I Stepped Outside My Comfort Zone

A multi-coloured abstract painting with shades of yellow, purple, pink, red and sky blue. The painting has marks etched both horizontally and vertically across the whole piece.
A World In Motion

I stepped outside my comfort zone in a very literal sense with my new abstract artwork. Literally pushing myself physically to create art. I think it was worth it! Read on and find out what I have been up to.

I Stepped Outside My Comfort Zone

Photo Art

A look down an alleyway past planted containers full of flowers to a courtyard beyond. A table and chairs sits next to a restaurant sign and there is a water fountain. A half open door is just behind the table. The alleway goes from shade into the light highlighting the traditional Italian architecture in the background.
Floral Courtyard Cortona Tuscany

As a photo art specialist, I am very comfortable with creating images based on my photographs. For example, my images of Central Italy where I live. I love finding a view and then working on it to create as sense of feeling in the piece. How it feels to be there, if you like, not just what I can see with my eyes.

Acrylic Painting

An acrylic painting showing the suggested form of an angel with outstretched wings protecting a group of children from a bombardment of black debris coming from behind the angel. The angel is holding three children in its arms and other children are crowding around the angel with their arms outstretched, begging to be picked up. Some are climbing the angel's robe.
Protect The Children

I have also always painted in my studio here at the house. It used to be a hobby to aid with de-stressing from the day job. Once I retired a few years ago, the painting became another pillar of my art work. Sometimes I use it to get down how I feel about things that are going on in the world. That is certainly the case with my painting ‘Protect The Children’. I wrote a blog about my long process creating this piece.

Acrylic Pours

An abstract painting featuring clouds of shades of pink and purple rising up the canvas with some tinges of green and blue, and golden highlights at the top.
Purple and Pink Dip Fantasy 2

But in the last year I have also developed an interest in creating abstract work. For example, my work with acrylic pours has been very enjoyable and I have been delighted with the results. Like the image above called Purple And Pink Dip Fantasy 2. I wrote a blog on creating this particular piece.

However, I wanted to push my abstract work a bit further. I saw a YouTube video by an artist called Inga Knaak that really fired my imagination. But the technique looked quite physical and I wasn’t sure, suffering from Fibromyalgia, that I could actually do it!

Abstract Art Using Builder Tools

A New Technique For Me

The technique I wanted to try involved building up layers and layers of paint using what Inga calls a ‘Squeegee’. I think it would also be known as a plastering tool, a skimming tool or a finishing trowel. You may call it something else (let me know in the comments)?

This is not as simple as it sounds of course. The colours used need careful thought, as some can swamp the others. A hair drier comes in useful for drying some of the layers to stop some of the paint blending together. Otherwise there is a danger of colours overmixing and going muddy. The technique involves layering paint onto the trowel and then dragging it across the surface of the canvas. The canvas is turned at regular intervals so that you are going in different directions which helps build up the textured surface.

The first problem I hit was the size of the trowel I wanted to use. It was a standard finishing trowl but was, literally, too big for me to manage. A combination of Fibromyalgia and arthritis in my hands meant I had no real control over the tool.

A plasterers tool, a finishing trowel with a wooden handle sits on an abstract painting of predominantly red, turquoise and black. The painting sitson a table with a patterned table cloth and in the background can been some paint supplies.
My Trowel

However, as you can see, Barnet Boy found a smaller tool that I could just about manage.

My First Attempt

The first abstract I produced nearly finished me off! The technique is so physical! I stepped outside my comfort zone and really regretted it at one point. The effort of dragging the tool across the canvas, whilst holding onto the canvas with other hand so the tool could glide was hard for me. This had to be done standing of course which was another issue. Layer upon layer of different coloured paint. Constant cleaning of the tool and the twisting and turning I needed to do really took a toll. I hasten to add that for someone in good health I can’t see this being a problem. But I wouldn’t know good health if it bit me!

A multi-coloured abstract painting with shades of yellow, purple, pink, red and sky blue. The painting has marks etched both horizontally and vertically across the whole piece.
A World In Motion

I reached a point where I really thought I couldn’t go any further and I was almost in tears with the effort. After a long break and chatting online with some artist friends who really encouraged me, I finally went back to finish the painting. I am so glad I did as I am pleased with the result! Whether it was worth me then spending the next three days recovered is another matter. Based just on that experience alone I was tempted to never try this again. But I am made of sterner stuff! After a week I was determined to find a way to do this without killing myself in the process!

My Second Attempt

When I came to do the second one, based on my initial experience, I was able to work much smarter and get everything prepared. By now I knew what would work and what wouldn’t. I knew how not to use the trowel and the whole painting process was much smoother as a result.

An abstract painting comprising red and turquoise, with hints of other colours under neath and scratches marked into the surface including black scratches in the three areas that are clearly defined.
Cat Scratch

I had figured out the first time how to create more of a textured effect which was what I was looking for. I also broke the painting down into several stages over a couple of days which allowed me some recovery time. It was still tiring and ache producing but it was much more manageable. I stepped outside my comfort zone. And I love the final result, don’t you?

Now all I have to do is wait for the second one to completely dry and then I can scan both new pieces and get them uploaded to my online stores for sale as prints!

Before you go

Mid-week Reflections
Dorothy and Barnet Boy

My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.

You can follow me on Facebook.

Thank you for reading!

About Dorothy Berry-Lound 168 Articles
I am having fun living half way up a mountain in Central Italy with my husband Barnet Boy, Stevie Mouse and the rest of my fur family. I am enjoying creating art that people will love having on their walls. I also love storytelling through my blog and short stories.


  1. Do you know Steve, I had never heard of that and had to look it up! Yes it was fun to make those abstracts but, as I said, quite hard work. I was so pleased with the outcomes though. Thanks for your comment.

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