27 February 2014

Blank Canvas | How to Overcome Artist's Block

The ever elusive "blank canvas syndrome"

It happens to all artists from time to time...artist block that is. Definitely not an artist's friend. Artist block for those of you who have never heard of it, is when an individual can not think of anything to create although they yearn to, their "internal canvas" is blank, and there is no inspiration to be found. I have definitely experienced my fair share of artist block. It's easy for it to happen when you're busy with other things in life such as work, school, etc. to lose that artistic fire from within which leads to artist block. I have been fortunate to not feel artistically blank over the past months, but I wanted to share a few ideas for how to overcome artist block if you happen to find yourself suffering from it. I have read numerous books about artist block so some of the following tips are ones I have picked over time from these books that have seemed to help, others are tips that I have come up with over the past few years.

Noonie's Tips to Fight Artist Block

My inspiration board hanging in the studio

* Create an "inspiration board"! 
 I found this to be one of the most helpful aids to overcome artist block. An inspiration board is simply a board/place where you can post pictures of things that inspire the artist in you. Whether it's a photo you'd like to recreate, or a picture of something that inspires you, maybe some pictures of your favorite art pieces... anything that will ignite an idea or inspiration will do! The exercise of adding inspirational pieces/items has always helped me when I felt like I couldn't think of anything to create as I'm sure it will help you :)

I'm on my 2nd sketchbook now!

* Sketchbook, sketchbook, sketchbook!
I originally started my sketchbook as a way to keep track of all of my artwork, it was to act as a portfolio of sorts. Initially I just kept photos of my work in the sketchbook. When I enrolled in my first painting class one of the requirements was that we kept a sketchbook, I was already ahead of the game in that sense. I learned a lot in that class including how to improve/further my sketchbook by adding pictures of other artists' work that inspired me/I liked/didn't like and by writing my thoughts about about these pieces and my own work which was something I hadn't ever really done before. I learned a lot about myself and the type of art I like/don't like, and why I like/don't like certain pieces as we were required to take our artistic thinking/journey to the next level by taking the time to really think about all of these different elements. As I mentioned this was the time I began to think more about the "behind the scenes" of not only other artists' work but my own work as well. 

I began to record my inspirations for pieces, what I liked about certain pieces I had created, or what I would've done differently. I started to record the actual process of creating some of my pieces by way of photos. I remember the day our teacher told us that sometimes we create pieces and we don't know when to stop/to keep going take it to the next level when working and that sometimes when you get to a place where you really like the piece you're working on you should snap a photo. Recording the piece at a time you like it is a good way to force yourself to keep pushing it because even if you push the piece to a place where you're not so happy with it you still have that photo of when you were and vice versa if that makes sense. The point I'm trying to make with this tip is that if you are feeling artistically blank at some point, it can be helpful if you have a sketchbook with records of your thoughts/inspirations from past pieces because it will likely lead you be be inspired which will then help move you past the artist block.


* Look at other artists' work!
Take a trip to your local art gallery, or simply do a Google search and find some art that gets you going!! (For lack of a better word) Simply looking at other artists' work always gives me inspiration when I'm feelin kinda artistically bleh. I might see an element in a piece that I'd like to recreate myself or see a piece that's done in a different style than I usually do that will inspire me to try it out.  Which brings me to my next tip...

Oil Pastel "Happiness" by Noonie

* Try something new!!
There is always something out there every artist hasn't done! Do you usually paint realistic pieces? Try an abstract piece! And vice versa! Typically work with acrylic paint? Try charcoal! There are so many different mediums and styles out there, why not get out of your comfort zone artistically and try something new! It will be sure to break any artistic block you may be feeling!

* "Morning Pages"
Okay so like I mentioned I've read a few books about artist block and how to get past it. One book that I highly recommend every artist to read (whether you're suffering from artist block or not) is called "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. It's a pretty damn amazing book which kind of looks at creativity through somewhat of a "religious way" if that makes sense. Very interesting read. I really enjoyed this book as it forces you to interact with it and yourself. It's like an artist block boot camp that is broken down by weekly activities. One tool the author talks about is something called "morning pages" which is an exercise that is obviously done first thing in the morning. What you do is simply write down your thoughts at the time, a full three pages, even if you're not really thinking about anything you would just write that. Cameron believes this exercise frees up your subconscious from all those baloney thoughts which she believes is one reason for being artistically blocked. I'm not going to go too much further into this point, but it's definitely a good read for those artists out there who are suffering from what I call "blank canvas syndrome". I know it definitely helped me and kept my interest right up until the very last page.

* Creative Assignments
Another very good book I found that helped get me out of my artistic funk is called "Drawing from Within" by Nick Meglin. I really liked this book because like the book I mentioned above it gives you assignments. When you are suffering from artist block you don't know what to create, you lack inspiration but sometimes just getting your pencil down on paper can get those artistic juices flowing again. This book offers different assignments which call for you to draw specific things, in sometimes a specific manner etc. Doing these assignments get you out of your comfort zone artistically which can help reignite your creativity and get you out of your slump.

Hope these help you as much as they've helped me! Be sure to check out our 'Artist Features' (located under Blogorations) for other great tips from fellow artists on how they overcome artist block!
Once you've gotten over your artist block and have created some pieces you may want to sell or showcase them. Check out this post for my tips on how to promote your artwork! :)

Until next time friends...Cheers!!!

P.S. I wanna know...What do you do to overcome artist block?? 
Please comment below!!  

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