Art therapy for artists–what to do when you feel blocked

Some good tips here from the Artist Network magazine:

How Do You Make Art When You Feel Blocked?
February 22, 2017
Courtney Jordan
Fight Feeling Blah with This Painting Tool

J.M.W. Turner’s works are awe-inspiring because the artist started with movement and power, light and volume, before ever even settling on his subject.
J.M.W. Turner’s works are awe-inspiring because the artist started
with movement and power, light and volume, before ever even settling on his subject.
I hit a wall trying to write today. I wanted to write about the importance of expressing strong feelings in your work, but I couldn’t figure out how to tie it all together. It was frustrating, but I knew I could get through it because I’d experienced it before, as a writer and as an artist.

“Artist’s block” is just like writer’s block: ideas are half-formed but none of them can be fully realized. When I get ready to paint or draw I want so much to take advantage of the time I have to work on art that my urgency can feel like pressure, causing me to freeze up. Luckily, the solution for writer’s and artist’s block is the same (and it is the painting tool that is always with us and never fails)—get out of my own head and look around! Use my eyes to absorb what is around me and soak in some new juju. Look hard—and see clearly—the colors on my wall, the way textures overlap, and how angles and shapes are interacting in my world.
Painting: Cardrew I by Beverly McIver (not copied into this post). When I think of gesture and letting go I think of McIver’s work. Closing my eyes and reaching for colors instinctively can result in something beautiful and full of pathos.
So that’s the first painting tool to fight the blahs. But there are tons of others. Here’s a list of 7 ways you can stop feeling uninspired and start feeling like your best artistic self in 10 minutes or less.

Pick up a magazine you don’t mind sacrificing to the muse. Rip out anything that catches your eye–words, advertisements, patterns. Make a collage and either use the paper in a mixed media art project or start painting what you pulled together, even if it is just abstract impressions of those source materials.
Search for an artist online and just look at images. Make note of color combos you love, words that come to mind, and subject matter. When I did this with the watercolors of J.M.W Turner I remembered how he would start with a sense of light and space before settling on a subject.
Go for a walk. Don’t talk on the phone and don’t text. Look up and out and absorb what you see. Take it in like a deep breath.
This could be messy but so worth it. Close your eyes or put on a blindfold and just draw–or paint, if you aren’t afraid of a little mess. See what you want to create within your mind and then just let the gestures out!
Work on a few things at once. Don’t get bogged down and then resentful toward the work that might just need breathing room. Step away and work on something else, even if just for a few minutes.
Experiment with another medium. Looking at Turner’s work, I get the feeling that he never worked in one spot on a watercolor painting for long. Instead, he seems to work across the surface like a weather system sweeping over the country. What a great way to think about watercolor painting, right? I immediately want to pick up a brush and storm across the page!
Listen to a random playlist. Sometimes old habits in the studio are deadening, so just change it up a little with new music. It’ll awaken something in you.
The time you make for art is precious, so don’t waste it feeling blocked. It is a state of mind and having resources—such as Sandrine Pelissier’s Mixed Media on Altered Paper and Zen Doodle Postcards DVDs—that can recharge your interests and pique your curiosity by revealing ways to work differently allow you to shake free your creativity! This exposure makes all the difference. Enjoy!

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