Overcoming Artist Burnout: 10 Tips to Reignite Inspiration

by | Mar 12, 2024 | Art, Blog, Business, Create, Lifestyle, Paint

Artist burnout can cast a shadow over even the most passionate creators. As artists, we pour our hearts and souls into our work, the pressures of deadlines, self-criticism, and the constant quest for perfection can take a toll on our mental and emotional well-being. Renee Smith of Rainy Day Vintage shares her top ten tips to get past the burnout and back into our creative spaces.


This morning like every morning, I woke up and the first thing I did was go for coffee. The second thing I did was sit by the fire and open my notebook to begin my morning pages. And nothing. There I sat, pen poised above the blank paper and nothing.

I mean how many ways can you write ”I got coffee”? Then I sat staring into space. This is burnout. There are things you can always count on…taxes, the weather changing, and burnout.

When the year began I had so many plans, dreams, and goals! I had energy just from the thought of a clean slate. New Year, new beginning, clean slate. Not behind on anything, I can move forward and do all the things.

Now it’s nearly Spring and I’m feeling the burnout kick in. I feel behind. Things I had hoped to accomplish are still not done. The art I wanted to create is still just in my imagination. But hope isn’t lost! There are ways I’ve found to be effective in combating artist burnout.

First, we need to understand that burnout isn’t something that we can cure one time and never have to battle again. It can be a constant companion, a foe we must face daily. It shows itself in many forms. A lack of energy. A feeling of decreased creativity. Overwhelming anxiety that seems to stem from nothing. It can make every task, no matter how small, seem astronomical.

Don’t lose faith! We can have victory!
Here are a few ways that I found effective in fighting artist burnout.

1) Practice morning pages.

Before I speak to anyone, before I get dressed, I write. Morning pages have become my first defense against artist burnout. I grab coffee and find a quiet place to sit. What I write can go from how great my coffee tastes, to how burnt out and overwhelmed I feel, to prayers and Praise. No matter what I end up writing, it feels like a weight is removed from my shoulders and dumped into a notebook that I can close. Unlike a diary entry, this is meant to capture wayward thoughts and worries that can block creativity. This part of my morning routine is non-negotiable! It is a necessary weapon against anxiety! It’s amazing how much it puts things into perspective and makes the impossible feel doable. To find out more about morning pages I recommend Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way.

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2) Get dressed and do your hair and makeup.

Even if no one will see but you. I’m a full-time artist and business owner, so I’m always at home in my studio. That is a blessing but can also feed artist burnout. Most of my time is spent alone inside these walls. At first, I thought this was a total waste of time and money. But just this simple act of grooming made me feel like I could take on anything, face anything. I noticed I didn’t feel as frantic about showing up live on socials. The feeling of being unqualified to face my art lessened. I noticed my voice sounded more upbeat and cheerful when answering calls.

3) Fight artist burnout by organizing an area of your studio.

It can be as simple as rearranging your tools on the shelf, or if you’re like me, rearrange the whole space. I tend to go big. I know moving things around makes everything feel new and that lifts my spirits and inspires creativity. Often, I will discover a brush or tool or paint color I had forgotten about and that jolts my imagination into gear. So, I move everything! Clear off shelves, move my easel, move cabinets and chairs!

4) Light candles!

Find a scent that speaks your language! My favorite scent is created by Danielle Kamenski of Made by Danielle. Burning candles has been shown to have many benefits to your mental health. It improves your mood, lifts your spirits, reduces anxiety, and promotes a feeling of calm and relaxation. I’ve seen talks on how the color of your candle can also inspire your mood. There’s something about watching the flicker of the candle flame that makes me think of how God can use the smallest of flames to defeat darkness.

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5) Let fresh air and sunshine in! Open those windows!

The simple act of throwing open the curtains and letting that light in can bring joy to your day. If you don’t have windows in your creative space, turn on the lights! All of them! Make your space as bright as you can! Turning on the lights in my creative space is one of my favorite moments of entering my studio space. There’s just something special about seeing them come on and chase away the darkness!

6) Spend a few minutes outdoors.

I love taking an easel out on our deck and creating while listening to the symphony Dad’s windchimes and the sounds of nature compose. On warmer mornings, I often take my first cup of coffee write my morning pages on the deck, and let nature refill my soul. We often get too much in our heads when we trap ourselves inside the same walls and routines. Change it up when these feelings creep up. God’s nature has a way of washing the dregs away.

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7) Turn on music.

Music has always been a great manipulator of emotions. I choose my daily music based on what I’m dealing with at that time. If I’m feeling defeated and need to know I matter, I turn on Lauren Daigle or MercyMe radio. If I need energy and feel like I want to just hide away, I turn on some 80s love songs. When I just feel like being mellow and in the flow, I turn on Dan and Shay radio…Isn’t it great that we all get to choose what emotions the music will bring to us? If your energy is boosted by classic rock, then, blast that Eagle’s song as loud as you can and bust some moves while you move through your tasks!

8) Go on an Artist Date to beat artist burnout.

This one is often pushed aside as the least important and yet it should be at the top of the list. (Again, see Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way.) I often say that I just don’t know how to have fun. Taking myself out on a date felt boring at first. What could I do alone that was fun? And how could spending a couple of hours alone help me feel less burned out? Being alone is what I do every day here at the studio. But I promise it will be the most helpful! I’ve taken myself to familiar places, the craft stores, the bookstores, and flea markets. All things I do when with others. However, after the first few times, I noticed that I spent more time just observing the world around me. I never realized how doing these things with others, while enjoyable, also carried expectations limits, and guilt. I began to take more time just looking at things I wanted without worrying about boring anyone else. I spent time enjoying my coffee in the bookstore while flipping through magazines I had browsed through many times before. On my last artist date, I treated myself to my favorite appetizer at a restaurant and loved every second of it! When I return home after these dates, I always feel restored and ready to dive into my art and life.

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9) Keep an art journal.

When facing artist burnout, you can also experience resistance to facing your art. A daily Journal, such as the Legacy of Joy Journal, can chase away the shadows of burnout. Spending 30 minutes a day playing in your journal can be a very effective weapon! Find some vibrant colors such as the new Painterly Paints from DIY and pour them onto your Journal page! Make a mess! No expectations but enjoying the colors and the movement. Write your favorite verse or quote and doodle some scribble art around the letters.

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10) Create a small craft every day, such as an Artist Trading Card (ATC).

Pull out glue, scraps of paper, charms, buttons, ribbons, and scraps of fabric. Layer these items on a playing card in ways that feel pleasing to your senses. When your creativity is playing hide and seek due to artist burnout, this activity can bring it out of hiding and fuel your imagination! You will find new paths for your art. Doing this is what led me to create these art kits, Expression of Joy Art Kits, and a renewed excitement for creating!

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Artist burnout is real and can attack at any moment, even when things are going great. But it isn’t all-powerful and can be defeated! There’s a bible verse that a friend shared with me recently that says it all! Psalm 16:8 I will keep the Lord in mind always. Because God is at my right hand, I will not be shaken!”

Learn more about Renee Smith here and Subscribe to The Turquoise Iris Journal to join our community of creatives!

Renee Smith
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Renee Smith

As a wife, mom of seven grown children, NaNa to an ever-growing number of grandchildren, artist, writer, and owner of 2 businesses, Rainy Day Vintage, LLC and RDV Prints, Renee Smith knows how important it is to maintain art/life balance! View Renee’s Full Bio

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