Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Must-Have Book Every Artist Needs to Overcome Creative Blocks

Do you dread facing a blank canvas? Do you struggle to come up with creative ideas? Are your go-to techniques becoming boring and stale? All of these artistic maladies plague us at one time or another, to lesser or greater degrees. They're part of the territory for most artists, but they're not much fun. In fact, they can make us truly miserable. If only we could call upon a wand-wielding fairy godmother to vaporize these goblins and get us back on track...

Twinkle, twinkle

Enter artist and author Marjorie Sarnat. Now, I doubt Ms. Sarnat thinks of herself as a fairy godmother, much less bills herself as one. But she has created resources for us that can propel us right past all those angst-producing roadblocks that freeze us up and bog us down. For stymied creatives, her books are the next best thing to fairy dust. Instead of glitter, she showers us with so many prompts and suggestions for getting going and overcoming roadblocks that it's just about impossible for us not to.

I'm not talking about Ms. Sarnat offering a mere handful of suggestions, either. I'm talking a few hundred.

In fact, if, after consulting her books, you're still not feeling inspired enough/confident enough/adventuresome enough to grab your brushes and start art-making with gusto, I strongly suggest you check your pulse.

What are these amazing resources? One is 210 Imaginative Ideas for Painting: How to Find and Keep Your Inspiration and Advance Your Visual Style. The other title is 151 Uncommon and Amazing Art Studio Secrets. A third title by this author is 151 Effective and Extraordinary Art Studio Secrets. I haven't read that one yet, so I can't comment on it but I suspect it's just as helpful and information-rich as the aforementioned titles. All are available in hard copy and ebook versions.

Ok, you're thinking, give me some examples. For our purposes I'll discuss 210 Imaginative Ideas only in this post. The other title, 151 Uncommon and Amazing Art Studio Secrets, I'll save for a future post.

A Little Self-Analysis

In 210 Imaginative Ideas, in Part One, you'll discover what inspires you in both the inner and outer worlds (there can be some real surprises here if you're willing to indulge in a bit of introspection).

What's in Your File Cabinet?

Next, in Part Two, you'll be treated to what Sarnat calls "inspiration therapy," suggested destinations and activities to rouse your snoozing Muse. The author also delves deeply into capitalizing on journal-keeping and reference materials to a degree I've not seen elsewhere. She discusses at length the many sources of inspiration around us and how to capture and catalog them for future reference. I found this part of the book to be exceptionally comprehensive. It helped me uncover so many overlooked sources of inspiration that my Muse not only woke up, it became as active as a six year old on a sugar high.

Ready, Set, Go

In Part Three, the terminally uninspired will hit paydirt. Here's where you'll find 210 ideas for painting subjects, many of which are unusual enough to pique the interest of even the most jaded among us. For example, have you ever thought of deconstructing an eggbeater and using its parts as subjects? Creating an Aboriginal Dot Painting? Or enlarging a Monet reproduction by 200 to 400 percent to reveal an abstract image that can inspire an abstract of your own? I assure you that by the time you work your way through this part of the book you'll be positively itching to get into your studio and break out your paints.

As if that weren't enough, there's another whole section on taking your work in new directions using innovative materials. Like 2x4s. (Yes, you read that right.) Or trash. Or leaves. Also, a highly informative discourse on working in series.

Actually, this book is so chock full of ideas your head will be spinning by the time you finish reading it. I can't even begin to cover all the topics Sarnat has packed into this book. It's simply impossible to do it justice. All I can say is, if you suffer from any of the conditions I've mentioned, you owe it to yourself to get a copy. It will be one of the best investments you've ever made.

©2014 Lynn Edwards


  1. Cannot wait to read this book and see what creative projects I can imagine.

  2. Be prepared to get so many ideas you'll have a hard time deciding which one to tackle first!