Tuesday, July 7, 2009


my art work has a rhythm. creative juice often ebbs and flows - sometimes i have so many ideas they converge one atop the other - when this happens i have to make notes, sketches and to do lists. other times i feel the challenged to come up with something new. i get painter's block. i have a few tricks i use to overcome artist block. i will share them with you here.
first you might ask, why do you even worry about it - you don't need to be painting 24/7 - you are supported. why stress - if you have a block just wait for it to clear itself before moving on ....like, paint only when the mood is right.
well, this is not how i feel. i feel that i must be working at it constantly - i am very driven -too driven. probably.

besides i have assignments from the somerset studio publications - i am an artist on call for them, so there is deadline work.
which i love.

but overcoming a block --- most people who collect my work know that when i get "stuck" in a painting - i will just incorporate a fish. that's right. i will paint a fish into the composition to get me passed the "almost finished - only it just needs one more thing" feeling. i don't labor over the many, many possibilities, instead i give myself freedom - freedom in the form of a fish. any fish will do - mostly they are of the made up sort. recently i did an entire painting in fish because i was stumped before i started! that piece was recently showing at the escondido arts partnership show called "art and science". the piece was entitled "swim school". the fish were actually painted over photos of myself and others receiving swim awards, circa 1967. fun.

here are other ways i combat painter's block:

1. put the painting away for a day, use the next day's fresh eyes to crack the mystery.
2. make sure there are not too many conflicting colors fighting for attention. if this is so, i paint out one of the offending colors and then look at it with fresh eyes.
3. throw it on the ground, then throw magazine cutouts on top to see if one "works".
4. doodle on a separate piece of paper.
5. find my personal center - sometimes i can't finish a painting because i am not clear in the head. when i realize this, i take some time off and make a to do list.
6. look through my vast collection of artbooks, photography, graphics, letter forms, collage sheets, family album, cartoons and textiles. usually something will grab me - unfortunately what gabs me is not always what will work in the current painting - makes me want to start anew.
7. make a random mark on the painting and then work to resolve it.
8. paint at a different time of the day. usually i paint from 9:30 to 4 with an hour swim break. if i get up earlier - this often helps to break the block. sometimes, i wake up in the middle of the night and resolve my block then.
9. look at other artists work - those artist whose art i cherish - this isn't always paintings, i like to look at photography, dance and listen to music. sometimes i go to barnes and noble to see if there are any interesting new books.
10. go to an art store (very dangerous) look for different tools, different mediums and additives...
11. change up paintbrush size or use a different tool.
and the best way to over come painters block is to ask another artist for a critique.
so, what's your fish? some people use horses, hats, shoes, words, houses, embellishments, transparent papers or scrap papers, certain markings like watermarks, etc.


Marilyn Rock said...

Great post Lisa! Thanks for your list of how to work on the "block".

My "fish" is a crow :)

Anonymous said...

i love your fish paintings Lisa! love Rona x

Neen said...

This is a very useful list. Right now, I have a ton of backgrounds done, but have to find just the right images for each of the. I appreciate and will use your tips to match them up and hopefully they'll turn out great!

Search This Blog