Beating blank canvas syndrome – the scraps drawer

I’ve picked up so many little bits and pieces of paper around the place that it can be overwhelming.

Now I have a desk that I love and a dedicated creative space I decided to designate one of those lovely timber drawers to holding my scrap collection.

Everything from air mail stickers to clothing tags, lolly wrappers to scraps torn from paper serviettes or wrapping paper.

In it goes… to be swirled around and join the mish-mash of ephemera that will inspire my future artworks.

Not everything actually fits into the drawer, it’s more of a representative sample of what I’ve collected over time.

The rest goes in a large airtight box that lives in the garage and will get periodically raided to freshen up the drawer’s contents.

And they’ll be waiting there next time I’m sitting in front of my desk, with a glaringly white canvas before me.

I grab my favourite acrylics, glue & brush, and thrust my hand blindly into that drawer, to clutch a handful of pretties and begin.

Give it a try next time the dreaded blank canvas bails you up in a corner, and let me now how it works for you..

Cheers, jane 🙂

ps – linking to paint party friday – happy ppf everyone!

Unfinished pieces

round mdf mixed media backgroundLast week’s photos made me realise how messy my work area had gotten, so I did a little half-hearted tidying up today.

We’re also playing host to various builder-types here over the next six to eight weeks as we’re adding on a second living area (a lovely big sunny room) to the back of our little house, so my creativity has kind of stalled with everything going on.

lacey mixed media backgroundWhile I was doing tidying and snoopervising the plumber, I realised that it’s been a while since I actually finished a painting.
And that led me to realise that I go through definite phases in my creativity.

new bald girl painting in progressI seem to have a creativity cycle, where I spend time on backgrounds, then start creating characters on them, and then I narrow it down to one or two and continue on with them – and hopefully finish them.

Other times, I’ll be completely caught up in one piece and work on it obsessively until it’s done.

girl with lanterns mixed media in progressAnd I also go through phases where I’m afraid to touch anything because I feel like I’ll mess it up.
I get my creature’s features pencilled in and can’t go on until I’ve reached the stage of not caring so much.

girl & cat mixed media painting

Once I come back to realising that not every painting is going to be amazing and I don’t have to love every piece, I can start playing again and create something I at least like.

So while I’m waiting for that phase of the cycle to pass, I’m going to do a bit more tidying up, planning of my new creative space
– oooh! and the bloke with the timber has just arrived, so I have more snoopervising to do!

Cheers, jane xx

Putting a face to the art

janecoquillon-memyselfknow I’m not alone in hating having my photo taken.

I never look the way I feel inside – I feel 15, but my face is 40!
(plus a little)

However, being invited for an interview next week by the lovely Melanie Statnick  gave me the kick in the rear I needed.

So I asked Wren to see if she could get a decent shot of me.

And then they turned out so well that I thought I’d share them with you here.

Especially since this is her first time using our whiz-bang camera.

Mayhap she has a future in the photographic arts?


Happy PPF!

Cheers, jane xx

The 3 best things I did for my art in 2013

2013 was the year that I finally began to feel that I had found my style, and really began loving my paintings.
I became comfortable calling myself an artist.


"Mim's Valentine" available as a print
“Mim’s Valentine”
available as a print

This is the third time I’ve done this review of the previous year, and each time it’s been incredibly useful in setting my direction for the coming year.

Feel free to use the idea yourself, and add yourself to the linky doodad below.

1. I took two online Art Courses

In January I took a self-paced course, Mindy Lacefield‘s “Paint Your Story“.

“Bring your Bucket & Spade”

It really helped me to develop my own style and gain confidence and speed in creating.
I learnt basic rules about shading faces and gave myself permission to make more mess.

Perfection, I began to realize, is an illusion.

Then in September, I began a year-long course, “Serendipity”, with Juliette Crane.

In it, she is sharing everything she herself learns over the twelve months.
We’ve been learning techniques (especially for when you get stuck), trying lots of new media, and seeing how Juliette solves different dilemmas as she creates her own beautiful paintings.

I feel like I’ve learnt so much already from this course, and it’s not even half-way done.

"Not on THIS Parade" original available
“Not on THIS Parade”
original available

The main thing I feel I’ve gained so far is more enjoyment in the process of creating. By seeing that someone as talented as Juliette gets frustrated with her paintings, covers bits up, redoes faces, gets stuck, I’ve become much more kind to myself as I lay down each layer.

