I am at a loss. I feel stagnant and I have no idea what to do about it? You know that feeling? You have the urge and some desire to make progress. But you honestly don't know where to begin. Then my stagnation becomes a source of depression that leads me further down the road of complete lethargy. That's how the creative rut is for me, anyway.
Since starting this 10,000 hours of art project I have had many ups and downs. There were times when months would pass with no commitment to hours on art. I would always be a bit frustrated but at the time my babe was tiny and I knew I would never get that time back with her. So I took it in stride. But now with my daughter entering daycare and as I return to University to finish my art degree, I know it's time to get serious about my art practice.
Do you ever just think, what's the point? I should give up on this silly dream? I mean, it's time for me to grow up. I need to get a real career so I can show everyone how grown up I am. This has been the kind of rut I have been in. The defeatist rut. I don't know why it happens. That's a can of worms I don't need to examine.
When I'm in this type of rut. I don't know what to do, so I find other things to distract me. Usually I'll start with cycling through other career options. It goes something like this: Maybe I should start a cleaning business again? Nah, remember how cleaning up after others totally sucks? I could always do graphic design. And sit at the computer all day? No, I need freedom! Well, what if you just did bartending for a while until you figure it out. And stay up till 3AM? No, thank you! I am usually in my pajamas by 3PM.
I think every person with a goal has come to these cross roads. And I know I will again. That's why it's so important to find some tools to keep us going. To build the momentum again. To light a fire under our ass.
1. FIND YOUR FANS
It can be difficult in this day and age where we place value on number of followers, likes and hearts. And this can be frustrating when you're still building your fan base on social media. But what I came to realized was that I do have people that genuinely love and support my art practice. And those are the people you have to hang out with the most during these more difficult times. They are the ones that will keep asking you, "hey, how is that painting going?" "Are you working on your hours?" You can even make a deal with one of your fans to have some accountability. Maybe you check in once a week on your goals and see how they are coming. And it's a great way to get regular feedback.
I think sometimes this means taking a break from social media. Get out there and find your people. Take a class or join a meet up. And avoid anyone who is discouraging or unsupportive. Even if it's your own family members.
You should always read anyway. But when you find yourself in a creative rut, READ!!! And don't read about art. Read about something else like astronomy, history, philosophy or politics. This will get you out of your art box and stimulate your mind in ways it hasn't been for a while. You might start to see or think about something in ways you never had before. And this could spark a new art project you would have never thought about otherwise.
I wanted to title this travel. But not everyone has the luxury to drop money on some plane tickets. But if you do, do that! Otherwise, when was the last time you explored areas outside of your neighborhood or town. Have you checked out any of the state parks or other interesting destinations? Now is the time. Moving our physical perspective can change our mental perspective. Just like with reading, it's getting out of your art box, i.e. your studio or house. You might find or learn something new. But for me, traveling or exploring always seems to spark a new emotion for me. A feeling of hope.
4. GET CRAFTY
So one thing about being an artist is that when our hands aren't working, we kind of freak out. We need to stay busy. We, why not do something else that is creative? Is there some other sort of art or craft you used to do when you were a kid? I used to love sewing or making necklaces. You might find a way to incorporate it into your fine art work. You might find it simply eases the anxiety of the creative rut.
And what if you decide that you can't get out of the rut and it's all over. Well, it's not. You have some supplies so why don't you go back to the basics. Use your instincts and play with your materials. You don't need to have an objective and completion every time you go to the studio. You're not an engineer that's trying to solve for something. What if you just see what the materials do when you tweak them. I like to do a mixed media activity where I play around with paints, graffiti pens and charcoal and I let ice melt all over it just to see what will happen. In other words, pretend as if you were five years old again and just see what the materials can do.
I hope this gave you some helpful thoughts on getting out of your creative rut. I hope to be out of mine soon. I personally haven't logged much for hours this last few weeks. But summer can be so busy with distractions. Now with school starting I am definitely planning to use these tools to produce some work, as it will be required of me. Yikes! Responsibility?!