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How to Fight Artist's Block

Updated on December 20, 2010

Positive Thinking and how it Relates to Drawing

Yes, you can draw! Getting rid of negative self talk can allow you to create.

Even professional artists can have problems with "Artist's Block." Here are some tips to move past feelings of self doubt, fear of rejection, and worry about our art.

Even now, I'm wondering if the image I've uploaded for this page (to the left) is "good enough" for this page. We are always our own worst critics!

Techniques for Dealing with Artist's Block

Just like writers get "writer's block," I have experienced what I can only call "artist's block." Sometimes I find it incredibly hard to draw. Sometimes, I can't draw, even when I feel that I am trying very hard. This is a (pardon the pun) drawback for a professional artist! The more I try when I am in this state, the more frustrated I become.

I've found some ways to get past it when it happens.

If you get stuck by artist's block, give some of these ideas a try.

Sometimes just getting my art supplies organized and sharpening my pencils helps. I think it could be just the smell of the sharpened pencils that does the trick. Some kind of artist's aromatherapy, perhaps?

Try a style or art supply you've never tried before. Sometimes I think I am stuck in a rut, so although I mostly work in pencil, just playing and experimenting with oil pastels will give me renewed energy for my art.

Stop and think about whether it is fear that the client won't like the artwork that is keeping me back. Fear of failure can be a biggie. To fight this negative thought pattern, I think of prior artworks that I've done that I have similarly worried over, and how the client was very happy with the finished artwork.

If you have thank you letters or letters of recommendation from your clients, you can print them out or make copies, and stick them up above your work area, so you will see them and be motivated and reminded that what you do has value and people love it. If you don't have such letters, ask your clients to send you their comments.

Listen to some upbeat music to lift your mood and give you energy to draw. Here's my favorite playlist.

"But...I can't draw a straight line!!!"

People are always telling me they wish they could draw but they "can't."

I believe you have the ability to draw, you just haven't tapped into it.

When you sit down to draw, you are probably telling yourself in your mind "I can't do it - I can't draw, I have no creativity..."

your brain is so busy making that come true that you CAN'T do it. That goes for anything in life.

Your self-talk will rule you every time.

It's like that old saying, whether you think you can't or if you think you can...either way, you'll be right.

Here's a little trick I learned from Betty Edward's book,

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

Give this a shot...

Take a photo and turn it upside down and draw it upside down.

Just focus on the shapes and the light and the dark.

When you turn it over, you'll be amazed at what you have drawn!

Let's pretend for a minute that it was a picture of Abraham Lincoln. We have preconceived notions of what Abraham Lincoln looks like, andif you tried to draw him right side up, your brain would tell you

"Ohmigosh I'm drawing Abraham Lincoln, I can't draw, and I DEFINITELY CAN'T DRAW ABRAHAM LINCOLN!"

But if you draw him upside down, then your brain is just going to break the image down into shapes and dark and light areas, and you'll just work on the shapes and you will be able to do it.

So grab a picture you like and try it!

Related Books...

Books relating to the psychology of art creation, our mental blocks against making art, our self doubt, how to overcome negative self talk.

Drop me a line...

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    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 7 years ago from Nashville, TN

      So far I have not had this problem, I tend to see things to draw in everything and can't keep up with all that I would like to draw. But, imagine that won't last forever, so I am grateful for the tips.

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 7 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is one of my favorite books. You've inspired me to dig it out again.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      Hello my dear! So good to see you today -- and might I add, helpful info. At the moment, I am just having a bit of a brain freeze - overfried me thinks! Hugs.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 8 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Thanks, this is great! I have the same feelings as a musician. My attitude towards what I am performing has a huge impact on how well I do. Even if I've practiced something tons of times and can play it well, worry if it will be good enough can change my playing.

    • profile image

      DianeClancy 9 years ago

      Interesting post - thanks!! ~ Diane

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 9 years ago from La Verne, CA

      I am good to read all your lenses on art. Thanks.


    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 9 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Wonderful insights! I'm using Drawing With Children by Mona Brookes right now with my 9 year old artist daughter. I'm working on a lens on the book too (WIP). I have a copy of Edwards book too! It's fascinating to me! I'd love to hone my own drawing skills. I find drawing so very relaxing.

    • profile image

      editionh 9 years ago

      Great topic.. drawing is for everybody!