Curb The Creative Block: 7 Ways Artists Can Stay Inspired

by Aileen Mitchell 17. February 2014 15:59

Anyone working in a creative field or medium knows how difficult it can sometimes be to stay in the totally inspired frame of mind. The spirit wanes, the mind occasionally blocks, and the creative impulses dribble from your brain like water down a plug hole.

Sometimes it’s just tricky to keep those creative juices flowing – and sometimes we need a kick up the artistic derriere to motivate and galvanise us.  

So, what to do? Well, as a matter of fact, there’s PLENTY you can do to give those artistic sauces a good stirring and those creative proclivities a thorough pounding. Here are 7 of them.

Surf the web

There’s much to mined from the sensational, interstellar glories of the internet other than dubious Dutch women and funny cats.  Nourish your creative and artistic soul by researching other artists, look at other painters and read about other partial-to-frequent flourishes of the pen and paintbrush.

Even better, take a peek at work you normally wouldn’t go for, artistic styles you’re unsure of, artists you haven’t heard of. In other words, stretch out beyond the norm of your artistic practices, outside your artistic comfort zone.  YouTube also has an extensive range of painting/drawing classes and demos.

Pick up a book

The World Wide Web might be a vast library online, but you can’t beat perusing a bookshop for the real deal, the physical connection you get between creator and tome. There’s something magical about a bookshop or library, and whatever subject, movement, style, period, form or artist you’re interested in – or want to find out about – you’ll find it.Online, you can go to sites such as Amazon, research it, ‘peek inside’, and read reviews before you pluck out your wallet.

Take Photos

Grabbing a digital camera and taking your own photographs is a fantastic way of fuelling the fire of creativity. For starters, you’re out and about, exploring the sights, sounds and environments around you in the living world – often stimulating in itself – and secondly, you’re capturing those moments in a single snap.  It’s surprising the assortment of images you can capture, that enrapturing second, captured in time that kick-starts a whole slew of creative ideas and concepts.  

Visit Art Galleries

Perhaps the most obvious one, but we often miss what’s right in front of us – and an art gallery is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the work of fellow participants of your craft.  Forget the stuffy conception of art galleries as cobwebbed tombs of ancient creations, commandeered by goose-stepping curators kitted in tweed suits, spectacles and an imperious air.  Modern galleries are lively, vibrant affairs, offering rotating programs of art and installations. Sign up to get regular email updates from your local galleries so you know what’s on.      

Make Art Friends

Any creative act should be something of a communal experience. It should unite people, engage them, and give them something to talk about. Well, talk about it with people who share your passion for art then. Find out about local art groups in your area and join them. Have stimulating conversations with stimulating people who are stimulated by art as much as you are.  

Online Courses and Workshops

Schools and colleges offer evening classes, special centres hold courses and workshops – and they’re another opportunity to branch out, meet new people, and consider other approaches and techniques. Admittedly, some of them can be a bit pricey, but it’s another way of, literally, broadening your artistic palette.   

Carry a Notebook

Just as writers scribble down ideas and sentences in moments of creative epiphany, artists should do the same and draw sketches, as and when they get ideas. If you’re inspired by something you see, such as a landmark or unusual image, sketch it.

If an idea pops into your head as you’re trawling the frozen food section of your supermarket, get it down.  Inspiration and artistic creativity knows no bounds and will come in its own time – and you’ve got to be ready for it. Capture those artistic lightning-in-a-bottle moments and always carry a notebook or mini sketch pad.

This just scratches the surface of some techniques you can employ to stop those creative juices from drying up.

Are you an artist with any other tried and tested methods to stay motivated and keep your inspiration levels up?Share in the comments.

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Being an Artist

Imagination Rules OK - Malvern Theatres -- February - March 2014

by Humph Hack 9. February 2014 14:48

One of the delights in arranging exhibitions in The Malvern Theatres, (so called because there are 2 theatres and a Cinema as well as a good Restaurant) is the opportunity to bring in artists who have never exhibited in the area before. This "new" talent is the life blood of any thriving centre for the arts.

The title of this exhibition was chosen because, whereas, all three artists have taken some inspiration from reality, they have manipulated reality in presenting us with very personal images.  In all the works on exhibition, imagination trumps reality, but not so fiercely that the result is so abstract as to be incomprehensible.

Kris Hardy's cityscapes are a delight. His large canvases demand attention. The images are of places we half recognise.  The buildings are statuesque. They loom out of the gloom and haze of the Metropolis. They are as impressive and imposing as the tower blocks and skyscrapers from which Kris draws his inspiration. 

