Fighting art blocks

fighting art blocks

Hey there! (en español al final del post)

Long time since my last post! I needed to clean my mind off from work so I’m feeling like writing a new post.

DISCLAIMER: this is just my opinion and experience AS A PROFESSIONAL ARTIST. This doesn’t means to be a solution but a compilation of suggestions that may help you. It’s far from a secret book of spells and way closer to a chat between friends.

Some of you asked me if I have art blocks, and how I deal with them. Yes I have them, I had them, and surely I will. I usually practice some techniques to deal with them so I don’t find myself stucked in one for too long. You may already know some.

Art blocks are pretty common in an artist life as we grow older. Every stage in our art grow with us and life shapes our mind and our attitude, as it does with our skills and enthusiasm.

First of all: it’s not the end of the world. I know it’s hard to not get desperate, but this happens to most of us. And most of us are back to work. Keep calm, breathe.

  • ASK YOURSELF. You need to start asking yourself some questions, with no judgement. Instead of jumping from a thought to another, avoiding being alone with yourself, take some minutes to talk with yourself. And listen to your responses. What is happening to me? When my art block started? Is this art block related with other struggles happening in my life right now? How I feel? It’s important to investigate where the art block comes from to know how to fix it. If you don’t ask (without fear, I know it’s hard to stop and being that self-aware) you may not relate your personal situation to your art block and you may keep punishing yourself for not being able to create. Be gentle with you.  If you finally find that your art block started after some problems in your life that can’t be solved quickly, be patient with yourself. You’re still an artist. You’re just dealing with some life shit at the moment.
  • JOIN A CHALLENGE. There’s a lot of  life/internet art challenges that may appeal you like #InkTober, #Mermay, etc. It really pushes you in a good way to draw something every day under a common topic. Watching others working on same topic it’s invigorating and inspiring. BUT if you join it and can’t go through a couple of days, IT’S OK. You’re deceiving no one.
  • REPEAT WITH ME: YOU ARE ENOUGH. You don’t fucking need to be THE BEST, THE TRUE ART SAVIOUR, PERFECT IN EVERY WAY. Not even famous ancient artists like Michael Angelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Rosetti, Waterhouse, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio… They struggled as well, it’s just we may not be aware of their mistakes, being that busy with pushing down ourselves as we are. We artists often get frustrated because we can’t reach the level of others. Don’t compare yourself with others. IT’S HARD I KNOW.
  • DRAW FOR YOU ONCE A DAY. Yeah this sounds very stupid, but it’s not. Sometimes we get overwhelmed with commisions or personal life problems that we just don’t care about drawing for ourselves, or we can’t find the time. Take this as a rule: SIT IN THAT DAMN CHAIR. Once a day. You feel uninspired? Good. Give yourself at least an hour. Doddle over the paper, let the brain flow, unrelated to commisions and stuff, with no purpose but drawing. Do crazy things. If you just think you’re busy enough to not having a single hour for you to draw, it’s exactly the signal you need to stop and draw for yourself. Why? Because drawing others ideas, commisions, clients concepts etc it’s so, so consuming. It’s cool but sometimes it doesn’t represent you, so you may be pushing way too much yourself at the back of the room to focus on what your clients request you. Commisions may be a big inspiration killer without warning, so you need to find balance between commisions and your own art. It’s usually said that working in what passionates you will make you think you’re not working at all, BUT IT’S BULLSHIT. Practice this everyday, or 4 days a week. A 1 hour sketch will do it. Keep yourself connected with your inspiration so you can be back fresh and eager to create for your clients. It’s the best for both you.

