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Creative block: 4 ways to overcome artists block

Well it’s been nearly a year since I last posted on this blog. Creative block has settled in. Most artists hit a block at some time. Time, fear, exhaustion and distractions can all play a part. Committing to building a body of work for an art exhibition has been more difficult than I anticipated. I manage a business with my husband and that has to take precedence over my artwork. Mainly because it pays the bills. It also gives me the freedom to purchase all the stash I need to indulge my creative passion.

Before hitting this creative block, I did create some more paintings that I haven’t blogged about. Since creating my son’s steampunk-themed painting I’ve played with different painting techniques. The canvases I painted include:

  • a mixed media, purple, whimsy themed ‘angel doll’ for my daughter;
  • a painting of lilies in a more realistic style; and
  • a larger 90cm x 90cm canvas of a rose (pictured above). The rose being my favourite.

For my first exhibition ever, I took my paintings to a small display held in a church hall in Adelaide in April 2017. The experience was daunting but encouraging. It was humbling to overhear people wandering about that they thought my rose was the best piece there. It was surprising and humbling.

Artist Tricia Hood seated behind a selection of her acrylic paintings

Since that time I’ve dabbled and doodled but didn’t commit brush to canvas with any degree, for the rest of 2017. I ended up in an artistic ‘funk‘ or ‘creative block’. What was my style, what mediums did I want to focus on using? Questions about all that other stuff that ‘real’ artists do.  I found myself overthinking things. I was focusing on what I thought I should be doing, rather than enjoying, or letting myself just be. Letting things flow.

4 ways I found to clear a creative block & find the motivation to paint

After watching a number of YouTube videos from some mixed media artists, I realised I had to get back to playing with my paints. Not forcing myself in to any particular box. I needed to go back to how I started the steampunk painting. Just let the brush and paints go wherever they go. These are four things I found helpful in moving forward through the creative block.

1. Make a personal commitment to being creative

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. However, I decided that I would try again over 2018, to make a commitment to doing some art or craft work on a regular basis. Anything! So long as it was something creative that would warm my heart. A voice from deep within was telling me I needed to make room for my art. I needed to pace myself better with work. So I decided that I could afford to take Wednesday’s off, or at least reduce the daily business tasks. Our business wouldn’t suffer if I was to just answer the occasional phone call, and spend the rest of my time on what made my heart sing. My artwork.

2. Keep blocks away by keeping up your creative momentum

A couple weeks later, an ad appeared on Facebook Marketplace for eighteen new Windsor & Newton canvases at a price that I could not pass up. Along with the canvases the seller was also disposing a huge batch of beads at an unbelievable price. I thought my eldest daughter might be interested in them for a project she had in mind. So it seemed worth the trip. It was at that point that I realised that when in an artistic ‘funk’ or ‘creative block’, doing anything creative, no matter what, is a good way to get motivated. Staying creative in other ways offers a distraction from thinking constantly about what one ‘should’ be doing. It frees the mind to just ‘be’ and the ideas and inspiration will start to flow again.

3. The benefits of finding time and life balance

Once I established a more regular creative routine by balancing my time and desire to create, I began to see the benefits. Two and a half months in to 2018, I’ve balanced my art and craftwork far better than I had expected. Two 18″ x 24″ paintings were completed in a new looser impressionistic style. Maybe I should do a third and then I’ll have a series! What do you think?

4. Draw from your existing creative skills & play with new techniques

These two paintings are more abstract than the rose and lily paintings. I drew on techniques observed in the mixed media artist’s YouTube videos . Long unused decorative painting techniques, dormant from when I taught students in the early 1990’s were brought in to play. I also incorporated some of the techniques I’d used in my other paintings from 2017.

I had fun adding a luxurious and opulent feel with 23ct gold leaf. It had been sitting in the bottom of a filing cabinet for over 25 years, the remnant of my past. It was time to use it and let it go. Part of getting older is realising that I’m getting too old to ‘save’ things for ‘good’.

Country Rose II
Country Rose I

In the back of my mind I found it motivating to think that if I built a sizeable collection of artworks for an exhibition, I may be able to generate a second income. My quiet little inner voice keeps reiterating … “build up your stock, keep making“. So that’s my goal. I hope you find the above tips helpful. Let me know if you do.