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Artist’s Block: What to do When Creativity Hits the Pause Button

Artist’s Block: What To Do When Creativity Hits The Pause Button

Everyone in creative industries has moments in their careers when the inevitable artist’s block rears its ugly head. It is a common thread that weaves writers, actors, artists, musicians, songwriters together. We all suffer from it from time to time, so accepting that it’s unavoidable can help us view it as a time for recharge or realignment instead of allowing it to take us down the, “I’m no good anymore” rabbit hole.

Artists block is the inevitable side effect of either ideas and energy constantly flowing out and recharge not happening, or something has suddenly taken your focus off your art…be it good or bad distractions. In this post, I’ll share a few ideas on what can be done to navigate through the valleys and get us back to climbing our awe-inspiring creative mountains.

GET OUT OF TOWN

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Take a long weekend to an art mecca like Crystal Bridges (left). Or take a whole week to recharge in a place like the Truckee+Lake Tahoe area (right)

Think about how great you feel when you return from vacation, or even a day trip, and have seen other parts of the world or different parts of town. We feel good because we’ve gotten out of our state, our town, our studio and most importantly…out of our heads! Inspiration is bound to run out if you’re running circles in your head instead of running circles in new places. Living in our headspace makes our world much too small, so getting out of our studio space can expand the mind and set us on a new art-filled path.

TAKE A HIKE

We all know how much better we feel when we move and get out in the world. If you can’t get out of town, grab your studio dog and take them for a walk. If it’s a minor block you’re having, the energy that you get from sunshine and fresh air is great for a quick recharge. You’ll find that the energy your dog brings back to the studio is elevated as well, which helps bring sunshine back to the studio and bright ideas back in your head.

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Walk through your neighborhood or take a hike and just “observe” like I did this winter when artist’s block hit. Or soak in the color palette of a sunrise.

If you are lucky enough to live in an area where there are hiking or bike trails, take advantage of those resources and get moving. The silence can help draw you out of your head and tune you into the birds chirping, animals rustling, water flowing, and the wind in the trees…all of which help free your mind. The experiences you have in nature can serve as triggers for your art. Change the scenery, change the art!

RESET THE STUDIO

Cleaning and organizing your studio may sound like the ultimate procrastination strategy, but I’ve found what I call “studio resets” to be very helpful in starting new things. It creates the feeling of a clean slate and promotes fresh ideas. It may not surprise you that I’m into Feng Shui and I find that clearing my studio occasionally opens up creative flow. It’s much easier for me to operate freely in cleared spaces than it is to work in a “stress mess” to create my artwork.

The most helpful thing for me in a studio reset is putting all my paint tubes back in color order. It’s not hyper-critical color chart order or anything, but getting them pulled back together in color categories helps me see all the color possibilities that I have more clearly. I’ve found that if all I do between paintings is reset my paint tubes it helps me stay out of color palette ruts, which in turn opens me up to new ideas.

SEEK OUT COLLABORATION

Step out of your comfort zone and work with another artist on a collaboration. They will have different materials, tools, studios, processes, and ideas that may inspire you in ways you never thought about for your solo art practice. Collaboration in theatre and music is becoming mainstream, but the fine arts tend to gravitate toward solitary expression. Many artists dodge the thought of art collaborations because they are so accustomed to working alone or they don’t want to give their creative process away. To do so, however, can be well worth the effort to experience the evolution of your own artistic possibility…and get you out of a block!

REMEMBER TO PLAY

Sometimes an artists block is a result of getting caught up in the notion that we have a certain show coming up and have to produce a certain number of paintings by a certain time and we freeze…brush in hand. Or, we pressure ourselves when our galleries have sold several pieces and inventory needs to be replenished, so we feel a stress-filled obligation to refill the art inventory fast.

Instead of letting things like this lock us up, free up time for yourself to get art materials you don’t usually use and play with them. It can be school grade materials done on cheap newsprint or sketch pads.  You will take the inexpensive materials less seriously and you won’t feel like you’re wasting the “good stuff” playing and dabbling. Your artwork will always get better when you remind yourself to play instead of produce for the sake of producing.

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Help break artist’s block by: Mixing paint and writing down favorite new color combos. Take a class, make your own meditation mala, then use it! Take life drawing classes offered at places like InterUrban ArtHouse.

DON’T FREAK OUT

The main thing with an artist block is to be OK with it and know that we all go through it. Allow yourself to be at peace with taking time for things like taking extra classes at the gym, reading books, taking walks, meeting friends, admiring other artists work, going to museums, etc. Think of activities like this as a form of “art therapy” if you find yourself in a creative slump, instead of beating yourself up for not “producing.” Remind yourself that collecting experiences to create the art is just as important as creating the art itself!

Whether you’re in a creative field or not, we all have opportunities that call for creative expression. Please share your ideas for overcoming creative block below!

Lynette Ubel

While Lynette’s 25+ year career has produced a versatile portfolio of award-winning photography and design, it is her calling as an abstract painter that is emerging in full, vibrant fashion today. Her artistic vision now manifests itself in contemporary abstract acrylic paintings that feature an explosive style of remarkable depth, motion, and fluidity.

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