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When You're Not Feeling It

There are times in our lives when we just love the art that we do. We like the process and are happy to line up shows and sales and all that goes with being an artist.


What about when we are suffering mentally or physically or are just overwhelmed with things that need to be done in our lives? How are we supposed to carry on creating and promoting? It’s not easy.


I’d like to address this issue because I recently had a close loved one pass away and am feeling overwhelmed with grief, tasks to be done, things I need to take care of in my own house as well as with the estate. On top of that, I am transitioning out of my part time job. Not quite retired but still in the process of training my replacement. I have several art events coming up very quickly, that I need to prepare for. Commitments to various clubs and groups weigh on my mind.


How am I finding the time to even write this blog? I have no idea where the strength comes from. Perhaps from my dad who kept going even after my mom passed away 17 years ago. He was here for his children to the very end.


I don’t want to sound self important, but I think this blog is important to write because so many artists that I know are going through things in their lives that leave them feeling overwhelmed, or lost, or uncreative:

  • Loss of a loved one.

  • Moving to a different house, province or country.

  • Feeling depressed because your art is not selling.

  • Drama in the home, or at work, or with your friends.

  • Unexpected events that have disrupted your life

Many things can lead to a feeling of unproductivity. Sometimes it seems to hit us out of nowhere. Bam! Artistry, gone. Imagination, lost. Motivation, vanished.


So why are we artists?


I don’t know the answer to this, honestly. Personally, I’ve felt a creative drive in me for as long as I can remember. Not necessarily for painting or drawing, but even just doing crafts with my kids, hand made cards, painting a scene on the side of my greenhouse, or painting a daisy on a clay pot! Needlepoint, cross-stitch, quilt making, or Christmas decorations.


I would imagine it is the same for most artistic people. Desire plus talent and a lot of imagination to go with it. Talent can be learned, perfected technique comes with practice, but the feeling inside you is just there!


Why is the feeling gone?


Where's the drive, the motivation, the desire? You may never paint again. The thought of picking up a brush is just too overwhelming. Other thoughts fill your head. Maybe you should stop this "being an artist" stuff. It's a lot of work and obviously is not that important to you if you're not "feeling it" all the time, day in, day out.


Sometimes I think we also feel bad when we want to keep on with our art, regardless of who we have recently lost or what chaos is going on in our lives. Guilt can be a real downer.


Celebrate your talent! But how??


Tools in your toolbelt


In no particular order:

  • Fellow artists - Getting together with other artists can be so inspiring! I find that when I see others creating, I do get the urge to go and pick up a paintbrush. So, join in a group studio session. You don't even have to create, just sit and watch, and interact with the others. Ask what they do when there is no inspiration. Others tend to deal with an artistic block in very different ways. Learn about them.

  • Coffee with a friend/artists - Just talk about how you are feeling. Sometimes a good discussion can help. Maybe a good cry session, too. Remember you are not alone. You have a friend, fellow artist, sister, brother, children, parents, coworker, someone who cares about you and your struggles. Let them be a sounding board.

  • Volunteer - It may sound counter-intuitive to add one more thing to your plate. However, volunteering can be so rewarding! Whether it is related to art or not, you can gain a feeling of worth from helping others. Offer to help with an art event. You get to be around artists and you will have the opportunity to perhaps discuss how your are struggling with your own art.

  • Write about it - Start a journal. Try your hand at poetry. You don't have to commit to a lifetime of journal writing! Take a journaling class that incorporates art into it. It will give you a chance to create in a different way. I've recently started writing poetry. I thought it would help with my creativity block. It has made me appreciate all the great poets because it is not easy. In a way, my poetry is very similar to my art. All over the place! It's sometimes rushed and sometimes not very good, but once in a while I'm quite happy with it. I'm going to be very brave and share a few snippets of what I've written.

--about grief--

"A blanket soaked with grief has settled on me,

It drags behind me, touching all I do,

If my steps are not purposeful

I will surely stumble into a crevasse and lay there

Unable to move"


---About Death--

"The quiet hum of voices fill the room

I drift into the silence of my mind

A figure, dark and quiet comes to me

The flash of silver and a flowing cape

A sharp blade ready, life line is so thin

One swipe and all my cares will disappear

A whisper jolts me from my slumbered rest

A warm caress, a tear slides down my cheek

Soft hands will tug, cold hands will tug

This battle rages on, I've lost control"


  • Attend an event - Just attending an art event can be inspiring. Talk to the artists that you don't know already. They will be happy to share their own stories of artistic blockage, I'm sure! Get inspiration from how they go about their daily art process.

  • Get a blank canvas out - Just do it. Sometimes there is no other way than to just get the old art supplies out and slap on some paint, or mixed media, or whatever you want. Don't think about it, don't plan it, don't fret or worry that it will be bad. Use it as an outlet for all your frustration, grief, anger, or whatever else you are feeling. Maybe you need to do this over and over again. It's like a grief process. Flush all those feelings out on the canvas. When you are ready, you will decide to get serious and get creating.

Find your rainbow


I hope you can find your rainbow. I hope that some of the things I've written here are helpful, or maybe just interesting. I don't have all the answers but YOU DO. Ultimately YOU know what must be done to get you back on track. The tools I've listed are just a starting point. KNOW that your creativity is still there. It may be raining now. But rainbows always follow.


Good luck!


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