Fun Ways to Get Out of Artist's Block

Aug 06, 2017 at 11:35 pm by Barbara Din

We've all experienced it: we finally have some time to spend on art, or we decided to dedicate a set amount of time every day on it in order to progress, but somehow, even if we are excited, we fall on this white (instead of black) hole of artist's block. We don't know what to do, we're blank, or maybe every idea that sounded so great in our heads, suddenly doesn't seem so bright anymore.

This can be terribly frustrating, and if it persists, it can lead us to question ourselves and even if we should make art at all. (Hint: unless we hate art, we should!)

There are tons of written materials about it, and the truth is we should not expect everything we read to magically work for us: every one of us is different, so we need to listen to ourselves, both when the block happens and when we're trying to get out of it, to see what works and why. Having said that, here are some of the ways I find interesting and fun to overcome artist's block. Some even lead me to full ongoing series in my work. So pay attention to yourself, you never know what Eurekas are lurking around the corner of your creativity!

1. Browse other art disciplines and techniques

There's a world full of things you might have not seen out there. Search for art genres and techniques in areas different than yours: if you're a painter, seek sculpture, and how many different materials and styles there are. If you're a 2D artist, watch animation and you may pick up secrets about movement (theses are just examples, you don't need to search for these things specifically).

Chances are, by opening up to other realms that are not directly related, you'll see similarities and also different ways to solve problems (or make decisions): a material that gives an interesting finish, a different approach to composition, a color combination. You might even end up wanting to incorporate some of these newly found things into your own work.

2. Fill the void

Staring at that blank page or canvas is daunting sometimes. Infinite possibilities can be overwhelming. So don't even give that empty space a chance to mess with your head. Fill it quickly with color, pattern, even collage something: a piece of paper that you found interesting, a bundle of thread, or just leftover paint. After that first push, you'll feel less pressured and you'll have a starting point. The challenge now is to find something to do with it. Take it as a game. Now you have less decisions to make, and this should help you focus more. You can read more of this in my article Rectriction as a Tool for Creativity.

3. Find something in the noise

Remember when you looked at the clouds and started seeing figures? A sheep... no, a whale... There, a duck! This is called Pareidolia and happens to everyone, but we artists can use it to our advantage. Make a lot of random scribbles without thinking. Then stop and look. You'll start finding things. Now try and bring them to life. I use this all the time and have an ongoing series, both in mixed media and on sea rocks. You don't need to take it as far if you don't want, but it's a great exercise and it's fun, too!

These are my favorite ways to get out of artist's block. Have you tried any of these before? Do you have any other ways to share?

Barbara Din is a visual artist, graphic designer, painter, interior designer, crafter, musician and writer living in Argentina. Learn more about Barbara and her work at the following links:

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