Finding Creative Inspiration

Outside one of the galleries during 1st Friday Art Walk in Knoxville, TN

Have you ever found that your creative inspiration is nowhere to be found? What do you do? I truly believe that all humans are creative beings, but sometimes we might not FEEL creative. I struggle with this from time to time for sure! I think there are many reasons that could cause this loss of creative energy.

Examining the underlying cause.

The first thing I try to do is spend some time examining the underlying cause. It could be that I have lost confidence, FEAR. Perhaps I received criticism form someone or maybe something I was really proud of received no attention at all…crickets! Another common reason I tend to loose creative motivation is OVERWHELM. Sometimes when I have been very busy or chaotic I simply have not had time to even contemplate creating anything! Other times BOREDOM causes me to lose interest. It might be that I am simply bored with my usual creative work. Perhaps for you, it is something else all together. I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on your root cause, because different approaches may be more useful for different causes.

Tips for finding your creative inspiration.

FEAR causes you to stop in your tracks. Blocks are instantly raised. What if we are not good enough? What if people make fun of us? What if we are not accepted? What if we waste time, money, supplies, what if… It can go on and on. So here are some tips for dealing with this type of block to find creative inspiration once again.

  1. Pause, breathe, and remind yourself that creating art is a fairly low stakes risk. Honestly what is the worst that can happen? The art is ugly? Not a problem, paint over it or cut it up for collage papers. Someone laughs at it? Remember it is not a requirement to share your work. You are wasteful? Is it really a waste if you benefit from the process of creating it?
  2. Release expectations and simply allow yourself to follow your curiosity. Give into the process of creating. You can try practicing mindfulness as you create. Release judgement. Tune into your senses and notice how it feels to create. Studies have shown that the process of creating lowers stress and increases the sense of wellbeing.
Dripped paint exploration.

Try tis prompt: Drip paint onto your paper. Use a straw to blow the paint across your paper. Notice how it flows, drips, and splatters. Once it is dry use a pen to outline interesting shapes in the paint spatters.

Overwhelm comes form doing too much, and being spread too thin. It is time to re-claim a moment for yourself! Mindfulness if a great addition to any creative practice because it encourages you to calm and center your mind. You can turn any creative session into a mindful creative session by taking the time to tune into your breath, release all judgements allowing yourself to focus on the process rather than a specific outcome, and continually redirect your attention back to the present moment. I love to simply draw lines, matching my breath as I draw. I consider this practice to be a drawing meditation.

Line art inspired by photos taken during mindful photo walks.

Try this prompt: Grab your cell phone, but put it on airplane mode so you won’t be disturbed. Go for a slow mindful walk. This does not need to be a long walk, a short 5-20 minute walk is fine. Take time to tune into your senses and notice the sights, sounds, and smells that surround you. When you see something that catches you eye, pause and examine it. Let your eyes linger on every detail. Use your phone to capture an image of it from an interesting angle. Bonus: Let your photos inspire some art or print your photos and glue them in your journal, reflect about your experience taking this mindful photo walk.

Boredom. Creative minds like to explore. I often hear the advice to “niche down” or “find your style.” This advice is great if you are trying to build a portfolio or body of work to generate sales, but if your goal is to simply have a creative outlet, then you may find yourself getting bored if you stick with the same thing. Give yourself permission to change it up! Use a different medium, try new colors, or a different technique. Play!

Left: My Daughter and I visiting a gallery for 1st Friday.
Right: I have long been inspired by artists who create tiny whimsical houses.

Try this prompt: Go visit a gallery in your community or scroll through your Instagram feed, find an artist who grabs your attention, but works in a completely different style. Notice, what is it about this artist or work of art that grabs your attention? Is it their color palette, maybe a special technique? Let them inspire you. Create something in their style. You are not copying exactly what they created, but rather borrowing ideas to try with your own work.

Nature is often an inspiration for my creative process.

If you found a reason other than FEAR, OVERWHELM, or BOREDOM that you feel is the source of your creative block, I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on it. Start by pausing and tuning into your breath for a few breath cycles. Then, try journaling about it. When did it start? Is it something you have dealt with before? If so do you notice any patterns over time? How does this issue feel in your body? What else have you noticed? As I mentioned before, different inspiration sparks are better than others depending on the root cause of your creative block. One thing I have found to help spark my creativity pretty consistently is to return to process art. Think preschool art play! Allow yourself to get messy and follow your curiosity as you explore whatever medium you have chosen.

Published by Art-Breaks presented by J. MacIsaac Studios

Art Breaks are for everyone! They are moments of creativity big or small for infants, kids, and adults. They offer a connection to mindfulness that can enrich your life. A practice in creative mindfulness is perfect for anyone looking to establish a richer connection to themselves. You do not even need to be an artist to explore creative mindfulness practices. We are all born to create.

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