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  1. #1
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    What to do when uninspired?

    I have been a professional artist for over 20 years, and as of late (4 months), I haven't painted. I can't get back my inspiration to paint. This slump is getting worse with every passing day, and when I "force" the work, I become more discouraged. Any tips on getting back the desire? I've even tried other mediums, but the excitement didn't last. I need inspiration!


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  3. #2
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    "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working."

    -Pablo Picasso.

    Sounds like you need a deadline. Get a commission for an illustration or portrait that has to be done by a certain date, then inspiration becomes irrelevant.

    If you are really tired of art, perhaps it is time for a career change?
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  5. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by KlineCreative View Post
    I've even tried other mediums, but the excitement didn't last.
    I tend to go in cycles. Around the time when my interest in one medium is waning I start flipping through old sketchbooks or magazines or books and start thinking "hey... it's been a long time since I did ink/watercolour/pencil crayons I should get back into it". That way the excitement doesn't need to last, it just needs to carry me to the next bit of excitement.

    It's a very natural, seasonal sort of way of working. Like it makes more sense for me to do digital art or art from photos over the winter when I can't paint outside. Likewise I can usually drag myself out to paint over the summer because I know the weather will be crap soon so I'd better get while the getting is good.

    I never have any shortage of inspiration working this way, but I do pay for it with a certain lack of focus.
    *** Sketchbook * Landscapes * Portfolio * Store***

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    Thanks for the good advice. I'll begin by looking at the works here, magazines, books, etc., and see if it sparks a fire. Thanks!

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    i am inexperienced and have no idea what the art world is like, but often advice from a novice like me to a pro like you may be a refreshing perspective... i hope...
    like a how an amateur poker player throws off a pro.
    i'll make it short,
    ...deadlines... man... deadlines... lol healthy deadlines really get you flowing, for me at least. by that i mean a healthy amount of pressure. like blogmatix said.

    and as far as inspiration... idk that is extremely unique to the individual... but what i personally do is watch film, anime and cartoons. or surf this website, looking at oooolllder posts things from 2005 when the site was starting up, its really interesting...
    i saw The Grey last night that was awesome. I'm not saying Liam Neeson will get your creative juices flowing but that's just what I do. Hopefully you'll get more input lol.

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    Get excited about something. I've had times when I felt totally unartistic. Usually I feel unhappy about my work or it just does'nt have any meaning anymore. I've tried watching movies, reading books, doing studies, but nothing is surefire inspiration. I believe that when you get this way it's usually a sign that you're getting bored/frustrated in life. Sometimes something as simple as starting an exercise routine, or taking a class is all it takes to remove artistic stagnation. Go do something fun don't worry about art or inspiration for a while and it will come back.


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  12. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by KlineCreative View Post
    Thanks for the good advice. I'll begin by looking at the works here, magazines, books, etc., and see if it sparks a fire. Thanks!
    Good luck! Another thing I've done lately is make a list of what I know/love/am interested in. It's the sort of thing that gets you thinking about your roots and the things you get excited about or things that are important to you. Once you know that you can start thinking about different ways to get the message across.

    If you get the chance to go to a workshop that's good too. There's usually someone there doing something unexpected. And if there isn't then you can be the weird guy.
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  14. #8
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    I've been in a slump for over 5 years. In BIG part to personal events that were traumatic and interfered with my normal positive outlook. Time has passed, but, I still have residue from the past that is slowly scarring over and now I have had a chance to uncover some personal ticks to the uninspired or unmotivated state. I think most creative folks' sensitivity is fragile. Clutter our heads with too much and the creative flame is muffed, at least mine has been.
    I don't function well under pressure. But, In the business of commercial art this has to be resolved or you get no job.

    What I found, for me, was this:


    One of the things I’ve been having trouble implementing was finishing an art portfolio. Whenever I tried to tackle it with the end goal of a job in mind, I didn’t want to do it. Just stalled and eventually let other things distract me away without much resistance. But, not getting this phase of my life done created stress from the sense of failure I felt. I am done with stress. Emotional trauma hadn't completely cleared and I didn't/wasn't going to reach for more.
    The crushing pivotal of all this was : Too much pressure on getting a job. If I didn't - FAILURE! I grew resistant. So, I'm in stasis - Unhappy doing, unhappy not doing. I thought a “set goal” resistance was just my individual issue. After some research I realized it’s not so uncommon.


