Working Backwards – thoughts on painting in the negative

{prompts for this week are further down the page. keep reading ;}

Typically as I work on a painting or journal page, I am thinking about how I can turn something negative in my life into something more positive. I begin with a thought, a feeling, a word, and I embellish draw, paint and change that negativity into a positive healing process. 

This is what I teach my intuitive painting students, and this is how I like to process life.

For instance, I will take a word like lonely, paint it in big bold letters in the center of my canvas, turn on some awesome music – then go to town! I work from a place of darkness into the light. Taking a word that has made me feel other than into a place of acceptance, love, healing, gratitude and joy. The changing feelings and impressions that occur in the process of creation can be so healing for me.

Emotionally. Physically. Relationally.

It is how I love to see my work transform.  I watch as it progresses from a place that I don’t like, one I’m unsure about or really struggling with, into what I desire to be, or feel emotionally. It has, I must say, served me well.

But this week we are going to approach this process from a different perspective to learn something more about ourselves. Because hey, we are in discovery mode! Whether you are working small or large, colorful or with a limited palette, discovery is all about immersing ourselves in the process.

When God created the universe, He was right down in it.

“and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” gen 1:2

or as the message version quips:

“God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.”

This particular version gives me the impression that He was really sweating the small stuff.  He wanted something beautiful that He could be proud of – after all, God is perfection. He was there when everything was chaotic. When it was ugly and unrecognizable. And He stayed with the process, He didn’t give up as the changing facets of creation morphed and became something immensely beautiful to Him. (Sounds a lot like me in the beginning stages of a painting!)

Instead of giving up in the ugly stages of creation (cuz you gotta know they totally were there), He stuck with the plan. He worked the clay until it yielded to His touch and His will, creating a beautiful, unparalleled masterpiece.

Those must have been some of the most stressful 7 days – EVER! (Just my humble thoughts for sure)

…and it was beautiful

“It is good” He said

This is our own desire right, to create something beautiful, something good? Sometimes you just have to go through some real ugliness to achieve that goal. Don’t get stressed. Don’t give up. Work that clay until something beautiful emerges.

So this week, here is what I would like you to do:


Paint your page (or whatever you may be working on) with swaths of color. You can block them in or just brush random wide strokes filling the area with as much color as you like. let it dry.


Using contrasting paint or gel pens, in each of the blocks of color create a pattern within that area. For instance if the block is black, use white or some other light color and fill it with dots. Choose whatever contrasting or complimentary color you like but stay within that space.  Vary your colors and marks from block to block.


Now choose a color that you haven’t already used, and a mark that you particularly like (mine is a circle) and create a larger pattern that migrates over a few of the blocks, unifying them with the mark. Put it in a few places around the whole surface to create continutity.


Using your view finder, or fingers shaped like a square, identify areas of pattern or color overlap that you like. Take a mental note. Now….squint your eyes at the picture as a whole. Do you see any emerging patterns? A face, animal, object? Look for possibilities in the brushstrokes. Maybe the colors melded in a particular area, and with the marks made on top you see a kitten looking back at you. This is what your picture wants to be. Look for houses, planes, birds, dogs, teacups.  It’s really up to you how you choose to see things.

Taking a charcoal pencil, lightly sketch some loose lines encapsulating the image you see. Then let it rest. Tomorrow comes the negative painting.


To finish off your painting this week, I want you to paint all of the areas that are outside of the image that you drew yesterday. This is called negative painting. Let your brush be loose as you block it all in with color, not worrying if the lines are straight or if it creates a great likeness. Letting go and letting something new emerge is the goal here.

You can choose a solid color like black or white, or you may choose to use a blending of colors that are similar to block it in.  Whatever you choose, it should be calmer than what is inside.  After you get that done, go in with some black or white and do some line work to further define your image.

Now step back

What did you see?

The emerging patterns that we find in an otherwise chaotic surface can tell us a bit about who we are, what we like.  I tend to see florals in most of what I do. It is just how I roll. I can see blooming beauties where others only see mess. Maybe that is my gift, to see what others can’t see. But this can be your gift too. Sometimes it is just a matter of developing it. 

Flowers can be symbolic of growth, inner beauty, emergence, and God’s provision (for He clothes the flowers of the field)

Finding the symbolism in what you most often see where others don’t, will give you a bit of insight into your inner self. Through this exercise, I see myself as a see-er of inner strength and beauty in the world around me and it increases my faith knowing that my God sees me and clothes me with beautiful color and gifts, true provisions for my life.

What did you SEE this week? Do you need help finding its symbolism?  I would be very happy to assist you in this. Leave a comment and I will help you to unveil a bit of your inner-self.

I would love to see what you created. Post to instagram using #creativefaith  #CP4aCL and #52project

Happy Creating my friends!

working small for big results

52 projects: Creative prompts for a creative life – week #10

~ Oct. 30-Nov.3 ~

Week 10 Yo!!

I have to be honest, long term commitments have never been easy for me. (shhhh! Don’t tell my husband 🙂

For instance, I love handmade quilts. The patterns amaze me, and I just love to place them around the house in key places for cozy winter comfort. I have sewn – seriously – one in my whole life. Crib size. Yep, that was all she wrote.

