Feeling Burnt Out? How to Reignite Your Creativity

What is Creative Burnout?

Burnout at it’s core is exhaustion. Whether that’s an emotional, mental or physical exhaustion it all plays into the burnt out feeling. But what causes the burnout? For me, it typically follows prolonged stress, intense self-doubt, feeling stick in a rut or struggling to manage an unmanageable workload.

It’s rarely just one thing, it’s usually a combination of many things feeling way to intense and no real answers or solutions showing themselves.

Exhaustion = Burnout

When experiencing Creative Burnout there are three ways I use to reignite my Creative

1 – REST

Coming out of a burnout isn’t always easy but it can be done. Burnout does require a time of rest…whether physical rest or mental rest.

The number one thing to do when experiencing burnout is to give yourself permission to REST.

That means to slow down, take long walks in the sunshine, veg out with your family and watching trash TV, or take long naps.

Rest, however, does not mean you hide away. On the contrary, rest means to stop the craziness but not to stop and hibernate away from the world.

2 – Feed Your Creativity

Doing something creative actually provides a spark that can bring you out of burnout. It seems counterintuitive since your burnout stemmed from your creative practice in the first place. My suggestion isn’t to pick up where you were when the burnout happened, what I encourage you to do is try something brand new.

Take a class

Search out classes on topics or mediums you have never tried. Take a class on the business side of things or find something way off from your normal, like Album Cover Design or Embroidery. Trying something new can create new ideas in your own work.

Share your craft with your kids, niece/nephew, or grandmother

If you haven’t tried teaching a child to watercolor, draw or even collage…you’re missing out. Kids are so free and fearless. They try new things and can be so bold with their choices it never ceases to amaze me how excited I am to get back to my own work after creating with kids.

3 – Try adding a new medium

Adding a new medium to your current style forces you to relearn your process and try new things to incorporate the new medium.

Try adding ink, pastels to your watercolors. Add watercolor and gouache together.

What if you added pastels or charcoal to acrylic paint?

Make marks with your current medium of choice…scan in the marks and play with them digitally.

If you’re a digital artist and feeling uninspired, print out your work and tear them into pieces and try collaging or art journaling.

Be Inspired by others

I suggest thing with a warning label. Looking to other creatives for inspiration or even distraction should be done when you are in the right head space. If you do this to early, you may do more harm then good. If you are at the place where other creatives work inspires you, gives you new ideas and insight into your process then go for it, but only when you are no longer feeling the overwhelming self-doubt that brought on the burnout in the first place.

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on Pexels.com

I’d love to hear how you deal with burnout and what suggestions you’d add to the list.

Creative Palette-Find My Hear Background

This weeks Creative Palette is from my “Find My Heart” Digital Mixed Media Graphic Art Illustration.

“Find My Heart” Mixed Media Graphic Art

If you’re interested in learning how to create backgrounds like this yourself or how to use them in graphic art illustrations, check out my latest Skillshare Class.

Creative Palette-Alone Background

This weeks Creative Palette is from my “Alone” Digital Mixed Media Graphic Art Illustration.

“Alone” Mixed Media Graphic Art

If you’re interested in learning how to create backgrounds like this yourself or how to use them in graphic art illustrations, check out my latest Skillshare Class.

Graphic Art Background Tutorial – Adobe Fresco

Creating a graphic art background in Adobe Fresco is the first step to creating my mixed media graphic art illustrations, but they also become art pieces in themselves.

Layer One ~

With the Live Oil Brushes paint in the background. This is a intuitive process…so there is no right or wrong way to lay down the color. I select a color palette I want to use and then apply the color across the page.

For this first layer I used the OilPaint Chunky brush size 512 with paint mix set to 30.

Layer Two ~

This is the fun part…play around with the pixel brushes that come with Adobe Fresco. Kyle T. Webster has created amazing brushes that are accessible through Adobe’s site.

Here I used the Chipper 1 brushes from Kyle’s Concept brushes. Blending Mode set to Overlay with 40% Opacity.

