5 Ways to Rediscover your Art and Reclaim your Passion – Skinny Artist

5 Ways to Rediscover your Art and Reclaim your Passion

So what happened?!

Do you remember when you just loved to create?

Do you remember that feeling of being lost inside your imagination while the rest of the world dropped away?

When exactly did you lose that?

When did creating your art become something less than it was supposed to be?

As creative artists, we all go through those inevitable swings of excitement and loathing, expansion and contraction, that feeling of taking it to the next level as well as those moments when we’re simply trying to amuse ourselves as we wander aimlessly on our creative plateaus.

As this new year begins, I know that many of us are trying to reconnect and rededicate ourselves to our art and our creative passion. Those of you who have followed Skinny Artist for awhile are well aware of my previous struggles with keeping New Year’s resolutions.  I think, however, that no matter what time of year it is, there will always be those times when we hit that proverbial wall and we utter those dreaded words of despair that every creative artist has said at some point in their career —“What’s the point?”

So how do we go back?

How do we return to our artistic innocence?  How do we reconnect with that small creative child inside of us that doesn’t constantly judge our worthiness or compare our work to others?  How do we replenish that creative fire that has been smothered by years of doubt, fears, and neglect?

5 Ways to Rekindle your Creative Fire

1.) Feed your creative soul

You need to regularly replenish your creative well by absorbing the work of those artists around you.

Sure maybe you’ll have moments of self-loathing and feelings of inadequacy along the way as you absorb the masterworks of your genre, but these will also serve as a guidepost that can help to steer you in the right direction and may even help to unlock some creative impulse buried deep within you. Maybe you were drawn to these particular works for a reason.  Not to imitate them, but perhaps to simply show you a little further down your chosen path. 

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. ~Isaac Newton

If you are a writer, you need to read great books.  You need to surround yourself and assimilate their words and ideas.  Resist the urge to judge their work as being superior or inferior to your own, and don’t beat yourself up for not being the first person to come up with that one “perfect idea”.   Remember that it’s all been said before, the importance lies not in the story but in the voice by which it’s told.

If you’re a photographer or visual artist, you need to allow your eyes to take in as much art as you possibly can.  You need to find a way to see things from a new perspective and feed yourself those images that you’ll later play with and reconstruct inside your own imagination.

Finally, try to take some time each day to get outside and experience the lessons of the world’s ultimate creative classroom.

2.) Control your environment and distractions

We live in an age of distraction.

The fact that we are now able to carry a telephone, movie theater, instant messenger, arcade, and a television in our pocket — it should come as no surprise that most of us are more distracted than ever.  Everywhere we go, we are always connected.

Creativity demands, at least to some degree, a certain amount of empty space. We need to find a way to give our imagination that blank creative canvas where it can experiment, reconnect, and play around with all of those images and ideas that we have absorbed from the world around us.

This is something that I have struggled with myself.  Finding that elusive balance between connecting with other artists online while still carving out some personal space to allow my creative imagination to roam free.

Sometimes I find it useful to keep a time journal for several days to see exactly how I’m spending all of my time each day.  Having this information then gives me the ability to prioritize and make any changes necessary.  Unfortunately, I tend to be a “look-at-the-shiny-object” kind of guy so personally, I’ve had to resort to some rather extreme measures in order to keep myself focused.  Hopefully, this won’t be the case for you.

The only other piece of advice I could offer here would be to set a reasonable schedule for yourself and don’t beat yourself up when you don’t achieve everything on your list.  Sure I’d love to be able to sleep four hours and get everything done on my to-do list before 9:00 am, but that’s just not very realistic.  Many of us are juggling family and financial responsibilities so we aren’t always able to experience that ideal creative artist lifestyle.

Above all, be kind and forgive yourself for not always being able to live up to your own high expectations.

3.) Do some small creative act every day

Anyone who has tried to get up in the morning and go to the gym at 6:00 a.m. knows that momentum can be a powerful thing. Newton was right (of course) when he stated that an object at rest will stay at rest, while an object in motion will tend to stay in motion.

This is why it’s so important to find a way to do at least one thing every day that will exercise your creative muscles.

