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Stop It!- How to Deal with Creative Block

I know it's not easy; believe me I know as an artist you're always wanting to create and run with an idea. I don't know about you but for me it gets even more so when I have a creative block and I'm trying to get a spark going but take it from me, the name of this article fits perfectly for such situations- STOP IT!  When you run into a creative block, stop what you're doing and take a break;  go for a walk or play a game or go running or whatever you enjoy doing this is the time to do it. If you are in the midst of a creation you've envisioned but are getting stuck or feeling like you have to push the idea further-STOP IT! Put your paintbrush, pencil or whatever you are using to create with down, step away and play with your dog or your children, take your spouse to a movie.

I've been in this boat many a time and believe me, your creative vision will look much better to you and everyone else if you don't push yourself to continue on the project when you are getting to an area that just isn't flowing naturally. What do I mean by this? What I mean is say you have an idea to paint a beautiful river and you have been working on it for a couple of hours now and you're at the point where you have to give the water it's feeling, it's sense of movement but you're looking at the entire image and you just can't decide where to start, what shades of color to use, etc. Should you keep pushing yourself til you figure it out? I say emphatically "NO!" and trust me, I know it's easier said than done but at this point you need to walk away and grab a new perspective. When you come back to it you should have a better idea of how to continue with the painting. Am I saying that after one break you'll come back and be able to complete the painting? No I'm not because sometimes you'll come back and you'll be just as stuck as you were before your break and you'll get frustrated & maybe even angry. How do I know this? Because I've been in those shoes more times than I can count. There've been times I've had to literally take a dozen breaks before I was able to get the painting flowing again.

I think one of the hardest things during these break sessions is to wipe the idea of laziness from the mind. What do I mean by this? I don't know about you but I'm the type who's always got to be busy and preferably doing things I love and that I am making money in such as painting so when I have to take these breaks it's very difficult for me to not feel like I'm wasting my time, or fear getting lazy.  A dear friend of mine recently gave me a good perspective on this thought process and it's this: "Don't think of it as being lazy; think of it as recharging your creative energy." And you know what?  She's exactly right! When you take a break from your painting,sketch,carving or whatever form of art you're working in, you're not being lazy;  what you're doing is giving your mind a chance to re-energize itself, to work out the chaos in your mind that are a bunch of great ideas but you can't organize them into a flowing thought and hence it'll show up in your work as well. For example, as I write this article, I'm taking a break from my latest painting because I became stuck on what to add to it, if anything, where to add a bit more shadow, etc. I have several, what to me are "good ideas" in my head but I can't get them organized and flowing so instead of wasting my time or risking destroying the very integrity of my work, I'm taking a breather and I will return to it later and hopefully it'll flow again.

If you're anything like me- a workaholic, driven to succeed, intense, passionate about your work-will it be easy to take breaks when you get stuck or to take a breather from art all together when you have a creative block? Maybe but more than likely it won't be an easy transition because more than likely you've had this same mindset for your entire life;  rarely do you develop such characteristics overnight. You're going to find yourself stuck on a project you're working on or maybe driven to think up a new project because one isn't coming to you automatically. Sound familiar? And you know what?  You're going to find yourself still trying to work through it, you're going to find yourself still thinking about what your next project could possibly be. How do I know that? Because after three years as a professional artist I still find myself doing the exact same thing at times. Changing the way you handle art, especially when it's your livelihood isn't going to come over night and for many it won't even come within a few months but it WILL come.

In conclusion, when you see yourself getting aggravated with your artwork or you are having a creative block just try these two simple words that will make all the difference in the end-STOP IT!

Author : Mike Sexton
Copyright -2008
All Rights Reserved
Please do NOT reprint this article unless you have my permission, thank you.

 
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Options to Storing Your Files & Images

Have you ever stored files on a CD so you have a back up in case something goes haywire with your computer?  If you have,  have you ever gone back to that CD to get something off of it only to find out that the disc is no longer good and the files you had on it are no longer readable or visible?  If so,  then join the club that has millions of members my friend because it sure has happened to me several times over the years.  I event went to the lengths of having a copy of the CD in case the original corrupts only to find out that the copy is also corrupt!  Talk about wanting to scream!  Times like that really make you curse technology doesn't it?

