I hope you’ll agree that breakthroughs come in handy. Yes?
It’s pretty awesome when the perfect answer appears or that nagging problem is solved. Suddenly, the barrier is removed and you can make progress.
You can’t identify the moment that a breakthrough will happen, but you can prepare yourself for it to come.
Breakthroughs happen as a result of doing the work and being present. Here are 7 ways to accelerate the process.
1. Solve a problem.
Any problem! Art is about solving problems.
How can I balance the composition?
How can I make this with less expensive materials?
How can I convey this or that emotion?
Faith Ringgold was researching shipping options for her paintings when she realized that if she just painted on fabric, without the support, she could roll it up and easily ship it in a tube.
2. Challenge yourself.
There’s very little motivation in the daily grind: update Facebook, schedule a few tweets, send a newsletter, write a blog post, work in the studio. If you’re not careful, you can get stuck checking off menial tasks without doing something extraordinary for your art and for yourself.
Pick a color or a new material that you’ve been avoiding and figure out how to use it in a way that is pleasing.
This is why the Painting a Day phenomenon or 100-day challenges have caught on.
Contrary to the notion that you need absolute freedom to make art, there is ample evidence that parameters can nurture creativity.
3. Talk to people about your ideas.
If you are, as I am, a verbal processor, you will find it useful to discuss ideas with others. Maybe other artists, maybe scientists, or even the philosopher next door.
The only caveat is that you must talk about your ideas with people whose opinions you respect. Discussing ideas with anyone and everyone isn’t helpful to your goals.
4. Change your routine.
If you’re getting the same results while going through the motions day after day, it’s time to shake things up.
Start your day at a different time or go to bed earlier.
Switch your business schedule with your studio schedule.
Don’t look at social media first thing in your day.
Take your walk in the evening instead of the morning.
5. Pay attention.
Wherever you are, be present to all that is around you and the people who are near. Absorb your surroundings with all of your senses.
It might be a walk, an art talk, or a first-class art exhibition.
What do you see? What do you feel? What do you hear? What do you smell?
What does the speaker say that inspires? What do the artworks say to you?
Remember that Picasso’s major breakthrough occurred when he came across African art.
6. Be open.
Think of ways to say Yes to possibilities that you might not otherwise consider. Yes, they might take you off course, but they might also be exactly what you need.
7. Change your environment.
Reorganize the furniture or your materials.
Get out of the studio.
Get out of your office.
Go to a coffee shop. (This is my method for writing breakthroughs. Works every time.)
Get out of your house.
When furniture craftsman Evan Sturm came to Art Biz Breakthrough from Montana, he was stuck in part of his business. Like Faith Ringgold, the problem was shipping.
During his stay in Golden, he discovered that his hotel was less than one mile from the very shipping company he wanted to utilize to move his handcrafted furniture across the country. He set up an early morning meeting before our sessions and … Boom! Breakthrough!