What do artist’s do when they are feeling uninspired? I believe that nearly all artists experience creative drought periods, whether they want to admit it or not.
There are even phrases for this condition – creative block and artists block. This phrase is obviously borrowed from what some authors experience: writer’s block.
As artists, we all feel uninspired at times. For myself, this has occurred after my father passed away a few years ago. I painted very little during the few weeks after (because of mourning and depression), but managed to express myself through my sketchbooks. I also know what it feels like to come home after a long day of work, and feel too physically or emotionally exhausted to even think about creating.
All artists have dry periods. This doesn’t really mean we are uninspired at all, but outside experiences may be interfering with our creativity. Sometimes, we have to take a step back, and analyze the reasons we are feeling uncreative. It is only then that we can come up with a solution, one that will drive us back to doing the thing we love most – making art.
So, how do we deal with artist’s block? Well, the best thing you can do is not to panic! Ask yourself why you are feeling uninspired. Maybe it is quite obvious, as in my personal situation already mentioned. If you cannot figure out a solution for yourself, please read on for some ideas on how to get you back to creating again.
Inspiration Ideas on how to Overcome Creative Block
- Take a look at your culture
The culture here in Newfoundland is a very unique one. The main industry here has traditionally been the fishery (but that is changing). Newfoundland artists are known for paintings and drawings of fishing boats, icebergs, whales, fish, puffins, seagulls, moose, and stages. Our art is full of this kind of imagery, so much that the public has come to expect this from Newfoundland artists.
Instead of creating art about things I cannot relate to (which is what I think many new Newfoundland artists are doing), I try to put a unique spin on these themes. Just because the imagery is common and overused doesn’t mean new inspiring art cannot be made based on it. With so many artists today it may seem difficult to come up with ideas that are unique. I believe that the only way for artists to be truly original is to create from their own unique perspective.
- Create from Childhood Experiences
Everyone has experiences from childhood that stand out in their memory. Think about the place you lived, the schools you went to, and your childhood friends. These all hold significance to you, and could be the basis for some incredible artworks.
Personally, my upbringing has had a direct affect on my art, and is actually one of the reasons that compelled me to create. I have completed several paintings and drawings that were directly inspired by abusive childhood experiences. Some of these are so personal to me that I would never show them in public, but the themes have been reflected in a few other artworks.
- Artist Sketchbooks
Look back over past sketchbooks to see what you can come up with. In my personal sketchbooks, I often find ideas that I have long forgotten. If they are still relevant, sometimes I am inspired to translate the sketch into a full scale artwork.
If you are not regularly sketching, I sincerely recommend you start now. Even if you do not know how to draw, sketching can have lasting benefits for your art.
For some personal ideas on how to use a sketchbook, please visit:
Artist Sketchbook Drawing – Ideas and Tips
- Have more than one artwork project on the go at the same time
How can this help to overcome artistic block? Let me tell you about my experience.
I like to create a few paintings at the same time. When I am tired of working on one, I put it back and work on another. Of course, I also do this when I have to wait for the paint to dry, in order to rework the painting.
Doing this always keeps my art fresh and new. Often, when I return to a painting, I see things in the composition that I need to be added or taken away.
- Look at other artist’s work and get inspired
Visit an art gallery or museum. Study the paintings, sculptures, drawings, collages, etc. you see there. The internet is also filled with very talented artists who have art displayed on online galleries and artist websites.
I am always inspired when I look at the amazing talent some people have. It amazes me how different people approach the same subject matter in completely original ways, depending on their medium, style, and experience.
- Experiment with a different style or medium
I have often experimented with different mediums and styles in the past. Some of the mediums I have used (besides oil, acrylic, and graphite, which I primarily use now) are clay, watercolor, charcoal, conte crayon, pastels, etc. You should not feel confined to the way you create. Be brave, and branch out! Who knows, the results may bring you in new and interesting directions you never thought possible!
Most artists experience creativity block at one time or another. My advice for overcoming it is to be honest with yourself. Create what you are most passionate about. The main thing is to keep going, and not give up creating!
These are actions I have personally performed to spark creativity. By using these ideas, I am rarely uninspired anymore.
What have you personally done to be inspired when going through periods of creative drought?
Great article. Interesting point about sketchbooks - mine is a great inspiration to me. Keeping a sketch book means I have a back-up of boundless ideas to use when nothing fresh is inspiring me. Even if full scale works seem daunting, doing a few sketches, or even doodles, keeps my hand in as you yourself found, Graham, during your difficult patch. Having a network of family and friends (many of them artists themselves) helps to keep me going through those periods of 'creative drought', as does reading positive comments of my fans on my Facebook page and my website. I try to keep to a period of work (5 days a week) even if I feel uninspired. Often - inspiration comes.ReplyDelete
Thanks Chana for sharing your experience here! I can relate to being inspired by uplifting comments, here, on Facebook, Fine Art America, and elsewhere.
This is a great post Graham. I agree that most all of us go through a creative drought once in a while. One may be more extreme than another. I get inspiration from my crazy dreams. Even though I may not move forward with the subject of the dream, it seems to spark my creativity again. Also, for me, getting back to nature through gardening (inside and out) is a great way to feel inspired again. Of course, browsing through this fantastic web of like creative minds gives boundless encouragement and camaraderie.ReplyDelete
Upbeat music brings me in a mood to paint...ReplyDelete
I've never had a creative drought, but I ALWAYS have a block when it comes to business.ReplyDelete
Those are some excellent tips, Graham. I have used several to great effect. Thanks for the reminder.ReplyDelete
great pieces of insightful cues. i keep a sketchpad, as a rule. keep drawing as of old, a constant practice! drawing remains the essence of art. teaching students is most times a reason for not really engaging my own work. its a great sacrifice to help others see the light!thank you graham. nelson gravesReplyDelete
Excellent article, Graham... thank you so much for sharing!Delete
Excellent article, Graham... thank you so much for sharing!ReplyDelete
I've been in a huge block over the past few months. I have bought a canvas and I have already repainted it twice. I really liked the idea of thinking about childhood experiences, since I am really nostalgic; so I think I'm going to paint something related to drama, books or music, my favourite and most representative of my childhood topics. Thank you very much!ReplyDelete