Well have no fear because I'm going to give you a few different storage methods you can use for your important files and pictures.  Now none of these are foolproof but in my eyes the more of these you use together,  the better your chances of at least ONE working when you need it.  There are many different methods of course such as using an external hard drive,  a backup program,  DVD's, online storage websites, etc.   I'm going to talk about the ones I've tried which includes the external hard drive, DVD & online storage solutions & give you a few pointers on each.  Now,  as I stated, none of these will guarantee your files are totally safe & retrievable but at least they're options to consider.

Let's start with the external hard drive.  There are many different brands on the market,  different storage sizes to solve many different computer users' needs.  You can get them from as small as 20 GB all the way to 300GB and I'm sure there are even larger ones out there but you get the idea;  if you have a lot of files you need to store or just a few,  there's an external hard drive to fit your needs and that are reasonably priced as well;  many sell for under $60 for the smaller sizes;  I think I paid around $90 for an 80 GB external drive.  Most are extremely simple to connect using a USB port and you're ready to go.  They really do a beautiful job for storing your important files & pictures.  For example,  since I'm a digital artist & graphic designer,  naturally I have a lot of images I need to safely store and I always transfer my work to my external hard drive after I stop working;  even if I know I'll work on it again later the same day.  Naturally you don't have to go this far but I've had my share of bad experiences with losing work over the years and I like to play it cautious.

Next are recordable DVD's which also come in many different brands as well as "R" & "RW" which just means that the DVD-R you can only record on once;  whereas,  the DVD-RW disc you can rewrite over it several hundred times in many cases. Ok,  now for the obvious bit of information:  to record onto a DVD of ANY kind you have to have a DVD recorder drive;  if you have one that records onto CD's it doesn't mean you can also record onto a DVD using the same drive so please, before you buy a pack of blank DVD's make sure your computer can write files to them.  The beauty of using a blank DVD is the size of information they can store;  you can fit roughly 4-5 CD's worth of files onto 1 DVD!  I'm not kidding you;  it's a beautiful thing;  as I said,  I'm a graphic designer and artist & I have a LOT of images to save which naturally take up quite a bit of space so it's wonderful to record onto a disc that stores up to 4 GB of information/images because it definitely lightens up the amount of space I need to have to store the discs;  and trust me,  having one stack of DVD's beats ten stacks of CD's any day of the week.

What happens if you don't have the cash for an external hard drive and your computer can't write to DVD discs?  You can always go another route and choose an online storage website to store your important files & images.  There really are a ton of them out there,  some are expensive,  some are cheap and some are even free. Each one has their own level of how safe they keep your files & account so be sure to check such things BEFORE you get an account with them.  Also,  check how long they've been in business;  you generally don't want to go with a new start-up business because who knows,  they could go out of business tomorrow and then where would you be? The best thing to do is to check on several different companies & check their reputation for safety, length of time in business,  customer service,  etc.  The beauty of using an online storage website is you don't have to worry about recording onto a disc every few days or weeks as the case may be or paying for an external drive.  Say for instance your PC crashes- I know-major panic mode isn't it?  I know I always go a bit off the end when my PC takes a powder & I have to spend all day re-installing the entire system and programs. Well if this happens and you have your files saved online,  once you get the PC reformatted and are able to get back online you just go to the website where you stored your files and you're back in business again!

For all of you out there who are like me,  a digital artist and create your masterpieces on the computer I have an additional tip to give you that I've been using for the past year or so now.  I created a special email account that I use strictly for images that I'm in the process of creating;  in other words,  unfinished masterpieces.  Here's how I use it, say I'm working on a painting and have just begun the outline sketch of it but I need to leave for an appointment or just want to take a break.  I save the file and then I email myself a copy of it to that email account; this way if something happens in the meantime I could download the file from the email and start right back where I left off. I do this every time I stop painting.  Naturally you'll need a rather large email account but that's alright;  there are many out there today that are free and give you a ton of storage space. Then once you're done with your painting or whatever it is you're working on,  go into your email account and delete the oldest copies & maybe keep the last 2 or 3 files just in case you wish to make some changes later on but don't want to touch the already finished image.

