5 Tips on How to Overcome Creative Block From Professional Artists

Creative block can strike at any time, stifling your inspiration and grinding your productivity to a halt. It’s something anyone who has tackled a creative project has experienced at one time or another.

These mental barriers are especially frustrating for artists, whose lives depend on harnessing their creativity. However, that also means that no one knows more about overcoming creative block than artists.

If you’re looking for ways to re-ignite your imagination, here are five helpful tips from working artists on how to get your creative side flowing again.

 

1. Take Notes

Autumn de Forest Park West Gallery

Autumn de Forest concentrates while using her “pull painting” technique.

 It may be a bit old-fashioned, but having a pen and paper on hand to jot down ideas can be a life saver when creative blocks occur. Even art prodigy Autumn de Forest, who has been selling her art since she was 6 years old, uses this method frequently.

 “If I’m stuck, I have notebooks full of ideas for paintings,” de Forest says. “I can just look through those, and I come up with ideas every day and I write things down.”

Dance Troupe II 2006 Peter Nixon

Dance Troupe II” (2006), Peter Nixon

Acclaimed British artist Peter Nixon is a fan of this method as well. He says he is always on the lookout for subject matter for his artwork, so he carries a notebook to record any ideas that strike him.

“It’s like having somebody constantly tapping you on the shoulder, saying ’Oh by the way, what about this idea?’” Nixon says. “So you get the book out and you have to write the ideas quick because they go.”

 

2. Let Yourself Experiment

If the sight of a blank page, canvas, or computer screen paralyzes you, learning to overcome that fear can really unlock your creative potential. Just forcing yourself to put the pen to the paper or the brush to the canvas is a great first step, even if you make mistakes.

Michael Godard, Park West Gallery

Michael Godard adding intricate details to one of his paintings.

Best-selling artist Michael Godard is often called the “Rock Star of the Art World,” but he always remembers his art school days. One of his instructors started a class by having students take a large sheet of untouched paper and scribble all over it. Godard was appalled at first—he came from humble beginnings so he hated the idea of wasting paper—but he quickly recognized the lesson being taught.

“His intention was to not be afraid of a blank canvas,” Godard says. “Today, when people ask me ‘Do you ever get artist block?’ I go ‘No, I’m not afraid to just start and scribble and completely destroy. . .a perfect white canvas.’”

 

3. Meditate

Israeli artist David Najar compares being creative to connecting to a Wi-Fi signal. Sometimes it is easy to connect and the signal is strong, but other times it is tough and, as he puts it, “you don’t have the pass code.” In those times, he suggests searching for the creative signal through introspection.

Eye on the Horizon David Najar Park West Gallery

Eye on the Horizon” (2017), David Najar

“Be with yourself, think, imagine. . .kind of like meditation,” Najar says. “Artists don’t need to wait ‘til someone brings it, they need to do it themselves.”

Artist Dominic Pangborn, founder of Pangborn Design, takes a similar, albeit more analytical approach. He says he hasn’t necessarily encountered his own “artist block,” but occasionally struggles with executing an idea. To overcome this, he takes a step back and examines the situation.

Dominic Pangborn Park West Gallery

Dominic Pangborn working in his studio.

“I look to ‘What’s my objective? Why? How?’ Upon answering those questions I’m clear, focused,” Pangborn says. “This gives me the direction and ideas are clear and ‘how to execute’ takes over. That process may alter the idea. I let it flow where the idea and execution emerge.”

 

4. Dive into Research

One way to get past an imagination block is to explore the words and works of other creative minds. This could be anything from watching a tutorial video, taking a stroll through a museum, or reading a helpful article.

Lebo Park West Gallery

Lebo painting in his Miami studio.

Miami artist David “Lebo” Le Batard believes artists see themselves as either a creator or a conduit for creation. He views himself as the latter, and therefore keeps his mind prepared for when inspiration strikes. Lebo achieves this zen-like approach by reading up on mythology, philosophy, or any other subject that interests him.

“I do my best to clear my channel to be a vessel for creation,” Lebo says. “For this reason I feel it’s never a matter of being blocked, but rather sorting through so many wonderful ideas that are all around us.”

 

5. Step Away

 If you’re stuck, sometimes the best thing to do is take a break and do something else. English artist Clare Sykes says when she isn’t in the mood to create she invigorates herself with walks and conversation.

