Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Artist's block: 12 steps to recovery

A friend recently asked me what to do about Artist's Block. I have had this problem plenty of times too, so here is what I suggested. You can call it Dawn's 12 Step Artist Block Program!

1. Art Journal: If you don't already keep one, start an art journal. It doesn't have to be Teesha Moore-ish, it can simply be a notebook where you jot down ideas, impressions, etc. You may not use these ideas, in a week from now or even 5 years from now, you just may.

2. Spend time with other creative minds: even if it's just talking on the phone or going out for coffee, seeing their work, encouraging one another, talking art etc.

3. Go to a library: Take a cup of coffee or tea with you and spend time in the art section and just pull a bunch of random art books. Everything from the old masters to modern day artists .. anything that speaks to you. Also check out the craft books. Even though you aren't a crafter, somethings you'll find one small thing in a book that will trigger a great big, wonderfully fantastic, unique idea! Borrow as many library books as you can!

4. Go online: Visit your favourite artists' blogs and websites. What are they doing now? What have they done? Anything pique your interest? Also search the web for artists that you've never seen before. A good place to start is on your artist friend's links. Some of us like to call this web browsing Research and Development ~ sounds all official and important like, doesn't it?

5. Take this advice from Vincent Van Gogh on Facing a Blank Canvas: "Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don't know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, ‘You can't do a thing’. The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of `you can't' once and for all.” (Letter to Theo van Gogh, October 1884)

6. Look through your own stash of art magazines and books: I know you have a bunch squirrelled away. Revisit some of your books and art magazines that you haven't gone through lately. Something inspired you to purchase them in the first place. What was it?

7. Visit an art gallery: Public, private, and university art galleries ~ all are excellent resources!

8. Teach an art class: You may not think you have enough credentials to teach an art class. Pshaw! Don't listen to your crazy inner critic here! Do you love art? Is there something that you do (or have done) that you could teach at a local community centre? If you feel intimidated by adults, teach children. They are very receptive to learning new artsy things and they're fearless. Go for it!

9. Take a Road Trip: Drive to the mountains. Breathe the fresh air deeply. Do some sketches of God's creation around you. Relax. Unwind.

10.Clean your art space: You're thinking, "What a nasty suggestion!" as you look at the massive mess you call your studio. Take just a little time to work through the piles of stuff on your studio's floor and counters. You may find an item or image that will spark a creative thought. Maybe you'll find something that you had some amazing plans for. And maybe, just maybe, you will actually use it!

11. Be Silly: From time to time, just take the time to be silly. Let's face it. There are plenty of opportunities in this life to be serious. Why not simply PLAY. This can be anything from a going a dress up party to joining an Improv group to hosting a PJ/Old Movie Night. Just do it!

12. Continue to seek out creative people: Making friends with new creative people and observing them in their environment; their homes ~ even their interior design can activate your creativity. So much so, you will hardly be able to contain yourself ~ wanting to get back to your art studio and start producing!


Kim Mailhot said...

This is a fantastic post, Mamma Chick ! Lots of brilliant ideas for artist block. Glad to say, the last thing I am right now is blocked - my challenge is focus and time not inspiration ! I will get there though !

arlene said...

These are all great ideas Dawn!! Good advice!

sherry ♥ lee said...

What a fabulous post of wonderful ideas Dawn!! I smiled just thinking of doing all these and any one of these is sure to get the creative juices flowing!

Jennifer Conway said...

These area all excellent ideas Dawn! I'm going to save this post to my favourites, and share with all my friends! Thanks for the post! *smiles* ~Jen