Color HSB 104/12/91

Layer Three ~

Brush: Tighty Line-y / Blending mode: Hard Light / Opacity: 71%

Color HSB 303/20/67

Layer Four ~

Brush: Drip / Blending mode: Overlay / Opacity: 21%

Color HSB (blue) 241/63/36 (yellow) 34/47/96

Layer Five ~

Brush: Downpour 1 (Kyle’s Concept Brushes) / Blending Mode: Pin Light / Opacity: 100%

Color HSB 34/47/96

Layer Six ~

Brush: Kyle’s Stonecutter / Blending Mode: Overlay / Opacity: 100%

Color HSB 240/57/29

Layer Seven ~

Brush: Daisy Chain Square / Blending Mode: Soft Light / Opacity: 100%

Color: White

Layer Eight ~

Brush: Splish Splash Variant / Blending Mode: Multiple / Opacity: 100%

Color HSB 304/79/35

Layer Nine ~

Brush: Pollock CD / Blending Mode: Color Dodge / Opacity: 83%

Color HSB 86/24/64

Want to learn more about Adobe Fresco or about adding the silhouette to complete these illustrations, jump over to Skillshare to take my latest class “Digital Mixed Media Graphic Art – Adobe Fresco”

Creative Palette – She Found Herself Background

For my Digital Mixed Media Graphic Art Skillshare class I created a ton of backgrounds so I could use them in my lessons. I thought it would be fun to share the color palette’s with you in what I’m calling “Creative Palette”.

This background became the jumping off point for my illustration “She Found Herself”.

“She Found Herself” Mixed Media Graphic Art

If you’re interested in learning how to create backgrounds like this yourself or how to use them in graphic art illustrations, check out my latest Skillshare Class.

Which song will you sing? Finding the passion that drives you

Each creative must actively wade through the uncertainty that comes with the very act of creating. Whether creating art, music, or the written word…each must explore, question, play and experiment with their subjects and voice in order to find where they sit comfortably and authentically as a creative person.

Creatives can’t sit by and wait for inspiration or even motivation to bite them in the rear-end and compel them to sit into action. Passion is the driving force.

Creatives must find mentors…people who encourage, guide and inspire them to push outside their comfort zone. These people will be doing things that inspire and motivate. These people may be living the life you want. They may be fiercely fighting for a cause they are passionate about. They may be driven to get up each day and forge ahead when the odds are stacked against them. These may be people who refuse to accept less than what they desire.

Thoreau wrote “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” 

I don’t want to that person. I don’t want to go to my grave with my “song”…my voice…still silent inside of me.

What about you? Are you going to be a person who lives a life of quiet desperation? Or sing your song at the top of your lungs?

7 Tips for Being a Self-Taught Artist

Being a self-taught artist has brought me both immense joy and overwhelming fear.

The joy stems from the freedom to learn my way and to create a style that is truly my own and that reflects who I am and the life I’ve had.

The fear seeps into those dark moments where I feel like a fraud or a failure. The moments when I compare myself to others and find my art lacking. Or when I put my art into the world and…crickets.

7 Tips for Being a Self-Taught Artist…

1) Be willing to make mistakes – This may be a no-brainer, but art is rarely a linear pursuit. You don’t start from A and end up at Z. Instead, it’s a series of steps and missteps that lead you to a darkness where you are convinced you are lost and creating total junk, only to end up where you never knew you would be. So, be willing to make mistakes, sometimes it’s those mistakes that lead you to the most beautiful discovery.

2) Passion is the most important – Passion will be the thing that ignites action in you. The idea that artists need to practice is 100% true, but without the passion driving you there won’t be many hours of practice. You’ll find yourself bored or doing other things instead. So, let the passion that grabs you and won’t let the thought or idea go. Those are the things to follow. Let those feelings, no matter how crazy they may seem, lead you to new discoveries.

3) Walk away when you hit the “meh” stage – You’ll know this stage when you get there. There’s a moment in every art piece where the artist looks at it and thinks, “What on earth is this and how the hell do I fix it?” That moment where you hate everything you’ve done and would much rather toss, burn or cover over the offending work is when you need to step back and return with fresh eyes. Pushing through has never worked for me, I always end up regretting it.

