Finding Inspiration: Unclogging Your Art Blockage

Hey everyone!  How was the last two weeks?  Sorry for the unexpected break, I had something pop up that put all of my art and work in general on hold for a while.  Sometimes life just gets in the way, and sometimes it’s important to take a step back.  And then when you’re ready to come back, you can do so much stronger.  A reemergence, if you will.

I feel rejuvenated in my artwork, currently.  I took a small break, got all my ducks in a row, and now I feel stronger as an individual as well as an artist.  I’m also going to re-start up my Instagram, as it’s been completely stagnant.  I haven’t posted in months, and before then I hadn’t posted in even more months.  It just stopped clicking for me, I suppose.  But now I’m ready to come back to it, and keep you posted in multiple areas. Exciting things are coming soon, I promise.

Two weeks ago, we had discussed the importance of references, and I had given the prompt: Take two or more images, one that you took on your own and one that you found on any of the websites listed above, and create a unique image.   

I received a gorgeous drawing by Josie White, who has been a supporter of the blog since the beginning. (Thanks again, Josie! You keep me doing what I do!)

She mashed together this reference (left) and created this graphite drawing (right.)

Josie, this looks incredible!  You really paid attention to the composition of the piece, balancing the figure in front with the tree in the background.  Nice use of perspective, too!

I myself made something for this prompt!  It felt SO GOOD to let myself escape into a piece of art that I cared about.  This is a 12×12 (or around that, I didn’t actually measure, whoops!) pastel painting entitled “Echinacea.”

It still needs a few touch ups before I fully abandon it, but I’m really happy with where I am with it. I hope you feel satisfied with your work, too.

But we can’t always be happy with our work, can we? I suppose that’s up for you to decide on your own. Maybe it’s something we master with time.

However, no matter how long you’ve been creating art, we still run into hurdles.

The Hurdle

Picture this scenario: You get all your supplies set up, you have your paper or canvas primed and ready to go, and you’re super excited to make something great.  You FINALLY penciled in the time to do this, and you’ve gained the courage to let whatever happens to happen.  Then it hits you:  you don’t know what you actually want to draw.

You start scrolling through Facebook instead.

This is one of the most frustrating things to happen to an artist, and I’ll be honest, it happens to just about all of us.  It’s not just drawing or painting either, this often happens to writers as well. Heck, it can even happen when you’re cooking. Just about everyone can find this relatable in their own way.

The dreaded artist block.

Fear not, though. There’s actually a bunch of different ways to combat this!  Let’s go through them step by step.

1) Draw What’s Around You

It might not be the most exciting tip, but it can build your artistic skills.  Drawing from life is the best way to learn about form, perspective, and space.  Pick an interesting object and go wild.  From there, if you wish to expand into something greater, awesome!  Take that drawing you just did of your stuffed animal Bulbasaur and create a world around him.  Maybe it’ll inspire you to draw a series of Pokémon, who knows?

2. Search Through Sites Like Unsplash.com and Draw What Interests You.

You don’t have to reinvent the image, just draw what you see.  If you start to get ideas from there, great!  You can use them in future drawings.

For a comprehensive list of where to find awesome royalty free reference photos, check out my last post.

3. Look at Pinterest or Behance for Inspiration

These sites are chock full of art for you to explore.  While I definitely advise against copying another person’s art, you can get the basic ideas and use them for yourself.  Maybe you like their colors, or brushstrokes.  Maybe you’re into an artists’ use of symbols, or maybe you like their composition.

4. Look at Your Favorite Artists’ Work for Inspiration

You might not have a favorite artist yet, but if you do, it might be useful for you to look at their work. What exactly do you like about it? Do you like their subject matter, their style, their use of color or shape?  My favorite artists are Marjorie Miller, Arthur Rackham, Gustave Dore, Caitlin Hackett, and Agnes Cecile.

5. Meditate

This one might sound goofy, but if you’re a person who meditates like myself, you might understand why this works so well.  When I meditate, I give up all of my thoughts and let my mind do its thing on its own. Sometimes wonderful things occur; I might see a beautiful landscape, or I might see a creature, just begging to be created.  I might see a human figure in an interesting pose.  Who knows what’ll happen!

6. Just Start Creating Shapes on the Page

Let your hand do the work for you and let your mind go limp. You’d be surprised what you might be able to see, and make something out of that.  Alternatively, you can look at a thick texture like popcorn ceiling or wood grain and try to make out objects in those shapes.  (If you’re in a real bind, squeeze your eyes super tight until you start seeing shapes. Just don’t damage yourself.) Draw that!

7. Read a Book or a Poem

Fall in love with a character.  Pay attention to their quirks. Draw them, or make your own character for within the book. If character development isn’t in the forefront, what types of imagery does the writing inspire?  What do you see in your mind when you’re reading?

8. Watch a Show or a Movie

Similar to reading, get engrossed in it and get excited.  Media can impact us in more ways than one.  If you like the visuals, you might want to create something based off that, or maybe you’ll want to make something entirely your own but based off the colors they used.

9. Look at Prompts Online or in a Book

This might seem like a no-brainer, but a list of prompts can be exactly what you need.  Prompts can be as simple as “draw a paper clip” or they can be as abstract as “draw your mood.”  With either one, you can really go all out.  Let your creativity take over and make something unique!

Here’s a prompts website for you to try out: http://drawingprompt.com

10. Figure Studies

If you have a friend who is willing to stand and model for you, this can be a really fun exercise. Have them take a unique pose, and draw it.  Time your drawings.  Start off quick: get the gesture of their figure in 15 seconds.  Work your way up.  If your first drawing is 15 seconds, make your next one 30 seconds.  A minute.  5 minutes.  10 minutes. 30 minutes.

If you don’t have someone to model for you, you can check out this website , filled with unique poses.  You might even want to use one of these images as a reference for a larger piece.

So What Will You Try?

Not every method is going to work for every person.  Based upon reading this, you might already know what will work best for you.  You might have to try them all.  That’s okay!  I can tell you what works for me and what doesn’t: I do best when I search Pinterest, search through old fairy tale illustrations, or search through reference photo sites.  I actually keep a huge folder filled with references that I can paint at any point if I run out of ideas.  I also like to meditate and see what interesting figures happen in my brain. Making shapes out of the paper is by far the hardest method for me to create art.

At the end of the day, what’s most important is to NOT stop drawing.  When you get out of the habit, it’s harder to get into the swing of the process.  When you’re working on one drawing, you might get the idea to make something even better for your next work of art!  This is one of the best feelings in the world.

This is also why you should keep a sketchbook with you at all times.  Have you ever had a great idea and then lost it fifteen minutes later and you were mad for the rest of the day?  Having a sketchbook and being able to jot notes and ideas down can alleviate that.  Jot down every thought about art you have.  “What if I did (blank)?”  Refer back to your sketchbook, and you’ll never run out of ideas.

For this weeks prompt, I’d like to challenge you to go to http://reference.sketchdaily.net/en and start drawing from those images. When you come across an image that you really like the pose of, turn it into something more.  I can’t wait to see what you make!

4 thoughts on “Finding Inspiration: Unclogging Your Art Blockage

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