The musings of a landscape painter, art teacher, and art history lover
If you're a creative, you know that creative blocks can be frustrating and overwhelming. The feeling of being stuck and unable to produce can be difficult to overcome. However, the Impressionists, led by Claude Monet, can provide us with the renewed passion and vigor we need. Their story is truly inspired and sure to help you bust through that creative block.
The Impressionists faced nearly insurmountable obstacles and ridicule as they pursued their creative dreams, yet they continued to make their paintings. Their struggle against the French government's stiff and traditional ideas of beauty was not an easy one. Their work was met with hostility and derision from the art establishment. Art critic Louis Leroy, for instance, first intended the term "Impressionist" as an insult, saying, "Impression — I was certain of it. I was just telling myself that, since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it ... and what freedom, what ease of workmanship! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape."
However, the Impressionists were not going to be put off by their critics. Far from it! They adopted the term as their own, making it a movement that would forever change the course of art history. If Monet had given up then and listened to those critics who could not see his vision, the world would never know his amazing paintings.
The Impressionists often lived in dire poverty and faced terrible ridicule. It would have been easy for them to give up. No one would have blamed them. They could have gone on to take jobs in the business world and been forgotten by history. However, true imagination knows no bounds and lives far ahead of convention. Those Impressionists, thankfully, persevered and pushed through their doubts.
You can learn from those old painters. Be creative today. Put some paint on a canvas or nail some wood together. Develop a project and see it through. If you have an idea that has been germinating in your head, but you have been holding back because of your own self-doubts or the criticism of others, then today is your day. Think of the Impressionists and make some bold strokes in your life!
Here are some additional tips for busting through that creative block:
Tip One: Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes and Experiment
To bust through a creative block, you need to allow yourself to make mistakes and experiment. Creative blocks affect most people working in the arts at some point. They often come when artists are questioning their own value or practices. We start to consider questions such as, is this any good? What is the cultural relevance? What will the critics think? Will it be marketable? These are all good questions in their own right, but they can start to plant the seeds of self-doubt, shutting down your creativity.
When I was in graduate school, I had such a moment. I was petrified of the critiques and the need to explain my creativity to my peers and professors. I could not make a mark on my canvas without wondering how it would be received. I had gone from being prolific to shut down and even started to make myself sick with anxiety. My stomach cramped up, and I could not eat. Listless and weak, I ended up in the school infirmary. Yet, I pushed through and came up with a few solutions that I use to this day.
First, to break through a creative block, you need to start making lots of work without judgment. If you are a writer, then start a journal and write. If you are an artist, then make work. Don't worry if it is good or bad, and don't show it to anyone yet. Just experiment and see where your creativity takes you. By allowing yourself to make mistakes, you can take the pressure off yourself and give your mind the freedom to explore new possibilities.
Tip Two: Change Your Environment Sometimes, a change of scenery can work wonders for creativity. If you're feeling stuck, try going for a walk, visiting a museum, or working in a different space. A change of environment can help you see things from a new perspective and spark new ideas. It can also help to eliminate distractions and allow you to focus solely on your creative work.
Tip Three: Collaborate with Others Working with others can be a great way to bust through a creative block. Collaborating with someone who shares your creative interests can help you get out of your head and see things from a different perspective. It can also be a great way to bounce ideas off of someone and get feedback on your work. Collaborating can be especially helpful if you're feeling stuck in a rut or uninspired.
Tip Four: Take a Break Sometimes, the best thing you can do to overcome a creative block is to take a break. It's important to give your mind time to rest and recharge. Take a day off, go on a vacation, or simply take a few hours to do something completely different. When you come back to your creative work, you may find that you have a new perspective or a renewed sense of energy.
I know creative blocks can be frustrating and overwhelming, but they don't have to be the end of your creative journey. By taking inspiration from the Impressionists and adopting a mindset of experimentation, allowing yourself to make mistakes, changing your environment, collaborating with others, and taking breaks, you can bust through your creative blocks and unleash your true creativity. Remember, creativity knows no bounds and lives far ahead of convention. So, be bold, take risks, and make some beautiful art!
Bruce Black is an artist and art teacher. You can find his paintings at www.bruceblackart.com.
If you liked this presentation, you may also like this lesson on the principles of design for artists.
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Author: Bruce Black
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