Creating Art without a Mind’s Eye

When I was 7 I wanted to grow up to be an artist. I quickly decided that wasn’t possible because I couldn’t draw. I sure could draw the rat on the cover of Ralph S. Mouse (this one), and I drew Ralph over and over, but to think of something and just draw it, that wasn’t something my mind could do. So my 7 year old self saw Art as a profession that would never be reachable.

In a college painting class we were painting a live model. She had a bit of extra skin under her chin, and my professor came over and ‘fixed’ where I had painted it, noting that in professional portraiture we should make the client look as polished as possible. I don’t know that I agree with that mentality, but even if I did, I wouldn’t have ever been able to fathom what the model would have looked like devoid of that bit of skin. I could paint what was before me quite skillfully, but to consider a differentiation from what was before me wasn’t possible.

Sometimes I burn images of forest creatures into wood. I begin with a light trace of the animal from a printed photo, noting where the shadows should be. They come out well, but I often feel like I’m cheating in the process.

Continue reading “Creating Art without a Mind’s Eye”

Saving Ideas

This post was originally published on Toy Photographers.

Google image search ‘idea journaling’ and you get beautiful pages full of neat handwriting, perfect sketches, scrapbook paper and washi tape.

I keep an idea journal. Mine is not beautiful.

My journal (or should I say journals, because I constantly start new ones before old ones are full) is messy – scrawled script, scribbled pictures – complete nonsense to the onlooker. However, this process is a way for me to save things that I may not remember later, to brainstorm vague ideas for images and make those ideas fuller, to feel like I’m creating even when I don’t have a camera in my hand.

This process also makes me feel more sane. I’m a planner and a list maker and I think of ideas at inopportune times. So, rather than create right away, I write it down and hope that the little tidbit of an idea still inspires me later.

The featured image of this post is a final product of the bottom sketch in the top left image here.

I truly believe ideas can be found everywhere. 

Whenever you watch a movie, read a book, visit a new place, etc. and see something you love, something that draws you in – whether a place, color, person’s movement – that’s inspiration to you and thus something that influences your work, whether you actively recognize it or not at the time.

My solution? When you feel that passionate twinge, make note of it – whether a note on your phone or a physical piece of paper. Connect those ideas and draw patterns from them. The more you know yourself, the more personal work you create and personal work draws others in. Who knows, maybe your work will become a line in someone else’s idea journal.

Do you keep an idea journal? What do you do when you’re struck with a creative thought at just the wrong time? Let me know in a comment below.

~ Jennifer Nichole Wells

“In large measure becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive.”

 – Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland


IMG_1915 IMG_1917

Check out my first post about this figure here.

[A late post for the 2016 April A to Z Challenge, Day 14, N, and in response to Dark Side Thursday and the Daily Post Daily Prompt: Locked – and to give credit where it’s due, I owe the title of this post, in part, to the lovelies at encyclopedia netherworld]


I’ve been trying to get back into my art mode. I suppose I’ve been in a bit of a creativity funk. But…I got a few things from the craft store and a couple of O scale figures from a knife shop in historic St. Augustine and I’ve had a bit of a painting spree.

Typically used for D&D, which I’ve never played, I just couldn’t pass up the O scale minis below. They’re so detailed and I have an obsession with making images of the sea. Also they were only $2.50 which is a steal compared to the price of train miniatures.


Images via online store linked below
Images via online store linked below

This line of minis can be found here.


PicMonkey Collage

Stay tuned to see these use in some posed photos.

[A late post for the 2016 April A to Z Challenge, Day 13, M]

Commandeered Creativity

In 3rd grade there was a book (about a dog, but I can’t remember much else) that resided on our classroom book shelf. One day, I took it upon my self to copy the book page by page. I meticulously traced the drawings and wrote out all the words. I worked on this for days, saving all the pages and stapling them together when it was finally complete. I didn’t particularly like the book. I told myself I now had my own copy though, apparently not fully understanding the concept. To my mother’s amazement, at the end of the school year she found the book in my bag. Her child, a genius, to write and illustrate a full book with proper grammar and a continuous story line. I quickly told her I only copied it and though she seemed a bit confused, the subject was dropped.

I’ve considered this story off an on. What an odd thing for anyone to do, let alone a 3rd grader. Yet, today I feel I have some understanding of it, as I sit at my desk on a quiet Friday. The end of the week where most work seems to cease as everyone’s minds prepare for the weekend. The work I do relies on the needs of my coworkers and thus I busy myself with reading articles on Buzzfeed and the New Yorker and sifting through emails I care nothing about. I have trouble letting my mind focus on non-thought provoking things while I sit idly in a structured environment (i.e. work or school). I have a never ending urge to be creating something, anything. I can’t really bring my miniatures, paints, papers, camera, etc. into work and so I find other ways to feel intelligent and creative on these mind-numbingly slow days. I just found myself writing the quotes I like from an article onto post it notes. I then considered what I would do with those little pieces of paper. Place them in my art notebook I conjectured. But why? I know for a fact I won’t flip back the pages, read them and get anything from them in the future. It’s all just a way to dwindle away the idle hours. To commandeer someone else’s creativity until I’m able to work through my own.