Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Coping With Creative Block - January Blog Carnival

Dealing with creative blocks is the topic of this month's Jewelry Artisans Community blog carnival.

No matter what their craft, every artist suffers through creative block at one time or another.  It's not a good feeling for those to whom creating is an important part of their lives.  We wonder about the cause, whether or not we'll ever feel creative again, where our creativity (sometimes known as the muse) went and what we should do to get it back.

The thing is, at least for myself, the more I worry about it, the worse the block becomes.  I've found that these strategies work to entice the muse back from an extended vacation.

Don't fight it:  Forcing creativity never ends well; it just leads to additional frustration.  Rather, take a break.  Read a book, go out for walks, garden, bake, play with the fur kids, watch a movie, take a nap - do something that you enjoy and that makes you feel good and that is completely unrelated to your art.

Look at other artists art:  Now, this does not mean to go out and copy the work of your favorite artists.  It means to simply enjoy art for the sake of enjoying art.  Spend an afternoon at a museum, look at art books or check out the millions of images available on the internet.  Seeing what other creative people have created with their talented minds and hands often sparks creativity.  I love to look at the jewelry that other designers are creating including jewelry that uses techniques that aren't part of my skill set.  For instance, I am not a seed beader and wouldn't know where to begin to make the gorgeous creations that these people produce, but I can still appreciate their beauty and the skills and talent it takes to make these pieces.

I think what happens when looking at the art of other artists is that I realize that I can and have produced art too.  To expand on this thought, sitting down and looking at work I have created in the past reminds me that I have created art that I am proud of and that I will again when the time is right.

Be open to inspiration:  Inspiration can come from many sources if you open your mind to what's around you.  Nature is a wonderful source of inspiration.  While out walking, gardening or playing with the fur kids, take note of the striking color combinations nature uses, the shape of a leaf, the graceful curve of a butterfly's wing, the play of sunlight through the trees, the unusual shell on the beach - the possibilities are endless.

Inspired by nature, this dragonfly may lead to a new jewelry design.
Look at ordinary household items as sources of inspiration.  One of my favorite earring designs was inspired by a hurricane lamp that sits on my dresser.  The wrought iron scroll work on the patio furniture was the beginning of another design.

This wicker basket inspired the wire basket shown below:

The lines from a song or poem can be inspirational.  Think about how you would interpret your favorite verse through your art.

Talk to other artists:  They've all been through it which means they will be able to sympathize and empathize in a way that people who don't use art to express themselves can't.  Many times, another artist can suggest ways to help break creative block.  Join a local art group, attend a workshop, take a class or join an online artists forum.  Hanging out with other artists fosters creativity.  I've also found that other artists are very generous in supporting and sharing with each other.

Spend time in the studio:  This doesn't mean to force yourself to be creative.  It means to spend time where you create.  Clean up your work area, organize your supplies and handle the tools of your craft.  In my case this might mean fiddling with a piece of wire or arranging different types of beads into eye pleasing color schemes.  As I feel beads sifting through my fingers, I'll ask myself "what if I try this"?  Pretty soon one idea leads to dozens of ideas.

Examples of what happens when I fiddle with wire when in search of ideas - these initial attempts led to new jewelry designs.

More fiddling but the end result of this one is more polished.  This is going to be turned into earrings
Learn something new:  Nothing gets creativity flowing like learning a new technique.  It gets us to thinking about new ways of doing things, incorporating old and new skills and how to apply what we've learned to our craft.  There are thousands of free and paid tutorials online; youtube is a fantastic resource, how to books are available in book stores and libraries and there are many classes at recreational centers, local crafts stores and community colleges.

My desire to learn wire netting techniques led me to make this wire frame so I could practice.  The resulting netted frame has inspired me to make a wire netted bracelet which is in the works.

Learning how to do wire netting inspired this prototype for a dream catcher earring design which is also in the works.

Challenges and contests:  At the Jewelry Artisans Community we hold weekly and monthly challenges that not only result in forming bonds with other artists but also challenge us to develop new skills and to think outside our comfort zones.  If you're blocked, try entering a challenge or contest to break the creative dam.

Balance:  It's important to remember that there is life outside of art.  Nurture those other areas and don't neglect the hubby, kids, friends, fur kids, yourself and your environment.  Spending a wonderful day with family is rejuvenating and restorative.  Keeping your home in a state that makes you comfortable and eating food that nurtures your body leads to a clear mind.  Locking oneself away in a studio and not interacting with others eventually leads to a feeling of discontent that stifles creativity.

Make it fun:  Remember why you started creating in the first place.  Because it was fun and it filled a need to make beautiful things.  Think back to before deadlines, commissions and online selling turned it into a job rather than an outlet.  Turn on some music and have fun creating something just for the fun of it.  Experiment with new techniques; who cares if they aren't perfect, activities like these foster creativity and imagination.  Don't worry about whether or not it will sell or people will like it - just do it for yourself.

If you're anything like me and you find yourself with a creative block, try some of these suggestions and you'll be back to creating in no time!

To see what other members of the Jewelry Artisans Community have to say about coping with creative block, please click on the links below:

Bead Sophisticate

Cat's Wire

Friday, January 2, 2015

December Challenge - Stars

Each month members of the Jewelry Artisans Community participate in a monthly challenge in order to, well, challenge ourselves and our skills.  Taking ourselves out of our comfort zones and working in unfamiliar areas makes us better craftspeople and artists.  It also opens our minds to new techniques and ideas that we can put to use in future jewelry designs.  Plus, it's fun!

Our December challenge was "stars".  Stars are a symbol of Christmas but they are also symbols for many other things.  Sailors use them to navigate, stories are told that ancient people believed they were relatives or friends who had passed into the next life, stars represent astrological signs and astronomers search among the constellations for new planets.

Cat of Cat's Wire created this lovely star using a wire crochet technique and incorporated dozens of beautiful crystals into her design:

Carina of Violetmoon submitted this sweet little star by encasing a star bead in a wire wrapped star shaped cage:

Carina also made this experimental tag which has all sorts of possibilities:

For my own entry, I created a star out of copper wire.  This first prototype is a bit sloppy, but I like the concept and plan to work more on this to perfect the design.

We didn't have a lot of entries in December because it's such a busy month for people, but what we lacked in quantity, we made up with creativity!