Creative Blocks? They happen.
A few years ago, I was dealing with a major creative block. It was awful. Thankfully, the contributing factors were easy to pinpoint: moving house, new home renovations, family illness and then a surprise pregnancy. The changes just kept coming and in over 100 days I didn’t pick up a paint brush ONCE.
It took a few months of working to find my center again and it was frustrating. So, in response to my major creative block I have decided to pass on what I learned about overcoming it:
1. Pinpoint the Attributing Factors:
This part is very important because often times you can figure out how to quickly eliminate or neutralize these issues once you identify them. Attributing Factors can also lead to stress which is covered later in this article.
Write them down and then explore ways to overcome them.
2. Organize Your Workspace:
I don’t know about everyone else, but when I can’t find things or have to spend time navigating clutter, I simply shut down - - or worse yet, explode…Clutter ignites some, but not most, so in light of that, spend some time making your studio a place where your mind is at ease and it feels good, even great to be there.
Anything less will kill both your creativity and your motivation.
3. Find a Way to De-Stress:
Stress kills everything. It’s much like a microbe that is immune to medicine, it just keeps spreading. Finding a way to remove the stresses that most affect your creative work is paramount to your producing the work that will over come your block.
Anything small that can help you de-stress is a great idea, so read on:
4. Exercise and Good Sleep:
It’s so much easier to sit on the couch and watch yet another art documentary, but the reality is that exercise, combined with good sleep will go a very long way to helping you get over your block (and stopping them from happening.)
While the link between creativity and exercise in not actually known, what is known is that getting your body moving helps the brain to work better! Combine this with a geode and consistent night’s sleep and you have half of the battle won. While you’re at it - add eating better and balanced food and you’d be surprised how far all of this goes to your creative output. I did this years ago, I’ve never looked back - and it goes a very long way toward de-stressing your environment:
5. Finally, go back to the basics of Inspiration.
Make bad work when you can’t make good work. You need to stay in the zone as often as you can and the skill of inspiration (and it is a skill) can only happen when you work and work often.
In the end, a creative block - even a very serious one - can be overcome by doing much of the above and every one of these strategies are important. Stay in the zone as often as you can, your creativity will thank you.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that I spend a ton of time cruising art websites and it astounds me over and over again how inept artists are at building and maintaining sites that are attractive (myself included.) They should be nothing less than attractive, but sadly - most of them look like they are still stuck in the late 1990s! (#SoRetro, anyone?)
Here’s the problem: Building websites is hard work, even when you use such services as Squarespace and Wordpress (which is an annoying and impossible service) and it’s not just the initial building out of the site, it is also the maintenance of the site as well and from my professional experience as a designer, I’m finding more and more that people really are not into spending a lot of time “clicking about” sites just for the enjoyment of looking at art.
For artists, then - the standard website is not the answer, at all - ever.
What’s the option?
When I originally wrote this article in 2017, I came to the conclusion that my personal opinion for a good website was Tumblr. With really cheap templates (as low as $11) and a fairly easy to use dashboard (tho finding specific things in the settings can be a nightmare) the nearly-free service enables me to have a site that is set up much like Pinterest, and it's very attractive - which for an ARTIST, is extremely important. What's good about this is the never ending scrolling feature that allows people to look without the irritation of having to click into other pages...because let's face it, even the most dedicated enthusiast would rather scroll than click thru endless pages.
However, the future of Tumblr in my estimation is very sketchy. They recently updated their user policies with the sweeping change of not allowing adult content on the site, which I whole-heartedly welcome, but unfortunately - that was the majority of their business....so now I have to ask - exactly what are they doing now? Are they going to move forward to make this the great blogging site it was before 2013? Let's hope so, because I will personally put my stamp of approval to it.
For now, tho - Weebly is my paid site provider to the tune of $500+ dollars and while some art bloggers say that having a website is not necessary and there are other ways to get your artwork sold without the steep cost; until I get real gallery representation or a solid list of collectors then the paying feature is very necessary, even tho as artists - resources can sometimes be scarce.
All this and the problem remains the same: artists' websites are often horribly planned out and executed. As a former graphic designer I have a huge advantage in this area and all of my sites I'm happy to say are attractive. I cannot emphasize it enough; however, that the site that introduces, displays and sells your art should be at the very least attractive.
With plenty of social media options out there, it really is optional as to whether or not an artist chooses to have a dedicated site. My opinion? Do a Tumblr blog and you have the almost free with minimal work/difficulty option. Keep plugging away at social media and eventually people will come to know you. Good luck and keep posting!
I so often appreciate people who not only take an interest in my work but also take the time to tell me that they like it, love it, or better yet spend their very hard earned money on purchasing my art that they then give an honored place in their home.
It's humbling, it really is.
Lately, however, I've been thinking about my business model and was about to set up a whole section of the website dedicated to how to hire for commissioned work....and then as I thought about it, I have decided NOT to go forward taking commissions.
Maybe it's bad policy, who knows - but the reality of the way I work is simple: I do better work when it's only me and my God-given inspiration moving forward on a work and what things I'm going to apply to that work to get it to speak in the context of how I want it to speak.
This is not so easy when I take commissions, in fact I find it down right impossible. People like very specific stuff for their walls and that's great, but it seems that once I am confined to doing a very specific thing I find that all my creativity seems to be lost on making sure the new painting looks like what the client wants. Some artists are very good at this and I'm really happy for that - I'm just not of that caliber and while I recognize that it would take some practice to get there, I'm just not that interested in how to be creative "inside the box."
So this is where it's at - I'm being paid not for my labor, but for my vision...that is what my clientele is purchasing. This is important because I know that I am giving the best of my talents simply by doing just what I know to do: create MY vision on canvas and nothing else.
So I whole-heartedly appreciate those who buy my work, I am forever in their debt and that's mostly because I understand what they are acquiring. They are not asking for anything in particular, they are being moved by the things running around in my head and that's really something to be thankful for.