Artistic Block – Annette Piper

17 02 2009

Artistic block – have you ever had it? That awful feeling when you look at your bench or at your drawing board or at a blank canvas or at your sewing basket and go completely and utterly blank? When, if you force yourself, it just turns out wrong?

I was starting to get like that at the end of last year – I was tired out from shows almost every week, from filling orders, from creating when the well was almost dry. Sitting at my bench had become a habit, but one I really wasn’t enjoying. I knew I needed a break.

I have younger children and Christmas is a family time, as well as our summer holidays. So I just stopped. I switched off and tried not to think about work – tried not to think of shows I should/ could do, what I may need in stock, what supplies I had stockpiled, what new supplies I may need… Of course I didn’t always succeed, but by the middle of January (about a month into my ‘holiday’) I was a bit shocked when clients started popping in to look at jewellery or to get something made!

I thought about getting back to work when the children returned to school from their summer vacation at the end of January. After all, I had to prepare the winter collection. But it was so hot, I was still so tired and although I sat at my bench and moved some stones around – well, it just didn’t happen. I got up and left it.

I admit I became somewhat discouraged and the thought that ‘maybe I’ve lost my creativity’ did fleetingly go through my mind. But I decided to put that negative thought away and let it happen when I was ready.

Sure enough a creative burst was just around the corner … well a couple of weeks away, but not long in the course of a year!

I sat down and made a bracelet. Yes, I liked that. But nothing more came for a few days. This was obviously just a creative ‘warm up’.

Next, I did a necklace – it was rather challenging and took me a whole day to get just ‘right’. Then I finished off a necklace that had been sitting there for months – just needing an extra pair of hands to help me finish it off.

A week passed, then I decided to start pulling apart all those pieces that for some reason I had set aside – they either weren’t right or I had grown bored with them before I’d even finished with them. There were quite a lot from the last few years. (Yes, I also procrastinate!)

I deconstructed the first piece, I added some extra bits, I took others away, I fiddled and fussed and before I knew it, I was deeply engrossed in CREATING.

Yay, it’s back! I’m now in full creative mode and loving my work again!

A bright creation in lime, black and silver

A bright creation in lime, black and silver

To read more from Annette, visit her blog at and view her jewellery at


Overcoming Artistic Block

20 12 2008

This year was a hectic one for me.  I participated in over 16 shows (most of them 3 days long), wrote tutorials, taught classes, volunteered nearly every day at my son’s school, fought some major illnesses — it’s no wonder I’m tired!

I also make nearly half my income in the last three months of the year, so every single day (and most of the night) I’m making jewelry,  selling jewelry, or shipping jewelry.  If I thought I was tired before, I’m even more so during those crazy days, and the inevitable happens — I get major artistic block.  

This kind of artistic block starts with my never, ever wanting to see another bead or piece of wire again.  My work bench, for the first time all year, gathers dust.  I find myself with loads of time and I have to actually think about how to fill it. 

It’s lovely!

This annual artistic block doesn’t frighten me, though.  I know that in about a month, I’ll be right back at it, preparing for another year.  But right now, I’m enjoying things I didn’t have time for before — knitting, reading a book in the local coffee shop, taking my son to museums, and on occasion, playing a video game.  A month later, my brain will have been rested and rejuvenated, and I’ll venture back to the bead cabinet.

(And oh yeah.  I take this time to really clean my house from top to bottom.  Running your own business really makes dusting and organizing seem less important!)

I think it’s important to embrace artistic block.  Often it’s not a lack of ideas, but an abundance of ideas — so many ideas that your brain throws up its hands and cries, “Enough already!”  So rather than fight it or worry about it, take the time to do something else.  Just like an athlete resting in the off-season, an artist needs to rest.

Really!  Go on.  Put your feet up.  And I’ll see you next month.