What do I do when I go into my studio and feel totally lost? I may have a couple of works underway but all I can do is stare at them and wonder what comes next. It is not that I have lost my enthusiasm for them. The problem is actually a lack of mental energy to move forward. The desire is there but the brain won't engage. Often, the answer is to pick up the paintbrush/pencil or whatever my weapon and just get started. Usually, my brain just goes, "oh well, if I have to," and soon I am cruising along.
Sometimes, though, I don't cruise along. The brush is loaded with paint and painting has commenced but still my brain refuses to co-operate. It kicks me in the back and says, "hey, your back's sore," and then it biffs me in the head and says, "now, you have a headache and if you don't get out of your studio, you will see what else I can do to you."
I decide that maybe a coffee and a bite to eat will do the trick, but, no! A short walk might invigorate me - again, no! Possibly a quick visit with a friend will sort things out - nope! Tidy my studio - not on your nelly! My brain has decided my studio is out of bounds. Okay, it isn't going to happen so what now?
First, I wander around my garden and then set the sprinkler going. I sit and watch the birds for awhile. Then, I go to my computer and catch up on some marketing of my artwork on social media and updating my websites. Now, satisfied that, at least, I have done a bit of work, I enjoy myself with some artist research.
I love to see what other artists are doing and how they solve their problems. Lately, I have been watching some artist videos. I particularly like those that share insights into how they work. It can be very inspirational to listen to and watch competent, professional artists explain their art practices and offer guidance to others. I may not be in my studio painting - instead, I am being inspired, uplifted and having my creativity and purpose in life reassured.
My brain is content, it is being nourished instead of being endlessly productive. Once it is satisfied that it has been allowed to relax, been cared for, given fresh fodder and some new insights, my brain will release me from its captivity and allow me back to the studio. Relaxation provides restoration and I can approach my work with new vigour.
When we take on a lot of mental work, we can become mentally fatigued. We need to slow down occasionally, take a break and change our routine to refresh ourselves. Work undertaken in a state of fatigue will never be our best work. Having a break to recharge will enable us to perform better and faster. We will be more efficient and effective with our time and our work will continue to improve instead of stagnate.
This is the case in all situations and for everyone, not just artists. Continually pushing ourselves too hard without rest and relaxation will eventually push us over the edge. Rest and relaxation does not mean 'do nothing'. It means doing something different, something enjoyable, something that reinvigorates you and just taking a moment to reflect on your wonderful life to recharge yourself.
Scientific American has an article 'Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime' by Ferris Jabr, October 15, 2013. It is an engaging article based on research and scientific studies.
An interesting blog by Sarah May Bates, December 5, 2015, is 'Burnout: How to deal with creative and mental exhaustion'. The blog references an article found in Psychology Today, 'Refueling Your Engine: Strategies to Reduce Stress and Avoid Burnout', by Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy. D., January 11, 2011.
Now, I am going to share a couple of videos by an American artist, Stefan Baumann, who I have been following. I love watching his videos. They are full of useful knowledge, casual funny moments and tons of inspiration. He freely shares his thoughts on art, his guidance to artists, his knowledge, his joy of painting and his encouragement to keep on keeping on. The first video addresses artist block or burnout.
After you have looked at the videos, check out his website where you will find many more of his videos under the heading 'Instruction' and then click on 'YouTube Lectures' or click here. I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I do.
Stefan Baumann, 'Artist Block'. Accessed from http://http://www.stefanbaumann.com/artist-block-or-painting-burn-out-how-to-deal-with-it/
Something else to share.
I loved this video clip about painting trees. It is not even about burnout - it is all about observation. 'Cos, you need to get back to work.
Accessed from http://www.stefanbaumann.com/the-fine-art-of-painting-trees/
Until Next time
Psst: Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter - in the footer below.
I have had a lifetime passion for drawing and painting. Realistic with an impressionistic touch is an apt description for my work.
Artist Diary 5
Artist Diary 4
Artist Diary 3
Diary of a tired artist continued
Diary of a tired artist.
Outdoor sketch kit
A tour of my studio & a few others too.
Blogging and other distractions!
Ultramarine Blue - warm or cool?
Portrait Commissions - My Journey.
Who or what is your muse?
Burntout? Lost the plot? Gripped by mental fatigue?
Do you market your artwork online?
Working towards my first workshop presentation.
Do you want to draw but don't have any art materials?
Drawing from photos versus drawing on location.
Something different - Games of War - a project addressing war games & PTSD.
A bit more about my drawings.
Write a blog they say!