Today on the Self Taught Artist podcast, we are talking about how to get un-stuck when you have creative block. Slumps in your creativity are completely normal parts of the artistic journey. I’m sharing ten ways to kick start your creative engine again! This episode is great for artists and painters of all skill levels, and other creatives too. Here are ten things you can do when you have artist’s block to get creating again…
Another resource I discuss on the show: https://artsandculture.google.com/explore
Hello, and welcome back to the Self Taught Artist Podcast. I’m Lauren Kristine, your host. Remember me talking about that commission I was working on two episodes ago? Well, I finished it last weekend, and it was absolutely exhilarating! Truly, it kind of felt like finishing a marathon when I put my brush up and I’d painted my last paint on the canvas. There was so much pressure to make my best work ever. Plus, the challenge of trying to paint bigger, and in a different color palette than I was used to. It was a lot. In the end, everything worked out and I am obsessed with the result! I’ll be sharing a photo of the final commission painting in a few days over on my instagram at LaurenKristineArt. If you want to see a photo, I will link my Instagram in the show notes.
This week, it’s my goal to get back into creative play. Truthfully, I’ve been a little stuck after I wrapped up my big commission. It’s kind of like a mini creative block. I tried to paint a few things last week, and I just could not get into it. So I just feel like I’m stuck. As a result, this week’s podcast is 10 things you can do to help get over artists block or creative block, whatever you want to call it. I know that this list is going to help me get painting again this week and get back into a creative state. I hope that it helps some of you, too. Let’s get started.
1. Take some time to look back through your old work. Take a look at your past work to see if there’s anything there that inspires you. Sometimes by retreading familiar footsteps, we can get ourselves moving forward again. Momentum itself is really helpful in just getting out of a creative block. I’ll go flip through my old Instagram posts, take a look back in the archives of my photos app on my phone and see if anything looks like something I should revisit. Occasionally I’ll do this and some old technique, or some old color palette I used to use will call my name again. It gives me a good jumping off point to get creating again. Sometimes that’s all you need.
2. Set a timer for 15 minutes and just do something until you hear the timer go off. This could be sketching, drawing, painting, just scribbling in a sketchbook. Literally anything as long as your hands are moving.
3. Work through your fear. Are you holding yourself back because you’re afraid of something? Perhaps it’s that your work won’t be good enough. It’s time to remove all expectations. Your art does not have to sell to be good. It doesn’t have to get 100 likes on Instagram to be worthy of praise. And nobody even has to see it. I get the most creative block when I feel like I need to post something on Instagram because it’s been a few days since I’ve put something on there. Or just generally when I feel any kind of pressure. Like today, I felt I really needed to record a podcast because it’s been a while since my last one (Sorry about that!). This left me feeling like I was spinning my wheels. This is my third topic tonight because I kept getting stuck as I wrote the outlines for my podcast. Then I just decided this podcast would be about what to do when you get stuck. How’s that for turning some lemons into lemonade? I sat down today with the intention of this being a short podcast. Again, this is just another way that I can lessen the expectations that I put on myself. What can you do to lower your expectations for yourself?
4. Remind yourself that feeling blocked is not the end of the world. You are not any less of an artist because you feel artists block and you will not be stuck in a creative block forever. That’s a fact. Often, this period, will actually be a precursor to a big breakthrough. Persevere, keep going, take some rest, and then get ready for that breakthrough that’s hopefully yet to come.
5. Prepare yourself for the moment when you’re ready to create again. Go prepare a canvas or two, set out your paints all nicely. Organize your paints, organize your studio, ensure that all of your brushes are out and ready to go. Or, start swatching a new color chart. Often just being in your studio space, or having your creative tools around at your disposal can fuel your fire. You’ll be ready when the slump suddenly ends. You’ll be ready to snap into action to capture the creativity that’s in your head on paper or canvas.
6. Take a class or watch an instructional video online. You can get on Skillshare, Craftsy, or even YouTube to find a class that interests you. Classes are good in a couple of ways. For one, they provide structure and subject matter. So it’s less that you have to think about and fewer decisions that you have to make. There are short classes and longer courses that you could explore. You might just learn something new or be exposed to a new technique that excites you! This happened to me a couple of weeks back when I tried gelli printing for the first time. It really got me going again after a little slump. I watched a few YouTube videos and tried something new.
7. Keep a list of ideas. I have started a note in my phone with lots of ideas of things that I want to draw, paint and create in the future. Sometimes I get a creative burst, and I have tons of ideas at once, like too many ideas all at once. It can actually get kind of overwhelming for me when I have too many things that I want to do, and too little time to do them all. As a result, I started writing them all down in this note in my phone, so that I can come back to this list when I’m feeling less inspired.
8. Change your medium. For example, I’ve been doing a ton of acrylic painting lately. So I’m thinking it’s time for me to switch back over to doing more watercolor. I can do different things with each medium, and it gets my creative brain firing in different ways. Sometimes I find simply the act of just changing the tools I’m using or the medium I’m using can be enough to just get me going get me started again.
9. Take a walk. When you find yourself lacking in an inspiration, go for a walk and soak up some sunshine, especially now that we’re in these dreary winter months. Seeing greenery and nature helps us feel more relaxed and more calm. So if you can get outside and go to a green space, wherever you’re walking, whether it’s a green space, or an urban jungle, challenge yourself to notice all the little details of your surroundings. What are the shapes you’re seeing the colors, the textures? What about the smells? Try and experience all of your senses on your walk. Maybe you’ll find some inspiration from something you see you touch or you feel.
10. Take a visit to an art museum, virtually. Seriously, you don’t even have to leave your couch. Technology is an amazing thing. You can virtually visit some of my favorite museums in the world right now completely for free. Google Arts and Culture has curated some amazing experiences you can find on their website, and they’ve digitized a ton of artwork. I love some of their exhibits which are very interactive, and it makes you feel like you’re there or, if you’re not there, you’re close to being there. Check it out at: https://artsandculture.google.com . Two of my favorites in their collection are the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. I think there’s a chance that by looking at some art from the old masters, or even contemporary artists can get you out of your creative block, and simply excited about the magic of artistic expression again.
I know it’s really hard to creatively put yourself out there and take creative risks day after day, which is what we have to do is artists. When you put so much of yourself and your time into creating something, it does get hard to separate it from who you are. I love this quote from Henri Matisse, who famously said, “creativity takes courage.” I think it’s so true: You have to be brave enough to possibly fail, and brave enough to be vulnerable. We make the best art when we ourselves shine through in our creations.
So that’s it for this week’s episode. I really hope that this is helpful to you, or that it’s helpful to you one day in the future when you find yourself in a creative block. As always, please take a minute to review the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. It really just take a minute, and it would really make me smile. Reviews help me so much to reach more self taught artists out there. Also, be sure and hit the subscribe button while you’re at it so you never miss an episode. You can find me on Instagram at LaurenKristineArt or on my website, www.LaurenKristineArt.com. The links are in the show notes. Till next time, bye friends. Happy Creating!
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