As all creatives know, artist’s block can be extremely frustrating. You have the time, the materials, the desire to make art, but your mind draws a blank! There’s no need to panic; there are tons of exercises and activities you can do to help get those creative juices flowing! We’ve compiled a bunch of fun, clever ways to break through your artist’s block below.
What Is Artists’ Block?
Artists’ block can mean different things to different people. For some, they simply aren’t feeling inspired. They have lots of ideas, but nothing is particularly exciting to them. For others, hesitancy comes from a worry that their piece isn’t going to be good enough. They want to start on something, but they feel they can’t carry out their vision with their current skills or materials.
Sometimes artists’ block is as simple as your mind drawing a blank.
The first thing to do when you encounter artists’ block is to try and identify what the cause is. Are you lacking the materials, the confidence, or the ideas? Once you’ve identified the source of the block, you can begin to work on fixing it!
What NOT to Do
There are a few common mistakes that many artists make when trying to overcome a block. First, they panic and worry that inspiration has gone away forever. This can cause a spiral and lead to a further lack of creativity. Artists’ block is completely normal! It is natural to go through cycles of more or less creative inspiration. Even great artists like Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Georgia O’Keeffe experienced periods of artists’ block.
Another thing to avoid is simply waiting around for inspiration to strike. Sitting on the couch waiting around for an amazing idea probably isn’t going to get you anywhere. Remember: even a painting that you think is terrible is better than no painting at all!
Get Your Creative Juices Flowing
If you find yourself hitting a wall and need to step away from your art for a while, there are a variety of things you can do to take a step back and garner some inspiration.
Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” Many famous artists took their inspiration from flora and fauna, from Vincent van Gogh to Claude Monet.
Get yourself outdoors, whether that means a walk around the block or a hike through a nature reserve. Don’t focus too hard on trying to find something to paint or draw. Breathe in your surroundings and let inspiration find you! You never know what might trigger a great idea.
Visit With Friends
Being social and hanging out with your best friends isn’t just fun. It can also be extremely productive! Your friends are the ones who know you best, and sometimes they can see things more clearly from their perspective. Even if you don’t discuss art, laughing and chatting with friends provides both distraction and inspiration, which are both extremely valuable when you’re experiencing a block.
Look at Great Art
Every artist looks up to someone who came before them. Whether your favorite artist is world-famous, or they’re an underground painter that only you’ve heard of, looking at work you admire is a great way to trigger inspiration.
If you can, try visiting a museum! Some museums like The Metropolitan Museum of Art even have Drop-in Drawing programs where they invite artists to come sketch, or they host virtual events about different art styles or exhibits. Museums are wonderful places to be inspired and to be surrounded by others who love art. It’s also great to expose yourself to different artists and styles you may not be familiar with.
Try Something New
Many artists have a certain style or a creative zone they like to work in. Some people exclusively like to paint abstract pieces, some like to draw still-lifes, and others enjoy doing portraits of people. While it’s wonderful to master one style, if you find yourself stuck in a rut, encourage yourself to try something completely new!
If you mostly use acrylic paint, try some watercolors. If you mostly sketch, try photography. There are so many wonderful styles of art to experience. It can be intimidating to try something completely new, but taking yourself out of your comfort zone can help to expand your creative lens and spark amazing ideas. Get inspiration for new styles to try here.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
One of the most common causes of artists’ block is the fear of messing up. Many artists put themselves under immense pressure and think that every piece has to be perfect. Release yourself from this fear by making a mistake on purpose! Start a piece with a blob or a smear, and work from there.
Mistakes are a part of life, and thus, a part of art. Nobody is perfect 100% of the time. By allowing yourself the freedom to make mistakes, or “happy accidents,” as Bob Ross called them, you can expand your artistic vision, as well as your world-view.
Fun Art Exercises
If you still find yourself stuck after stepping away for a while, you can try an art exercise to get yourself thinking creatively again.
Copy A Piece You Love
This exercise won’t help you create an original masterpiece, but it will help you create and flow without the pressure of coming up with your own idea. When you study a piece of art and try to recreate the techniques the original creator used, you can open yourself up to new ideas with less pressure.
If you don’t feel inspired recreating a piece exactly, use it as source material! Look at the piece and imagine how you can adjust certain aspects or make them in your own style. Don’t feel pressured to copy one of the greats. You can even take one of your favorite cartoon characters and draw them in your medium. The possibilities are endless.
In art, sometimes doodling can have a negative connotation. It can be considered less serious than “real” art or thought of as just for fun. But according to scientific studies, doodling can have amazing benefits for the brain. It can help improve memory, relieve stress, and improve focus. In fact, 26 of 44 American Presidents doodled (John F. Kennedy loved to doodle dominoes).
Get out a piece of scratch paper and just doodle the first thing that comes to mind. It can be a squiggly line, a little cartoon, anything. Just keep expanding on what you’re drawing. Don’t force yourself to think too hard; just allow the pen to flow. Sometimes, this mindless doodling can lead you to inspiration for an amazing piece!
Use a Random Object Generator
When in doubt, go random! Google has a variety of random object word generators that will give you a few totally random words. Go to one of these sites, select “nouns,” and you will be given three to five completely random objects, places, or people. Challenge yourself to incorporate all of these into one piece! For example, you may be given the words dog, tomato, and night. So draw a dog eating a tomato with the backdrop of a night sky!
This exercise may seem silly, but it will definitely break you out of your comfort zone. And who knows? Stranger paintings are hanging on the walls of museums as we speak.
Entopic graphomania sounds extremely intimidating, but it’s actually very simple! First, find a spare piece of paper with words or markings on it. It can be a piece of newspaper or a page from an old book. Then, place a dot over a word or letter every time it appears, say the letter “c.” Finally, connect those dots with any kind of line you want.
Entopic graphomania is a great way to doodle if you don’t have any inspiration. It reveals patterns based on the simple choices you make and will help you be totally random in your creativity.
Pick a Theme
Drawing within a theme is a great way to inspire yourself to create. The theme can be anything: a color, a type of object, things that all start with the same letter, or things that make you laugh. Fill a whole page with this theme. This will help to spark your creativity while still working within a certain boundary or medium.
Paint By Numbers
Completing a paint by numbers is an amazing way to make a beautiful piece of art, even if you don’t know how to paint! You can even purchase a custom paint by numbers made from your personal photos from our website! Paint by numbers is a great way to make a painting when you don’t have any ideas on what to paint or how to paint it.
Artists’ block is frustrating, but it is important to remember that it’s normal and happens to everyone. Inspiration and creativity naturally ebb and flow, but the important thing is that you don’t panic and keep making art even when you aren’t inspired.
Make sure to visit our website and check out our custom, personalized paint by numbers canvases to spark your creativity.