Encountering The Blank Page: Part 1

Opening a new journal and staring at the pristine, perfect, blank pages can scare the hell out of even the most seasoned visual journalist. The inner critic rears his or her ugly head and tells us that we're going to mess it up. The problem is that we start focusing on what we want that page to look like when we are finished. We focus on the end product not the process. It is good at times to not think much at all - at least at first. So, by just getting some color down, we can take the blankness away and not worry about the end result. Our habit of working is to work in a nonlinear fashion. We end up starting a lot of pages in some way and then going back and adding more and more things later. There's a lot randomness to this, but it keeps us from thinking about what it will end up like..

One way to begin is with one of the simplest media - watercolor. Below is a list of quick and easy ways to begin pages with out much thought. Experiment and have fun.

1. Paint a page a single color.

2. Paint a page with more than one color.

3. Paint random shapes on a page.

4. Apply the paint with a sponge.

5. Use a toothbrush to flick and stipple the paint on a page.

6. Paint a page with a color or two and sprinkle the wet paint with salt. Let the paint dry and brush the salt off to reveal a texture.

7. Paint objects like bubble wrap, plastic mesh, bottle caps, and cup bottoms and stamp the objects on a page.

8. Paint a page with watercolor and press a piece of wrinkled plastic wrap or a flat piece of bubble wrap into the wet paint, allow the paint to dry, and then remove the plastic or bubble wrap.

9. Paint the watercolor through a stencil - if there's a lot of water, it will bleed giving some unpredictable but interesting results. Use plastic or metal mesh as a stencil.

10. Splatter a page with paint.

The following techniques are from Webgrl:
11. Cut notches and 'waves' into a piece of cardboard box and use it to paint on random shapes.

12. Peel off the cardboard top later and use the wavy bit to stamp on your page (thicker paint gives interesting effects here)

13. Use resist techniques like a crayon or candle (great use for reusing birthday candles). Draw with the wax and then paint over it for a fun effect

14. You can lay random stuff into the paint and pick it up after its dry (just like your plastic wrap etc)

15. Finger paint!

16. Dragging a feather through paint is super cool.

17. Dip some string in paint and drag it over your page. A bit messy but so much fun. If you lay the paint covered string in random shapes and leave a bit hanging out at the top and bottom of your page you can shut the book and weight it down with someone's hand or another book and pull the opposite ends of string till you feel it get taught - when you open your book you get a VERY cool effect. I love doing this with ink.

These techniques and combinations of these techniques can keep you busy for quite some time. In a short time, you could have quite a few pages started. And I'm sure there are other techniques. If you can think of other ways to use and apply watercolor paint, please leave a comment and I'll add it to the list.