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  • Creativity Crisis

    I was wondering if anybody else has or has had their creativity seem to vanish. What I mean by this is that I remember when I was younger being able to come up with ideas and being able to sketch/draw things from my mind but anymore it just seems like all I can do is copy others work or change it a bit. I don’t seem to be able to come up with any ideas of my own. I have noticed this off and on now but what really spawned this thought was my son asking me to help come up with some pumpkin faces to carve into the jack-o-lanterns for this Halloween. In my earlier days, not that I am old by no means, I would have been able to sit down and come up with some pretty cool stuff but I just could not think of anything on my own besides the normal things you see on all pumpkins in the store with basic shapes cut out. I researched some on the internet thinking it would help spawn my own creations but nothing doing. I sit here now thinking what has happened to my imagination and creativity that I used to have? Did all these years of structure and analytical work destroy my once active imagination?
    I tried to set aside some time at the end my day every day last week to just doodle to see if it would start to come back but nothing. By the time actually get time for myself at the end of the day I am just too tired to do anything and it has also slowed down my carving. Like a lot of us, I don’t carve anywhere near what I would like to. My wife stated; “why don’t you carve when everyone else goes to bed.” I wouldn’t trust a knife in my hands when I am tired. I might start carving into everything but the wood.
    Just wanted to see if anybody else had something like this happen to them and if they found a way to kick start the creativity? Thanks for listening to my rambling. I am tired and need to go to bed.

  • #2
    Re: Creativity Crisis

    Oh my.... it sounds like you are trying too hard.... I know what you are going through and it happens to me when I am trying too hard (or feel desperate)to come up with something new or innovative... I get back on track only when I quit that...when I rein myself in and get comfortable doing what I know best. Then, gradually, the ideas start coming again. Creativity is a delicate thing and stress will kill it.

    I actually had to tell the gallery I was taking a year off because the deadlines were killing me...this was several years ago. I would just go out to my studio and stare at all the wood on the shelves and not come up with a single idea...my sketches were awful, nothing worked. I even wondered if I had come to the end of being a carver. As soon as the burden of the deadlines was gone, things started coming back. Ideas started coming right in the middle of a piece and I'd just go with it.... Go back to your comfort zone, do simple things that you know well, take a deep breath and remember how much you love carving. It will come back. Just get rid of the stress and quit trying too hard. Remember, you can't force creativity...
    Best wishes to you.

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    • #3
      Re: Creativity Crisis

      I agree with Susan. If you are carving professionally, take the pressure off by declining any work on commissions. If you carve just for fun (like me), do some familiar work and relax. Better still, do something completely different. Take up walking, or dancing. Join a community group and work on some rewarding project. I think I'll go kayaking tomorrow!

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      • #4
        Re: Creativity Crisis

        Hey hey MakinChips! YES! I am just recently back in the swing of things! went for months without making a single thing and it was aweful! I decided one day that I was done-as soon as I decided I was no longer a woodcarver...lol...I got custom orders coming at me from all angles! I won't say that that spurred me on-but at least it got me in the shop again and makin messes. Honestly-all I can say is that it will come back. It always does. It seems like just yesterday that this was me asking for advice and the best that I got was just to enjoy my down time. GREAT advice. I relaxed...my mind was not so cluttered with life things and before you know it I had ideas...not just your average ideas...but mind blowing cosmic converging brilliant ideas It felt even better than when I was carving before-this time was new! I think that we take these small reprieves as we progress. We get the fuel we need to move forward as even more advanced carvers...try and think of it like a growth spurt Best of luck to you!

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        • #5
          Re: Creativity Crisis

          I know what you mean...

          I'm a passionate type of person. I normally go from a burst of ideas to another. Between those bursts, I always have a quit period. It can be a day, a week, or a month, sometimes more. And I don't like these quit periods where nothing seems to interest me.

          I need something to spark a productive period, be it a new project, a new goal, a problem to solve, etc...

          And I don't like to have deadlines... I work at my own pace. And it does not have to feel like a job. It has to be fun.

          I just left a quiet period and began to carve a few Santas for Xmas. What started me is seeing nice projects that "looked" easy to do and different from what I had done before.

          So for me, it's a new mag, a new knife, a new idea, etc... that does it. Going to a wood carving show is also good.

          It'a not always easy to do, but you have to find what triggers you...

          Gilles

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          • #6
            Re: Creativity Crisis

            Hope we are not getting like my elderly neighbor who got a traffic ticket
            for speeding,the officer ask him "Sir where are you going in such a hurry? My friend replied,.got hurry up and get to where I'm going before I forget". Senior Moments
            are get us every time.

