Artist’s Block

January 25, 2015

I paint somewhat regularly with a group of artists who meet once a week, usually at one of two studios of our members. We aren’t all painters. One of our number is creating wonderfully original greeting cards using zen tangle among other things. Some bring knitting projects or spinning wheels. At last week’s gathering one of our number said she was experiencing what writers sometimes do, only as an artist she called it artist’s block.

She had always been a creative person, she said, in a wide variety of mediums. On this day she was painting from a photo she had taken and she is an excellent photographer. But lately she said she felt no inspiration at all. In fact, she had been attending our group only sporadically. She thought her lack of creativity might be because of a recent move, even though the move had been within the same town. I understood what she was saying very well. I hadn’t painted since mid November. First it was the holidays and all the extra things to do that go with that time of year. Then family responsibilities had increased causing additional stress. Also, places to exhibit my paintings had declined, which meant I hadn’t sold anything in a while. It was easy to wonder, why continue to pile up paintings?

But now it was a new year, typically a time to make resolutions, a time to begin again. But how to do that? I think being around other creative people helps, but only if one does not negatively compare one’s own work to theirs. Next, look over partially finished projects from the past. I have several plein air paintings that I didn’t have time to finish when I was outdoors. So I don’t have to start from scratch with a blank canvas. I always take photos of what I am painting so that will help me finish when I am inside. It is also helpful to write on the calendar, along with all those other tasks, a time to paint, even if it can’t be very often or very long. Most of all, keep your eyes open as you go about your daily life. You never know when you will see something that will inspire you. While at my artist friend home last week, I saw a bowl of onions in her kitchen and thought, “I would like to paint that.”

Maybe someday soon I will, because like most artists, being creative is a vital part of me. It’s something I can’t help. I feel better when I take time for creative projects. And so for the new year, I resolve simply to keep on keeping on being creative.

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