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Do you all have tips for how to deal with artist burnout or a  creative 'lull'??

 

I've been steadily making art (like a machine it seems at times) for 7 years and most recently I felt a bit dried up and stale, so I took a break.

 

I decided NOT to try to create anything because whenever I did make an attempt my work looked uninspired. Actually it was a bit scary. It was very odd to see how bad my art was turning out, even on pieces I obviously knew how to make like clockwork!

 

Can anyone relate? If so, how do you deal with your uninspired times?

 

By the way, I have an art gallery/studio in a tourist town.  Ive been fortunate enough to make a living here (for almost 5 years) after many years on the art show circuit.

 

Lately however the customers have been few and far between and because it has been so slow business wise I wasnt as inspired to create my work as fast and furious as I had in the past. That could explain part of my lackluster creativity? Not sure..Also because I have such a large inventory i suppose I didnt feel the necessity to create as much work.

 

Id love to hear how you all deal with times like these and also if there are any online sites that deal with creativity issues, burnout etc.

 

Thanks.

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Bill said:
Hi Holly,

Am just starting to go through with some of what you talked about. ( have 2 parents in their late 80's that still live in 2.5 story house that needs work). Regarding burnout: I think everyone has to find a way to deal with it in their own way. Mine is to take off the winter months after doing shows just about every weekend from May to October. I make sure I reintroduce myself to the wife and family during the holidays and just enjoy the holidays and family while there still there. Makes it very difficult to make all your $$$ duing the summer ( and very difficult these past few years) but it's the way I have chosen. Once February comes I start to get the itch to create again, using all those great ideas I came up with sitting behind the wheel for 6-10 hrs travelind to and from shows, and all the free time I have in the hotels. Learned to keep either paper and pencil handy or now- electronic recording device _ itouch. If I sit and try to think up new images, nothing happens, for me the ideas come spontanioulsy (oops spelt that wrong). Course now I'm running around like a maniac ( nothing new there) creating new images, show applications etc. I feel the most important thing is to find time to just, walk away from the business for awhile, be it, 1 week, 2 weeks, whatever, to clear your brain and recharge.
Thanx for the replies you guys.

oh..I also FORGOT to mention that I am also PRE-MENOPAUSAL! haa and also am weaning off of some anti anxiety meds and trying different meds.

My moods have been severe. down, up, down, GRRR!! To me it just means that I need to step AWAY from my a rt for awhile.

I did hire a woman to watch my gallery once a week now so i can just veg out on the couch. I do believe most artists go through that ebb and flow. Its just not normal to be highly creative ALL the time, is it? hehe

Thanx for listening all!
IRONICALLY I just saw THIS in my email this morning. Thought Id share it. It sure sounds appropriate for this thread.

Fighting 'Painter's block'

May 14, 2010


Dear Michelle,

When three people in one day ask the same question, it's time to pay attention, don't you think? "What can I do about painter's block?" they asked.

First, you have to try to figure out which species of block is getting to you. As well as many subspecies, the main ones are fear of failure after previous success, fear of success due to a sense of unworthiness, lack of potential venue, jaded attitude, crisis of confidence, evidence of persistent poor quality, lackadaisical motivation and common everyday shortage of ideas.

When you identify your main area of block, you need to dig around and try and find the potential origin. The unworthiness one, for example, can often be traced to poor self-esteem or overhanging guilt. By selectively reading art history, you can find lots of others who were, at some time, out on the same branch. It's amazing how you can take courage from the Brotherhood and Sisterhood. Gaining insight from admired sources, you can take better aim at a bad bird.

This is where the magic of persistence kicks in. Persistence is a branch of character, and once you make up your mind you are a person of character, the hunt becomes easier. People of character do something about what ails them. Great artists persist in overcoming everything from poor drawing, poor colour, poor composition, poor work habits and painter's block. We all have our shortcomings. Getting over them fluffs up the fine feathers of professionalism.

Now we come to the greatest anti-blocker of all. It's all about finding the illusive love-birds of passion and excitement. This is not done by reading, thinking, exercising, talking to somebody or staring at a blank canvas. Excitement occurs automatically when you start billing and cooing. Passion comes from doing.

