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Help! Terminal Artist's Block Is Eating My Brain Answered

Does anybody have any tips or techniques for breaking out of  a spell of artist's block? I've been somewhat uninspired for a couple of months now, and it's making me crazy. I'm dying to create something, but every time I go out to the studio, I just wind up staring at the tools & materials for an hour or so, getting frustrated and leaving. I've tried just starting to work in the hopes that the materials would tell me where they wanted to go, but the results have been less than satisfying.

If it's helpful, my current areas of interest are kiln glass (with an emphasis on recycling old bottle & window glass) and copper enameling.

What have others done to get out of a creative slump? Any and all help is greatly appreciated.


Here's a poem:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
I enameled my thumb
cuz I love you

Please take me to the E.R., I really have to get this enamel off my thumb....

just do ***something***. ANY thing. Just enamel a tiny thing.

Challenge yourself. Can I do ... THIS?
Can I enamel.... my CAT?
Can I enamel... my HAT?
What's wrong with that?

Be like a child and get yourself in trouble... Enamel a love poem to someone. Steal the poem, the idea is to get your neural networks firing.

Steal the neighbors flowers too, 'cause that will make it that much sweeter to your sweetie.


8 years ago

This may sound a bit stupid, but try improving your balance on a wobble or roller board.  Seriously, this helped me a lot!

Check this link: this one

You'll see this under "Uses and User's":

"Uses of a balance board that are distant from the athletic purpose of its origin have gradually become more common: to expand neural networks that enable the left and right hemispheres of the brain to communicate with each other, thereby increasing its efficiency; to develop sensory integration and cognitive skills in children with developmental disorders; to make dancers lighter on their feet; to teach singers optimal posture for the control of air-flow; to teach musicians how to hold their instrument; to look glamorous; to shake off writer's block and other inhibitors of creativity; as an accessory to yoga and as a form of yoga, cultivating holistic health, self-awareness and calm."

It's easy to build one, heck, I built my own one!  Nothing amazing, but it does the job.

Anyway, hope this helps.

Dear Koosie, you are spot on. Your suggestions do have great merit and are gradually becoming more accepted as a means to re-ignite the brain. Love your ideas and the site you mention as it is so good for so many uses. Great work.

Browse through instructables, go to museums, watch TV, browse through books, magazines, go for a walk in a different neighborhood - drive through if it is not safe...

If you do your Art for a living or business, then you would need think a little different to make your pieces profitable.  But back to your question, if you try to expand your cultural knowledge, maybe you might get some new inspiration.  For example, if you are into pottery or ceramics, you could look at Japan, which takes a different approach than say Central American cultures, and there is a Scandanavian approach too. Look at what people with the material you like to work with do in lands far away.  Can you incorporate it into something outside of your normal bounds, jewelry to lampshades to stained glass murals.  Scale it up or down from dollhouses to garden sculpture. Meld it with technology - light it up with LEDs, steampunk it, think about what new tools would help and maybe try something new like a welder or soldering iron. Look at other regular paint techniques and see what happens when you try to vary it.  Make something fun and outrageous every once in a while.

Then again, I dunno.  Good luck.

Thanks for the ideas. I had already been looking at the work of other glass artists and the glass work of other cultures, but not at any non-glass work. Your suggestions make me wonder if maybe there's inspiration to be found in other forms of art that would translate to glass. For instance, a Japanese watercolor painting aesthetic, but rendered in opaque and transparent enamels on clear glass. This definitely bears looking into. Thanks again for the nudge!

What came first the art or the business? Perhaps you have become stuck because you are having to match your passion, how you feel and create as an artist, to a need to (sell) for your business and maybe they can't be combined without some adjustment to either your art or your business. Can you create a market for your works whether really commercial or not? Can you use business methods to select key items that always sell and work on them for a % of your time , then spend the rest of your time on your passion, without restrictions or any constraints . If you think about it very few artists throught history have been good business people. Perhaps you can also look at your personality and how you deal with anything in your life. Are you an organised step by step person or are you a jump in and muddle through type. You probably can't be creative and be "working" in the opposit manner. Would you be happy if someone else designed and you made the pieces? My experience in various training and business methods leads me to think in this way so please add them to your ideas for "change". Best of luck.

I like the way you think. If you're ever in The Hellmouth, drop by and hang out in the studio for a while. I have beer.

