Jennifer says, “I’ve made more art in the last 6 months than the last 10 years but I struggle even now. There is a wall sometimes of resistance, of procrastination, of something…”
Can you relate?
Hi my name is Carrie. I want you to proudly call yourself Artist. Here on Artist Strong I help artists like you build your skill and develop your unique artist voice. Today I want to offer 4 reasons why that nefarious creative block is trying to show up.
Leveling up becomes normal
As a recovering perfectionist it’s easy for me to forget where I’ve been and constantly adjust the bar to reach new heights.
What does this mean?
I can ignore all the steps I’ve taken to reach this new level with my art, which ignores the fact I’ve reached new levels with my art.
When we don’t pause to reflect on this journey of learning and discovery it’s easy to feel like we are climbing up the side of an infinite mountain. Constantly climbing means we don’t stop, rest, reflect, celebrate, or mindfully set new goals.
Instead of making art and enjoying it, art can become a slog.
Some people endlessly can show up and make art for the pure pleasure of it. If that’s you, share your secrets in the comments below.
I can tell you: it’s not me.
That’s also why I think goal-setting, or working in series, is so valuable. And this is my second tip today.
Set goals; work in series
When we have a goal like, “a solo exhibition,” or, “a series of portraits about women tattoo artists,” (both are mine) it gives us a larger dream or vision to work towards. It also creates a beginning, middle and end for specific projects.
While they are on some level arbitrary, this helps me maintain motivation and a vision for my work. When I have something attainable to work towards it quiets that inner critic who tries to hold you back and encourage that pesky procrastination and resistance.
My third reason for today is likely not an answer you were looking for but its equally important to acknowledge:
It’s normal to have an inner critic that shows up and makes you hesitate to return to your art.
Just recently I’ve read 9th Street Women by Mary Gabriel (note: affiliate link), about some of the women who helped form The New York School and the Abstract Expressionist movement. In all of their stories they have periods where they don’t work. The same goes for all of the male artists of the same movement, including big names like Jackson Pollack.
The thing is: they kept working anyway. And they returned to the work as soon as they could.
Before we get to our last reason for today I’d like to thank today’s sponsors.
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A special thank you to current patrons, I couldn’t do this work without your support.
My last tip sounds trite but its proven true for me:
Trust the journey.
There are so many times in my creative life that I wonder: what am I doing this for? It’s not good enough. I’m derivative…and yet, when I’ve followed those breadcrumbs Grace Chon talks about in our How to Be an Artist interview (linked below), I’ve found my gold.
I never would have stumbled upon images in the US National Archives of the women I’ve chosen to paint and celebrate had I stopped working, had I heeded that inner critic whispering words of discouragement.
Now it’s your turn: what’s worked for you to combat that wall, that resistance we can all face? What words of comfort and advice do you have for Jennifer?
Please like this video and subscriber if you enjoyed today’s conversation then please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks for watching and remember:
Proudly call yourself Artist.
Together, we are Artist Strong.