What puts us in creative ruts? All of us go through at one point or another, that blankness, feeling like you may never have another creative idea again, actually was I ever really a "real artist" in the first place? Who am I kidding? Do you ever have these thoughts that just drag you down? You are not alone!
Let's go through 5 things that may be Kryptonite to the creative person, it could be one or a combination of them that halts us in our creative tracks and cause us to feel dried up. But take heart! There are solutions, think of them as your own Superpower to beat down that beast!
1. Comparing. Sometimes inspiration comes when you see another piece of art you admire, and yet that could also do just the opposite when we start comparing. Everything in your own art just doesn't measure up to this standard you now made for yourself. Then perhaps you flirted with the temptation to copy their work (oh my dear do not go there!)
So what is the antidote to comparing? Remember that you have your own voice with your art, and wouldn't it be weird to use another's voice to do your speaking? Something that I find so fascinating, is that when teaching a class that uses a pattern, everyone's finished project still turns out different. It is like each artist's art is an extension of themself! Have you ever thought that perhaps those artists you admire so much also have struggled with this too? Social media and photo sharing sites make it easy to see all kinds of art from all over the globe, and they all have other artists that they marvel at! Keep in mind that you have your own unique experiences, your own unique learning, your own unique self to bring to the table and no one can do what you do!
Instead of letting the comparing game stop you from moving forward, take a look at your work and really figure what it is that you would like to improve. Make a list (just a short one mind you! No more than 3!). Then make a plan on how to tackle one at a time and allow yourself time to work on it, it is not a race to the finish line but we are all journeying along and enjoying the view.
2. Rushing. Patience is a virtue, and funny thing how circumstances that make us learn patience are the very things that would make us impatient! Have you ever been so excited to finish a piece of art that you maybe cut a few corners and rush to get it done? I sure have! Not waiting long enough for something to dry, turning the heat on my burner just a little too high, going forward with a design before the design is all worked out oh yeah been there and it usually does not end well!
My antidote for this to have more than one project going at once, that way while I am waiting for the next step on one gourd, I can pick up another and work on that in the meantime (or even a non-gourd art project!)
3. Time. Not enough time to work on your projects. Do you ever fall into having lots of things you want to get done but never enough time to do all of them? Does it energize you or do you just want to give up? This is a difficult one and it is sad when creative people give up their art because there is no time.
This is a call for a 2 part superpower! The first part is to look at your schedule, as busy as it is and see where you can trim something out. I think internet and social media is such a huge time waster, not all bad certainly it has it's good points but I know I have chugged away an hour just browsing Pinterest! Now, I understand that may not be your issue. Sometimes life gives us more responsibilities and there is not much control over it. These can be a season, or more long term. People in our life may need special care, perhaps our work schedule is demanding. See if one day a week you can set aside an hour to your creative enterprise. And have a plan for that hour so that you are not wondering what you will work on at that time! Tell your family, this hour is for my ____.
So the second part of the superpower is to work small and portable. An interesting artist (and she is one of many) is Lorraine Loots who paints tiny watercolors. She calls them "paintings for ants" and many of them can fit inside a coin. Maybe just a small sketchbook and ink pen for small drawings of trees, flowers, etc. Tuck it away in your purse and when you have a moment, sitting in a waiting room, or while the baby is sleeping for instance, it will be handy to pull out and work on.
4. Time. Too much of it! Ok this can be a strange phenomenon but it happens. For me, this one rears its head when my schedule was full of commissions, special orders, or preparing for a shop or show. Then my schedule clears up and I finally have time to work on "my own" and I get a blank. What to work on?
This is one for the sketchbook. I can't stress enough how helpful keeping sketchbooks are. Just a scribble of an idea can lead to your next awesome art piece! When you get your time opened, look back at your quick sketches and choose one that captures your attention. It may take you back in time and you will remember your initial excitement when you finally get around to that idea!
5. Failing to play and learn. This is one of those "comfort zone" kind of things. For me, when I have a show upcoming I tend to stress myself out and fall into making the "safe art". Safe art is the stuff that you know you have made similar pieces and they always are well received. There is nothing altogether wrong with that however it can be a dangerous thing when you go year in year out doing nothing but safe art! There will be stagnation, boredom and all the joy of creating will be hard to find.
Easy antidote for this one. Have fun learning something new! Recovering the joy of creating means to ...well, create! Perhaps try a different medium- art store shopping anyone? Or a totally new craft altogether. The one aspect of gourd art that always intrigued me is how so many other forms of craft can be executed with or on gourds. It seems to me that gourds are the friend of all crafts! So anything you try you can come back to gourds (if gourds are your thing) and take what you learned and apply it to the gourd!
I hope these were helpful to you! Do you have one that I have not mentioned? What is your superpower to overcome it? Leave a comment and share your story!
I am Jenn Avery, gourd artist of over 20 years. Art has always been a part of my life, and my work has taken many twists and turns and I have worked in almost every medium available.