

Those little canvasses I bought are a bit too absorbent for my taste, making it difficult to start with a thin, even layer of something. So I wanted to try to gesso some of them first, and then came on the little jar of black gesso which I can’t remember why I bought.

And now I have these black squares and for some reason I’m totally blocked when it comes to working on them! It just feels completely different and I can’t make my brain change into a new gear.

I guess I’ll have to just begin, doing nothing in particular, simply to get over this…

Do you use black backgrounds for specific techniques / effects that I might have fun learning?

I’m still “just” painting, haven’t moved into adding other media/objects so far.

I didn’t scan a black square for you 😉 Here you can see how the paint sucks right into the canvas before I have a chance to blend it in. Which can probably be used for some watercoloury effects (I think).

absorb2 absorb1

Postcard a day 1

This is a thing I’ve decided to do. Not really every day, but rather on the days when I’m too busy, too tired, too distracted or too something else to haul out the serious painting gear and have a go at that. Or any other creative thing for that matter. Such as this week which seems to insist on being slept away mostly, I’m a complete zombie. Lovely weather and all, I’d much rather break in my bicycle! But there’s no forcing it, I’d not be safe in traffic.


I have no idea how many people are running a something-like-this-along, most likely 100’s. But I just set the challenge for myself to feel like I wasn’t missing out on picture creation while I do other things, as well as taking the pressure off making a “real” big painting in case any of that nonsense happens. I may do a search on the topic one of these days, but I’ll be more likely to just sit and browse pretty pictures for hours or days instead of making stuff, so for now I won’t.

I’m also not going to post every day or even regularly, just when I feel like it. This is meant to be a treat for myself, not a competition or an exercise. And sometimes other matters are more pressing or I’m simply having so much fun doing other stuff that I forget. 😉

If you want to -along you’re more than welcome to, and we can do the linky thing and all that, but I refuse to make any rules or schedules, just so you know! Just post your cards and comments – or we can swap!


I started out with a piece of watercolour paper that I dipped in my woad vat while testing if it was exhausted or what. It was indeed a wee bit tired (not that I know if a fresh vat would have made more of the paper, I’ll have to test that later), so the next day I dribbled some of the plant watercolours on it, tore it into 4 pieces and had a go with a glue stick because I hated what I’d done with the dribbles. I’m sooo rusty at this collage thing. And I know I should probably stick to one topic rather than trying on all the things I’m rusty at, but it seems I can’t help it. Ok, I haven’t really tried very hard not to, so I don’t know if I could.


I also considered to just copy cat a lot of stuff to keep the flow until I get into it properly, I don’t like to but I hear it’s great for cranking your skills. At the moment, the exercise is primarily about accepting that I make poor choices and that my cards are sometimes useless in the decorative sense. Maybe I’ll have an “ugliest card” competition at the end of the year where you can vote for all the monsters. 😉


This tiny format is a HUGE challenge for me as well. I want to cram all sorts of things on there, which is impossible. And why postcard and not just “a tiny image a day”? Well, I like to pretend I’m making something useful I think. And I know I’ve framed pretty postcards and put them on the wall, so really, it’s just a name.

Maybe I’ll put old stamps on the back and write pretend messages to and from imaginary people….

Then there’s an entirely different matter. I appear to have developed a slight hand tremor. I can feel it if I try to draw or knit with small needles for instance. Why I have no idea, it doesn’t run in the family that I’m aware. So I guess I should not count on any type of precision work in drawing etc. but have to develop a style where it doesn’t matter. I hope this is it, though, I’d hate to give up making things with my hands. I’ll have to pay attention to how tired I am when it happens. It’s certainly not very good for calligraphy or fine scissor work either! 🙁

Some old pieces of tissue paper with ink. I thought they might be more interesting with some doodles on all that white space, but can I?

Et postkort om dagendanish

…har jeg tænkt mig at lave som projekt.

Jeg har overhovedet ikke kigget ret meget eller for nylig pÃ¥ de 100-vis af lignende websider man kan finde derude, for sÃ¥ fÃ¥r jeg aldrig løsrevet mig fra at bare sidde og kigge og beundre. Men jeg tænkte jeg kunne bruge det som en slags livline, sÃ¥ jeg føler at jeg trods alt laver noget billedagtigt i de perioder hvor der ikke rigtig er plads til det. Som denne uge der insisterer pÃ¥ at være zombie-sæson, i det gode vejr, hvor jeg hellere ville ud at lufte min cykel lidt. Men jeg ville ikke være trafiksikker, der er ikke noget at gøre…

Ikke noget med at vise dem hver dag eller regelmæssigt, bare når jeg gider. Hvis nogen har lyst til at dele lignende projekter er det super, men der er ingen regler!

