On my art table: Constellation of Hope

art journal techniques abstract art constellation of hope

I’ve been experimenting with abstract art recently, and it has been fun – challenging too, but fun. I find that I tend to slip back into slightly familiar territory when I am painting abstracts – adding in leaves, plants, flowers, or figures as a focal point and to try and bring everything together.

In this latest piece that I did, I was determined to keep it completely abstract, using only lines and shapes and color to tell a story. And what a story it turned out to be!

But before I get into the story, here’s a little step-by-step walk through.

Art journal walk-through: How to paint a mixed media abstract art piece

When it comes to abstracts – at least for me – I don’t always start out with a plan. I start my pieces intuitively, which means that most of the story that my art tells is in the process. How much of that exact story comes out in the piece is irrelevant – after all, everyone responds to art differently; in fact, we often respond to the same piece of art in different ways on different days, depending on our inner landscape!

Anyway, coming back to this piece: let me attempt to share the story with you.

mark making in art and art journals

I started this off with mark making: drips, lines, dots, doodles. There wasn’t much thought to this, except for doing what made me happy. I then covered over some areas with oil pastels and went over that with white paint so I could etch into it. Yummy! I’m definitely going to experiment more with oil pastels!

color blocking art journal

For the next stage of the process, I decided to add in some random circles. Again, not much thinking or planning – I just painted them in loosely. Looking at those blobs {because that’s what they looked like} I decided they needed to stand out somehow, so I added in a bit of shading and blocked out the area around them with some white paint and walked away.

building cohesion when layering in art journal

When I came back to the painting, it looked disjointed. After much consideration and tentative attempts at joining the two areas visually, and also integrating those areas into the rest of the painting, I decided to add in a wash of soft white and some white drips.

abstract art bringing it all together

All this dancing around and hemming and hawing because I didn’t want to loose those turquoise bits. After much faffing around and hand wringing {true story} I just took a deep breath and splashed on more white paint and created a few drips. SO MUCH BETTER already, no? But still not quite complete.

Constellation of Hope abstract art how to

In a flash of inspiration, and with steely determination, I made one more bold move. This time armed with gold ink to add in some loose circles, followed quickly with a thin brush and gold paint to add in finer lines and details.

And suddenly, it was done! I wish I could get a better picture of the final piece, but gold paint can be notoriously difficult to photograph. All I can say is that this looks even better in person – this photograph is really not doing it justice! The white is over exposed and the gold isn’t showing up too well, but I’m hoping you can fill in some of the details and visualize it in all its glory! {Sorry for gushing, but I’m smitten with this piece!}

Constellation of Hope: The story in the art

Anyway, the story, for me personally, is in the process. It is a story of the excitement of finding a spiritual mentor. Of jumping all-in without thinking about potential consequences or boundaries. It’s a story of the initial wonder and joy I felt while walking this path with a small set of people who seemed to speak my language.

It’s the story of ultimate heartbreak, of realizing that my peeps were really not my peeps. Of being burnt, broken, and unable to put the pieces back together no matter how much I tried. It’s the story of trying to rise, only to fall again. Of being chained – by the experience, yes, but even more by my own story of the entire experience – and being unable to break that chain.

And it’s the story of ultimate redemption. Of rising, like a phoenix, from the ashes. The gold paint, to me, represents the Japanese philosophy of kintsugi, which is the art of putting broken pieces of pottery back together using lacquer mixed with powdered gold or silver. For me, it was the sudden realization that the only thing holding me back was the constant looping of the story of my mistakes and missteps, of my unwillingness to trust myself and my intuition again. And of realizing that all I was doing was trying to fight my own shadows; to argue my way out of this mess in my head. But that rarely ever works, especially when you’ve been badly burnt by an experience. Better to accept it and act anyway – despite the fear and the apprehension. To decide that you can fly again, and then take that leap!

Healing with art

There is so much joy and healing that I find at the painty table. It’s a joy I wish everyone could experience. Which is why I created a mini art + soul ecourse called Atomic Lotus. Included in the course is a simple spoken word meditation, a curated guided meditation, journaling questions, and an art journal project from start to finish. The art portion contains over an hour of video, broken down into easy to watch segments, which makes it perfect even for the most busy people to watch and create! You can find all the details on the course and sign up here.

But before you go, tell me this: What do you see in this art piece?

Posted in Mindset for artists, On My Art Table and tagged , , , , , , , .

I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?


  1. Hey Shinjini, I loved the story behind your every stroke. I also believe by those lines. Many times we fight with our own thoughts and that reflects on our outer self.
    I am thinking of learning your art course and fulfill my old dreams.

    • Hey Geethica, yes, we are more often than not fighting our own inner demons. I think it’s a lot to do with not enough time for silence and for getting out of our mental chatter. That’s why I find art to be so healing – because you can step out of the mental chatter and access a different part of your brain. Do let me know if you have any questions on the course. I’m just an email or DM away 🙂

  2. Hey Shinj <3

    Love your art and most of all love the metaphors to your thoughts that they encapsulate. I have always found Kintsugi fascinating and I love they way you've brought about the connect here.

    More power to your splendid soul. Hugs xox

  3. I confess I don’t relate to abstract art but what I did love about this piece is how you walked us through the experience of what it meant for you. The Japanese art of Kintsukuroi is something I LOVE and even touched upon briefly in a post on my blog ages ago and it’s something that has stayed with me for a long, long time.

    I think all our endeavours should have that element of hope and excitement and venturing into the unknown the way you have. Gorgeous!

    • I find a lot of depth in various Japanese philosophies – they have a way of looking at the world that is very different from the Western view of use and throw; perfection; and the constant hustle. I’m glad you were able to connect to this piece + exploration despite not relating to abstract art.

  4. Art heals. I can vouch for it, for the way it helped me stay float through all the turbulent times, all the stress and the heartache. It’s an experience I wish each one of us would try out, at least once. Art not only heals, it puts back the pieces of our broken heart together, just like Kintsugi!

    • I’m so glad that came through! Sometimes, as the person who painted something, I know exactly what I wanted to express. I always wonder if it translates; or how other people interpret it. Because there’s never just one way to interpret a painting!

  5. It’s so wonderful to see the progress pictures and the thoughts behind them. How with random strokes you created something so unique and beautiful! Undoubtedly, Art heal…it balances the emotional state of a person. Atleast that’s what I have experienced.

  6. Loved the story behind your amazing abstract artwork! More so, because I suck at abstract art. What made me really glad was that you’ve found a way to heal your heart by putting back all the broken pieces and how! More power to your brush, dear Shinjini!

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