The Creative Rest Stop

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need a break from all the…everything.  The deadlines, the client-driven work, the push to come up with new ideas, the production of said new ideas….basically, the creative-on-demand aspect of my art life.  I realize, as someone who has made her living as a professional artist in one form or another for the past 25+ years, it’s all just part of “the job”.

Last Summer • 20 x 20 Oil/Mixed Media

Last Summer • 20 x 20 Oil/Mixed Media

But sometimes, as much as I love the art, the creating, the process, the challenge, I hit a wall, I feel like I can’t come up with one more damned idea to save my life. I’m not talking about the “I just need a day off with a cup of coffee at Barnes and Noble” kind of wall here. No, more the “I feel like I am banging my head against a firmly locked door, willing it to swing wide open and show me the treasure chest of ideas I just know is on the other side” kind of wall.

Basically, at that point, I know I need a break.  A full-on, not even my sketchbook with me, kind of break. No Pinterest, no Instagram, no Cloth Paper Scissors or Where Women Create.  No computer (definitely no computer) or iPad for more than a minute to check email (and if I can get away with it, not even that!).  No blogs, Facebook or LinkedIn. No shopping to look at the bottoms of things to see who manufactured it.

The only way I seem to be able to achieve this total eclipse of the stubborn creative opposite of monkey mind is to GO AWAY.  I like to take a couple good books and just get lost in a story.  Forget for a while that I am an artist.  I like to eat good food, stretch, breathe, walk or hike, nap.  Watch the water lap at the shore, feel the sun on my face, look at the mountains, enjoy the sunset, or be mesmerized into meditation by the fireplace.

Then, after a handful of days like this, a miraculous things happens… The ideas start coming back.  The desire to create something fresh and new comes back.  The door swings open, a choir of angels sing, the sun shines…. And I go dig out the sketchbook I tucked at the very bottom of my bag.

Come on – really?  Did you think I’d leave it home?

And, of course, I always tell myself not to go so long without these self-nurturing practices, even when I can’t get away away.  But do I listen?  Do any of us?  Sure, I take mini-breaks (reference above-mentioned day off with coffee at B&N), have play dates with art friends, etc. but somehow, I always seem to find myself standing in front of that door at least once or twice a year.

So how about you?  What do you do when you come up against that locked creative door?