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I talk with a lot of artists who love to make work. But, I hear quite frequently a bunch of different comments about what is getting in their way. I am an artist. So, I know that really most of these things tend to be excuses that we fabricate ourselves. What is really in the way is ourselves. I am too tired, I don't have a space to create, I don't know what to make, I don't have the time, My work is terrible, I'm not in the mood etc. etc.
I read between the lines of all of the reasons/excuses, and know that what we are really saying is we have some form of creative block or fear. So, we make these excuses and in turn don't make any work. We are all so caught up in the reasons to not make art, that we forget why we fell in love with art making to begin with. I challenge you to remember when it was that you fell in love with art making, and why.
It makes you happy. It feels like therapy. I expresses your feelings. You love making other people happy with your work. You have something to say that art is the only medium that will express it. You love beautiful things. You love to play with different materials. You love color. You love dreaming, and imagining. You love recording memories. You love to capture moments in time. You love documenting moments in history. I could go on for days.
So, if you are finding yourself in the position that you need a little jump start or reminder as to why you fell in love with art making, here are some practices that DO work! How do I know they work? Well, I do or have done many of these tasks on a regular basis. I can not remember the last time I had troubles with actually making work. Sure, I might be unsure of what I am making. Or I might find myself making work I don't love. But, I am still making work. And, that my friends is what is most important!
1. Morning writings- I started this practice years ago. It is a way to get out all of your feelings in the morning and begin your day on the right foot. 5 minutes, 500 words, 3 pages, however you want to do it. Just write. Don't think about it too much. Don't over analyze. Just write. You will be amazed if you go back and read through these months later what has happened as a result of these writings.
2. Sketch- Carry a sketchbook with you. Doodle, write, draw, plan, dream, to do lists. Write everything down. It is unbelievable to me how many things we will forget if we don't write them down. Think it, and Ink it!
3. Music- It is so important when you are trying to make work to create the right environment. Don't turn your TV on. Find a nice channel that fits your personality, and your best mood to make work. Try Spotify, make a playlist, Pandora, or whatever your preference. But, listen to what inspires you and makes you feel good!
4. Read or listen - What goes in our brains will come out. So, doesn't it make total since to read or listen to things that we learn from? Study something that interests you. Listen to an expert "podcaster" on a subject that gets you excited. It doesn't really matter what it is as long as you are growing, and it puts you in a place of bettering yourself. I personally love Podcasts because I am super busy, and I can find ways to listen in when I don't have time to sit and read. However you best digest information, feed your brain and give it some exercise!
5. Try New Materials - I know this is pretty simple. But, if you are feeling uninspired by your materials, then try something new. If you are a painter, try drawing. If you are a sculpture get out some watercolors. If there is a medium you have always wanted to try, then just do it. Have fun with it. Don't worry about the outcome. Pretend you are 4 and you just got your first pack of markers. Experiment!
6. Revisit older work - This is something I absolutely love to do. Take out old pieces that have been sitting in your studio. Now do something new with them. Cut them up, paint over them, take pictures of them, collage over them, etc. Whatever you want to do, and don't hold back! This is such a liberating feeling! I promise! Beautiful things can really start to happen with this exercise.
Old work sitting around can bring warm happy memories. But, other times those pieces sit and stare at you as if they are haunting, reminding you of the "terrible art" you used to make. So, liberate yourself and freshen them up! Give them new life!
7. Get out- Get out of your studio. Leave your comfort zone. Go for a walk. Go look at some art. See something old, and discover something new. Find a new fancy restaurant and indulge. Or try something authentic to eat. Go to a park or coffee shop and observe people. Take a drive in the country and get away from the crowds. Whatever sounds exciting to you, where you can take a deep breath, and refresh! Go! Do it! You brain needs some new inspiration.
8. Find a Community - Weather it is online or in person. It is important to surround yourself with creative people that inspire you. Having the support of like-minded people will help you grow and find your place. As artists we are, lets face it, "not like everybody else". Do you find yourself talking about an image you saw, a review you read, or the way the light is shining and your audience doesn't seem to understand? Do you find your hands just can't keep up with all of the pieces that your mind has dreamed of? Then, it is time to find your "tribe". They are out there. Make friends. If you are introverted then do it with a computer. Just find "your people". They will help pick you up when you are down, and cheer you on your next project. They will believe in you, until you fully believe in yourself.
9. Make every day- Yes, you read that correctly! Make something everyday. I don't care what your mood it. Just make work. It doesn't have to be good work. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece. You don't have to sell it, hang it in a gallery, or show it to anyone. Think of it as exercising. I promise you when you create the habit of doing something creative every day you will grow beyond your wildest dreams! Making bad work is always better than making no work at all! So, go make something! Now! (wink wink)
I hope these suggestions will help you push beyond any creative block you might be feeling! If you have any other questions I can help answer, please comment below. Also, make sure to sign up for my newsletter. There are many wonderful, pretty, shiny things that will be coming for my newsletter subscribers exclusively!