Trust the process

In recent months I’ve been suffering a serious case of artist’s block. My mind’s been buzzing with ideas, but as soon as I try to translate them into a piece of work I sit in indecision and frustration, surrounded by masses of materials and tools. My mind has been filled with negative thoughts: “What do I want to say?” “Who cares what I have to say anyway?” “Why would anyone want to buy the stuff I make? It’s nice enough, but hardly of the ‘must have’ variety.” And so on.

In the hopes of putting an end to this nonsense I enrolled in an online course called Creative Voice (

Just to ensure that I remain time-challenged, I also enrolled in Barb Kobe’s Medicine Dolls course ( Both courses run for 3 months. I told myself they would work well together, and I’m probably right … provided I apply myself and do all the exercises.

The Creative Voice lessons began by exploring definitions of ‘artist’ and suggested a couple of websites which I visited. The first definition was: “artist – one who makes art.” Er, yes … well, I do from time to time, don’t I.

The first ‘creative practice’ required that I “identify myself as an artist, using the materials of my primary art form”. The problem is that I’m not at all sure what is my primary art form. There was a time not long ago when I would have said ‘artist books’ but I’m not so sure any more. I haven’t made an artist book for simply ages. Right now I’m more interested in artist dolls. OK then, here was my chance to blend in with the Medicine Doll course. I’d make a doll that represented Carmel the Artist.

After a number of false starts I was getting nowhere. All my brilliant ideas fizzled as soon as I tried to execute them. With “an artist is one who makes art” ringing in my ears, I decided to forget about the Creative Voice exercise and just do something. I pulled out a box of experiments – small collages and scribbles on joss paper I’d been playing with a few weeks earlier. I thought I’d just make some cards to give my mind a rest. But before that I decided to scan the images. One of them was a face drawn in felt pen over a silver foil background. A so-so face. As I put it face-down (heh heh) on the scanner, I noticed that the felt pen had bled through the thin joss paper leaving a much more interesting face on the reverse side. Hmm. I scanned that too. Then I printed a page of variations on the two faces. Things were starting to ‘flow’.

Back to the card-making. I thought one of the collages would look rather nice in a shadow-box frame. It did. But it needed ‘something more’. I added some patterned paper as a border. Now we were getting somewhere. It was starting to look like an icon.

AN ICON! That could be just the thing for my Creative Voice exercise. As I looked at the icon I realised it almost looked like a figure. What if I added that face …

And there it was. A PAPER DOLL collage that expressed my identity as an artist (well, sort of).


Isn’t the creative process wonderful! All you have to do is set your intention then do something that keeps your thoughts out of the way.


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