Guest Post by Tara Leaver

September 5th, 2013

Four Things To Never Do When Making Art {or ever, actually} And Ways To Counter Them

If you have ever wanted to express yourself creatively and smacked into an invisible wall of not being able to, you are not alone. I’m not a fan of rules, but there are some things I come up against so repetitively as part of my creative process, I felt it was time to install some devices to counter them so I could move forward into making art whenever I like with minimum blocks. These are four of the things that frequently limit both myself and other creatives I know, and some ways to dissolve them.

1. Judging

It's too easy, often ingrained, and so damaging. For me non-judgement is a constant practice, and I know I'm not alone in that. What we need is a space in which we get to play with our supplies without needing it to be or become anything. I am constantly developing new ways to make it easier for myself to be kind about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. It takes effort, but any new habit does initially. It'll be second nature in no time. ;)

Anti-judging device: Allot a certain amount of time to just go for it. I like an hour before I start my day, if I wake up in time! At that point I haven't got sucked into anything else yet, and it feels like a present, which really helps. Also: laser focus, people. Lay out your materials in advance so there's absolutely no time for procrastinating; you go in, you do, when time's up you stop, and that's it done. Walk away immediately after and don't start picking it to pieces. Be firm with yourself but kind. The satisfaction of spending some time in your happy place is more important than the perceived quality of what you produce.

2. Comparing

What I call 'other-ising'; focusing on others’ work in a way that leaves you feeling disheartened and lacking. The internet especially can suck you into a vortex of comparison. We so easily get caught up in the image and forget there's a whole person behind what we're looking at, that they struggle too, and probably worked very persistently for a long time to become as good as they are. Of course for some it comes more easily, but there are things you can do that others can’t and wish they could. Swings and roundabouts.

Anti-comparing device: No peeking! If you know you're in a state where seeing something amazing by someone else is going to trigger you, step away from the computer, the art books, Instagram, or wherever you're likely to find something that's 'better than what you can do'. Then apply the anti-judging device.

3. Being rigid

Don't make rules about how things ‘should’ be. Most work is recoverable, and if it's not, well that's an excellent opportunity to practice that all important self-kindness. I can get very caught up in how someone else does something, and then get in a tangle when their way doesn't work for me. It's essential to remember that your way is the absolute best way for you, and while it can be inspiring and helpful to borrow from others' methods, ultimately you create your path by walking it, and sometimes that means breaking rules, doing things in a weird order, or racking up a bunch of things you don't like before producing something you do.

Anti-rigidity device: Experiment and play. Tell yourself before you begin that whatever happens is going to be just fine with you, because you're just testing out some ideas. I find approaching my easel with that kind of easy going attitude, which I put on like a coat if I'm not feeling it right to my bones, can free me up to have a great time. The focus is self-expression, not producing a masterpiece.

4. Giving in to fear

There are many possible paths to just sitting down and doing it that are scattered with boulders and pot holes to trip us up. It won't be good, I don't know where to begin, I'm not inspired, I don't have time, I'm rubbish at this so why am I bothering, I'll waste materials, I've just remembered I MUST do xyz immediately - all based in fear and all surmountable. One thing's for sure; giving into the fear means no fun creative time.

Anti-fear device: Be kind. Be as kind as you can possibly be, and then be kinder. I discovered recently that I have been carrying around the unconscious belief that there's a limit to how kind to myself I can be, and after that I have to get the whip out. Total insanity. If fears threaten to stop you before you've even started, pretend you're a child, or a friend, or someone you're teaching, and whatever you'd say to them, say to yourself. Most likely it'll be along the lines of, it's ok, whatever you do is just fine; let's have a play and see what happens. Make it more of a multi-sensory pleasurable experience with some snacks and something to listen to. Remember that it’s about FUN.

Obviously there are all sorts of ways we thwart ourselves creatively; these are just some very common ones. What’s your biggest stumbling block when it comes to just starting? Do you have any magical devices of your own we can add to our toolkits?



Tara is an artist and writer living and working from her home studio on the south coast of England. Always looking for ways to make it easier for anyone to bring creativity into everyday life, she has written a book, Creative Spark, and is currently developing an art based ecourse by the same name, designed for anyone wishing they could be more creative but held back by fears or not knowing where to start. If that sounds interesting to you, you can find out more here: Tara's Creative Spark ecourse begins October 14th. Early bird registration opens very soon! 

6 Responses

excellent reminder!

EEEEEK! it’s T girl! ;-)
Wonderful words of wisdom, Tara.
I’m glad there are people like you out there, trying to help others find their own voice.
Keep following your gut, T. xox

Yay Tara! The is so great…thank you!

Thanks for sharing such great wisdom Tara and Leah! xx

Thank you very much for sharing… super helpful, and right on point!!

Beautiful post. Wise words!!

Post a Comment