The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 3, 2013

10 steps will help break a creative block


As I sit in my comfy computer chair with pajamas, socks and slippers, and a sweater, I know the time has come. It’s, of course, that impossible time of year when the freezing cold seeps into everyone’s arms, legs, hands and feet and then proceeds to cover our faces and heads. Most adults go to work and then rush home to get comfy once more — which is why I am dressed so unfashionably, but warm as toast.

While thinking of art, sometimes an artist’s head can swirl with the many ideas we imagine and the art projects we genuinely long to do. Before we go one step more, get a cup of tea to warm yourself, sit back and take it easy.

Has anyone in this reading audience ever been creatively blocked? Whether you’re a writer, artist, music director, musician, drama coach or dance instructor, you more than likely have and it can get pretty ugly. Try as you might, you cannot create, design nor imagine anything you would care to do. New ideas will not show their lovely heads.

There are remedies for such an unfortunate malady.

1. Get out of bed … that in itself has to be the first step in pushing yourself in a creative direction. If you work, go to work. Allow yourself time to think about your art.

2. Go to your studio or wherever you go to create. Bring your tea. It will comfort you. Don’t expect too much out of yourself at first. Just let your imagination guide you.

3. Get out your art materials that are your favorite to work with.

4. Now, with a completely goofy smile on your face, sit and stare at your paper, canvas, or whatever you are thinking about working on.

5. Pick up a pencil or paintbrush, with every intention of using one or the other.

6. You need to get past all the reasons in your brain why you should not do any creating at all. “I’ll never make a cent doing this anyway.” “I’m going to miss my favorite TV show and then I’ll really be upset.” Don’t worry about the government and the economy. This could keep your imagination locked up for soooo long!

7. Dream while you’re awake. Think of something wonderful you would like to try and have no fear. Everyone has mistakes in his history; why should you be any different?

8. Think about the wonderful feeling you get when you have started to create something you really like and it’s going well, and I don’t mean grilled cheese and tomato soup. I am talking about your art and the spiritual feeling you get when you are working on something that makes you feel fantastic.

9. Once you have started to create, dance around the room in total abandon and sing “Won’t You Take Me to Funky Town?”

10. Then, and only then, will you have yourself back where you belong. If “Funky Town” isn’t your style, perhaps a little Bach? Welcome back, creative sister or brother. We knew you’d come back. It’s a place your imagination calls home.

Art League events

Now for the Danville Art League news,

— Feb. 15-16 will be the workshop scheduled with Eleanor Wesch, who is also our January and February gallery artist. With the theme, “Walking in a Winter Garden,” the workshop will be from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 15 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 16. Lunch will be provided on Saturday and these lunches are exceptional.

— Roberta Williams will teach a watercolor class on Feb. 9, 16, and 23. These classes are on Saturdays from 1-3:30p.m.

— On Feb. 21, there will be a general meeting for the Art League with Jennie Huff speaking about “Artist Trading Cards.” This is the biggest movement in art today and is very small — only 2 ½ -by-3 ½-inch cards that artists trade with one another. You can learn more by viewing online YouTube videos.

— March brings our Town and Country Art Show, which includes the Sharon Schmitz Regional Open Art Competition. As many know, this is a show that has been at the Village Mall for years and is now at the Danville Art League. All works of art need to be brought to the DAL from 2-6 p.m. March 1. Every year brings new artists and glorious new works of art in many styles. Please feel free to come see this show from March 5-27.

— The general meeting for March will have a representative from the wonderful Idea Store from Champaign speaking about its Creative Reuse Art Festival. This is called HATCH and is the first creative-reuse festival produced by the Idea Store, a Champaign-based creative-reuse marketplace. The festival features a juried fair and a juried art exhibition. HATCH is online; for a complete schedule of times, check it out.

We try to keep you in the know as far as what goes on with the Danville Art League. I have to say that my after-school classes are doing wonderfully. I have students who love art as much as we (the adults) do, as well as children who are well advanced in their talents and imaginations. We love art and would like to instill this love in everyone reading this.

Come visit us, let us show you around the place, take a class, or challenge yourself creatively. We’d love to see you.

Eileen Dunavan is a member of the Danville Art League. Her column appears once a month.