“The seed of your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections are your guides–valuable, objective, non-judgmental guides to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.” ~David Bayles
Have you ever been at a creative standstill? Wanting to create, but just not feeling it. Wandering in and out of your creative space with the hopes that inspiration will whisper in your ear and tell you what to create? Then, only to find yourself on the couch watching Outlander Season 1 - again!
Now, I LOVE making art, I love creating and I love hanging out in my little studio. But, every so often I feel resistance and it is usually accompanied by its sidekick, my inner critic. They make quite the duet! Singing and dancing away in my brain - at times, there is even a full blown musical going on inside my head. In order to get this very distracting duet to exit stage left I have come up with a few little techniques that seem to work for me. Techniques and practices that I would like to share with you.
1. Practice drawing your subject over and over. I have found that when i focus on one subject and draw it over and over on cheap paper, I begin to feel a shift emotionally. I find that I can keep going and begin experimenting and push myself . I become clear and I get more ideas! I feel inspired!
(Don't approach this technique with the notion you are going to create art or a finished piece - just practice and allow the shift to take place. It always does.)
2. Pull out your old sketchbooks or art journals and open them to a random page. Lay them all out on the floor. Then just look at them. Look for a common thread in your work - you may be very surprised by how much inspiration you can glean from your past journals.
We are always evolving as artists and our past work is part of the puzzle. This work is our guide, and it has brought us to where we now stand as artists. I believe it will take us to where we need to go as well. I find this exercise very powerful and some of my best ideas have come from looking at my old sketchbooks and art journals. There is no better creative guide than what lies between the pages of your journals.
3. Get out of your house/studio. Take one art journal and one pencil and go for a walk. I know this sounds so simple, but walking down the streets of your neighborhood will free your mind. Make quick sketches of what ever catches your eye. Oh, and leave your phone at home - I promise you will see more. What a welcome relief to leave it behind.
4. Go to the library and check out books on artist you know and artist you don't know. Then, light a candle, put on relaxing music, pour your self a cup of tea (or glass of wine:) and immerse yourself in the richness of what lies between the pages of those beautiful books. There is always so much to learn from other artists, and it is so good for the soul.
5. If you have children, visit their bookshelves. Or, visit the children's section in your local bookstore or library. I love pouring over the illustrations in children's books - they are beautiful, magical, emotional and quite often nostalgic.
6. Take an art class. It is a great way to try out new techniques, connect with other creative people and hold yourself accountable. There are so many beautiful online class available now, and you can do them anytime of day or night. Below are a few of my favorites:
So, should you be faced with the cast and crew of Les Miserables performing in you head, then give some of these little tips a try. And, just in case you were wondering, I love Les Miserables and I have the soundtrack playing as I write this post.
I would love to know what you do to push past your moments of feeling uninspired, feel free to share it in the comments below.