It’s happened to all of us. You hit a dry spell in your art making. You feel like the creative juices have totally dried up. Ideas? Nowhere to be found. Inspiration? Haven’t seen it since the last lunar eclipse. Motivation? Oh please. The drumbeat of needing to make art has started up but you can’t answer the call. Now what?
When I get stuck, I pull out some materials and see if anything grabs my attention. I look through journals, sketchbooks and altered books. I take out my art technique books to see if anything inspires me. Sometimes just putting my hands in the materials is enough to get me going. Give yourself permission to make some “Bad Art.” This isn’t going to be entered in a show or hung on your own wall or given as a gift. You are just playing around in the sandbox and seeing what emerges. If you don’t like it, that is totally okay. Salvage what you can and move on. There is no rule that every piece of art you make has to be compositionally strong and aesthetically pleasing. Just play around. Move some paint around on a piece of paper. You can cut up the paper later and use it in some collages or altered books. Here’s a radical idea: you can throw it away if you don’t like it. Sacrilege in some circles, but necessary at times.
When you are not feeling very creative, a mental reframe may be in order. What does being creative mean to you? What does it look like when you are creative? Is creativity part of your identity? Because if it is, then feeling like you are NOT creative can mean you are doubting yourself in some pretty significant ways. If you are feeling creative only when you are actively working in a particular medium, perhaps it would be helpful to broaden your view of what creativity means for you. If you always work in large scale sculpture and you don’t have the space or materials to do that right now, does that you mean you are not and cannot be creative? No. It just means that you need to find another outlet until you can do your “Big Art” again.
Don’t wait for inspiration to strike you, especially if you are feeling stuck and not very creative. Get your hands dirty and see what emerges. Visit a friend’s studio and make art together. Go to the art store and buy yourself a treat. Flip through the art books at the book store. Type in a word to Google images and see what happens. Just do a gentle stretch to get your creative muscles moving. Use the concept of “Little Art” to get your head back in the game. Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. Maybe there is a need for you to be in a period of dormancy right now. We all know what happens in the spring.