Knowing how to overcome creative block is an important skill to acquire when you aspire to create.
I schedule a time to write each week and it is usually a profitable time. Not this week, everything seems dry. I was at a loss for words so to speak and every item in my list of blogs to write seems dull and uninteresting to me. I did what I usually do when I come to a creative block in the road when I paint.
Steps to Relieve Creative Block
First, I admit that I am not on my game. I lower my expectations, and maybe I won’t tackle that 18 x 24 painting, or the detail inside the flower that I want to get just right, but I can paint backgrounds, or work on my texture collection, also I can draw. Sometimes in the process of executing the lower expectations, I start to feel inspired and I see my confidence return. Then I go for those bigger and more complex paintings.
Often that works, but if not, I allow myself to be satisfied with my smaller easier projects. When I teach, I tell this to my students, encouraging them to be aware of the internal obstacle to creativity and how to work around them.
I also keep stacks of a small piece of watercolor paper at my painting table for days like this. It helps to just play without a goal. Just see what happens when… fill in the blank, I add black drops of paint into a pool of blue color, then add salt.
As a graphic designer, I am often expected to be creative on demand. Allowing time to come up with ideas isn’t always a luxury I have on my job. I have learned to not panic. Instead, I will go ahead and do the first thing that comes to my mind even if I think it is lame, but it is like my smaller art projects, often good ideas will kick in.
I also keep a file folder of inspirational ideas to draw from. It helps to revisit designs that I love that another client didn’t and I repurpose them. I repurpose paintings. When I write on those drab days, I can refine older unfinished pieces.
Make the Correct Conclusion
What I don’t do is come to the conclusion that I cannot do this, or that I have no talent or that I am washed up or broken. A creative block is a common thing. It shouldn’t keep you from moving forward.
Keeping a list of ideas to write about, a box of photos to paint helps keep the creativity flowing, but what if my list seems dull like it did last night, and then what? It helps to ask yourself where the problem is coming from. Have I been getting enough rest? Enough exercising? Do I feel dull because I don’t feel well?
My son Scott who is a multi-talented artist, designer, and dancer happened to be with me this weekend. We had a conversation about creative blocks and here are some of the things he told me.
Scott’s main point was, as an artist, designer, dancer, he needs to take inspiration in order to create in an inspiring way. For him that means listening to music, taking walks in nature, talking to other people who are creative, going to museums, viewing movies, or anything that he finds inspiration in. When you’re not feeling creative, you need to stop and return to those things that you love, which help you to see life more interestingly.
His second point was that creativity takes time and you need to permit yourself the time you need. Even if you’re at work, you have breaks, you have lunchtime, use it as a time to allow inspiration to come to you. Scott is not a big fan of timelines but they are part of the corporate culture that he finds himself in. He doesn’t find them helpful to inspire creativity.
Scott’s third suggestion was to allow yourself to relax and play. For me, that’s doodling or if I’m at work it’s playing with ideas. Sometimes I create designs for clients that they would never use and that I would never even show them, but they help me get to something more interesting. If I allow that playtime, I end up with a design that is better than the one I had when I first started working on the layout.
His fourth suggestion was to remind me that we learn by making. He called it tactile knowledge. Doing something will get you further than calling it quits and saying you can’t do it. Do something and do it miserably will help you to eventually do something well.
Last night I reworked a few blogs I already started. I did some research on them to help give the subject some depth. I bought a book on a subject I was researching in hopes of gaining greater knowledge on the subject, then I set my work aside.
Inspiration the Next Morning
In the morning, I had an idea, why not blog about the creative blocks we end up with sometimes. I thought it would be a good idea to just talk about it like I did with Scott because I know the situation arises often. After all, it did with my student when I taught. The question is, what do we do about it?
New Products: The Hydrangea Watercolor Collection is Here!
The Hydrangea Watercolor Collection was created in the spring of 2020. There are six new paintings in the series. The Hydrangea Watercolor Painting were created on 140 lb. Arches Cold Press Watercolor Paper. There are two sizes. The 7 x 10 painting comes with a simple 2 inch white mat making the finished size 11 x14 inches. The 10 x 14 painting comes with a simple 2-inch white mat making the finished size 16 x 20 inches. Both will fit a standard size frame. The Frame is not included.
Prints, Fine Art Cards, and Notecards are Available!
The Hydrangea Watercolor Art Prints are a Giclee print on a watercolor paper cold press 100% cotton rag fine art paper specially created for artwork. The prints are available as 8 x 10, 10 x 12, and 11 x 14 inch sizes.
The Hydrangea Fine Art Cards Set consists of 6 notecards created from six original watercolors. Garden inspired, they are a beautiful way to brighten someone’s day.
Printed on white linen paper, they measure 8 X 5.25 inches (A8) and come with a white envelope. These cards are border-less and blank inside. The set is packaged in a plastic envelope for protection.
The Hydrangea Notecards Set consists of 6 notecards created from six original watercolors. Perfect for garden lovers, they are a nice way to send a thank you or note of encouragement to your friends and family.
Printed on white linen paper, they measure 5.5 X 4.25 inches and come with white envelope. The set is packaged in a plastic envelope for protection.
Hydrangea Prints, Fine Art Cards and Notecards are available on Etsy.
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