    I had absorbed the current take action and have a unyielding goal deadline approach, but, realized that I made all my paths rigid structures and all work. I killed landing a job as a goal. Sat this way for a little time and slowly my creative sensibilities began to appear. The priority shifted. I sought the childlike view of curiosity and exploration. With this as my primary goal, all projects had to be fun! The softer less prominent goal was still to finish a piece, but, only if the process became an exploration without tangible time constraints. I found myself enjoying the “work” and learning much more while preparing skills for that job in the future. It’s interesting that the small shift in the first step in the door, even though I am aware of this “deception” in approach has made such a difference in my sense of motivation.
For me it IS tied with the fear of making an all out effort and failing anyway. The other mental shift I made is in thinking of all experiences as feedback and none of them failures. An excellent way to view life, because that really is all it is. There is no judgement, only our personal perception.
    I agree to an extent that we deal with things with only what personal resources we have at the time. Sometimes the capacity to deal emotionally with what’s confronting us is not there. The other idea is that we get used to a routine. When i doesn't work it's still familiar and we cling to our comfort zones. We may not have the strength or understanding until we push or force the boundaries.
    I found this and thought the advice was excellent for getting down to the root of some of the creative blocks. Especially the freedom of a child's mind and the sketchbook.
    http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/inspir...d-inspiration/

    It has so much to do with where you are in life. I'm still working out this issue, and being honest with myself has been a bit painful, but, the only outcome is wonderful growth.
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  16. #9
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    "Mel Robbins - .....Tips........she calls the Five Second Rule. She said that if you're feeling stuck, get out of your head, which prefers autopilot versus expansion. "If you're in your head, you are behind enemy lines!" She.....suggest[s] picking up one thing that interests you. 'If you're stuck, it's because there's no motion. Move! Explore!' "
    Figure's 'n' Stuff SketchBook

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    "Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless."-Thomas A. Edison

    "Convention is craft. Invention is art. In art, knowledge assists invention"-John E. Carlsson

  17. #10
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    If my muse is late for work, I start without her.
    From Gegarin's point of view
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  19. #11
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    Do something that you know you're going to hate doing, but that will be a challenge to you. If you work digitally, work trad and vice versa. If you're a fine artist, work in a graphic style. If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. Shake yourself up and see where it leads you. Can't hurt...

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    I'm no professional but I have been doing this for nearly 20 years (right outta the womb!).

    For me, when I'm uninspired it's because I've either been doing too much of something, or haven't gotten out much.
    My professor was telling me of this artist who kept a day job just to give his life balance.
    Go outside and do something different.

    The reason I chose to comment in this thread is because I got a HUGE boost of inspiration the other day. I saw the band Korn at buzzfest. I had never seen a heavier band like them in concert.
    And holy shit...It was amazing. And it made me want to paint so freaking bad. I was inspired by the show they put on. So maybe even go see a concert if you'r into that sort of thing. ^_^
    The Sketchbook of Naj and Stu!:
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    And of course go check out the SB of DefiledVisions

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    sell all your crap, store the rest.
    go on an adventure to a country that is very different to your own, preferably one with a different national language, go with no plans, no time limits, no guide book.

    I've done this at least 3 times in my life. Twice it ended with me being completely broke, scavenging for jobs and cash and even just a place to sleep. But the stories afterwards, the people you meet, the things you see, all make it worth while, and when you finally get back to your drawing board you have a tonne of backed up experience, emotions and ideas to poor out.

  22. #14
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    Expand your interests outside your chosen creative endeavor.

    I am studying PC Repair & Japanese (but I can multitask so..).
    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director

  23. #15
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    Seconding Omen's suggestion on getting an interest outside of art.

    At the moment mine is Airsoft, luckily a friend of mine had extra equipment to loan me (that shit's expensive). It completely gets you disconnected from art and you're focussing more as a team, in a physical activity, rather than by yourself in a desk-oriented mental activity. - note: doesn't have to be airsoft, just a physical activity.

    Another thing which's really simple is blog rolling; go to an artists blog you like, if it's blogspot they'll have a bunch of artists listed down the side of the page most of the time. Open all the blogs in new tabs and just keep rolling through each blog saving images you like, and opening more blogs..... you can do this for hours and see hundreds of images in a single night that'll strike your fancy and start generating ideas / inspiration given a little time.

  24. #16
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    I've found going to the art gallery really inspires me or when I see another artist on this sites work it makes me want to paint.
    Usually I have a few works in progress at the same time I find that helps me.

  25. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by KlineCreative View Post
    I have been a professional artist for over 20 years, and as of late (4 months), I haven't painted. I can't get back my inspiration to paint. This slump is getting worse with every passing day, and when I "force" the work, I become more discouraged. Any tips on getting back the desire? I've even tried other mediums, but the excitement didn't last. I need inspiration!
    Do you not like painting? I don't remember ever needing to be inspired to do something I really like. Maybe you really don't like it and nothing will ever inspire you then. Just because we can do something doesn't mean we like to do it. I was always pretty darn good at math but I hate doing it. No concert, no walk in the woods, no looking at great math problems will ever inspire me to want to do math.

