hitting the wall - artists' block and how to beat it


Progression of an idea - Abstract Art by Lauren Bolshakov  We've all been there before, artist or not, but you hear about it more often in creative situations- writing, dancing, painting. Nobody is immune to hitting the wall in one way or another.

For this post, I want to share my experiences with creative block as an artist and some ways that I have found to beat it.

Here is the piece after all the changes and twists and turns shown above - Abstract Art by Lauren Bolshakov - Click to Purchase Here is the piece after all the changes and twists and turns shown above.

1- Ground your painting. One sure fire way for me to burn out is to continuously work on something that is not going in the direction that I would like it to (or did not plan well enough). It goes a little something like this: Whoa, that's too dark. Wait, now it's too light. Okay, now it's too saturated. Ew. Now it's chalky. I really like THAT line. I'm going to work around it so it doesn't get lost. UGH. Now it's too color blocky. Now it's mud. I'm going to work on something else. What?? I forgot how to paint! Is it too late for a career change?? I think I should go back to school. What was I thinking being an artist??? ... So, if I PLAN first, step back often, and still am not seeing the desired result- I will ground the painting. It gets flipped around and leaned in the corner of the studio. I'll start a new project and periodically check on it. If it doesn't appeal to me at some point, or if I can't clearly define the next step or direction to take, I paint over it.

While your painting is being grounded:

2- Go for a run. Or a walk, or to the gym, or dancing. Get out of the art studio. Stretch your legs and flex your brain. You would be surprised what happens when you're stuck and use your body! It's like meditation. So many times I have been focused on the rhythm of my breathing or my stride, or just letting my mind wander and - BOOM - the next step or the fix in the painting comes to me.

These two paintings are

3- Cook something you've never prepared before. Do a crossword. Learn a new language. Take a class in something other than painting. Get out of your painting head. Stop thinking about art for a minute. Your art brain's ideas are playing hard to get - stop chasing them. They'll get jealous and come back again. BONUS: You'll be a wiz in the kitchen and be multi-lingual. And buff :)

4- Go shopping. No really! Head to your local art store and prepare to be inspired. Nothing gets you going like playing with new supplies! Try something different. PLAY!!! Stop taking your art so seriously and have fun again. Not everything that you put on canvas has to be sellable or gallery/museum quality - sometimes you just have to let your art be your art and stream through you. It will allow your gallery pieces to super shine and show the real you! Take the pressure off and have fun again.

5- Take a workshop or a class. Adding onto no. 4, you should always be learning and growing as an artist. When I was changing directions and finding a new voice in my art earlier this year, I signed up for two local classes a week at Braitman Studios. I was painting so many new things and in different mediums and it helped me so so much! It doesn't need to be reoccurring, it can be a workshop or a single class.

6- Go to an art crawl with friends. Have some wine, and talk to your fellow artists! It can get lonely in your art studio! Nourish yourself and your creative soul with good company! See cool art and let yourself be inspired!

7- Have more than one piece in the works at all times. This one may be optional for you- I find that having a few irons in the fire helps me avoid "the wall" more that focusing on one piece at a time.

All of these things are what you can do while a painting is being grounded. However, if you sit down to paint or draw, and you've just got nothing - no inspiration, no ideas, no drive at all to create, numbers 2-6 are sure to jumpstart your creativity!

Lauren Bolshakov in her art studio