Challenging Painter’s Block

"Plans for Christmas" by Susan Abma

“Plans for Christmas” by Susan Abma

Here’s a few ideas to think about whenever you get a creative block and find you ‘just can’t paint right now.’ There’s no guarantees, but they just might work, so it could be worth a try…

1. Paint your favorite drink – whether it’s a cup of tea, a pina colada, a steaming latte with lots of foam, or an ice cold beer – paint it in such a way that would show the viewer why it’s your favorite and how much you love it.

2. Go through the newspaper and find a photo – the first one that catches your eye – and paint your version of it – it could be abstract, realistic, finger-painted, or painted any way that might get your creative juices flowing for the next project.

"Eyes in Mirror by Candle Light" by Susan Abma

“Eyes in Mirror by Candle Light” by Susan Abma

3. Look in the mirror at yourself in this painter’s block mood and paint just your eyes, so that it shows how you feel and why you can’t paint right now. In doing so, you’re already on your way to stifling the creative block.

4. Paint yourself as a person with the occupation you wanted as a child – did you want to be a fireman, a hairdresser, a bungee jumper, a police officer, a dancer? Give yourself a day as the person of your childhood dreams.

5. Do you love spaghetti? Eggs benedict? Chocolate Mousse? Strawberries? Your secret recipe? Paint it so everyone can taste it with you.

6. Repaint the first thing you ever painted. Just knowing that you now have a greater technical knowledge will help you paint that image with confidence.

7. Paint your worst habit – do you smoke, drink, eat too much chocolate? Paint in a way that will show how bad this habit is. Perhaps your painting, over time, will actually even help you quit your habit – if you even want to.

8. Paint about conformity – peas in a pod, ducks in a row, bananas in a bunch, etc. Make sure that part of your group doesn’t conform – for instance, leave one of the peas out of the pod.

9. Paint yours or your child’s favorite toy. Show some of the worn areas that clearly display how much it has been loved.

10. If you’re really hoping for some particular thing in life – paint it – maybe a cottage at the lake? A diamond ring? A new tool box? A particular make and model of vehicle? A child? Live your dreams through your painting.

Remember that at one time you only dreamed you could paint – now you truly can paint your dreams. Just make those first strokes that will put you back on your way – you can do it – you just need a little motivation. Hopefully you’ll find it here.

© Copyright · Susan Abma

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  • Nyla witmore

    Fresh ideas…invitingly written…and for those not experiencing painter’s block. This will surely address “painter’s freeze” and initiate a thaw .

  • Susan Abma

    Thank you Nyla.

  • Carol Reeves

    Dear Susan … I lost my son … It will be two years this June …I was a full time painter … Since that time I have produced four paintings … Three successful bomb …. My most recent painting that I started was a floral which is what I demo and teach workshops on and I couldn’t pull that one out … Sometimes I feel my career is over….. Have galleries wanting me to change out paintings and have none to give them …. I was so happy to get all your tips … I am away now but when I return I plan on trying every one of your suggestions… Thank you for even caring so much to share your ideas. …. Carol R

    • Susan Abma

      Hello Carol, I’m so sorry about your son. No wonder you haven’t been painting like you used to. I hope in some small way that the article will give you some inspiration and help get you back painting. I’d love to see what you do with some of the ideas if you would like to share your attempts/successes or bombs ;). Sometimes sharing is inspirational. You can find me on Facebook: Susan Blackman Abma.

  • Cathy Dietrich

    How fun Susan…and that is your point… to have fun painting and get out of “serious masterpiece mode”!

  • Susan Abma

    So true Cathy – painting should always be fun. Our ‘masterpieces’ are so much better when our joy and passion can be felt in them. There is never a day when I don’t think of how lucky I am to be doing something I love so much. Thanks so much for taking time to comment on the article. I’m really glad you enjoyed it.