Refilling the Well


    This post is by guest author  Keith Bond. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 75,000 subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. This author's views are entirely his own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.



    Creativity comes from a place deep within you. That place is much like a well. First you must learn to tap into the well (I’ve written on this topic in the past and will explore it more in the future – but not in this post). Once you do, your creativity will freely flow, much like an artesian well[1]. However, unlike an artesian well, the flow of creativity will diminish and even cease after a while. You cannot sustain free-flow of creativity for an infinite amount of time. In short, you eventually drain the well. Creativity dries up.


    You must refill the well if you wish to access it again.


    Much of the refilling occurs naturally for artistic and creative types. It is similar to rain seeping into the aquifer which supplies the well. You have probably been able to come to your art several days in a row and be able to access your wellspring of creativity. Yet, on any given day, you cannot sustain the free flow for more than a few hours at a time.


    You drain the well daily. Before the next day, something is filling your well whether you realize it or not.


    Sometimes there is a drought, though. Rain doesn’t come to refill the well. You have an artistic block and cannot seem to tap into the well. Or rather, there is nothing there. Though you try all the same things you usually do to tap into the well – and even some new ones – yet you still get no flow of creativity.


    The problem is, if you only rely on the refilling that naturally occurs without your conscious effort, it may not always be enough to sustain you. Droughts will come. But they will be less severe and less frequent if you 1) realize that your well does needs refilling, 2) consciously do something to ensure it is getting refilled, and 3) do it regularly to stave off the dry spells.


    How do you refill the well?


    Spend time with the creative side of you. But not in the act of creating (remember, creating depletes the well). Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, says to have a date with your creativity. Go out once a week for a few hours on a date doing the things that your creative person (as opposed to your practical, analytical person) is interested in.


    For example, as a landscape artist I love nature. I respond to nature. It is important to me to be in nature even when I am not painting. Though I often paint en plein air, I sometimes just go out there to be fed by nature. I go on a walk or a hike and take in the sights and sounds.


    Clyde Aspevig calls it land snorkeling.


    But that is not the only thing that fills my well. Some of the things on my list are:

    • be in nature
    • visiting museums and galleries – think beyond just art museums – also include natural history, aerospace, science, baseball hall of fame museums, etc.
    • art books and magazines
    • a good novel
    • the theatre or a concert
    • travel
    • learning about new cultures
    • pretend to be a tourist in my own city
    • visiting an old cemetery
    • playing an instrument
    • listening to music
    • NPR
    • gardening
    • virtually anything that is of interest to me, that gets me out of my ordinary routine, enables me to see things in new ways, and allows me to slow down and forget for a few moments the hectic pace of life

    So, go. Have a date with your creative self. Visit a museum, go people watch in the park, or go on a hike. Just do something. Two to three hours a week should be enough for most of you. But remember, this time is different than time creating. You need to fill the well, not deplete it.


    Yes, it does take time, anything worthwhile does. Make it a priority.


    What is on your list? How do you refill the well?


    Best Wishes,

    Keith Bond

    [1] An artesian well has water that rises to the surface due to hydrostatic pressure. Because it flows freely, no pumps are needed to get the water out of the ground. 



    Editor's Note:

    Today's post is an updated version from a few years ago, but we're republishing it again today because it's still a timely and a very relevant message. Enjoy!


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