4) Provide your own structure and guidance – To be self-taught there must be a measure of structure to your learning. Without school to provide that structure, you are the one who must provide that piece of your art practice. Set up a schedule or deadlines to force the structure needed.

5) Choose your learning style – The beauty of being self-taught is having the freedom to choose how you get to learn. Are you a visual learner or more auditory? How do you learn best? Do you learn best from one-on-one training or at your own pace with an online class platform?

6) Check the self-doubt at the door – Self-doubt is a killer to creativity. Comparing ourselves to others is the fastest way to stir-up a fresh pot of self-doubt. This means that you need to accept that you are learning and there will always be someone more advanced than you, but that also means there is someone who is not yet where you are. Art is a journey and to believe that one day you’ll master it is the quickest way to self-doubt. Because in my humble opinion we never stop learning as artists.

 “Give yourself permission to fail” – Theodore Roosevelt

7) Let yourself play – In my classes, I think I say, “just let yourself play” more than anything else. There is no right way to do anything. What speaks as true for me may not for you, so giving yourself the freedom to play and to try things is the best advice I could give. This one plays into #1 and #6.

5 Steps to Finding Your Artistic Voice

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from students is how they can find their artistic style. It’s followed by how do they find it if they are learning…copying…another artist’s style?

Finding your unique style is a matter of finding yourself in the art. It’s noticing the little habits or traits that appear in your work over and over. These aren’t thing you choose but rather they are things you’ll find by looking at your artwork and noticing the little things you do without thought.

Our artistic styles are a combination of our overall drawing style, color palettes, texture or subject.

But then how do you go about finding your style?

I believe we can find our artistic style if we follow these basic five steps:

1) Be curious – They say that creativity breeds creativity, so being curious in the beginning is super important. This will be in the form of experimenting and trying new things. It’ll be taking classes and copying those that inspire you. This is the stage where learning is so important.

2) Focus on the craft – Mastering your tools in this stage is key. As writers we are told to learn the rules before breaking them and this applies just as well in art. So learn the programs you need to create digitally. Know how to use the traditional tools accurately whether it’s oil paint or charcoal. Learning how to use things properly will give you the freedom to break the rules and create authentically. Once you understand the fundaments begin to experiment and slowly introduce little tweaks.

3) Know your personality and demeanor – If you are a perfectionist you may not connect well with loose or abstract art. Knowing how you are as a person will help decide what type of medium you choose and how you go about creating art.

4) Let your voice be heard – Our creative voice influences our style in many ways. Art is a way to express yourself and the things you are passionate about or the things you believe in. This is a big part of finding your artistic style…listening to your own voice.

5) Be aware – Stop and look at your art. Really look at it and be aware of reoccurring themes or elements. These are the little things that make your art pieces unique and easily identifiable as yours.

With all that being said, the number one thing I can say that will help you find your artistic style is to create LOTS and LOTS of art!!

Daily Journaling Practice

When I began my daily journaling practice I was hoping to form a more consistent journaling rhythm as-well-as to form a more honest and personal relationship with myself and my writing voice. Up until that point, I found my journaling to be a list of things I did that day or a long winded dramatic dump of all the emotions I was feeling that day.

But the idea of having an unlimited amount of space each day felt overwhelming. I ended up choosing the Moleskine 18-month planner. It would give me one page to write each day…no more, no less. I could do one 5″x8.25″ page!

I began on October 22, 2019, and planned to complete it by December 31, 2020. Who knew that I would be capturing our lives as we dealt with a global pandemic, a change so drastic that it affected our young adult children as they made decisions for their future, a change in our work and lockdown that kept us all distant from family and friends. My daily journal was a place for me to document all that we were dealing with, learning about ourselves and each other, as-well-as the world around us.

I hadn’t planned to capture such a momentous time, but rather just to help me find my journaling groove again and yet this pandemic helped me to return to my journal each day because there was so much to work out.