I personally and professionally use all of these methods I've described-the external hard drive,  the DVD, the online storage site as well as the email idea.  Does that mean you have to use all of them too?  Of course not!  But I will give you one final piece of advice and that is, whatever method you choose, the more options you use, the better chance you have of having at least one of the storage sources be there for you when you need them. THERE'S NO FOOLPROOF STORAGE METHOD,  no matter which you choose it can go crazy on you and not work but that doesn't mean you shouldn't seriously consider storing your important data;  everyone's going to have a PC go bonkers on them,  unfortunately that's just how life is;  technology is only as infallible as the humans who create it and let's face it,  I have yet to meet a PERFECT human, have you?

***I wrote this article to give readers an idea of what's available out there in storage solutions. I in NO MANNER RECOMMEND ANY PARTICULAR STORAGE METHOD .  Whichever method you choose be sure to weigh the pros and cons & I take ZERO RESPONSIBILITY in case something happens to your stored material.  Just like anything else out there,  the storage method you use you are using at your OWN RISK!***

Author : Mike Sexton
Copyright -2007
All Rights Reserved
Please do NOT reprint this article unless you have my permission, thank you.

 
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Kids & Art

Most kids I've come across including when I was a kid love to draw, doodle or paint;  it seems like we're all born with this love for the most part and as we grow up, sometimes that love dwindles, goes away all together or remains with us.  The reasons for the different aspects of art leaving our lives as we grow up are many and varied;  they can range from just plain losing interest, becoming frustrated enough as we get older that we're not happy with our work and we move onto something else that we're better at and sometimes it's simply due to lack of encouragement by the grown-ups around us including parents.

I will tell you though why I think it's so important to keep encouraging a child's artwork, whether it's painting, fingerpainting,drawing,doodling, etc.   It's a huge boost to their self-esteem; you don't have to be great at art and let's face it, there's only so many child prodigies out there that are exceptionally gifted from the onset; art is about so much more than having something you can tell what it is or define in a nice little niche.  Art is about the soul;  it's where a person's creativity sparks and is allowed to express itself without any hindrance or fast set rules.

Another wonderful reason to encourage a child is something we might overlook on occasion.  Children, no matter their age, have a hard time expressing themselves verbally- let's face it MOST adults aren't exactly great in this area either;  hence why so many arguments are started, divorces happen, etc.   Now if something is really bothering the child or is worrying them, how do you think they might express it?  You guessed it right!! with their Art!  Art is a wonderful way to express your emotions and children do this all the time; now am I suggesting that you start to analyze each piece your child draws, paints or sculpts out of play-dough?  Of course not! What I am saying though is that if a child is open to art, enjoys creating, this is another outlet for them to use when they're troubled about something rather than locking it up inside where it can do real damage.   Personally, I think that's something a lot of adults need or should realize as well.

Personally, I like to use myself for an example on this sort of situation;   I always enjoyed drawing & doodling for most of my life but was never into it enough to pursue it passionately till a few years ago;  this wasn't due to my parents lack of encouragement; they always thought my work was the greatest even when it really wasn't.   I hate to say it but I just was never interested enough in it to pursue it continously although I always did add a touch of art to most things I did, whether it was designing my folders I used for school to even one time painting a pair of my shoes partly gold to make them unique hehe.   Look at me now, I'm a graphic designer/digital painter and rarely go an entire day without trying my hand at something creative unless I'm in a tremendous creative block in which case I do take a breather so as to keep the frustration from building up.

Naturally, not every child who dabbles in art will become an artist, writer or what have you but by allowing them the opportunity to explore their creativity, their imagination throughout their life through art, no matter the form, you will be helping to raise a human being who will be open to new ideas, explore new paths, never lose their sense of wonder and no matter what career they pursue as they grow up these sorts of qualities will be of a tremendous boom to them and will give them both an edge & an outlet for when things get tough and seem overwhelming.

Author : Mike Sexton
Copyright -2007
All Rights Reserved
Please do NOT reprint this article unless you have my permission, thank you.

 
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