If I could patent only this one idea I could pay off the Greek debt: Squeeze out before properly awakening, before first coffee, before the roosters, before you have any idea what the dickens you are going to do. Believe me, you'll find the bluebird of happiness.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "The birds they sing at break of day, 'Start again...' I hear them say." (Leoanrd Cohen)

Esoterica: "There is no such thing as a long piece of work, except one that you dare not start," said Charles Baudelaire. At the same time, some artists get blocked when they find themselves making one mess after another. Trying to do too much can generate sloppy work and provoke a crisis of confidence. Taking a break--an hour or a week--can reboot creativity and give a fresh start. Self-understanding will determine how long a break you need. Beware--take too long and you may never fly again. Character prevails: Slow down, get centered. We all need to take our time to inhale this beautiful world.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Current clickback: "A veil of tears" looks at emotional outbursts and crying at the sight of art, both the work of other artists and in the presence of your own. What's happening? Your further observations are welcome.

Read this letter online and add your own means of fighting blocks. Live comments are welcome. You can also send your illustratable remarks directly to Robert at rgenn@saraphina.com.

/b>
Hi Michelle, I also ran 10 years straight on the go painting until 2008 when economy started to slow down. Seems like creativity did too for a while now. I painted very few images last year and this year well, maybe 3 so far but nothing significant. I needed a break to do no art the last few months. Now I am itching again with new ideas and shifting gears. This year Im hanging low with doing few art shows and gearing up to paint more. I think we need to let go once in a while to rejuvenate. I think its perfectly normal to stop after going on and on. The brain, like the computor, needs to reboot. lol

MIchelle Monet said:
Thanx for the replies you guys.

oh..I also FORGOT to mention that I am also PRE-MENOPAUSAL! haa and also am weaning off of some anti anxiety meds and trying different meds.

My moods have been severe. down, up, down, GRRR!! To me it just means that I need to step AWAY from my a rt for awhile.

I did hire a woman to watch my gallery once a week now so i can just veg out on the couch. I do believe most artists go through that ebb and flow. Its just not normal to be highly creative ALL the time, is it? hehe

Thanx for listening all!
I simply take a break. I am on a break this week, as a matter of fact. There is just nothing left in my head. LOL so I am taking this week off and instead working on my plants, cleaning, etc...I have swaps due to be mailed next week which I haven't even started on, but I need a break. Once the weekend hits, I'll start perusing the net and stuff for inspiration. But this is an art/craft free week for me (which is very hard, even when my brain is fried, I still wanna make something).
I wrote on this topic because you are not alone! It seems like the more I talk to artists the more they will admit they suffer from this. You can find my ideas on the topic via this link... http://quickcraftartisttips.blogspot.com/2010/02/40-questions-serie...

From what you have written it just sounds like you are in a rut and have a case of the blahs, but there is something you have that not everyone does - an actual gallery/studio - IN A TOURIST TOWN!!! That is your meal ticket! While going to art shows as a cusotmer or take up a new hobby might be for others you have a rare gift and your answer could be as simple as having a fun promotion. Get both the locals and the tourists into your store and get noticed. You will find that a fun promotion gives you a goal (something that seems you are lacking right now) and you get feedback from past customers and create new ones. Most often these people will give you ideas and when things sell you start finding motivation to want to fill in those vacant shelves.

Now I don't know anything about your gallery/studio, but if you can organize a garden party theme, beach party theme, or a wine and cheese tasting featuring locally made wines you will find that letting your hair down and just be one of the guys is an actual way to get your creative juices flowing. I do have my own craft business, however I do work part time in a boutique and every so often they do an open house (complete with food - usually surrounding a theme), a sidewalk sale with items 50% off (and its nice stuff), and then there is Spring cleaning and doing announcements to folks on our mailing list about this as we are making room for new stock and having a sneak preview. Once the owners did an Elvis themed open house where they played Elvis music all day long, everyone dressed up, served Elvis' favorite food and had a few Elvis memorabilia for sale too. Now, not every shop can do that - a gallery and Elvis might not be the best combo, but I am sure there is something - a common theme with your work that you can bring out in a promo. People need to know you are alive in the community, that when people come to town your gallery and work is there and would make great souvenirs, and your work is new and unique giving them reasons to come back.

