This is the fifth post in the series ‘Thoughts on be(com)ing an artist‘
After talking about the creative process, I’d like to talk about creative blocks that might be holding you back from creating (or creating more).
There can be many things holding you back from being creative: a lack of time, energy, money, confidence. The inner critic might also like to jump at any chance to tell you that you’re not good enough, not creative enough, that you can’t draw realistically (obviously it thinks that’s important) or that you’ll never be as good as all the ‘real’ artists out there.
That last thing has been on my mind lately as I was starting the layers of color workshop by Stephanie Corfee. The ease with which she creates her artwork, plus the amount of pretty art made by the other participants that’s being uploaded to the flickr group is kind of intimidating. They’re so good, there’s no way I can match that. Ever.
And because of these blocking thoughts I had difficulty getting started. I wasn’t making anything, bad or good.
I’m pretty sure that most creative blocks are mental ones (yes, even the time, energy and money things can be mostly mental blocks. Time: Create in small steps each day. A lot can get done that way too! Money: What can you do with supplies you already own? Can you create with found objects?) and they’re caused by negative thinking (or are at least worsened by it).
To be able to get rid of the blocks it’s important to find a different perspective. One that is helpful to you instead of harmful.
Think about, or try to write down, what is stopping you in your creativity. What is your inner critic telling you?
Then try to think about whetter or not it is helping you to listen to it. Does it help you in doing what you want to do and move forward? Is the answer no? Then it’s time for a new and improved way of thinking.
In the above example it wasn’t helping me to compare myself to others or to presume to that I didn’t have it in me to be that good. I don’t know what I have inside of me until I give it a chance to come out. I signed up for the class to learn and sucking and then getting better is kind of the point.
Now I can move forward again.
Another example of changing perspective:
At the moment I’m nearing 30 weeks of pregnancy. My physical condition is making it harder and harder for me to do everything that I want to do (frustrating!). My time and energy to be busy are limited, so I have to use them wisely ;). Ofcourse my inner critic can’t help itself from getting involved and so I kept thinking about all the things I want to do but can’t and that when I do get to doing something, it has to be good.
Block, block and block.
When I became aware of these thoughts, I was able to stop them.
Ok. So I can’t do everything that I want to do. But what can I do? What do I have the time and energy for?
Browsing online, gathering ideas, sketching and making sure I have something to jump right into when I have the chance.
Changing my way of thinking like that has helped me to become unblocked. I’m still getting hardly anything done at this time, but at least my mind is open to creativity again and that improves my mood quite a bit :)
The inner critic’s message
When you struggle with your inner critic, don’t immidiately decide to ignore it when it’s being mean to you. There might actually be a useful message it’s trying to tell you, when you dig a little deeper.
I often think my artwork sucks. It’s too simple, flat, uninteresting. I can ignore that thought and keep making art (and that I should!), but when I take a good look at the negative thoughts and examine what is bothering me in my art and what I can do to change it, I keep coming back to my wish to create more layers in my work to give it more richness and create interest.
In that, I need to consider if it really is my thought that my art is ‘too simple’ and needs more, or that it is an idea I got somewhere else, that art needs to be layered and complex to be interesting and beautiful. To me, it’s probably a little bit of both, so I need to find a balance that suits me and work on my layering skills.
Art is a process
See artmaking as a process. Not as a process to make something that has to be great, but as a way of finding out what you like, what suits you as an artist.
Being an artist doesn’t mean you have to be a master at one form of art or another. It means you make art and you grow as you go along your journey. An artist, or a person in general, is never done learning and growing. If you think you have to reach some sort of state or level before you can call yourself an artist, you might never reach that point.And who decides where that point or level will be anyway? Who decides what’s enough?
I recently found a good way for me to get the focus off of the need to create something amazing. Listening to music! When I focus my mind on that and use artmaking as a means to keep my hands busy in the mean time, it makes it easier to just play :)