  • READ ART BOOKS: This can be definitely a big inspiration boost. Check not only pictures of your favourite art pieces, but read about the life of their creators. Bio books, history books may give you an insight of how they also struggled with life and stuff. They were humans as well. This is not something stupid to fill your time while you break your art block. You’re also putting things on perspective and shaping your mind with education. Also, analyze every image you see: colors, patterns, techniques, expressions, composition, etc. You can take a journal and recreate those art pieces in fast sketches, writing in the side a list of techniques, meanings, influences, what draws you the most to the image… That includes sculpture!
  • PRACTICE ANATOMY. Ok, I got it. You’re blocked. You don’t feel like creating something. It’s the time to get technical. You can check online some real models and sketch some studies: hands, muscles, legs, feet, heads, full bodies, whatever. You can also make color charts, shape charts, markers-watercolor-pencil-whatever swatches, watch tutorials in youtube. Keep yourself educated while you recover your mojo.
  • MAKE ABC DRAWINGS OR WHATEVER YOU’RE INTO. A good way to push your brain is to sketch every day something after a letter of the abecedary. For example, first day: A, ok something starting with A… Animal. Then you sketch an animal. Ok next day: B. A word with B: Burden. Ok sketch/play/sing/sculpt something that represents Burden to you. Do this until you complete the abecedarium.
  • GO OUTSIDE. TAKE A WALK. I think a lot of artists suggest the same, but it helps. Take walks so you can think and have time to being alone, hang with friends and laugh, go to museums, visit a nice expo, connect with nature. Pay attention because inspiration can be everywhere. Also, fresh air will help you feel better. If you’re living a hard situation at home with family and such, it also gives yourself time and (yeah believe me or not) privacy. And it’s a very good idea to draw outdoors!
  • STAY AWAY FROM TOXIC PEOPLE. Are you surrounded by naysayers, people who are envious from others success, people who criticise SO MUCH other artists? Buddy, you need to address this issue because you’re swimming in negativity soup. You may think that others saying some negative shit about others cannot hurt you, but words are so powerful. Brain is like a sponge, sucks all the shit in and embraces it. If you’re surrounded by hate, you may start feeling uncertain about your own skills after dealing with that level of negativity.  Try to clean up your friend list, meet less with some people that behave like haters. That kind of shit stains your spirit, for sure. Take rid of it. It’s hard but you need to priorize: What kind of people do you prefer? the ones who uplift your life with good means and healthy ideas, or the ones who pushes you and others down because they are not able to cast positivity.
  • JUMP OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE. Practice other techniques. Try digital. Try traditional. Try sculpture. Try poetry or music. Write down a story of sorts. What about a portrait, what about designing a door, or a table, or a dress. What holds you back? There’s some style you’re willing to try for some time and you feel scared to try it out? Ok but why? Do you have better things to do while you struggle with an art block that trying new things? We’re so used to our comfort zones that we hold ourselves back to not feel failure. We were taught to be better, to pursue success, to not allow failure… But, you know, to fail is ok. Enjoy it, laugh at it, learn from it. Not every damn thing you do shall be framed and showcased in a museum. In the age of sharing content we feel so exposed that we think everything we do has to be approved by others. Nope. Also, what if you fly instead of fall? 
  • KEEP AN ART JOURNAL. This is one of the most important things. I use those A LOT and it saved my ass and mental health sometimes. I take notes of ideas in my phone, in little notebooks or journals. I make lists of ideas, concepts, etc when I’m not able to work on them at the moment, or when I have a very good flow of ideas at once. Why I take notes (maybe adding a little drawing besides the idea), why I make lists of ideas? Because I use them when I have a low-inspiration season, or when I’m struggling with an art block. It’s healthy to take advantage of the ideas you saved for a future when you’re not doing very well thinking on new stuff. This way I’m always working on something and you can’t almost tell when I’m having an art block. I just check my art ideas journal, pick one idea from the list and start with it. And some of those finally ended in pieces I love the most. And by working on those ideas, the art block finally goes away.
  • FOCUS ON WHAT INSPIRES YOU. Well this isn’t nice, but if you’re having an art block that is lasting so much, soon or later you’ll have to ask the big question: Is this what do you want to do? Try new things, start other projects, take a rest from your work if you’re able to. An art block doesn’t means you’re no longer enjoying your art, but maybe it’s time to have some rest and explore other art forms, or even other jobs. Some people grow as a painter and years later they become something else, like tattoo artists, jewelry designers, gardeners, psychologists, singers or writers. Being creative doesn’t means to take a single path.
  • MEDITATE. This will not change your life, but it improves it a bit, and who doesn’t wants that? You don’t need to sit like a Buda for 1 hour. 10 minutes can do it, 5 is a good start, if you are not used to focus on yourself that long. Breathe consciously. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. Focus on your breath in, breath out. Let that be your only thought. Try to stay focused, to keep your mind silent, don’t be afraid of not thinking nothing at all. AND DON’T STRUGGLE if you can’t keep your mind clean of thoughts; do not fight them. Let them come, and let them go. It’s not a failure because we are so used to think all the time that isn’t easy. Don’t worry. You owe you time. This also helps to get used to practice some self-talk, wich is a thing that scares the shit out of us. It’s a good tool to see what’s wrong with us, where is the problem. You can try this everyday, or several days a week.

