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Lyne Marshall : Facing Artist's Block

Facing Artist's Block

By Lyne Marshall

Although others may call this occurrence by alternative names, all creative people will at some time face the frustration of what I call artist block. Recently, on returning to my art studio after the distractions of preparing for and participating in two exhibitions, I experienced a longish bout.

In between painting over numerous disappointing attempts, and making excuses to stay out of the studio, I furiously looked for answers. Reading lots of inspiring books gave me momentum, but nothing seemed to work. At times like this it seems I just forget how to paint. While I know this will ultimately lead to growth, it is still frustrating and a touch depressing while it is lasts. Anxiety use to accompany these bouts, but these days I know I have to just keep working until the drought breaks.

However there are ways to overcome block. One is to go on a cleaning binge, because creativity is influenced by environment. Looking at what is really happening with this unsatisfactory work will also give some direction.

My method of painting is very direct. I just jump into the canvas without preliminary drawings. This time I challenged my methods and went back to basics and drew shapes on the canvas with charcoal. Instead of being restricting, it led to faster rougher brushstrokes, which took my painting in a new direction.

Through this process of over-painting, recreating or destroying, I pushed through to less detailed, more creative work, with a spontaneous feel and more life and energy. This solution may not work for the inevitable next bout, but altering my approach this time, broke the block. At times like this it always comes back to a belief in yourself, and creating with an open mind. Working without fear, with sensitivity, a sense of immediacy, exploration and curiosity always pays off in the end. Happy Creating. •

© Lyne Marshall 2007

Lyne MarshallLyne Marshall is an Australian artist, and the author/ illustrator of Gleaner or Gladiator: The Struggle to Create. More »

1/07/08