So, to say that here we are on Project #10 of 52 is HUGE for me!

I hope that you are all managing to stay creative with me.  I know, it’s hard. But if you keep in mind that it is not about:

  • Producing perfection
  • Spending large amounts of time or money
  • Making something that others will like, or ultimately receive

I mean, if that is how you want to use your creative practice, go for it.  But I think it is vastly more important to simply be creative. Nurturing that creative soul can be as easy as you let it be. In the spirit of simple creativity, I would like to encourage you this week to work SMALL. Keeping it small will limit the amount of time it will take you to complete your project prompts and give you the encouragement you need to keep going – Big Results!

Create in a small handmade journal, on a small canvas, or how about trying something really different: use an envelope from something you received in the mail over the weekend.

Using something outside of the normal can really get those imaginative juices flowing and guide you into your creative mojo!

Here are the prompts for this week, and some small, out of the norm ideas for completing them:

  1. Monday: LEAFY

Fill your page, canvas or envelope  J  with prints from leaves. Use a gelli plate, a foam stamp. Or even a meat tray with a leaf sketched into the flattest area. Roll out some craft paint with a brayer roller and stamp it on your page.

Maybe you would prefer to write a poem about the falling autumn leaves, or take some photographs of the amazing color that is blazing so brightly these days. I think combining a few of these processes onto one page might be fun.

*I decided to create a mini book with pages I created with leaves and a gelli plate. There are 5 pages, one for each day….or maybe I will work on everyone of them … we’ll see 🙂

  1. Tuesday: CUP

Sketch, photograph or paint a small rendition of your morning coffee cup, tea cup, or even the glass that holds the water you are drinking. Sing its praises through picture, word, or song. I for one am very thankful for its many years of faithful morning service.

  1. Wednesday: POINT

Today would be a good opportunity to check out the tips of your various mark making tools. Use the point of a chop stick to draw a pattern into wet paint. Dip the point of a round paintbrush into your favorite color, or 5, and pounce that brush tip randomly throughout your page. Maybe you could do a pointillism painting and fill that cup with color using only closely spaced dots.

  1. Thursday: SINGULAR

Choose a singular image from your photo stash, a magazine, or take a new one that fits the theme of your page, canvas, or envelopeJ. Integrate it into your project, making it either the focal point of your piece, or a supporting actor. You could even tear it into pieces and reassemble it to create something entirely new.  Give it a try….it’s fun!

  1. Friday: REACH

Being the wordy girl I am, I think a reach for the stars kind of quote would make a starry addition and beautiful finish to this week’s project. Here are a few that I found on google quotes:

  • Your branches can only reach high if your roots go deep
  • Reach high for the stars that lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for each dream precedes the goal – mother Theresa
  • Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.
  • Remember, you can’t reach what’s in front of you until you let go of what behind you.
  • Reach as high as you can, and then reach a little higher. There you will find magic and possibility. And maybe even cookies.
  • When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.

There were a lot of amazing and inspirational quotes, so many in fact that I had to just say when.  Choose something that speaks to you, inspires you, or encourages your creative soul.

I would love to see what you are creating this week.  You can post it here in the comments, or the hashtags are below for Instagram and twitter. 

Friday I will post my finished project here, and on Instagram. Check out #creativefaith, #52projects, #cp4acl (#CP4aCL)

Have a creative week!


hump day happy

Daily Creative Prompt ~ October 18: DRIP

  • Drip some paint on your chosen surface
  • Write a letter to someone dripping with sarcasm
  • Let some glitter drip from its jar onto a really gluey area of your project
  • Drip india ink intentionally from a quill, obscuring some words written

There are many ways to use this prompt in your creative practice. Use your favorite. After all, its hump day and we all need a little happy umph to get over that peak. I know I do.

Struggling this week

To stay inspired

To keep creating

To make something I’m happy with

I want you to know that all creative people struggle. I would venture to say that it is part of our creative brain, experiencing highs and lows.  I find that as the cooler weather starts to invade my little corner of the world, I become a bit forlorn and the desire to hibernate increases.

You too?

Force yourself to take a break

connect with the outside world

set aside what you are working on and begin a different project

or take a class and discover a new process

There is nothing like a new perspective to get those creative juices flowing again.

For now, here is a look at how project #8 is going for me:

create something amazing today


Would you like to join in?  We would love to have you join this creative initiative. Sign up to receive these prompts in your email each day, and start creating!

Have questions?  You can email me at

Are you creating with these prompts?  I would love to see them! Post them on Instagram with the tag #CP4aCL, #52project, or #creativefaith

Day 3: Integrating Fabric into your project


As we progress through building our prayer/intention flags, one has to wonder…is there anything you can’t do?

