Kicking the Artistic Rut
As any artistically minded person may tell you, it's very easy to get stuck in a rut. A rut of feeling uninspired, underwhelmed, and out of ideas.
When the "rut of uncreativity" hits me, I tend to sit back with some Youtube video playing white noise in the background and create yet another list of what I want to accomplish next. I'm good at scheduling out things I want to do or organizing my desk space for the hundredth time so I'll be inspired to do more.
But I realized that these things often are just...procrastination. I put off doing worthwhile and creative things because I am waiting for the ecstasy of inspiration to hit me, instead of cultivating creative habits little by little.
Becoming enraptured in a fit of creativity is easy. I have written my best blog posts in about twenty minutes. I have created my best paintings when I am in an art class, wearing an outfit that makes me feel good, sipping tea, and looking around a room full of creative and talented people.
But disciplining myself to do artistic or beautiful things daily is such a struggle. I don't feel like taking the time to create a piece that will take a painfully long time. Studying exactly what I want to paint, sketching a piece ten times, editing some reflective piece, actually reading a chapter of a book, or discovering a new musician: all of those things require effort which doesn't come naturally. It demands foresight and patience, a virtue which I tend to lack because, although I claim wisdom, I want beautiful and gratifying things right away.
I want my art to be easy.
But sometimes good and beautiful things are not easy. Most often, they take toil, attention, loads of patience, and most of all, time.
Months ago, my husband brought home a canvas that he had found on the side of the road. It had a plain outline of a face and a painted nose. I had this grand idea of finishing this poor "rejected" piece and restoring it to something wonderful. And it stood by my apartment window for months. I finally realized that, unless I physically picked up this picture and busted out my paints and brushes, it literally would never be touched and nothing fun or exciting would be happening.
In painting that face, this wistful man's face that I did not create, I got frustrated with my rusty brush strokes and lack of patience to layer color in a way that made sense. I so out of habit. I realized that unless I was willing to suffer through this learning curve, I would never get back to good place I was in during my art classes, let alone soar to new heights.
If I am not willing to make myself form intentionally artistic and creative habits, then I cannot honestly expect to produce work that represents a struggle and triumph. And, more importantly, I will never outgrow my current abilities. I will never expand upon my skills or stretch myself to a new, unknown horizon.
Whether it's lettering a simple quote that inspires me, taking the time to listen to a new and unfamiliar song, sloshing paint on a paper for no particular reason, or jotting down a single paragraph in my journal, I want to be the type of artist who doesn't let the trap of laziness hinder me. I don't want to rely on some divinely sent bout of inspiration in order to tap into the beauty around me.
I want to seek it out, even when I'd rather be doing something mundane.
So, I challenge you (but mostly myself): find the little things in your life which stir up your imagination, and don't let a day go by without stopping to say hello.