Plein Air Painting Resistance - What to Do About Creative Blocks When they Strike

We all suffer from bouts of creative resistance to plein air painting from time to time.

That feeling of coming up against an almost palpable wall of not wanting to do the very thing that we enjoy most in life. It's perverse really.

You would think that we would be eager to go out painting or do other creative work that we get joy from.

And yet... sometimes we are struck down by a sense of... dread?

Let's call it FEAR – there, we have said it. Yes, down right fear of creating.

This fear needs to handled carefully or it can lead to a creative rut – also known as being blocked.


We can tell that resistance is starting to hit us when we use our creativity to come up with excuses why we can't possibly go out plein air painting today.

I once went so far as to actually be at my painting site and then found a very good reason (no parking, too hot, too crowded) to just keep driving and go back home. I just didn't feel like doing any art that day. This, in spite of scheduling my art time and knowing that this was my sacred, protected time just for art. Succumbing to this resistance made me feel crappy - I felt disappointment at myself for having caved-in to the powerful urge to just blow it off for the day.

A childlike rebellion was in full bloom.

OK – so what do we do to handle the situation?

We acknowledge our inner artist child – maybe take her/him out for an ice cream cone, go to a movie in the middle of the day – let her/him do some truly playful things like using stickers, sparkly paint or cut out pretty pictures from magazines instead of the perceived hard work of creating our “real” art.

Under no circumstances should we be beat up on ourselves.

Sweet talk and pampering of self are called for instead.

Don't Make a Big Deal out of Occasional Creative Resistance

Maybe you are just bored with painting the same old thing or place again and again.

Maybe it's time to take a road trip – fill your image bank with new images.

You can't keep fishing the same pond without re-stocking it from time to time.

Try going to some art shows and take in new and unfamiliar images. Go to a movie. Look at sculpture. Garden art. Bird houses. Crafts. It's all fodder for our imagination.

If you usually paint landscapes, try painting florals, figures or spirtual art for a break.

Take a workshop.

Watch a DVD of other artists involved in their process.

In other words, we need to re-inspire ourselves.

Appreciating Ourselves

Above all else, we need to appreciate ourselves for what we have accomplished so far.

Take out your paintings, even if you only have a few so far. Acknowledge what you have done and what it took to do it.

You are your own hero and deserve to appreciate yourself.

Pretty soon our resistance is gone and we are back to our old, joyful selves as we create our art and appreciate our lives in the process.

How to Talk Yourself into Beginning a Painting
Inner Critic & Perfectionism
It's the Process, Not the Product
Art as Healer

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