I hope this post is useful to you. This is what has worked successfully for me along my art career, it doesn’t means this post will save you, but it sure will make you think.

This is not a one-day-work. To win over art blocks you shall be tenacious and dedicate some time. It may take weeks, months or even years. It may be the sign of things like depression, wich requires your self-care and attention. If you think something worse than an art block is happening to you, please seek for help. Look for a good therapyst, reach for friends and family. You’re not alone.

Do you have other techniques to get your inspiration back?


ESPAÑOL

Hola qué pasa!

Ha pasado mucho tiempo desde mi último post! Necesitaba despejarme de la faena así que voy a postear cosicas.

DESCARGO DE RESPONSABILIDAD: Esta es, simplemente, mi opinión y experiencia como ARTISTA PROFESIONAL. Esto no pretende ser la solución, sino un recopilatorio de sugerencias que te pueden ayudar. Lejos de ser un libro de hechizos secreto y más cercano a una conversación entre amigos.

Algunas personas me habéis preguntado si he tenido bloqueos artísticos, y cómo he lidiado con ellos. Sí, los he tenido, los tengo y posiblemente los siga teniendo. Normalmente practico algunas técnicas para enfrentarme a ellos y así no encontrarme demasiado tiempo atascada. Algunos ya os sonarán.

Los bloqueos artísticos son muy comunes en la vida de una artista, especialmente a medida que nos hacemos mayores. Cada etapa de nuestro arte crece a nuestro lado y la vida da forma a nuestra mente y nuestra actitud, tal y como hace con nuestras habilidades y entusiasmo.

Primero: No es el fin del mundo. Se que es muy difícil no desesperarse, pero nos pasa a la gente creativa. Y llegamos a recuperar nuestra motivación. Calma, respira.

  • PREGÚNTATE: Necesitas empezar a hacerte algunas preguntas, sin juzgarte. En lugar de ir saltando de un pensamiento a otro y evitar estar a solas contigo, toma unos minutos para hablar contigo. Y escucha tus respuestas. Qué me está pasando? Cuándo ha empezado este bloqueo? Está este bloqueo artístico relacionado con otros problemas sucediendo en mi vida ahora mismo? Cómo me siento Es importante investigar de dónde viene este bloqueo para saber cómo solucionarlo. Si no te preguntas (sin miedo, se que es difícil parar y de pronto tomar tanta auto conciencia) puede que no relaciones tu situación personal con tu bloqueo artístico y puede que continúes castigándote por no se capaz de crear. Se amable contigo. Si finalmente encuentras que tu desmotivación ha comentado por algunos problemas en tu vida que no pueden ser resueltos rapidamente, se paciente contigo misma/o. Todavía eres artista. Simplemente estás lidiando con algunas mierdas ahora mismo en tu vida.
  • ÚNETE A UN DESAFÍO: Hay un montón de desafíos artísticos fuera y dentro de internet que pueden resultarte atractivos como #Inktober, #Mermay etc. Te da de verdad un empujoncillo bueno para dibujar algo todos los días bajo un tema común. Ver otras personas creativas trabajar bajo el mismo asunto es refrescante e inspirador. PERO si te unes y no puedes pasar de un par de días, NO PASA NADA. No decepcionas a nadie.
  • REPITE CONMIGO: ERES SUFICIENTE. Joder no necesitas ser la/el mejor, héroe del arte, perfecta/o en todas las formas! Ni siquiera los artistas clásicos más famosos como Miguel Ángel, Leonardo Da Vinci, Rosetti, Waterhouse, Boticelli, Ghirlandaio… Ellos también lo pasaron mal, simplemente no nos damos cuenta de muchos de sus errores, tan ocupadas como estamos denigrándonos salvajemente. Nos solemos frustrar porque no podemos alcanzar el nivel de otras personas creativas. No te compares. ES DIFÍCIL, LO SE
  • DIBUJA PARA TI UNA VEZ AL DÍA. Sí esto suena muy tonto, pero no lo es. A veces nos colapsamos con encargos o problemas personales que no cuidamos el dibujar para nosotras mismas, o no encontramos el tiempo. Tómalo como una: SIÉNTATE EN LA PUÑETERA SILLA. Una vez al día. No sientes inspiración? Bien. Date una hora al menos. Dibuja sobre el papel, deja el cerebro fluir, sin relación al trabajo y movidas, sin otro propósito que dibujar. Haz movidas locas. Si crees que estás demasiado ocupada/o para no tener una hora para ti, es la señal clave que necesitas para parar y dibujar para ti. Por qué? Porque dibujar las ideas de otras personas, encargos, conceptos de clientes etc es muy, muy consumidor. Está guay pero a veces no te representa, así que te dejas de lado al fondo de la habitación para centrarte en la demanda de tus clientes. Los encargos pueden ser tope matainspiraciones sin aviso previo, así que necesitas encontrar equilibrio entre encargos y tu propio arte. Se dice que si trabajas en lo que te apasionas, no sentirás que estás trabajando nunca más. Una polla como una olla, dicho mal y pronto. Practica esto todos los días, o 4 días a la semana. Un boceto de una hora servirá. Mantente conectada/o con tu inspiración para que puedas volver fresca y entusiastamente a tus clientes. Es lo mejor para ambos.

