If you need some creative inspiration, take heart! The Impressionists, led by Claude Monet, can provide you with the renewed passion and vigor you 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. Let their story inspire you today.
The painting above, Impression Sunrise, is one of the most famous paintings in the world and is considered the painting that garnered the Impressionist movement's name. It is an amazing painting executed with complete confidence and economy. The feeling is of a beautiful dawn, with the sun just rising over a quiet harbor. However, the critics hated this painting. The Impressionist painters were an affront to the French government's stiff and traditional ideas of beauty. Art critic, Louis Leroy, first intended the term "Impressionist" as an insult: A riff on the title of this painting. However, the Impressionists were not going to be put off by their critics. Far from it! They adopted the term as their own.
"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." -Louis Leroy
Imagine if Monet had given up then and listened to those critics who could not see his vision. The Impressionists often lived in dire poverty and faced terrible ridicule. It would have been easy to give up. No one would have blamed them. They could have gone on to take jobs in the business world and have 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!
If Monet had listened to his critics, the world would never know his amazing paintings. If you don't follow your creative voice and make the work you were meant to make, the world may never know the gifts you have. Be bold today and go for it!
Here are two great tips for busting through that creative block!
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 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 solution that I use to this day.
First, to break through a creative block, you need to start making lots of work without judgement. If you are a writer, then start a journal and write. If you are an artist, then make work. Do not worry if it is good or bad, and don't show it to anyone! Make this work for yourself and do a little every day. Creatives need to work, not think. Take it from the master, Andy Warhol, who once said, "Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
When I was in graduate school, my solution to my creative block was to make hundreds of small paintings. I cut plywood panels into 7” X 7” squares and arranged them on a worktable. Then, I just started painting. My only rule was that the paintings had to be completely abstract. As a few were drying, I would move on to start some new ones. In total, I completed over three hundred paintings in four months. For display, I arranged the blocks in large grids on the wall, with about one inch between each painting. The viewer could see the arrangement as a large painting or a series of small ones. My MFA show was a great success and my creative block was broken. I just needed to stop worrying and make art without judgement.
My second tip is don't work so hard. Creativity should be fun and, if it’s not, take a break. Go for a walk or be with friends. Get some exercise and move around. Go to a sporting event. Get out and do something else. Creative ideas come from relaxed states. Consider how many great ideas come while you are in the shower or starting to wake up. It is because you were relaxed!
When I was shut down in graduate school and unable to make a single work of art without great anxiety, I started hiking. I found some nearby trails and just went for long walks. I found this movement and exercise to be freeing and, consequently, I became more productive. In addition, I focused on taking time to be with friends and socialize. As a creative, I tend to isolate myself, but I found that making planned time for socializing and relaxing really helped me get out of my head.
Of course, Monet understood all of this. He made over 2,500 paintings and drawing in his lifetime. He turned his back on his critics and just worked. Not everything he put his brush to is a masterpiece, but it all helped to move him forward. In addition, Monet was an outdoors man. He hiked and painted nature wherever he found it. Monet said, “Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It is enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.”
Let the Impressionists be your inspiration. If they could push through and keep going, so can you. If you have been waiting for the right time to start a creative project, today is your day. Chanel your inner Monet and do something creative today.
Author: Bruce Black
Welcome to Life Reimagined! I am a professional artist and long time art teacher, Over twenty-two years teaching and still going! I have painted all my life and love to inspire others to reach their creative potential. I hope this blog brings you inspiration!