Thursday 18 April 2013

What to do when you're in a slump

For the past few days - well... maybe even weeks - I've been in a kind of a slump. I've been going about my business more-or-less as usual but it's been a bit of a struggle. I head down to my studio each morning, coffee and hand, and settle down for the day. However, somehow the creative juices just aren't flowing.

Wren Fledgling in coloured pencil.
I have not been totally unproductive. I have a couple of commission pieces underway and they're coming along nicely (one of them is a bit out of the ordinary for me and I'll reveal it in a future blog). I also finished off this sweet drawing of a little wren while at an art event recently. It's just that the flow of new ideas, which usually comes easily to me, seems to be clogged.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm in a proverbial "slump" or I have "artists block" or some other euphemistic description for just being a bit out-of-sorts. I've never been one to expect that everything needs to be just-so in order to make art. I have a lot of discipline. I go to the studio. I work. I am diligent, focused and productive. But lately, for some unknown reason, I'm off my game.

I know its necessary at times to simply draw back, walk away, and nurture oneself. However, I'm fighting back. Right now walking away is not what I'd like to be doing - or can afford to be doing - with exhibitions, festivals and other events pending.

So far I have distracted myself from my slump by doing such things as:
  • fiddling around on my computer WAY more than usual
  • sitting in the sunshine (when available), drinking tea
  • sitting looking out the window (at the rain), drinking tea
  • cleaning out closets
  • taking myself and/or my old dog for walks at odd times of day
  • lying on the floor with the old dog and/or the cats (should I mention we've had some long conversations or would that bring my overall mental health into question?)
  • getting together with friends for lunch, or a walk, or coffee (having legitimate human conversations)
  • pottering in the garden
  • reading books (dog lovers who enjoy a good cry should read "The Art of Racing in the Rain")
  • watching nonsense on TV
  • thinking about art-making and new projects, but not acting on the thoughts
  • the list goes on...
High in an evergreen, a watchful barred owl.

On my walks I have acquired some wonderful new reference material such as this barred owl I spotted recently which, at other times, would inspire me to get busy on a new drawing or painting. These days I scarcely take time to peruse what I've gathered.

I have read inspirational books that would, at other times, fill me with ideas and energy but now simply put me to sleep. I've commiserated with artist colleagues who would, at other times, make my creative juices gush but now manage to produce only a meagre drop or two. I feel like I'm marooned in a creative desert in search of an oasis.

So now I've figured out there's one thing I can do that will fit into my slumpy state and benefit me in the long run: I'm tidying up my studio. I'm finding it to be quite a therapeutic exercise and a nice break from working on the commissioned pieces, taking care of the day-to-day activities of running my art business, and simply stewing about being in a slump. And judging by the number of boxes of junk I've hauled out so far, it's a task that is well overdue. I have my fingers crossed that getting my studio neat and organized (although not TOO organized; that could be counter-productive) will improve my frame of mind and set the stage for unleashing the floodgates of a veritable deluge of creativity!

And just in case those clogged floodgates take a little while to clear, cleaning the studio will have the benefit of presenting a tidy workspace for the participants joining me for coloured pencil workshops this weekend. Perhaps it's the energy of a creative group of students - eager to learn and appreciative of my insights - that will give me the kick-start I need to climb out of this creative slump and get on with things. 

Or maybe I'll just look out the window some more and drink another cup of tea, resigned to my fate, taking heart in the words of some wise person who once said, "This too shall pass". I wonder if he/she was an artist too.

1 comment:

  1. Having just emerged from a slump myself, I can only say 'this too shall pass'. But then again, maybe it will pass faster if you and old dog came to visit a certain friend in a certain small seaside town on the island. :)