If you find yourself reading this, I see you. I created this outline to support painters, like you, on their path of releasing the resistance that is keeping them feeling ‘stuck’ to allowing the art to flow through them again with a wholehearted supported painting approach.
Over the last decade I’ve painted custom pet portraits and I know how challenging life as a painter and creative can be. When we’re faced with resistance, can’t shake what’s bothering us, or we lose the eagerness to paint in the middle of a project, our creative process can feel more like an echo chamber of our own self-doubt or a deep hole we can’t climb out of. We’re left with unfinished projects and an inbox full of free courses we never complete.
Top 7 Ways to Get Unstuck + Finish Your Painting
A common issue that comes up for my art students is how to stay focused and release any resistance (think painter’s block). I’d love to be your support system and friend on your art journey!
I’ve put together 7 ways I rely on to keep my focus up and my mindset free of resistance to finish painting after painting. I use these every day in my studio. I invite you to bookmark this page and return to it as much as you need, wherever you need that extra support in your process.
Establish a Painting Ritual + Routine:
Walking into my studio and adjusting my easel and paint supplies lets my mind know it’s time to paint. I get excited and focused. It’s a simple thing that I’ve done over the last decade of painting custom pet portraits and every session begins the same way. Rituals, however small or large, motivate you to follow through. Over time it wraps around you like a warm blanket. Find a habit that activates your purpose and let’s your mind know it’s time to practice your art. Make it a point to do it every time and eventually it begins to support you.
If I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed, whether I’m staring at a blank canvas or a half-finished portrait with at least another 30 hours of work left, I focus on simply starting. I find an entry point in the painting, maybe it’s the left ear, and put the brush to the canvas. After a little bit of time I often find that the art starts flowing through me. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated over your art project, a small and deliberate step can make all the difference. Small steps together make for eventual progress. Release all responsibility on thinking about the whole project and simply focus on starting each time.
Schedule your time to paint: Similar to having a routine, scheduling a time to paint will help you keep going.
For 15 years while pursuing my dreams of becoming a successful painter I also had a demanding full-time job. That meant my time in the studio needed to be focused and efficient. I blocked off most evenings and many hours on the weekend to devote myself to my craft. Plan what time you’ll paint and add it to your calendar, even if it’s only 30 minutes a week. Make it your time. Silence your phone and make all other arrangements to stay focused and uninterrupted (i.e. hire a babysitter).
Don’t wait for the creative flow:
The key to my successful art career is seeing my art as a practice, and not waiting to ‘be in the flow’ before I create. I’ve shown up for my art almost every day for the last 30+ years. If you’re feeling stuck, write out your plan to turn your art into a practice rather than a sporadic occurrence. The world needs your art my friend. Sketch in your sketchbook, jot down ideas for projects, play with your new supplies. If you’re feeling stuck, continue to show up for your art. Do the small things that build the connection with your art again whatever that may look like for you.
Don’t forget to play:
When I first started investing in more expensive supplies, it felt quite daunting. I didn’t want to be wasteful. What if it turned out bad? Then I remembered to play. When we play there are no mistakes. I could choose to use my expensive supplies and allow them to support my new artist level or/and I could continue using canvas pads to play and plan my art and then put a more evolved idea onto the more expensive canvas. Choose to play with your paint today to shift into allowing the art to come through you instead of being stuck in fear of what if’s. If you’re looking for a simply way to start, join my Painting Challenge.
Rest & Reset:
I find that my morning meditation sets me up for a focused and motivated day. When there is self-doubt or too much resistance in the studio, I reset my mind again with either another meditation technique or a nap. Sometimes a reset (like sleep) is the only way to stop the negative emotions and the mental space holding your self-doubt and impostor syndrome. Schedule a 15 minute meditation and include rest as part of your day.
Refuel Your Inspiration:
The key to sustained creativity is supporting yourself wholeheartedly. One of those ways is to refuel your inspiration. For me, that includes getting my hands dirty in my large flower and vegetable garden. Find what inspires and refuels your creative being, then write it down so you can include it in your weekly schedule.
That’s it for now. Next time you have a challenging time finishing your painting, remember these tips. The more you practice the tips and put them to use, the easier it will get to follow through on your projects. Consider making one or two a daily habit.
If you want more tips like this, head over here to learn more about my How to Paint a Dog Portrait course to learn how to paint a pet portrait from start to finish.