peony, copyright Teresa Mallen
I see these patterns of behaviour time and time again with my students. People start out having the best of intentions but once the workshops and courses are over it can be easy to fall back into old habits.
Here is my list of several ways artists can get in their own way and negatively impact their efforts to make art. Check it out and see if you might need to remedy how you ‘show up’ for your art.
5 Ways Artists Stifle Their Creativity
1) You feel the urge to work on your art but then your mind starts churning. You find yourself thinking about the end results - before you have even picked up a pencil or a brush or attempted a sketch. Conversations in your head start to sound like this: “What if this isn’t good enough?” “I know it will be ugly.” “I bet I am going to mess this up.” When you are worrying about whether or not your art is going to be any good, you are definitely going to find it hard to let go and be creative.
2) You worry about what people will think. What will your kids think, your mother, or the person sitting next to you in art class (you know, the person you are absolutely certain is very talented)? Instead of making art for the pleasure of the experience and/or for the opportunity to improve your skills you now get lost in a nasty head game, focusing on what the viewer’s opinion will be.
3) Checking your email (and all other social media) instead of heading to your art supplies. We all know we can get lost in the needs of others or in the entertainment on our devices, but letting the agendas of other people rule our time is a great way to kill our productivity and a great way to numb our creativity impulses.
4) Striving for perfection in a piece can stifle creativity. Author Michael Crichton said “Books are not written, they are re-written.” The truth is we have all re-worked a sketch (sometimes more than once J) and we have all gone back later and fixed something in a piece, a work we thought was doomed. Be patient and open to doing some tweaking later.
5) Waiting for your Muse to show up. This one is something I hear often from students and other artists who declare that they are stuck. It seems people are waiting for everything to ‘feel’ right, waiting for the perfect dose of inspiration. I predict you will be waiting more than creating.
Allow me to remind you, (because deep down you know this) that you do not need to wait until you have the perfect dose of inspiration. You do not need to know with 100% certainty that your idea is going to make a great painting, and you simply don’t need to be considering the opinion of others. Allow imperfections and plan on re-tweaking if necessary. Make time for art, turn off those pesky devices.
Try this - make a commitment to do some imperfect art this week – anything from a quick sketch while waiting for your kids to finish their piano lesson to grabbing the camera to take some reference photos for future projects. Whatever works for you, just go do it! Ignore the mind chatter (“Will this be any good?”), banish the self doubt and simply grab those art supplies and take action. It will feel so good, I promise.
So have you let any stifling behaviours and thoughts creep into your creative experience? Did you have any ouch moments? If you did, or if you wish to share other ways you know you stifle your creativity, leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you!
Also, if you are out making some imperfect art this week, celebrate by letting us know how it goes...