Fear of the start

Last week I documented my process through an art journal page as I begin with that oh so familiar state of resistance and anxiety.  Do you have ever have that problem? You come to the blank page...you know you want to fill it...but suddenly you're blank. No ideas. Well, since it happens regularly for me, this time I thought it would be a good exercise to record how I do—or do not (there's always this real doubt at the beginning that I won't push through to the other side)—work through the fear. And what comes of it. Here are my thoughts as I stopped periodically to quickly write and take a few photos as I worked.


I had every intention to begin right away when I came to my studio this morning at 8:30 prepared to create a page—just after I finished a couple of quick  tasks on my computer. Funny how those tasks quickly multiplied into a few more quick tasks.  Truthfully, I’m procrastinating. I don’t know what I’m going to do and that scares me.

Why am I feeling this fear? What am I afraid of? I guess I just don’t like not knowing what I’m going to do. My mind has been scrambling all morning to come up with a plan…as I drove D and V to the ferry/school in the rain…through breakfast…even all this time on the computer. I considered my options.  WHAT, I keep asking myself, should I do?  I really don’t know. I hate that feeling! I know that I’ll only know once I start…but there’s always this nagging fear that I will disappoint myself, that something won’t come to me. Hmmm. Well, it’s time to find out.


I can feel my stomach unclenching. I feel better. I can breathe more deeply. I started with a quote I have had in mind for awhile and watercolor. I was going for a sunset over the ocean (memories of Santa Barbara).

Background Page


I was stuck after the sunset for a bit, but something inside said to stamp with my handmade wave stamp on top of the watercolor water. I liked that!

Background with waves

Then I made a border with a leaves stamp I saw sitting on the shelf. I have been wanting to use it as a border somewhere.…and that led to painting a large vine across the page.  As I did these things I thought about how weird the juxtaposition of the ocean/vines is—but I don’t care. I like it. And I’m starting to think about other stuff I want to do…

Vine Collage

I’m in a groove. Just want to continue. I keep thinking I want a set of eyes on it.  It occurs to me that I should have painted them first before the vine. But I guess I could re-add the vines on top if I want. So I’m going to stop and do that…with a stamp. I'm going to make a stamp...


But first, I wanted to use up the paint I had on the pallet (hate to waste) and I had this strawberry packaging box from the other day that I wanted to try as a stencil – so I experimented a bit on another journal page. Kind of interesting. Can’t get a clear print. Just pushing the sides creates a frame only. Tried hitting the inside lines with a stencil brush and with the end of the brush – got a bit more. Wet paint printed more – though blurry, which was kind of cool.

Strawberry pkg

Stamp with strawberry pkg

So anyway, then I moved on to the stamp, which turned out to be somewhat difficult. I traced eyes from a model in a magazine and then I enlarged my sketch, darkened the enlargement with pencil and then burnished the pencil marks onto the rubber. Then, I had to carefully carve around the details—including the eyelashes, which was time consuming.


eyes stamp

I don’t know how it’s going to turn out because I have to go now. I wonder if the details will come through. When I return I’ll clean it up a bit and then try it. I can’t wait! I’m totally energized. I wish I didn’t have to stop—but life calls. It’s amazing how much differently I feel now then when I started. I guess I wish I had that extra 45 minutes I wasted procrastinating!


Ooh the eyes stamp…I had a quick few minutes to try it. IT’S SO COOL! I’m really pleased with it.

Eyes stamped


I’m not finished with the page yet, of course, and I have all kinds of other things I want to do…


I had a little window this evening. I didn’t stop to record my thoughts/feelings. I was just on this deadline to get that page done! It became kind of an obsession. I have found that if I wait too long to come back to something, I lose momentum. I was just into it and wanted to finish.

Witness creation

“We are here to witness the creation and abet it…Otherwise creation would be playing to an empty house.” –Annie Dillard

I’m getting braver about blending colors and drawing images (like the flower). I had to make the decision to freehand the whole quote or finish with stamps. I decided since I incorporated many stamps on this page, it was only appropriate to finish with stamped words.

I found the quote  here on Maria Papova’s wonderful Brainpickings site and I had it in mind as I was making this page for my Message journal...bu I didn't put two and two together until just now: I was busy creating a page (about witnessing creation), and as I documented I was witnessing it's creation!

***** Well, as you can see I worked through the fear pretty quickly and moved on to all kinds of fun that I also couldn't plan! I keep having to relearn this lesson on almost every journal page—and surely in life, too. Just start. Trust that the journey will take you where you will be pleased to go.

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