How to deal with art block

assorted color artwork equipment set
Photo by Marko Blazevic on

I have suffered the dreaded art block many times and I have almost given up because of it.

Nowadays when I feel myself losing my mojo, I can find my feet again by just stopping for a moment to identify what the causes are and start to work my way through them.

So when you find yourself being blocked creatively. You can do the same too. Start by asking yourself questions about what it is that you might be worrying about.

For example:

  1. Are you doubting your artistic abilities?
  2. Do you think you are not good enough? Maybe you are comparing yourself to other established artists. Remember that what you create will appeal to some and not appeal to others and it doesn’t matter one bit.
  3. Are you worrying about what others will think of your art?
  4. Do you think that you will never get better at what you do? No matter how much practice you put in?
  5. Are you just tired and need a good night’s sleep?
  6. Are you rushing the process? Maybe you just need to slow down and enjoy the creative process.

So, you’ve asked yourself a number of questions. Now what?

Below is a list of ways that have helped me in the past and still do.

  1. Take a break. By just taking a break for a few days can do your creativity the world of good. On this short break you could:
    • Go for a walk and take random photo’s of your surroundings. This is great because you can look back on the snaps you take to get inspiration.
    • Read a book that you wouldn’t normally read to get the brain thinking.
    • Socialise with friends, even if it is just for a few hours over a coffee. It always does one good to get out and about.
    • Take an unplanned bus ride or train ride and look out the window at the scenery. You could also have a notebook or sketchbook at hand to jot or doodle some ideas that come to you.
    • Have a browse on Pinterest and create some boards of things that will inspire you in the future.
  2. Have a clear out or organise your art space. This is something I love to do regularly. It not only de-stresses me but keeps me up to date with my art supplies.
  3. Try a different medium. My go-to medium is coloured pencils but when I am feeling stuck I will sometimes get my watercolours out and have a play. The good thing about watercolours is that I can use my coloured pencils over them to create some interesting pieces.
  4. Keep an ideas notebook. I keep a notebook close at hand all the time so I can record any ideas that come to me. Once it is written down, I won’t forget it.
  5. Look at your old artwork. I have done this many times and I have even created a new piece from the old. I can also see how much progress that I have made by doing this too.
  6. Use an online idea/prompt generator. This is a great way to get those creative juices flowing. You never know what it is going to suggest and I have had loads of fun using these.
  7. Look at what other artists are creating and try recreating it in your style.
  8. Join an art community or a Facebook group. I am in a few art groups on Facebook and I get tonnes of inspiration from them.
  9. Try new techniques. Or try new tolls. Learning new skills keeps that creative part of your brain active.
  10. Do many studies of one subject. In the past I did this with ballet shoes. I created pencil drawings of them, watercolour paintings and coloured pencil drawings. It was so much fun.
  11. Have a look through the glossy magazines. I cut out pictures from magazines and keep them in an inspiration box. I am also subscribed to a few art magazines.

Inspiration is all around us and not just in what we see but what we feel, smell, taste and hear. Use all your senses and ask yourself:

“How can I interpret this in my art?”

Let’s kick that art block to the kerb.

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