Sunday, January 15, 2017

Red Dog Blue Dog (Effective Muse Traps)

It's been a relief to read from many of the Facebook artist friends I have around the world that my Mystery Of The Missing Muse symptoms aren't unique. It's been painful to be in the studio when she's not there. I settle into the normal routine. The paints, pencils and pens surround me, my favorite Gregorian chants on the CD player, a cup of tea at the ready standby (but not too close to the paint water jar). Birds attacking the bird feeder outside my window like it was the last day before a nuclear winter. All those perfect conditions. After an hour of shuffling collage papers and organizing my paints....crickets. Not a whisper from the Muse. Paper looks like paper. Watercolors look like stuff in tubes. Or a mess on a palette. No magic. 

My dear friend Linda and I have been in long conversations regarding Muse Traps, recently. What to do to tempt the Muse into getting involved again. We've pretty much agreed Ms. "M" doesn't like formality much. She's a sucker for play and novelty. She is a kid in her essence, and quite seductive.  This is why she is so often found in the company of children. I remember that. As scary as my mom or the elementary school principal was, their authority was outranked by the whisperings of the Muse. 

What would a kid do in my studio shoes? I brought down the metal lunch pail I keep my stamping sheets and pads in from the supply shelf. I found recently that these intricately patterned rubber sheets meant for impressing Precious Metal Clay jewelry (you can find them on, they have small and larger ones) were perfect for stamping ink. And they are wide enough for some serious (oops, sorry, Ms. M) playful applications. And if I take a sheet of paper towel and carefully tear an opening out of the middle and use as a template to stamp through onto my sketchpad or watercolor paper, I can do multiple images that afterward lend themselves to all kinds of fun and embellishment.

Ms. M is leaning against the door frame of the studio, pretending she's not stealing glances at my stamping fun. 


  1. Wonderful! Everything - your play, your words and images they evoke... I haven't read FB in a week at least, so I didn't know about your symptoms - but I had the same! I think after an intense creative period it is time to rest - that's what I figured out for myself, but little play and finding inspiration while even resting is so wonderful! Thank you for this post, Elsbeth!

  2. A very good reminder that we need often. Just breathe, just play, no expectations. I think we also need to learn to work with our own personality and temperament and not let any 'rules' get in our way. :-)

  3. It's a comfort to hear from you and other artists, Natalia, that I'm not alone in this stagnation, but it makes me want to offer some sort of Universal solutions. I have none, right now, other than what you just stated. Being kind to ourselves, knowing we are sort of a breed apart, and the usual "rules" don't apply, feels right. Play. Always play!

  4. Thank you for your comment, Director of Awesome (cool name!). It sounds like you have it together in dealing with those Muse-less days!