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Has anyone else dealt with difficulty creating? To make a long story short, I've always been the artistic sort and never ran out of ideas. Now I'm unable to output anything without major self-censoring. In fact, it's been several years since I've been productive art-wise. Needless to say, this can be destructive to one majoring in studio art, as I was when this all began. I have several theories as to when and why, but I'm just wondering how others deal with this misery and GET OVER IT. In the meantime, I leave you with a story from Steve Martin's book Cruel Shoes . The Bohemians Were they rebels? Were they artists? Were they outcasts from society? They were all of these. They were The Bohemians. These Bohemians, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Williams, and their seven children, Biff, Tina, Sparky, Louise, Tuffy, Mickey, and Biff Number Two, lived in a notorious artist's colony and planned community. Naturally, the bohemian's existence thrived on creativity. Early in the morning, Mrs. Williams would rise and create breakfast. Then, Mr. Williams, inspired by his wife's limitless energy, would rush off to a special room and create tiny hairs in a sink. The children would create things, too. But being temperamental artists, they would often flush them away without a second thought. But the bohemians' creativity didn't stop there. Mr. Williams would then rush off downtown and create reams and reams of papers with numbers on them and send them out to other Bohemians who would create special checks to send to him with figures like $7.27written on them. At home, the children would be creating unusual music, using only their voices to combine in avant-garde, atonal melodies. Yes, these were the bohemians. A seething hot-bed of rebellion-the artists, the creators of all things that lie between good and bad.

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how about doing something with absolutely no point and no criticism, just get something down and build on it?


or how about some parameters for some random art? I've done that in writing some music and it can be done in other areas too. for instance, can you do a representative drawing by making only 5-10 lines on the paper?
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hmm, I have two trains of thought on this. I like the second idea better.
Perhaps quantity might help you work through to the quality... by that I mean, just create something. Even if you over-analyze, over-think it in your mind as you do it. Get it done and then move on. Then move on and create the next one, and the next one. It may be arduous at first but you may jumpstart that creative process by turning the key again and again.
My other thought... work on a project when you're tired. Tiredness tends to let my defenses, even artistic censorship, down. It's easier to get into that zone of thinking on the right side of the brain.
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:1: Works for me every time.
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hmm, I have two trains of thought on this. I like the second idea better.
Perhaps quantity might help you work through to the quality... by that I mean, just create something. Even if you over-analyze, over-think it in your mind as you do it. Get it done and then move on. Then move on and create the next one, and the next one. It may be arduous at first but you may jumpstart that creative process by turning the key again and again.
My other thought... work on a project when you're tired. Tiredness tends to let my defenses, even artistic censorship, down. It's easier to get into that zone of thinking on the right side of the brain.
stream of conciousness was what I was thinking, I guess. just do and do, let it flow, don't criticize it too much, set it aside if you don't like the way it's going and move on to the next thing.
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Thanks for the input, all. What I did last night was along the lines of these suggestions. I put away all the books ("how to", "learn to", "be...") and whipped out a limited palette of watercolors (Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Cobalt Blue) and just started moving paint around on some quarter-sections of large sheets of Bristol board (I didn't even use a ruler and X-Acto to cut them!) Nothing "worthy" resulted, but I'll toss 'em in the collage materials box for later dissection.

I'm still open to ideas any of you may have. I'll definitely try the exhaustion method (hey, worked in college!) and some "automatic" mark-making with a limit of lines, colors, etc. I really appreciate it!
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You might consider this silly, since I am not an artist, but get a cup of coffee and sit in a cozy area and review the work of artists you respect and others that you don't respect at all. Let all of their work speak to you--sometimes the best of what you like and the worst of what you don't combine to spur you on to your own creation.


Also, find your "happy place". (Bookstore? A local coffee shop? A local parK?) Relax, enjoy your surroundings and just "be". Remember the saying, "It's always darkest before the dawn"? Your creative spirit might be in that "dark" phase right before a glorious dawn. Slow down, enjoy the "absence" for what it is--if you force it you might miss something absolutely magnificent.
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Does your major have anything to do with what you're currently doing for a living or is this "fun" art you're talking about? Sometimes if we are working in a creative field, we have difficulty separating the judgment and personal prejudices that make us so successful at work when we just want to create something for ourselves. It's kinda like the saying, "never make your bedroom your home office" If this is the case, find a way to separate the two, perhaps try another medium for fun and see if that breaks through?

