Overcoming Painter's Block or any kind of creative "block"

A comment from a recent email:

"In the last months I've been painting and re-painting over and over again.  I have real "writers block."  I wish you had some magic pill for it."

Soxx the Dog
My dog, Soxx, watching warily as I take his picture.

We've all had this dilemma at one time or another.

It's just not working.

We're off our "game."

We can't find "the groove."

It's frustrating and kinda scary.

What to do?


Because nothing will help. Literally, NOTHING will help. The Creative Process (CP) is a fussy one. It wants your full attention but if you look too hard at it (the CP) it will skitter away like a scared animal.

It's sort of like when I try to photograph my dog with my iPhone. I have to pretend I'm making a call and not point the camera portion of the phone at him.  If he sees me pointing the camera at him, he takes off.

You have to pretend you're not pointing your camera at the CP. Pretend you're going into the studio to alphabetize your books. Or sweep the floor.  That's a foolproof one for me. If I go to the studio and try to work, force it - forget it. I'll make nothing but garbage. Start sweeping the floor? I get tons of images and ideas. What's that all about? I don't know the answer and I don't really care. I just know it works.

A million words have been written about the Creative Process.  How to get it, how to keep it, how to take it out on dates. If you want the answer - here it is. DO NOTHING.

Now don't get me wrong, you do have to go to the studio and work. But it should be productive work. Don't go to the studio and beat your head against the wall. If you are stuck and you've tried, really tried to work and you can't - then see above. And I'm a firm believer in putting in the time - even crummy time - to get the job done. Day in and day out, working will become easier if you put in the time. But once in awhile, when you've hit the wall a couple of days in a row, you need to stop working and DO NOTHING.  This is not permission to stop working and goof off forever, either. Get back into the studio after your little break and get your work done.

So the next time you hit the wall (and you will) don't do anything. Goof off. Go for a walk. Read a book (not a "must" read book, read something completely mindless). Take yourself out for lunch. Go to a movie. Or, one of my favorites, take a nap.  How about that? You have license to nap. When asked why you're sleeping in the middle of the day just respond, "I'm working. Don't bother me."


Julie said...

Tesia, thank you for writing this post on creative blocking. Having hit a painful impasse with my mixed media work, your words of wisdom came at the perfect
Julie l

Patrice said...

Having heard this wisdom from you before, I have put it into practice - and can honestly say it works! In September, working in the studio on an intensive schedule for an impossible deadline, I would stay in the studio very late. I would wake up every morning hopeful, but some mornings, after an hour in the studio - with the clock ticking - I would clutch as I hit the wall and realized nothing was working. So I cleaned and straightened: reorganized my paints; got all of the paint off of my painting knives, brushes, floor, hair... and remind myself to breathe. Then if nothing was still coming I reorganized - touching magazines, books, old paintings and moving them around gave me ideas... and I had to get over the fact that perhaps 3/4 of a day I wasn't painting, but it all became a part of the process. You are the one that helped me realize that! Thank you Tesia!!

Patrice said...

PS - Gorgeous picture of that precious pooch Soxx!

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