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6 Quotes To Help Overcome Creative Block

Move from a state of unproductivity to a place of creative flourishing.

How often do you find yourself in a creative block? When ideas seem so far out of reach, do you ever wonder and question everything you are doing? What words do you lean on until you can stand on your own?

Words are powerful. What we ingest can have an incredible impact on our creative state of mind. Below are six quotes from some of the greatest artists and thinkers. Hopefully, these words move you from a state of unproductivity to a place of creative flourishing.

1. Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world. - Brene Brown

As artists, we have an immense privilege and responsibility to share our perspective with the world – to communicate feelings and ideas that cannot be articulated with words. It is a vulnerable place sharing your soul. No one else has lived life your life but artists all share similarities and common hurdles. The way you have overcome your challenges probably will speak to another. Henri Matisse said, 'creativity takes courage' and it certainly does.

2. There's no diploma in the art world that declares you as an artist--it's not like becoming a doctor. You can declare yourself an artist and then figure out how to be an artist. - Kara Walker

Anyone can be an artist, no matter what their education or path. While you can get a Degree in Studio Art or a Masters in Fine Art, that degree is not what makes to go to your studio everyday or keep a sketchbook practice. It is as much a mindset as it is the repeated actions of learning what it means to be an artist. If you find yourself with a creative block, remember that shifting your mindset can help to figure out your next steps.

3. I shut my eyes in order to see. - Paul Gauguin

We are living in a world where visual stimuli are constantly thrust on us in every direction. It is hard to catch a visual break for us to truly see. Try shutting your eyes. Where does your mind go? The unknown can be intimidating, but often it is in those places where discovery and growth happens. Think about what you want to do when you have nothing else to do, what is that thing? Use your answer(s) to begin creating. 

4. Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art. - Andy Warhol

Most of the time when we are struggling in creative slumps, we just need to put something down and let the work take us where it needs to go. We spend too much time thinking about making art and not actually making art. We wonder if people will like it, if it will be approved, if our intent will be clear. Try working on pieces of material you might not be super invested in. It is in this process of creating, that discoveries will be made and curiosity will grow. 

5. Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. - Scott Adams

The process of creating can be super frustrating at times – we either love what we make or simply hate it. For the artist, we often are in a state of questioning of whether it is complete and what more the piece needs from us to hold its own. It is in those places of mistake making where discoveries are made – discoveries of what you like, what you don't like, what elements you lean more towards, what subject matter you enjoy, what concepts you're thinking about, what your process looks like, etc. Acknowledging your thoughts and feelings throughout your time of creating is super important. Remember the iconic words of Bob Ross, 'we don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents.'

6. I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free. - Georgia O'Keeffe

How beautiful is this quote by O'Keeffe? Letting other people's opinion of your process and outcome go down the drain. Whether your work is accepted or rejected, you know where it stands! How freeing! Don't get me wrong, there is a time for critique. But often when we are in creative blocks we can let our minds go to places where we are so concerned about what everyone else will think of our work. Let your process be your process. Try and let people's flattery or criticism have its appropriate place. You are the master of your work, nobody else can be.

I'd encourage you to open up past sketchbooks, draw on something unconventional, build something unfamiliar, limit your use of materials, explore the unknown, and please don't be too hard on yourself. 

Robert Hughes said, 'The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize'. If you're doubting yourself, you are in good company. Just don't stay there, be courageous and create something, anything. Just create.


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