“It can take the whole day to finally get that urge to use the imagination,” Clare says. “I will take myself along the seafront or into the local parks and catch up with happy friends to lift my inspiration and start creating.”

"Summertime Magic" (2018), Clare Sykes

“Summertime Magic” (2018), Clare Sykes

 

Remember—it was Pablo Picasso who said, “Inspiration does exist but it must find you working.” These artist tips can help you tackle your creative block, but it’s up to you to sit down, commit to tackling the problem, and explore ways to rediscover your creativity.

 

Want some more inspiration? Be sure to check out Park West Gallery’s series of artist profile videos to learn more about the creative processes of our artists.

3 Responses to 5 Tips on How to Overcome Creative Block From Professional Artists

  1. Doug Clarke says:

    Wonderful article. Great tips for anyone who wants to problem solve or run a business. When my colleagues ask how reading art, biographies, history or philosophy is pertinent to owning my own veterinary practice I ask “What do you think it is I do for a living?” Creativity in medicine and business is vital! Thanks for the inspiration ❤️

  2. George zajacek says:

    How do I get my paintings to you .Should I photo and send or ?

    • parkwestgal says:

      Hello George! One of our Client Services representatives will provide you with our artist submission guidelines.

Leave a comment

Prove you\'re human. *

Latest News

  • Judges Reveal Their Top 5 Finalists for 2018 MI Great Artist Competition

    Five Michigan artists have been chosen as finalists, but only one will be named 2018’s MI Great Artist.After much deliberation, a panel of expert judges has narrowed down a ...
    Read More
  • How Artist Slava Ilyayev Brings Modern-Day Impressionism to Life

    Collectors around the world love the remarkably textured paintings of acclaimed artist Slava Ilyayev. While his style is uniquely his own, Ilyayev regularly cites Impressionists like Vincent van Gogh ...
    Read More
  • Meet the Artist: 10 Questions with Slava Ilyayev

    For artist Slava Ilyayev, it’s not just about expressing color—it’s about feeling.Much like the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists that influence him, Ilyayev creates art to express feeling and emotions. Specifically, ...
    Read More
  • See If You’re an Art Aficionado with Our Fall Sale Art Quiz

    With Park West's 2018 Fall Sale in full swing, it's time to get to know our featured art and artists with our new art quiz!As the largest privately-owned art ...
    Read More
  • What Makes a Master Artist? Meet 7 Legendary Masters in Our New Video

    
    Read More
  • MI Great Artist Announces First-Ever People’s Choice Winner, Top 35 Artists

    MI Great Artist has announced its 35 semi-finalists for 2018—including one lucky “People’s Choice” winner who automatically moves to the competition’s final round.Sponsored by Park West Gallery and Michigan’s Oakland ...
    Read More
  • See How Artist Slava Ilyayev Creates His Unbelievably Textured Paintings

    When people first encounter a painting by Slava Ilyayev, one of their most common questions is "How does he do that?"There is a level of texture and color in ...
    Read More
  • Meet the Artist: 10 Questions with Ron Agam

    Ron Agam started his career as an artist later in life, but has made up for lost time with bold, exciting art that evokes movement and contemplation.He readily admits ...
    Read More
  • Auctioneer Spotlight: Alex O’Rafferty and Candi Hanson

    At Park West, we know one thing for certain—our collectors love our onboard Art Teams.We hear it all the time. When people attend our auctions and art events on cruise ...
    Read More
  • Autumn de Forest Paints First-Ever Mural at Miami’s Wynwood Walls

    Having already exhibited her art in prevalent museums and galleries by the age of 16, art prodigy Autumn de Forest added some street cred to her impressive resume by ...
    Read More
  • Ilyayev, Max, Renoir, and More Now Available in 2018 Fall Sale

    As summer winds to a close, fall is definitely in the air. Bring the cozy feelings and amazing colors of autumn into your life with amazing new artwork from ...
    Read More
  • Collect the Breathtaking Art of Slava Ilyayev During our 2018 Fall Sale

    Incredible color, dynamic textures, and a magical sense of romance. Experience these sensations with the art of Slava Ilyayev during our 2018 Fall Sale.This limited-time sale features
    Read More