Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Art!

Finally, an idea strikes! It’s in your mind perfectly – the subject, color palette and feeling. You pull out your art supplies and block off time to bring this beauty to life…but when you go to paint it feels stuck! The dread of artists block settles in, and we all are far too familiar with it. Getting your ideas out of your head and onto the canvas can be an absolute challenge. Too often we leave incredible works of art in our imagination because of the space between imagination and reality. That experience is frustrating and repeating the cycle of frustration can take an isolated incidence of creative block and make it something we grow to expect. The excitement of an idea quickly leads to the apprehension about how to make it come to life, creating a psychological connection between imagination and anxiety.

 

How do we break this rather dissatisfying pattern? For some artists, daily or regular practice is one way to lessen the hesitation between thought and work. If you find that you’re only going to the canvas to create your final masterpiece, that can be nerve-wracking to say the least! Often our creativity needs to be teased out, or like a child left slightly unsupervised so the judgmental parts of our brain can’t interject. For others, it’s a process of starting from taking photographs, editing them, making small pencil sketches, translating that into small painting sketches, mixing paints and then finally, being ready to proceed. Then you have those bold free spirits among us that move forward best by just going for it – any color goes on the canvas, any mediums are subject to being used and somewhere in this creative madness emerges the idea of its own accord. In this blog we will explore a few productive ways to encourage our imaginations to flow freely from our minds eye to our fingertips.

REGULAR PRACTICE

 

If creating art has become a formal process where you only make time when you are ‘performing’ a final work, you may be unintentionally creating some frustration. A regular, stress-free but scheduled practice may alleviate some of that tension as you can warm up that connection between imagination and substrate without the added pressure of making sure it’s perfect. This is a great time to play, pick a medium you don’t usually work in, collage, mock things up, try different techniques like cross hatching, contour drawing, drawing upside down. If you’ve got some figures or portraits lingering in your mind, perhaps you focus on some basic anatomy lessons. If you’re doing landscapes, play around with some color mixing, or try using only a palette knife making bold marks. Many artists use 30-day classes or tutorials (like Sktchy), others find inspiration in using prompts only (like Inktober for instance). The trick is to make creating a part of your day-to-day life, easing the pathways for your creativity to come to life. You also might find unique ways to incorporate different methods and styles into your work that will capture the essence of your golden idea.  Robert Kelley is one that often works in his Moleskin journal!  At the end of the day, he will lounge on the couch, watch a show, and sketch!  He says it is a way for him to enjoy the process and get "out of his head"!

RobertKelleyJournal4
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Excerpts From Robert Kelley's Journal - View Online Classes

SMALL SKETCHES

 

If you are used to painting on a large canvas or a beautiful sheet of unmarked heavy duty artists paper, small sketches can be a great way to shake out any artistic wiggles between our mind and our hands! A small size (this may be paper or canvas or whatever you can think), encourages us to focus only on the essentials. Some artists will use small 4x6 canvases or create a grid of small squares in a sketchpad. We start focusing on negative space around a subject, or the angle of flowers in a vase, or isolate a complex image to only 3 tones – highlight, mid-tone and shadow. Distilling the most vital elements of an idea can help us let our work shine. Frequently in this form of warm-up or play we allow ourselves to experiment a little more with, “What if…” options. We move a hand out of the picture entirely, or change angles, we realize we really want a softer look rather than high contrast. Taking your idea (if you can) and teasing out a handful of sketches beforehand can be a great way to break up the task into bite size pieces.

Pictures of Rose Cameron's Practice Painting and Sketching

USING A TABLET

 

Programs like Procreate can be a fabulous way to play. You can start with a blank canvas or import a photograph or piece of art that inspires you as the first layer. Build your way up along additional layers, giving yourself the ultimate freedom to grab an endless array of tools, techniques, mediums and colors! Hands-down the most forgiving method of trial and error as anything you don’t like can be gone at the click of a button. For added fun, try hiding layers you’ve created in between – every once in a while, you will find you don’t need something you would have done in real life! This is also a great way to adjust or decide where to go next if you get stuck mid-creation. Have you ever wondered what your work would look like with a bold stripe through it? Or if you added a repeating stenciled pattern in the background? Try cropping your work or adding distortion. The possibilities are truly endless. This is your judgement-free playground and bonus points for not worrying about wasting any materials or making any mistakes you can’t fix.

