5 Tips For When Art Becomes a Chore

Recently, I had been struggling to move forward with a number of projects that once excited me. They seemed to go stale and I felt as if I had come to the end of each strand of inspiration, the projects became a struggle and not a joy, I was scraping at the barrel and nothing seemed to get me out of the rut of running from it. When art becomes a chore it shows in the finished product, so here are my top 5 tips for when art becomes a chore, hopefully they will help you get excited about your projects again and get the ball rolling. 

1) Review
This tip was given to me by an art tutor when I explained to him why nothing seemed to be moving forward. I find this tip only works if YOU allow it to. You need to dedicate an entire morning, afternoon, evening, any time where you can be left undisturbed and you can allow your mind to focus. Don't choose a morning when you have a really busy afternoon to follow, because you will find your mind wandering and becoming anxious if you're thinking 'I should be doing......right now'. Find a space which you can spread out all of your work on that project up to this point and just have a good old look! Take the time to look through everything, even things you don't necessarily see as significant or even like. It's down to your own way of working how you do this review, I find it helpful to evaluate what I see to be the strengths and weaknesses of the work so far. Taking the time to step back and just take a good old look at everything 9 times out of 10 for me spurs ideas as to where I could go next with the project.

2) Change Your Environment
The truth is, there is reams research that suggests that we as humans are much more reliant on environmental triggers than we’d like to think. According to author and psychologist John C. Norcross “your environment is not defined simply by where you are; it’s also characterized by the people who surround you and the situation you’re in”. Try to identify what detracts from and what facilitates your art. For instance, problematic factors might include the time of day or your own feelings such as stress or tiredness (feelings which for myself have an extremely negative impact on my ability to create). What kind of environment do you work best in? What kind of environment are you usually in when you feel most excited about your art? What things does that environment include (or exclude)? Creating your 'ultimate creative environment' can in turn encourage creative thinking.

3) New Materials 
Now this tip might seem quite superficial, and perhaps it is just that, but for me it works like a charm! If I'm feeling just a little flat about how my work is (or isn't, as the case may be) progressing, buying a new art material can really get me going again. It doesn't have to be an expensive shopping trip, just spend what you feel comfortable with. For me, buying a new set of something that's looking a bit tired in my own collection works really well to get me excited about creating again. 

4) Simple Searches 
In the past this strategy has worked well for me when I just feel like I've reached the end of the road with all my threads of inspiration, either I've worked them to death or I'm just not excited about them any more. Here's what I do. Step back from your work, and do some simple searches. Sometimes Google Images can be treated like some sort of no-go zone when it comes to art, and in some respects it has it's flaws, but for this it's brilliant. Take the word that sums up your project, it might be a project title or what subject matter you've been exploring, and just put that straight into two websites...

1) Google Images
2) www.tate.org.uk 

Depending on your search these can give broad images that might get your juices flowing, or you might see something more specific that an artist (or anyone!) has created who has been exploring the same things as you. I myself have this habit of backing myself into a corner with my art projects and becoming very narrow minded, this allows me to see the bigger picture and realise the range of potentials for any project.

5) Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
Somewhat self explanatory, but something for which I need to remind myself of when I get into this narrow minded phase of a project which almost always comes at some point. Realise why you're doing it, what is your goal? Why do you love to create? While you may have a deadline for a project which is looming, and believe me I understand how restricting this can feel, if you need a day off from a certain project, or art all together, take it and allow yourself not to feel bad about it. Often our own stress is the most limiting thing to a project moving forward in the way that we would like, so relax! At times this is must easier said than it is done, but ultimately, your state of mind will show through in the work that you create. If I feel rushed and limited, my work will become rushed and limited. If I feel calm, inspired and peaceful, it allows the inspiration to materialise. 

I hope you found one or two things in this post that get you going about your art again! Do you have any tips for when you get stuck in a rut with your projects? Please share them in a comment below!

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