Have you ever stared at a blank canvas and just had no clue how to begin? In an artist's life, there's a period where your creativity becomes stagnant. Where you struggle unsuccessfully to flesh out an idea or concept. The more you pray for clarity the more frustrated, doubtful, anxious, fearful and even panicky you become. These feelings are magnified when you are not yet established in the public eye and you are solely dependent on your art to earn an income (as in my case).
Artists need to express their creativity for their own self-preservation, and each day, week or month that goes by without making art, makes it more difficult for them to settle into a rhythm of creativity. It affects every aspect of their lives because they feel out of sync. Perhaps it has to do with too many ideas muddled inside their heads or none at all. Or it could be the exhaustive responsibilities of running a business, and the anxieties of meeting weekly, monthly or yearly commitments. Maybe it's the pressure of using your talents to earn income, especially in a society that continually ignores you and other goal-oriented artists. Or not having the time or space to create to your heart's content and your mind's true potential. Oftentimes, the inability to settle into that creative rhythm is caused by internal issues:- being overpowered by the voice of your inner critic or feeling mentally and emotionally depleted and uninspired.
As much as there are causes of artist's block, there are also methods to try that can be useful to overcome it.
Firstly, try setting aside some "alone time". Once you find that solace, ask yourself "what exactly is causing my anxiety/fear/panic/frustration?" Identifying the cause is like a Eureka moment! When you've done this, make a note of it and try to come up with a solution to alleviate those feelings.
Another method I use is asking myself "Why do I want to create? How does it make me feel when I'm making art?"(We often lose sight of this when we feel pressured, so it is good to stop and reflect on why you began in the first place.) Go back to the memory of the first time you created something. It could be a memory from childhood, when you simply created for the fun of it! Hold on to that joy and excitement and the childlike freedom you felt back then and use it to inspire your art-making.
If you don't know where to start, try doodling or another simple activity/drawing/painting to loosen you up and retrain your mind to create without thinking critically. Enjoy the experience of being free to create what you want, even if you feel like you've downgraded into a novice during this process. When you hear your inner self-critic voice in the distance, relax, remind yourself that everything will be okay and continue your exploration. Most importantly, do not judge the art you see in front of you. Allow yourself to get back into that creating mode. Allow yourself to return to the feeling which inspired you to create in the first place.
The next time you're running errands, or you find yourself waiting in line at your favourite supermarket, have a little sketchbook with you to sketch or jot down ideas that come to mind. Take some time during the day to focus on your art. Make sure your workspace is comfortable to you (i.e. quiet, distraction-free etc.) Listen to music that makes you happy or inspires you or creates an ambience. Make a solemn vow to never go on an extended hiatus without creating something, even if it's a sketch for a future project. Promise yourself to set aside even fifteen minutes or so each day to sketch, paint or learn a new technique, use that time!
Have a circle of creatively like-minded friends to confide in and motivate you. When you get the opportunity, read books, articles or tutorials that can help spark inspiration. Meditate. Participate in workshops.
Follow an artist or content creator on YouTube, learn from them and improve your skills in the process.
Sometimes I find that just taking off on a walk or drive in nature or going to my favourite place, the seaside, works wonders!
Most importantly, learn to respect yourself and love who you are. You are an artist! This is not a 9-to-5, nor should it feel like one. If you do not tend to that very core of you from which everything else comes, then your life will be anything but fulfilling!
I hope this article motivated you to confront your artist's block, and find the motivation to create art again. Feel free to let me know what methods you apply or recommend to remove artist's block from your creative existence.
Happy Art- Making!