Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit

The Artist Slump

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My local artist guild, The Bolton Artisans Guild, started its own blog this week.  Below is an expanded version of an entry I posted on the new BAG blog.

Alyson Stanfield discusses artist slumps her newletter this week.  I can certainly relate as I’ve been in an on-again/off-again slump for the past few months.  I’ve noticed this happens each winter, typically in February or March or both.  I first became aware of my artist slump about 3 years ago when I was part of an art salon group that included Judy Dunn and two members of the Bolton Artisans Guild.

That first one was pretty deep and lasted several weeks.  It was a little scary in fact; scary in the sense that I couldn’t believe how much it affected me.  Boy was that little inner voice active and making its presence known.  However, as my awareness of the slump increases, the shorter the slump seems to last and the better I am at accepting it.  The little voice doesn’t have much of an opportunity to say things because I accept the moment as it happens.  I now refer to this as my “rebirthing” time; a time of regeneration and of gathering new ideas.

Here is what Alyson recommends to emerge from a slump.

  1. Wallow; it is okay to wallow a little bit.  Honor your emotions.  I know this can be hard because we feel we’re supposed to always be producing art.  But sometimes you don’t want to or you don’t want to do the art you think you’re “supposed” to do.  Acceptance of the slump is key.  When you accept it, you don’t resist it, and then you can move through it.
  2. Plan something with a deadline to get the juices flowing.  Creating a “brain drain list” (thank you, Christine Kane) and having a “check-in buddy” to help me meet those deadlines has been very helpful.
  3. Get out of the studio; walk, run, go to a museum.
  4. Talk to other people; meet friends, visit a gallery; goes hand in hand with #3.  As artists we often work in isolation.  There is nothing like meeting a friend for food & conversation or an art date to reset your muse.
  5. Create an escape path; continue to make your art even if it isn’t great.  During this season’s artist slump, I played around with other mediums as a break from polymer clay.  Great fun!
  6. Write; journal about your emotions, your dreams, whatever is inside your head.
  7. Read inspirational books or biographies about other artists.
  8. Listen to CDs or audio downloads that motivate you.
  9. Watch movies or documentaries to remind you of your connection to art and the art world.  (Don’t watch stuff that will depress you, make you sad, angry, etc.)  As my awareness of my artist slump increases I find I don’t want to watch the news or read the newspaper as much as I did before.  I’d rather do something pleasant or watch something pleasant.  The external negative energy does not help.
  10. Purge and clear out stuff that you don’t need.  Lots of clutter = negative energy.  I’m a strong believer in this one.  When I have too much clutter in the studio, my muse practically disappears.  When I clear things out, the energy flow is much better.

 To read more of Alyson’s recommendations visit here.  To listen to her podcast on this topic, go here.

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2 thoughts on “The Artist Slump

  1. Those are interesting suggestions you listed, Amy….I agree with you about not watching the news…today I just happened to watch a few minutes of Prez George W’s TV news conference (why did I do that???) and the negative energy stayed with me the rest of the day ! I have also found that purging and clearing out frees up that creative energy…This week I’ve been cleaning and reorganizing my kitchen….The mess and clutter was drivng me nuts…Not that I create art in my kitchen, but I chose the kitchen because it’s easier to throw away kitchen stuff (like 3 year old spices, and those plastic containers you’ll never use) than it is to get rid of art and craft materials…Now that I’ve had some success in the kitchen, I feel I can tackle my studio..At least that’s the plan !

  2. Hi Dora,

    Isn’t it amazing how clearing and cleaning out the clutter opens up our creative energy and lifts our spirits? Congrats to you for tackling the kitchen. Everything in baby steps.

    -Amy

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