Maybe you can take fifteen minutes to make a sketch and post it to the #Draw365 group on Twitter.  If you’re a writer, make a point to sit down and just write for twenty minutes every day.  It doesn’t even have to be part of a larger project.  It can simply be about what’s on your mind or maybe a new idea that you would like to explore.  Julia Cameron calls this her “Morning Pages” in her book “The Artist’s Way”  If you’re a photographer you could challenge yourself to take 20 pictures in 20 minutes and then share your favorite one on your Flickr Photostream.  If you’re a musician or poet, take some time to write down that musical fragment or lyrical phrase you’ve been noodling around with and post it to your blog or on SoundCloud

The point here is not to create something magnificent, but to simply create something every day and to leave some type of record of it that you can return to later.  I think eventually you’ll find that it becomes a positive feedback loop as other artists begin to comment and respond to your work.

I know it’s hard to find the time.

As I’ve said before, most of us have less than ideal situations for creating our art. We have full-time jobs, we have kids that need to be fed on a regular basis, we have partners who may want us to crawl out of our den or studio once in awhile. It’s not always easy, but at the same time, we need to find a way to carve 20-30 minutes out of our day to exercise our creative muscles and create that momentum to keep us moving forward.

I know that sometimes during a creative drought you may feel like you’re simply going through the motions.  We’ve all been there and these are the times when we are tempted to give up and stop wasting our time.

You have to remember, however, that no creative effort is ever wasted

Creativity builds upon itself. Even those times when it may seem as if we’re just spinning our wheels, we are quietly building the foundation for future progress.  Since we cannot see very far down our creative path, we sometimes have to move forward on faith and be willing to put in the work necessary to grow creatively.

4.) Find your community

Although we may create in solitude, we also thrive creatively by having the support of those who understand us the best.  This is why it’s important to find those kindred creative spirits to share our hopes, our struggles, our dreams, our fears, as well as our triumphs. We need to find our community  — those who will support and nurture us along the way.

Depending on where you live, you may find your community nearby at a local art school, community center, or even the local Starbucks.  If you cannot find your tribe around your neighborhood, chances are you’ll be able to connect with them online.

Think about joining online social communities such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr groups, DeviantArt forum, and Google+ communities.  If you’re not sure which one is right for you, I would suggest simply hanging around them a bit and see what’s going on.  Each of these online communities has its own unique culture.  See where your current friends hang out.  Try them out for awhile and see what feels right to you.

Also don’t be afraid to open up an account and try things out for awhile.  Later if things just don’t feel right, you can always go somewhere else.  Don’t ever feel like you have to keep at it just because you now have 500 followers on Twitter.  If it starts to feel like a chore, take a break. You can always come back to it weeks or even months later.

Wherever you decide to hang out, be sure that you allow yourself to occasionally open up and be vulnerable.  Just like in the real world, people want to connect with real people not some fake super-confident version of yourself.  As I’ve said before, there’s a reason that Superman hangs out with himself at the fortress of solitude.  I mean, who wants to hang with Mr. Perfect?

Just be yourself and remember that you’re not there to sell your yourself as an artist, you’re there for the support and friendship that comes from being around other writers, artists, and musicians who are going through many of the same things you are.

5.) Experiment, expand, and don’t look back

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and try something new.

Creativity is all about seeing things from a new perspective.  It may sound like a bit of a cliche but it’s true that no one has ever seen the world the same way that you do. Find a way to share your unique perspective with the rest of us.  Remember that we are all here stumbling our way through trying to find our individual voice.

Also never be afraid to start over. Allow yourself from time to time to return to your artistic innocence and see your art through the eyes of a beginner.  Don’t allow your past to dictate your future path.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve already sunk twenty or thirty years into a particular discipline, if it no longer nourishes your creative soul, you need to let it go and head in a new direction.

Expand and resist defining yourself as an artist.

It seems like these days so many creative artists have managed to bury themselves so deeply into their niche and they can no longer find their way out.

Don’t ever limit yourself by defining who you think you are as an artist.  Resist labels.  Follow your creative path wherever it may lead you even if it means letting go of the comfort of the familiar.

Use every tool in your arsenal to explore your creative soul.  Try to push yourself a little further each day into unfamiliar territory. Embrace the discomfort that comes from setting yourself apart from others.

Expand, explore, and enjoy!

 How do you do it?

How do you motivate yourself to keep moving forward when things are rough?
What kind of things do you do to get those creative juices flowing again?
How do you feed your creative soul?