Pictures of Kellye Fowlkes and her Procreate practice!

KEEP AN IDEA JOURNAL

 

Tried all the suggestions and the idea is still stuck in your mind? Keeping an idea journal is a great way to not lose track of those flashes of brilliance. Maybe you don’t have the right medium yet, or you haven’t developed a certain skill quite enough yet to really bring your concept to life. Jotting down what the idea is, how you feel, what moves you about the idea, even what kind of music or thoughts you are having will help you be able to return to this at the right time. Maybe this looks like a written journal, a collage book, or a combination of colors, images, drawings and ideas all taped together to remind you of something that sparked an idea! Much like people, the right ideas sometimes find us at the wrong time. You just might find that as you flip through your idea journal, you’ll bump into an idea that is ready for you!  View some examples of Deanna Strachan-Wilson's journal and artwork below!

Excerpts From Deanna Strachan Wilson's Journal

Do you have other ideas to share with out community!  We want to hear them!  Please comment below!

 

HeArtfully yours,

 

Kara

20 Comments

  1. Christine Edwards on January 10, 2022 at 12:05 PM

    Thank you Kara,
    My head is full of ideas, but lack of confidence always let’s me down.
    I have bought a sketckbook it’s only me who will see it.
    The above is so full of helpful ways to inspire.
    I have just watched Robert Kelly’s video I loved every minute of it, it is so inspiring I love his way of working. I have so many photographs of family members I want to produce in charcoal.
    This week I will defiantly use one with the help of Robert Kelly video.
    Regards Chris

    • Christina Ceuppens on January 10, 2022 at 2:21 PM

      My problem is, I have too many ideas. Also collected on Pinterest and Instagram a thousand things I want to try. Plus several courses waiting for me. I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. When I started art jounaling 15 years ago, I had 1 journal and 1 box of supplies. And I was so creative. Now I have a cupboard filled with supplies, a head and phone filled with ideas and all I do is scroll and watch videos. Am I the only one?

      • Kara Bullock on January 10, 2022 at 9:12 PM

        Christina,

        I also often have too many ideas! I try to write them down so that I can go back to them as time allows! Sometimes I find that scheduling time for scrolling through social media, and scheduling time for arting is super helpful!

        xo

        Kara

      • Yvonne on January 11, 2022 at 8:53 AM

        No, that’s me too! I began collecting bits and pieces for art when I was too busy with work and family to use much at all. Although I am retired now, various events and circumstances can sometimes put creative tasks on hold. Despite everything, the ideas keep on coming! I keep a notebook for thumbnails and working out ideas, often in biro. Some ideas in my head have been there for years, practically fully worked out and I feel certain that these ideas in particular, that stand the test of time, will be created one by one. Sometimes when I don’t know where to start or how to pick up work to complete I find an little art-related task to do. It might be testing out a few colours, preparing a background, reading up on how to use a medium. If this is done in the area I do art in, the short task relaxes me and eases me into painting or drawing. I have also found that having a sort of inventory, particularly where colours are concerned, can be really useful and quite satisfying to do. It certainly has stopped me buying an item I already have!

        • Kara Bullock on January 11, 2022 at 8:15 PM

          You have shared some really wonderful ideas!!! Love the inventory of colors idea!!

      • Catht on January 11, 2022 at 5:37 PM

        Nope, I am right there in the same place.

    • Kara Bullock on January 10, 2022 at 9:10 PM

      Hi Christine!

      I hear you on that! I do think that confidence often gets the best of us! I am excited you are inspired by Robert’s lesson and I hope that you will share what you create!

      Kara

  2. Cathy Davies on January 10, 2022 at 12:19 PM

    What a great and informative article!

    When I find it all too hard and I’m feeling like is all too overwhelming I just create backgrounds…..chose a colour palette, a range of tools, stencils, various media and just let loose on a few sheets of paper at once….what’s the worse that can happen?

