a way to get un-stuck and finish a painting (video) | Something from the Studio 14

Ever felt stuck with a painting or project, even though you were so close to completing it? You are not alone.

Finishing things in the creative process can be just as tricky as staring at the blank page wondering how to begin.

There’s also a comfort we can linger in, in those pre-finishing stages - because not finishing or finding closure can shelter us for awhile from venturing into the next round of now-what, not-knowing, and beginning-again.

I find this interesting resistance to be especially true when we have come to rather like or enjoy the relationship, project or creative work we’re now getting stuck with. Or when we’ve finally landed in a sweet-spot we’ve been seeking or hoping for.

We can pause the completion/closure process for many reasons… because we are being overcritical and don’t ‘like’ it or want to deal with our disappointment or mess. Or precisely because we do ‘like’ it how it is and don’t want to ruin, change or let go of what we’ve created so far. Lots of judgment calls there, either way you look at it, and that always causes a pause and chance to notice how we show up.

Taking time to notice how we’re judging or responding to our creative practice or work, and what may be behind that response, regardless of how we feel about what we’ve created, can be really insightful. In art and life.

And staying with, slowing down and not rushing things unnecessarily helps with that consciousness, and is such good, good medicine in these times.

Presence is one of my favorite practices, and my art-making can be a direct line of contact to this with-ness… but that doesn’t mean it’s just a zen-like stillness or something, without action or cycles of decisive transformation.

Creative presence - even in its pauses - will bring us right to the threshold of relational change, movement and engagement, I find.

And that creative spirit moves with us when we make changes, always available to deepen our awareness, remind us who we are, breathe life into our efforts and give flow to our energy.

I’m not saying it’s going to make things easier, or make us feel more motivated necessarily - though sometimes it can. But just that it’s there, with us, and does offer something that carries us through when we do finally get to showing up to do the work that calls.

work-in-process, spirit painting, mixed-media on wood panel | Hali Karla Arts

The little ‘Spirit painting’ in this video was hanging around in the studio with me for awhile, unfinished and waiting on me to get moving with its final layers.

I rather enjoyed that simple, sweet space of not-doing with this painting, while it lasted… until it started to feel like stuckness, like weight, and there became a palpable readiness in me to move on with it. And that’s when I knew it was time to get to the work of seeing it through.

There are lots of tricks and tips to getting un-stuck in creative process, for sure.

In the video, I share a fun digital method I occasionally play with, and that worked perfectly with this particular painting.

No big surprises here, just the thrill of actually doing the work, with what I know and what I have available… in whatever way gets me to show up and carry onward.

acrylic and ink spirit painting on wood panel, 12”x12” | Hali Karla Arts

Besides the app trick in the video, here’s another way to get un-stuck if you’re hesitant to finish a creative work:

Try out your ideas for finishing an art journal spread or painting with torn up collage bits or colored paper placed over top, to visualize blocking in color, imagery or pattern before you commit to the rendering.


Print out a few images of your in-process piece on your printer, and paint-sketch a few possibilities for finishing your piece over-top.

Easy-enough solutions.

The easy kind are also oh-so-easy to forget when our resistance or procrastination has taken hold. Maybe that’s just me….

Like I mention in the video, this is not necessarily in strict alignment with some intuitive or process approaches to painting - where you are to follow your intuitive spontaneity no matter what, without planning, fixing or editing, and focus solely on the process over the product.

And I can’t praise the gifts of a process oriented approach to Creative Practice enough.

But these simple ideas are a great way to play, learn and spark ideas when you are creating a piece where the end result does matter to you, as well.

Sometimes our intuitive sense is best strengthened in the invisible realms and dynamics of pure process in our expressions, no matter what it might look like externally.

We can find energizing respite, nourishment and trust when we leave behind notions of expectation, performance and appearance.

Each mark can hold worlds within worlds of awareness and witness, and only we know the full story.

And other times, we are trying to communicate an intuitive vision or idea, giving ourselves to what we sense or feel, but through very visible, intentional creations and works.

Maybe we want to share an idea or truth, or just make something of beauty.

There’s nothing wrong with using our collected tricks and tools for this, and it does not necessarily betray the intuitive call that may have sparked an idea, if we bring a little discipline and order into the external manifestation.

It is here, in this way, where we can find confidence in our ability to discern, and how it feels to finish what we’ve started and hold it in our hands.

It is here, where the archetypes of our internal feminine and masculine creative energy meet in our creative process. Integration and utilization of both is not a betrayal of either energy or process, but a welcoming of our wholeness and depth.

And behind the inspiration, pauses, decisions and marks that mark the making, only we know the whole story… and only we can see just where that completed expression may be leading us to begin, to seek, and to open ourselves to the process yet again.

As in art - so in life,


getting unstuck when you’re trying to finish a painting (with video), and combining intuitive art-making with the discipline of making a finished piece | Hali Karla Arts