11 comments to What do you do when you’re blocked? < Deep Thought Thursday
If it’s a one-time thing, I try to just work through it.
If it’s a more long-term blockage, then I have to take a break of some sort. Each of your suggestions work for me. Go somewhere else and do something different: grab a bite to eat, take a walk, or read a book.
Going to galleries or friends’ studios always gives me more new ideas and motivation than I know what to do with.
I buy a new art magazine… the colors and patterns usually spark something. I sift through my art supplies… usually I find something I forgot I had, and that inspires a couple new ideas.
Ah, yes. I tend to get stuck almost every time I paint or shoot (take photos). It usually starts out gang busters, then goes through an eh? period, and then it turns out happy in the end. But, I always keep working. Whether I have an hour to work or 3.
I tend to run it this way because my time is allotted for this “task” – and that’s it. I have a ton on my plate, this is when I have time for painting or shooting. I want to do just that – paint or shoot. Maybe I move to another painting or a different subject – whatever – just keep working.
At the same time I work during the period of time I have – but I don’t often finish and I come back to the painting or the photo shoot again later. So, this is a good “break” time to allow my brain to refresh.
When I’m blocked I go for lots and lots of walks or to galleries and museums but my favorite remedy is to go to the movies and see action films. I love being in the theatre overwhelmed by the big screen by anything that is loud, raucous, with lots of action (not gory) it works every time. Other than that I just ride it out and be open to what I see!
Usually a ‘block’- I call it a pause- signals a good thing for me. It usually means a change of direction or some big idea that isn’t fully germinated yet. I have a couple of strategies. I love carving linoleum blocks and stamping, a departure from my usual work. The somewhat tedious process of carving and stamping and painting over the stamps is just monotonous enough to break through the pause and let the good new idea pop to the surface, like a bubble. I also re-read Grace Hartigan’s journals (a fantastic writer and painter from the 50s Ab-Ex macho era) and I journal myself, every day. I know that if I haven’t been journaling that I will definitely be blocked. I also love shopping – a single new paint color or a handmade wood panel might be enough to wrench me out. But I no longer fear the block, I try to breathe through it and accept that it is another big idea from the Universe trying to get to the surface…..
This is a timely piece as I am currently in a deep rut after spending a week sick. I’m reading everyone’s suggestions with great interest.
Glenn Gould, Bach, Goldberg Variations while walking and just looking around.
What works for me 99% of the time is to randomly read a few pages from Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art…gets me right back to the easel with enthusiasm and determination…and gratitude for his book.
If it’s an enforced break, like a vacation or sickness, then tidying up my studio really helps get me going again, or even simple work like a color chart (I love making these to keep my color sense in condition) or gessoing a canvas.
To get out of a ‘funk’ is harder, usually it takes a combination of all your options: visiting shows, reading art books, writing about my work, being outdoors, doing things that center me, and just plain getting myself in the studio and working anyway!
I find that as ideas come, even though nothing fits together, I can at least jot it down and eventually the ideas form a map to something later down. I find this especially helpful when entering themed exhibitions or competitions.
When I’m blocked on a particular piece of artwork, I look at the artwork of other artist’s and visit blogs for fresh ideas on use of colour or technique.
But definitely check out he mind mapping idea folks, you may find it’s a great tool for you too