If you would like to share this article the short URL is: https://skinnyartist.com/gVqPg
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About the Author

Writer, teacher, and head custodian of the Skinny Artist community. His book "Getting Creative: Developing Creative Habits that Work" is all about finding the time (and energy) to live a more creative life.

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(37) comments

A very timely post for me. Thanks!

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    Drew

    Thanks Felicia! I really appreciate you stopping by and I hope your creative muse smiles on you soon :)

    Reply

Great tips, thanks Drew!

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    Drew

    Thanks Dan, I really enjoyed reading your Top 5 regrets post. Keep them coming!

    Reply

I just came across your website today and im glad i did. Thanks for the wonderful articles.

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    Drew

    Thank you for your kind words :)

    Just stopped by your website and I have to say that your illustrations are adorable (which is a word that I don’t often use). Looking forward to seeing more!

    Reply
Katherine

This article got me started with joining skinny artist community. Thanks for you words and advice it really does help with getting back into the creative process. Keep up the epic artistic work and articles.

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    Drew

    Thank you again Katherine for your comments here and elsewhere. I love getting feedback and readers like you who are willing to take the time to share their ideas and thoughts with us, are what this site is all about. We are lucky to have you as a member of our little community :)

    Reply

Love your ideas here. Can I use them in our Folk & Decorative Artist Guild newsletter please?

Reply

    We would be honored Chris if you wanted to share this article with your newsletter readers. :)

    Almost all of the articles on this site are released under a Creative Commons License so you are encouraged to share the article as long as you credit the author (which in this case happens to be me) and provide a link back to this particular website. You can get all of the details about what exactly you can and can’t do with our content by reading the “Please Share Responsibly” notice in the footer below. Of course if you have any other questions about any of this, you can always contact us directly. Thanks again Chris for being a part of the Skinny Artist community!

    Reply

drop by my blog…promise you a free poem! You can even choose the topic!

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    Thanks Joan, we really appreciate you stopping by!

    Reply

As fantabulous as usual – thank you :)
Sorry i don’t comment much…but i do read and enjoy ;)

Reply

    Fantabulous right back at you! Whether you have the chance to leave us a comment or not, it’s always a pleasure to have you here my friend I can still sense your creative awesomeness when your here :)

    Reply

[…] I found: https://skinnyartist.com/ and read his posts on getting the fire back in one’s art. However, I started looking at other posts such as his posts on the differences between an amateur […]

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Dear Skinny Artist,
Your words couldn’t have come at a better time. Doubt and self-punishment often lurk in the shadows of creativity. Especially when you work from a home studio away from other artists. Thank you for your encouraging words. They are truly inspirational.
Aloha from Hawaii!
– Kat

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I always bring a sketchbook with me so I can draw when I`m waiting for the train or anything else really.

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Loretta Stephens

Thank you so much for this post!
I’ve been struggling with my lost passion for years and, have longed for it’s return
in the most desperate of ways.
I feel that this post, your tips just may be the way back for me.
For the first time in a long time, I’m actually hopeful.
Thanks, again :-)

Reply

    Thanks Loretta for your kind words and I’m really happy to hear that you find the post to be useful :)

    It seems like it’s so easy these days for our creativity to get buried beneath layers of daily life. Sometimes it is just helpful just to hear that it’s okay to lose your way or stall out occasionally. I know that personally I tend to go through creative spurts and lulls on a regular basis. Although it may never get any easier when you’re in the middle of it, over the years I’ve learned that eventually I’ll come out on the other side. So now instead of just sitting around and beating myself up, I try to find ways to recharge and refill the creative well so that when I do eventually emerge from my creative hibernation, I’m ready to hit the road running, so to speak. Thanks again Loretta for taking the time to share your thoughts with us and I wish you all the best!

    Reply

This is a great article. I have really been stuck in a rut lately but I know I have so much in my soul I just have to find a means to let it out.

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[…]   Five Ways To Rediscover Your Art by Skinny Artist I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of […]

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Miles

I think the opposite is often true for #1. Completely cutting oneself off from the the work of others can help create art that is more representative of oneself. My pottery teacher and I were talking about finding your own style, something which I often feel distressed about, and he suggested Polynesian artwork as an example. The masks and woodwork are completely unique, because the islanders were completely cut off from outside influence. Obviously today it is impossible to withdraw from the world and cultural influence, but taking some time away might be beneficial.

