Notes by Christen: When the Well Dries Up

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, as artists, we never experienced the much-loathed “rut”? If, any given time, we could create exactly what we wanted to? If the well of inspiration never ran dry?

As lovely as that sounds, we all know that will never happen. Personally, I can go for months without anything turning out as I had imagined. It can be very upsetting, which results in me sitting on my couch, not even attempting to work on anything creative. What’s the point, if it’s just going to turn out poorly? Sound familiar? We all go through dry spells and ruts. Every one of us goes through periods where nothing turns out right and so we begin to question everything.

For me, being surrounded my so much inspiration on a daily basis can send me into a rut. It’s easy for me to see all of the fabulous incoming artwork and start to doubt my own art, or begin to compare myself to other artists. It’s a dangerous game to play, and it’s one that I’m trying my hardest to stop myself from engaging in.

Whenever I start feeling doubt creep up, or if I notice I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with my art, I go to my special place. I think it’s so important that each of us have that one special place that never ceases to calm and inspire us. For me, it’s the downtown area of where I live. Just a five-minute walk from my house is the antiques district of Orange, California. The streets are lined with antique stores and delicious restaurants, all of them giving off that old-town charm that made me want to live where I do.

Simply strolling through the antique stores recharges my creative batteries. Whenever I wander through the different stalls, I’m instantly inspired by the bundles of vintage textile, the crackled furniture, the feel of old paper. Usually after spending just a few minutes doing this, I can hardly wait to get home and get to work. Just being in a place that fills me with utter joy is all I need.

What do you do when you need to step back and recharge? I’d love for you to send me your ways of working through artistic ruts. Perhaps together, we can help others work through them.

Christen Olivarez is Director of Publishing for Stampington & Company and Editor-in-Chief of Somerset Studio, the top-ranked magazine for mixed-media and paper artists. Her blog posts appear on CreateMixedMedia.com every other Tuesday.

Get more inside scoop into the world of Stampington submissions in this blog post by Ricë Freeman-Zachery.


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3 Responses to Notes by Christen: When the Well Dries Up

  1. DycheDesigns says:

    I can definitely relate to this post. For me it’s about getting out into nature and being near water if possible, it both calms and inspires me.

  2. Timaree says:

    I find an interesting class to take, preferably not self-paced. Self-paced pretty much leaves me sitting on the couch.

  3. debilynn says:

    Great post! One would think that having been an artist/designer now for 32 years that I would always continue to be “inspired”, but actually the opposite is true! Sometimes it feels that the longer I am in this business, the more difficult it can become. It actually was easier before the “internet” came out, because you only had yourself and those in your “circle” to help keep you inspired. Now with the internet, it can become “inspiration overload”!

    As a Muskogee Creek Indian and Cajun, when I tend to start doubting or “floundering”, I go back to my culture and as we are taught—-I go into complete “silence”, with no stimulation. That way I can truly “listen” to my ancestors and those that have come before me to help guide and inspire me. I literally walk away from it all…until I begin to hear those “whispers” again—letting my ancestors use me as their medium to create the lessons, through my designs, that need to be heard, for not only myself but for those that will be drawn to my work.

    Thank you for all you do for the art world and helping to inspire and showcase those artists that may never had been given the opportunity due to your publications! Too bad, we didn’t have this type of outlet back in the late 70’s and 80’s when I was first starting out…..I wish you continued success in whatever path you continue to walk! xo…debi (debi lynn designs)