Filling your Creative Well

I haven’t touched my paintbrushes in about a week.

A few weeks ago, I would’ve completely beaten myself up over that.

As I sit on my studio floor writing this, the canvas I prepared last week with a base coat of blue-black lays in front of me, unmoved from that spot since I laid it down to let the paint dry.

You might know from my post last week that I’ve returned to work full-time, and I believe that’s a great thing for me right now. If you’ve been reading Handprint Soul for awhile, you also know that I believe that every challenge offers precious wisdom. 

I’ve always struggled with full-time work, mostly because I’ve had a lot of demanding jobs, but also because I don’t like being on someone else’s schedule and 40 hours or more every  week just tends to wear me out sometimes. I need a lot of time to think and reflect, and sometimes that’s hard to do when I work full-time and try to do a million other things.

So, the wisdom here is to learn to take exquisite care of myself while working full-time and starting my art career. At least I have a head-start on this job  because I really do love it and I’ve been working there for a few months. It’s not like I’m throwing myself into something completely new, but any big schedule change requires some adjustments.

While I’m settling into this new situation, I’m clearing a lot of other things off my plate. I’m taking it easy and making sure I have meals and snacks prepared for work, that I get enough sleep, journaling, and keeping things maintained. I’m even adjusting my sleeping schedule so that I have more time for creative stuff in the morning before work.  I’ve been thinking about art, but nothing is pulling me into the studio right now. I don’t see art when I look at trees or the sky right now.

However, I wouldn’t call this a block. I’m not concerned at all even though this would have terrified me a few weeks ago. I know that creativity needs to be nurtured in order to flow, and once I settle into things and things don’t require as much consciousness to maintain, I know that my imagination will start wandering again and I’ll get that itch. It’ll come back. It always does.

I’ve been working through The Artist’s Way and early on it talks about the vital importance of filling the “well,” which is our internal reservoir of images and ideas from which we draw our inspiration. Laura Hollick’s latest video expresses the importance of tending our “inner garden.” I’ve understood this concept for awhile, usually thinking of it as a process of “creative intake” and “creative output,” but I feel that receiving two reminders in one week is a gentle nudge in the right direction. I need to fill my well. I need to tend my garden. I’ve been so busy keeping the rest of my life together that I haven’t had room in my head or my schedule or the openness to keep my inner creative shelves stocked.

Maybe I should stick to the well and garden metaphors, yeah?

But how to we tend that garden?

It’s different for everyone, but to water our creative hibiscus flowers, we simply need to do things and visit places that inspire us. Read a good book. Go window shopping. Visit an art gallery or a museum. Go hiking. Listen to music that stirs you. Drive. Mess around with a new art medium. Whatever fills your soul with electricity, or at least that’s what inspiration feels like to me.

So, with things settling down, I’m working on tending that garden. When it’s flourishing again, the art will come.

This is the first time I haven’t felt uncomfortable with creative blockage, to say the least. Isn’t it incredible how life sends us the messages we need? We just need to hear them.


Posted on January 19, 2012, in Art, Creativity, Stress and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Nice article, but I also here that creativity is genetic. Really made me think… brings up quite a debate, but I’ve heard over the years that creativity or the will to be creative is all genetic.

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