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5 mini kick-start steps to image making

September 12, 2012

Following on from the previous post, ‘Limited space and no time..’, here are 5 things you can do anywhere anytime which will help to get you  creating again. I find that if I’m antsy and want to get materials in my hands but don’t know what to do, or am not feeling inspired, these little gestures can trick me into getting more involved than I intended to when I sat down. And if they stop with just the first part of the assignment (which only take a few minutes), fine, give yourself credit for accomplishing one creative act that day.  (This last idea is from Eric Maisel’s. ‘The van Gogh Blues’  Highly recommended to support your creative self at all times).

Assignment (Step) 1

Cut out a 1 x 1 inch (2.5 x 2.5 cm) square from a magazine, any magazine, part of a photo or part of the text.  Paste it down on a page of your sketchbook or another sheet of paper. Be selective where you paste it- in the middle is good, but so is on top, bottom or side. That’s all. Done.

If you are moved to continue, add more squares letting the first one inspire you either by color, theme, or design.

Assignment 2

Draw a small shape on a piece of white paper and color it in with anything you like- watercolors, felt tips etc. Done.

To continue building on this,  draw a 3 x 3 grid of these little shapes and color each one in as you like. They can all be dotted, striped, in one color, different colors. You can fill them in with bits of cut paper (old postage stamps are good), use pastels, whatever.

Now do one more 3 x 3 grid.

Collage and oil pastel

Assignment 3

Ok, take one of the grids from Assignment 2 and cut it up and rearrange it on another background. Done.

Assignment 4

With scissors or a knife cut a small shape out of some not too thin white paper. Color that shape in with pastel or soft colored pencil or graphite.

Shape cut from some scrap paper

Place the shape on a white background sheet of paper, and rub the pastel you applied to the shape out to the side so that it creates a shaded outline of your shape. Lovely.

Inspired?  keep applying pastel, oil pastel or some other soft medium to the shape and keep placing it on the background and rubbing the pigment onto the background with your fingers.

multiple shapes

Assignment 5

Take soluble watercolor crayons or any other media and just make stripes of different colors across the top of a white page. One row is fine. Done.

Want to do more? fill the page with little soldierly rows of stripes using any colors that strike your fancy. If the rows start to change or the strokes start to change shape follow that development and see where you end up!

(Optional follow-up assignment)

Combine any of these techniques and make a new mixed media piece on any of the given themes:

a city, fantasy animals, strange beings, cosmic landscape, secret garden, castles, towers, abstract forms, mystery alphabet, underground cave, deep sea scape, …..

Keri Smith’s ‘How to be an explorer of the world’ is a great resource for finding creative moments almost anywhere, anytime.

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5 Responses to “5 mini kick-start steps to image making”


  1. Thank you for this Sarah I will definitely give it a go.


  2. Collage! Just saying the word invokes creativity. Your example is simple, easy and the finished collage: artistic expression! You do inspire me! Thank you, Sara!

    • szoutewelle Says:

      Thanks Annie. I’m curious as to when your creativity is going to start seeping into your job, despite the gruelling hours and physical work. I bet there are cool collage things to find in the trash there, with all kinds of interesting type, stamps, materials….. hmmm…. getting any ideas yet? On second thought, you better be careful about rooting around in the trash, it all sounds regimented enough that you could get in trouble for it! I’d hate to get you fired!!

  3. lifeartnotes Says:

    Interesting, will definitely try – I’m always looking for something to get me out of a slump.

    • szoutewelle Says:

      thanks for dropping by and commenting. I hope it works. I find in a slump that half the battle is won by the ‘trying’, it hardly matters what you do, just that you are starting the energy moving.


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