Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Dreaded Artist Block, What to do when you don't feel like making Art

Topic I'd like discussed

Hi S
Thanks for your note. Here is something that I often feel and do not know how to deal with it.
I get motivated to paint and I will do a couple of paintings anywhere from 2-5 at one time, once I'm done though, I have no motivation to create. What is wrong with me?
The last time I painted was in end of Mar beginning of April. I love my new work and thought I was going to be actively painting. I have hit a brick wall and don't know how to make myself get into the studio. I do everything else but paint. Do many artist go through the same thing? If so, how do they pull them self out of that "funk".
I even ordered a new easel thinking that would help but it didn't.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.


SOnia Semone June 22 at 8:53am
The dreaded art slump. I have been there. I went out of town last year for quite a bit and when I came back I could not paint. When I did -- it was terrible. I was like-- OH sh! I sat it out and waited until I felt a real urge to paint instead of pushing myself. I also went to lots of openings and looked at art, not to copy but to be in a creative environment. When you are an artist, art is part of your vibe. Even if you are not creating you feel a kinship with artwork. At least I do.

I had never had been in the slump before last year, so when people talked about it I just didn't get it. Then when it happened to me I was so unmotivated. I looked up articles and a lot said to push through and keep painting and creating, but like I said I tried and it just was not working. What really, really worked for me was taking the pressure off and taking a break. Don't worry that you will never paint again, because you will. Give yourself a breather and don't be hard on yourself.


  1. "Artist Block" is, in my opinion, part of the life of an artist - nobody can work all day, every day. Art is work, and all workers need time off to relax and do other things. I think that the wider culture naively views artists as being emotionally driven to constantly "express themselves," and this myth is why many of us feel bad when we need to take a break. There's no shame in putting away your brushes for a few days.

    Of course, when your break goes on for a month or longer, then you might have some issues. One of the difficulties of being an artist (or having any self-employment, for that matter) is the fact that you can set your own schedule. It takes a lot of discipline to continue to work regularly, especially when there aren't any deadlines coming up. I have a 2-bedroom apartment, and one room is a dedicated studio space. It's a railroad-style apartment and I have to go through the studio to get out of my bedroom, so whatever I do I'm constantly engaged in my work. I've found that I'm able to work more regularly this way.

    If you're having trouble handling the freedom that comes with setting your own schedule, maybe you should think about grad school (or undergrad, if you're "self-taught.") Having deadlines and classes really gives you a kick in the rear to produce work regularly. Plus, the criticism and feedback from your professors and peers can't hurt.