Art Block Sucks
Nearly every artist struggles with art block at some point in their lives. For some it lasts only a few days and for others it may be months, but no matter how long it lasts, I think we can all agree on one thing – art block sucks. But as bad as art block sucks, the advice available on how to cure it is even worse. Take a quick trip down Google lane and you’ll find such stellar advice as, “go for a walk”, “listen to music”, “repaint your art room”, or my favorite piece of dumb ass advice ever, “just keep at it”.
Seriously? Just keep at it? Ugh.
Let me tell you a little secret. If you were to go for a walk while listening to music and deciding what color to repaint your room while simultaneously repeating, “I will keep at it” over and over again, you would still have art block. The advice that’s available is damn near useless.
But I have good news. There is a cure for art block – a real cure that really works and keeps art block from ever returning. Want to know what it is? I’ll tell you in a few minutes, but first I think it would be helpful to define what art block is in the first place. I mean come on, how can you trust my solution if I haven’t clearly defined the problem?
What is Art Block?
For the purpose of this article, let’s define art block as, “The desire to draw or make art coupled with the temporary inability to draw or make anything that actually looks like art.”
Does that sound about right?
So if you want to draw but find yourself staring at a blank page with a blank mind not knowing what to do, you are likely suffering from art block.
Maybe you aren’t feeling “inspired”, whatever that means.
Or maybe you have some ideas, but none of them seem to be any good or you can’t get them to turn out right.
Whatever the symptoms, the cause can be easily explained.
What Causes Art Block?
The number one cause of art block is not a mental problem, and not a problem with your creativity. It’s a problem with your drawing process.
If you sit down to draw and are focused on “trying to create something good” straight away, you will feel the pressure to perform and lose focus on the creative process. Low self-esteem, high expectations, and fear of failure can make art block pretty much inevitable.
The Process That Cures Art Block For Good
A good drawing process lets you to make drawings even when you don’t know what to draw.
You’ll need to watch the video to get a complete understanding of the process, but here is a quick overview:
Eliminate any desire or expectation to create a good picture. (Making a good picture comes later. Right now we’re just trying to get an idea for our picture.)
Start with a very general idea (don’t work out all the details and story yet – this is not the time)
Scribble loosely while only thinking about composition and flow.
Explore creative ideas you haven’t even thought of yet by developing the story as you draw.
Pick out the good lines.
Put this sketch into a special pile. This pile will eventually be full of exciting images that will encourage you to keep drawing.
Repeat regularly. By doing this, in time you’ll have created a stockpile of ideas and you’ll never have to wonder what you should draw next.
Think about that for a moment. If you had a stockpile of great ideas that you’re super excited to draw, and that allow you to explore your creativity, would you ever get art block again? I don’t think so.
I learned a long time ago that ideas and inspiration aren’t necessary to have before you start drawing. Crazy but true. A good drawing process is the key to eliminating art block.
As the famous artist, Chuck Close, once said, “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.”
I developed the process I’m about to show you over 15 years ago, and I have never had art block since.
So give it a try. Watch the video all the way to the end and cure your art block for good.
Note: This video was originally created as part of a larger series on how to make awesome art even when you have no ideas. The image below is the finished line art made from the compositional rough shown in the video. If you have any questions or are interested in learning the rest of the process, sound off in the comments below and let me know.
How helpful was this post?
1 Star: Oh man, that sucked… 5 Stars: Good God, it’s brilliant!