View Full Version : what if you are in a rut? What to do?

05-15-2003, 02:00 AM
I have put this here as I did not want to hijack another thread.

It might not be the place for it, there might be a place on wetcanvas for questions like this but, erm, dunno where and, to me, abstracts is 'home'....

So, I am in a rut here folks. I am feeling stale and like i am painting for the sake of painting. I know it relaxes me, it's good for me.... but at the moment, i am either painting things that are 'easy' for me. they don't seem to take any 'investment', or they are 'forced'..... in the manner of 'I WILL do something meaningful'.......

The problem is, I am a stubborn boot

:D - if it's something i am not passionate about or interested in - i am sure that i could paint it or draw it if i tried but, something in me says NO NO NO....... 'don't wanna do that' - in some childish way, standing up for itself.

Hope that's clearer than I feel I wrote it...

So, what do people do to get out of this, or is it just a matter of time????:confused:

05-15-2003, 02:30 AM
or is it just a matter of time????

probably :D

05-15-2003, 05:09 AM
I find if I keep at it with no more than my usual expectations, eventually I get lucky. Discipline is a good thing but be careful that you are not forcing yourself, as you will likely rebel.

05-15-2003, 06:41 AM
Hey Kali!!!

I feel your pain!!! I'm sloshing about in a rut myself.

When I'm in a rut I do page layouts and print tests. That's working really well right now because there are some print tests that really need to be done.

Hopefully, about the time I'm really tired of doing these, my artistic muses will be done with their naps and we'll get started with some paintings again.

I realize that this doesn't help since you aren't a digital type, but perhaps the equivalent for you is simply doing something entirely different. I saw some beautiful ornaments and neat wands and stuff on your picture site. Maybe your painting muses need some time off and your wand muses want to take over for awhile.

Another thought is to try something you've never tried before. Remember on the emotion thread you gasped and said that you might have to try [dare I type the word] ***brushes***???

You admired Gareth's Magnolia. Maybe you should try something ultra-realistic, complete with shading, using brushes. Try a whole new approach both physically (brushes, detail, shading) and mentally (working slow on a small area at a time).

It honestly never matters how something turns out if you are invigorated by the process.

I hope that whatever solution you find, you enjoy it and share it with us. You are inspirational and honest and emotional, and I love seeing your work.

05-15-2003, 08:56 AM
Ah, ruts! :) Sometimes I keep painting, like you're doing. Usually it takes me a couple days to realise that I'm just painting cr*p! It's a normal thing... I just plod through. I turn to non-painting stuff - charcoal drawings, pastel, maybe update my website, read art books, go out and just wander. Long walks are great!


05-15-2003, 09:09 AM
Don't force it too much. "it" will happen when it's ready.

05-15-2003, 09:15 AM
Originally posted by Gar
Don't force it too much. "it" will happen when it's ready.

So true;)

05-15-2003, 11:15 AM
Thanks for the replies guys...

I have one of those feelings at the moment where I feel I need to...


we went for a long walk:D on the beach last night, it was great, but you know where you feel you have to push yourself, get cold, get tired, get wet in the rain. I feel i need to let loose....

I don't know if it's a rut of a block...

I have never painted for this length of time before, it's always been something i pick up for a few weeks, then don't do anything for a few years...

this time though i am enjoying it and keeping at it, so have never experienced this before.

I am trying to do something from some pictures krys took, of some stunning mushrooms in the forest. They look all sci fi fantasy type things...

Not sure of what medium i'll end up using, maybe coloured pencils as i am used to them and haven't done anything like this for years.

I KNOW i can be lazy, taking the easy option and sticking with what i can do and find easy:D ...

shall keep you posted on how i get on...


05-15-2003, 11:33 AM
Not sure if this is gonna help. In art school they suggested a change of perspective to get out of ruts.

Lie flat on the floor and look up and around.
Go up to a terrace and look down on the world for a short time.
Stand on your head (not recommended for everyone! *lol*)
Use different media.
Read a book on something you would never read.
Listen to music you would never listen to.
Basically something to help you jolt or reset your mind.

It greatly helps to just lay off the pressure and allow yourself to experiment with no intent. Sometimes we just need a break from it all. As others have said, don't force it.

Also, remember to replenish yourself, body and mind. The process of creativity is a cycle and once we've given so much, we have to take time to refill, so to speak.

I had so many changes in my life (good and bad) and it's taken me almost 2 years to refill and become creative again. It was a frustrating feeling at first and I think I almost lost it! Now I know that I really just needed the break and I can start again refreshed.

So, hang in there!


05-15-2003, 12:45 PM
I personally need a constant flow of inspiration, things from the outside speaking to me, filling me with ideas I want to express.. when I don't have that I'm usually uninterested in creating anything, so seeking out new things in life is always a good idea I think, for art and everything else.

Something related to that: I recently took up learning to draw, and though I'm unfortunately not enjoying that process as much as I would like, it does give me skills and ideas I'm looking for in my digital work, so in that sense it's very giving. Perhaps, as others have suggested, you could try new media and techniques, they might provide you with new insights and skills that you find that you just can't wait to try out all of a sudden.

Good luck, and enjoy :cat:

05-15-2003, 03:26 PM
Sometimes, just before I fall asleep, I think of inspiration and by the time I wake up again, it has come to me. Sometimes even in a form or part of a dream.

