It would be great if I could sit down and paint everyday. In a perfect world I could crank out watercolour paintings just by sitting at the easel or desk and doing it, but life gets in the way. The phone rings, the laundry piles up, a friend needs our attention.. or we have to go to our day job. Other times a blank sheet or canvas has a way of being really intimidating. Some days the ideas don’t come easy, or the pencil or brush just will not obey the vision in one’s mind.
I’ve struggled with this.. sometimes the mojo just isn’t there.
The solution I’ve come up with is to change it up. If I’ve been working in watercolour—I’ll do an acrylic piece. If I’ve been doing a of tight realism I’ll switch to something looser, put my detail brushes away and just work with a huge brush. If I’ve been working 2D for a long time I’ll set it aside and make a piece of jewellery… if I’ve been making large pieces I’ll try my hand at miniatures… or work on my website.
Sometimes I need to get out of the studio altogether and ‘fill the well’. For me, walking in nature is the best.. or even taking my camera and shooting some urban photography.
Sometimes I need to rest. Watch a movie. Take the pressure off.
“I’ve found that the only way I can keep writing every day, year after year, is to let my mind wander into new territories. To do that, I’ve had to cultivate a kind of mental playfulness….For me, it’s been liberating to put myself in the mind of a fictitious six year-old each day, and rediscover my own curiosity. I’ve been amazed at how one ideas leads to others if I allow my mind to play and wander.” ~ Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes
Learning to be gentle with ones self, change it up, take the pressure off, try new things. These are the techniques I have found work when nothing else does.
Do you have any ‘go to’ things for when nothing else is working?
Today, I’m featuring an article from one of my favourite Youtube watercolour tutorial artists, Steve Mitchell. He is easy to listen to and he has great advice from a lifetime of being a pro artist.
Art Critiques and Getting the Most from Input
“We all want to improve as artists don’t we? Growing as an artist is the key to more enjoyment and satisfaction as we tread this adventurous but sometimes frustrating path. Practice is a given, but what happens when we get stuck and don’t know how to improve. The brave artist seeks appropriate, constructive input and critique. Its a tougher challenge, though, than we sometimes realize. Asking someone to tell us what is wrong with our art, which is so often a personal expression of ourselves, is also risky, baring our soul to the cold frigid winds of potential rejection. So if its done, it ought to be done right. There is good input and bad input. How do you tell the difference? Here are some pointers from my experience…”
I’ve been working a lot in watercolour the past year or so and felt I was getting into a rut. I had done some miniature paintings on the side in acrylic, with these tiny little canvasses I had lying around…
So, I thought I would stretch myself a bit and tackle some larger pieces. The process for acrylic is opposite what it is for watercolour. Instead of painting light to dark, you go from dark to light. It’s a different way of approaching a painting and makes me SEE the subjects in a new way. This has brought me back to my formal training and all of a sudden I’m thinking up new ideas for paintings!
“It’s good as an artist to always remember to see things in a new, weird way.” ~Tim Burton
Using (or trying) different materials is a great way to infuse new life into your art practice, to see things from a new point of view, and to jump start creativity when you feel blocked.
About two years ago I began watching youtube videos on art instruction and I found one artist that was making and sharing the most wonderful videos. She inspired me to get out my sketchbook and paints again…
I had abandoned my art. I had abandoned my dreams. I had abandoned myself.
* Finding other artists to learn from and be inspired by is my advice for the week. It will open you up to your own desire to create, and enhance your motivation. Youtube is a great place to start.
Her name is Lisa Clough, and her talent, enthusiasm and generosity with sharing her techniques and experience, and especially encouraging other artists is amazing.
It was her videos that brought me back to my art and I owe her my deepest thanks, even if we work in different mediums. (I did buy one of her pieces… so beautiful, still have to get it framed—it’s a Polar Bear, squeeee!).
She has tons of videos, not just on creating art, but on materials, supports, techniques and more. She does critiques, she reviews art supplies, and gives her take on the art business, creativity and lots of other subjects. She is bit of a whirlwind and her output is crazy. If I could do half of what she manages to do I would be very happy.
Thank you Lisa! You have no idea how much you have helped me, I wouldn’t be doing this without your inspiration.