            Oscar

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            • #7
              Re: Creativity Crisis

              There are times when I go out the the shop and just stare at the tools, I pick up a piece of wood and it stays just a piece of wood. After doing nothing for a while I give up and go back into the house and find something else to do.
              It might help to gather suggestion from others, ask your son what he thinks would be a cool pumpkin and go from there. Sometimes all it takes is one idea to spark a ton of others!
              I know that there are books on being more creative, but I think the best way to be more creative is to be more creative. Maybe carving isnt where your head is at right now, so go do something else! Paint, draw, cook or play an instrument, write a book. I know that playing the fiddle is one way I can stay creative. Start being creative in one area and it will overflow into other areas.

              Jim

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              • #8
                Re: Creativity Crisis

                My youngest son moved 4 years ago to New Mexico from Naples Fl. where they have an abundant supply of pumpkins and gourds. He had a field day carving. One pumpkin was computer system logos. Windows, Linux. Penguins dancing around. He chose work related ideas for some of his carvings. Another was a Greyhound bus that circled the whole pumpkin with the front meeting the back. He took the bus from Florida to New Mexico (wanted adventure...Kids). I hope this helps a little, sometimes it's everyday ventures.

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                • #9
                  Re: Creativity Crisis

                  Thanks to all who have responded. I know that stress does have a part in it but I did not know it could block creativity. I will try to relax more if that is possible given everything going on. I do have a commission coming up for the holiday and have not yet gotten started and now this. The commission did not cause this as I really was not even thinking about it but now if this continues I may have to pass. The order is for five seperate pieces and now that you mention it, I am sorting of drawing a blank as to what to do. Great even more stress.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Creativity Crisis

                    Creative starts with an idea, often at times when you are doing other mindless activity. These ideas must be written down, and then developed into something solid. An note there is a big difference between burn out or creativity problems. Burn out started.... when I needed more money, was doing production art because of demand, and nothing I created was worth my own two cents... I walked out of the art business and into some very dangerous work, ....which I think I needed some kind of thrill to amuse myself. But it became clear to me, I rather dig ditches then do production art. I spend hours at the net doing research and when I find an item I like then I print it out. I have hundred of file folder loaded with these pics.... I then take a pic look at start to carve it and then put it away. That means carving with my own ideas.... no matter if I destroy it. Then end result of the carving, I often have no ideas but it 100% my own work. I carved from patterns for a year and half, 40 or more hours a week....in order to learn some basics of woodcarving. Then I drop the patterns, which I had become dependent on....it was a hard start to get back into the swing of being creative. But creative is often easy....it is the procrastination from a worry that you may not make it good enough. Learn to say no to customers and even yourself. As I tell myself often no production cause you will quit and the work will be unsatisfying. hope this helps a little
                    . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di

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                    • #11
                      Re: Creativity Crisis

                      Every bucket need to be filled occasionally. We all run out of ideas that's just natural. My advice would be to go back to the pump, the place where you get your inspiration. prime the pump and start moving that handle. I love the old west and devote my output to reflect that love, so once a year, sometimes even twice if I'm lucky, I head in that direction as that's where my pump is. We just returned from a trip to Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and our own Oklahoma and my bucket is overflowing again. There's enough in that bucket to last me until the next trip.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Creativity Crisis

                        Think about what you really want to do, what you really like to do. If what you enjoy the most is carving, worry less about the creative part and more about carving. It's not forbidden to get ideas from others, or to modify a pattern you like. Check out all of the books that are published on wood carving and you'll see entire books of patterns, and other books with many patterns, examples, and tutorials. Go to carving shows and note that many carvers produce the same carvings in classes. BTW, carving shows are the best inspriration for me and Dayton will be a great source of "new" ideas for me. Mike
                        Matthew

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                        • #13
                          Re: Creativity Crisis

                          I have to agree with everyone on the forum here you have to find what u like.... Ie i mainly carve people... Ask your son to pick out an idea and carve it and see what happens

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                          • #14
                            Re: Creativity Crisis

                            I guess I am rather lucky.....if I get a brain cramp (kinda like a writer's block 'cept for carvers)....I head to my wood lathe...or my wood pile.....or the sharpening stones for some touch-ups....or to the river with the fishing pole and an adult beverage...or jump on the scooter for a run around town....or look at my wife's to do list for me...

                            Yes, these are in order of importance...sorry sweetie..

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                            • #15
                              Re: Creativity Crisis

                              I haven't been carving long enough to consider myself creative. However, I've been an avid amateur photographer for over 40 years and have hit the occasional dry spell.

                              When that happens, I just put the equipment away for a while rather than force myself to be creative. To me at least, if the creativity doesn't come naturally, it just doesn't come and I can really see the difference in my work.

                              I guess that's one advantage that the amateur has over the professional in any creative area as they are not using their art to put food on the table.

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