I know now that every mark I make is perfect,
because it adds to the depth and story of the piece I’m creating.

(even if I end up covering it over)

2. Instagram opened my eyes

Seeing others’ work, connecting with other artists, and sharing my own art on ig was as important a step for me in 2013 as facebook was for me in 2012.

"Chocolate Sounded Pretty Good to Tom" available as a print
“Chocolate Sounded Pretty Good to Tom”
available as a print

Using hashtags (#) mean that my art is being seen and loved by a much wider circle of people, and it’s so easy to find lovely art by other artists – and people with the same interests as me.

I’ve met a whole new group of creative people, some of whom I’m now connected with on fb, and learnt about new ways of making art – like art journaling, which I’m loving so much.

What’s more, seeing my art alongside that of so many other’s meant seeing my own work in a different light.

3. I learned to trust

Most of you know that we had a rough year. The silver lining was a doozey, though.

I finally learnt to deal with stress in a more positive way.
I’m not religious, but I now really do know that there is a reason for things happening the way they do.

"You Rule My World" original available
“You Rule My World”
original available

I went through such a long dry spell and feel that my art is deeper and truer than ever before. It expresses so much more than previously.
And because I’ve been through that, I no longer fear that I’ll wake up one day unable to paint.

I’ve been there, the worst has happened.

And you know what? I came back stronger and better.

It’s so helpful to be able to look back on the steps I’ve taken along my path since the beginning of 2011.
I hope that you’ll give it a try and let me know how you go.

Cheers, and happy PPF!
jane xxx

where the past five months went

WithLove-janecoquillon-heart3-shadowSo, without bringing anyone down, I wanted to share what we’ve been through in the last 12mths.
I know I’m not the only one who suffers on-and-off with depression and it’s important that our stories are shared.

This could be a bit of a long post, so please bear with me…WithLove-janecoquillon-heart1-shadow

I’ve had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since I got Glandular Fever (mono) at 16, which was plenty of reason to feel down over the past 25 years (I’m 41). This time was different, so we all kind of missed the warning signs for quite a while.

I learnt something…
depression doesn’t necessarily mean feeling sad
instead this year my emotions were numbed,

I lost interest in everything around me.

To make it easy to follow, here it is in point form:
WithLove-janecoquillon-flower2-shadowOctober 2012

  • Hubby made redundant
  • Lasted 6wks – he took on a 12mth contract because Christmas was coming up

WithLove-janecoquillon-flower1-shadowDecember 2012

  • My mother had open heart surgery for a valve replacement – we joke that she smells like bacon now because of the pig valve!
  • L finished year six in the same week (lots of tears & worry), with her presentation evening the same day as Mum’s surgery.
  • Mum came home on Christmas Eve, to stay with us for six weeks.

WithLove-janecoquillon-flower2-shadowJanuary – February this year

  • Hubby was working incredibly long hours
  • L started high school (and loved it)
  • Mum went home

April –WithLove-janecoquillon-flower1-shadow Mid June

  • By now, I knew that everyone else was going to be fine
  • I began to feel kind of numb & disinterested in the things and people around me
  • Lost my appetite (and 10kg / 1st, 8lb)
  • Stopped painting, stopped enjoying anything

WithLove-janecoquillon-flower2-shadowLate June

  • Realised that I was depressed and saw our doctor
  • Began medication on the same day Hubby was made redundant for the second time.


  • I began to feel again
  • Began enjoying things again
  • Picked up my paintbrush and had a ball!


  • Hubby found a great job and started work!!!


Needless to say, life could have been better – but it certainly could have been a lot worse..WithLove-janecoquillon-heart2-shadow

Nobody died, my marriage didn’t fail and we didn’t lose the house.
Yes, it could have been a whole lot worse, and for a lot of people it is.

WithLove-janecoquillon-heart3-shadowIt took three months for me to feel I was almost whole again, and I’m so lucky to have had my wonderful husband at home to care for me throughout the episode, regardless of the reason.

Mental illness is a terrible label for this, depression is a physical illness, with physical causes and often at least a partial physical cure in the form of medication.

There’s nothing shameful in taking a tablet for blood pressure,
and the same is true for depression.

WithLove-janecoquillon-heart1-shadowEven someone with experience dealing with depression can still miss all the signs.

If you’re having difficulty coping, it is just so important to ask (and keep asking) for help.