What do I do when I’m not inspired to create?

I do believe that when we experience artists’ block or a lack of inspiration or energy to create, it’s usually a sign that it’s time to take a break or have some downtime. I think it’s a time to reassess your artist goals; review the work you’ve done and determine what’s working for you and what’s not.

It’s also probably time to go out and fill up your well of inspiration since the proverbial well has dried up. Maybe go to an art show or do a small art workshop or a retreat. I did a creative retreat once in high school where I got permission from my teacher to take the week off to go to a creative workshop. Attendees were not allowed to listen to the news, read the newspaper or books, or look at magazines (this was pre-social media so the list is much shorter) for the entire week. We listened to soft calming music as we sketched with our none dominant hand, drew patterns, painted, and explored new mediums. I remember how I felt being away from school, traveling to this workshop one hour away in the city, on my own. It was a very freeing experience. The workshop was at the back of the only art store where you could get premium art supplies in Trinidad. It was one of my favorite places to visit and the place where I got my first portfolio case and my now 20-year-old box of Prismacolor pencils. It was the first time I met other artists from all over the country, It was like a precursor to going to college and I enjoyed it!

That being said, here are some suggestions that I have done in the past to deal with ‘Artist Block’:


If you’re used to using watercolors, try Acrylics. If you like painting on canvas, try painting on paper. In my case, I normally use inks but tried using my colored pencils to try out new color palettes without the set-up and clean-up usually done with my inks.


If you’re used to painting landscapes, try painting florals. If you like to work in a more representational style, try something more abstract. In my case, I usually do portraits and figures, so I decided to try drawing shapes and filling them in with color and I also painted pairs of shoes too.

Copyright (c) 2023 Simone Elum. All rights reserved.


If you always use a lot of blue and green in your work, try a new set of colors like pinks and violets. I normally do monochromatic blues and black and white work so I decided to use bright colors like pink and yellow. Not bad for some Abstract work, right?

Copyright (c) 2023 Simone Elum. All rights reserved.


Gathering inspiration is necessary for creativity. Spend time looking through art books, Pinterest, going on Artist dates to Art Shows and Galleries, or taking walks in Nature. Sometimes you find a lot of inspiration in the outdoors! I personally like to watch old movies, go to the book store and go outdoors to get fresh air.


Reading articles by other artists who are having the same creative struggle as you can help you get ideas about how to overcome them. You can also listen to the multitude of artist podcasts out there or Youtube videos by artists. They usually give great advice because they’re going through it themselves. I have been listening to The Self Taught Artist and watching Youtube videos by The Unexpected Gypsy (She is awesome!!). It’s a nice feeling to know that you’re not alone either 🙂


Is there something you wanted to get better at? Portraiture skills, Color mixing, Photographing your work, Art Journaling, or how to use a new medium? Take an online class on Craftsy, Domestika, Creativebug, or Skillshare. I’ve taken classes on all of these sites and they have always helped me feel creative and learn something new.


Maybe you want that human connection when you are learning something new. Taking an in-person short workshop or weekend retreat where you can connect with others in your community can help to boost your creativity too. When I was just starting out using watercolors, I took an evening class at a community outreach center. It was just a few hours but after playing with watercolors and learning to create a simple composition, I felt much better and I was encouraged to see so many others there of different ages and backgrounds that were eager to learn.


Just because you’re a visual artist, doesn’t mean that’s the only kind of creativity you can tap into. Try learning some new like baking recipes, writing, and learning to play an instrument or even interior design. I have been learning to make gluten-free baked goods including Lentil Bread. I’ve also been giving my Studio a makeover so it can be functional but also like a sanctuary to go to when I feel stressed. It’s my Happy Place!

Copyright (c) 2023 Simone Elum. All rights reserved.


So, this may be the least creative item on the list, but during a non-creative period, it might be beneficial to get things in order around the studio and on the books. Tasks like scanning and cleaning up new work. Add new work to your Artist Inventory list so you have all the information on your work in an easily accessible place on your computer. Take inventory of your supplies and order anything that has been used up or needs to be replaced. Scan receipts of art-related purchases and update your business expenses sheet. These things might seem tedious, but you don’t want to be distracted by these tasks when inspiration finally strikes and you’re in the flow in the studio! Speaking of which, I have recent work I need to add to my Artist Inventory List so, I better get on that during this downtime!


I can’t express how much taking a break from social media has helped me as an artist and as an introvert. If you’re not feeling creative and you don’t feel inspired, looking around at how everyone else is bursting with inspiration and motivation is guaranteed to make you feel left out and even more de-motivated. In some cases, you may even feel some shame for not constantly being inspired by the creators you admire. A key thing to remember: they also have artist’s block and downtimes too! I usually take a week at the beginning of the month to disconnect from all social media. I always feel so refreshed. During periods of low creativity, it is okay to take an extended social media break. Call a friend. Read a new book or go get some fresh air at the park. Right now, I am reading ‘How far you have come’ by Morgan Harper Nichols and I’m also listening to ‘We Will Not Be Silenced’ by Erwin W. Lutzer on Audible and just finished ‘Wild Words’ by Nicole Gulotta and ‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah.

You can do all of these suggestions but I suggest just doing what you can do based on your energy level and workload. These are just some of the things I’ve done in the past and some recently to either get over my artist block or to give myself grace during this period of low creativity and energy. I try not to be too disappointed with myself and try to remove high expectations for my productivity in the studio. Everything has a season and after all, artists need time to withdraw, reflect and absorb their experiences in order to express themselves when they come back to the drawing board. We are not machines churning out new work constantly. We are going through life experiences and it takes time to translate what we are feeling and learning into something the world can experience as art.

So, be easy on yourself. Try some of these and if you have any suggestions please, feel free to comment on this post or email via my Contact page or DM me on Instagram or Facebook. I am always open to new ideas to overcome creative blocks!

All artworks are Copyright (c) 2023 Simone Elum. All rights reserved. Any illegal reproduction of artwork and photographs by the artist will result in immediate legal action.