I like aire's idea too....becoming more carefree externally often breaks the internal blockages too. I'm a writer by hobby and I go through this often, mainly because I spend so much time writing and editing at work and at school that I have a tough time doing fun writing just because I enjoy it.

Maybe if you can share some of your theories as to why this is happening, we can help more?
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Alrighty...I'll follow up on this later. I'm near the end of my afternoon break at work and may not have time until late this evening to respond. Lots to ponder! I will say that "having time to think/meditate" is one of the primary reasons that I got back into running. It does me a world of good in that realm. To borrow a tongue-in-cheek line (that actually does apply in ths case) from Neil Innes' song "Mr. Apollo" -- ...everybody knows that a healthy body makes a healthy mind.
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O.K., genie ... finally got some time to answer this. However, I am exhausted from racing/fraternizing and have a long ride tomorrow, so I'll try to be concise. :)

My major doesn't have much to do with my current job (digital printing for photography) beyond retouching images. So I don't think I'm feeling pressure there. The pressure that I perceive is that I would prefer to make art for a living and not have to work for anyone else.

Theories? Bipolar depression and fatigue? Depression and anxiety attacks started after a head injury in a car vs. bike accident. I was on Prozac/Lithium for awhile and got to see what being a zombie is like. So, I quit taking the meds because I couldn't deal with the side effects and didn't want to get back on the "try another med" rollercoaster. Probably not a good idea.

Today I had my first physical in three years and asked my doc to prescribe meds...so I'm going to try Lexapro and see if that helps. If I'm lucky, I'll at least get some relief from IBS that seems to be stress-triggered -- and I stress over everything.

Also, I'm hyper-critical of myself and went through a phase for a few years where I would create art and destroy it immediately. While my work isn't worth anything, I've forced myself to stop using it as a voodoo doll / punching bag.

Gah -- this all sounds like TMI (too much information), but I feel it's germane to the situation.

In the meantime, I've gone back to doing some beadwork and that is therapeutic. Next, I'll be making macram plant hangers and writing letters home in crayon. :D

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Hmmm...that is a handful. Were you diagnosed bipolar before the accident? Normally that isn't something that occurs from a head injury, I don't think. I can definitely see where some structural damage might have occured as a result of the accident, which could trigger the depression/anxiety attacks if you never had that before, and honestly, there could be a little PTSD in there from it also. Car vs. bike usually only has one winner--and it's rarely the bike. :(

Sounds like there's much more under the surface than is probably wise to reveal in public, and that your struggle is paradoxical: you have a tool- a gift, really-your creativity-which you can use to work through/express what's going on inside, but the issues themselves can rise up and become destructive in response to what's trying to come out in the form of artwork. I saw a lot of this in art therapy when I worked with inpatients. It's very common, so don't feel like you're weird or anything for going through this.

If you're comfortable and want to chat more about this, PM me. :)

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Thanks for the response, genie. :) I don't believe the accident caused the depression -- merely triggered something I'd been able to keep under wraps until then. I'd had no "attacks" until after the wreck and agree that PTSD played a role. The bipolar diagnosis was after the wreck when I went for a battery of med and psych tests. Now I wear a helmet. I would've been saved a lot of grief if I'd had one on that day. I'm sure that the issues with anxiety and depression would've eventually surfaced, anyway (traumatic childhood, blah, blah)... I just could've done without the headaches, nightmares, missed school, and screwed-up memory. Fortunately, the physical aspects of that have gone away. :) So, just like other folks here have suggested, I'm going to keep working through it. Afraid of "failure," I've been guilty of hiding from my art supplies. Heh. I've been so irregular with artwork that I've lost much of my dexterity with materials. I can barely sign my name in a recognizable manner, but I rawk in UBB and computer games. lol :P Thanks, all!
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