For the past couple of months I have found myself living with the ultimate artists nightmare….the Creative Block.

Never have I felt so paralyzed by something I couldn’t figure out or explain. I normally enjoy painting so much it is almost impossible for me to stop. It is not unusual for me to paint 12 hours a day. Sometimes even forgetting to eat as I am so enthralled with the process of creation.
So what happened? How and Why did I go from creating a painting a day, to being resistant to even picking up a brush. I found myself putting my painting materials away. Just looking at them brought on such an incredible sense of loss it was almost overwhelming. It felt like I had lost my best friend, and I didn’t know why. This loss of my creative self became so intense I began spiraling into what a friend of mine calls Artists Depression.

I have read every article I could find about this phenomenon of becoming “blocked”. I have spoken with other artists. I have spoken with my art coach. I have spent hours soul searching, and here is what I finally came up with:

There are as many answers to what causes Artist Block as suggestions on what to do about it. I was told the block could be caused by fear, overwork, stress, depression, etc. Then I was told by varying sources the way to get over it was to: Just paint, it will come; Sit in your studio and meditate but don’t touch anything; try to paint a series so there will be less stress; paint with your other hand; paint in a different medium, and on it went.

What I actually discovered was that artists block may well be a blend of these reasons. That each of us has very personal reasons that may intermingle to cause our blocks, be they internal or external. And I found artist blocks are not unusual. Many of the artists I talked to had been through a block themselves. That really surprised me.

Finally as often happens, the answers seemed to come at me from a few different corners. Many of my artist friends have found they needed a few weeks or even months after intense workshops to assimilate the knowledge they acquired. Almost as if their creative soul was somehow incorporating this information they have learned into their style, while their physical body takes a break from art. This was definitely an ah-ha moment. It is difficult to watch a master artist at work, and determine what you can and want to incorporate into your work. This physical break from painting makes sense to me at least.

I confess I never experienced this with sculpture. But once I realized where the stress was coming from, I was able to immediately put paint to canvas. Just a little painting…but one full of color and life. I am so thankful to have made it through my first block. And I am so grateful for all the friends and coaches who helped me through it!