When was the last time you wanted to make something, but inspiration was as scarce as clean underwear on laundry day? For me, it’s too often to admit. I want to work in my art journal, or practice lettering, but I just can’t. Get. Going. Lucky for you and me, the Jumpstart feature in the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors is our creative salvation.
The article, “Find Your Mojo with Craft-Overs,” is a brilliant and really fun way to get the gears turning. Susana Magenheimer, who wrote the article, is just like us—sometimes her mojo says buh-bye, leading her to develop a go-to technique for firing up the engine: doodling images over random swipes of paint on an index card. Who knew? Apparently she did. Susana writes, “Going through the process of doodling images from paint smears opens my mind and helps me see images that are intriguing. I can then take inspiration from those images and recreate them in one of my art journaling or mixed-media projects.”
I waited to try this creative exercise until I had the trifecta of wanting to do something artistic, not knowing what to do or where to start, and lacking confidence to dive into a big project. At least I had done my homework—the last time I used acrylic paint and watercolor, I had some index cards nearby, and used them to wipe up the leftover paint on my surfaces.
While some acrylic paint was still wet on my nonstick craft mat, I dragged a few index cards through the swatches of color. Susana recommends trying not to use more than three colors to avoid making mud, and to be able to see shapes more clearly. As I swiped the cards through the paint, it dawned on me how efficient this was—I always think it’s wasteful to have leftover paint on my mat, and now I know what to do with it!
As the paint began to dry on the mat, I lightly wet areas with a mister to activate it again.
Here are a few of the cards that I liked and thought would be great for doodling:
And here are a few I was meh about:
While working with watercolor paint and spray inks, I had a bunch of color left over in my tray. Out came the cards, and this is what I got:
I also grabbed a sketchbook and pressed a couple of pages into the extra paint and ink:
In a couple of days the perfect storm arrived, and I got down to business. I pulled out one of the acrylic paint cards, a Sakura Pigma Micron 01 black pen, and started looking for basic shapes. The first thing I saw was a heart, so I outlined it, then drew some lines inside. I saw two more heart shapes, and outlined and doodled those as well. Before I knew it, I was engrossed in my little 3″ x 5″ artwork, searching for images as if this were a Rorschach test. I saw a wing, then a bird, then another bird. I doodled in areas that didn’t look like anything in particular, creating a variety of patterns. I used a white gel pen in some of the darker areas.
This creative exercise was lifting my fog! I chose another card, a watercolor/ink one this time. Turning the card to see if any designs leaped out, I saw a weird creature with a tail, and created a quirky face, hair, and some patterns. I outlined a few other amorphous shapes and doodled in those (borrowing a great pattern from Susana), then drew a light border around the card. What I loved about this warm-up was that there was no pressure to turn out anything fantastic—these were just index cards, after all. If I hated them, I could toss them with no guilt. More important, this was fun. I wasn’t doing a sketch in preparation for a drawing, or designing the cover of a book. It was just play, pure and simple.
I decided to give the so-so index cards, which didn’t inspire any doodles, some attention. I stenciled one or two layers over the color, and thought they’d work well as collage fodder or tip-ins, or pages in a book.
Feeling as if I had just done a great warm-up at the gym, I was now ready to tackle something meatier. Ideas were flowing, I suddenly had energy, and I started gathering supplies for a bigger project.
Try this creative exercise the next time your creativity needs a jumpstart, and see what happens. I bet it will be something fantastic.