How To Get Over Artist Block

Every once in a while, we all get stuck here. Sometimes it comes from stimulation overload or sometimes it’s associated with a bit of fatigue or even, boredom. Whatever the reason may be, you should know the following; first, it’s completely normal and happens to all of us and second, this too shall pass. But, if painting and creating is part of our job, the stress of being stuck in a block can actually perpetuate the feeling, so we’re getting honest and practical about what this means and what to do about it as professional artists. In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll explore the common causes of creative block, as well as a plethora of strategies to help you get over artist’s and get back to creating your best work. Pinky promise!

What is a Creative Block, Creative Rut or as some like to call it, Artist’s Block?

Call it what you want, but it all equally sucks… Creative block, often referred to as artist’s block, is a period of time when an artist experiences a lack of inspiration or motivation to create. It can manifest in various forms, from a blank canvas staring back at you to a feeling of overwhelm when attempting to generate new ideas, or the pressure of completing a commission. And it’s a great way for imposter syndrome, self-doubt and burn out to creep in. Yay. As professional artists, we all suffer from these from time to time. The causes of creative block are as diverse as the artists who experience it, ranging from internal pressures such as fear of failure or criticism to external factors like poor health or physical exhaustion.

So, why does it happen? Common Causes of Creative Block

Before diving into strategies for overcoming creative block, it’s important to understand its common causes so that we can see it coming in the future and spend less time stressing about it. These can include:

  1. Fear of failure or criticism: The fear of not living up to one’s own expectations or receiving negative feedback from others can paralyze creativity.
  2. Overwork or physical exhaustion: Pushing yourself too hard without taking breaks or neglecting your physical health can lead to burnout and creative block.
  3. Lack of inspiration: Feeling uninspired or stuck in a rut can make it difficult to generate new ideas or find motivation to create.
  4. Our pesky little inner critic: Negative self-talk and perfectionism can sabotage creativity and prevent artists from exploring new ideas or taking risks.
  5. Lack of time or routine: Not having a regular creative schedule or enough time to dedicate to artistic pursuits can hinder productivity and creativity.

Best Ways For Overcoming Creative Block

Now that we’ve identified some common causes of creative block, let’s explore a variety of strategies and techniques that can help you break through it and get back to creating your best work as a professional artist. 

  1. Change of scenery: Sometimes, all it takes to get out of a creative rut is a change of environment or stepping outside for some fresh air. Step away from your usual workspace and take a walk outside, visit a new place, or simply rearrange your studio to create a fresh perspective. I’m notorious for rearranging furniture when I need to change my perspective (literally) which drives my husband crazy! 
  2. Daily routines: Establishing a regular creative schedule can help cultivate consistency and discipline in your artistic practice. Set aside dedicated time each day for creative work, whether it’s brainstorming ideas, sketching in a small sketchbook, or working on a larger project.
  3. Drawing prompts: Challenge yourself with drawing prompts or art challenges to stimulate your creativity and explore new subject matter or styles.
  4. Engage with the artist community: Connect with other artists through social media, online forums, or local art groups to share ideas, get feedback, and find inspiration.
  5. Try new materials or techniques: Experimenting with new art supplies, mediums, or techniques can spark new ideas and invigorate your creative process.
  6. Take breaks and practice self-care: Don’t underestimate the importance of taking breaks and prioritizing your physical and mental health. Step away from your work when you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed, and engage in activities that recharge your creative juices, whether it’s listening to music, taking a nap, or practicing mindfulness.
  7. Embrace imperfection: Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes and that not every piece of art needs to be perfect. Allow yourself to explore new ideas without the pressure of creating a masterpiece.
  8. Set realistic goals: Break down larger creative projects into smaller, manageable tasks, and set realistic goals for yourself. Celebrate your progress along the way and don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go as planned.
  9. Seek inspiration from everyday life and diversify where you get your creative ideas from: Look for inspiration in the world around you, whether it’s in nature, everyday objects, or your own experiences. Keep a favorite journal or sketchbook handy to jot down random ideas or observations.
  10. Practice gratitude: Cultivate a mindset of gratitude and focus on the good things in your life, both personally and creatively. Acknowledge your accomplishments and celebrate the small victories along the way. Take a journal or a piece of paper and write down daily accomplishments, rather than focusing on the things that might be slowing you down. You’ll be surprised how much you’ve accomplished. Sometimes in my business, when client work is lower and I struggle with purpose, I write out a really quick timeline of all the things I’ve accomplished since starting my business – how much it’s grown, evolved and the changes it’s granted. 

Getting Back To Your Creative Space

Creative block is a super common challenge that many artists face multiple times. However, it doesn’t have to be something you fear or stress over. By understanding the common causes of creative block and implementing the some of the strategies and techniques we mentioned, you can break through the barriers holding you back and tap into your full creative potential. Whether it’s trying new materials, seeking inspiration from the world around you, or connecting with other artists for support and encouragement, there are countless ways to overcome artist’s block and continue creating your best work. So the next time you find yourself staring at a blank page or struggling to generate new ideas, remember that creative block is just a temporary state and can be an opportunity to refocus and reset. 

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