Anselm Keiffer, Der Rhine, detail 1982
Sometimes you just get stuck. You are painting along fine and then you reach a point where you don’t know what to do. It might be because you have fallen in love and have lost objectivity. It might because the color is off somehow. But usually you stop and pullover because you just actually have no idea what to do. You truly have never been here before.

This is a good strategy in most circumstances. But in art, sometimes you think you can figure it out if you think hard enough, but in actual fact you can’t. It is hard to imagine too many steps ahead in a painting. Having no clear image to shoot for is somewhat terrifying but there it is. You have come to a place in the road that you can go no further. So logically we stop.

And then, since no new clear information is conjured up, we tend to stay stopped. Stuck.

So I don’t know the full answer, but I think I know a small part of it.

And here it is…

When you hit a roadblock, when you can’t keep moving in one direction, instead of stopping, you just go left or right. You pivot. In other words you keep moving in a way that is different even though you might not know the outcome. The important thing is to just keep moving. You might even be pretending to be moving towards something but if you can keep moving, if the dance can continue, the answer, the solution to what was stopping you arrives more quickly.

Interestingly, questions that arise in the process of making your art are often best answered from doing instead of thinking. If you can just keep mark making, faking it almost, then your art continues to change. It is this changing that actually starts to give you the crucial information about what you might do next. The changing art seems constantly new and fresh and as a result you can remain objective. And being objective allows you to see your art and what to do next, more easily.

So next time you find yourself just staring at your art not knowing what to do and minutes are turning into hours, just remember… Move. Take action even if you don’t know what to do. Do anything. Trust your intuition and simply dance.

That is a pretty good answer till a better once comes along.

And from my experience, it always does.

Do you ever get stuck? And when you do how do you get unstuck?