I remind myself that even artistic legends like Michelangelo struggled. When he did the Sistine ceiling in fresco, a medium he wasn’t familiar with, the first few sessions were stressful and trying for the artist. However, he persevered and created one of the wonders of the art world.
Overcoming an Artistic Breakdown
It’s okay. Breathe. Stay calm. Do. Not. Panic. It happens to all of us: the artistic breakdown. What is it? That creative breaking point in our art which threatens to push us into a tailspin. When I was in school, this was my routine: I would try so hard to push it, to make something happen. Then I’d get derailed, and then came the frustration and even anger.
I would get down on myself and just mope around for a while. Not fun! But those kinds of episodes happen to me less and less now. I decided to do a few things differently, and I want to share them with you.
Set the Right Goals
I acknowledge not every studio session is going to be a brilliant, amazing success that will leave me with a cheery smile on my face. The reality is, it can be really tough in there, right? If I feel like my expectations aren’t matching what I am accomplishing with my work, I make an effort to set reachable goals so I’m not disheartened.
I’ll focus on working without stopping for an hour, for instance. No looking back on what I’ve done or reworking, just working. At the end of that time, I’ll usually have one or two ideas that I can build on, and that is really satisfying.
Remove any Obstacles
I take off the blinders and try to honestly assess what is going on. If I keep stumbling over something, I ask myself — what’s in my way? If something isn’t working, I don’t want to ignore it. There’s no shame in retracing our steps to see what has tripped us up. Art is not a one-way street. You can go back and forth dozens of times until you are happy with your progress. I know I have!
Discover the Power of Starting Over
I give myself permission to start over or work in a different way. I used to be the type of artist who had to see things through to the end, and to a point I still am. But I also see the value in letting go in order to refocus myself.
If something isn’t working, I’m not going to let one painting or drawing sour my whole creative pursuit. If I want to put oils aside to do exercises with pastel painting or loosen up with watercolor, I do it. You should too!
Find What Inspires You
And most importantly, I know how to get back into the right mindset — inspiration and artistic guidance. That means looking at art that excites me and studying the techniques of the master artists I so admire.
One great way to unwind, let loose and let inspiration strike is through inspirational quotes and tips from top artists, art demonstrations and video workshops. One such example is Artists Network TV’s streaming video, Watercolor Mindfulness, by Jean Haines.
The techniques in this video will not only help you get in the right mindset to make art, but Haines has such a loose approach to watercolor which alone makes me want to grab my brushes, paints and unleash my pigments on canvas. Enjoy the preview trailer below, and get ready to get inspired!
P.S. Have you had an artistic breakdown? What did you do to get back into the right creative mindset? Leave a comment and let me know.