I’m down to my last two days in this journal and it’s amazing to look back and see all that I’ve accomplished. It feels good to have met the goal I set out to achieve, but I’m mostly pleased that I have this time-capsule of sorts to help me look back at a time where the world changed daily.

Tips for Creating a Daily Journaling Practice

  • Set an attainable goal – For me that was to have only one-page each day to fill. I did have another journal where I wrote more in-depth on certain days but I didn’t have the time to do that each day. I recommend sitting with the idea and knowing who you are and what kind of time you have to put in each day. Journaling is 100% about you, so do what works for you.
  • Where will you do your best writing? – If you can write sitting on the subway or in a lunchroom at work, go for it. If you need a quiet space away from anyone else, then find your private place.
  • Keep your journal close – If you journal in bed before you go to sleep or first thing when you wake up, keep the journal next to your bed. If you journal on the go make sure to buy a journal that travels easily.
  • Aim to write for 15-20 minutes – That doesn’t mean you can’t be quicker or take longer, just carving out 20 minutes each day should give you enough time to write one page.
  • Write freely – Try to avoid all the “shoulds” and just write as freely as you can. My goal was to avoid writing a giant to-do list each day, but with limited space, I knew I couldn’t write out everything that happened that day and how I felt about it, so I would pick one thing. Something in the news that affected us, the way my kids were handling a situation, the way I felt about something that happened at work.
  • Try to find the lesson– I didn’t want to look back at my journal and see long emotional monologues about how someone at work hurt my feelings or how the kids didn’t like my dinner. So each time I sat down to write I wanted to focus not so much on the emotional side of an issue but what I can learn from it. I wanted my journal to help me grow. Each day I would look at all that I’d written and say to myself “What’s my part in this?” In other words, was a situation difficult because of how I behaved or how I filtered the situation? Did I do something to contribute to it and what could I do differently next time? If it was something that was happening in the world and I felt out of control, I would ask the same question…”What is my part in this?” In other words…”Am I allowing the negativity to affect me? What can I do in my life to help alleviate the fears? What do I have control over?”

I’ve decided to continue this daily journaling, so I’ve purchased another Moleskine, this time in red. I know that we are looking at 2021 and are hopeful for what this year may bring. We’re all ready to let go of 2020 and yet I know that much of what we have dealt with this year will follow us into the new year, but I have my trust journal to help me through.

My 5 Rules to Live By

I believe we all have a basic 5 rules we live by. The trick is, each of our 5 are not the same. This makes us each unique as we’re guided by these rules. These are the things we filter through as we make decisions and move through our days. Our 5 can be partly dictated by our upbringing, our religion and our community.

Here are my five~

  1. Do not procrastinate – This was a rule that gathered steam as I got older and suffered major grief, loss of my health and facing my own death. When we’re young it feels like we’ll always have ample time, but it goes by so quickly. Procrastinating brings regrets and lots of “what if’s”, so take the leap and be open to new things.
  2. Always ask yourself, “what is my part in this?” We can only control ourselves in any situation, so sitting around feeling angry or frustrated or “whatever”…ask yourself what your part is in the situation. Is there something you can do differently? Is there some change in thinking or attitude you can make? Is there a way to see it from another’s perspective? By asking yourself what your own responsibility in any given situation is takes back the control and doesn’t let you feel a victim.
  3. Get enough rest – I’m a huge advocate for naps. Everything feels heavier and seems impossible when your tired. Exhaustion brings a fog into your vision that makes everything harder. There isn’t an attitude that can’t be fixed with a nap or a goodnight sleep. Anything is possible with enough rest!!
  4. Find your creative outlet – Creativity is expression. It gives voice to things we can’t express otherwise.
  5. Get your fingers (or feet) dirty – Plants and dirt is grounding and offers fresh life and oxygen into our space. Being around plants helps us concentrate better. Whether you have a large yard or a tiny apartment, you can have plants in your life. If you struggle to keep plants alive, look for a hardy plant and always under water. Over watering kills plants faster than under watering. Take it from a person who use to kill any plant she brought home.
Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

I’d love to hear what your FIVE rules are. Comment below to share!