Artists and creative blocks

Creative block – happens to the best of us.

Creative blocks are our inability to access that very inner creative streak which makes us unique individuals. It is most commonly observed in those circles who are engaged in creative professions – musicians, artists, writers, choreographers etc. But that does not mean others involved in different professions are absolutely untouched by it. (We all do remember the ‘slump’ of the famous fictional character  detective Jake Peralta in Brooklyn 99, where he was unable to make breakthroughs on several unsolved cases.)

Not happy with the type of work you are doing recently? Feeling that your works aren’t articulate enough? Lack of innovative ideas? Maybe, you are facing a block or are in a ‘slump’. There are several reasons as to why such blocks occur. It may be because of a lack of enthusiasm, self-worth – not believing in one’s own capability or talent, fear of rejection, treading on uncharted aspects or delving into unexplored arenas which gives rise to a fear of failure. However, there might be several others such as the death of a loved one, lack of financial and emotional support from family and friends, chronic illness or the loss of meaning or purpose to one’s life. Acknowledging or addressing such underlying problems is the only way to overcome such a hurdle.

Albeit, there are many who do consider that creative block is a myth, and are often used by people in creative circles as an excuse. But what is pertinent here is to understand that it is a very natural part of any creative process. It is not an anomaly. Famous artists in the field have talked about how there are times when one is bursting with ideas and inspiration and all the necessary components—time, focus, etc.—are in place. On the other hand, there are other times when one or more of those elements is missing and thereby it becomes difficult to work. One inadvertently has to accept this pattern and understand that blocks are temporary and that this too shall pass. 

The way forward out of it is to face your fears. If necessary take some time off and do something that inspires you. For instance, after the death of his wife, Monet was at a hiatus for almost two years. He broke it by painting the rose-covered trellises at the entrance to his water garden at his home in northern France. The resulting artwork was the famous 22 panels of the Grandes Decorations.

Artists across the globe, have now addressed this problem and have put forward their own set of solutions for upcoming or fellow artists. Painter Lisa Golightly has said “ I give myself permission to just make for the sake of making without any thought to the outcome, which can be surprisingly hard. … What I would tell my younger self is this: There is no “right” way to make art. The only wrong is in not trying, not doing. Don’t put barriers up that aren’t there — just get to work and make something. Mixed-media artist Trey Speegle puts it perfectly saying that “You have to set up the narrow parameters that you work in, and then within those, give yourself just enough room to be free and play.”

So for all of you out there struggling with blocks at the moment just remember you are not alone. There’s no going back but just a small hiccup in your way forward.  

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