Do you find yourself staring at the blank white canvas perched on your easel, foxed at your inability to make a mark on it? Have you been mulling over your first brush stroke not just for a day, but for weeks, months or even years? Well then, Houston, we have a situation here! Time to sound a Code Red, for what you are experiencing is the Armageddon of the art world – the dreaded artist block. It is the apocalypse that’ll devastate and annihilate your artistic progress.
But relax! No need to panic, for it can be averted. As artists, we all have had those phases in our lives when we feel utterly confused, perplexed and frustratingly stuck. This is the time when innovative ideas seem to run dry and art inspiration is sorely lacking. It’s a common dilemma that can afflict all artists at some time or the other during their artistic journeys.
What exactly is an artist block?
Also known as a creative block, it is a period when artists cannot access their creativity and/or they cannot bring themselves to create a new piece of work. They feel like they have run out of things to draw. Simply put, it is a time when artistic drive is missing.
What causes an artist block?
The most common cause is a lack of inspiration or ideas. But inspiration is not the only problem, it’s also inactivity. If you are not practicing your art regularly, you will eventually run out of inspiration. So the key is to keep working and keep the momentum going. On the other hand artist block can also happen if you are mentally or physically exhausted. So do take care of yourself and take a break when you feel like you are burning out. Sometimes just looking at the world around you and enjoying it sights and sounds can help you grow as an artist!
How do you get rid of artist block?
Whether you’re uninspired, worried your work isn’t good enough or just can’t think of anything to sketch, the creative block is for real. But you must not let it get to you. Life gives us enough inspiration to be creative at all times. It’s up to us to find it and put it to good use. There are numerous ways to come out of this dry spell of creativity. Here’s how:
1. Create something on the canvas even if it’s just a simple sketch or a splash of colors. It is these marks and textures that will inspire you.
2. Travel or just go out for a stroll to the park or beach and look at everything afresh. The little subtleties of nature will appear to you in a totally new light.
3. Visit an art museum, gallery or online art websites that showcases art genre of your interest to draw inspiration from the old masters.
4. Enter an art competition to give you a goal to work towards and spark your creativity. Moreover, if you are selected and get to attend the art show, the works of other contestants will serve as a source of inspiration.
5. Read inspirational art quotes by the great masters of painting. It will not only inspire you but also motivate you once you get to know how they succeeding in combating their own lull periods.
6. Read art books if you are stuck with common issues like how to start a painting, what medium to use or how to fine tune your style.
7. Take a break if you feel you are experiencing artist burnout. It’ll give you time to contemplate on your status as well as progress as an artist. If you are just stuck on a particular painting, start a new one and toggle between them to keep the creative juices flowing.
8. Use creative exercises like drawing or painting your favorite subject for a month, making ten spontaneous paintings within a time limit, or recreating a series of an old painting in new ways each time.
9. Attend an art workshop where you can explore new techniques or media. You can also ask a friend or mentor to give you a creative challenge to work on.
10. Find a muse that inspires you andtake photos of this muse. Then go through the images and sketch or paint specific aspects of the subject in detail.
11. Clean up and revamp your studio or work space. A cluttered work area hampers creativity and kills inspiration.
12. Take a timeout from email and technology and just focus on your creative practice.
13. Visit a library or bookstore and explore a topic or subject you’ve been wanting to paint.
14. Take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual needs with a good workout, a solid meal, good sleep and some meditation.
15. Maintain a journal, scrapbook or notebook of your doodling and random musings that you can refer to later for inspiration.
Check out my blog post titled A Tour of My Sketchbook
16. Socialize and unwind with friends and acquaintances. It will clear your head and rejuvenate the creative center of your brain.
17. Take inspiration from other genres of art like literature, music, dance and even culinary arts for new ideas.
18. Create a Pinterest board with images that inspire you and make note of specific characteristics that appeal to you about each artwork as well as how you can incorporate these features in your own work in your own unique style.
Check out my Pinterest inspiration board here.
My Secret Tool
As an artist, I’ve come up with my very own fool proof solution to overcome my creative slump that seems to have worked for me each and every time, at least till now! I come up with my most creative concepts just before I hit the sack. As weird as it may sound, it’s when I close my eyes and shut my brain off to the outside world that I am able dive into the deep, dark abyss of my mind and conjure magical innovations. I also keep the notes app on my iPhone handy when I’m out on a long leisurely stroll. My best ideas come when I’m surrounded by nature because my mind is free to soar and explore new horizons. Besides these two trump cards, my trusted sketchbook and Pinterest board have always got my back, so plan B is also in place!
I consider these a form of “therapy” when I find myself in the shackles of a creative rut. You are most welcome to try them out if you are in one too. This is my troubleshooting mechanism, maybe it can be yours as well!
DISCLAIMER – All the information, data and imagery in this blog post is for informational and educational purpose only. Some images and data may have been taken from the links included below and I give full credit to these websites/pages, thereby in no way claiming them to be my own. Other data is based on my personal experiences and opinions.
Sources and Credits –