Jeg begyndte med et stykke papir som jeg havde dyppet i vaidgryden da den var ved at løbe tør for farve. SÃ¥ driblede jeg lidt andre farver pÃ¥, det blev grimt, sÃ¥ limstiften kom frem…

Det er meget meget længe siden jeg har lavet collager kan jeg godt mærke, og jeg tror aldrig jeg har arbejdet så småt, så det er udfordring på mange planer. Måske jeg går i gang med at kopiere nogen yndlingskunstnere, det siges at være en god måde at forbedre sig på, og så sker der da lidt når min egen fantasi ikke ruller som jeg vil det. Nu må vi se.

Jeg farvede ogs̴ lidt papir i cochenillegryden, og jeg tror jeg hiver mine bladtryk fra sidste ̴r frem ogs̴ og klipper lidt i dem Рeller laver nye.

MÃ¥ske sætter jeg gamle frimærker bagpÃ¥ og skriver fiktive beskeder til og fra ukendte og indbildte personer…

Til gengæld har jeg på det seneste opdaget, at jeg ryster en smule på hænderne. Det er ikke noget der ligger til familien, så jeg kender ikke årsagen, men jeg kan ikke tegne særlig nøjagtigt, og jeg kan mærke det hvis jeg strikker på tynde pinde. Ret irriterende, jeg håber ikke det udvikler sig yderligere, og så må jeg jo bare finde en tegnestil hvor det ikke ses.


New tricks

Time for another report from my ongoing quest to beat painter’s/writer’s block. I can’t say that I’ve done very much besides tend to a sick cat, get a skin biopsy on my face and knitting/reading/baking/cleaning to take my mind off it (well, the cat mostly, to be honest). But I did climb into the hayloft and found that I had quite a large pile of stretcher bars stashed up there, so I’ve ordered a roll of canvas. Just the cheap cotton variety for now, to take off the pressure of “ruining expensive supplies”. I obviously must have intended to get back in the game, since I’ve been moving these around for the last 20 years (and some of those moves involved very cramped quarters).

Another challenge is how and where to store my papers. Not just various unused watercolour pads, but the finished or half finished products such as my leaf prints. I want easy access to browse them in case I think of a project where I can use them, rather than stow away and forget. I feel this is important, but maybe it’s my overachiever speaking. My office is woefully small and very full… Spare room has my fiber in it, as much shelf space as I can possibly steal. (“Sweetie, those old OS/2 manuals aren’t really required anymore, are they? Fancy a trip to the dump? And what are these, 386 motherboards?”) Score: I just discovered a lot of VIDEO TAPES on one shelf, it’s not like we even have a player anymore…. And, well, I can’t deny that I sometimes think up plans for one half of the sideboard under the tv. To those of you who think “poor man”, well, his only hobby is his job and can be done in an office half the size of mine. Besides, he’s got a mouth and a throat, I assume he knows how to make noise with them if he feels inclined.

All the leftover, non-coordinated furniture...
All the leftover, non-coordinated furniture…
my shrinking book collection, every time I get something new I have to throw out.
my shrinking book collection, every time I get something new I have to throw out.

As I was tearing up old sheets into rags for use when painting, I came to think of another tool to spark creativity: Boredom. In fact I had to take a break already halfway through the first sheet to come out here and begin this blog post! Much to the delight of the kitten, who thought I was making a new toy for him on the floor….

There simply isn’t anything like boredom, or being unable to get to your art supplies, that creates ideas like a stroke of lightning. Showers, driving, visiting boring relatives, cleaning your office. So if sitting in front of your canvas for 3 hours doodling doesn’t do the trick, try the opposite. 😉 (although that sounds pretty boring too, but it needs to be the doing-something-boring kind to work I think)

I even managed to smear some orange onto one of my starter canvasses (finding in the process more old brushes filled with hair and gunk), before whipping myself into obedience and ripping up more sheets. Although I was tempted to hop back online to shop for brushes and other cool stuff (gotta get the most out of the postage, right?).

This is impossible to work with, enough!
This is impossible to work with, enough!

For those of you who think I’m not very disciplined, well, I can be if the need arises. I just don’t think ripping sheets is going to save the whales, so I’m cutting myself some slack. Besides, after I decided to test how many layers I could rip at once, it all became a bit more fun and was over pretty quick too. After Arthur was done playing with the pile, I even sat down and folded my rags to put into one of the Expedit boxes! 😉 Then I got rid of the gunk and covered my yellow painting in a coat of white. And then writing this I realize those rags probably have cat hairs on them now – doh!

