Ways of Approaching the Blank Page

I’m starting a new project: To answer the question of what do you do when it’s time to work and you are confronted with a blank page. Where do you start? What approach do you use? I put together some of the approaches I use.

Some of these approaches might be effective for visual art more than for other types of creative endeavors because that’s where most of my training and study in this has been, and most of my experience of working within a field. However, some may apply just as well to writing a story, poem, or song. Or even to something outside of the context of a creative project within a career.

Here’s some approaches I’m aware of to start work with a blank page:

1. Showing up

2. Start rearranging, cleaning, ordering or fussing around with materials in your working space

3. Sidling into work

4. Random start

5. Underpaint some canvases

6. Start working on a previously started piece

7. Build a model

8. Arrange things in a subworld

9. Set up a still life

10. Hunt for a view

11. Meditation

12. Trance

13. Automatic drawing and writing

14. Frottage

15. Scrying

16. Collage

17. Trial and error

18. Work between 2-D and 3-D

19. Repurpose content

20. Paint or draw your own work, rewrite your own song, write your draft over again

21. Work up from a small, indefinite maquette to a larger, more complex and resolved piece

22. Warm up on large sheets of paper

23. Be prompted by a cue

24. Answer a piece

25. Dream up a start

26. Go limited palette

27. Build momentum

28. Work in series

29. Keep a sketchbook or journal

30. Use a model of the creative process

Some of these I use extensively and some I just know of and might try to work with more in the future.

Do you use some of these? Which ones are most effective? Am I missing some important approaches?

Let me know what you think.

-Troy Blum

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One thought on “Ways of Approaching the Blank Page

  1. If I’m working with a 2-d surface, and I’m not sure what to do with it, I use textures like sand, cheesecloth and papier-mache or other stuff that’s adhesive. I like painting over texture. A lot of your suggestions are really useful, like 4, 6, 13, 10, 26,29, etc. But the most important one is #1, definitely.

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