Please describe your favorite method(s) for working through a block.
My simplest and most often utilized method is simply to not paint. : ) If I let myself get bored for long enough (and the length depends on how blocked I am, and how long it’s been since my last break), ideas just start popping into my head and I can’t wait to get in my studio again.
If it’s a little block I might just go for a walk. That usually clears my head sufficiently.
If it’s a big block, I’ll often spend some of that non-painting time with:
cleaning my studio
piterest and art magazines
I do the same as Carol, but I also have a lot of options…if not ‘in the mood’ or blocked, usually doing faces-I will do abstract big or still life small or even tiny as in aceo. That usually works or maybe I was just too tired…so I take a nap.
- Spending time with the family
- preparing panels
- surfing the internet for good paintings (though too much might have a reverse effect
- buying paints and art materials I’ve not used before
When I hit a wall, I just keep painting anyway, even if I feel like everything I’m producing is junk. I know that eventually I’ll break through. I take heart in Matisse’s sentiment that work cures everything. So far, that’s always worked (for me).
I am hitting one right now. I have painted a dress that I really like but I can’t figure out what to do with the background. So as I am procrastinating, I am washing my bathroom floor that is covered with paint. The floor is getting clean but the painting is still glaring at me.
Walk away for a while. Come back and look at it in a mirror or turn it upside down, or both. Start something else.
I take a class to learn something new or new technique. I bought a DSLR camera last year and learning that as well as how photographers make their photos really helped me with my painting.
Plein air seems to provide so many inspiring sights that I don’t stay blocked for any length of time.
I usually spend the ‘artist block’ time doing physical mundane art things like preparing canvases, doing the backs of paintings (for framing), preparing cards, and I actually use DPW for this time too - I go to the challenges. This has worked really well for me and kept my hand in, and sure enough, the creative flow starts again and off I go. My longest downtime in the past 2 years was a six week block where I entered every weekly DPW comp during that period.
- Do a lot of sketching from reference
- Doodle while watching TV or listening to music
- Surf the Internet looking at images, or consult image reference books (Dover publishes these and they’re great)
I will switch out to work on my weaving or spinning for a while and that normally allows my brain to work through whatever it needs so the creativity and insights return. What gets me worse, however, is interruptions by life. I can be in the middle of a wonderful creative flow and working every day and producing good work and then there is a crisis… someone dies, gets sick, gets pregnant, gets married, and my precious time in the studio is just gone! It doesn’t help that I work at a stressful job Mon through Fri. … And I fall out of synch. I’m going to deliberately try plein air work this weekend despite anticipated high heat and see if I can push through and push some paint around.
I also love listening to talent shows. It’s really inspiring when somebody really young comes along with a spectacular voice.
My brick walls are often caused by tiredness. You eventually reach that point in life where you can’t get a complete night’s sleep without visiting the bathroom…maybe more than once, which really hacks up the sleep pattern. Then I get tired from the “why am I bothering to paint anything, because who really cares?” syndrome. So I then have excuses not to paint or draw anything. At such times I may trawl through the art in Pinterest, or browse DPW, or other online galleries; occasionally try to re-start an old craft project like rag-rugs or knitting with rag-strips. Sometimes just go back to drawing with a tech-pen and say boo to colour, for several days or a week.
I love how you put it, @microdaisy and I can definitely empathize!