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5 Ways to Destroy Your Artistic Creativity

Don't undermine your own creativity, or your paintings will suffer.

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Ways to Destroy Your Artistic Creativity

5 Ways to Destroy Your Artistic Creativity

Image: ©2007 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

It’s to be expected that there will be ups and down in your level of artistic creativity, that some days you’re full of new ideas for paintings and others your brain feels dull. But there are also environmental and personal factors that can sap your energy for painting, so you end up having more dull days than inspiring ones. Here's a list of five easy ways to ruin your creativity...

Creativity Destroyer No.1: Only Paint When You Feel Like It

It’s hard to imagine your doctor putting a notice on their surgery saying “I didn’t feel like dealing with ill people today, so I’m not working.” But if you only paint on those days when you feel like it, you’re effectively putting up a notice on your easel saying “Out, back when I feel like it”.

Being a part-time artist means you’ve only limited time to spend painting, so make the most of it; being a full-time artist is a creative profession, but it’s also a job, and that means turning up for work more days than not. The painter Chuck Close put it very bluntly: “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up.”1

Creativity Destroyer No.2: Only Ever Paint on Commission

The more successful you are at attracting commissions, the more crucial it becomes to remember to paint just for yourself regularly. If you’re worried about the time it takes away from paintings that are earning you a living, think of it as an investment in yourself. The enjoyment and satisfaction of a painting or study done without a client dictating what ought to be in it and looking over your shoulder will feed back into your other paintings.

Creativity Destroyer No.3: Restrict Yourself to One Form of Expression

If all you ever paint is a particular style and subject, your work is going to get stale. Try new things. It doesn’t have to be every week, and it doesn’t have to be radically new or different. Try a different format canvas (such as square or twice the size you usually use). Test a new color; mix it with all the colors you usually use and see what the results are. Shift the horizon line up or down in your composition.

Creativity Destroyer No.4: Don’t Keep a Note of Your Ideas

It doesn’t have to be a sketchbook with page after page of spectacular sketches with perfect perspective and in full color. It doesn’t have to be a written journal with page after page of detailed recordings of your thoughts, dreams, hopes and aspirations. But you need to keep some sort of record of your ideas, things that you thought were great, inspirational photos, postcards of paintings, etc.

You’re not going to remember them all, some may be too advanced for where you are now as an artist, some may need development. It can be a box, file, journal, or sketchbook… just find a place to store those ideas for a rainy day.

Creativity Destroyer No.5: Stress Too Much

Some level of stress is good, such as the stress of not quite being satisfied with what you’ve painted, which makes you strive for greater things. But too much stress is seriously detrimental to creativity; it saps energy and distracts.

Assess your lifestyle and habits to figure out what stresses you the most, and find some method of reducing or dealing with it. It may be something big (such as no-one wanting to buy the paintings you think are your best ones), or something small (such as your canvases not being stored neatly enough).

References:
1. Art Info, "Artists Speak Out at Global Creativity Summit", 14 November 2006.

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