Doing something tedious but productive with your hands like Heidi mentioned for my last post, such as spinning wool, also helps by just touching and working with the materials. You get ideas for new yarns, the colours of the new yarns my remind you of something and ooops, a painting is pushing its way forward. You need to learn to not think of your grocery shopping list while you do this, however. The idea is to empty your mind to make room for new, if writing down your old ideas in a notebook didn’t work.

Slaughtered an old book to use for doodling and discovered that glued pages all tend to come loose once you rip out a couple, may have to find a sewn binding.
Slaughtered an old book to use for mixed media doodling and discovered that glued pages all tend to come loose once you rip out a couple, may have to find one with a sewn binding and cool pix in it to incorporate.

So next trick is hands on: Learn/do something new. If you paint but can’t get into gear, learn to knit, speak French, cook, take a photography class. If your new thing IS painting, it may not work. Anything that gets your juices flowing, make you feel a bit more alive is guaranteed to also set your creative wheels in motion. New stuff has a better chance of achieving that compared to silly old tv shows and Friday nights at the pub. (ok, I admit that I have no idea how inspired you can actually get at the pub, the question is, do you remember your ideas the day after and are they still as good as last night?)

I think I forgot to mention: collect resources. If I did indeed mention it, forgive me for repeating. Every time I see a neat picture, colour, motive, skill, anything that moves me, I consider saving it as a reference. Not to publish or copy, just to look at for inspiration. This works great in this day and age, 20 years ago I had a shelf full of binders, such a waste of space compared to a harddrive.

At the moment I seem to be into collecting skies among other things that happen to appear in front of me. I never really use any of them as an explicit reference, they just get me started. Such as:

© Natasha Kjaer going to do some other wintery thing with this

winterpaint2 –>  winterpaint3

I hadn’t actually looked at the photo in a while, and as you can see I got it totally wrong, but it was nevertheless my starting point. (sorry about the flash – it’s so dark here at the moment) And then I began thinking up other skies at all sorts of odd hours. I’m not sure why, since I actually thought I was going to be painting abstract/intuitive like. But as I’ve been advocating, gotta go with the flow, follow the red thread as we say in DK. Skies it is. Until it isn’t. I’m not going to show you the finished painting just yet, because then I wouldn’t be publishing this post for quite a while. So it’s all WIPs.

Next on the program is refreshing my theory and daring to blend “dirty” colours. Just so I don’t keep hurting eyes out there. 😉

Something that can also be fun is to ask other people for themes. Ask them to make up a random sentence or word (or read a random page in a random book). Illustrate that somehow, not necessarily paint something that looks like a horse, or, if you do get a bunch of random words, combine three. “Blue horse on fire”. – “Usually you just feel him passing, sir, but I have seen him twice, in what would have been the flesh, if he had any.” Your turn! Send me a theme or challenge in the comments below and I promise to post the results of the ones I try out.

And when all else fails, a quote that I snarfed from Tintina’s blog:

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” -Arthur Ashe

To those who don’t know what the h… I’m going on about:
> 1. Finally
> 2. Beginner’s mind
> 3. Creating creativity

Beklager, ingen dansk version i dag…

Creating creativity

In addition to the Beginner’s mind post, I wanted to see how many games I could come up with to trick the mind into creative mode. Here’s what I have for you so far, I hope some of it works as well for you as it does for me.

Grab a pile of paper, doodle while you watch tv, meditate, talk on the phone, or simply with a pencil and your eyes closed, run a long line round and round on the sheet, completely random. When it’s full, look for shapes and draw them in with a pen. Usually for me it’s cartoon figures and animals that emerge, could be flowers, anything. Colour in the best ones with markers, crayons, pencils, maybe start a new drawing with those images as the base idea.

Play with marbling (requires inks, a flat tray and wallpaper glue) or leaf prints. Then tear up the results and make collages. Or use them for greeting cards, decoupage, scrapbooking backgrounds, covers for notebooks. That’s not painting you say. No, but by doing something with your hands, ideas have a tendency to creep up from the back of your mind. We’re just trying to get into playmode here and away from overachiever mode.

Glue fabric, leaves and photos onto your painting, then keep painting.

Experiment. Does the salt trick work with acrylic paints like they do for oils and watercolour? Indeed it can, but don’t put salt all over, it’ll just look like the painting got measles.


Read travel books, with or without pictures, fantasy novels, “coffee table” books, watch National Graphic tv, do a google image search for a specific location or topic.

Go somewhere you’ve  never been before, something fun could be happening in the next town over. I’m really, really bad at not doing this, I keep saying it’s no fun without company and it’s hard to plan when you share a car with someone else. (meaning, the car isn’t always there when you want it) But really, those are just excuses for being a homebody.

Try new tools or medium. Brushes, stuff to make prints with, paint a whole image using sponges, ink, magic markers, plants.

I found these silly brushes in an online shop by accident and just had to order set.

