By Nicole Tinkham
“Art Attack: The overwhelming feeling of having so many creative ideas at once and not enough time to do them.”
Many of our artist friends experience these “art attacks” and feel totally overwhelmed. They stop what they’re doing to begin something new and have a difficult time getting back to previous artwork to finish them up. Or sometimes they go into a piece excited about it and get stuck halfway through. Maybe they aren’t sure how to do a particular technique and they lose their drive. Regardless of what’s causing them to stop a project, artists have SEVERAL unfinished pieces, according to our Facebook poll. There are some artists with 50+ projects that they can’t seem to get around to finishing! With that being the top issue we’ve been hearing about lately, read on for 6 ways to get motivated and finish your artwork.
1. Remember your strengths
It’s a fact. When we’re really good at something, we are more motivated to do it. So if you’re stuck on a project, ask yourself how you can make your special talents shine to finish it off. If you just don’t know what to do next, look at some of your favorite artwork that you’ve done in the past. What do you like most about them? Can you incorporate that into your current piece?
If it’s a lack of skill that’s holding you back but you already have an idea of what you want to do, you need to study it! Look up YouTube videos, browse books, ask artist friends, or take a class. Fill your mind with knowledge and practice it every day until you get it. It may be a challenge but remember that the little stumbles along the way mean you’re growing and improving.
Take action: List out the skills and techniques you’re really good at. This will not only give you some ideas for the unfinished project but it will also boost your confidence. You may even be inspired to learn something new.
2. Do it for fun
Sometimes what holds us back from completing artwork is the fear of messing up. You may notice that it’s more difficult to finish artwork that you’re making for someone else or trying to sell. But when it’s just for fun and you do it because you want to, you’re free to be loose and play a little more. Take the pressure off yourself and remember why you choose to do this every day, because you enjoy it and have fun with it.
Take action: Look back at some of your early artwork, the work that you did while learning, experimenting, and playing. You were creating these simply because you enjoyed doing it. You had no other agenda. Remember the feeling you get when you create just to create and apply that to the work you’re struggling to finish. Remember there are no mistakes in art, only happy accidents.
3. Adjust your environment
The place in which you create has a huge impact on how you work. Have you ever noticed that a certain song, place, sound, scent, time of day, or emotion gets you in the mood to create? These are like triggers telling your body you need to be doing it. So if you’re feeling a little off one day, it could be your surroundings. Before getting out that painting from the past, set the mood and get in your creative place.
Take action: Take a look around you. Are you in a creative space? Is there anything distracting in the area? Do you have good lighting? Take everything into consideration. If this doesn’t work, try something different. Take your work outside if you’re used to working in the studio. This often times brings new inspiration.
4. Set a deadline
We admit, the word “deadline” feels way too structured when it comes to having fun with your artwork but sometimes a set date is exactly what you need to get moving on a project. Set goals for yourself, get focused, and aim to meet those deadlines! Even if the artwork is just for you, still set deadlines that you’ll strive to meet. Having an accountability partner can help you with this. Check in with that person to keep on track with getting it done.
Take action: Take a look at the projects you want to finish up within in the next few months. Now open up your calendar and set a date that you will have them done by. Be sure to set progress deadlines as well for larger projects so you can see how far you’ve come and be sure you’re still on track with the big deadline.
5. Leave your comfort zone
Doing something totally out of the norm could cause new creative ideas to spring up. When you try something new and even a bit scary, you take yourself out of your element which could benefit your artwork as well as yourself. Your “something scary” doesn’t have to be art related though. Any different experience can cause a shift in your thinking. This shift could bring about new creative ideas for that project you’ve been putting off.
Take action: Make a commitment to something you’ve never done before that takes you out of your comfort zone. Sign up for a class, take a trip, or attend an event that you normally wouldn’t.
6. Get focused
Sometimes what holds us back from getting things done are distractions. Have you ever experienced artist ADD where you stop halfway through a project to begin on another project that just popped into your head? It’s difficult to stop that creative mind of yours (and we wouldn’t necessarily want you to) but we recommend getting super focused on the project at hand. Eliminate all distractions including your phone! If a creative idea pops into your head jot it down in your sketch book and continue with your project.
Take action: Get your unfinished piece out and everything you need to work on it. Make sure all other unfinished work is out of sight so you can focus on the one you’re planning to finish.
We think it’s great that you have so many creative ideas that you can’t keep up with them all. We don’t want you to stop being creative but we also know that having a ton of unfinished artwork can be overwhelming. Plus, it’s important to show completed pieces that you’ve been working on! Every artist has their own way of working and we completely understand that. Some artists work well on multiple projects at once. Try these helpful ways to get motivated to finish your artwork but choose to go with a method that works best for you. Sometimes no matter what you do, you just can’t get motivated at all. If a piece is doing nothing for you, paint over it! Do something different with it. Take it in a new direction. We are always changing and something we were once excited for may not give us that feeling anymore. There’s nothing wrong with going with the changes and evolving as an artist.
Whether you finish a piece of artwork or not, just remember to keep creating! Don’t allow yourself to get so caught up in a particular piece that you no longer want to create.