La Maison Rouge 12.25×16.25 watercolor (available here) inspired from photos snapped while strolling L’Isle Sur La Sorgue in Provence, France

Painting Watercolors to Break Creative Block

When is it hard to paint? Not because of squeezed schedules, demanding jobs or illness; I’m talking about when you have time set aside to be creative, and you don’t jump in because of distraction, creative block, self doubt/fear, or not knowing where to start. Yeah, THAT list of obstacles.

We’ve all been there.  I’ve missed my watercolors for years more times than I can count.

Watch Children Make Art

The interesting thing – to me – is that creative block is purely an adult issue.

Give a child you know some paper and crayons, and watch the magic.

This implies that being artistically stuck is wholly and deeply self-inflicted.

Creative Block is far away from play, absent of unbridled expression, restricted from letting your creative mind lead, and sadly void of producing more of what the world needs right now (your gifts).

I vote for karate chopping that bolted door in half, leaping over the wreckage, and sprinting back to Making again.  Are you in?

On the studio table, in process

Reach for a Solution

Be inspired by this wonderful story about emerging from the dark cave of self doubt, and taking control of art by letting go of controlling art.  Purposefully kick the need to bend art to your wishes straight to the curb. Read this excellent post by Samantha Chagollan.

I loved using this Winsor & Newton Wash brush on hot press paper for this watercolor

Creative Block in History

If creative block or even creative toe-stubbing is plaguing you, take comfort in the fact that you’re in good company. This crippling shroud covers most artists at some point, including folks who work in other creative fields, like this sewist, Jenny Rushmore.

Creative block also happens to amazingly talented and prolific artists – like Carol Marine. I recommend her free essay featuring 8 artists’ strategies to overcome creative block on this page titled ‘Collective Insight on Blocks’.

 Direct your Muse

Remember this when you’re deep in Creative Block: all those centuries of other creators before you found ways to get un-stuck, so do your research. Find out how the artists before you got back on the creative path.

And don’t limit your harvest exclusively to visual artists; read about writers, choreographers, poets and musicians.

While neuroscience hasn’t yet been able to develop a foolproof scientific system to spark creativity, an artistic practice, if developed, can grease the wheels for more frequent and higher quality creative moments. As Eno puts it: “The point about working is not to produce great stuff all the time, but to remain ready for when you can.”  ~Eric Tamm interviewing Brian Eno

You’re in Charge, Marge!

If you’re stuck, I hope you reach out, with vigor, to pull back every minute you’ve lost by not making things.

Our trips around the sun are not guaranteed, and they sure don’t last forever.

If there’s an artist in you – sleeping – wake her/him up, shake off the dust, grab your art supplies and get back to making.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post.


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Scout, sunbathing and contemplating the chaos of the studio table

Art Quote

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.

~Annie Dillard

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4 thoughts on “Painting Watercolors to Get Through a Creative Block”

  1. Thank you for this post Belinda! It’s good to remember that creative blocks ( or plateaus) are part of the process and happen to most artists. A wonderful watercolor instructor/mentor Phyl Doyon once told me that creative plateaus meant you were growing as an artist so be patient and go with it. Wise words that have stayed with me along my journey. When I get stuck I tend to switch gears- from watercolor to printmaking or vis a versa. As always, I love your beautiful paintings and inspiring musings!

    1. Hi Monica, Thanks for your nice note. I like the phrase plateau… it implies “rest stop” on the climb uphill, and that seems totally reasonable! And like you, I enjoy toggling back and forth between watercolor and printmaking. I’m grateful to have both options, and I love how each media informs the other. Happy making to you, and thanks for the visit & encouragement. 🙂

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