How to Deal with Stress from an Artist's Perspective


Oh, how I hate being in traffic, especially when there is construction or an accident up ahead.  Stress levels go sky high.  All the lanes merge into one or there is a detour.  We know construction is necessary to maintain or improve the roads.  We know that the rescue trucks need to get to the accident as soon as possible.  But it usually is something for which I don’t have time.  It is an inconvenience.  It takes time.  I get frustrated.  I get stressed out. 

Did you know that artists get these same feelings sometimes when they are creating a piece?  There is a place on the canvas or sculpture or mural or whatever it is they are creating that isn’t working.  We get frustrated and upset.  We want to get through to the “fun” parts again.  We want to get to the “destination” just like you probably do when you encounter delayed traffic.  We don’t have time for the setbacks we are currently experiencing.  Sometimes when I am painting and I get to that part, I find myself “noodling” away at the painting and “picking” at this problem area but many times the problem is not going away.  I feel the stress starting to build up inside me.  The more I work, the more it builds up and it doesn’t seem to go away. 

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Snap out of the current mindset

It’s unproductive

The best thing I have found is to grab a bigger brush and make a decisive mark with some new paint and just “destroy” all that “noodling” and “picking” at the painting.  Start over.  Bite the bullet.  What you have been doing isn’t working so try a different approach.  It usually works for me.  At least I have forced myself to deal with a new set of problems, which is how to fix this big mark I just placed on the canvas.  It causes me to look at the problem differently and in a new light.  It causes me to snap out of my current unproductive mindset. 

This same artistic approach can work for the non-artist.  You have a problem that won’t go away.  It gnaws at you.  You feel the stress build up.  It may be a big ugly hairy project or staff problem you know you need to deal with, but you don’t want to do it.  The only way to get beyond it is to do what an artist does and attack it head on and with a new set of eyes.  Albert Einstein said that you can’t solve a problem on the same level in which it was created (brainyquote).  You have to pop out of that problem mindset and into a solution mindset.  Do something big and decisive and force yourself to see the situation from a new perspective.

I think if you do these, you will start to live life like an artist whether you are one or not and a lot of creativity and problem solving will come your way.  Enjoy!


dave reiterComment