Try out the ganzfeld experiment. This may sound weird, or maybe not your style. It is, essentially, letting your brain loose altogether. BTW, the ganzfeld experiment is the method of using very basic (and easy) sensory depravation to allow yourself to hallucinate. Before you try, spend time only around stuff you made, or other you related artwork, so your "hallucinations" are inspiration involved.

As they say, "Necessity is the mother of invention." I used to feel more inventive when I had more unsolved needs. Maybe that has more to do with general inventiveness than artistic inspiration. Seeing things as though for the first time is less boring than feeling like you've been there and done that. Getting hypnotized, or fascinated by something and being open to what it suggests seems to be part of the mental slip-and-slide that leads to new things. Sometimes, it's like alchemy; mixing and matching, making an odd combination. Borrowing techniques from other fields and applying them to get new effects. Instead of focusing intently all the time, seeing everything in peripheral awareness and letting your feelings pick a path through them is another way. That sounds like a bunch of B.S., but putting non-verbal things into words sometimes seems that way. Play is not always profitable, unfortunately for the professional, but art is more user-friendly when it is fun.

Go do something brainless or touristy.  Visit a theme park.  Follow a "map to the homes of the stars".  Just take a notebook to record your ideas.

I was in the Honister slate mine recently, and their reception area had a load of pictures for sale.  They were all "known" images, like that chair by Van Goghghhg, but reproduced in ceramics, and quite bold, often primary colours.

That would be great, if I can find the time to do it. We went to Disney World last summer and had a great time. It wasn't especially inspiring from a artistic standpoint, but I did get to ride Haunted Mansion 12 times. I love Haunted Mansion.

RavingWife gets to go to Senegal for three weeks this summer. She has been tasked with taking lots of pictures, and bringing back as much tchotchke as she can carry. Wish I could go with.

 I always tend to maintain creativity by jumping around. As in, I might get a little stuck with prop making, so I look around till I find something new, currently I am building a camera. Often I will leave a project and do something that does interest me, then maybe drift back to doing the original project.

I guess in simple terms, find something new, and something that excites you, and try it. Something as far away from what you do now as possible. 

So far, I have found that having too many projects going just leads to a lot of unfinished projects. That's how it usually pans out for me, anyway. I do agree that exploring other media & techniques is a great way to prod my muse, though. Just have to find a balance between productive experimentation and chasing shiny objects. ;-)


8 years ago

 This is a topic lots of artists ask about, go to www.wetcanvas.com and type artist block in the search area to see what I mean, its a really cool forum for artists although I haven't noticed glass artists.

 I like to say I suffer from AADD artist attention defiect disorder, I can have 3-4 projects going in different mediums but I still hit blocks, sometimes its total, nothing inspires me. Ive taken paint and an old canvas and just thrown paint at it (sometimes its the driveway) thrown a bunch of scrap metal on the ground and tried to pick out images. But no matter how long the dry spell, it always reverses itself eventually.
 Sometimes the reverse of a block can be just as intimidating, you see faces in the shadow a pile of towels throw or the dirt on a car in traffic suggests a landscape..
 Go with the flow........

Thanks for the link, I'll definitely check it out.
I know the slump will eventually turn around, I just hate having to wait for it. Used to be, I could always count on somebody needing something, and having a specific need to focus on (and frequently a timeline) would usually get the creative juices flowing. Now, I'm totally driving my own workflow, which is turning out to be both a blessing and a curse, slump-wise. I would kill to have the opposite problem right now, but I know where you're coming from. I've been there too. Unfortunately, the "too many ideas" phase never seems to last as long as the "can't think of anything" phase. 
On a positive note, perhaps this block has gone on for so long because it's building up to something really cool. That's what I'm telling myself anyway....

Seeing faces in the shadow of a pile of towels might not be a big deal but if you see faces in toast or pancakes, be sure to save it to sell on Ebay.

Break things.
(serious - new shapes)


If you're really stuck you could try the Morning Pages technique from Artist's Way.

Get an old-school journal with lined paper and write until you have 3 pages filled. Whatever you do, don't stop writing. Even if you're just writing "this sucks" over and over, go until you have 3 pages. Do it once or, as the book suggests, every day in the morning.

Great suggestion. We even have the book already, I've just never read it. I'll go read it tonight.