Old Masters Academy

Artists Creative Block – Overcoming the Difficulty

From time to time, most artists have experienced a creative block. Is there a key to overcoming this block to restore our creativity? Let’s look creatively at what artists experience, what it feels like when a block occurs, and how to overcome the artists block. When it strikes, we never see it coming. The feeling is something like this: You’re strolling through a serene forest, the cool breeze caressing your hair and whispering from the treetops above you. The filtered sunlight is fluttering like a nature-made strobe, lulling you to sleep. You see the ocean in the distance and can almost feel the salt spray on your cheeks as you make your way down the needle-laden path toward the shore. Spying a beautiful cluster of magenta colored flora, you stop. As you bend down to caress one of many blossoms, you close your eyes to allow the scent to permeate your mind, unmolested by sight and sound. The sensation is near heavenly. As you stand and open your eyes, you find that a heavy fog has suddenly and cruelly replaced the forest, and you’re surrounded by darkness. You turn back to the path but the path is gone. You turn toward what you thought was the ocean and you see only fog. Behind you, fog. Beside you, only fog. You reach out your hands in a vain attempt to feel something, anything familiar. As the anxiety mounts, you feel the familiar pricks of pine needles on your face and hands. Now however, they seem foreign and angry, no longer the beautiful sunlight filter they once were. You can see nothing, so you stumble around in the fog until you are so frustrated that you stop and collapse onto the forest path, your cheek pressed against forest floor, the scent of the magenta flower replaced by the smell of dirt. Unfortunately, artists block can occur without notice. One moment we’re in the groove. The next thing we know we’re on the forest floor. It’s from the floor of the forest, blinded by the fog that we make our choice to either continue to lay there in defeat, or get up and find the way out. Ok, first step is to take a break. Make it a short break, not a long one. Get up, stretch, go for a walk. Get a cup of coffee or tea. Get a beer if you’re so inclined. Go outside if you’re inside. Go for a swim or take a nap. Go for a drive or a bike ride. The idea is to get away from the canvas and get away from the block. This is equivalent to sitting on the forest floor, or standing on the path, stretching and waiting for the fog to clear. If the fog takes a while to clear, at least you’re not wallowing in self-doubt and pity. You’re facing the fog and not allowing it to get the better of you. What should you do after your break? Get up and move. I’ve found that when my mind seems blocked from the creativeness and talent that I know I possess, there truly is a next step. However the question is, what is the next step? The answer is, move. Now that you have had your rest break on the forest floor, move. Naturally, the next question is, which direction do you go when you’re in a fog? There are choices. Move back. Go back down the familiar path that was so beautiful just moments before. Get back to the basics of primary colors, pencil drawing and stick figures. Soon you’ll rediscover yourself and your roots. Make it simple like it once was. Relax and move back. Move to the side. Venture off into the foggy forest to discover new and exciting things that you would never have seen had you stayed on the path. Try something you’ve never tried before. If you’re into oils, break out the watercolors. If you do pastels, try sculpting. If airbrush is your thing, do some finger-painting. Move to the side. Move forward. Continue through the fog toward that beautiful seascape that you know is there. Forget what just happened. Don’t dwell on what turned out bad. Don’t speculate on what caused the block. Know that you’re creative. Know that you’re talented. Put the block behind you and try something that was more difficult than the project before. Many times for me this has brought me to places I didn’t know I could reach. Move forward. When you encounter artists block, the point is to move. Don’t let the block get you down. Move. Move. Move. Remember the only real reason you got artists block in the first place: You’re talented. You’re creative. You’re an artist!

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