You sit and stare at your blank canvas, paper, ipad screen, and you can't even begin to pick a color or draw a line.
You are stuck.
Lots of people love to talk about what it feels like to be in the midst of a creative storm, where the making feels part magical because it just flows right out of you.
Some people are brave enough to talk about the dry season, where even thinking about making art causes you to put a cool cloth across your forehead and lie down in a dark room.
I'm talking about the time in between those extremes, when the will is there, but the inspiration is missing.
I've been doing this long enough that I have come up with a handy list to get un-stuck, and I'm going to share it with you.
2. Look back at old work: sometimes this is just a reminder of how far you have progressed in your skills. However, while looking back, ask yourself, "Is there something more here that I can do now? Does this feel like a jumping off point for a series?"
3. Think Seasonally: I don't know if you know this, but folks who develop all that amazing stuff that comes out for the December holidays are making that stuff in June and July. Take yourself out of your current season, and make art for future holidays and vacations.
4. Try a different medium: This one is two-fold goodness. One, it helps to justify all of the art-making supplies you have hoarded over the years. Two, different mediums require different ways of thinking and problem solving.
5. Learn a new skill: Honey, the internet is your playground. There are hundreds of thousands of tutorials online. Go learn how to macrame or underwater basketweave.
6. Read a book: I like to read, so this is not a challenge for me. But my suggestion is read a book written FOR KIDS. Whether it's a picture book, graphic novel, or chapter book. Get into a world where anything can happen. Sometimes that's all it takes to wake up your creativity.
7. Look at your stuff: Not your artwork, but your stuff. Your furniture, your dishes, the little knickknacks that you move from home to home. You can draw/paint/photograph it, or you can look at it and ask yourself, "what is it about this thing that I like?"
8. Practice your weak skills: ugh, yes, fine. We all have things we are bad at. But you know how you get better? Practice. Which is why I sometimes force myself to do lettering, even if it winds up looking like a drunk kangaroo did it. At some point, it will look ok. And then it will look great. But to get there, I have to practice.
9. Look at old photos: I take pictures ALL THE TIME of stuff that intrigues me. "Oh, that's an interesting architectural detail" "Oh, that leaf looks like Texas" "Oh, the colors of that umbrella and that poster really look good together" And sometimes, I use those photos to jumpstart other works.
10. Sign up for an art challenge: I say this as someone who has finished exactly one art challenge in their entire life. It's a really good way to get ideas when your idea machine is broken. You don't have to finish the thing. Just start the thing.
Those are my ten tips. What do you do when you are stuck?