  • LEE LIBROS DE ARTE. Esto puede ser un buen estimulante de la inspiración. No ojees solo las fotos, o tus obras favoritas; lee también sobre la vida de sus creadores. Biografías, libros de historia, ambos pueden darte otra visión sobre cómo los artistas las pasaban canutas también con la vida y las movidas. También eran humanos. Esto no es una chorrada para llenar tu tiempo mientras rompes tu bloqueo. Estás poniendo las cosas en perspectiva y moldeando tu mente educándote. También, analiza cada imagen que veas: colores, patrones, técnicas, expresiones, composiciones, etc. Puedes coger una libreta y recrear esas obras en bocetos rápidos, escribiendo en el lado una lista de técnicas, significados, influencias, qué llama tu atención de la imagen… Eso incluye esculturas!
  • PRACTICA ANATOMÍA. Ok, lo pillo. Estás superbloquer. No tienes muchas ganas de crear nada. Es el momento de ponerse técnica/o. Puedes ojear online modelos reales y bocetar algunos estudios: manos, músculos, piernas pies, cabezas, cuerpos completos, lo que sea. Puedes hacer también listados de colores, formas, tablas de matices para acuarela, lápiz, rotuladores, etc, ojear tutoriales en youtube…. Mantente aprendiendo mientras recuperas tu mojo.
  • HAZ DIBUJOS ABC, O LO QUE SEA QUE HAGAS. Una buena forma de darle un empujón a tu cerebro es bocetar todos los días a partir de una letra del abecedario. Por ejemplo, primer día: A. Ok algo con la A…. Animal!  Entonces bocetas un animal. Ok siguiente día: B. Una palabra con B: Brisa. Ok pues boceta/interpreta/canta/esculpe algo que represente la brisa para ti. Haz esto hasta que completes el abecedario.
  • SAL FUERA, DA UN PASEO. Creo que muchos seres creativos sugieren lo mismo, pero ayuda. Da paseos para que puedas pensar y tener tiempo de estar a solas, quedar con amistades y reir, visitar museos, exposiciones guays, conectar con la naturaleza. Atención porque la inspi puede estar en cualquier parte. De paso el aire fresco te sentará bien.

SEGUIRÉ CON LA TRADUCCIÓN!

