Sometimes along the artist path, we reach a place where we don’t actually love what we’re making.

Maybe it’s because we’re in a transitional phase, moving from one way of making art into something new.

Or perhaps there’s a lot going on in our personal lives that is affecting either our ability to get into a painting mindset, the amount of time we have to devote to it, or both.

Or we’ve reached the edge of our current skillset and don’t know how to take our work to the next level.

Right now all of those apply to me! Yay!

And I know whatever I’m experiencing in the studio, I’m definitely not the only one. So this post is for those of us who are a bit stuck, struggling, not enjoying painting, or not liking what’s coming out at the moment.

The first thing I always try to remember is that

all experience is valid.

If you can really integrate the truth of that, it takes a huge amount of pressure off and makes it much easier to give yourself the leeway and permission you probably need right now.

It’s totally ok to not be making much art. It’s totally ok to not love what you’re making. It’s all totally ok, and has absolutely zero bearing on your abilities or worth as an artist {or as a human being!}.

So beating ourselves up is not, shockingly, the next step.

Remember, making your art is a growth process. That is its nature. If you don’t tend to it, it – and you – can’t grow. But remember also that part of that growth process is sometimes about pausing, recalibrating, resting. All experience is valid, in every phase of the cycle, exactly like the seasons. Not just valid, but an essential contribution to the whole.

And {of course} don’t expect to love every phase, every experience, every painting! That way madness lies. Sometimes it’s about learning something, even if it’s simply that you don’t want to paint that way, or that you actually need to prioritise something else right now.

What can we do?

I’ve been rooting around in my archives as I navigate my current, er, artistic situation, and goodness me I have a lot to say about art! ;) The upside of that of course is that there’s quite a lot in there, and some of it’s even quite helpful!

So I’ve pulled out a few posts to make getting out of our current predicament easier, and without the need to go trawling through almost a decade’s worth of posts. See what resonates, and dive in!

Just don’t forget to take some action after reading, whether that’s putting some art time in the calendar, going for a walk, doing a fifteen minute sketch session, or anything that will support you most right now. {And it may not be art related. All experience is valid.}

Wherever you’re at with your painting right now, if it’s not feeling awesome and you don’t love what you’re creating, you’re not alone, and there are many things you can do to swim through it and into less troubled waters. It’s unlikely you’ll need ALL of the following, so just pick the one that jumps out and start there.

Perhaps starting your paintings a different way would help bring greater insight to what’s possible.

This post offers insights from several different artists about how they start their paintings, showing that there are as many ways as there are artists. If you’re in a bit of a rut and not loving your work because it all seems to start and end the same way, or follow along lines you’re not loving, picking one of these could be a great way to shift the energy.

Tip: Thinking of it as a simple energy shift rather than an obstacle to overcome makes it much easier.

Maybe it’s a case of jumpstarting your mojo.

This post is a lot of fun – I got stuck a while back and did a couple of experiments – one based on Helen Frankenthaler’s work, and one with Yupo paper – to get the juices flowing again.

Tip: Experimenting is an excellent way to fall back in love with your art and process.

Or you need some new techniques to try.

This post offers 20 art techniques, again from other artists, covering all sorts of mediums. I defy you not to find something in here to spark you!

Tip: Trying something new will always shift the energy.

Maybe you’re struggling to make your art more abstract

If you need some help disentangling from the limitations of representational art, this post, which has been one of my most popular ever, offers 16 possibilities for ‘abstractifying’ your art that you can start playing with right now.

Tip: It can take time to shift from one very ingrained old habit to a new one – give yourself a chance and use that experimental mindset.

It might simply be that you need to keep going

We often want a quick fix, but the unsexy truth is that making painting after painting is one of the most – if not the most – important thing you can do for your art. All the techniques and knowledge in the world mean nothing if you’re not applying them repeatedly and over time.

And after all, it’s never about making the perfect painting; such a thing doesn’t exist. That’s why we paint – because the carrot is always juuuuuust out of reach, and the challenge of trying to reach it is so compelling. If you ever get the carrot, it either rots away, turns out to be a bit tasteless, or is soon replaced by a new carrot.

That’s probably enough about carrots.

Tip: It becomes easier to keep going when you acknowledge – to yourself and then to the wider world – that your art needs a place of its own in your life.

Perhaps you could use some reminders about how to make a painting that works

It’s not always a case of making a dramatic change. Sometimes one small tweak can make all the difference. This post offers 13 reminders of what contributes to a successful painting.

Tip: If nothing new is happening for you right now, try applying some of these to unfinished or older pieces, and see what happens.

Maybe you need to go back to basics

If you’re feeling a bit daunted by everything there is to know about how to make successful paintings, maybe you could use some basics in how to make a painting you love without knowing all the technical bits.

Tip: It’s also valid to stay in your comfort zone from time to time.

Or you could use some reassurance that you’re not alone

This epic post shares 41 lessons learned by artists who participated in the first 21 Days in My Art World challenge. There is an absolute wealth of day to day learnings, struggles, and aha moments here – proof that we’re all learning and struggling and triumphing {?!} together.

Tip: Literally whatever your issue is, someone else is having it. It’s hard to believe when you just think it to yourself, but try to remember it’s always true. Or get on social media and ask! I did this here and was inundated with ‘me too’s. :)

Perhaps you need to take 11 minutes to enjoy an uplifting, supportive time out

In which case you could try this Artist Encouragement Audio. I just listened to it for the first time in a while, and although it’s totally weird listening to my own voice, it is pretty soothing.

Tip: Self soothing and time outs are essential parts of the process. Art can be one of your self care devices for sure, but if it’s currently causing stress/distress, the first thing to do is take care of you.

Behind all of it though, the most important thing is how you are with yourself about it all.

There are ways to be a happy artist that don’t require you to be Picasso. Just a gloriously unique, busy, tired, excited, curious human, creating your path by walking.

 

Whatever you do, be kind to yourself about whatever is happening, even when that feels like the hardest thing to do. Be kind, and keep going.

 

Have you heard? A new course is coming! It’s called Loosen Up and addresses one of the most common issues I see amongst artists {from beginner to more experienced} – getting stuck in tight, representational art making, when what they want is to be wild and free and much more abstract. Click here to find out more and join the waiting list!

 

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