Got a Creative Block?: 5 Exercises to Get Unstuck

Every once in a while it’s good to color outside the lines . . . or at least that’s what I keep telling that uptight little uniformed schoolgirl inside my head! Like many people, I tend to fall into a creative rut pretty easily. Does this happen to you, too?

I guess you don’t need to be an art major to know that when making anything—beadwork, meals, outfits—it’s easy to stick with the things you know. Maybe you find yourself willing only to work with bead colors (or flavors or blouses, for that matter!) you’re comfortable with. Perhaps you’ll only try with patterns/recipes/ensembles you’re certain will turn out. You follow the rules to a T and don’t take any risks. The reality is that these things are obstacles to keeping things fresh, especially if you’re designing your own work. 

So, what to do? Here are a few tricks that might help get your creative juices flowing:

Change your vantage point. Stand back from your beadwork and look at it from afar. It’s easy to get myopic about your work when you’re constantly looking at it from up close. While you’re looking, stretch your back, twirl your wrists, and do a few jumping jacks. If you get the blood flowing to your brain a little better, you may have a creative epiphany when you get back to work! 

Page through art history books. Doing this should give you some good perspective on the struggles other artists have gone through to make their masterpieces. If you’re stuck on working with color, check out the Impressionists. Pattern? Look at Byzantine and op art in one sitting. Theme? The Expressionists and ancient Chinese art. Shape? See African, ancient Japanese, and Minimalist art.

Go jewelry shopping. You don’t have to spend anything—just look. Seeing other jewelry artists' work is a great way to be inspired.

Sketch, sketch, sketch. You don’t have to be a Rembrandt to begin a beading sketchbook. Even if your book only consists of chicken scratch and verbal notes about the kind of beadwork you’d like to make in the future, it will get the right side of your melon exercising its artistic muscle.

Take a beading class. Even if you’re well-versed in all the stitches, taking a class is a great way to find out how other artists bead. You’ll learn tricks you never knew about. Plus, you’ll meet a whole room full of beaders you might not know. 

Do you have other outside-the-lines tips to share? Post them on the site! 


Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website. Thanks!

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