Thursday, February 26, 2015

Creative Block by Danielle Krysa

We are all artists. Whether our creativity shows up in the kitchen, the garden, the easel, the blog post, the darkroom, the poem, or the ceramic studio, we all have artistic talents even if we don't always have time to pursue them and use them.

In the past few years, I have been taken up watercolor painting and sketching. Believe me, this is not a skill that was ever encouraged in me by any teacher in school. I have attended a couple of workshops, enlisted private instructors, and spent a weekend at an out-of-town art conference. Just like anything else, I find that practice makes - while certainly not perfect - at least better.

Which is why I was so intrigued by the new book Creative Block: Advice and Projects from 50 Successful Artists.  Its cover promised that I can Get Unstuck and Discover New Ideas. How could I not resist.

OK. I am crazy about this book. It is written/compiled by Danielle Krysa, an artist herself and blogger at The Jealous Curator. For the book, she has corralled artists from all over the world and questioned them about their artistic lives. I like that the interviews are short (ten questions) and in a Q&A format. Here are glimpses into the lives of men and women working in paint, collage, ceramics, textiles, embroidery, graphic illustration, paper cutting, watercolor, photography, and sculpture.

Each interview is accompanied by a couple of paragraphs on each artist's training - academic or self-taught - and representative photos of their work. The artists answer such questions as:

When did you first truly feel like an artist?
Do you ever throw a piece of work away?
How do you handle criticism - from others and from your inner critic?
When do you get your best ideas?
How do you get through creative blocks?
How does it feel when you are in The Zone?

At the end of each section, there is a photo of the artist and his or her suggestion for a Creative Unblock Project. These are most fun. Suggestions range from cutting a piece of work in half and creating something new to making a sculpture from an item bought at a thrift store to photographing or sketching everyday objects from a walk around your neighborhood.

It is fascinating to see the wide array of materials and subjects that the artists have been inspired to create. And to learn a little about what inspires them to create. 

I highly recommend it for the artist in you. The encouragement and inventiveness contained here will motivate you to pull out your camera or sketchbook or paints. Have fun!


  1. This does sound fun, and probably helpful too. As a writer and artist, I have plenty of chances to overcome "fear of the blank page" and need all the help I can get! I will definitely look for this book.

    1. Hi, Kathy. I may not have liked every single piece of work highlighted in the book, but there is plenty of inspiration here. And the interviews with the artists are insightful. It amazes me how differently they all see the world.

  2. Oh, Belle, I wish I could draw or paint--but I am hopeless! This book sounds wonderful, but I have no talent in this area. I tried to make a Martha Stewart wreath once and it failed utterly. I would so love to be able to "make art," I love going to museums, but I am only comfortable with the medium of writing. Still, so many great writers painted: D. H. Lawrence and Anna Kavan, I can think of. I'm thrilled that you're able to write and paint!

    1. Kat, believe me, words come much easier to me than watercolors! But painting is just another way to see the world.

      That is funny about the Martha Stewart wreath. I suspect she had the help of her minions whereas you were on your own. I bet if you tried again you would be successful!