What do you do?

What do you do when you're blocked?  What do you do when the creative ideas which used to come fast and furiously come slowly or not at all?  What do you do when the strategies which used to work when this happened before aren't working this time?

From these questions, you can tell where I am creatively at the moment.  Although I'm producing some work, I'm not excited by any of it.  I've gone back to an old technique I enjoyed, and it's been interesting to use it on a new substrate...but not exciting.  Spring and summer shows are looming on the horizon.  I'm hoping to do two major shows in July. That alone should be spurring me on to create new work and to be excited about the prospect.  Nope, not so far.

This has happened to me before.  When it did, I took a step back from my own work and became inspired by the work of other creative people; in person, in print, and online.  After a while of doing this in a purposeful way, ideas began to percolate, I began sketching, and new directions emerged. 

So, do that again, you say.  And, you're right.  I have been,  but it hasn't worked so far. 

What's the larger issue, you ask.  Ah, good question. 

I think the larger issue is that what I love to create, my Ancestress Series masks and shadow boxes, are not what sells.  They receive many compliments but few result in sales.  A friend and fellow artist whose work I admire said "I think those masks are amazing, inspired, perfectly designed and have such a story to tell."  He gets it.  I feel the most fulfilled during process I go through in creating the masks.  Meaning and significance is conveyed in the details I include; it's the 'story I tell'.  But, knowing these creations don't sell well prohibits me from creating more.  What would be the point?  Being self indulgent has a price, and with the few opportunities I have for getting my work in front of the public, I feel it's important to give them what they want to buy. 

So, that's my dilemma.  Any ideas?  Suggestions?  Words of wisdom?


Jeanne Rhea said…
Good post as I hear this complaint really often---esp. in the winter. With the economy not in the best of shape and not selling what you really love to make does not help. I just got a check for $9 from one gallery who carries my work. Not good--I think it was a coaster that sold in a whole month. Honestly, I feel that I should not take up space on their walls. At least I sold two large paintings at another one. Sales are definitely a motivator for me so if I don't sell, then I must find other outlets. So that is what I am concentrating on right now. I know that some of my art is good as it sells at other places, but still I don't want to have to make ACEOs, magnets and coasters to make a living. I manage to keep myself creating with new ideas and trying different materials and techniques. At least that makes it interesting. I have always known that it is often easier to make a living as a crafter than to do so as an artist. So no real suggestion or words of wisdom. But I feel for you!
my two cents.

i am NOT an artist, nor an artisan who sells her wares. i am however, a crafter, of sorts.

my suggestion?

step back even farther from what you're doing.
perhaps try a technique/format that you have NEVER tried before.
maybe try different media than you have been using.
or try something that you haven't done since you were a CHILD..

maybe going directly AWAY from what you want to create will help bring you towards something new that you can create and enjoy.

it's not necessarily a good idea.
but it is an idea,

and that's my two cents worth, i think.
LesterJones said…
I was completely confused when this happened to me. In fact, it was quite scary. I had been working nearly 16 years and then it happened. I told a couple of folks how I felt but they didn't understand. Only a few of my artist friend could relate. They told me I should just stop thinking about it and back away from the clay.... I took what inventory I had to shows and waited for the slump to end. It did. It was about three weeks before I was producing again!

Lester Jones
Michelle said…
@Simply Complicated: those are some good suggestions, especially the one about doing something completely different than I'm used to...I'll have to think about that. Thanks for your two cents worth...it was much more! And, thanks for stopping by.

@Lester: sometimes, backing away from the work is just the thing to do, and other times, forcing yourself back into the chair is right. For me, forcing myself to work hasn't done it, but I'm working on some things which as I said, aren't exciting, but at least I'm producing. It'll pass, I know it, but it's that time between when it starts and ends which is extremely frustrating. Thanks for your comments.