What do you do when you have artist’s block? What do you do when you just can’t seem to get yourself going? I’m sure each of you experiences this from time to time. Or am I alone here?
Let me suggest a few ideas to help you overcome your artistic block.
Pick up a brush (or whatever your medium is) and go for it. You don’t need to have anything specific in mind. Just mix up some pretty colors (or ugly if you want) and smear them around. Don’t think about it. Just do it. Before long, you will be getting into it.
This is one of the best ways I know of to overcome artist’s block. Creativity begets creativity. Yes, the act of doing usually leads somewhere…wherever that may be.
But, it isn’t the only way to get those juices flowing.
Study Other Artists’ Work
Looking at great art often gets me excited to paint. I have a decent collection of art books and stacks of art magazines. I study pieces of art in my own collection. When possible, I go to an art gallery or museum. I study the work of artists I admire. The juices begin flowing.
Sometimes I study the work of artists I’m not so sure about. I try to see if you can gain some appreciation for it. How would I have approached the work differently? I start getting ideas.
Study Your Own Art
Sometimes thumbing through my stacks of plein air studies or through my rejected studio pieces gets the gears in my mind cranking. I start to see possibilities in the unfinished pieces. I begin to find solutions to problems that stumped me in the past. Sometimes my original inspiration comes flooding back.
Visit Your Muse Where She Most Likely Hangs Out
I am a landscape artist. So, naturally for me, my muse is most likely wandering through the forest somewhere. Perhaps climbing a mountain peak or resting on the banks of a river. When I am at a loss for something to paint, I hop in my truck and head up into the nearby mountains or down some country roads among the farmland. With no specific destination, I go out into nature and just observe. I let the light, the patterns, colors, etc. speak to me.
Driving often does it, but getting out on foot in nature does it even quicker. I enjoy hiking in the mountains or taking a walk along the nature trails through town. Within a few minutes I almost always find something that inspires me. The closer I am to nature, the more in tune I become.
Whatever your subject, go find your muse at her usual hangout. She’s likely there.
Look Where Your Muse Seldom Hangs Out
Huh? Sometimes you need to step out of your box. Sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone. Notice the possibilities you’ve been overlooking – there’s a bazillion out there.
One of my favorite paintings is a close up of the landing gear on an old WW2 bomber I painted at the Pima Air Museum in Tucson. Beneath the HUGE plane, I poked my head up into the compartment that holds the landing gear and was fascinated. Not only was the old relic really cool, but the design possibilities were intriguing. I set up my easel right there and had a blast painting the gears and wires and rods, etc. My oldest son hangs that painting in his room.
Try a New Medium
Although I am an oil painter, I have sculptor’s clay in my studio. Sometimes I just start rolling the clay through my fingers and – voila! I am creating something – and excited about it. Yes, creativity begets creativity. But don’t neglect trying a new medium. I love sculpting. One day I may feel competent enough to consider casting a piece. For now, though, it is a diversion which frees me and opens up new ideas. I also find it interesting how something as opposite as sculpting can actually help me with painting.
These are only a few suggestions. There are many more ideas out there. What are your favorites? Add to the discussion by sharing.