When inspiration fails what do you do? I get that question a lot as an artist, and I can tell you the muse is often fickle, but one thing I have learned: you are not a slave to the muse! Maybe everything flows more smoothly with the muse on hand to pave a rosy path, but when all you can see is a creative desert ahead, what do you do? To get to the other side, you have to walk through the desert, or do you? I don’t believe in that but the challenge would certainly give you stamina and stick-to-it-iveness. However, art is not something we do in survival mode but more like following an easy stream.
Here are a couple of things I do when the muse refuses to be part of my life:
- Take a walk. Yes, it’s a great way to shake off the cobwebs and take in new inspiration. The colors and shapes are great for new ideas. Walks are always good for general problem solving as well.
- Look at art books. The classics and more modern artists are always inspiring. Through the pages I can absorb the energy of their work and find myself eager to try something new on my canvas. Nothing wrong with copying elements and then make them your own.
- Get out of the studio and meet a friend. Lunch out is one of the world’s greatest pleasures, and if you have a good friend that does not annoy you by talking incessantly about themselves, it’s a BONUS.
- If you live in a city, go to an art museum. This falls in the same category as looking at art books, but it also gets you out of the studio, another BONUS.
- Try kickstarting your art by gluing down bits of papers at random on the surface. Let your hand and eye coordinate and see what comes up next on the page or canvas, and then take that step, and the next, and the next. Just try something new, a new angle, and new color.
- Use a color palette you rarely use. Example: if you always paint in cool colors, make yourself use only warm colors for the next project. Your sense of playing it safe will rebel, but it’s easy enough to send it packing for one piece of experimental art. Ugly is okay.
- Learn a new craft. Look through some craft books at the bookstore and see if anything pulls you in. Crafting can be mindless and meditative, and you might find yourself creating a pile of cool gifts.
- Let someone else paint on your canvas. Taking the pressure off the process can be very freeing.
- Paint with your hands. You can really feel the paint when you use your hands. It’s a more intimate creative way to paint. If you don’t like to paint throw a handful of mixed ripped papers on your canvas and glue them down where they land. It can become the start of a whole new way of making art!
- When all else fails buy some new art supplies! I think that is my favorite suggestion. I love (and my muse loves) a new art supply challenge. A shiny new box of pencils or crayons can light up your world. It does mine.
No matter what you choose to do to interrupt a creative drought, do SOMETHING. The drought is temporary. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and paint the same over and over, but it’s just as easy to challenge yourself to something new. 🙂
P.S. I have some freebie challenges on my website you can try to break the drought. CLICK HERE.