Creative roadblocks are awful. They leave you feeling like you might not ever create anything that you love ever again. Dramatic, but absolutely true. Honestly, one of my biggest fears as a full-time artist is the ever-looming possibility that I will run out of ideas. Overly dramatic, but true. 

The past couple of months, I was not just creatively blocked, I was ill too. Rather than wallowing (or, you know, taking care of myself with rest), I usually try something new first. I bought giant canvases and a plethora acrylic paint and decided what I really needed was a change of pace. Um, nope. Epic fail. And now I have a giant canvas filled with a bazillion layers of fever-induced frustration. A giant result of not taking care of myself, mentally or physically.

Once I admitted creative defeat, I gave myself a silent pep talk and patted myself on the shoulder. And then I walked away from the easel and started organizing my studio instead. My bookcase was reorganized in rainbow order again. I finally set up a functional shipping station. My filming equipment came down and reassembled to create better videos. I created a new inspiration board. I packaged up old art and sent it with a love note to my far away friends. You get the idea, right? It’s important and highly satisfying work that has the added bonus of distracting me from all my creative woes. 

Amid all the reorganization, I decided it was finally time to purge colors from my Daniel Smith watercolor palette. I love Daniel Smith paints but have noticed over the course of the last couple of years that it held a substantial number of paints that I added to my palette just because I had an open space to fill. (I am quite sure I am not the only one, right?) I made the decision to shift from my 126-well palette to the 77-well palette. (Both PL126 and PL77 can be found at It was easy to see which pans I used all the time compared to the colors that were collecting dust. 

In the end, I spent about a month organizing, modifying, and purging in my studio. I didn’t sketch, illustrate, or paint the entire time. And I feel great! My mind is focused, my desk is clean, and I am ready to imagine up all sorts of goodness. Oh, and I might have rewarded my arduous work with something new. Not something that will collect dust, something that will really use and have fun with. While purging my palette, I realized I haven’t played with new brands and colors in years. My reward is a new experimental palette! I’ll be infusing it into my work, and e-courses throughout 2022. 

Want to see my 2022 palettes? Just click on the button below!

2 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for the roadblock tips. I asked this in a ZOOM question. I too was trying something new but it frustrated more so I took your advice and practiced drawing and that got my noggin imagining all kinds of ideas. Thank you for being such a wonderful teacher and mentor.

  2. Purging Unused Supplies is like giving yourself a holiday. For me it was like cleaning out my closet or my file cabinet.. only better. . Once I saw my physical space open up where before it was crammed with untouched supplies, I immediately felt gratified and more motivated to make art. So yes…all those rubber stamps, boxes of pastels, ephemera and scrapbook papers found a new life in the neighborhood recreation center, and I am looking forward to relaunching my creative self in 2022.. Thanks, Danielle!

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