    You have done something for 20 years but maybe you just don't like to do it anymore. There might be something else. Don't want to be a downer but I think inspiration is fleeting. it can help in a short rah rah sort of way and I like that but painting and image making is a long haul kind of thing and we can't need inspiration every time we look at a blank canvas.

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  27. #18
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    Inspiration is for amateurs.

    Tristan Elwell
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  29. #19
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    This might sound strange, but change your lifestyle up a bit. Start eating really healthy or go outside to ride a bike or something. Buy a bowflex. I started doing this kind of stuff about half a year ago and I've felt so much better and Im not even really overweight. I've been producing art like crazy just because I feel so good.

    Another thing you can do is go to an art museum. Like a real one. With oil paintings. There's soooo much inspiration in a giant canvas of pigments. Or even little portraits.

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  31. #20
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    Chop off dominant hand. Go from there.
    What would Caravaggio do?
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  33. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    If my muse is late for work, I start without her.
    My muse never pitched up for work, so eventually I fired her. If you want something done right, do it yourself. :-)
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  35. #22
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    I'm far too lenient. She gets biscuits and coffee and her coat taken whatever time she shows up.
    From Gegarin's point of view
    http://www.chrisbennettartist.co.uk/

  36. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Inspiration is for amateurs.
    The full context of my above quote:
    “The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.”
    ― Chuck Close

    Tristan Elwell
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  38. #24
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    Elwell, you left out the part where a big anvil falls on your head.
    What would Caravaggio do?
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    I'm not an artist-- yet, or even, maybe ever.

    But, in my current "situation," if I ever lagged in performing my duties for "lack of inspiration," I'm pretty sure my superiors would summarily fire my ass.

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    Also cutting the internet and TV cord can do surprising wonders... Sometimes it's hard to feel inspired when there's bazillion tempting distractions.
    "I eat comics and poop stylization"
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  42. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by AztcFireFlower View Post
    I've been in a slump for over 5 years. In BIG part to personal events that were traumatic and interfered with my normal positive outlook. Time has passed, but, I still have residue from the past that is slowly scarring over and now I have had a chance to uncover some personal ticks to the uninspired or unmotivated state. I think most creative folks' sensitivity is fragile. Clutter our heads with too much and the creative flame is muffed, at least mine has been.
    I don't function well under pressure. But, In the business of commercial art this has to be resolved or you get no job.

    What I found, for me, was this:


    One of the things I’ve been having trouble implementing was finishing an art portfolio. Whenever I tried to tackle it with the end goal of a job in mind, I didn’t want to do it. Just stalled and eventually let other things distract me away without much resistance. But, not getting this phase of my life done created stress from the sense of failure I felt. I am done with stress. Emotional trauma hadn't completely cleared and I didn't/wasn't going to reach for more.
    The crushing pivotal of all this was : Too much pressure on getting a job. If I didn't - FAILURE! I grew resistant. So, I'm in stasis - Unhappy doing, unhappy not doing. I thought a “set goal” resistance was just my individual issue. After some research I realized it’s not so uncommon.


    I had absorbed the current take action and have a unyielding goal deadline approach, but, realized that I made all my paths rigid structures and all work. I killed landing a job as a goal. Sat this way for a little time and slowly my creative sensibilities began to appear. The priority shifted. I sought the childlike view of curiosity and exploration. With this as my primary goal, all projects had to be fun! The softer less prominent goal was still to finish a piece, but, only if the process became an exploration without tangible time constraints. I found myself enjoying the “work” and learning much more while preparing skills for that job in the future. It’s interesting that the small shift in the first step in the door, even though I am aware of this “deception” in approach has made such a difference in my sense of motivation.
For me it IS tied with the fear of making an all out effort and failing anyway. The other mental shift I made is in thinking of all experiences as feedback and none of them failures. An excellent way to view life, because that really is all it is. There is no judgement, only our personal perception.
    Wow, thanks a lot for the great post. That's some great insight.

    I find myself getting stuck with anxiety too. I can never understand people who make schedules and plans. It's really the least efficient way for me to work.

    When I go like, I'm gonna fill up these 10 pages of sketchbook, it just doesn't work, but when I go try just put up some music and draw with no real expectations, I end up drawing for 5 or 6 hours on end. Just let it flow I guess ;D

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