It’s a struggle that happens for all artists. For authors the common term used is “writer’s block’, but the phenomenon of simply being unable to create happens for all kinds of artists from painters to potters. Eventually, and every now and then, we all start to feel a block on new ideas and trouble with finding inspiration. Maybe it’s because you’ve already painted so many things and can’t come up with anything else. Maybe it’s because you’re feeling burnt-out and don’t even have the energy to lift a pencil or brush. Or maybe the issue is emotional and you’re feeling too gloomy to even look at a canvas.
So it comes as no surprise that artists of all varieties want to know how to cope with this feeling. The simple question is, how can an artist come up with ideas and art inspiration?
Inspiration from feelings
To start, one of the most important things to keep in mind is your own mental and emotional health. It’s undoubtedly true that artists throughout history have taken inspiration from their feelings. Positive feelings like love, hope, and happiness, and negative feelings like anger and sadness, can be extremely inspirational feelings for many artists. Coming up with ideas for art is easier when you have a strong feeling that can move you to make something that can communicate that feeling to others.
One very crucial aspect to keep in mind is that depression is a very critical mental and emotional condition that should be taken seriously by everyone, which of course includes artists and their families. Depression obviously will have a very serious impact on an artist’s ability to remain active, inspired, motivated, and creative. If you believe you may be suffering from depression it’s strongly recommended you seek professional support in the form of therapy, psychology, or psychiatry.
You can also experiment with forms of art that are specifically designed to break through that wall blocking your creativity by relying only on your subconscious creative energy, rather than the more analytical aspects of your mind. Called intuitive art, the artist doesn’t start with any ideas or preconceived notions, goals, or plans. Instead, the artist just lays out a selection of tools, mediums, and materials, and starts on their artwork. Once you try it you’ll recognize that it’s so much easier to create art when you don’t spend any time thinking or planning on what you’re going to create, because the artist just relies upon their intuition to organically guide their creativity.
Step out of your comfort zone
Consider experimenting with techniques that you haven’t tried before. If you have a particular style that you tend to use, try getting outside of your comfort zone. If you’ve done your artwork a certain way thousands of times it’s no surprise that you might start to feel bored. So to keep things exciting you can try to do things a different way. If you mostly do abstract art, then try creating art that is more directly representative of the real world. Likewise, if you mostly create realistic artwork then you can try making something that doesn’t represent any real world objects and based just on an abstract feeling, imagery, or dream.
An artist can come up with ideas and get inspired easier if you’re using a new technique, because when you’re trying something new there’s the aspect of experimentation and learning something that motivates a lot of people. If you’ve never done collage before, try it out! Never mixed soap with paint? Don’t be too shy to have fun and be playful. Consider using alternative art tools like toothbrushes, combs, and plastic straw. You can also try experimenting with new materials like feathers, shells, leaves, or flowers.
Use different art apps
Something else you can consider using is an app to find art references, inspiration, or ways to relax and unwind. The following a brief list of apps that might help out artists that are struggling with their inspiration or motivation:
- Handy Art Reference Tool (Android) – You can use this app to find customizable 3d references for hands, feet, heats, and various other objects.
- Mountain (iOS) – This app simulates an ever-changing mountain scene that you can use to gain some abstract landscape inspiration.
- Coolors – This website will generate beautiful color schemes for you.
- Oak (iOS) – Try out this app for guided meditation.
- Google Arts & Culture (Android and iOS) – You can use this app to find inspiration from famous and classic artwork.
Walking meditation can help also an artist come up with ideas
Another fairly basic strategy for artists feeling a creative block is to take a walk around your neighborhood and just observe the world around you. Try walking meditation to clear your head of obnoxious and dissonant thoughts, and practicing awareness of your surroundings. You may even find out some things about your area that you’ve never noticed before. Maybe that tree or house is really unusual, maybe you can draw or paint that.
Healthy ways to deal with stress
But most importantly, artists must learn to cope with their stress somehow, and ideally in the healthiest way possible. It goes without saying that stress is a very common experience for basically everyone, but the critical thing to remember is that there are healthy ways to deal with your stress. One excellent way to refresh your energy and gain inspiration is to spend some time with your family and friends. Talk with them about your feelings and how you’re facing a creative block, and it’s not unlikely that someone you know and love will be able to empathize with you and maybe even get you restarted on your work.
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