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  • Bianca Vinther

The essential guide to overcoming artist block and unlocking your artistic creativity

Stuck in a creative rut and wondering how to break free?

Geometrical shapes in motion illustrating artist block
"Artist block" (mixed media on cold-pressed paper) by Bianca Vinther

Visual artists face creative blocks from time to time. If you're one of them, you've probably been stuck in a creative rut before. Getting stuck with your art can be depressing if you don't have the necessary mindset and the appropriate strategies to deal with it. Understanding what artist block actually is and why you've hit it in the first place is, therefore, critical to breaking free and unlocking your creativity in art.

This post reveals everything you need to know about artist block, including:

  • The truth about artist block,

  • An overview of the 6 major causes of art block, and

  • A bundle of 15 time-tested strategies to get out of a creative drought.

I wish you an inspiring reading, and I look forward to hearing from you!

My experience with artist block

Are you currently feeling stuck with your art? Maybe you’ve been trapped in a creative rut for a long time and haven’t found a way out? Or perhaps you’ve previously hit artist block and are terrified of a comeback? I’m with you. I’ve been there before.

In my mid-thirties I found myself in a deep creative slump. I ran out of ideas and felt paralysed and hopeless. My self-confidence had plummeted to rock bottom. The birth of my daughter drove me even further away from my studio. For a while, I gave up on being an artist. I stopped making art, but the desire to return to painting and drawing was still there.

It took years for me to find my way back to my art studio. I spent a lot of time and energy reconnecting with my creative Self, all while afraid that artist block will strike again. Read my story here.

Therefore, I understand the struggle and frustration you feel when your creativity and inspiration seem to have vanished and you find yourself staring helplessly at a blank paper, an empty canvas, a piece of stone or wood, a photo camera ... I know that feeling of disempowerment and sadness. I’ve also felt irritation and, at times, despair. Yes, I know it all, and I’m here to help you find the truth about artist block.

What is an artist block?

Artist block is a crisis.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, "crisis" means “a time of great disagreement, confusion, or suffering”. Without a doubt, there's a great deal of discomfort in it. A crisis, however, is more than just a loss of direction, values, or landmarks; it is more than just a "dark night of the soul."

Let’s examine the Greek source of the English term “crisis”. The noun κρίσις (decision) comes from the verb κρίνω, which means “to distinguish, choose, or decide”. As a result, a crisis is a choosing moment, a turning point when there’s a possibility of falling and getting lost in the abyss, but also of deciding to get out of the rut and unlock your creative potential.

In a crisis, there's an obvious sense of adventure and imminent danger, but there's also hope and a wealth of opportunities. I love the word "possibilities" because it connotes "chances" to me.