Art Block: Overcoming Creative Challenges

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Art block comes to every artist. It doesn’t matter what kind of artist you are, or what you are working on when the feeling hits. All you know is that you no longer have the motivation to keep going. 

Most artists try everything they can think of to bring the motivation back. They will listen to music while working, sit in a new area in their home, or try a whole new subject, all to no avail. 

Art Block

Thankfully, there are ways to force yourself through your art block, as long as you don’t give up. You need to analyze why you are feeling an art block, reflect on the improvements you have made to date, and then take steps to increase your creativity and motivation again. 

This article is here to walk you through how to get past this dreaded moment in every artist’s life. 

There is also this course about Overcoming Art Block with some very cool exercises to try – Link Here

What Is Art Block?

Art block, often also known as artist’s block or creative block, is when your creativity goes from 100 to 0 and it’s very different than creative burnouts. The ideas you were so excited about now seem dull and boring and you just can’t bring yourself to go and grab your art supplies. 

This can happen in between work, or even in the middle of a new piece. Even if you energize yourself enough to go to your workstation, you feel overwhelmed when it comes to figuring out what to do next. 

Common emotions that come along with art block include anxiety, loathing, and hesitation. You may feel there is nothing else to draw or that your work isn’t worth the effort. This happens to all artists. It doesn’t matter if you are a painter, a writer, or a director.

Artists go through a variety of emotions with every piece they make and throughout their artistic careers. 

The Stages of Creativity

StageWhat it Feels LikeWhat to Do During This Stage
1You can’t do anything artisticThis is the perfect time to up your skill. Watch videos, practice, copy, and learn.
2Ready to learnOnce you get over that hurdle and start learning, it is all you want to do. Ride this peak and learn everything you can about the fundamentals and intermediate techniques of art. You may start to narrow your focus here as well into art you enjoy. 
3There’s nothing to draw/paint/createOnce your peak of inspiration ends, you may be tempted to draw your own ideas. However, you may feel like there is nothing new, or you don’t have any creativity. 
Keep practicing at this stage. Find art you enjoy or that is similar to your style and recreate it. 
4Incredibly inspired and full of ideasThere will come a time when something clicks. You feel like you have every idea in the world. 
Write or take note of these ideas, so you don’t forget about them and can refer to them later. Make it as detailed as possible. 
Then, pick one of your ideas and get to work. 
5What is this?After you get started, you will struggle. You may have lines that aren’t what you wanted or the colors aren’t exactly what you imagined them to be. 
Don’t give up. Keep pushing through and finish your art. You need to train your brain not to give up as soon as you question the process. 
6This looks good!When you are almost finished, or even finished, you may start to feel a bit of positivity. Your picture now looks better and is much closer or better than you imagined. 
Ride this high and get started on another project. 
7I’ll never improveAfter a few pieces of art, you may feel you aren’t improving. You may be tempted to give up. 
Don’t. Instead, keep working. Try new techniques and refine your style more. 
8I’m learning something newAfter a few projects, you will stop and compare them to your first picture. You will be able to notice what has changed and where you have made improvements. 
Use that burst of motivation to try something new you’ve been scared to do or start a new project. 
9No one is going to like thisWhen it comes time to show others, or when you start looking at people with similar art styles to you, you will become disappointed and feel like your art isn’t worth it. 
Take the time to look back at all your old art and see how far you’ve grown. 
10I trust the processEventually, you will start to realize that even if your art isn’t good at the beginning, as you add more details, colors, or lines, it gets better. You will learn to trust the process, even when you are doing something new or scary. 
Keep that feeling in your heart, always. 

What Are Some of the Causes of Art Block?

Art blocks can come for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you are overanalyzing your work, nitpicking all the details while comparing them to other people.

You feel that your work isn’t up to snuff and you are afraid of getting a bad review or opinion on the piece you put so much effort into. You may be halfway through work and aren’t sure what to do to make the piece better or feel that it is so bad it isn’t worth continuing. 


People are always telling you to trust the process, but it can be hard to do that at the moment when you are staring bad work in the face. 

Boredom can also cause artist’s block. Perhaps you keep working on the same piece, or similar pieces, and aren’t able to actually use your creative side and imagination as much as you would want. 

Can You Overcome Art Block?

It is entirely possible to overcome art block. A lot of new artists struggle because when the motivation goes away, they simply give up. Experienced artists know that giving up or waiting for the motivation to come back isn’t an option. 

Instead of waiting around, you have to find it. You may feel absolutely awful and like you don’t want to do anything creative, but that is exactly what you need to do. 

Here are some ideas to try out when your motivation has started hibernating. 

  • Find a black-and-white picture online and color it in. Don’t use standard colors, but go crazy. 
  • Start a new piece that you won’t ever bring out to the light of day using scraps you have around. Make a short story about the first thing that pops into your mind, or just let your brush take control. 
  • Minimize your thinking. Most of the time, your brain is what is stopping you. Don’t let it take control. Ignore all the normal rules and just make something. It doesn’t matter about color theory right now, so long as you make something. 
  • Stretch your right brain. Your right brain is where your creativity comes from. If you’ve been using your left brain a lot for school or overthinking, allow your right brain to come out and play by relying on your intuition and imagination. 
  • Do something new. Do you usually paint? Try drawing instead, or even writing. Steal your sibling’s tablet and try to make a comic. You won’t be perfect at it, and may not even be good, but it will get your creative juices flowing. 
  • Let your mind wander. When doing menial tasks, don’t drown them out with music and TV. Step away from electronics and force your brain to actually think. 
  • Take a break. While you don’t want to take so long of a break that you can’t get back into your art, a quick walk around the town, jumping on the trampoline, or binge-reading your favorite book allows your brain to take a break for a moment and clears your head some. 
  • Don’t compromise. Most artists tell you that practicing daily is important, and that is true. You need to practice or work a little every day. If you compromise and don’t work for one day, it is easy to fall into the habit of taking days off at a time. This reduces your motivation and makes the art block worse or it occurs more often. If you catch yourself doing this, force yourself back into a schedule immediately. 
  • Always keep a book with you. Whenever an idea appears, you don’t want to let it get away. Create a quick sketch, or outline, or write in detail exactly what you are imagining. 

Conclusion

There are times you just have to buckle down and put some effort into art. It can be any random piece. If you are a writer, write some silly little short story that may never see the light of day.

If you are an artist, use some old paints you don’t want to throw away and some waste paper and draw something. Put your all into it and keep going until your motivation grows again. 

It seems hopeless at the moment, but if you don’t give up, you will find yourself creating brilliant work all over again!

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