    This at least gets me creating something and I let go of the outcome and the backgrounds are there for when I’m ready to do something more.

    But going with some of Kara’s suggestions above, I recently watched Dylan Sara’s live video on Let’s Face It 2022, with his quick timed gestural sketching and I loved it! This is something I can definitely take forward and sit on the couch in the evening doing on a regular basis!

    Thank you, Kara.

    • Kara Bullock on January 10, 2022 at 9:14 PM

      Cathy,

      I am so happy you enjoyed the post! I love the idea of creating backgrounds when you are feeling overwhelmed! Yes, when we can just let loose and not feel the pressure to create something super incredible, it is absolutely freeing! Excellent suggestions! I love Dylan’s sketching sessions! He does these weekly! Check out his IG account for more info!!

      Kara

  3. pnasiopulos on January 10, 2022 at 1:19 PM

    Kara,
    Thank you, once again, for helping me grow and discover new ways to enrich my art experience. You always give from your heart, and I truly appreciate your generosity.

    • Kara Bullock on January 10, 2022 at 9:15 PM

      You are so kind! I am happy you are here and feeling inspired!!

      Kara

  4. Barbara DeGrande on January 10, 2022 at 2:02 PM

    I so admire beautiful journals created by talented people, but for me they are aspirational only. Still I keep doing daily sketchees and over a period of months and years, I get closer to creating things that please me. Thank you for the encouragement to keep going, keep creating, and getting things out of the head and into reality!

    • Kara Bullock on January 11, 2022 at 8:16 PM

      Hi Barbara!

      I agree with you. I admire journals, too, but I don’t enjoy them much. Sometimes I wish I did, because I don’t think there is much more beautiful than a completely filled up journal!

      Kara

  5. Mai on January 10, 2022 at 2:56 PM

    I might not be an artist like many people here, I am newley learning but I have learned to just do it. Alnost daily to just let it out on my sketchbook or notebook. I create from my heart and just be do and feel. This helped me to imprive my skills now at least i can draw something unlike before. And imrpove my mood :)) sometimes i see 2 month or one year back and I laugh or say wow. So for me to just do it and feel freeeeeeeee who cares if its awful i create for me my mind my soul. And one more tip; give tools and meduims a chance and see where ur heart goes. Happy to be part of lets face it 2022

    • JE Young( Liz) on January 10, 2022 at 11:51 PM

      The same as many other people I’m pleased to see…so many ideas and I don’t know which to start on. So very glad I’ve joined the course , this I hope will focus me and give me subject matter. Thank you so much

    • Pamala on January 11, 2022 at 9:37 AM

      I love your enthusiasm and heart! And am inspired by your perspective.

    • Kara Bullock on January 11, 2022 at 8:17 PM

      Mai,

      I think that the best frame of mind is that of a new artist. We just make the time because we are so excited and it is all we can think about. We won’t let anything get in the way….I need to get back to that frame of mind!

      Kara

  6. Cyd on January 11, 2022 at 1:41 PM

    Hi there! I’m so grateful to be part of this inspiring community. As is so often the case with the incredible generosity of contributing artists, this blog is exactly what I need in this moment. A few months ago, I rented my first art studio space moved in, organized ALL (!) of my supplies, and now I find myself a bit intimidated by the big ideas I’m supposed to create, lol. I’m excited to explore some of the suggestions above to see if I can break out of this slump I’m in–especially the small scale daily practice that I can do at home. This past weekend, I put together an inspiration board by going through some of the collage materials, photos, and other bric-a-brac that I’ve collected. I’m excited to see if it helps and wanted to share that idea in case it’s helpful to others. Thanks Kara for continuing to support all of us through your encouraging, thoughtful, and enthusiastic spirit.

    • Kara Bullock on January 11, 2022 at 8:18 PM

      Cyd,

      I am so grateful to have you here with us! I love the idea of an inspiration board! Not only are they fun to create, they are also beautiful to look at! I plan to put one up in my studio when it is complete! Join our FB community and share a pic. I would love to see it!

      Kara

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