Creative Block

Have you ever experienced a creative block?
What technique or process do you go through to get back on track?
Usually, taking a walk gets me started. Sometimes, ideas come to my head in the wee hours of the morning. Other times, just thinking of family, events, or friends, can get me on the track of making something.

This week, I realized I was tired of making the same type of things. I was stuck…not motivated. Quilts, thread sketches, small art, fabric art…just didn’t set me on fire. I made one fabric collage that I embroidered instead of thread sketching, but it was not fun.

Ducks on the river in Brackenridge Park were cute, but not inspiring.
My sister sent a great photo of a praying mantis…but I did nothing with it.

I made more masks for friends, family, and myself. I tried new patterns for making these masks. Making masks may not be my favorite thing to do, but it is one way to help people. It was fun trying out new patterns. I plan to continue making masks and build up a stash to have ready for anyone who needs one.

I guess that having a creative block during this pandemic is not really a problem. But for me, it is this creative process that is keeping me healthy and helping me through this unstable and scary period.
I texted my sister, Emma, to see what she does when she hits a jag. She gave me a few starters that sounded challenging.
She suggested I try drawing something with my non-dominant hand to get the creativity going. She also suggested drawing with my eyes closed. Emma did say that she did not recommend me thread sketching with my eyes closed. 🙂

So, I drew a selfie, using my left hand. The results were a bit shaky, but it made me smile. Then I drew some birds, using my left hand. I found it to be challenging and fun. Then, I thought about trying to draw with my left hand, but this time on fabric. This was a bit more difficult, but I liked the results. I drew a Willow Tit bird. At first, I drew it with the tail up, but their tails extend straight back. So I covered up my mistake by adding a fabric tree limb and some leaves. I started embroidering with my right hand, but decided to switch to my left hand. Funny, but I had less needle pokes using my left hand than I usually have when I use my right hand. This exercise of using my left hand really helped me with my focus…which has been off lately.

After completing the bird embroidery, I called my friend at the Mesquite Bean to talk about a quilt that I want to make for my grandbaby. We talked design and fabric over the phone for a good part of the day. Then I went to pick up the fabric. It is such a fun fabric and design, and I hope to start on this quilt soon.

My son sent me a photo of some art from my granddaughter. I love seeing her art. I love to hear her talk about her process and I love watching her work. We spend time on Zoom, drawing together. We learned how to use the whiteboard on Zoom. Once again, I have been inspired by one of my grandchildren. I am also looking forward to seeing what my grandson creates this week. I think I might pull out my water colors or pastels again. I have not sketched or painted on paper for a while. It might be fun to dabble around again.

It seems like switching things around a bit helped me to reboot.
I would love to hear what you do whenever you have a lapse or hit a creative block.
Stay safe.

11 thoughts on “Creative Block

  1. I look at photos or videos. You tube has been a great resource for me. Before YouTube I looked at magazines. Now I’m too old to turn pages.

  2. Well, it is remarkable that you can both draw and stitch with your left hand. From where I am sitting, it seems that there is never a dull moment in your life, Chela. You are a real inspiration. (I would not be surprised if you tried sketching while standing on your head (joke).)
    When I hit a slump (the day they extended lockdown) I sat on the couch and stitched.

    1. Thank you for making me laugh! It seems stitching is working for me right now. I have not been using the sewing machine . I am stitching and collage-ing on muslin fabric strips…why? I don’t know. But it is relaxing.

  3. I have felt the same way recently, a reflection of the stress of the times but also, for me, my art-showing career is coming to an end (I have been winding down for a couple of years) and with that, a motivation for making art has disappeared (when you need inventory, you make it! I have always found having a purpose for my art seems to open my ideas up and I can’t keep up). But now, I want to give painting and clay work a rest. So I have been preparing for returning to some mediums I did in the past, fabric, assembling supplies and so on. Also I have been knitting some things, I did a lot of knitting in the past (a lot. did I say a lot?). I have been doing some sketching (I wish to focus on pen and ink and drawing more) and I am making plans for where I can go for scenes and new ideas, once we are allowed to travel some. I am interested in lettering, and I am exploring information for it and sort of letting ideas mill around in my head. I guess what I am saying is, I know I have to fill this creative need, but the old things will not do it, so I am forcing my brain to think about materials or vague dreams I had when I was so busy with my “career” art. Also, one year, I did a Claudia McGill Art Camp in which I pulled out all my supplies and did a project a day. Including stone carving (I had bought a kit for some reason some time). Collage. Stick people. I think I will try this again this summer. I don’t know if this helps at all, I think I am just rambling. Anyway, you always have an art group member here if you want her, trying to keep in the place that makes me feel safe, doing art.

    1. Claudia, thank you for sharing your thoughts (not rambling!). You have helped me to get my footing. Exploring new ways to express myself may be challenging, but it will also be exciting, and healthy. Thank you for your support.

      1. I always want things to go in a straight line, be logical, no wandering – it’s my personality and this situation has tested me in this. Plus my “retiring” from art shows. I try not to have goals right now, just make sure I am doing something. You are right, it is challenging, but it is healthy, and also exciting.

      2. I am sort of abstract and random, and it is difficult trying to figure out how to handle this situation in which we all find ourselves. It helps to hear from others. Thank you.

  4. I personally think that what you’re describing is more of a unique ‘Pandemic Fatigue’ induced type of creative paralyzation. I’ve been struggling with trying to **not** lose myself in ‘projects’ because I feel guilty that I am sooooo much better off (hubby and I live in a teeny 1000 sqft rental home, but it’s a safe home!!!) than the majority of the world’s population in these times. I have to remind myself that ‘staying home’ is indeed a positive contribution to the ’cause’
    As for creative block busters? I often pull out my set of pastels and scribble – lay out thick dark colors – as my talent/gift lies not in painting/drawing, I have no pressure to make anything ‘good’ but just get lost in the sweeping motions of placing color on the page…
    Also, I just recently (last night in fact) realized I hadn’t allowed myself to ‘have fun’ in my (he)art (mostly musical, but also quilterly). So I wrote out a little sticky note and stuck it on the wall behind my computer screen:
    Laura has permission to play.
    Play on, Chela!

    1. Pandemic fatigue…you are so right. This pandemic is fueling a roller coaster of emotions. When I had cancer, my oncologist told me to allow myself some pity parties…lasting no longer than 15 minutes. 🙂 She reminded me to acknowledge every type of emotion that I was feeling in order to work through the negative and get to the positive. She also said to make time for fun…I love your idea of the sticky note. I have one written and by my bed…it will remind me to play. I have pulled out my water colors and I am ready to try this again. I also find hand stitching to be relaxing.
      Thank you for taking the time to respond. And thank you for this support.

  5. Ha! I have so many UFOs that, when I don’t have an inspiration, I just get out one and get to work. As a mentor of mine says, “Action prepares”.

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