Tag Archives: art advice

Artist’s Block

I apologize for my lack of writing for the past months, after Christmas we gave up the idea of ever finishing our renovations ourselves. So we hired them out so the past few months have been a blur of sheetrock dust covered craziness. We lived for most of the renovations in just our kitchen and joining dining room with two little kids and a large dog. During that time we got two large blizzards and between 2 and 4 feet of snow. Needless to say it was a long winter.

Ironically today I feel like writing about how to overcome artist’s block. To me art is writing and painting but also all endeavors and tasks infused with creativity, including the mundane practical ones. It’s that newness and inspiration that can be brought into so many things in life. It’s magic. As artists, and as human beings we all know the high of that feeling so well.

And we also know the despair and discomfort we feel when that feeling has abandoned us.

Writer’s block or artist’s block comes from the belief that art comes from you. This is not how creativity works. It may seem like that’s how it works sometimes, but that’s an illusion. If you ever suffer pain from feeling uninspired, try to notice what your thoughts are telling you about you. Likely they are saying something like “I’m not as good as I thought I was.”

If you aren’t inspired right now, fully accept your lack of inspiration. Don’t judge it as a bad thing. If you don’t know what you should do next, fully embrace and welcome the feeling of not knowing. What does it feel like? Does it feel like emptiness or numbness? Or does it feel like fear? Where in your body do you feel it?

The problem is, we don’t often take the time to ask these questions. We instead beat ourselves up for being a fraud or lazy or whatever else, and then that feels so awful that we can’t help but distract ourselves with something else. Maybe we look at other’s art, not for inspiration and our of an inherent love of art but to compare ourselves with others. Maybe we get into an argument over what art is or what art is not. If you are looking at art and having lots of thoughts about how you stack up with the artist, you are feeding the artist block monster.

The artist block monster is your own ego, and it’s the creativity killer. Creativity comes from the you that is not your sense of you. Creativity doesn’t know what income bracket it falls into, what it’s horoscope sign is, or what color hair it has. Creativity comes from the you that doesn’t know it’s separate from other artists, nature, the stars, the universe, or the dust bunnies under your couch.

There’s a space of not knowing, a space of emptiness, a space of no thought and that is the space that invites in creativity.

There are no artists, there are just people through whom art comes through.

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The Criticism Addiction That Kills Creativity

Almost all of us are addicted to criticizing. Something in us enjoys criticizing others, to make us feel better about ourselves or maybe because it’s just a habit. Most of all we criticize ourselves. We have this ideal in our heads that we go about measuring everything and everyone by. We know that ideal is silly and can never exist but still it’s there.

It’s a slippery slope. First you’re innocently doing your art and you think, “Oh this little bit of tree detail isn’t right here.” Now you can either find a way to address this little issue and learn something from it. Or you fall on your butt and slide down the slippery criticism slope. This ride quickly takes you through the stages, “Nevermind, the whole thing is crap.” to finally land at the bottom which is “I am crap.”

There at the bottom of the hill, so many people quit and walk away. The brave ones climb the whole hill and start again. Be brave but next time save yourself a lot of time by learning to avoid criticism. Criticism starts when we go from seeing an area with potential for improvement and instead of going straight to improving we make it personal.

When you look at other people’s work really pay attention to the thoughts that go through your head. Do you feel like your work isn’t as good if you see something amazing? Do you feel superior if you see something that you don’t like as much? We learn more and open the door for inspiration if we see other people’s art for what it is, instead of always making it about us and our art.

Then when we look at our own art the same way, we can see more quickly what we can learn from it and how we can improve it. Instead of making judgments we can see possibility. Judgement shuts the door in creativity’s face. Curiosity welcomes creativity in.

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