How Do You Find Your Creative Spark After a Rut? - VanDuinen Studio

How Do You Find Your Creative Spark After a Rut?

It happens to all of us: you consider yourself creative, but sometimes, the ideas just don't come. All your inspiration wells have run dry. It feels like you might never make art again.

Of course, if that were the case, no one would be able to call themselves a lifelong artist! So what can you do when you're feeling more wooden than creative?

  • Quickest: Buy yourself a new toy (AKA invest in some new art supplies)

Sometimes, the simplest solution is the best solution. If nothing you own is crying out to be used, maybe it's time to experiment! Now, to be clear, I'm not condoning mass consumerism here - if you don't think you'll use it more than once, it's probably not worth the money. 

But, as a personal example, I've always been drawn to paintings and other artworks using gold leaf. It's so beautiful, elegant, and multipurpose! It FINALLY occurred to me recently that there's nothing stopping me from owning it, so now I have some in my studio. It's way messier than predicted, but there is no denying its gorgeous finished results.

(Side note: You'll be able to see one of my first applications of gold leaf in Thursday's Hidden Worlds collection that will hit the shop on April 22 at midnight! If you want to be the first to know when it releases (and grab the VIP discount code), you can sign up here.)

Not into the gold leaf mess? I have a few other suggestions! Marvy Uchida's paint markers are a ton of fun and EXTREMELY opaque, so they'll write on just about any surface you could want to decorate. Glass dip pens use the same inks you'd use for calligraphy, but they don't flex the way steel nibs do, so they're way less finicky to draw and write with. And finally, if you love a brand new sketchbook like I do, check out the various sizes and shapes available from Hand•Book.

What are you most excited to try next? I'd love to know, and I'd be happy to offer personalized tips/guidance!

  • Quick-ish: Try a new tutorial from another artist you like

If you already own a bunch of fun art supplies but can't think of what to do with them, a lot of your favorite artists have quick tutorials on their websites or sent periodically in their newsletters to help spark your creativity! One of my favorites is Lindsey at The Postman's Knock; she sends out all sorts of tutorials in her weekly communications, both for calligraphy and for other art projects.

I have a few up as well, and I have several more planned (so watch this blog!). For a low-key craft with LOTS of flexibility, check out this DIY Memory Box. For something a little more involved, you can dive into this tutorial for painting a flower in gouache or watercolor.

  • Slow but worth it: Take an art-related course

If you have a little free time and are looking to really invest in a new hobby, there are so many amazing art courses available. Skillshare is a great site to browse for hobbyists of all skill levels, with both free and paid options full of artists sharing their expertise in short, manageable chunks. If you're at all curious about pen and ink illustration, you can find my course there!

  • The simplest: Go outside!

This is a cliche piece of advice for a reason. If you're feeling stuck or downtrodden or just generally uninspired, nothing will be better for your mental health than some fresh air. Take a walk, even 5 minutes, and don't put any pressure on yourself to accomplish anything during that time. Even if you don't come home bursting with ideas, relaxing a little bit will greatly increase the chances that those ideas will start creeping back into your mind over the next few hours or days. Stress is creativity's #1 enemy! (She says during a global pandemic...)

Which idea appeals most to you? Do you have any go-to methods I missed? Let me know here and we'll chat 😊