Monday, April 1, 2013

How to Overcome Painter's Block

Dream Weaver
24x30 Oil on canvas
Putting all April fooling aside, my carousel painting is finally complete and it feels good to have this monsterpiece behind me. There are still a few more carousels in my que, but they’re not as complex as this one. When I imagine where they would be displayed, I think of the series decorating a child’s room… something fun and colorful.
In the midst of painting this piece early last year, I developed a creative slump artists frequently refer to as Painter’s Block. Now that it’s over, I realize there are things I could have done to get past this feeling sooner and wanted to share them with you.
Recall the initial inspiration— Remember why you started the painting in the first place. Does the subject matter still inspire you? Chances are, it still does and there are deeper reasons for the block.
Revive your workspace  
·         Start with a fresh new palette and brushes
·         Ensure the ideal room temperature
·         Adjust lighting according to the time of day
·         Donate unwanted supplies and reduce clutter
·         Light a candle, play music, or listen to inspirational content
·         Take the plunge and purchase that new chair, easel, or table you’ve been wanting
Reinstitute the WIP mindset—Keep WIP’s in plain sight. A constant reminder of the uncompleted painting may trigger forward momentum.
Remain positive – Dismiss the ugly stage. Once you’ve established your ideal painting methods, trust the process and outcome, even during the difficult times.
Reach out— If you’re unable to determine what is wrong with your painting, ask for advice from others, including those who do not paint. Post WIP’s on your sites and request comments.
Evaluate supplies— Use optimal supplies and color choices for that piece. Sometimes a new paint color can make all of the difference.
Reduce your focus— With larger paintings, try to finish small sections at a time. In early stages, you may want to focus on one layer at a time. Allow oils to thoroughly dry in between layers to prevent forming mud.
Set a time limitAlthough it is necessary to take breaks from complex paintings, too much time in between sessions may completely derail your creativity. You may forget color mixing formulas and techniques used in specific areas.
There are times when ending a painting altogether is the best option. Realize the difference between a good start and a hopeless waste of time. And on a musical note, “Know when to walk away and know when to run!”  (Kenny Rogers)


  1. I love all these ideas Eve. I agree with them all but especially keeping your studio comfy. I've not gotten down in mine lately (it's in the basement) because I'm so cold! All I really needed to do was add an extra light and an a space heater and that would have made it more enjoyable.

    Your Dream Weaver is gorgeous! I love how you call it a monsterpiece ;)

    Happy Friday!

  2. Hey Jaime,
    I'm glad to hear you've identified some studio obstacles! Sometimes the smallest changes can make all the difference.
    Thank you for complimenting my painting. It feels great to have finally completed this piece.


Thanks for your comments!