Finding inspiration everywhere you go
Understand the triggers that affect your painting
Every state of paralysis (in any area of life, not just painting) has a trigger. When it comes to painting this trigger could be anything as simple as a negative fleeting comment by somebody about your paintings, a desire to change your style or subject matter but the results don’t work the way you want them to, even something like plummeting sales, a change in material… or how about a worldwide lockdown during a notoriously confusing viral pandemic and everything that follows from there ?! Yep, they are all capable of slamming the breaks on your creative flow.
All these external factors (and hundreds more) play VERY much on the sensitive artist’s psyche, and artists just can not paint well when they are distracted. I have been through many of these moments, as we all have, for all sorts of weird and wonderful reasons, but the one thing I learnt very quickly is that focusing on the trigger does nothing to solve the problem, in fact, most of the time it makes state of paralysis last longer ! Here are some common methods artists use to stimulate themselves back into painting.
Method 1 : Go back to your comfort zone
This is one of my preferred methods, as it gets me straight back into painting again, very time !
When in doubt (for whatever reason) take a step back from your goals and go back to your comfort zone. Painting is a series of habits that we have created over time. Often, we try to move away from these habits in order to progress our paintings. However, if you feel stuck or frustrated, or are coming back to painting after a break, it is faster in my opinion, to go back to your old habits and subjects that you feel comfortable with, the time it takes to get yourself back into the flow of painting. This helps to create a sense of confidence, as it allows your automatic habitual technique to take control of the painting. This method gives the eye, the hand and the mind time to get back into action, and as you are returning to a technique you have already used before, these habits will fly back into place swiftly, easily and even with pleasure.
By choosing a subject that you know very well, you will feel more confident and relaxed, as there is less to think about. You may have noticed that I do this regularly with my own painting, as I often re-visit my favourite subject to get my mind or technique progressing.
That subject is VENICE !! I LOVE painting this sort of subject, as it is all feel and no thought for me. This is my go-to subject to get me back into action after a break in painting or to progress my painting technique, as I use it to develop different aspects of my work (composition, design, tonal value, colour… ).
Having a subject that I can use to eliminate any problems I feel I am having, is by far the most impactful method I have used over the years.
Going back to a subject that you know well, offers a level of familiarity that channels the automatic/habitual side of your painting, after 2 or 3 attempts you should be getting back into the mood. If however, you feel that this is still not enough for you, try using the same paper, the same colours and the same technique as you usually do, this will also help.
The use of familiar subjects and material to get you back into action is probably most artists number 1 choice, simply because it works!
Have a try !
Tomorrow I will post the next method for you to try
In the meantime happy painting !!