Recharging Your Creative Battery

We all suffer at one time or another from creative "burn out", also known as "artists block, "brain freeze", etc. It seems most artists have their own particular cure for this ailment. Their remedies can include everything from signing up for an extensive workshop, taking a class, watching videos, reading art books, going to a painting demonstration, or just talking and being around other artists. For me I have several things that seem to work.

  1. I will go into my studio and set a kitchen timer for 30 minutes. No matter how burnt out and uninspired I may feel I can always just get the brush going for 30 minutes. What usually happens is when the timer goes off I just reach up and shut it off and continue painting. I just needed to start!
  2. I try painting a different subject outside of my normal range of comfort. If I have been doing a series seascapes I may switch to landscapes. If I have been doing a series of florals, I may switch to animals. If I have been doing a series of foothill scenes I may switch to portraits. Tackling something new seems to refocus my concentration and re-stimulates my creativity.
  3. I try painting in a different size. Larger or smaller than normal seems to refocus my perception and gets the creative mind working in a slightly different manner. It gets my creative process off of "auto pilot" and forces me to refocus on the particular task at hand.
  4. I try to work faster with a preset time limit (say an hour) to finish the piece. The results are usually more impressionistic and less detailed paintings that force me to capture the essence of a scene much quicker without overthinking it. I try to let my instincts take over and shut off the cerebral part of my brain. Sometimes being too cerebral sucks the life out of a painting.
  5. Sometimes I just have to put down the brush and get busy working on other aspects of being an artist. Matting, framing, book work, ordering, working on the website, writing, emailing, marketing ideas, scheduling, planning, etc. I often find that just working at something gets my mind and body going and makes it easier to paint.
  6. Sometimes I just get the dog and go for a leisurely walk in the hills. Watching the carefree romping of a beloved pet can be just the magic elixir to put life in perspective and get the creative juices flowing.

We all need to remember that being an artist is a lot of hard work. To enjoy life we need to balance this hard work with fun and leisure. With this perspective I find that the creative juices just start flowing again.

-Ronald Pratt July 22, 2017