I’ve been a full-time artist for nearly 20 years now and I’ve worked hard to build a client list of people who are interested in my work. I work in my studio about 30 hours a week and I show and sell my work on a regular basis on the national level. My biggest problem is that at this point in my career I feel a bit stuck. I feel like I’ve lost that spirit of discovery and adventure I had as a young art student. Any ideas about how I can get it back?
– Painter, Chicago, IL
Sometimes in my own studio practice, I find that I get to the end of one avenue of thought and there’s just nothing left there to go on. I’m done. Or I may find that an idea that I started out working on with absolute excitement, now just seems plain boring. When this happens, I have two solutions that always work for me:
Take a sharp left.
Stop everything and go in a completely different direction. In some cases, it may be as easy as switching mediums. Working with new materials, or restricting the materials you allow yourself to use is a great way to set up problems or obstacles that will force your brain to find a way to “work around.” Most of the time the work I produce when I’m creating in this mode never becomes finished artwork. But that’s never the point. The point is to get a fresh perspective. I like to think of it as Creative Research and Development.
Stop and refuel.
It takes a lot of mental and physical energy to create great work. When I’m having a series of days where I find I’m super low on both energy and motivation, I wise up and realize that instead of forcing myself to move ahead at half mast, I really need to rest and refuel. I’m a big believer in the idea of artists and Creatives taking serious and planned “down time” in order to sustain themselves long-term. Too often we out-put all this creative energy and then we forget to refuel. We get so excited and busy working on projects and activities that when our creative “low fuel” warning light comes on, we don’t pay attention. Just because your creative inkwell has temporarily run dry doesn’t mean there aren’t any exciting new ideas left in there. Perhaps they just need more time to germinate.
In July 2009, Stefan Sagmeister gave a great TED talk about The Power of Time Off.
Send your questions to Kesha:
Subject Line: Fresh Rx