Sometimes it can't be helped -- you're sitting in front of a blank page, paintbrush or pencil in hand, ready for the creative juices to flow, and... nothing! It's like an evil little beaver built a dam around your artistic abilities. Your mind feels blank, and you're unable to draw a single line.
Art block, am I right?
It's a term widely used by artists of all mediums. Art block, or creative block, is a crippling lack or inspiration or motivation to work on your art. Creative burnout is another good way to describe an art block to the general public. But why does this happen, and what can you do to overcome it?
What Causes Art Block?
- Stress or fatigue. Whether it's physical or mental, burnout can happen to the best of us. Try to rest and not worry about your painting for a couple of days, then come back to it with a fresh mindset.
- Poor Expectations. Maybe you're a bit of a perfectionist, or your last piece didn't go the way you'd hoped, and it lowered your expectations (and excitement) for your own artistic abilities.
- Lack of Ideas or Inspiration. Sometimes you might feel like you just don't have any good ideas, or that there's nothing worth painting at the moment!
How Can I Overcome Art Block?
- Shake things up by trying a new medium. Do you always paint in acrylics? Try out some watercolors! Normally draw in Procreate on your tablet? Make a sketch with a charcoal pencil! You can shake things up even further by trying an entirely different craft, like embroidery or knitting. Using a new medium can test your brain in new and fun ways, opening up fresh thoughts and inspiration.
- Go back to your sketchbook, and try drawing loose sketches instead of attempting finished pieces. Take some of the pressure off my doodling whatever comes to mind - perhaps your pet, a favorite location, or something you can see on your desk. Relax knowing that it doesn't have to be perfect, and nobody else has to see it -- it's just a doodle!
- Observe other artist's work for inspiration (at a gallery, museum, or online). Sometimes being surrounded by other talented people can kick-start your creative energy!
- Get a change of scenery, and go outside if you're able. Maybe you can visit a local park, walk a dog, or sit on a porch while listening to your favorite music for some creative rejuvenation.
- Talk to a good friend! You might be lonely or feeling isolated, so reconnect with your community so you don't feel as alone.
For some artists it's beneficial to "work through it" and push through art block, but for others it works better put art down entirely for a little while to rest, relax, and recover. It's all up to the individual, and over time, you'll learn what works best for you!
Whether you're a veteran artist or a creative newbie, I hope this helps! Leave a comment below with your best trick or tip. I love to read about how other people conquer creative burnout, and add to my own burnout-fighting tool kit.