  • GO OUTSIDE. TAKE A WALK. I think a lot of artists suggest the same, but it helps. Take walks so you can think and have time to being alone, hang with friends and laugh, go to museums, visit a nice expo, connect with nature. Pay attention because inspiration can be everywhere. Also, fresh air will help you feel better. If you’re living a hard situation at home with family and such, it also gives yourself time and (yeah believe me or not) privacy. And it’s a very good idea to draw outdoors!
  • STAY AWAY FROM TOXIC PEOPLE. Are you surrounded by naysayers, people who are envious from others success, people who criticise SO MUCH other artists? Buddy, you need to address this issue because you’re swimming in negativity soup. You may think that others saying some negative shit about others cannot hurt you, but words are so powerful. Brain is like a sponge, sucks all the shit in and embraces it. If you’re surrounded by hate, you may start feeling uncertain about your own skills after dealing with that level of negativity.  Try to clean up your friend list, meet less with some people that behave like haters. That kind of shit stains your spirit, for sure. Take rid of it. It’s hard but you need to priorize: What kind of people do you prefer? the ones who uplift your life with good means and healthy ideas, or the ones who pushes you and others down because they are not able to cast positivity.
  • JUMP OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE. Practice other techniques. Try digital. Try traditional. Try sculpture. Try poetry or music. Write down a story of sorts. What about a portrait, what about designing a door, or a table, or a dress. What holds you back? There’s some style you’re willing to try for some time and you feel scared to try it out? Ok but why? Do you have better things to do while you struggle with an art block that trying new things? We’re so used to our comfort zones that we hold ourselves back to not feel failure. We were taught to be better, to pursue success, to not allow failure… But, you know, to fail is ok. Enjoy it, laugh at it, learn from it. Not every damn thing you do shall be framed and showcased in a museum. In the age of sharing content we feel so exposed that we think everything we do has to be approved by others. Nope. Also, what if you fly instead of fall? 
  • KEEP AN ART JOURNAL. This is one of the most important things. I use those A LOT and it saved my ass and mental health sometimes. I take notes of ideas in my phone, in little notebooks or journals. I make lists of ideas, concepts, etc when I’m not able to work on them at the moment, or when I have a very good flow of ideas at once. Why I take notes (maybe adding a little drawing besides the idea), why I make lists of ideas? Because I use them when I have a low-inspiration season, or when I’m struggling with an art block. It’s healthy to take advantage of the ideas you saved for a future when you’re not doing very well thinking on new stuff. This way I’m always working on something and you can’t almost tell when I’m having an art block. I just check my art ideas journal, pick one idea from the list and start with it. And some of those finally ended in pieces I love the most. And by working on those ideas, the art block finally goes away.
  • FOCUS ON WHAT INSPIRES YOU. Well this isn’t nice, but if you’re having an art block that is lasting so much, soon or later you’ll have to ask the big question: Is this what do you want to do? Try new things, start other projects, take a rest from your work if you’re able to. An art block doesn’t means you’re no longer enjoying your art, but maybe it’s time to have some rest and explore other art forms, or even other jobs. Some people grow as a painter and years later they become something else, like tattoo artists, jewelry designers, gardeners, psychologists, singers or writers. Being creative doesn’t means to take a single path.
  • MEDITATE. This will not change your life, but it improves it a bit, and who doesn’t wants that? You don’t need to sit like a Buda for 1 hour. 10 minutes can do it, 5 is a good start, if you are not used to focus on yourself that long. Breathe consciously. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. Focus on your breath in, breath out. Let that be your only thought. Try to stay focused, to keep your mind silent, don’t be afraid of not thinking nothing at all. AND DON’T STRUGGLE if you can’t keep your mind clean of thoughts; do not fight them. Let them come, and let them go. It’s not a failure because we are so used to think all the time that isn’t easy. Don’t worry. You owe you time. This also helps to get used to practice some self-talk, wich is a thing that scares the shit out of us. It’s a good tool to see what’s wrong with us, where is the problem. You can try this everyday, or several days a week.

I hope this post is useful to you. This is what has worked successfully for me along my art career, it doesn’t means this post will save you, but it sure will make you think.

This is not a one-day-work. To win over art blocks you shall be tenacious and dedicate some time. It may take weeks, months or even years. It may be the sign of things like depression, wich requires your self-care and attention. If you think something worse than an art block is happening to you, please seek for help. Look for a good therapyst, reach for friends and family. You’re not alone.

Do you have other techniques to get your inspiration back?

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Thankyou for taking your precious time to write such resonating words⚘
    All very helpful and interesting. Thankyou.x

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