Weekend Inspiration–Watering the Drought

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“The best cure for a dry spell is simply to keep at it.  Good things are happening, soon to be revealed.”  Eleanor Blair (from The Painter’s Keys)

Those first thoughts of panic when you find yourself in a dry spell can take over and consume you.  What if you are never inspired again?  What if this is it?  Your artistic life is toast!  You’re done.  All the art in your soul has dried up and you will have to find something else to do.  The love of your life has walked out the door.  The cold hand of panic is about to get a firm grip on your throat.  Everything you do is dry, dry, dry!  You can go to the nearest bar and get stone cold drunk or you can sit down and take a deep breath.  While taking that deep breath, check out what others suggest.  Or wait until the hangover is over, then check out these suggestions.

Graham Mathews has several suggestions in an article for Artpromotivate.  Number six on his list is to experiment with a different style or medium.  Following this recommendation frequently leads to new discoveries that can change the course of your entire artistic direction.  How many artists have you read about whose experiments in times of drought have resulted in the biggest breakthroughs of their career?  If something is not working, that is usually a signal from the artist within that you are not listening.  Trying something unfamiliar forces the outer artist to stop and pay attention to the inner one.  A new direction can’t be put on automatic.  It requires an effort on the part of the artist.

Another technique for breaking a dry spell is to return to original inspiration.  PsychCentral.com has a blog post on creative block.  Author Margarita Tartakovsky suggests stashing away anything that inspires you.  Tartakovsky says tucking away interesting thoughts, quotations, films, ideas that strike your fancy can be a source for watering the drought.  My favorite thing to do is collect images from magazines.  I’ll tear out anything that even remotely looks interesting and put it in an inspirational images folder.  Over the years, I have ended up with a number of folders.  Sometimes I get a laugh from wondering why I chose certain images.  But it causes me to rethink why I found those images inspirational in the first place.

Not giving in to panic is the best first step to getting through dry spells.  Once you make that decision, trying some new things could be fun.  It may keep you out of the bar.  At the very least it will occupy your hands so they don’t continue moving up toward your neck region.  While the hands are occupied, your inspirational wells are free to start working again.  Once the wells are working, the water will start flowing.  But if all else fails, you can try a rain dance.  You never know.  It may open up a new career for you as a dancer.

Panic Aversion

“The object isn’t to make art, but to be in that wonderful state that makes art inevitable.”-Robert Henri (from Skinnyartist)Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 10.50.59 AM

The search for inspiration can be a never- ending battle.   Nothing is working.  The feeling can range from confusion to panic.  What if you never get your inspiration back?  Where do you turn?  Listening to what other artists say from their own experiences is frequently helpful.

Artist Issac Julien is quoted in The Guardian as saying “It is important for inspiration to go elsewhere.”  He further goes on to suggest getting out of the city, going to places of tranquility.   Being out in nature and away from the bombardment of the over stimulation of the city gives the brain a chance to think without the constant backdrop of the cacophony of traffic, people, hustle and bustle.  In the peace and quiet of being out in nature, it is easier to hear what your brain is telling you.

For people who already live and work outside cities, the opposite action may be of benefit.  Go into a city.  Listen to the sights and sounds.  Watch the people.  Absorb the energy of the constantly moving atmosphere of city life.  Artist, Susan Phillipsz from the same Guardian article, states “always have something to write with.”  Taking notes or sketching what you see may bring on renewed energy.

And if these ideas don’t work, Artpromotivate has an article “20 Creative Ideas for Art Inspiration.”   I have written quite a bit about this subject lately because it happens to me and I have a tendency to go off in too many directions at once to try to get that inspiration back.  I go into an inspiration panic instead of following the wisdom of other artists who have also been there.  At times I have followed both directions suggested by these two artists, going into the city and going into nature.  Nature seems to work better for me but I have occasionally found the city helpful as well.  The point is to stop the panic and seek a change in scenery.