Have you ever felt like your mind is empty, your hands feel rough even though you have drawn or painted something before no problem, or you just feel anxious or numb (emotionally)… then you are in a creative funk. And you are not the only one, trust me!
Over the years I have been trying to eliminate my creative funks because they frustrate me, I felt like I was wasting time and was getting nothing done. So I started paying more attention to what leads to these creative blocks and what helps me to get out of them. And here are a few things I found working for me.
My advice #1
Take a break!
…from whatever it is that you’re doing. Sometimes we simply get tired. Our minds and our emotions are hardworking mechanisms, but we are still simply living things that can’t be working on high alert for 24/7. As much as you want to get everything done or if you have a stressful commission that has to be completed no matter what, take at least half of the day off and use that time to recharge. Do something that relaxes you like a cup of tea with a book, or go outside for a small hike, or call your friends to meet for a cup of coffee. In other words, set your projects aside and have some time for yourself and you will see how refreshing it feels afterwards. Your mind will thank you by generating lots of new ideas. Keep in mind that depending on the amount of your exhaustion, some breaks might take longer in order to work. I had many cases when I really needed a few days to get back to normal, in one case it even took me more than a month.
So if your break does take longer, what do you do during this time? here’s my advice #2
Changer your medium!
I mentioned above that one of my creative funks tool me more than a month to recover, it happened when I was working a lot with oils, trying new techniques, new art supplies, painting a lot, teaching oil classes and everything seemed to be going great until, surprisingly for myself, I found myself in a funk. I couldn’t put another brushstroke on a canvas as if my hands forgot how to paint… and it lasted weeks. But during this time I couldn’t sit still, I felt bad for wasting this time, so I decided to do something else instead and I picked up ink pens, watercolors, markers, basically all other art supplies I had on my desk, leaving oils to rest a little. And all of a sudden, my mind started bursting with new ideas, I started creating new illustrations, I wanted to create again and it was working. After a month of working in the new mediums ( or should I say rediscovered mediums) I tried going back to my oil painting and this time I finished it in just a few sittings and a few months later it was sold. Therefore, pay attention to your feelings and try to evaluate what is it exactly that is not working, because just like you get tired of working hard 24/7, you also get tired of working in just one medium, no matter how much you like it.
If changing your medium doesn’t quite fix the problem, maybe you need to dig deeper and my advice #3
Find new sources of inspiration!
I find a great deal of inspiration from visual sources like Instagram or Pinterest (btw you can find links to my accounts at the end of this post), I also find magazines and books to be very useful too, even the ones I have read before. Being a visual person, I like to look at thing that make me feel something, sometimes just finding good color combination on Pinterest makes me want to adopt it in my projects or seeing a new illustration by an artist on Instagram gives me a new perspective on the use of medium or representing a certain subject. Good thing about Pinterest is that it generates lots of new content suggestions for you based on your clicks and saves, but the Instagram exploring tool (that magnifying glass icon) is working in just the same way helping you discover people that are working in your areas of interest and also expands your feed by showing other popular posts. I discovered that looking at visually compelling images became like a food for my inspiration. And now I practice it on a daily basis. But be careful not to waste too much time on social media because that is when your productivity starts going down and the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve starts taking place. It’s just a warm up for your mind.
When you start looking at other people’s art, you unwillingly find yourself comparing to them and here’s my advice #4
Don’t compare! Analyze, learn and take notes instead!
If you find yourself in a funk because you are comparing yourself to other artists, just know that you’re not the only one! My advice ( the one I always give my students) don’t feel intimidated by other artists’ progress, everyone started somewhere! Yes, they are good at what they do, but only because they have been practicing for years and decades and simply followed the rule that “practice makes perfect”. And you can do just the same!
When you see a painting that inspires you, don’t compare your skill level, instead, see what you can learn from it! What is it exactly that this artist does good? Is it the brushwork? Is it the color choices? Is it the composition? Take notes on what you would like to learn and next time you start painting try to implement one of the thing you have learned and you will see your own progress taking place.
Preventing is always easier than treating, so to sum up all of the advices here’s my advice #5
Practice all of the advices on a daily and weekly basis!
As I said, no one is immune to creative funks and they will keep happening no matter what your experience is. So I started developing a daily and a weekly routine of keeping myself on a creative track. One thing I found working the best for me is finding new sources of inspiration. Therefore, now I dedicate an hour a day or a few minutes here and there to read a good magazine ( I like Artists Magazine and Veranda) or search for inspiring new accounts on Instagram and Pinterest and just absorb all the pretty pictures and take note on what I can pick up from them. In addition, I try to use a few different mediums within a week. Recently, I started designing greeting cards and that gives me a chance to work with a variety of mediums from inks to gold leafs. I am still teaching oil painting classes weekly and work on my painting commissions, but I always fell more refreshed if I picked a day to paint some watercolor flowers for a greeting card. And coming back to my very first advice, if I do feel tired and drained I simply walk away from my desk for a while, before it gets worse.
Everyone finds ways that work for them, this is just me sharing my experience hoping that iit will help you develop your routine that will help you stay on your creative track. Let me know if you find these advices useful or if you found something different that works for you, I would love to hear you opinion 🙂
Here are the link to my social media accounts in case you decide you want to find some new sources of inspiration 😉
Pinterest K Khrysty Fine Art