A question I am asked time and time again is ‘what I do when I get artist's block’? Luckily, I no longer seem to suffer from artist's block but I did in the early days of my practice and remember that paralysing feeling of not knowing where to start. I love how we all develop our creative practice in different ways, below are some of the rules I live by to keep creativity flowing. A recent talk to art students encouraged me to put pen to paper :
Knowing that 'The inner critic' may sometimes shout loud but it can be silenced!
Most of us have experienced 'the inner critic', that judgemental inner voice that points out that the drawing is all out of proportion or there is no point in making art as it won't be good enough! It manifests itself in us beating ourselves up about our creative output and then we can't think where to start a piece because we dismiss every idea so we then sit there in the artistic environment we have set up for ourselves with all the equipment we think we need and what do we do? Nothing! It is like the inner critic has paralysed us. Spending energy on 'arguing' with the critic is energy wasted as it it energy which could be going into creative outcomes instead so the trick is to acknowledge the critic has a point of view but 'say no thank you' as it is not a point of view you wish to subscribe to today!
Dismantling the Displacement Activity Generator!
The time I carve out to be in the place in which I am most creative is sacrosanct! Creativity is top dog! I work hard at not getting involved in what I call 'the displacement activity generator' because it breeds itself! Displacement activities come in all shapes and sizes e.g. 'just' googling a supplier of paints or responding to an email we have suddenly decided is important, one leads to another and to another and the next thing you know....'creative time' is up for the day! The minute I recognise a displacement activity going on - I deploy a counter displacement activity! What works or will work for you? it could be as simple as writing down why you became an artist/creative in the first place and what it is you are passionate about even if you have done this exercise before, sometimes forcing yourself to do it again and again forces the revelation of new insights.
Dance the Doodle Dance!
And now the most important (and perhaps the most challenging) bit and if you would like to give it a go……
First, find a surface to make your marks on - go big or go small, paper on the floor or paper on the wall! Then pick up your tool of choice....a pen, a brush, and in my case some flour....it doesn't matter as long as you let it lead you as if you are dancing with it , thinking about what you are doing will kill the rhythm and the dance, just doing the doodle dance is the trick. Because if it is only a doodle, it is nothing but playing therefore it is isn't important how it turns out! This permission to play and relinquish desired results is key, it produces unexpected outcomes which feed the fire of creativity and silence the inner critic!
If in doubt, just do! And finally, if paralysis kicks in at any stage of the above....stop thinking and just do.