Around the Block

You know how we all have those patches where we just cannot get moving.  It seems to apply to nearly everything, not just art and it happens to me more than I’d care to mention.  The desire is there!  The ideas are there!  The gear is there!  But not the impetus to actually start!

At its worst it seems as though you will never paint again.  That might be an overstatement, but, honestly I’ve wondered at times whether my art has in fact run its race.  But then I think, “Nah, it’s been a lifelong interest!  It wouldn’t just up and leave me!  Would it?  What would replace it?  What would I do instead?”

The usual tack during these periods, apart from feeling in urgent need of help, is to nibble desperately at the edges of anything arty:  planning, reading, tidying the studio, looking at my sketchbooks, going to art activities, looking for inspiration in one of my art books and even doing housework type jobs that, in “better” times, would never be a priority!  Oh, and sometimes, in desperation, I ask Google for ideas!  You might ask whether those things work and my immediate answer would be “No”.  Maybe something might help briefly, but these things don’t get me back to that exciting “I haven’t got enough time for art” space.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about why we sometimes have to push ourselves so much art-wise and why the good times just seem to come and go as they choose?  I know I’m not the only one who has this problem and it seems that following advice from others isn’t always the answer.  Us artistic types are distinctly peculiar individuals!  We’re all moved by different things.

As it happens, this week I’ve been following a series of daily sessions from “Art is Magic” by Galia Alena and other creators.  The series is based around “creative blocks” and what you might do about them.  So far, three days in, there are a couple of things that have resonated with me.

Galia talks about creative cycles/stages.  Although I knew things always seem to somehow “come right” I hadn’t thought about the possibility that the bane of my artistic life might actually be part of the creative cycle.  That would mean it probably wont go away! “But, you need to control it, don’t you.”  That’s what we do in this day and age isn’t it?  Grab the problem by the horns and send it packing!  All well and good if it works!  But, how often should one have to repeat that process?

It’s occurred to me that some study I’ve done around creativity points to what Galia says.  Being creative or artistic seems to have cycles or stages, developing as it moves along either at a cracking pace or so slowly you wonder if it has deserted you.

I have a book by Kyna Leski titled “The Storm of Creativity”.  It’s described by one reviewer as “A definitive guide to swimming through creative chaos”.  Yep, that about sums up the problem!  The book goes into some detail with explanations of the whole dynamic creative process, which is indeed a cycle or series of stages, starting, stopping, creeping along, going full steam ahead, resting, regrouping and starting over again. 

Most importantly, she mentions that these stages are not something we can plan or schedule, but an internal process that we go through.  Ah, yes…..  So, the creative process and, by default, the creator, are subject to these uncontrollable stages!….. The quiet times are what seems like a “block”!

Back to Galia.  She recommends using the “down times” to rest, regroup, refresh and, importantly, to remain open to whatever stage of the cycle you are in.  Not to pressure yourself or mope about cursing whatever is or isn’t happening.

Resting, regrouping and refreshing, she says, should not be forced (as Kryna states they can’t be).  They should leave you open to gathering and allowing room for new ideas to develop, for your mind and circumstances to show you what is next.  It’s like a spring clean, re-organisation and opening up of your internal creative space and it cannot be controlled.  You can’t expand and become creative if you are tight and stressed about not being creative!

I think I’ll relax and plan myself some no pressure, inviting, nurturing things (arty or not) to do in my next “slow” patch.  And, most importantly, I want to try not getting anxious and obsessed with the fact that my art mojo has deserted me!  It’s just resting, re-energising and regrouping.

Does this explanation of “artists’ block” as a stage of the creative cycle make sense to you?  Is this a helpful way to look at it?

Something different …. here’s the view from the studio with one of my fans, Spook, looking in. She recently went to live with a short, dark and fluffy friend called Forest so I won’t have her company any more. It’s just our K9, Jessie, and myself now, when she chooses to visit the studio!

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16 thoughts on “Around the Block

  1. Yes,i definitely relate to this idea of a cycle in creativity but also many aspects of life. I can feel a lot of distress when i feel lost creatively and I will try to cultivate the attitude that it is indeed meant to be, and actually it does seem to lead to a positive breakthrough of some kind. I find that it is hard to let go and surrender in life,but sometimes it really is impo to let go of control and have faith! Thank you for these very interesting insights!

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    1. I’m glad you found it interesting Corinne. 😊 Knowing what we need to do is one thing and actually being able to surrender to it is another for sure. I try to remember these things but it’s not always successful. You’d think it would have sunk in after all these years!

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  2. Hi there! This post couldnít be written any better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I most certainly will send this information to him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Having read this I believed it was really enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this information together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!

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  4. Every time I read your blogs Wendy they make me reassess my art practice! This post really makes a lot of sense regarding the waxes and wanes of our creativity. Think I might go make a cup of tea and ponder a while 🙂

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  5. What an interesting post and the books you mentioned sound encouraging. I think it’s fine to be quiet with nothing much happening for a while. It happens more often than not with me. I’ve worked out that a lot is actually going on without being aware of what it is entirely. Mysterious. Good time to sit and/walk and just be. Miranda(melaleuca)

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    1. Yes, I agree Miranda, walks are good. I have to develop better habits than panicking about loosing my art and making the whole thing seem like wasted time. Accepting those periods and seeing them as rejuvenation seems like a good way to go I think. I hope it’s as easy to do as it is to say!

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