Hazel Thomson's paintings may initially seem almost photographic, but closer inspection reveals a quirkiness intended to amuse. They are sharply focused, highly skillful representations of ideas rather than mere two-dimensional representations of the natural world. Hazel's multi-seasonal works are a particular delight.

Humph Hack has always been interested in architecture. Only recently has he begun to study the architectural and structural qualities of trees. This interest has led to a new series of paintings of specimen and heritage trees.

The exhibition is open every day until 30 March


Exhibitions | Malvern Theatres

Interview with Photographer Andrew Fyfe

by Aileen Mitchell 2. February 2014 09:00

Andrew, could you tell us a little about how you got interested in photography?

In 2004, good quality digital pocket cameras became reasonably affordable and being without a camera to take family shots, I bought a small Minolta. While on a walk taking pictures of the family and the lovely countryside I live in, I discovered I really liked taking outdoor shots. At this point, I bought a copy of Practical Photography as it contained an article on one hundred tips to better photography, so I bought a copy and purchased the prosumer digital camera they recommended at the time, namely a 6MP Fuji Finepix S7000. After about six months of learning the ropes of landscape photography, mainly by experience, I began to get results as you see them on I now use a digital SLR camera to capture the scenes.

What are your favourite subjects?

Water and Skies have to be the number one elements in many of the scenes I capture, I really think the UK is amazing in its diversity as far as subjects for landscape photography are concerned and there are mountains, rivers, forests, castles, brides, ancient monuments and any number of other great subjects to choose from.

You seem to relish the light of early morning and late evening – how do you ensure you capture the right moments?

There is only one answer to this and it is to find a location that has all the elements you want to photograph in it, water, sand, pebbles and then to determine whether it is more likely to be a morning or an evening shot. Once you have done this, you simply turn up at the right time, set up and wait to see what unfolds before you. It could take as long as a week to get an image that you are happy with and reflects the true potential of a location. You really must enjoy the experience for its own sake and be prepared to walk away from a scene with no pictures taken. I may only press the shutter release once to capture a scene. Planning and patience I think.

Your photographs on are of superb quality – what’s the secret?

It’s taken a long time to work out how to translate an image held on a computer to one that looks lovely as prints. To select the fine art paper that I currently use, I had to print an image on around thirty different papers to judge which one I personally preferred most. The James Cropper paper isn’t fully textured, but isn’t perfectly smooth either and the photographs look absolutely superb on it. I also use other papers and mediums also, from photographic paper, Cibachrome prints to Canvas and people even have my work as wallpaper covering a full wall in their homes.

Have you any plans to produce larger versions of your photos for those who would like to make a real centerpiece of your work?

At present, I offer my work immediately as fine art prints on the fine art paper, as larger prints on photographic paper and as Cibachrome prints and also as larger canvas blocks. These are only examples of mediums and sizes that I am happy to work with and if someone would like a print that is for example 60"x40" on fine art paper or canvas or any other printable medium, I can do this as I have through the time learnt who to work within the printing industry and who can translate my vision of a final piece into reality.

How does photography sit alongside original paintings and sculptures as “art”?

My own personal view is that a photograph as seen in for example my own work takes a great deal of artistic and technical thought and a great deal of perseverance to create even a single example and then that work can never be replicated exactly so is totally unique to that moment. The great difficulty and joy of photography is that you can’t just make it up; the scene actually has to exist in reality even if only for a few seconds for it to become a great piece of art. I think educated collectors understand this and treat really great photography as first class art, which can fetch five figure sums for work like you see on as limited editions. I cite the current lovely work of Elizabeth Carmel, whose limited edition prints go for up to £4000 each. Poor landscape photography isn’t art, it produces pictures not artwork.

Why did you choose to exhibit your works on the website?

It’s great to find an online art gallery that feels like a bricks and mortar gallery, with real people that don’t hide behind the scenes, but who take the time to interact with artists and collectors alike, I simply say look at our conversation here as proof of that. I've never had this level of attention from an online gallery before. It’s great to be able to show my UK scenes on a British website. and being technical about it, it currently lists in the top ten under Google for an "Art" search worldwide.'s relationship with its clients and the trust built up over the last few years will mean that that my work will be purchased with absolute confidence, not to mention great value.

Finally, what subjects are you planning to photograph over the next few weeks?

Given what I have said already, I plan my photography over years as a single year can yield fewer images than fit on a traditional roll of film, from even fewer locations. My aim over the next ten years is to continue to capture the beauty of the UK landscape which is more than a lifetime’s ambition, extending the subjects and locations – I’ve barely started.

Andrew Fyfe, photographer of Essex talking about his love of photography to


Artists Corner | Being an Artist

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