How to survive an artist's block

  • What is an artist's block?

Sometimes artists just can’t get themselves started painting. It happens to all of us.

We may be in the process of what seem to be a great painting and then we run into a problem. We don’t know how to handle the problem and we stop painting. Times goes on, but our painting doesn’t.

We’ve all been there.

We are afraid we may not be able to turn out a great painting. Many artist are more critical of themselves than their fans.

  • Fear is probably the most common cause that makes us put off painting. We may make other excuses, but fear is the real reason.

Maybe the last few paintings did not live up to our expectations. We got mad at ourselves or painting. We threw it down and refused to paint. We decided that we just didn’t have it as an artist.

  • Sometimes, we may sit in front of the easel waiting for inspiration. No ideas so, no painting that day. If we are not “inspired to paint”, we don’t paint.

Many of us may have encountered one of these situations or know artists who have.

  • So what do we do? What’s the solution?

What is an artist's block and how do you move past it?An artist's block is temporary.

overcoming an artist's block

  • Painting is not always about inspiration. It’s about motivation.

Are we motivated to be a good painter? Do we really want to paint or are we just dreaming? Does dreaming about going to work at our job put money in the bank? No!

Dreaming about painting or waiting for inspiration can occupy our time, but it doesn’t make any paintings.

Painting takes motivation. We just have to make up our mind to get started and stick with it.

artists' wisdom

Anyone can have an artist's block, but we get past it.

  • Set a goal with a time-frame to complete it.

If we work away from home, maybe one painting in a month. When we have more time at home, make it more paintings.

  • Set an exact time or date in which to reach our goal. Make sure we have the needed supplies.

Then, we just grit our teeth, put our head down and go for it. No matter how or what we think or feel about it, we just do it. No excuses!

more Tips for moving past an artist's block

How do you move past an artist's block?We can get past an artist's block
Image by Uwe Baumann

what can we do?

  • Keep our studio or painting area organized and tidy.

When we can’t find a paint color, our favorite brush or our reference photo, it delays painting and dampens our motivation.
Setting up our own art space

  • Start a supply of reference material.

If we paint still lifes, have a supply of vases, teapots, flowers or whatever we want to include in our paintings.

Make sketches or photos of things that are inspiring. Then we have a record of things to paint later.

Look for copyright free photos online. There are some gorgeous ones.

If you see a photo in a magazine, on a calendar or other artist’s work, change it significantly (at least on third) to make it your own. We don’t want to get stuck with copyright laws.

  • Change to painting with a different medium for a while. It can be refreshing and give us a new charge of motivation.

The various painting mediums all use the same principles of art. A different medium can give us a new outlook on painting.

  • Do a series of small paintings. Time yourself and do each painting in a specified amount of time.

Just for example, make yourself do three small paintings in an hour and half, 30 minutes each. It can be fun and charge our motivation.

  • Switch to drawing for a bit. 

We just draw and don’t kick ourselves, if we don’t like the drawings. It can be refreshing and it will improve our paintings, too.

  • Take a break.

If we have been working on a painting for a while, we may run into a roadblock. When we can’t figure out what to do next or how to solve a problem, a break could be in order.

It could be time to take the dog for a walk or go visit a neighbor. Maybe lay the painting aside for the day, get some rest and get back to the next day with fresh perspective.

  • Mingle with other artists.

One very important thing that will always charges us up is socializing with other artists. It’s inspiring to see different way of doing things.

Attend an art workshop, take lessons, go to a gallery or watch art videos on the internet. Getting out of our own space for a bit is always refreshing.

an artist's block will pass - get painting!

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