After weeks of battling serious artist’s block, I decided it would be best to give up on forcing an idea to develop and not think about doing anything creative. At all. Ever again.
This new outlook was just a little stressful. I was thinking about an upcoming show I’d be doing and I wanted to have new merchandise on display. But I just couldn’t come up with an idea. When there was a flicker of an idea, I lacked ambition to do anything with it.
So I did what all frustrated adult children do in times of stress; I picked up my coloring book and crayons (and my Oreos) and headed to my happy place.
Ahhhhh, there’s nothing like the feel (or smell) of brand new coloring book to transport you to that feel good place of wonder and possibilities. At first it was very intimidating, I was afraid I’d turn those gorgeous, magical illustrations of enchanting forest life into something more of an environmental doomsday disaster. How can a middle-aged adult woman be afraid of a coloring book? I realized how ridiculous I was being and after a few days of admiring and caressing the pages I decided this was MY coloring book and I was going to do with it what I wanted. I then made the mistake of Googling how others were coloring their books and quickly realized how much I suck… not just at coloring but… MY GOD…. did I actually Google and watch other people coloring? Well, I embraced my crazy, slammed down a fistful of Oreos, opened the book, grabbed the first crayon within my reach and threw caution to the wind.
After a few days of this madness I started to feel a little happy. After a few more days I had an idea.
I began to gather my pieces.
I approached this project with the same attitude I did the coloring; I just went for it. The idea was just like the illustrations in the book; there for me to fill in and expand on, but not to be feared. It was ok to color outside the lines. And it was more than ok if things got messy. And it would even be ok if it never got finished.
I rolled paper (for the scrolls and mini books – not what you’re thinking), picked up and smashed up twigs, broke mirrors, cut up twine, went through my stash and pulled out little pieces I’ve stored away for this very day, then smeared it all with black paint. I worked away and became one with that crazy old cat woman, alone in a ramshackle cabin at the edge of that enchanted forest, collecting and hoarding all the dead and dying things it spat out. All while not having a care or concern in the world.
I created my true happy place. Which is a complete opposite of my zen garden happy place, but there is room for more than one happy place.
After dabbling with these pieces, I was able to easily move on to other projects that required a little more focus and neatness. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what the lesson is in all this. I think it’s that sometimes we just need to get over ourselves and do something completely different, no matter how silly it may seem. And sometimes we don’t have to DO anything. In doing nothing we allow new ideas to form…. you know, “listen to the universe”…
If you haven’t already caught on to this new coloring craze – I would highly recommend it. I find it to be quite relaxing and meditative. You can find these “adult” coloring books in craft stores, book stores and even in the book section of some retail grocery stores – I suggest picking up a supersize snack pack of Oreo cookies as well – to achieve the full effect of the experience.
I’d love to hear how you combat and overcome your artist’s block. You can also find out more about the artist and creator of these stunning coloring books, Johanna Basford, by visiting her website johannabasford.com.