Creative block can halt us in our tracks.
And we may be more familiar with the idea of “writer’s block” or “the blank page syndrome” but the truth is, it happens to all types of creatives in various disciplines.
What is it and why does it happen?
Creative block is a period of time when an artist can’t access their inspiration or can’t bring themselves to create new work.
It is hard to pinpoint a universal reason why, or situation in which it occurs. Creative block can be different for every creator, and it can reveal itself in multiple ways at different times for the same creator.
Regardless of how or why it shows up, it can feel downright debilitating to any creative experiencing it.
HOWEVER— I have learned that there is good that can come from a creative block too!
You can learn a lot by leaning in to the utter discomfort of being creatively blocked. It can challenge you mentally, emotionally, physically, even spiritually while going through it. Art of any kind, typically requires that we fail a whole lot before we come to the final “masterpiece” we know and love in the end. You would never reach the masterpiece, without first, going through some discomfort, stress, uncertainty, or challenge while making it. The trick is getting comfortable with those feelings when going through the process.
In the face of creative block, the maker is often forced to stretch beyond what feels comfortable, and a lot of the time the instinct is to fight back against the block, and destroy it in it’s tracks to finish the job.
I for one, am guilty of doing this, many times over. But I am finally getting comfortable with creating, and moving on to other things if it isn’t working or if I get blocked.
The picture below is an original art piece I did that once inspired a 4 month creative block! I went back to it multiple times, but I just couldn’t do anything, so I left it. I began focusing on reading, writing and cooking; took a break from the brush. In the end, I appreciated and liked the end result. This painting reminds me of a time I didn’t try to fight the block, and instead, got comfortable with it and ended up finding peace when I revisited it months later.
Meet Ruth Oosterman, Watercolour Artist and Blogger from Toronto, ON
Recently, I was introduced to an amazing artist from Toronto, Ruth Oosterman, who is well recognized for her beautiful art and the artistic collaborations she does with her toddler.
Ruth is a watercolour artist, who when she was pregnant with her first child experienced severe creative block. As soon as she had her daughter however, there was an outburst of creativity. When her daughter was old enough to express her creativity in the form of little scribbles, like any Momma, she decided to hit record on the video camera. Only Ruth decided she too would push her own creative comfort zone, by transforming her daughter’s scribbles into beautiful collaborative art. The results were transformative. Soon she caught the attention of some big publications like Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post. She said that the collaborations allowed her to let go of the tight grip she typically had on keeping her art structured and realistic, to then explore more abstract versions of art that could be created at any moment during the process.
After a mutual friend pointed me in the direction of Ruth’s artwork, I was hooked! I binged a bunch of her artwork on Youtube, found her website and online shop and decided– I needed to own a piece! Ruth is someone I definitely admire, and I wanted her to know it. After purchasing a print, I reached out to inform Ruth how special it was for me to see her beautiful, meaningful art and success as an artist. I let her know that I was out on my own as a creative entrepreneur and that I was now experiencing the ups and downs of creating for a living and that I would love to pick her brain sometime.
Ruth went out of her way and shared a very touching message with me right away, AND to top it off, the art prints I ordered had a very special and inspiring message on the back all about creative block. She got real with me about creativity. It filled my heart and inspired me to write this blog, take a look:
Morale of the story. Creative block happens to all of us, and it is okay to feel that frustration, but do not destroy it or kick the doors down, or worse, quit; just let creativity come to you when it is ready. You will be a better artist for being patient and rising above it. It may even be the thing that brings you to the next level of creativity.
If you are growing impatient with waiting around for creativity, here is an infographic I made detailing some general things that myself and creatives I know like to do, to spark some inspiration:
I hope this is helpful, if you are experiencing creative block, know that you are not alone and that there are many things that you can do. We are all beautifully different, and that means not every tactic will work the same for you as it might for me and vice versa.
You can do this and if you need a little break, don’t worry or feel bad. Creativity is coming back to you when the time is right.
Feel free to reach out anytime if you have any questions or need support 😉
All my love,