Something that I, and a lot of artists, struggle with is the creation of original work. This isn't a new problem, writers, artists and humans have been grappling this for a long time.
Two things that have helped me out a lot recently have been Purpose and Sincerity. And it really struck me as I was writing my lecture for class this week. In writing the lecture, I have the sincere purpose of communicating information that I've learned to a group of students who may know very little about it. In this way, it's extremely similar to creating a painting-- I have a message and tools to share that message. For painting and teaching, it takes me time and quite a bit of focus to convey a simple concept.
The advantage that we have today are the tools with which we can relay a message, but this is also the disadvantage. It's a disadvantage because the tool can become a crutch. It's easy to get hung up on a specific tool (whether it be a new app or paint medium) and lose sight of why you're making something in the first place. This doesn't come without practice and learned knowledge, but it is enhanced when less becomes more. Even as I write this post, I want to share a message about how important originality is to great art and life, but language and writing are already abstract concepts so how am I supposed to be effective?
Maybe this is a by-product of time, but I look back at old paintings and feel that I've lost something. It becomes really clear when I see young kids in my drawing class. They work so effortlessly because they're not caught up in technique, and then something's lost as they get older. Maybe this loss of imagination is faded through practice and study? Maybe it's the system of schooling that takes it away from them? This goes a lot into my philosophy of teaching because I encourage every student to keep this originality. I've been really lucky to meet some fantastic teachers and friends who have all encouraged me in this way.
It's especially difficult with the proximity that we have to other stimuli; you can search for palettes, techniques, mediums, writing and anything you want so easily. This doesn't leave a lot of room for individuality. You almost have to put blinders on as you live nowadays.
The issue is over-thinking and worrying about your purpose or sincerity. Everyone worries about the way they should act or be, but that's a limiting belief. I believe the ultimate goal is to free yourself of all those mental prisons (technique, worry, frustration, negativity, fear of failure,..) and create something with a pure purpose. Have an idea, focus on it and create something with care.