However I also agree with your point in another article, that imitating other artists can be a gateway into finding your own style. A balance between the extremes of imitation and seclusion might be a way to staying creative and innovative, but I’m not sure, I’m still struggling with it myself!

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Surinan

Hi, Drew this is such great article, thanks for the tips too it really help me trying to get back my passion of drawing, I loved fantasy world art , but ever since the day my college art teacher and my dad told me to give it up for good! I did in the end, even starting a new course, I’m still drawing everyday, at home and college , imagining and picturing characters and places, I can never stop thinking about it . I’ll take all of your advice and start fresh even though i’m still an amateur and i don’t have the most of the equipment I need but still not giving up! Thank you! :)

if i have any spelling mistakes, i’m sorry english isn’t my first language :)

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    Thank you for your kind words and I’m glad to hear that you refuse to give up on your dream. Unfortunately, everyone in our life will not always understand why we feel the need to draw/paint/write, sometimes even those who closest to us, but that doesn’t mean that we should stop creating our art. As you said, it’s not about having the right tools, it’s about having that passion and desire to create despite all of the reasons not to create.

    Just keep drawing Surinan and I wish you all the best :)

    Reply
b

Thanks for the advice here. It is all very practical but nice to hear from another person (because giving yourself advice doesn’t always stick).

I am struggling to even pick up a pencil these days I have strayed so far. I walked away from artistic expression to pursue a career in the sciences but I didn’t understand how big of a deal it was because I was secure in my identity as an artist. Now I look back and wonder what I am doing. I feel like an imposter and that I have betrayed myself. I suppose that is the same old story.

Anyway, I will have a look around here and see if I can find some courage. Thanks again.

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    I understand what you’re going through and I think this kind of thing is just part of the natural ebb and flow of the creative life. We do stuff, and when it doesn’t meet our initial expectations, we begin to question ourselves and our talent. It doesn’t make it any easier when we compare ourselves to all of the masters that have come before us. We can’t help but feel small and insignificant in the greater scheme of things. Unfortunately, there is no real solution other than to develop a thick-skin and a certain amount of stubbornness that says you are going to keep going and do it anyway.

    If nothing else, take comfort in the fact that all of us have gone through, and continue to go through, this type of creative self-doubt. It’s simply part of being a creative artist. That doesn’t mean, however, that we have to give in to these feelings of fear and doubt. Sometimes it helps me to take a step back and recognize that I have gone through all of this before and have eventually come out the other side. You simply have to put your head down and find a way to keep moving forward.

    Reply
    Alexa Harmon

    Good God it’s like you’re telling my story!
    I used to live, breathe, and shit art. I recall the majority of my days spent avoiding conventional responsibilities (curse you laundry!) So as to explore and create. Some where along the line I lost touch with that inner playful child. Responsibilities gave me a sense of fear, one that would constrict my ability to find value in my art or the artistic process. So I took a break from art. I wandered and found myself desperately searching for meaning, something to value (existential against at its finest)
    That search led me to the scientific community. And though I’ve spent the past two years learning a lot about the world, I feel so abstracted from myself. Creating feels like a foreign process to me now. I feel empty without art. The shitty part of all is that I’m now intimidated by my own artistic process! Every time I try to dive deep to find that inner child I shut down. Now I’m in a vicious cycle and I don’t know how to break it! I miss being able to ignore the world and five deep into myself. I miss art!

    Reply

      Unfortunately, I think that becoming alienated from our art is all too common once we leave the (somewhat) supportive creative environment of college or art school. Life gets in the way, we decide to “take a break”, and before you know it, the entire creative process becomes completely foreign to us. I know that I’ve been through this myself multiple times, and each time I manage to claw my way back, I vow not to let it happen again–but it sooner or later it does.

      It kind or reminds me of running, where when you’re in the middle of it and you’re running on a regular basis, it becomes a part of you. Not only a part of your daily routine, but a part of your identity. Running feels natural and it’s hard to imagine being without it. Then something happens, often an injury, which keeps you from running for a few weeks. Before long, the thought of running becomes uncomfortable, and maybe even a little intimidating. The same thing happens to me when I stop writing. Suddenly everything I write seems awkward, unfamiliar, and completely pointless. It often takes a week or two to regain my creative footing.

