Updated: May 21
It has been quite some time since I last wrote a blog post. I have felt stuck and exhausted lately. I have had larger projects sitting on my easel for months now and every time I think about picking up the brush and finally finishing these projects, I am met with a mix of dread, excitement and then discouragement.
Artist's block and or creative burnout is something that I think every artist deals with at some point in their career. It is all a part of learning and the creative process... and it is okay. In my case, I have more creative burnout than artist's block. The ideas and want to create are there, but the energy and motivation is not. Artist's block to me is where you are stuck and feel like you are out of ideas.
I have experienced both artist’s block and burnout at varying times in my creative career, and am here to offer up some tips that I have learned over the years for coping with both.
Tip #1: Identify The Source:
I once read a comment from an online art forum regarding artist block that said:
“I often find that whatever is going on in your life in other areas bleeds over into your art life”. - (unknown very wise online artist)
These words couldn't ring more true to me. Sometimes art can act as a stress reliever from other areas in our lives, but other times when you have a lot going on in your personal life, art can also add to the stress. To help identify areas in your life that may be contributing to Artist‘s block or burnout, you need to carefully examine other areas in your life.
Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself:
- Are you taking on too much?
- Are the goals you set for yourself realistically achievable within your unique lifestyle and responsibilities?
- Are you taking care of your mental and physical health?
- Are you giving yourself enough time to rest and recharge?
- Are you comparing your success to others?
Just a quick explanation on Point #2: Each and every person has their own challenges and responsibilities in life. Maybe you are taking care of an ill family member, or you are the primary income source for your family, or maybe you are even battling with a medical condition yourself and you physically can’t make art all the time. Your goals must be catered to your own lifestyle. If anything, you should feel proud of yourself that you are able to overcome these difficult challenges and still make time for art!
Tip #2: Do Something Creative Just For You
I recently started an art journal as a fun way to loosen up and try something new. Not everything that you create has to be for sale, or a masterpiece. Art journaling is a great way to write about how you feel and get creative. You can do everything from scrapbooking, doodling, adding little paintings to your journal or a mixture of all of them! The sky's the limit. I found this video on YouTube super helpful to get started with art journaling.
Tip #3: Come Back To It Later
Do you have other hobbies that you engage in? I also like to write and play music and I find that when I get burnt out on painting, playing some music and taking a break for a while usually helps me to work through burnout. Usually when I do come back to a painting I feel like I can see clearly again and things move forward much easier then when I try to force it.
Sometimes this isn't possible, especially in the case of working on a commission or upcoming deadlines. But even small breaks can work wonders, even just a walk outside, or a short coffee date with a friend.
Tip #4: Seek Out Inspiration
Seek out experiences, people, places and things that motivate you! Something magical always happens whenever I watch a video of an artist that I really like creating art, or when I am surrounded by the trees and blooming flowers on a walk. I usually come away with so many new ideas that I have to get down in my sketch book.
Tip #5: Start a Small New Project
If you are anything like me, really big canvases and projects burn you out! Especially if the subject is very complex and requires a lot of detail. In between larger more complex projects, I painted this little 5x7in night scene, just for fun. Actually finishing something that I started with this little piece really helped to restore my confidence in myself and my creative drive.
Anyway, I hope you find some of these tips helpful In beating artist’s block, or coming back from burnout. It’s hard, and it’s never fun, but with patience and a lot of self love, you can and will come back!