When I first started painting it was a healing process for me (and still is).
I’d just lost my job in 2009 and had no idea what my next step should be. So I went back to what I loved as a child – making art.
But I kept getting stuck at the ugly stage… basically any time I tried painting something out of my comfort zone that wasn’t just copying another artist.
The other day I came across this orange owl painting that I painted in 2010 (called ‘With You, I Am Warm’):
Before I painted this orange owl wth the side wing, I’d painted these three others that I absolutely loved.
After painting every day for a year, I’d finally created three owl paintings that were recognizable as mine, so I shared them on my blog (this was pre-me-being-on-social media). Everyone LOVED my new owls. I was elated and eventually submitted those paintings to a magazine, which landed me my first published article.
But before that, I got REALLY STUCK on this orange owl.
I went to paint another owl and it felt so ugly and not as beautiful as the others. My inner-critic totally kicked in and convinced me I’d gotten lucky with those other three owls, I’d never be able to paint anything beautiful and no one would EVER love another painting of mine – AGAIN.
I got so stuck. I took a photo of my ugly owl in progress.
I started a few other paintings. Then I came back to my new owl and I realized I wasn’t afraid to cover it up because it was already ruined. So I tried painting something a little different – I added more layers and gave this new owl a wing on the side (so it looked a little shy, which eventually became my signature look).
At that moment, I was just following my intuition and having fun. I wasn’t afraid to make a mistake. I just played and all of a sudden the owl fell into place.
When I looked at the finished painting, I forgot about that ugly stage. I realized I’d forgotten about the ugly stages with the first three owls I painted too.
Now I’ve been painting nearly every day for the last twelve years. This has given me some time to figure out my style and flow. Yet I still get stuck and frustrated.
I STILL feel like I’ll never be able to paint beautifully again.
Why am I sharing this with you?
Because it’s important to realize that even professional artists get stuck.
If I listened to that super negative inner-critic, I’d never paint again. But I’ve developed techniques to turn off that voice. I’ve learned to get past the ugly stage – so I can finish paintings I LOVE.
So does that mean you have to paint like me? Definitely not! You can learn to loosen up and develop a style that’s unique to YOU.
When you learn to trust your process and let go, you’ll be able to let the piece become what it wants to become instead of trying to force it into what you want it to be.
While I generally take chances and am carefree with my artwork, I often feel like I’ll never be able to fix a painting, especially the eyes and face. That’s when I go back to my favorite techniques, colors and supplies. I set them all out in front of me and start to play.
In this video, you’ll see some of my favorite techniques for loosening up and playing (it’s one of the projects we’re creating in Enchanted Soulful Eyes and Faces class).
My 3 Favorite Art Supplies For This Project:
- 11″ x 14″ Aquabord
- India Inks
- Acrylic Inks (I love Winsor & Newton and Liquitex)
Here’s a little of what students are saying about their experiences in my classes…
“Juliette does a great job of breaking down the elements so anyone can follow and create art they can be proud of. If you are a perfectionist like me and felt stuck when creating then you will definitely enjoy her courses. Once I saw the creative process broken down and how it morphs or changes I felt much more at ease. Paint is forgiving, and once I realized that, my artistic door was open-wide open!” -Julie Brastad
“My tendency used to be to rip out the page and wad it up. Because of you, I am learning to not be so harsh on myself… to just keep building layers and see what emerges!” -JaneAnn Harper
“I’ve had so much fun re-connecting with my painterly side! I love the results of trying to be more free and relaxed in my style. Keeping my style as loose as I can get it is what I want most out of your class, and I definitely feel that I’ve improved in that area.” – Gail Witt
“Juliette shows you how to play and change and be brave with your artwork. I felt free to jump in and experiment because Juliette models that behavior in her lessons; so I knew that was the best way to find my girls and my style. It helped me embrace the idea of myself as a talented artist.” –Lori Lohmeyer
“I especially like the fact that you embrace when you make mistakes, when things are not working, and then explain your thought process when you fix them. I have discovered that when I teach like this in my classroom, my students are quicker to embrace their own mistakes and learn how to problem solve! Thank you for teaching in this way because it’s how I learn best…by fixing my mistakes!” -Jessica Jidas
“I always have trouble starting something because I’m never really sure what I want and I’m super intimidated to paint anything specific. It’s almost paralyzing, really. The background techniques really let me loosen up from expectation and just start, then take the next step, then the next and things start to appear rather organically. I LOVED that! I also enjoyed the feeling that nothing is sacred and you can just paint over it and keep pushing through until it really comes alive, and that it’s totally OK that it might not end up at all where you thought it would.” -Lara Cornell
I hope this is a little reminder to keep creating even when you’re stuck or feeling uninspired. Let yourself play and have fun.
P.S. Some of these owls and more are available as prints in my shop… Click Here to See All Prints.