Creative Blocks

W14 6 7 Swartout Ranch copyThis is a journal entry I like — it caught the look and feel of my grandparent’s ranch.

There have been lots of questions swirling about that all point back to one: How to be creative — keep an art journal going — when you have nothing to say or no burning interest to sketch or paint?

Most who ask this question do not realize they have a strong Editor or Critic yammering away at them and this is most likely the source of the lack of ability to find interest or joy in taking a step in a journal. Internal critic, when left unchecked, can ruin our lives, keep us out of a bathing suit, keep us from talking to the person we are attracted to, or stop us from writing a word of a story idea.

Think of it this way: One day you decide to get up and run a 10-mile marathon in alongside many other long-distance runners who’ve prepared.  On top of that, you’ve hired a personal trainer, an Olympic medalist, to run alongside you, and s/he is telling you you’re a lard butt as you begin to run! Could you take even one unself-conscious step?  NO.  But then, you know you would never even attempt to set up those conditions.

A few early sketches of barns I didn’t like so much, but I kept drawing.
For me (letting my Critic out of the box now) they were either too lame (markers) too stiff and architect-drawn (the “perfect” ones) or maybe just getting there but who wants to see that last one anyway? (Critic out.  Really, I keep Critic far away most of the time.)

Most don’t have a daily art practice — note, PRACTICE — yet they think they can step up and paint a great piece each day in their journals.   Creative minds/hearts/hands have to be exercised, every day.  Just like the muscles in your legs.  Part of the practice is getting better at the sketch itself, getting better at seeing what it is in front of you instead of what you think of as a barn, and part of the practice it telling your Critic to take a hike.  Not listening, you do it anyway.  Ignore it long enough, and like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum where nobody is paying attention, it will get tired of being ignored.  that takes practice!

I started liking these shapes a bit more, each done on a different day,
taking about 15-30 minutes to just try a different barn idea.
Working full-time, I had a small area at my desk in my office.
These were moving toward a card for a friend.
The last I stepped out and tried marker over shellac, and liked that a lot!
(Critic says ho-hum, you have low expectations, looks childish…)
Still not loose enough for me, but fine for my friend and what she wanted.

My advice — and you may not like it —
and frankly I didn’t invent it but
I took the advice and
I’ve done this daily as an architect, as a writer,
and as a painter — practice every day!

Get a less expensive journal, nothing too precious (I like Aquabee Super Deluxe because the paper can take some watercolor for when I want to throw color on sketches) and make yourself draw anything — something — every day.  15 minutes.  Draw your shoes, your breakfast, your coffeepot, your cup, your mate sleeping, your pets.  Draw on the bus, the subway, waiting at the doctor’s office.  Don’t think to much, just pick an object and go. 

W14 7 13 One Day Full Moon Circle 300dpi RB

And here is an additional piece of advice: Write alongside all the nonsense your mind is saying:  “You can’t draw that, you can’t draw that, you can’t draw that, you can’t draw that…  Looks like crap, looks like crap, looks like crap…  Not as good as (name), not as good as (name)…”   The Critic will soon be bored after you’ve written “I can’t draw worth a damn” 50 times over 2-3 days right alongside your drawings.  Do this for a month or several and you will see a shift.

NOTHING shuts a mind up like having
what it is running exposed!

I guarantee it.

I’ve taught getting through creative blocks in many forms from young kids to university students — but I had to teach myself to get through blocks first.  I did.  You can too.

W15 5 7 MAY SKETCHBOOK 002Happy full moon!

Many journals, most images never published because they were too lame —
oops, Critic at it again! — many types of materials used.


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About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
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18 Responses to Creative Blocks

  1. I think I’m going to take your advice. Thanks!


  2. sandidureice says:

    Much, much liking this. Thankyou. And writing out your fears…yes helps wonderfully. Love the ‘full moon circle’, it is so happy.


  3. Linda K says:

    this is great advice Kate! I love the painting of your grandparents of your grandparents ranch-looks like a heavenly place.


  4. Faye says:

    I really enjoyed seeing all your rural art pictures. Beautiful work, Katie.


  5. the idea of writing down the fears thing is bloody genius!!! I am so taking that on board… fabulous post, and I just adore your lines… always so assured and fabulous. you continue to inspire me…xx


    • And it works. It will work with all kinds of things. My former husband used to make me so mad (spoiled by his mommy) and I found if I wrote it over and over and over it would dissipate so at least I could be civil when I got pissed! And it really works with a nutcase creative block voice. I am SO happy to hear you say I inspire you — the feeling is mutual! Huggs —


  6. minnemie says:

    Your grandparent’s ranch looks like a magical place… Love your phases of the moon and the happy green of the trees in “full moon”!


  7. really beautiful images and great advice! Have a lovely weekend! Happy PPF! 🙂


  8. Wonderful advice with equally wonderful art.


  9. Dea Lenihan says:

    I agree! Plus it is so much fun that I really don’t want a day off. xo


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