Updated: Mar 5
What is Creative Block?
I’m an artist, and this is how I express myself, but like all artists, sometimes, when I’m feeling the pressure to create, I can get stuck. You’ve probably heard about writer's block.
Artists often find themselves in a similar position when they overthink a project as well. The process is basically the same, we both run into difficulty expressing our thoughts and putting them to paper when we are disorganized. The same can happen when there are too many thoughts competing for our attention. Staring at a blank canvas with a looming deadline can make the whole process even more intimidating, but many years ago, I found a simple solution.
My Solution to Creative Block
All those thoughts can cause a head full of clutter, so when that happens, I grab my iPad and just draw whatever is in the front of my mind. I’m not worried about any relationship to my assignment or whether it will provide some kind of solution or profound revelation. All I want to do is to follow whatever train of thought is calling for my attention and get it out.
Think of this process as a kind of stretching exercise. It allows the creative process to begin without having to worry about performance and, in a very simple way, clears the mind and keeps me from overthinking.
Sometimes what comes out is, in fact, profound other times, it's just nonsense, but either way, it’s not important to make sense of it at the moment. What is important is that it is a method to unblock and move forward. Pulling out some of the clutter helps relieve the pressure of trying to keep it all in your head. Removing the pressure to create allows ideas to flow freely and thought processes to open up.
Bob, What Do You Do With All Those Ideas?
Every once and a while, an idea or a sketch will pop up that deserves further exploration. when that happens, I add them to my Blue Sky folder for future development. These ideas are now recorded until a moment when I have more time to dedicate to them (for those of you who are new here or this is your first time reading a post, the Blue Sky Folder is simply a folder that lives on my hard drive where I dump ideas for future exploration when time is less of an issue).
The Big Giant Hand
This piece was a conglomeration of several ideas I had placed in the Blue Sky Folder for deeper exploration. It was initially a single piece, just a hand gesture in cartoon form, that at first glance seemed complete, but it nagged at me for something more. It was finished, but yet it wasn’t. Ugh, had I unintentionally developed creative block working on a project meant to free me from creative block? The irony was not lost.
I popped it back onto my screen and used my mind-clearing process to have a fresher look. I sat with it and waited for it to let me know what I was missing. What did it need, and why did it feel incomplete? It felt a little silly that a project that was meant as an exercise had now become a roadblock, but I honored the system, pulled up an empty layer, and started to doodle. As soon as I drew my first circle, my mind relaxed. I continued to draw and entered the creative zone, merging layers and exploring new directions. Eventually, I lost track of time, and when I finally finished, I looked up and realized several hours had passed. There in front of me sat a completed color sketch very similar to the one you see here. Mission accomplished, creative block resolved!
What it Represents
I love this piece for what it represents, not just the symbolism but the message it represents to me on a personal level as well. Trust in the process. Allow your inner voice the opportunity it needs to speak to you. Don’t fight with your mind, art is not meant to be a battle. It is a celebration of the soul. Love what you do, and it will return the sentiment.
We seem to be in such a big hurry these days, hopping from one deadline to another, social media reducing our attention span to milliseconds. Scrolling frantically in search of something, but that something always feels elusive. Pretty soon, we're just scrolling to scroll and forgetting the whole reason we came in the first place. When our focus is consumed by trying to keep up with the demands of everyday demands, the inner voice feels ignored.
When the inner voice goes unheard for too long, we lose our way, and it can feel like we're just scrolling through life.
We are not meant to operate at a constant breakneck pace, even though it feels like the world demands it. It is important to slow down and listen, to rest, and allow our minds a chance to focus. We must also allow our inner thoughts to speak their truth because they need to be heard. When you ignore that, life becomes less creative and unfulfilling. Hopping from one busy demand to another is the quickest recipe for burnout.
The World is Full of Demands.
The world is full of demands, so we must choose wisely which we heed. We have two choices. You can force yourself to grind it out day after day, ignoring your inner voice and viewing life as one big inconvenience, or your can honor your needs, be kind to your inner mind and listen to what it is trying to tell you. Either way, you will come out with something tangible but think hard about the cost and which way you prefer to live your life.
The Big Giant Hand Art is Now Available at Red Bubble!
I've just opened a new store at Red Bubble called The Big Giant Art Studio, and the Big Giant Hand merch is in stock. If you love this art as much as I do, here's your chance to add it to your collection.