Feeling Creatively Stuck
I love reading artist blogs that share their thoughts and struggles in their art marking process, mainly so that I don’t feel like such a weirdo for all the feelings that I feel when making art, thinking about art and trying to sell art.
Putting yourself out into the world through your art is a vulnerable act. And it doesn’t come easily, no matter how often you do it. Even calling myself an artist doesn’t feel right; only REAL artists (whatever that means!) can call themselves artists.
Recently I came across the work of Christine Nishiyama, and her wonderful essays on art making. I definitely recommend checking them out- you can find her at www.might-could.com.
In her essay series ‘When art falls apart’ she points out that making art when the creative flow is on is easy- but it isn’t always going to be this way. Life presents challenges, and things get difficult, including being creative.
Here are the four stages that I practice (over and over!) when life gets tricky, and when I’m feeling stuck creatively:
Notice which stage of the creative cycle you are in through being mindful of your feelings and emotions both when you are making art, and during other parts of your day.
Mindfulness is a wonderful tool. You can find more information about it here.
Be kind and gentle with yourself- you are doing the best you can in the present moment. Giving yourself a hard time about the current reality of life (which may or may not be within your control) only adds to the hardships of life, and you do not need to be dealing with feelings of inadequacy, guilt, shame or failure on top of everything else.
I know that if my mental health isn’t great every other aspect of my life can be impacted negatively. The current UK lockdown and global pandemic (which we have zero control over!) menas a lot of enjoyable social activities are illegal at the moment. Adapting to these circumstances isn’t easy but is necessary.
Coffee and chats with friends now take place over facetime, meals out are now takeaways, countryside group walks are now local social bubble walks.
And the same goes for creativity. I’ve had to accept and let go of the big plans I had for this January because my mental wellbeing needs to take priority and adapt to what can be achieved without adding additional pressure right now. This is okay!
Taking part in a January art challenge by one of my favourite skillshare teachers Ohn Mar Win is the perfect thing for me right now. You can join and following along with the challenge on Instagram #30daychallengewithOhnMar. She has also written a great article about practicing perseverance which you can find here.
Maintaining a daily art practice, and developing creative skills is never a bad thing. And who knows where it might lead or what it might discover…
I’ve been feeling really deflated over the Christmas period, for many different reasons, and it has definitely impacted on my creativity. Every time I notice thoughts of feeling inadequate because I’m not working on portfolio development, or getting licensing deals I pause, acknowledge these thoughts and then challenge them, because thoughts are just that- thoughts.
Just because we think something does not make it a fact!
Each of our journeys are different, and may take many more twists and turns that someone else's. Just as you wouldn’t judge their journey, do not judge your own journey harshly either. Persevering with your creative practice, and taking steps, no matter how small, towards your goal, is progression. They all add up over time and eventually will reach your goal.
Bonnie Christine- Do one thing a day towards your goal
I’m no expert; these are things that I’ve discovered through trial and error that work for me. In sharing them I hope that maybe someone else may find them useful too. I hope you find the thing(s) that work for you. Here are some fabulous articles/blogs that might get you started:
Artist Blog and Article Recommendations
Illustration Soul Journey Ohn Mar Win
Might Could Christine Nishiyama
What kills more dreams than failure John P Weiss
Fear of the blank page Emma Block