Understanding the Beast

Golden RatioJohn’s post yesterday on Writer’s Block had me thinking about creative blocks in general. Artists too have suffered from the imaginary ailment probably since the dawn of civilization. It’s the same beast. I know I’ve suffered those same thoughts of doubt with my own art, but it’s not the only problem to throw a wrench in the creative process. Sometimes what may appear to be a block is a simple obstacle, not something that lasts weeks, months or even years.

The following are my experiences with the beast in relation to art making, how I’ve come to understand it and neutralize it. Obviously, my experience may be nothing like yours and it does not take into account psychotropic medications; which can sometimes have an effect.

On occasion I have experienced what most might describe as artist’s block. I never give it a name and it never last long. Instead I ask myself, what’s wrong? Have I been working too long and need a break? Is the composition of my painting off somehow and needs reworking? Have I lost interest in one idea for another? Am I not being true to myself? Am I rushing things?

Why am I stuck?

I’ve found it usually boils down to one of three things:

1. I need a break.
2. There are technical difficulties with my painting.
3. I’ve lost focus and/or my inspiration for a painting.

Sometimes taking a walk is the solution to all three. It’s not the walking so much as it is taking myself out of the situation, making my brain switch gears and ultimately making it reboot. You can’t force creativity.

Harris Shoals

If the walk doesn’t help, then I start taking a closer look at my painting.  If there’s something off with the anatomy or composition I believe your mind can sense it. This sense that there’s something wrong disrupts everything. Instead of pushing through, stop and figure out what you need to fix.

Fire Elemental Wip

The third and last culprit can be two things, a. I have too many projects going on at once to focus. or b. I’ve lost my inspiration for the work, usually because I’m not being true to myself and my vision. Both of these are because I’m thinking too much. For me part of the creative process is letting go. If I’m having trouble here I ask myself, what do I want to create? What does my heart and soul say to do? Then I block everything else out and I paint.


About Amanda Makepeace

Amanda Makepeace is an award winning illustrator inspired by nature, mythology, magical beings, and distant worlds. She is the co-founder of the Bird Whisperer Project, a monthly art challenge focused on spreading the the love of birds and art making for everyone. Her art has appeared in ENnie award-winning games and on the covers popular independant novels and anthologies. Her latest project is the cover art for the Long List Anthology Volume 4, a book featuring Hugo nominated stories. Amanda is a regular at Fantasy and SciFi conventions in the southeast, and an award winner at JordanCon, DragonCon, ChattaCon, and LibertyCon. http://www.amandamakepeace.com
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