It’s important to go easy on yourself. Give yourself some slack while at the same time be conscious of what is happening to you in these moments. The inner critic can be a real kill-joy. But it is important especially in the early stages as an artist, to allow yourself to fully explore all different types of styles. Let yourself paint like a child or draw like a child. Even let yourself create like an adolescent knowing you are an adult. As Picasso once so famously said: “It took three years to learn to draw like Raphael and the rest of my life to learn to draw like a child”
When I am involved in public art projects for example, there is usually a time during the process when I need to think like a teenager, an adolescent who is for whatever reason hell-bent on vandalising that particular sculpture or artwork. I do this so that I can head them off at the pass so to speak. In doing so I am able to safeguard the work to a large degree by thinking ahead and designing and protecting the work so that any potential vandalism can be kept to a minimum. Let yourself make lots and lots of mistakes and once again learn from the accidents that are inherent in these mistakes. They could be the things that separate you from the mediocre. So you have to be pretty aware of how much you criticize yourself.
You can stifle your creativity to the point where you can spend days – and I have, sitting in your studio in front of a series of beautifully prepared works on paper or stretched canvases, pristine with their white gesso freshly applied, while you scratch your head in complete frustration not knowing where to start.
If this is happening to you, I would suggest the following: Get some sheets of cardboard, put them on the floor and give them a couple of quick coats of gesso or any other primer and start going to work. Either start drawing on them all, begin to put washes of paint down and develop up some kind of surface.