What do you do when your creative inspiration runs low? As an artist and therapist, I strive for consistent art-making in my own life and with my clients, but sometimes art-block and lack of inspiration creep in.
Some people feel like they can only take action when they are in the right mood. They need to feel the motivation or inspiration to get started. But whether it’s painting, writing, cleaning your house, or tackling a big project, sometimes the best thing to do is just to get started, even when you don’t feel like it. This is an idea that I’ve seen repeated in both mental health treatment and from productivity experts, e.g., “Action first, feelings will follow” (from the Seeking Safety manual) or “the ‘Do Something’ principal” (from Mark Manson).
When we take some positive step forward, we start feel the benefits of it and experience the motivation and inspiration that we were lacking before.
So when we feel uninspired to create, it helps to have some activities to try that jump start your art-making instead of just waiting around for inspiration to strike.
One activity that I enjoy is expanding on a single collage image. This is a great thing to try for yourself when you are feeling stuck or as an art journal exercise. I’ve also used it with clients in art therapy when they want to make art but don’t know where to start or have anything particular to focus on.
Art Directive – Choose a single collage image and then develop it into a full picture. You can choose a random image, one that speaks to you today, an image that expresses how you are feeling today, or even just a fragment of an image.
I hope this gives you some inspiration and a creative action to try the next time you are feeling artistically stuck! Here are a few of the art pieces that I have created recently with this process.
What do you do when you are feeling blocked or uninspired? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!
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Carolyn Mehlomakulu, LMFT-S, ATR is an art therapist in Austin, Texas who works with children, teens, and families. For more information about individual therapy, teen and child counseling, family therapy, teen group therapy, and art therapy services, please visit: www.therapywithcarolyn.com.
This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health conditions. All directives, interventions, and ideas should be used by qualified individuals within the appropriate bounds of their education, training, and scope of practice. Information presented in this blog does not replace professional training in child and family therapy, art therapy, or play therapy.
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