How does that sound? I hope you get out of the rut, we all find our way of doing so. Don't loose hope and really, I mean REALLY think out side of the box!

Michelle Sholund
www.bythebaybotanicals.com
www.quickcraftartisttips.blogspot.com
I'm on Facebook!!!
I think all creative people have lulls in the creative impulse at one time or another. When I was young, I worried that somehow I had lost my muse. Now, when I hit a dry spell, I figure it's a good time to do something else and give my batteries time to recharge. Divorce in 1988, the death of my mother in 1990, my closest brother in 1991 at age 40, and my father in 1993, along with a botched surgery, a child with serious mental health issues and an impossible financial situation, all contributed to a long period where it took all my creative energy just to get my work done at my day job as a graphic designer and art director. Somehow without actually being conscious of it, I began doing art again, and although I've since lost my clear vision to LASIK surgery (2001) and have had three thumb joint replacement surgeries (2006-7-8), I haven't skipped a beat. I consider myself fortunate that the fountain is still flowing.

Michelle Sholund said:
I wrote on this topic because you are not alone! It seems like the more I talk to artists the more they will admit they suffer from this. You can find my ideas on the topic via this link... http://quickcraftartisttips.blogspot.com/2010/02/40-questions-serie...

From what you have written it just sounds like you are in a rut and have a case of the blahs, but there is something you have that not everyone does - an actual gallery/studio - IN A TOURIST TOWN!!! That is your meal ticket! While going to art shows as a cusotmer or take up a new hobby might be for others you have a rare gift and your answer could be as simple as having a fun promotion. Get both the locals and the tourists into your store and get noticed. You will find that a fun promotion gives you a goal (something that seems you are lacking right now) and you get feedback from past customers and create new ones. Most often these people will give you ideas and when things sell you start finding motivation to want to fill in those vacant shelves.

Now I don't know anything about your gallery/studio, but if you can organize a garden party theme, beach party theme, or a wine and cheese tasting featuring locally made wines you will find that letting your hair down and just be one of the guys is an actual way to get your creative juices flowing. I do have my own craft business, however I do work part time in a boutique and every so often they do an open house (complete with food - usually surrounding a theme), a sidewalk sale with items 50% off (and its nice stuff), and then there is Spring cleaning and doing announcements to folks on our mailing list about this as we are making room for new stock and having a sneak preview. Once the owners did an Elvis themed open house where they played Elvis music all day long, everyone dressed up, served Elvis' favorite food and had a few Elvis memorabilia for sale too. Now, not every shop can do that - a gallery and Elvis might not be the best combo, but I am sure there is something - a common theme with your work that you can bring out in a promo. People need to know you are alive in the community, that when people come to town your gallery and work is there and would make great souvenirs, and your work is new and unique giving them reasons to come back.

How does that sound? I hope you get out of the rut, we all find our way of doing so. Don't loose hope and really, I mean REALLY think out side of the box!

Michelle Sholund
www.bythebaybotanicals.com
www.quickcraftartisttips.blogspot.com
I'm on Facebook!!!
Just an update:

I DID get my 'muse' back and Im back in the creative saddle!

I just needed to wait it out and it came back. My sales at the gallery are on a definite upswing and my customers seem so appreciative of my work lately.

I realize that Ive always gone through these artistic lulls over the years and that its just a part of the creative cycle.

My work is new and fresh again (thankfully!) and Im not feeling stale anymore.

woohoo.:)
Good to hear!

MIchelle Monet said:
Just an update:

I DID get my 'muse' back and Im back in the creative saddle!

I just needed to wait it out and it came back. My sales at the gallery are on a definite upswing and my customers seem so appreciative of my work lately.

I realize that Ive always gone through these artistic lulls over the years and that its just a part of the creative cycle.

My work is new and fresh again (thankfully!) and Im not feeling stale anymore.

woohoo.:)

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