Note: I wrote this blog post about the same time that Staci wrote hers about making the most of a misdirected design. We share the same brain, evidentally. Her take on desiging through a percieved mistake was wonderful. My train of thought here was to discuss what happens when NOTHING SEEMS TO WORK in the studio. Not that this has ever happened to me......SAID NO ARTIST EVER.
First scenario: You sit down at your bench, all ready to get your ART ON, and come up completely empty in the Brilliant Design Idea Department. Nada, nothing. You look at your wonderful array of supplies and tools and the only thing going on in your head is equivalent to static, or a television test pattern (at least that has colors).
Second scenario: Lightning strikes! You have a brain teeming with ideas, fingers itching to get to work. You are a volcano and design ideas flow like lava. You sit down at your bench and...NOTHING WORKS. I mean nothing. Every bead strung, stone set and wire wrapped turns against you like your bench is possessed by the Devil. Hours later you are left completely frustrated with an aching back, sore hands, and bunch of burnt metal or a design you can't stand the sight of.
|Don't ask me about this. Just....don't.|
Attention everyone - the Muse has left the building.
It happens to all of us. Our creative tap turns itself off without warning. The reasons are as varied as we are individuals. Stress, overwork, too many outside obligations interfering, or simple basic burnout! More important than asking "why" is deciding what you are going to do about it. I asked a few of my arty friends how they handle the "Flight of the Muse" and got some great tips that have helped me immensely.
STEP AWAY FROM THE BENCH (or easel, or glue gun, or sketch book...whatever). While powering through a rough patch might work in the gym, it doesn't usually work in the artist studio. Sometimes you simply need to walk away for a bit. Maybe an hour, maybe a week!
HIT THE RESET BUTTON. Go to the beach, park, lake, backyard...wherever you like to go to chill out. Have a glass of wine. Read a book. Walk the dog. Go to the movies. Take your mind to a completely different place for a while.
LOOK AT OTHER ARTISTS' WORK. This works for me almost every time. When I am really frustrated and challenged, I stop and take a leisurely trip through my favorite artists online shops, websites, and print articles. I hoard magazines like Art Jewelry, Ornament, and Jewelry Artist. I look through back issues and marvel at the amazing works presented. It's like taking a shower in inspiration. I also have a file on my computer titled "Inspiration". Is store tons of images here that struck me (jewelry and non-jewelry related) as I wandered around online. I visit this folder often...
|Some of the cool stuff I keep in my Inspiration folder.|
Yes, that is a baby smoking a cigarette with a chicken.
K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid. This is also a good one. When I am feeling especially mortified at my apparent loss of all skill or ability to create anything even remotely resembling art, I stop, regroup, and make something very, very simple just to remind myself that I can. A single wire bangle. A simple wire ring. A pair of basic earrings. A macaroni necklace, whatever!!! Seriously, make one perfect yet simple thing, then LOVE THAT THING. Take THAT, stupid Muse...
|I made this the day that I could not solder a bezel to save my LIFE.|
After burning through a ton of silver, I stopped, had lunch, then made this.
Finally, STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP. I have yet to meet an artist (myself included) that isn't his or her worst critic and sometime enemy. Frustration is part of the game. Accept the failures with the successes, and give yourself a break. My worst jewelry concoctions always end up teaching me something, usually that I still have A LOT TO LEARN. We all have that box or drawer where the mutant work ends up. Mine is labelled (optimistically) Restring/Rework. You know, because one day I will magically transform everything in there into something wonderful (cue the eye roll). I have managed, as you can see, to try to keep a sense of humor about my mistakes. I highly recommend it. You have to be able, at some point, to laugh at past mistakes or you won't move beyond them. Resin, I'M TALKING TO YOU.
I have always wanted to have an art party where I invite all my artist friends to come over and bring what they consider to be their worst work ever. I imagine us all drinking good wine, laughing, and coming to the realization that what one may consider horrible, someone else finds simply beautiful. You know that would happen...I know so many artists whose work I would kill for, no matter what. Remember that.
So, the next time your Muse decides to vacate the premises, look at it as an opportunity to teach yourself something new, or to remind yourself that art is an ever-evolving, mysterious, aggravating, WONDERFUL thing that can't be forced. Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride...your Muse will come home eventually.
|Caravaggio's interpretation of inspiration/muse...|