I find myself struggling with my art. I don’t know what to draw. Cats, of course, but I feel as if there should be more to it. Should I expand my subject matter? Create more complex compositions? Work larger? Draw in a series? Switch to acrylic? Build little theatrical scenes? Print and sew more fiber-related works? Work in a series? Develop a narrative? I want to do everything, and so, feeling overwhelmed, do very little.


Pencil drawing. Woman on Bench.

I made this drawing during a layover at Chicago’s O’Hare airport when I was traveling over the holiday.

The next two months will be consumed with creating costumes for a local high school production, and teaching adult art workshops. I look forward to do both of these things, but they also distract me from the work of my own art. At the same time, these experiences can also invigorate my personal practice. Maybe there something about the costuming that I want to incorporate into the personal lexicon of my art making? And, I always learn something new by teaching what I already know to others.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? I’d like to hear how other creatives work through their less productive spells.

19 responses »

  1. When I don’t know what to do I do exactly nothing in the artsy atmosphere… my house will sparkle at that time and my yard will look sort of manicured…. once I’m outside ideas will normally take shape…

  2. I like to take online art classes and look at my art books. Lately, I have been getting a lot of inspiration from other artists on Instagram. Pinterest is also a good source of inspiration. Today I’ve felt stuck though probably because I’ve been sick with a bad cold for several weeks. So I read instead. ☺️

    • I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. That can make a big difference in one’s productivity! I also look on Instagram and Pinterest, which is inspiring, but can also be daunting. SO many good ideas that other people have already thought of!

      • I agree with you about Pinterest, it can be a little overwhelming. I don’t spend much time on it. Thanks for your kind words. I appreciate it. ❤

  3. It just occurred to me, although you likely won’t have time to do it, but drawings of people in costume, or with props, but not in character, would be an interesting study.

  4. Hi Carol–I understand having so many ideas that paralysis sets in. When I need clarity focus, I get outdoors; a good hike or a walk by the ocean, even just sitting on my deck an watching the birds and squirrels helps…or dancing around the house! Movement is good. 🙂 Good luck!

  5. Sometimes taking a break helps. If you’re going to be busy with the costumes and classes over the next couple of months, your personal priorities may sort themselves out while you’re not thinking about them.

  6. It is an intuitive process for me. When I place my awareness on each project, how does it feel? Does it feel light? Happy? Ready? Is it right timing for the project AND for me? For one of the many items on my want-to-do list, it will feel light and good. If none of them feel that way, it isn’t right timing, so I do something that simply lightens my spirit.

  7. I’m not a creative like you and don’t want to do everything! So, it’s easy for me in those lull moments — I go visit real life art galleries for inspiration, but I never push the doing of making art. The urge to create will come and I will recognise it and follow up and do something. I guess, for you it could be a matter of deciding if you wish to become a master of one or two related types of art and keeping on exploring and developing those?! ☯

    • Excellent! Yes. I love to go to art museums. And, I think you’ve hit the exact core of my struggle. Do I continue to diversify or should I focus? I love it all!

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