We’ve all been there, staring at a blank canvas with a pencil or a brush hanging loosely from our hands as we stare at it in slack-jawed confusion. “What do I want to paint?” you wonder to yourself as all of the world’s least interesting things flash before your mind. Doing creative work isn’t easy, and once you’ve reached a certain level of skill, the concept behind your work becomes more important and more valuable than just the visual appeal. Let’s take a look at a few ways to break through a creative block.

Reinvent an Old Concept

Go through your old stuff, pick something that you didn’t like very much, and examine it. Try to remember what the idea behind the painting was. Don’t “redraw” the old piece exactly, instead think about how it was supposed to make you feel, and work on a different way to represent it (ideally better than the piece you’re using as for inspiration).

Besides giving you something to start with, this approach can help trigger your memory for ideas for other pieces that you may have had while you were making your first attempt at that particular concept. Not only does this give you something to do, it’ll allow you to compare and contrast your result with the older version to track your progress as an artist.


Complementary Art

Do some research, look at art blogs or make friends with other artists and look at their work. It’s important to be in contact with other art for many reasons, but my favorite is that you can use your response to it. Visual art doesn’t make the viewer feel the same way that the painting “feels”. If I were to paint a picture of the concept of “derision” the natural response wouldn’t also be derision, but indignation or anger.

To make use of this idea, go and find a piece toward which you feel an emotional response, and then go ahead and work out a way to respond with your own art. Tying this in with the previous section you could even go back into your older artwork and make a response piece to one of your own. If you personally know the other artist the two of you could even have an “art conversation”.


Make Bad Art, Then Fix It.

Remember that line in the first paragraph about the world’s least interesting things flashing before your mind? Draw them. Putting something down on canvas will give you a starting point; pick anything from your coffee cup, to a chair, to your car keys, or even a box of tissues. Once you have something to work with you can set about making it interesting. If you’ve got reflective surfaces you can subtly insert pop culture references in the form of tiny washed out outlines. Take your boring piece and use it as a jumping off point to express your own personal madness.

edward-sWritten by Edward Stuart; Edward Stuart is an art and decoration enthusiast as well as an online publisher for Canvas Art distributor Canvasgalleryart.com. He frequently blogs on the topics of art, art history, design, and home decor.