How To Overcome Artistic Block

 

Has that nasty artistic block reared its ugly head and drained your creative juices?

Don’t worry this article will show you how to crush that artist’s block for good.!!!!

You ve drawn some quality drawings and you’ve taken some art courses. The skills are improving and the excitement to learn is growing. You can’t wait to tackle advanced topics like human figure drawing and portrait work.

But lately, you’ve noticed something. The quality of the work is declining and the passion is diminishing.

You wonder what’s going on.

Drawing and painting has lost its appeal and has become a difficult chore.

There isn’t enough time in the day to do everything you have to do to maintain your practice.

In fact, you wonder if creating quality art are within reach.

Self-doubt takes over …then you give up blaming lack of time for the reason.

But … Something deep inside of you wants to create beautiful artwork for all the world to see.

You have to continue on your artistic journey. That little voice inside of you says : “ I was born to create and nothing is going to stop me from showing the world my vision.”

Here are 3 steps to get back into drawing

1. Go back to your reasons for drawing in the first place.

What got you excited? Was it your first awesome drawing? An inspirational art instructor? A beginning art book? Just go back to Whatever it was that got you drawing in the first place and begin again. See if you can reignite the passion.

2. Get social

Form an artistic group either on social media or in your local community. Share your interests with like-minded people and offer to critique other’s work. Often creative work can be isolating endeavors and it doesn’t have to be. You are not alone, Just reach out to others who are feeling the same. Sometimes just connecting with people can help with burnout.

3. Try drawing simple objects.

Basic shapes: cones, squares, cubes, circles, spheres, and organic shapes,  are great for drawing more complex objects. Remember human figures, animals and buildings are just made up of basic shapes. Keep a journal and see if you can root out that negative self talk out of your head.

 

There are many reasons why you’ve stopped and some reasons are legitimate such as illness, money or other family obligations.

But…I suspect the main reason is … artistic block

Three main reasons why people give up on any creative endeavor

1. The lack of quality results. your artistic growth plateaus and the skill sets are not increasing. In fact, the skill sets may be diminishing. You ve forgotten how to draw those other drawings and now your drawings look like crap.

Self doubt happens to everyone. Go back and review your awesome drawings and believe you have the ability to learn. Artistic growth comes and goes in spurts. Even the experts feel like a complete beginner at times. Remember quality artwork takes time to develop

We all have our “bad drawing days”. Don’t equate bad drawings with lack of skill. We are not going for exhibition quality work. Art and drawing is supposed to be fun…right? Shut down the internal critic and remember you are learning.

Don’t give up!!

2. Others who started out the same time are doing better than you and some are selling their work

Yep… I’ve experienced this myself.

How to deal with it: Don’t compare yourself with others. Everybody was born with certain set of talents including you. Just pick up on where you left off with your lessons and continue on. If you feel feel really burned out take a break

3. Suffering from Burn out.

Can’t draw or even think about drawing anymore?

Try a different art form

Maybe pottery, maybe music

Or writing poetry or some other creative outlet.

 

Your brain like a computer needs to defrag and get rid of at the useless information stored up there.

You are not losing your skills you just need to reboot. Try hiking, exercising or another hobby such as photography or playing a musical instrument.

Just like working out if you focus on one muscle group the muscles will burn out. You have to vary the drawing exercises. For example, integrate drawing head lay ins with basic sketching or some other simple drawing exercise. Head work should not be followed up with drawing human figures for over 2 hours.

Once you’ve taken a break, the brain/body/emotion continuum will look at the problem in a different way. And, the brain will come up with a different solution to the problem.

“Creativity blocks” happens to everyone. Even the pros suffer from this

Steven King

Bob Ross

Agatha Christie

How to get those creative juices flowing.

First decide where the block stems from

1.  Limiting belief: We all have them find what yours are. A common belief among beginners is that you need to talent to create quality pieces of art. Not true.

2. Boredom: Get involved with a group or organize one and share your passions.

3. Lack of confidence: Practice, practice and practice some more. Focus on the process and not the result. Be sure to chart your progress. You are better than you think.

Reignite the Passion

Remember drawing is HARD to master. Art forms like Human figure and portrait work require lots of concentration and attention to detail. Even the expert artists take breaks every 20 minutes.

Michelangelo suffered from burnout. However, he painted and sculpted all the way up into his nineties.

Check out how famous artists kept their passions alive. 

“You would think that my work was not that wonderful once you know how much work went into creating it.”

Michelangelo

Burn out happens to everyone. Remember why you started drawing in the first place and continue on with the journey!!!

Please share some of your ways of dealing with burn out in the comments below. What are some of your favorite activities to do outside of art and drawing?

 

Recommended reading

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

By Mason Currey

A great book that covers some daily habits of famous artists, writers and musicians. The book includes pictures of their work spaces and how they spent their days creating masterworks.

How long should you practice?

Here’s the simple answer…

ALL THE TIME

 

 

 

Unfortunately….There is no set formula or amount of time to practice.  Depends on a number of factors.

  1. Your daily schedule. Are you a busy parent with lots of family commitments? Or a busy professional with little time for anything else?
  2. Your goals. Is drawing/art a hobby or a career pursuit?
  3. Your level of passion. Do you really like to draw? And willing to do what it takes to get good at it? Or do you think it will be a passing interest like your other endeavors/hobbies?

