Creative Block versus Burnout… How to avoid them both! Be a child again.

"Lie in the Weeds", cartoon, Leslie Clark

“Lie in the Weeds”, cartoon, Leslie Clark, 1973, Boulder

Plato said, “Let early education be a sort of amusement;

You will then be able to find out the natural bent.”

We creatives get so caught up in our world with its many responsibilities and routines that before long we may find ourselves wondering why it’s not so easy to make art. What have we lost along the way? Did we forget how we enjoyed creating when we were kids, when it came so naturally with no pressure?

Today my co-worker and friend Tee asked me if I’d ever had a creative block. OH yes. She is such a talented designer, we are both suspecting she might have experienced burnout, instead, with such a hugely productive year for her in 2013. I believe creative block and burnout are 2 very different things. Keeping them separate might be a good thing to know about.

I first experienced burnout one summer between college semesters. I worked at my bank lobby job 9 to 5 in downtown Denver and on weekends waited tables at a nice restaurant, long hours. No days off almost all summer, raising money for the coming semester. Towards the end of the season I began to question my sanity, and then vowed to never put myself through that kind of work schedule again! Mental exhaustion is worse than physical.

My biggest creative block came years later, from lack of the use of my work with drawing and painting. I had taken about 3 years off from painting/drawing when my children were young. Along came The Artist’s Way book which was popular then, and I decided to follow the plan and even joined an online study group, where I met others who were trying to get “unstuck”. The “morning pages”of writing for 30 minutes were really useful for me, unlocking some thoughts and wishes to set me on a good path forward. My own art work followed and soon I was hosting a Boulder Open Studios event which set me back on track to display my new work and meet other art lovers and collectors.

"Skaters", KGTaylor, digital illustration

“Skaters”, KGTaylor, digital illustration

I purposely chose this image from my work because of its playful qualities. One of the reasons I love art is that is satisfies the side of me that needs to have fun and remain a child, in one little side of life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very dedicated to my pursuit of art, the way I make my living and life work. But there is the part of me that knows I need the fun of making art more than anything. I would describe that as the process of making art that equals fun, plain and simple. That is what keeps the creative fires burning for me. In the future let’s talk about what makes art fun for artists and art lovers, and why we keep seeking for that part of our lives, and how to avoid creative blocks.

Why do you pursue your own art? Have you ever battled a season of creative blocks? Please share! It might help us all to understand how others go through that time of life.

Thanks for reading,

Karen

“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”  -Pablo Picasso

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