Creative Blockages: Beginning Something New

For me the hardest part of a new project is beginning.  A blank page or canvas, a pile of new materials waiting to be transformed can sometimes be daunting.  Once I am over this hurdle and have begun I find it much easier to get on with my work, but making the first step is always the most difficult part of the process.  There is the danger of using delaying tactics, like spending time setting up the equipment and art materials so that everything is easy to reach, then being confronted by the task in hand and becoming paralysed.  So it is good to have several strategies that help get you going and the following have worked for me when I have become blocked.

You need to loosen up if you want to create freely and begin something new.  A few years ago I did some creativity classes at a local art group and learnt some helpful techniques. One method is to do a drawing based on how you are feeling at that particular moment. You take a large sheet of paper and some pastels and immediately draw on the paper without thinking about what you are doing, just how you feel.  It is not about creating a finished artwork but about freeing up your mind.  That said, it is never a good idea to use newsprint paper for drawings because if you do one that you want to keep it will disintegrate over time.


Free Spirits

The same freeing up method can be done with modeling clay, words, singing vowel sounds or losing yourself in dance movements.  Beat a drum and howl like a wolf if you wish. Whatever releases your ability to create.  Once you are feeling less constrained then it is easier to tackle a new project.

Sometimes a blank white page or canvas can put you off beginning a new work.  The solution is to use coloured paper or paint a coloured ground that harmonizes with your subject.  A mid range colour is good because you can add the highlights and shadows over this base.  Once the white blankness is gone you have already begun.

But what if your canvas is a blank screen.  Well the same system applies.  Write something, anything, even if it is just headings or ideas.  Get rid of that empty screen. Think while you write or write without thinking.  Whichever works at the time.  With the latter, I find that the words seem to appear out of nowhere and that my thoughts start to make sense on the page.  The subconscious often works things out before you are consciously aware of an idea.  Then the momentum carries you along.

It is difficult to start something new if you think you need to produce the whole work in one session.  Visualise where you are going but concentrate on what you are doing at that moment and take a break when you are starting to get bogged down with detail.  Agonising over every pencil mark, brush stroke or word never helps.  It will turn the whole thing into a chore and this will show in the final result.  You want you work to look effortless no matter how much time and energy went into its production.

Probably one of the most important things is to make what you are doing fun, then you will be raring to get on with your work.  I like to put on some music while I am working. Sometimes I need relaxing music, at other times good old stimulating rock and roll.  I find this gets you into the flow and also cuts outside distractions.  Music can give you energy and take you out of your everyday state of mind that makes creating easier and that much more enjoyable.

On my pin board is a cutting from an old calendar that says “all glory comes from daring to begin” (Eugene F Ware, “Ironquill”).  How true.  Without taking that first leap you will never get anywhere.