And something that may seem completely opposite from the intuitive process: rehearse your paintings. I sometimes have ideas for nearly finished images, but I’m unsure if it’s a good one. Why not make a small version on paper first to SEE if you like it, instead of trying to imagine if you do? I know the old masters did this, so why can’t I?

So now you have all the good ideas and intentions, but you keep pushing it until tomorrow, or you actually sit down to paint a little but nothing happens. This is actually normal from what I hear. I’m a person who knows a bit about nearly everything (ok, a lot anyway), but I’m not any kind of expert on anything. What I am though, is a Master of Procrastinastion. I get seated, I remembered to pee, got my coffee, walked the dog, open up Writer or WordPress to get started – and then I get this sudden urge to trim my nails. Your subconscious can think up a million excuses to prevent you from taking on any kind of challenge. I don’t know why, I’ve even tried to sit down to have a little talk with (at) it, it keeps happening.


The thing is, it doesn’t seem very likely that you’ll beat this tendency with sheer willpower. Maybe some can, most of us can try to a certain extent. So what you do is, you go with the flow in this instance too. You stay seated. You doodle and fiddle and take another potty break, but you do not pack up your gear and give up.

Sometimes it may take a whole hour to get into workmode, so it’s important to have set up enough time to get past that fiddly resistance if you know you have days like this. Other days I know exactly what I want to do, some days I even get so many ideas just standing in the shower, I don’t know which one to pick first, so I have to write a list so I don’t confuse myself (another procrastinator!). On those days it’s easy to just sit down for half an hour, fill a few pages with words or colour and then go clip those toenails if you really must. But you’re bound to run into some of the others as well, and the thing is to keep at it until you’ve done at least something. Doesn’t have to be brilliant, it just has to be.

So what have I got to show for it you say? Well, I ended up knitting, as you may have noticed. But next on the list it tidy up office and desk, so I wonder if I could procrastinate on that with a sudden urge to paint?


Please share your ideas on how to call on that imagination when it seems to be hiding!

> 1. Finally
> 2. Beginner’s mind
> 3. Creating creativity
> 4. New Tricks


Hvordan man snyder sig til at få kreative ideer

Nogen gange går hjernen lidt i stå, selvom man egentlig har lysten til at male. Så jeg bruger små tricks for at sætte fantasien i sving, der kommer hele tiden nye til.

Tegn kruseduller med blyant, gerne med lukkede øjne, bare rundt og rundt på papiret. Kig efter figurer, som tegnes op med pen og evt. farvelægges.

Der behøver ikke være et motiv, man kan lege med marmorering, plantetryk og andet, rive det hele i stumper bagefter og lave collager, kort, indpakning, bogomslag og andet. Det handler bare om at bruge hænderne og farverne indtil der kommer en ide til et billede, eller bare en lyst til at starte med en bestemt farve på lærredet. Man kan ikke rigtig tænke sig til det, men det går nemmere når man involverer kroppen.

Man kan teste forskellige teknikker og redskaber, bare for at få en fornemmelse for, hvad man kan, og så ender det måske alligevel med at se helt godt ud. Ellers maler man bare ovenpå.

Nye oplevelser er også godt, det kan være en spændende bog, et naturprogram, en udflugt til et galleri eller et nyt sted (det er jeg ikke så god til at tage mig sammen til, der er lidt langt til alting herude på bøhlandet). Man kan også bare rejse rundt via Google!

Og endelig er det jo ikke nogen skam at lave kladder af sine mÃ¥ske-ideer, det gjorde de gamle mestre ogsÃ¥. PÃ¥ den mÃ¥de kan man mÃ¥ske fÃ¥ luget ud i godt og skidt…

Og hvis det stadig ikke virker, er det vigtigt at blive ved. MÃ¥ske tager det en hel time at “komme i stemning”, sÃ¥ det duer ikke at starte 20 min. før ungerne kommer hjem og vil have mad fx. Læg mærke til alle de undskyldninger din underbevidsthed finder pÃ¥, kaffepauser, opvaskemaskinen som lige pludselig trænger til at blive tømt prompte, accepter det, men pak ikke dine ting væk, hent kaffen og bliv ved med at dimse til der sker et eller andet.

Jeg fik lige pludselig lyst til at strikke, og det er ok, men næste punkt pÃ¥ listen er oprydning af kontor og skrivebord, sÃ¥ mÃ¥ske maleri bliver min overspringshandling for at udskyde det…. Jeg er verdensmester i overspring, og da jeg ikke altid kan bekæmpe det med viljestyrke, har jeg valgt at tage det med som en del af pakken, men blot prøve at være opmærksom pÃ¥ nÃ¥r det sker.

Del gerne jeres tricks til at kalde fantasien frem, når den gemmer sig!