The truth is, I’m human.
There are times when I just don’t feel creative. The well is dry and the idea bank is overdrawn.
During these dry spells, trying to come up with something doesn’t work. It only leads to paralysis of analysis. If I let it get out of control, it can quickly escalate into total studio avoidance.
Avoiding the studio is the kiss of death for any artist.
So what do I do when this happens?
Nipping this spiral in the bud starts with the obvious ways to kickstart myself.
- Going on inspirational walks in nature with a camera
- Reviewing photos of my old paintings
- Reviewing my sketchbooks
- Looking at other artists’ work online
- Going to galleries and museums
- Doing some creative research, thinking and journaling
Most of the time one of these is enough to stir up the creative juices again. But sometimes, the clock is ticking and I’m still coming up empty. The big white canvas just sits there mocking me –
daring me to approach – daring me to ruin its pristine surface.
The challenge is to get out of my head – to stop thinking and start doing.
Every artist encounters this overwhelming feeling sometimes. To break through, I’ve found a little trick that works nearly every time.
Blasting Through a Creative Block
- I prepare a pile of 4 x 6 inch heavy watercolor paper, by priming and texturing each piece.
- I make a conscious decision to ignore my desire to make something ‘good’.
- I give myself a set of restrictions before beginning . This stops me thinking too much.
- create a specific number of pieces
- stick to one composition
- use only specified materials
- use a limited color palette
- set a time limit to finish
- explore one word or phrase
I roll up my sleeves, crank up the volume on some jazz or samba and start messing around to the music. My goal is to loosen up and let my mind go with the flow.
The pre-set arbitrary restrictions are actually freeing. Limited options force creative thought. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but true. One piece quickly leads into the next.
Here’s A Recent Example
- 16 pieces
- grid composition
- only use acrylic paint, pastels, black grease pencil & number stamps I made myself
- analogous color scheme – around the color wheel
- finish under one hour each
- the phrase was ‘Count Down & Go’
They were titled ‘Count Down & Go’ because that’s what I was saying to myself as the paint flew.
Sure enough, before long, the larger surfaces beckoned me.
I normally put them away after finishing. Much later I take out my accumulated pile of little warm-ups and decide which ones are worth keeping.
I grouped these 16 miniatures in pairs of colors and mounted them with archival white mats, (not shown here).
The mats have generous 3 inch borders all around.
There are 8 pairs with a finished outside size of 14 x 11 inches each. Just pop them into any standard 14 x 11 inch frame.
Just imagine how they’d look as a grouping in a small space.
$65. each (3 or more $ 50. each)
For larger images or more info contact me at