I’m sure there is a yes answer in there somewhere, but not when it comes to fabric. Materials of all sorts have been added to a multitude of projects, and for various reasons. I absolutely love to add them whenever I can. Today I am adding a piece of artist created batiks, a Sari ribbon, and a bit of lace. For those who don’t know what Sari ribbon is, it is a ribbon that has been created from old silk Saris (like the women from India where). Sometimes they are hand dyed after being assembled, but not always. It tends to be a very delicate fabric and needs to be treated with a bit of care, like any vintage fabric you may want to use.

The following video is short and a bit unclear in my opinion. I couldn’t seem to get the angle right with the camera in order to see around my sewing machine, so I apologize if it is hard to follow.  If you have any question, please leave me a comment and I would be happy to make it clearer for you.

I hope that your projects are turning out just as you envisioned…even if they aren’t, I’ll bet you discovered something unexpected along the way. 


9 must haves for every artist and creative soul


I’m an art supply junkie.

Seriously, I should own stock in several craft stores, not to mention all of the artist supply stores. When I have a few extra dollars and a 50% off coupon? – watch out! So it is safe to say that I have a pretty vast array of tools that help me to create to my heart’s content. But there are a handful of things that truly I could not do without. They are what I use day in and day out, regardless of the project I am taking on. Here are my 9 go-to’s that I would recommend for any start-up art journaler:

  1. A Journal – This can be any size, shape, texture or color. Pick something that inspires you. Some sketchbooks lend themselves to an easier journaling experience. If you are planning to use a multitude of chunky, wet or heavy media like paper collage pieces, glue, and acrylic paint, you are going to want a journal that can stand up to the task. My favorite: Dylusions 12×9 Mixed-Media Creative Journal. The paper is heavy duty and will stand up to whatever you throw at it – literally! ($24.99 at Michaels…use a coupon!)
  2. Stabilo marks-all pencil – you can certainly use any graphite pencil you want, even the trusty old #2 that you filled all those bubbles in with at school. But let me tell you about the Stabilo Marks-all. It is creamy, dreamy, it writes with a rich dark line, even on painted surfaces, and I love it. And – Blick art has them for $1.39. Enough said?
  3. Microns (set of 3: #o8, #05, #03) Also a michael’s coupon item. These come in sets of 5, 12 and also individually. The larger the number, the heavier the line. The three sizes that I noted here are by far the ones I use most, and I always buy them in black, although you can get them in colors and sepia too…hmmm, sepia. The great thing about Microns is that they are permanent. So you can sketch something quick, and then lay a wash of watercolor over the top of it without any blurry ink. Awesome!
  4. Colored pencils (watercolor, oil, regular) My favorites are the Derwent Inktense pencils. But these are kinda pricey…so if you have Crayola’s? Start with those. Watercolor pencils are really nice, though. After coloring something in, you can wash a bit of water over it to give your picture a painterly feel.
  5. Paint (craft, acrylic, watercolors) Choose what you are comfortable with. I like watercolors primarily, but I also use a fair amount of craft paints. Definitely use what you have. Most people have at least a few bottles of dollar store paint hanging around. THose are just fine for what we will be doing.
  6. Inks (pad, spray, India ink) – pads are for stamping, spray inks are great for misting over pages or on stencils, and india ink is another permanent ink that is fantastic for lettering. But gel pens work great too. Start with what you already have (most people atleast have a stamp pad) and add some other things later if you are so inspired.
  7. Markers (fine tip or brush style) – This is one of those items that can be cheap, like the skinny markers from school, or horrifically expensive such as the Copic and Prismacolor markers. Expensive is not necessary. I would gage what to get by what you intend to do with them. I don’t use a ton of markers.  We will explore using them, but I don’t recommend buying the artist quality ones unless you really want them. Don’t get me wrong – they’re nice, but not necessary unless you are a pro.
  8. Brushes (cheap are good here, too) I’ve had expensive sable brushes, and I’ve had cheapy throw away’s. They all end up looking the same. Granted, the cheaper brushes lose bristles…sometimes into your art, but a high price tag doesn’t guarantee that your pictures will be hairless. I suggest a good midgrade brush. You can usually get them in packs of assorted sizes for under $15 at …you guessed it – Michael’s. I’m not promoting Michael’s over any other craft store, it is simply the closest one to me, so probably the one I visit most. But if I will be driving by a blick art?  Now we’re talkin’!
  9. An assortment of papers that you like. This can be anything…and by that I mean ANYTHING! Newspaper, magazines, mailers, literature, book paper. Choose paper that has texture, color, or some other interesting feature. No one said that you had to use paper created for artists. But if that is what you have, by all means, use it.  I’ve used pieces of old bibles or music books that are falling apart. Even a piece of plain white paper can be painted with watercolors and then used in a multitude of journal spreads. Start by looking through the mail or in the slush pile. You would be surprised at what you can do with all of that junk mail. I’ve even used seasonal napkins at times. Choose something that speaks to you. Gather them up and put them in an envelope for future use.

And speaking of envelopes, the journal that I talked about first?  It has a large manilla envelope fixed inside the front cover to stash all of that ephemera that you will be collecting – Bonus !!

You can start with all of these items or none. It’s entirely up to you. Gather up what you already have and as you go along, you will figure out what you want or need. But from one artist to another – these items will serve you well!

happy creating!


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