Sunday, September 28, 2008

Three Tips on Kicking Artist's Block to the Curb

Since I wrote about writer's block for one of my guest blog posts this week, I figured it would be appropriate to write about Artist's Block for my tips post. They're rather related -- sort of evil kissing cousins and it's easy to believe when you're in the grips of one or the other that you will never do anything creative ever again.

So what is artist's block? It's when you've got the time, the materials, and sometimes even the commissions lined up, but you just can't bring yourself to put pen to paper or brush to canvas or Sharpie to wall or glue to trash.

And here are three tips for shaking it.

1) Immerse yourself in someone else's art. There are some amazing websites out there for Safely Dead Artists. For instance, I was a huge Monet fangirl when I was a teenager. I had Monet posters all over my bedroom walls. Sadly, back then, they didn't have this amazing site. Definitely lots of fodder for thought there. If you can, get to a local museum. The idea is to remind yourself what you found exciting about art in the first place.

2) Give yourself permission to create something unuseful. I used to get artist's block a lot when I was creating art for a series or doing a lot of portrait commissions. Every piece of art I did had a distinct purpose and deadline, and I knew before I started that I not only couldn't mess it up, but also that I pretty much knew what it was going to turn into. Giving myself permission to do something entirely not useful in the general scheme of things (like "The Summer Girls" at right) always got my juices flowing again.

3. Switch media. When I get stumped with my colored pencils, I pull out my acrylics, and vice versa. They both offer such a different experience -- one offers total control and the other total freedom and messiness.

Joy in art, for me, is really connected to learning and changing as an artist. So when I'm stumped, it's almost always because I've let myself plateau and get stale.

And that's our three tips for this week! I've got to go Febreeze a dog. Anyone else have tips for shaking off Artist's Block?


Anonymous said...

To shake off my artists block I have to do something outside. Just sitting there soaking up the sunshine gets the creative juices flowing again for me :)


Tania said...

I keep a daily sketch book. Whenever my brain goes into idea "overload" I keep a record of any art idea that comes to me, however ridiculous. When I go through a "lean" stretch I look back into my sketch book for refreshment. Works every time.

Sheona Hamilton Grant said...

Music, reliving memories and gaining a "helicopter" view of things seems to do the trick for me.

freebird said...

Your idea for looking at museums or sites that show art is a good one and one that I use. Sometimes taking a workshop or online class in some new technique helps. I find getting around others who are enthuiastically creating helps me out of a slump.

Belinda Lindhardt said...

Once again Maggie I thankyou. I seem to be in some kind of rut or block or something and i thought "I need to get myself a dose of Maggie's but kicking" and here i come and find this post.
Once again thanks again i am off to read AGAIN some of your previous posts just to get them all into a fresh mind.
Ever thought of having a page with links to all your butkicking posts .. that would help me not have to search ! LOL

Jo Castillo said...

Thanks, Maggie. You always nudge our little gray cells and make us think. I usually switch media or try to go out with an art buddy for a day. Like freebird says, enthusiam is catching.