How many times
you were unable to start a new project because you simply can’t think of anything to do. Either is doesn’t sound important enough, or the subject simply doesn’t speak to you. Maybe there are no mediums that excited you at the moment or no colors combinations that you itched to get onto paper. Maybe you are just plain out of ideas. Or bored. Or tired. Even not feeling very well. The importance of creative thinking can’t be understated.
There are many ways to procrastinate. I will clean anything in order not to sit at my table to stare at a white surface. I get more done around the house when I am avoiding my studio than at any other time. A friend of mine cooks. And then gives all the food to her friends. In todays hurry up and work society, most people don’t cook much, so a home cooked meal is greatly appreciated.
But I digress…as usual.
We all have times when we are stuck. That light bulb stubbornly refuses to go on. But there are ways to help start the wheels turning. So the next time you get that hard lump in your chest caused by not doing what you want to do but just can’t, try any of the suggestions below.
The first one is easy, and may seem like procrastination, but really, it’s so much more. Take some time. Leave your studio or your house. Have coffee with a friend, or take the dog for a walk. Heck, retail therapy is always a good way to blow the cobwebs away. Recharging your battery is a very important component of creativity. It allows the mind to wander and many times a problem will be solved by NOT thinking about it.
the importance of creative thinking
After you have taken a break,
sit in a favorite place with pen and paper (or electronic equivalent) and start a list. Of what you might ask. When you are stuck in neutral, if you pose a problem to yourself that you need to solve, your brain will beg to solve it. Below is a list of questions to ask yourself. Sometimes after going through this process you realize that you knew what you wanted to do all along, but for some reason were reluctant to start. That’s okay. Save that list for another time. Or not.
Now, don’t think to hard or long here. Just take the first thing that comes to mind and jot it down.
- What substrate should I use?
- How big should it be?
- What medium shall I work with?
- Is there a color palette that I haven’t worked in lately?
- Are there techniques I haven’t used for a while?
- Should I try a new method or different materials?
- What if I used more than one medium?
- What subject matter should I use? (a multifaceted question)
This should be enough
for you to start thinking about something new. Never mind subject matter. That is an entirely different set of questions. Challenge yourself to create a scene from the mundane, everyday things around you. I was reading another artists’ blog a while back and he painted a parking lot. But you know what? It was great! I would hang it in my home, and that is a high compliment. It’s not what you choose to represent, it’s the choices you make about HOW to make it visually exciting. It’s what you choose to focus on in that parking lot, or laundromat or coffee shop.
- What is visually pleasing around you now?
- How can it be painted, drawn, etc. that would make it unique?
- Is there enough visual information?
- How should it be arranged in a composition that would make the eye take a tour?
- What should be left out or included?
If you are more a non-representational type
of artist you can use movement or sound or music to inspire you. Paint how the music makes you feel, or how you react to the surrounding movement. If you’re anything like me that should keep you busy for a while.
Magazines have wonderful images that can be glued, or transferred to a surface. Where can that take you?
Maybe you are a doodler or you like adult coloring books. Doodle or color to your hearts content, let your mind wander, but in a specific direction; see what you come up with.
Many times I use photographs that I have taken, in my work. Or I take photographs of my work and manipulate it. I have printed the images larger or smaller, changed colors, made it black and white. I started out life as a straight photographer, but have morphed over the years into using my images in my mixed media work.
There are a plethora
of YouTube videos on how to work with almost any technique, tools, and methods. Spend the day watching some great work artists’ produce for their sites. Figure out what lifts your heart or sends you head in a direction where you get that tiny frisson of excitement about something new.
Let’s assume that your last series or body of work didn’t open the door for something new. Or did it? Was there that moment when you thought, “I wonder what would happen if I…”. Maybe that is something that needs to be examined a little. You never know.
The thing you don’t want to do is tell yourself you can’t do something. If that voice that tells you that you aren’t good enough, or not unique enough, or aren’t talented enough pops up, squash it. Squash it flat. That voice is the biggest motivation killer there is.
Have you ever watched a child draw or paint?
If you have the opportunity, I suggest you do. Kids don’t ask themselves those questions. They just pick up the pretty colors and make stuff. Children are transported by the fact that they are making something fun, and colorful. When they are done, it is likely they will start another one because they aren’t concerned about staying inside the lines or if the flower is bigger than the house. Be childlike. Block that voice. Be your own ad blocker.
If you are a single method artist, by that I mean, one who works only in one medium, I suggest that you try something new. So, You may not like it, but on the other hand, it may well inspire you in the medium you love.
Don’t be afraid to try new things.
No one is going to laugh. If they do they are not your friend anyway.
If nothing works, and you are feeling like you just can’t get that creative engine going, maybe it’s time to step away for a while. Sometimes things happen in life that derail your life and your creativity. It happens. It’s okay. Maybe its time to regroup. Don’t be hard on yourself. Pour the wine, gather family and friends around and watch a lovely sunset.
Everything is going to be okay. Just remember that the importance of creative thinking will serve you well in every avenue in your life. It’s worth developing a method of your own that helps you change gears into creative mode.
If you have a comment or a question, please feel free to comment.