Recovering from a Painting Block

“Every time we say Let there be! in any form, something happens” – Stella Terrill Mann

The day I decided to try to paint without judgement, without comparisons to other artists, silencing the harsh ridicule of the inner critic, was the day I crawled out from under a painting block that lasted 24 years.  I was living in Sedona, AZ, in 2006, surrounded by the most amazingly creative art that I had ever seen, and happened one day, to notice the date of my last painting–one of our dogs– Logan, 1982.

Logan's favorite spot on our Vermont porch

Logan 1982

I did other creative things during that time period – stencil design, craft work, and photography, but the canvas continued to allude me.

In Sedona, I began to frequent the many galleries.  The energy and creativity of other artists began to penetrate and crack the shell I had built up surrounding painting.  Inspired, I began to think I might start painting again.  At the urging of a friend, I experimented with a small painting of apples.

Little Green Apples

Little Green Apples – 2006

What followed was a surprising surge of creativity.   I started painting, reinstating my passion, discovering new areas of creativity and haven’t stopped since.   I began to understand that my art was my creative expression unique to me – not everyone has to like it.  If I achieve in my art what my inner vision wants to express, my art piece is successful.  It is a piece of me that I am sharing with the world.  That is enough, no judgement necessary.  The inner critic is always there, lurking for an opportunity to be heard the moment you get a little bit discouraged.  Sometimes I have to do the work to subdue it again.  That is when I walk away from a painting and let it rest on the easel in contemplation.  I can then intuitively plug into the painting–it tells me when I am ready to return to it, then it reveals how it would like to emerge into completion.  Go within and listen to your muse.

“When you start a painting, it is somewhat outside you.  At the conclusion, you seem to move inside the painting.”  – Fernando Botero

Unblocking Tools:  One of the biggest influences  in recovering my sense of identity as an artist, was Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.  Her course ignited a journey that is on-going and I return to it for inspiration during periods of artistic down time.  Her course helped me think outside the box and to just let go.   The exercise of “morning pages” – a brain drain, stream of consciousness – is the most amazing and surprising tool to unlock blocks.  Julia describes the morning pages  as “the primary tool of creative recovery”.  Writing allows you to get all the negativity out, facilitating the letting go process.  It may seem like an erratic process at first.  Keep at it and trust. The Artist’s Way helps you to uncover your real self, restore confidence and free your intuitive creativity.

“All you need to do to receive guidance is to ask for it and then listen”  – Sanaya Roman

My current leap in creativity is developing this website and in writing this blog –ten years ago I wouldn’t have had the courage.  It reflects back to me where I have been and where I might be going,  By sharing my journey, I hope all who read this are inspired within their own journeys.  Over time, I have recovered my sense of strength, connection to my inner muse and most of all, my sense of possibility.  My artistic journey continues to grow in new ways- taking me on unexpected curves in the path.  My creative blocks, if they happen, don’t last very long.   The nature of life is, in itself,  creative and  never a straight line.  We flow on waves of connected quantum energy.  How you utilize that energy is a choice.  How you let that energy affect you is a choice.  Each day gives us the opportunity to create anew, to express our authentic self, be inspired, and keep growing.   Keep an open mind to creativity and it will lead you to higher goals; once reached, set new ones.  You will soon discover that creative imagination is limitless.

“The universe will reward you for taking risks on it’s behalf” – Shakti Gawain 

Maria Doglio © 2014         (Thank you to Julia Cameron – juliacameronlive.com)

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3 thoughts on “Recovering from a Painting Block

    • Go for it!! But first retreat to your “fantasy” space on your luscious new pillows! Invite your inspired muse to reveal itself and emerge on your canvas.

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  1. Maria, thanks for your inspiring essay and for sharing your insights and learnings along the way. I so look forward to being on this journey along with you. I love the paintings that you posted. I think the greatest pearl is your definition of success!

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