Have you lost your creative spark?

Have you been in a creative slump lately?

what to do when you have lost the creative spark
Facing a blank page can be daunting when you have run out of creative energy.

You know, those days when you just don’t feel like painting or working on anything that requires too much thought or creative energy? Perhaps you have been looking at a blank page or canvas for some time without any inspiration or enthusiasm?

(First published in May 2019, this is one of my most popular posts on PInterest.)

All artists have those moments.

For some, the moments last days, weeks, and maybe months. And then, when the urge returns, it can be daunting to get back into the daily practice of creating.

However, there are ways to be productive while waiting for the muse to return.

A few of my favourite activities allow me to feel as though I am preparing myself to return to my art soon. When I do, I will have some great ideas to start creating.

Can you add to this list? If so, leave a comment in the box after this post.

Twelve ways to ignite the creative spark

  1. Go through old magazines looking for images, interesting colour palettes, patterns for collage. Rip them out, sort them in envelopes or folders and throw out the magazine. You have just completed two tasks in one swoop. Here is an example of a journal entry using a magazine photo as inspiration.
  2. Reuse an old book for art. Find a large book, perhaps a dictionary that is no longer in use and brush gesso onto pages. Let them dry and do more. You have just repurposed a book into a journal for your art.
  3. Prepare a list of needed supplies while doing an inventory. Reward yourself by adding a wish list of never-tried art supplies and some projects you might like to try.
  4. Watch a movie about an artist’s life such as Frida Kahlo, Maud Lewis, Salvador Dali
  5. Plan a schedule to produce thematically linked series of works. Think seasonal: artists need to be prepared well in advance of the different fall and Christmas shows. Make a list of Christmas gifts for friends and family members and prepare a schedule to get them done on time.

Preparing ahead of time for seasonal gifts and themed works of art

6. Go for a long walk outdoors. Search for leaves, berries, pinecones, wildflowers, and any other beautiful, natural, element that can be photographed. Print your photos, add them to a sketchbook for future reference. There are cameras on the market now that produce instant 2 x 3" photos that are perfect for your journals. Or check the Sprocket, a small printer that works from photos on your smartphone. Again, two activities accomplished: exercise and fresh air with inspiration for art. Here are my sketches from walks in my neighbourhood, along various beaches, ...

Treasures found in nature and used as inspiration for sketching or painting


7.Organize old sketchbooks. Categorize by month, year, or subject matter. Add tabs in the sketchbook to indicate sketches that need to be completed or any pages that are blank.

8. Donate art supplies you have not used in a long time. Throw out dried out paint tubes, etc.

9. Read a novel and think of ways you might be inspired in your art by the story or the setting or the characters. Below, characters from a novel I read last year. (Novel ideas, sketching fictional characters).

Sketching characters based on a novel I enjoyed

10.Clean your workspace. Tidying your work area can give you a boost of creative energy. Besides, who knows what treasures might be hidden under the clutter!

  1. Meet a friend who supports your artistic journey. Throw around ideas for new work.
  2. Listen to music that is not on your playlist, perhaps even music from another culture. Sketch or write thoughts as you are listening to the music.

Avoid social media sites during your creative slump

Why not spend time on Pinterest? Or see what’s happening on Facebook or Instagram?

Social media sites are great for inspiration once painting has started, but they can be wasteful distractions that sap all the energy out of you when you are not in the mood to produce anything.

After all, won’t seeing all the podcasts, 100days of whatever, series of this or that, painted by some other artist who is on a roll make you feel even more unproductive?

I know it has that effect on me.

Why do that to yourself?

Mixing colours for art work
Experimenting with colour mixing can be a good activity to get the creative juices flowing again.  It is a rather thoughtless activity because you are following a recipe.  However, this could lead to fresh ideas for your art.

Making the best of creative downtime.

While you are taking a break away from painting or sketching, you are still being very productive as an artist. All ideas you have had are still waiting to see the light of day.

Just remember, downtime is absolutely necessary to recharge our creative batteries.

Perhaps we should consider calling that time away from creative production something else other than a creative slump…any suggestions?

6 Responses

  • This is a wonderful list of useful tips to bolster productivity during creative downtime ~ thanks for sharing these great ideas, Louise 🙂

    • I don’t doubt that you have tips of your own too as you seem busy with photography, digital art work, etc. and your online shops! Thanks Phil.

  • Like you Louise I collect… stones, shells, leaves, hundreds of photos, magazine pictures and moments seen on tv which I try and store in my brain box. I never seem to go anywhere these days without thinking about colour and form and how I could perhaps create what I have seen. Think I am hooked into the artists world without even realising 🤔

    • It can be rather addictive, right? That’s why I am sure, every now and then, we are forced to take a break when nothing seems to inspire us in the art room. Collecting materials for our next creative phase is always fun. I have printed napkins and gelli printed deli paper stashes in a box, shells in ice cream pails, small flat rocks in tea tins, etc. That’s just scratching the surface of everything that is in my art room. Thanks for sharing Sally.

    • Thanks Christine. I am sure there are other ways to deal with those times when we aren’t inspired or motivated to work on our art. I think there is a good reason we have those moments. From what I have heard from other artists over the last five years, it seems that everyone is invigorated to go back to the art work when we have had a break from it. Regards from Canada!

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