Creativity Stifled By Too Many Art Supplies & Struggling To Find My Own Style

Hi friends. If you follow my blog, you’ve likely noticed that I haven’t shared as much mixed media art lately. I’ll admit that I’m in full-on planner girl mode and having a blast with it, but I’m finding that my mixed media art, and art journaling in general, just isn’t where I’d like it to be.

I’ve had to the opportunity to take art classes from some wonderfully talented artists and learned several great techniques from them. I have the time, space and more supplies than I know what to do with, yet I find that I’m struggling to find my own style and just not feeling very inspired lately.

After pondering it for the last couple of weeks, I’ve come to believe that a large part of my issue is an overabundance of art supplies. Paints, inks, powders, stencils, stamps, various machines, misc tools… you name it and it’s quite likely I have it or had it and have given it away in one of my mad art studio de-stashings. I realize that I’m fortunate to be able to indulge my enjoyment of the “new and shiny” and we all love new art supplies, but in my case I think it’s worked against me, stifling my creativity, the only thing I have working for me at the moment is the likes of these studio sheds converted into my own safe art space where I can let me creativity (when I have it) roam free.

I was recently discussing my thoughts with a group of artist friends on Facebook and was surprised to find that several felt similarly and also believed that they created more art when they had less supplies to work with.

One friend, Laura Dalgarno-Platt, gave me a wonderful suggestion that I’ll definitely try. She suggested that I write the names of my supplies down on slips of paper or popsicle sticks and place them in a jar. When I want to create some art, I randomly pull out 3 or 4 and limit myself to those items for that art session. I have been looking into companies like hometown structures to create a studio that’s a little more thought out and catered to an art studio as I wouldn’t want to throw away any of my supplies. I feel that having space where I can organize the supplies will also help me be a little more creative too.

Having limits can inspire us to be resourceful, more creative. Perhaps having an overabundance of materials has allowed me to be lazy and not have to do that. One thing I do know is that it’s given me too many options and too many options sometimes leads to difficulty, on my part, to make an actual decision… analysis paralysis. Once that sets in, I either don’t create anything or I fall back on styles and techniques I’ve learned in class rather than embracing the randomness and freedom of just playing to see what develops. I’m then left wondering how much of what I’ve created is truly mine and how much is just mimicked from class or a video. This is where I struggle with not knowing what my own style is.

I’ve really enjoyed the art classes I’ve taken and I find a great deal of value in learning the methods shared by these talented artists, being inspired by their styles and benefiting from their lessons learned, but for me, the desired outcome isn’t to duplicate their styles. Ultimately my goal is to create art that I can look upon and recognize as uniquely my own. I’m not there yet, but I’m slowly taking some steps in that direction.

In addition to putting Laura’s suggestion into play, which I plan to do soon, I’ve de-stashed my studio… again, and given art supplies to friends that I hope will get some enjoyment out of them. I plan to clear out even more and I’ve made a commitment to use up the art materials I have before buying more. *Disclaimer: Planner supplies don’t count. Let’s not get crazy here!

I’ve begun boxing up things I’m not currently using but not sure I want to part with yet and plan to store them in the garage. If after a while I find I still don’t use them, I’ll donate them. My hope is that by limiting some of my choices and supplies, I can recapture some of that freedom of “just playing to see what develops”.

I’ve signed up for NaNoJouMo – the 15 Mins Edition on Facebook, which is a free, month-long, 15 minute-a- day, art journal challenge that begins Nov 1st. It’s designed to help us loosen up, begin to uncover our own style and just spend a few minutes each day creating some art. I’m really excited about this and plan to spend my 15 minutes before work each morning.

I’ve also decided to join Wanderlust 2016. I’ll post more about this later, but basically it’s a year-long art journey with weekly videos from a lineup of 26 amazing teachers. This adventure begins in January and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.

Past similar experiences have shown me that having prompts and general parameters to work within, while maintaining the freedom to give an art project my own creative interpretation and adapting it to my skill level is a winning combination for me.

I’m excited to see where these small steps lead me and in which direction my artistic journey will go; I’ll keep you posted!

Thank you for reading.



8 Comments on Creativity Stifled By Too Many Art Supplies & Struggling To Find My Own Style

  1. Lori
    November 1, 2015 at 7:00 am (5 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing Belen! I feel the same way about my planner supplies! I will give your tip a try. So now….I’m starting my creative mixed media. I like your links ….so…here I go!

    • Belen Sotelo
      November 11, 2015 at 9:59 am (5 years ago)

      Thanks for reading, Lori. Mixed media is great fun, enjoy the journey!

  2. Ann Maioroff
    November 1, 2015 at 10:12 am (5 years ago)

    You really captured my issues in this blog!

    • Belen Sotelo
      November 11, 2015 at 9:58 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Ann. I’m surprised at how many people feel similarly about this topic… we are not alone! 🙂

  3. rox
    November 1, 2015 at 11:06 am (5 years ago)

    first off, ‘go you!’ for being so open about where you’re at creatively! we all have slumps…and I DEFINITELY have times when the last thing I want to do is work in my journal. and you know what? I don’t force it, I give myself that space away from it.

    secondly – you’re spot on about your materials. your supplies should inspire and motivate you to make art. it’s one of the reasons I got rid of so much of my paper/ephemera stash…I found that hindered me the most. now I’ve got my ‘system’ in my place and limit myself to only small amounts of stuff that really gets me creatively fired up!!

    keep doin’ what you’re doin’…you’ll get there. xo

    • Belen Sotelo
      November 11, 2015 at 9:48 am (5 years ago)

      Thank so much for the feedback, Roxanne, I really appreciate it. Your ephemera stash system inspired me to pare mine down some. The rest of the supplies are now at a more acceptable level and I’m amazed at how much more free I feel in my space and how much more motivated I am to get my art on.
      Thanks again for the kind words. xo

  4. susan
    November 2, 2015 at 4:54 pm (5 years ago)

    Love the popsicle stick idea. I should also try that with my mixed media/ound object jewelry. (Keith LoBue did something like that in a class once)
    You inspire me to want to go create.

    • Belen Sotelo
      November 11, 2015 at 9:50 am (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Susan. I still haven’t gotten around to the popsicle stick idea, but I have pulled out only a few supplies at a time and limited myself to those, it’s helped a good deal. Once I get the popsicle stick system in place I’ll be sure to share.


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