Summertime Sadness: How To Survive A Creative Drought

"The Man" by Dana Huffsmith

"The Man" by Dana Huffsmith

Ah, it's that dreamy time of year again. 

Invigorating morning yoga sessions, fresh watermelon, and watching the most gorgeous array of colors paint the sky as the sun sets-- these are a few of our favorite things! There's no doubt that summertime brings a tranquil vibe to almost every aspect of life, but spending a few weeks (perhaps months) without a daily routine can get to be discouraging... especially for those who love to create and imagine. The extra down time during the summer months can be a huge blessing to some crafty/artistic folks, but others may find themselves in a creative rut. When inspiration is scarce, it's difficult to feel like you're making a move in the right direction-- but you can do it! We've done some research and asked advice from all kinds of experts about how they recover. Here are 5 ways to get out of an artistic rut: 

1. Multitask

While it may seem somewhat unnerving to start a new piece before one is finished, having several creative projects in the works is great a way to stay productive when inspiration seems lackluster. Artist Dmitry Samarov shared his experiences with creative block for Huffington Post, stating. "I like to have several things going at once. That way, if one's not coming I can work on something else... There's nothing worse than trying to force it and the world doesn't need any more bad art." When fresh ideas for are in short supply, try experimenting with multiple concepts in different works. You may find it super helpful to ward off creative block if you have more options on the drawing board (the literal or metaphorical kind)!

2. Escape With Art 

Sometimes life's crazy circumstances become a blockade for free expression, and that's understandable--but what if we started looking at making art as a way to deal with those stressors? "Escaping with art" doesn't mean that all other obligations go away, it simply implies that life's stressful demands should be put on the back burner while you positively invest your energy in the work you're creating. For illustrator Dana Huffsmith, art is a go-to method for her in dealing with the issues caused by chronic illness:

"For the past six years, I've been fighting an invisible, chronic illness. The thing with chronic illness is you often lose your interest in your hobbies and the things that once made you immensely happy. I've struggled with staying inspired, motivated, and having the energy to keep on creating...For the longest time, I thought if I told people about my illness, being "sick" is what would define me. I now realize being sick does not define you, but what you choose to do when you aren't feeling ill. That is what you let define you. I choose to create art."

Choose art, and let life's difficulties create a pathway to some of your most authentic, emotive work.

3. Let Go

While attention to detail can definitely produce some insanely cool results, getting bogged down by minuscule details while trying to establish a general concept in your work can get pretty tiring. It's important to keep an open mindset and avoid regarding your current project as the best thing you'll ever create; Author Scott Berkun writes, "Obsessing about every little choice is a sure fire way to prevent great work from happening. Try a bold choice. Put the beginning at the end, or the top at the bottom. Blow up your work into jagged pieces and put them back together. You might just find this opens doors you didn't even know were there. (Scott Berkun)" Be positive about what you make, but remember that there countless ways your work could evolve and improve! 

4. Take Care Of Yourself

Recently, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of self care, and we couldn't be more on board with it! The idea is simple-- actively seek ways to take care of your body and mind. Far too often, artists become worn out from work which can be both physically and mentally demanding. If you find yourself running out of motivation to finish a piece, take a step back and breathe. Creative block could be your body's way of asking for a bit of TLC! An excellent start to self-care can easily be stepping outside for a 15 minute walk in the middle of a drawing session, or eating a nutritious meal. Long term practices like yoga and meditation produce amazing results, because they are designed to keep your body and mind in harmony (which is so important for artists or just about anyone!). Take care of yourself, and when the time comes to get creative, you'll feel a new spark of inspiration! 

5. Set Boundaries

In contrast to multitasking, some artists work positively in a minimalist environment-- one concept at a time, and lots of practice and studying of that one idea. York based videographer, Greg Timmons, claims this to be the best way for him to re-discover his love for a certain aspect of film:

“I’ll purposely leave most equipment behind, forcing myself to work with a single lens, which allows me to break away from the habits I’ve formed over the years. The entire process becomes a ritual of problem solving, resulting in footage that has interesting framing, angles, shapes, flares and other unique character building features. Regardless of the quality of the footage, the practice of creative problem-solving reminds me of discovering the camera for the first time. It renews my faith in thinking creatively."

While it may seem too limiting at first, a resourceful mindset combined with specific criteria is often a recipe for brilliance!

When a creative rut strikes, it feels like forever before you're able to continue making art, but just remember that you aren't alone! Every artist struggles with this at some point, and The Parliament is made of people who are ready to help in any way they can. Don't hesitate to contact us for any questions, or stop at our gallery for some tranquility and inspiration! Good luck, and good art!