Monday, February 10, 2014

The Nightmare of Artist’s Block


I tried painting the same subject three times and all were destined for the trash can. No, don’t tell me, “Never throw away your art.” It wasn’t art, it was a mess. I had a hard case of artist’s block.
So, I Googled “artist block” and found I am not the only one that suffers the malady. Just like for writer’s block, the advice is to either take a break or work your way through it. Since, I’d developed a headache the break sounded good.

Whenever I experience creative block, whether it is writing or painting, I start to question my ability. That self-deprecating voice inside my head starts in on me with the “you’re not good enoughs.” It doesn’t seem to matter I am a published writer with six books under my belt and hundreds of articles, or have shown in juried shows and sold my art. I sold some just last week. When the block rears its ugly head I don’t feel good enough to call myself a professional writer or artist. I feel like a wanna-be.

I have noticed that when I am stressed or distracted by life events I become blocked from expressing myself creatively, whether it is my writing, painting or photography. Sometimes, I can move from one to the other. If I can’t paint I go take pictures, or write. Or if I can’t write I paint or play with my photos in my editing program. Sometimes nothing works.

To gain back my peace I resort to prayer and meditation. I go out with friends for lunch or coffee, I take walks around the farm or sit in my garden where I watch and listen to nature. All of these things help me find peace and once I find peace I can usually find my art again. But, even then, it is a process. It is like slowly waking up from a deep, night-marish sleep. It takes a while to focus on what’s real.

If I still can’t actually put brush to canvas I will plan a project in my mind until it forms enough reality that I can do some thumbnail sketches. I make a list of writing ideas, maybe try some prompt writing. Gradually I can hear my muse again. I can paint again, and in so doing leave my cares outside the studio door, lose all track of time and produce a work I love.  My prompt writing turns into a poem or story, I get a fresh idea for an article. Something that makes me feel I am good enough again.

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