How to get over a creative block

My SBS co-founder, Koosje Koene, has been experiencing a bit of a creative block of late so she has been asking for strategies on how to get past it. We did a Skype chat in which I gave her a few ideas to help her reshuffle the deck and get back to work.

This chat is part of a series for the Sketchbook Skool blog which has lots of other ideas for improving your creative life. If you sign up for the SBS newsletter, this sort of advice will find you and kick your monkey’s butt.
P.S. Please excuse my unshaven, pimply appearance. I am going through a second adolescence and my usual hair and makeup person is on sabbatical.

8 thoughts on “How to get over a creative block”

  1. For me, what you are talking about is having a sense of purpose in what you are doing. For me, losing my way creatively is when I sell my soul to keep other people happy (I have a strong responsibility streak) and sacrifice my creativity, as it seems the easiest thing to drop. When I re-engage with myself, my creativity returns. I’m sure it is different for everything. Thanks for tackling the issue.


  2. Take a class, preferably a university-level course. Several years ago I enrolled in a 300-level studio class ( Artist’s books). I was 46 years old at the time in class full of twenty-year olds. Deadlines (and the fear of public humiliation) forced me to move out of my head and to try many things. My mantra became “better a failed experiment than nothing at all.” After a few weeks and a several critiques, my panic was transformed into anticipation and excitement. I was doing things that I had never even thought of attempting before. Not all of the work that I produced was great but I was learning new skills and becoming a more resourceful and more resilient student. (I should add that this class wasn’t my first choice; I wanted to take a metalsmithing course.)


  3. Is it possible to speak louder during these videos both u and Koosje….I have speakers et al turned to maximum to no avail..I’ve had to skip some vids due to not hearing them…..just asking….I so enjoy them


  4. I steal something and then change it. Or, I check out a great masterwork like Picasso’s Demoiselles D’Avignon and do my version of it with a different reference. Mixed Media/Assemblage also helps. Street Art is a massive source of inspiration. Any mythological or biblical based work is very inspiring to do your own version of. I will sometimes take 2 or 3 references and combine them in a way to make something new and different.


  5. I find that doing some other creative thing gets your mind in gear again. Write something, take photos, try a new recipe, or simply try a new medium. If you usually use ink, try drawing with markers, or watercolour, for example.

    Sometimes I don’t find anything to draw or paint that seems interesting. I’ve seen my surroundings for too long. Getting smaller or larger helps. Draw a leaf instead of a tree; or the whole tree instead of a leaf.


  6. it tells us that there is always inner artist in each of us…. all that we need is to explore and expand our horizons…… and somehow show to the world our individuality and eccentricity through creative ART….


  7. Amazingly good advice, Danny. Our days DO become a rut, especially when living and working at home or in retirement years when there’s little input from the outside. A few years ago I was in a rut, going to the same vacation spot way too many times (my DH is retired) and I was bored, so bored. My dear friend suggested I create a project… same as you advised… so I did. I started drawing the buildings in the little beach town. Instead of sitting stagnant in the condo I’d pack my dedicated sketchbook and tools, find a place to sit or stand and draw the building in front of me. I quickly filled a Moleskine before we put an end to those excursions. The best part of it was that people would stop to watch or chat and I became acquainted with some of the permanent residents and learned some town history which i recorded along with my drawings… just as you and Koosje have taught me. Now I’m in another rut, or rather in a fallow time so it’s time to set up another project. Thanks for this post, and best wishes to you, Koosje.


  8. “A write who doesn’t read is truly a starving artist.” I pick up a book and start reading, try to visualize all of the metaphors and descriptive writing. Usually good for a kick start on my writing.


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