There are days when the need to create is strong yet when you sit down to paint, draw or sketch it seems like nothing is coming out of your brush. This is what many people refer to as a creative block. It can literally feel like you’ve run out of all creative ideas and inspiration, everything you attempt to create looks wrong or you just can’t lift a finger to create at all. This is a normal part of the creative process, you can’t be in a constant flow all of the time, but don’t worry you don’t have to just sit there in fear of it never coming back there are things you can do to lift the creative block that surrounds you and get back some inspiration.
Get out of your head!
When a creative block happens the first thing we try to do is force it. We try and try to create but get nowhere which makes us feel more frustrated than when we even started. So when you do sit down and nothing is coming out, don’t sit there dwelling on it but get outside of your head. Inspiration comes from so many different sources and if you’re sitting at a desk staring as a blank piece of paper for hours, chances are it’s not going to come to you! So stop, get up and move around, make your self a cup of tea and distract your self. Now be careful not to distract yourself with other things that are uninspiring (social media, trashy TV) Sit and drink a cup of tea in the sun, pick up a good book. Rest your mind by taking it off your art, but still be filling it with things that are nurturing and stimulating.
Get out of the house
Now if just sitting around the house with a tea or coffee is not calming you down quite enough then it’s time to get out of the house. Think about the places that do inspire you, places that are full of good memories or that invigorate you.
Nature is one of the most inspiring places to be no matter what your art style is, nature is where it all begins. So if you are able, take a trip out and emerge yourself in the quietness and serenity of nature. You don’t necessarily even have to bring your creative tools along. Just going for a walk along the beach of through the forest can give your mind a rest and let it take in and absorb different things while also giving your mind plenty of time to wander. Letting your mind drift and go free is one of the ways you will be able to free up enough space to let inspiration back into yourself. Observe the little things as you walk or lay on your back. Remember you’re not looking for inspiration, don’t try and force it but just lay back and observe what is around you, filling yourself with the sights and sounds and calming yourself.
The urban environment
Now if you are a city dweller then get out and enjoy the urban jungle that awaits you. Cities are filed with fascinating architecture, small lane ways here and there, interesting and strange shop fronts.
Take yourself on a walk through your city but try to take different paths than usual, or even if you are taking the same path, look up! There are so many little things that we don’t notice on our day to day commute or our regular walks, what seems so familiar to us can often be filled with hidden gems, interesting rooftops or second story windows. Hidden alley ways or some new street art. As you explore your only focus should be on taking it all in. Just like being out in nature, you are not actively searching for inspiration but opening your mind up to let it in if it happens to cross your path. Try out a new coffee shop or a bar and observe the people around you. The new smells and noises. Giving yourself new experiences like these, even if they are as simple as taking a different route to your favourite café will give you a new perspective.
Still not coming?
So you’ve walked around the city for a few hours, or lay down by the sea and you get home full of exited energy and sit back down ready to create and still…nothing. There are some days when yes, maybe nothing you try will seem to work so maybe you would be best taking the full day off to do something else. But if the urge to create is still strong then its time to try a few little exercises that can help get those creative juices flowing.
If it’s drawing or painting that you are into then give your self a seemingly boring task to start with. Choose an item in your desk, a coffee cup or a pen tin and sketch it. Even if it’s nothing like what you would normally create, just starting with something can often help to loosen you up and unblock your fingers. Try with a few different objects and begin to add to them, colour, or ad on things to your object until it becomes unrecognizable. This gives you a safe place to start exploring without having the pressure of making something ‘good’ all this exercise is doing is getting you making something!! And hopefully that will lead you back into a flow where you can start creating in your style once again.
Another exercise you can do is to brainstorm. Yes, sounds like the start of a year seven school project, but it can often help to put things on paper where you can see them more clearly than having them floating around in your brain, taking up space. So get out a bit of paper and start to write down all of the things that do inspire you, things you like, colours you like or mediums. These can all just be abstract words or sentences ‘the colour of leaves back lit from the morning sun’ or ‘mermaids’. Don’t be embarrassed to put down whatever floats through your brain, this is only for you! Once you have filled the paper, start looking for connections, join up the dots so to speak. And then once you’ve put a few thought together a bigger idea may start to form so take hold of that and try it out, even if it seems silly at first or like you’re not getting anywhere keep persevering and something magical just may come.
Sometimes all we need is a little nudge in any kind of direction. So get an assignment from a friend. Reach other and ask someone for a few key words or a sentence and build from there. You could ask directly ‘what do you want me to draw for you’ or get more abstract with it and ask someone to give you three to five words and then you have to create the connection between them. Often having parameters can help to get you started if you are feeling at a loss of where to begin. Remember what they tell you doesn’t have to be your finished product it’s more of a way to get the juices flowing and get you making so that your mind becomes more open to other idea.
Change it up
Switch up your work environment, if you have a studio or just a desk in your bedroom, try a little redecorating. Go out on your nature walk and collect things to beautify your space. Walk into that strange crystal shop and buy a little something that calls to you. Walk into a second hand store and find a new interesting cup you can store your brushes in. Even if you are home bound you can create a mood board. Cut out of magazine or print pictures from your Pintrest page out and stick them around your space to inspire you every time you look up. A change is as good as a holiday and by switching up your space you can allow for new inspiration to flow.
You can also try changing mediums. If you always paint in water colour, try charcoal or sketching. Giving yourself something new to play around with can really help to expand your mind by seeing many more possible ways of making art and this in turn can lead to some fascinating work.
Remember, some days you may just need to have a break all together, but there are days when you can push through. Open yourself up to different possibilities and you may end up surprising yourself with what you come up with. Try these methods out and see what works for you.