Here are some examples of practice sessions of other famous artists and musicians

  1. Jimi Hendrix practiced all the time. There was never a time he was without his guitar. He even slept with it.
  2. Mozart has been composing music since the age of 12. The length of practice sessions, unknown
  3. Da Vinci had no formal education beyond math reading and writing but his father appreciated his artistic talent and let him apprentice with the Italian Master Andrea del Verrocchio.
  4. Somerset Maugham: “I practice when only inspired. So I make sure that I am inspired every morning at 8 AM

These experts honed their craft on a daily basis either by working on commissioned pieces or just drawing on their own.  When they were students they copied their instructors and traced master collections. You should strive to do the same.

What to do when you have so much to do?

Ideally, Start off with a half-hour to an hour each day and focus on what to practice.

For example,  plan on practicing 20 minutes on simple geometric forms: circles, ellipses, cones and cubes. Then  practice figure and head drawing exercises. As a beginner look for simple objects to draw around the house: desks, chairs, tables and appliances.

On the Next day,  focus on speed. Practice drawing those common objects  at various angles and levels. Then gradually shave that down to 20 minutes, 15, 10, 5, etc. Don’t worry about the quality at this point just the process of practicing.

There are plenty of beginning art books that can give you ideas on what to practice.

Believe me the quality will be probably better than you think. Gradually you’ll see some improvement.

Remember we are striving for improvement not exhibition quality work.  Focus on the little wins and forget about the failures. Learn from them. But don’t dwell on them.

What Does the early days of Space Exporation have to do with art?

Failure Is Part of the Journey!!

Don’t fear it embrace it.

 

This was a bad launch day!!

Look up those videos on Youtube and watch the disasters the engineers faced with those early launches. Keep in mind each disaster was a step closer to space.

Same with drawing or any other endeavor each mistake is closer to quality work. It just takes time.  Even if you lack the talent the brain will find “workarounds” and soon you’ll be drawing quality pieces of art.

Ok… Now that you have an idea on how to practice

Set up a practice schedule

1. Go get a calendar and mark down the times when you are going to practice and stick to it.

Obviously, you’ll have to workout a schedule based on you other responsibilities.

But…If you can dedicate a 30 minutes per day that’s a great start. Carry a little sketch book around with you on those extra busy days. You can practice sketching basic objects cubes, spheres and cylinders while waiting in line at the grocery store or an appointment. Practice sketching basic objects around you trees, cars, buildings and even people. Or just draw cubes and cylinders in different positions.

2. Set-up your drawing space

A lot of creative types use a starting ritual. I start off with a, cup of coffee, a quick workout, and  a cold shower. Some creatives wear a favorite article of clothing or  use incense etc. Do something  that gets the mind focused on the task.

Make sure loved ones, room mates and pets etc. understand that once you are in your drawing space you are not to be disturbed:

From the hours of 9-1 1 am or from – 4p to 8p is your practice session and make sure you stick to it. At the end of the session practice is over … period. Put away the supplies clean up the space open the door, anything that indicates that the session is over.

Bonus tip: at the end of the session you set up more goals for the next session. That way you can just jump right in without thinking about what you are going to. Remember you are on a tight schedule. 

Hey I am a Creative type and I don’t like regimentation

 

If this is too regimented and you are not the regimented type then try to practice a little each day fifteen minutes or so.  Whenever you can find the time. Even a few minutes  a day is better than nothing.

Honestly,  to see real progress you are going to have to set up a practice schedule.  Without some kind of structure it’s really going to be hard to stick to your goals and monitor your progress. Be sure to date your work so that you can see the progress.

3. Develop an accountability group

Find a group of like minded people that are on the same path you are on. It would be nice to find a leader that is further along but if this is not possible consider developing your own group. You should be encouraging other and holding each other accountable; what did you practice this week? Or what did you do?  You could do it online or meet in a library anywhere really a park bench could do the trick. Nothing fancy. If you cannot find a space then do it on zoom or FaceTime.

 

Make sure you take some breaks.

Neuroscientists state that most people can only focus a 1/2 hour on an complex activity after that the mind begins to wander.

When that happens take a break. There is no sense in fighting it. Your mind will wonder even more. As your skills increase the ability to concentrate for longer periods will increase as well.

Some people can focus for longer periods and some shorter. The bottom line is to stick to the plan and implement it. Remember…I am going to drill this into your head

Don’t neglect your health!! 

Be sure to exercise, stretch, do some core exercises, sit ups, planks etc. Check out some Yoga videos or sign up for personal training sessions. I’m being serious here..you have to maintain a healthy lifestyle if you really want to progress in your training.  Sitting for long periods of time, (over an hour),  hunched over a desk or easel is hard on the posture and bad for your back. It’s very easy to get caught up in the practice and spending over 2 hours in the same position. Time does fly when you are having fun.

But…your back will not forgive you.

 

There are some ergonomic desks and chairs that can help with posture issues on Amazon. Lot’s of artists and writers use standing desks to vary the positions.

 

 

 

As always, FOCUS ON THE PROCESS… NOT THE RESULT.

You’ll hear me say over and over again.

Make this your mantra. Pin over your desk. Some days the drawings will look great and others well you get the idea.

Believe with practice the skills will improve along with the quality of the art.

Think of it like exercising or training for a marathon art training is no different. The quality will improve over time. Maybe you can only run 2 miles or even less. But with practice you’ll build up the endurance and soon you be doing 10 miles, 15 20 miles etc.

I know that some of the instruction and training can be repetitive and boring but believe me  this is how the masters did it. Developing muscle memory is KEY to mastering any activity including art.

Here’s to happy drawing

Be sure to share some of your practice rituals and what has worked for you and how long it took.

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