……you have one. Or two. Or more.

The project you’re working on that previously seemed to flow with ease and inspiration is now suddenly, inexplicably, choking and sputtering to a halt. You curse the blank page, the blank canvas, the uncluttered sheet music, and attempt to plow through.

But nothing comes out. Or, if it does, it’s only in spurts, like a car lurching forward, eating every last drop of gas and oil.

This happens to me more than I’d care to admit. I still work the story, still write down questions and notes that spring to mind, but the actual writing of it feels like plowing through quick-dry cement – slow, painful, suffocating.

This is where I turn to another creative form, to replenish the artistic side and allow my subconscious to work out the knots in another way.

This is helpful for every creative art form that you pursue – whether you’re a musician, singer/song-writer, painter, potterer, you name it – if the flow is not there, it’s time to rest that muscle and seek some other artistic outlet and let your imagination play.

My favorite thing to do, when the muse refuses to speak, is to do water colors or sketch or just doodle on scraps of paper.

Like this guy:

Pen sketch; note the rather arrogant look in his eye.
Pen sketch; note the rather arrogant look in his eye.

That took me about ten minutes or so to sketch out.

Lately, however, I’ve been partaking of several sketching classes and painting parties hosted by local Ventura County artist, Amy Lynn Stevenson. The focus I feel on each project is intense – I tune out my fellow participants and follow my instincts, even though I’m essentially following a pre-set pattern or picture. Since each one of us tends to reinterpret what we see, each painting or sketch, while recognizable as resembling the original form, is unique to the individual.

Here are some examples:

Original artwork by Amy Lynn Stevenson
Original artwork by Amy Lynn Stevenson

 

 

 

 

 

 

My interpretation.
My interpretation.

 

 

As you can see, two of the horses in Amy Lynn’s painting failed to make it into the final product of my interpretation.

This was not intentional – as I worked on it, I struggled to add the two blue horses. In the end, with Amy Lynn’s encouragement, I left them out and ended up with a painting of my own horse. In that painting party, I learned to listen to my creative instinct.

Here’s another example from Amy Lynn’s painting party classes:

Artwork by Amy Lynn Stevenson
Artwork by Amy Lynn Stevenson

 

 

 

 

 

 

My interpretation.
My interpretation.

 

 

There were usually around five or so of us in each painting party class, and each one of us brought something different and unique to the artwork at hand. Some were bright and whimsical, mine tended towards realism with a hint of Suess (this is my artistic nature)

 

 

These classes were fun to participate in and I enjoyed the time I spent and the women I got to know in each class.

My observation of myself – I found that I focused intensely on my task in front of me. I listened to the conversations and laughter around me, but didn’t interact except to encourage the person next to me to just let go and do.

I was finding my focus again, through these classes. I found that I could think, mull over and plot my current novel in progress without feeling overwhelmed. I’ve begun taking sketch classes with Amy Lynn, as well, and got lucky enough to be sketched.

Sketch by Amy Lynn Stevenson
Sketch by Amy Lynn Stevenson

So, the upshot of this post is this – whatever your main medium of creative output, don’t close yourself off from other creative outlets, even if it’s completely the opposite of what you do. It will give you another way of tapping into your subconscious and allow you to find your connection to your main creative expression.

For me, it’s painting and sketching, with writing as my main creative outlet. For you, it might be pottery or singing or photography. Every creative skill you can find will always benefit the one you have passion and drive for.

Go find it.

For more on Amy Lynn Stevenson and her artwork, you can click here for her official website or go to her Facebook page, Amy Lynn – Artist.

 

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