Don't push the river it will flow by itself.

See ya

05-15-2003, 07:49 PM
try paying attention to what it is you are paying attention to

Pete Hubbard
05-15-2003, 10:53 PM
I have a friend who’s a writer. He writes everyday. At least 2 hours every day. If he can’t think of anything to write he types the alphabet. Then he types commonly used words. Then he types noun/verb combinations, sort of like scales in music. He keeps that up until before he knows it he’s writing something.

I remember one summer between semesters I felt the need to change everything. I had been painting your standard adolescent figurative psychedelic landscapes and I was just sick and tired of it all. I started out by taking a piece of paper and just painting it one color. Then another piece of paper another color. Then a different shape of paper. I figured I had all summer and know one was going to be there to see it so just paint mindlessly, everyday like my writer friend. By the end of the summer I had completely remade myself. But I did it every day.

05-16-2003, 01:54 AM
I just typed a reply to this and the flaming thing logged me out when I submitted it:mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:

Basically going to try some / all of these things.

Time is a real problem at the moment.... exam season, millions of papers to mark and reports to write... YUK!!!!!!!

Maybe that's why my inspiration has gone... scared of all the paper!!!:D :rolleyes: :D

05-16-2003, 11:20 AM
Originally posted by Pete Hubbard
I have a friend who’s a writer. He writes everyday. At least 2 hours every day. If he can’t think of anything to write he types the alphabet. Then he types commonly used words. Then he types noun/verb combinations, sort of like scales in music. He keeps that up until before he knows it he’s writing something.

Sorry Pete, but i'd have to totally disagree with you on this one.
Making art just for the sake of routine, production, or "just for sake of making it" -breeds mediocrity.

05-16-2003, 02:34 PM
Most of my best work is mindless and mediocre............

I find a lack of emotional attachment allows me to be more objective about what I actually see. On a personal level I find the act of painting itself is more than meaningful enough. There's a book by a guy called James Elkins called "What Painting Is" and in it he discusses the relationship between a painter and his/her materials, just how it feels to be in your studio, the vividity of colour in it's raw pigment state, the smell of the mediums, the feeling of a fresh canvas. These are the things that drive me. He goes on to draw some pretty interesting comparisons between painting and alchemy, where there's a certain amount of chemistry involved and recognised ways of making the compounds work, but you always want to push it further and everybody's ways of working are unique to them.

You'll find your own way Kali, if it's any consolation I've just got over a block the size of Africa. It's probably a result of your being busy with exam marking and what have you. I'd been helping my father in law out with some building work and reading a lot about the history of the middle east, I reckon it just took up all the room in my head. It made me think all my paintings were crap too, it comes with being out of your groove. Ride it out, you'll be fine.

05-16-2003, 02:40 PM
There you have it.. Motivation is relative.:cool:

Pete Hubbard
05-17-2003, 12:01 AM
Every serious artist I’ve known or know about painted every day, or painted for long stretches every day. All of my teachers in school advocated this. And they pointed to other artists in art history to make their point. In their biographies or autobiographies painters like Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Andrew Wyeth, Clyfford Still painted every day. The list goes on and on, Willem De Kooning painted through the advanced stages of Alzheimer's. Matisse, Picasso, Cézanne, Van Gogh were all notably famous for painting every day. Which one of these is mediocre?

I paint every day. Every artist who I personally know and respect as an artist paints every day. There’s not a mediocre one in the bunch.

05-17-2003, 12:36 AM

I can see the wisdom in what you and your teachers are saying. Perhaps some days the creativity and inspiration really hit, and our art is special -- but even on the other days, at the very least, we can improve technique, practice aspects of our work that are applicable, etc.

I'll have to think more about this. I appreciate you sharing this perspective. And perhaps you've nudged me back into the studio, where I may need to spend time, even on days like today where the muses continue to nap.

05-17-2003, 02:27 AM
Thanks so much to everyone for their input on this one...

I think I am taking bits from allsorts of people's advice.

I have some 'wood' projects that I am starting. Not sure what I will actually do with them yet. They have been sanded and wiped and are awaiting my attention. I have kept having the urge to paint some of my wood but, to me, normal paint is too much, so might make my own........ Turmeric and tea bags, that kind of thing, even if they only turn oput to be a stain.

On the actual canvas. Well, I remember something I did when at school. They arranged for a weekend course for us more enthusiastic artists there. One of the projects they had us work on was extreme close ups. We had to choose something we could see or were wearing. I chose an earring. I had to draw and colour it in A3 size.

Having worked for a few years as an entomologist, I was always fascinated by butterflies, so...............

I am going to do some close ups of butterfly wings. I haven't decided on the medium, size or anything. It might be the same wing in a series of different media and colours, or a series of different wings, who knows.

Don't know how THAT idea came to me, probably again from a mish mash of what you lot said and what I did on this course when (a lot) younger:D

Thanks again all...... haven't started it yet, so, they may not be too successful:D but, I have some semblance of enthusiasm going on here again and that can't be bad!!!!

I do so often find though, for the ultimate in beauty, creativity and pure WOW factor........ nature is by far the best place to look!

05-17-2003, 02:53 AM

To each his own.

05-17-2003, 05:34 AM
Kali, I'm looking forward to seeing your butterfly wings and/or stained wood. Nature rocks! and your ideas sound really fun and potentially rewarding :D