Blank Canvas: overcome paralysis with words

by | Feb 26, 2023

If you find it intimidating to sit down in front of a big white blank canvas, I have the perfect technique for you to get your creativity flowing!! I’ve got the ice-breaker of all ice-breakers that will have you painting your heart out on canvas in no time! Learn how I transformed two blank canvases into eye-catching works of art.

blue butterfly canvas art with pink background on easel
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whimsical anatomical heart canvas art on a blue background
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How to Start Painting on a Blank Canvas

Whenever I paint on a fresh new blank canvas, I have a process that really helps to ease the jitters, erase the day, get my creative juices flowing, and most of all, it helps me to release my heart into my art!

I just paint feelings! I give the feelings words and paint them quickly and without much thought.

I usually start with a theme….like “what am I thankful for today”….or “what do I want to let go of today”…..or “what does my heart feel today”……and then I just paint those feelings with wild abandon!

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It’s the best way to just “get started”….and break up that blank canvas paralysis.

Watch this week’s YouTube video to learn How to Paint on Canvas.

Click here for another example of adding words to a blank canvas with my The Best You Healing Artwork.

RELEASE Butterfly Canvas Art

Starting with a Blank Canvas

On New Year’s Eve of 2019, I did a live broadcast on Facebook and invited viewers the opportunity to share in a single word what they’d like to receive in the coming new year. They shared words with me such as “relief”… “smile”… “restoration”…  “respect”… “security”… “passion”… “vacation”… the words just poured from their hearts onto my canvas.  This photo below is the exact canvas full of hopes and dreams from others using Dixie Belle’s Caviar, Fluff, and Honky Tonk Red.  

graffiti canvas art on easel with black and red paint
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I tucked the painting to the side and planned to create something beautiful on top of their written feelings when the timing felt right.

Pintemento Painting (layering paint over words)

About a month later, I pulled the canvas out and got busy laying color over the words.  This process of painting over words….or burying a worded message in your art…..is known as Pintemento! I saw passion in the pinks (Peony) and hope in the glowy yellow (Daisy).  The idea is to just paint freely!  

pink canvas art with two yellow circles and black words in the background
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Again, I set it aside for another day.  I had no idea what was about to happen to our world and that all the dreams that people shared with me were about to become buried in fear and uncertainty……by a virus called COVID…..of 2020! 

This canvas sat in my workshop for two years untouched. I can’t really explain why I couldn’t complete it. More than anything, I felt guilt! I felt like feelings from almost 100 people sat on that canvas and I couldn’t see past it for the thick fog of fear and uncertainty in our world.

RELEASE Butterfly Canvas Art Comes to Life

FINALLY, this year in 2023, my heart was ready to cast the hopes and dreams of others into flight!

So let me present to you…..RELEASE!  

blue butterfly canvas art with pink background on easel
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I cannot begin to tell you how good it felt to just get busy on this canvas! I used water and paint and a blow drier to literally pour and push the fresh color of white directly over the passionate pink and glow of life yellow!

a woman using a hairdryer to spread white paint on pink canvas
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This created a great contrast and background for the moody butterfly that I had planned to paint!

The process was so fun and unpredictable and I plan to use this technique for backgrounds a lot more! 

up close of white splatter paint on canvas
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The butterfly was inspired by a real photograph of a butterfly that I was drawn to in a google search.

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photo credit: Papillio Ulysess

I used a combination of charcoal sticks, chalk paint, acrylic paints, and a lot of water to create the sheer wings. It was important to me to leave the words visible through the butterfly!

close up of a painted butterfly wing
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close up of a painted butterfly wing
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I followed this with oil pastels and even a little gold leaf for highlights and depth. 

close up of a painting of a butterfly's body and head
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applying gold leaf with a toothbrush
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blue butterfly canvas art with pink background on easel
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It felt so good to finally complete this. So good that I’ve already completed ANOTHER one!

My heART Canvas Art

Words on Blank Canvas

I created another Pintemento-style emotion-filled painting that I’m calling My heART. Again, my viewers shared their hearts with me in single words and we broke the ice on another blank canvas. Laying down words one by one.

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Layering Background Paint Color

I then began the Pintemento painting process by washing our heartfelt words with hues of blues and green with Mermaid Tail and Peacock chalk paint and a whole lot of water. Again, keeping the coverage sheer on purpose because I love seeing the words!

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ZEN….POWER…..OPEN….FREE…..BLESSED…..GROWTH…..LOVE…..INSPIRED…..UNIQUE….PASSION….and so many more!  

canvas art with black words painted over with blue
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Designing the Anatomical heART

I knew exactly what I wanted to paint over the words. An anatomical heart!  Maybe it’s the retired nurse in me but I love drawings of the real human heart! I believe it houses everything about us: our heart, our soul, our energy, and our emotions.

So I used this drawing as my inspiration and then I drew my own crazy version on paper, and after many revisions I was ready to lay it on canvas!

I draw most of my art in chalk first and I used the grid method to help with scale. Then I followed with a charcoal stick drawing OVER the white chalk. I really like the dark line of the charcoal showing even after I paint.

drawing grid lines on a canvas with a yardstick
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drawing an image with chalk onto a blue canvas with black words
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tracing an image with charcoal onto a blue canvas with black words
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Pro Tip: Spray the charcoal with a setting spray so it doesn’t smear when you begin painting and adding water.

From Blank Canvas to…Anatomical heART

Once I began adding the paint, time just flew by! I used both chalk paint and acrylics. I blended and shaded as I went and just worked over the canvas in no particular order.  

whimsical anatomical heart canvas art on a blue background
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For this particular piece of art, I wanted to encompass patterns and objects that I’m drawn to! Such as sunflowers (my favorite flower), paint brushes, a paint palette, checks, stripes, hearts, keyholes (very Alice in Wonderland), a crown (part of my logo), and all the tiny little hearts attached to the “roots” representing my creative community that will forever hold a special place in this giant heart of mine!  

I could not be happier with this painting! Not because it’s fine art or any type of fabulous technique but because it’s me! It came from MY heart and is built on words from the hearts of my loyal creative community!

whimsical anatomical heart canvas art on a blue background
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Starting with a Blank Canvas? More Inspiration:

I enjoy large canvases (usually 36″ x 36″) but this process works to get you moving on ANY size canvas and with any style of artistic creativity! Click on the photos below to see other canvas art pieces. Each one started with a blank canvas and turned into something incredibly unique! The Best You Healing artwork was created with my health and wellness community in mind, is especially meaningful to me, and I’d be honored if you checked out the blog to learn my healing story.

JOIN ME FOR MORE…with Curiously Creative

If you enjoyed this and want more of a deep dive into home decor and DIY processes, I would love it if you joined my exclusive online creative group, Curiously Creative. I show up LIVE to guide you through every step of updating, upcycling, crafting, and creating on-trend home decor and gift-giving ideas! 

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Products used on Release Butterfly Canvas:

Products used on Anatomical HeART Canvas:

Want more fancy furniture & design?

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3 Comments

  1. Patty Haight

    On the butterfly painting.. I like when it is a big white splash. And the sheer wings. And what looks a bit like our flag on the bottom left..whether intentional or a happy result it fits perfectly

    Reply
  2. Cynthia Thoman

    I’m absolutely in love with that butterfly. I love your concept of writing your feelings down and then when you feel the color you paid over it and then you paint your design. You truly are an artist and every form of it. You truly create Magic.

    Reply
  3. Margaret Stephens

    I am fascinated by your painting and your style! I too am a nurse yet not very artistic. Thank you for sharing from your ‘Heart!’

    Reply

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