16. Feb, 2021

The Lockdown Artist - Motivated or Artists Block?

It's been a long winter, not seeing friends and family, not having any set routine, cold, damp days.  You've hammered Netflix and seen everything, you've done more daily exercise than ever.  If you're anything like me, you may have led a horrendously busy life pre-lockdown and, at one point, welcomed the forced slowdown to embrace new things.  

Being an artist can be great in times like this.  You can really dedicate large blocks of time to develop artistic skill and even set a new course in your art, like a journey of self-discovery.  The initial excitement of embracing a new age in your art is full of hope and you feel ready for the challenge, if anything, as a distraction from what's happening in the real world.  

In my house, that initial excitement is there almost every morning.  I wake up before the crack of dawn (it's currently 5am as I write this!), with a million ideas whizzing round in my head.  It's like a burst of mental energy, itching to get out.  In an ideal world, I'd be up, paint brush in hand, and I'd paint until I could paint no more.  In reality, the fact that I share the house with a husband and two kids, limits this activity somewhat.  Not able to use my studio, I'm holed up in the kitchen at my easel most days.  Thoughts of having to get everything out, then put away again before breakfast, home schooling, housework, dampens the artistic flow, just a little.  Pre lockdown, I'd drop the kids at school and spend the day in my studio working.  Now, more than ever, the lines of work and home are blurred and I'm torn between the guilt of not giving the kids my full attention and those little artists in my head, screaming to be set free.  This makes for a very demotivated environment.  

The feeling of demotivation is a killer, which can lead to depression and all sorts of other health conditions.  You start to give up everything, even getting out of bed, and even though art is a therapeutic experience and the Bob Ross fans out there will have been left on cloud 9, thinking what a wonderful job, being an artist must be, let me tell you, it can also be a demon.  Artists have creativity running through their veins.  Their very existence is to create.  It's as important to them as breathing.  If an artist can't do their thing, they fall hard mentally.  This, in turn, can lead to what is called 'artists block'.  

You may have heard of writers block, well visual artists get this too.  Where they feel like everything they do is rubbish, they've lost their skill, they can't make good art anymore.  I've seen countless posts on art Facebook pages lately, where artists are asking how to get out of this rut they find themselves in.  Some even talk of giving up art completely.  I've experienced this in the past and it's horrible.  You're in a black hole that you can't climb out of.  So, how do we stay motivated and avoid, or climb out of, artists block? 

The answer is, you claw your way out!  Those little artists screaming in your head can be silenced by giving them what they want.  Grab a sketchbook and draw anything.  DRAW ANYTHING!!  An apple, a cup, your fingernail, ANYTHING.  Then, scroll through google, or find a tour of one of the galleries.  Look at other art, draw inspiration from other art.  Cherry pick the things you like about it and explore those things.  Do some finger painting, face painting, get out the palette knives and plaster a camvas with nonsensical colour.  All this will trigger your creativity again.  And, if, like me, you struggle with creating or family, get the family to do it with you!  They may produce something that inspires your next masterpiece.  Make a dedicated time to art.  Block in a whole afternoon of creativity.  Force yourself to be bold, push your own boundarie and see what happens.  Most importantly of all, take each day at a time and be kind to yourself.