Overcoming a creative block

This is one of my largest painting I ever made. It’s about 4 feet wide.  At the time I made, I felt like it was a huge step above what I had made previously.

To be honest, this painting set a block up for me.  As I mentioned, it a a big step forward. I surprised myself even!

Steps forward can have downsides too when you aren’t prepared. 

That is, when your psychology can’t yet handle it.

It’s a classic for someone to have a breakthrough novel or movie, then the sequel or followup is terrible or at least considered to be terrible. (I try to make no such judgements!! 🙂 )  Elizabeth Gilbert even gave a TED talk about just this phenomenon.

If you aren’t ready to see your success as just one step forward on your journey, your whole identity can crash down around you and you get stuck creatively.

Majorly stuck.

My painting is nice, but by no means a masterpiece, but even so, I became very stuck.  I tried to paint, I did. But it all felt hopelessly bad.  Nothing was good enough anymore.

So how did I handle it?

I had to work on my mindset. And it took a lot of time.

I went back a few steps and took the pressure off myself.  I realized I was still a beginner and that it was alright to explore and learn.

I left off with the canvases and turned to paper instead. It was cheaper and less of a thing if it went badly.  I even took one more step back and started painting in books, sort of art journal style to explore and develop.

In an art journal there is no right or wrong, no fail or succeed. It was all just for fun. 

Curiosity, play, exploration, joy. 

All those lovely things we associate with creativity.  Eventually I was ready to try some canvases again, and I returned to single sheets of paper.

I still love painting in books.  They are  like interactive art.  What is different is that I face my fear.  I face the fear that I won’t be enough and take a step forward into a new painting and let it be what it is. An expression of me. 

And I know the next painting is another chance to make a new expression that will be just a little bit better, and even if it is not, the next one surely will be.

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