      My only advice, would be to start small and try to let go of the idea of where you once were or where you think you should be. Don’t try to pick up where you left off, but go back to the beginning. Many people have told me that taking a class often helps them reconnect with their art, because it forces them to re-engage with it on a regular basis. It also provides them with a supportive group of like-minded individuals who are also reconnecting with their creative process.

      Reply
Anne

Thank you for this article. :) i’m studying fashion design and recently I have been swamped with deadlines for school and finishing a wedding gown. I couldn’t take a break and I feel so tired I want to give up.

I love what I do but I feel like I’ve lost my creativity and inspiration along the way – felt like I haven’t done something new and fresh.

I really hope I can find my creativity again REALLY SOON. 😣

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elle

so helpful !! thank you so much <3

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Hanna

I’m really hoping these tricks will work for me. I’ve been in a rut for three years. Thanks for taking time to write this article :)

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    Thanks for stopping by Hanna and I hope it helps! :)

    Reply
Haazima

Beautiful article. Thank you for the great advice :)

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farah

this post really helps me to get back up again..to do arts again..i will try harder to reclaim my passion. really big thanks!

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    Thanks for stopping by and also for taking the time to let me know that you found the post to be useful. I really appreciate it farah and wish you all the best!

    Reply
Martine

Hello,
When I was young, I used to draw everyday. It was my passion, I just could not live without it.
During my early twenties, I decided to create a comic book before studying film animation in university.

Since a very young age, there was no question about it, my life was to draw, it was clear I had a passion for drawing. But I don’t know what happened, I just started writing and stopped drawing.
Today I’m 36 and I draw sometimes.. 3 to 4 drawings a year. I can’t find back that passion, the motivation, feel kind of lost because I still want to draw. When I see another person drawing with passion, I feel like I lost a part of myself.
I’m totally blocked. I tried to find a new passion, doesn’t work. I don’t know what stops me.
Too many people tried to force me to make a living with it, “you should sell your drawings, why don’t you draw this instead of that, stop copying and just create all the time, draw landscapes and portraits and forget the rest, etc”
I don’t know why I lost my passion but I miss it soooo much. I don’t know what to do. I would give anything to draw again.

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    Thanks Martine for taking the time to share your story with us :) I’m always amazed, and a little sad, how often I hear something very similar to your story from one of our readers. Someone grows up loving to write/draw/paint etc.. and gets pretty good at it because they work on their craft every chance they get. Then life gets in the way. Sometimes it’s a new job, new relationship, new baby, new responsibilities and before you know it, the “unnecessary” things in their life (i.e., their creative activity) gets shoved to the back burner.

    Years pass, and before they know it, they are 40 years old and kicking themselves for letting their creative passion go. So one day they decide to jump back in headfirst. The classic quit-your-job-and-write-the-great-American-novel kind of thing. Instead of just picking it up as a hobby or something fun to do, they try to justify their “weird” behavior by making a “business” out of it. Because as everyone knows that if you can’t make money at something, it’s not worth doing…. No, wait, that’s just some stupid crap that we’ve all been led to believe.

    After all, if you make jewelry, everyone expects you to open up a shop on Etsy. If you paint or draw, they talk you into renting a booth at every local craft fair so you can sit there for hours pretending like you’re not bored out of your mind. And if you are a writer, then you have no excuse, because everyone knows how easy it is these days to publish and sell your book online.

    My point here (if I have one) is that there comes a time in your life when you just have to do what you want to do, regardless of all of the well-meaning “advice” that people will offer you. I think that it’s that constant pressure of making something “worthy” of selling that freezes us up creatively. It’s that nagging thought of “is it really good enough?” or “who the hell would want to buy that?!” that shuts down our creative flow. It’s only when you are able to let those expectations go, that you’ll finally rediscover the creative spark that you once felt as a child who was excited to create something without demanding that it offer something in return.

    My one piece of advice is for you to simply pick up your pen/pencil/whatever and start drawing again–but this time, do it for yourself. Don’t do it for the money, to fill your portfolio, or to impress the neighbors. Just grab a sketchbook and make a mark…then another…and then keep going until you start to once again feel the joy of the creative soul reawaking inside of you…

    Reply
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