I mentor artists who are in the beginning of their journey and many find the journey challenging as it’s one thing to create a one off piece of art, but to make a series (or cohesive body of work) seems to take something more.
Sometimes artist who have been painting for a long time (like me) reach a place of staleness or creator’s block that seems impossible to surmount.
Life also gets in the way as seasons change things get very busy and people demand much of our time.
I don’t know all of them, but I suppose there are lots of reasons for not making art or being frozen in place.
I’ve heard it said that there are “lots of reasons but no real excuses.”
With that said, artists cannot rest on their laurels. Maybe that is why, overwhelmingly, the artists that I meet are generally quite humble personalities because they know this journey over the long haul is not for the faint of heart and that it takes real dedication to be in it for the long haul.
WHAT I DO
Here’s what I do when I get into one of these seasons where I feel virtually stuck in place and I don’t know what to paint.
The first thing is that I recognize that it will pass. With time. How much time depends on many things but mainly on me being able to let the Spirit of my creativity return as naturally as I can let it.
2) I need lots of time to wonder around. To not be scheduled. Not think about issues or watch TV or focus on world problems. I just need time to be quiet, alone time. I like to call it “shoo-be-do” time.
In Cameron’s book “The Artist Way,” she calls it taking yourself on a date. My dates involve walking outside, looking through magazines, walking around my property, listening to music, visiting a gallery, or just heading into town and wondering around in home stores. I love decorating my home, so that one is a special treat to me.
3) New experiences are a little scary at times, but oh so necessary.
Things like learning a new art method. This year I’ve been focused on going deeper with my encaustic practice. I learned a little about it last year but did not find my expression with it, so this is round two or three maybe.
I’m learning encaustic collage and have much to learn because it is so completely different from the way I have worked in the past. And for this work, I am grateful that I have grown more patient!
Horse back riding. This is not something that I had ever thought to put on my bucket list, but it all started because I wanted horse hair for the encaustic. Go figure. Anyway, I shall endeavor to learn a few things about riding and caring for horses. I do not think I’ll ever own one as many of my friends do, but it’s nice to be around them.
4) Returning to my journal is something that seems to help me. This discipline takes intentionality to just write a few pages every morning. No one will read it but it certainly does help me order my thoughts and discover hidden ideas —things I haven’t thought of before. It’s a great processing tool. Sometimes during this process I just ask myself questions and let them sit.
5) I pay attention to what other artists are making and their transition from subject to subject or idea to idea. I don’t want to be like them, but I do want to see how they make the leap. And with social media it’s pretty easy to stalk them.
6) There are so many things one can focus on going forward, ideas we want to convey, particular objects, things in our environment, nature, history, to inform or teach. The list goes on and on. For some artists are never stuck, focus becomes the issue. But that is a blog for another time.
7) So many books on creativity. I will not give you a list as it is overwhelming. Just search the internet and find all kinds of helps. Julie Cameron is still one of my favorites that has stood the test of time.
8) Become hyper curious about something. For me I am learning about our local flora and fauna. Will I paint it in my abstracts, who knows? But it does give me a good jumping off place.
There are so many ways to approach becoming unstuck, but this is my current practice right now.
Comment and let me know what are the things you do to get unstuck on your creative journey. I’d really love to know.