Recently a painting friend of mine wrote describing the oldest problem in the history of art...well, except for CRITICS...that being artists block. You want to work but nothing turns you on. You have dozens of photos or sketches in front of you but not ONE of them lights a fire. You may even have some drawn on canvas, maybe even have paint on canvas, but the effect on your creative genius is...blah...it's not bad, but it's not going to bring down the wrath of Rudi Giuliani either. What to do? Well, basically there are two choices, something or nothing. You can retire from art, permanently or temporarily, take your pick, or you can struggle on. Well, actually, there IS a third possibility. Forget about painting and try something new, something you've never done before, something fun, something daring, something rediculous, something HARD, something EASY, something...well, different.
When I suffer creative block, I forget about painting and do some drawing. Eventually, come across something so good I just can't WAIT to do it in color. Beyond that, here are some other ideas, some involving painting, others drawing, others NEITHER. Some of the suggestions below are very left-brained, some very right-brained, some a little of both. With each there are several permutations that will suggest themselves as you go. Print this out and underline several possibilities, then try them. Don't be too quick to give up if you aren't immediately successful. The learning curve in some of these activities is VERY steep. But realize it IS a learning process, not just a artmaking activity. Spend at LEAST a day trying each of the ones you think might hold promise. Throw away nothing. Compare your early attempts to later ones to see if you're making progress. If you can see improvement, give it another day.
OKAY, YOU READY FOR THIS? Try sketching some of the people you work with. Try putting two or more photos together into a single drawing or painting. Try sketching ugly things, making them beautiful. Try the reverse of that. Try drawing small things VERY large so that the work becomes more of an abstract design than a picture. Try utilizing words into your drawing/painting. Try a painting with a poem in it. Try painting and object with lots of words. Go through your cupboard and pull out things at random, then putting them into a still-life arrangement. Photograph and or draw it. Experiement with different arrangements and lighting using an entire roll of film. Stack up a bunch of objects so that they resemble another object or person. Cut a bunch of images from magazines, arranging them into a collage, then paint from that. Do the same except paint ON them (coated with matte medium first). Trace a bunch of letters from a magazine or calligraphy book into an abstract design, twisting and intertwining them so that part of each letter is covered by part of another letter and no one letter dominates the composition. Color them with colored pencils before redrawing them and painting them. Get some matboard and a sharp knife (or matcutter) and carve away at them as you create a collage (representational or nonrepresentational). Do a series of drawings of a friend in which you try to make him or her look older in each one (or younger). Utilize these as the basis of a painting. Try morphing one object into another object over the course of a half-dozen drawings. Utilize them as the basis of of a painting. Paint a picture of the BACK of your house. Do the same as it would appear six months later. Paint a picture of your car. Draw the same person on the same piece of paper in different moods. Photograph and paint a bunch of hands doing things. Go to a cemetery and draw. Draw a shiney object that reflects your own face. Draw flowers and make them look like people. Try the reverse of that. Draw your bathroom. Open up the cabinet under your kitchen sink and draw what you see. Draw or photograph the stack of dirty dishes in the sink. Draw a self-portrait from your bathroom mirror as soon as you get up in the morning. Draw your drivers license. HAD ENOUGH? Of course, some of these ideas are more creative than others, and some are going to be too difficult for some people, but trying even some of the unlikeliest ones could spark the creative genius within you and that's when the artist's block crumbles.