Working as a visual artist can take a lot of determination. You have to keep your ideas flowing almost constantly. Sometimes, you get into a total creative slump — the artist’s equivalent of writer’s block — and it can take days or even weeks to come out of it. If you find yourself stuck in an art rut, here are few ways to get out of it.
Explore A New Medium
One of the best ways to kick a creative slump to the curb is to dabble in a different medium. If you’re a painter, try switching to pencil drawing, take a shot at clay sculpting, or even try on glassblowing for size. You might not make a piece worth featuring in a museum, but you’ll have an opportunity to shake up your ideas and challenge your brain in a new way. Simply taking a break from your typical art style might just be enough to give your mind a reset and clear the cobwebs enough to get your creative juices flowing again.
If you’re still finding yourself stuck after testing out a new art medium, shake things up even more — write a poem, turn on some music and dance your heart out, or pick up an instrument and roll through a song or two. You just might make a habit of it; even successful artists such as Ashley Longshore take a break from visual art to work on writing and even go on to become published authors as she did.
Look For Inspiration
The best place to find inspiration might be close to home. Call up a friend or a favorite client and start chatting. Page through your old portfolios or journals. Visit a local gallery or art museum. Check out an open mic or a concert. While endlessly scrolling social media art feeds might land you a flicker of inspiration now and then, you’re more likely to get lasting inspiration from something you can actually see, hear, or feel, especially if it’s coming from a source near and dear to your heart already.
Change Up Your Routine
Many times, we get into a creative slump by running our day exactly the same way, over and over again. When your routine is virtually identical from one day to the next, you may never encounter the little things that get your creative juices flowing. Try a new exercise class. Take a different route to work. Have lunch in an unfamiliar part of town. Anything you can do to shake things up may also give you a fresh perspective and begin to dislodge the creative block.
Allow Yourself To Experiment
Sometimes, the way you approach a task can affect the outcome. When you step up to your art medium, instead of going at it the same way as you always do, allow yourself the opportunity to just try a different technique. Look for new brushstrokes to try, play with light and shadow, or try completing the work upside-down. It might seem cheesy at first, but it will help you use a different part of your brain and explore your playful side a bit more, hopefully helping to reignite your creativity.
Take A Break
You will often find great relief from creative blocks simply by taking a break. Get away for a few hours, or even a weekend. There’s a reason why some of the top-performing creatives take a sabbatical sometimes. You don’t have to take an extended vacation to reap the benefits of a getaway though. Sometimes an afternoon off in nature, in a new city, or at your favorite inspiring location will refresh you and get your mind prepped for your next project. Many people also report benefits from taking this time to unplug from gadgets as well, ensuring that your time away is a break for both mind and body. While you’re away, consider getting in some physical exercise as well: a brisk walk, a quick run, or a sports game can get your blood pumping and mind clear.
Meditate Or Pray
Whether or not you’re spiritually-oriented, you’ll probably benefit from some moments of quietness and solitude. Sometimes the best thing for a burnt-out mind is just a little bit of mindfulness. Consider working in some physical movement as well; for example, go on a prayer walk, or complete a meditative yoga sequence. The mind and body are interconnected, so a bit of mindful movement may help quiet the noise of your own head and make space for fresh ideas.
Creative slumps are no fun for anyone. Fortunately, by changing things up, taking time away, connecting with inspirational sources, embracing the quiet, or moving your body, you can get your mind back in gear and overcome the hurdles holding you back. Once the creative juices are flowing again, they’ll be almost unstoppable.