A fellow artist recently asked for advice on how to keep creating if you don't feel "in the mood"; have general malaise or just feel stuck.
I don't experience a lack of ideas but I definitely can relate to hitting walls when working on a piece. Funnily enough the day after I gave her advice like "visit galleries for inspiration, take photos of anything that interests you and your muse will follow, take a class in a new medium" I reached an impasse with a few smaller pieces I was working on. I COULD NOT get them to convey the energy that was present in some other works. Some of it was an initial composition/scale problem. Fixing that did make an improvement but I still wasn't satisfied. What to do? I picked up a magazine I had while pondering the problem and started noting pages and colours I liked and was attracted to. Eureka! My brain had a new focus and I had a breakthrough. I tore out the pages, picked up my scissors and began cutting the shapes I had previously been painting and varied them slightly. Excitement replaced frustration. I now had a solution to my mixed media works.
Collaging is inexpensive, eco-friendly and great for getting inspiration for palette themes. There's something playful about it too because for many of us using scissors to cut out things when we were kids was one of our first forays into making art. Using it as a tool when you're stuck in a work can be a great way to resolve a piece and even if you don't intend using collage elements in your public work - keeping a visual diary using collage can definitely be a valuable tool for informing future work and stoking your creative embers. When in doubt ... collage it out!