BETTER CREATING WITH LESS STRESS
Photo of me in my studio contemplating my work by CJ Blaquera
What do you do when you get stuck on a painting and don't know what to do next? When all of your ideas, solutions or "next steps" seem dull, boring, average or just plain stupid.You can't seem to find the inspiration or the motivation to continue. Your confidence level begins to plummet. You are fighting the urge to quit. It's not fun anymore.
You need help. You would like to ask for help but there is no one else in your studio. It's just you, your painting, your supplies and your thoughts. Negative thoughts? Perhaps. Self doubts? Possibly. Frustration? Absolutely!
It's time to stop, put your brushes down, take a deep breath, and relax.
No need to panic.
There is someone, better yet, something, in your studio that can help you.
It's the very painting you are working on and the one that you are stuck on right now. Yes. The painting you are having so much trouble with. Yes. That one right in front of you.
Don't laugh. Stop rolling your eyes. Hear me out.
I know this is a bit "out there". But learning this has helped me tremendously so I want to share it with you in the hopes that it will allow you to create better with less stress.
Your painting can help you. Just ask it.
In order for this to work you have to be completely relaxed, and not painting. You have to try and stop forcing the painting to do what you want it to do. This works best for me when I have taken a break from painting, left the studio, gotten some fresh air and sunshine, maybe had a short nap, taken a bike ride, etc. The important thing is to first get away from this painting that has you beat and is frustrating you to no end.
When you come back into the studio (which can even be a few days later) do not begin painting. Remain quiet, sit calmly in front of your painting and ask it one of these questions, or all three:
"What do you want to be?"
"What do you need?"
"What do you want from me?"
Pick the question that feels best, makes the most sense, or resonates best for you. If you are completely open to an answer, any answer, you will receive one. I know this sounds a bit crazy, but I am telling you, it works. The answers will come calmly, painlessly and effortlessly. And more often than not, for me, the answers are usually not what I expect. And the solutions are better than the ones I was coming up with and trying to force upon my poor, defenseless painting.
Now, doing this process once is not going to solve all of the problems that the painting may have. And the painting is not going to paint itself. That is still your responsibility. But, thats the fun part, right? When it's going well, of course. You may, in fact, have to repeat this process several times.
But, what's really great about this process is that it forces you to take breaks, step back and get away from your painting altogether… and it allows you to calmly look at your painting, really see it, while you are not working on it and all stressed out about it. I never get the answers I need while I am stressed. This process is a stress reducer and you get little pockets of relief all along the way. Bonus! It allows painting to be so much more fun.
The answers you receive from your painting will most likely sound something like:
"I need to be darker here and lighter there."
"This area needs to be re-drawn. I know it can be better."
"I feel like I need to be loosened up over here."
The color in this area doesn't feel quite right."
"This corner is too busy."
These answers may seem simple and obvious but you were not coming up with them by yourself. And yet, these seemingly simple and obvious answers may be just enough to get you over the hump and allow you to get painting again.
All you had to do was just ask.
YOUR CREATIVITY MATTERS
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HOW TO CRITIQUE YOUR OWN WORK
Creating your work is different than stepping back and assessing your work. Learn how to apply a discerning eye to your own work once you've put the brushes down.