1. Home
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Readers Respond: How Do You Overcome a Creative Block or Artistic Crisis?

Responses: 47


What do you do to beat a creative block? Share your tips and read what other artists have suggested.

Work on the Older, Find the New

I look at a painting l have done some time ago, that doesn't have any 'wow' factor, and l work on it, and when it's given a new life, l find l am ready to start on a new canvas!
—Guest Annette Buckby

Blocking a Block

I block a block by reading novels. If I come across a novel I like, I am suddenly inspired to draw. I also keep a journal and find art contests to enter and then I don't give my inspiration a chance to get flabby.
—Guest Maggie

Do Something, Anything

I do something like make a batch of ATC cards, something that doesn't seem that critical, just to keep working. I remind myself that frustration is often the way the brain works right before a creative breakthrough.
—Guest CBear

When All Else Fails...

If all else fails I simply find a painting done by someone else and copy it! This is only for my own eyes, of course!
—Guest Janet Mace Bradbury

How I Get Started

I keep a little book nearby, and with me when I am out. Some ideas are always floating around in my head, and I have gotten so I will write some of them down, no matter how dumb. Later, if the idea still sits well with me I will make a sketch. This really helps, and gives me ideas when I am ready to start an art project.
—Guest Polly

Stop Comparing Yourself!

I'm sure if you are a modern day artist who enjoys comics, anime or just the entertainment arts in general, you always hit the net and admire someone's work asking why can't you do that. An artist once told me when he was younger he had only a few idols. He always wanted to be good as them so he kept drawing until then. Even the artist that you think is the best is looking up to someone right now saying the same things. Now, with internet galleries and a closer touch to tons of great artists. You begin to doubt that you can reach that level. So as you're drawing you suddenly trash it because you messed up on the sketch. Number one thing I can tell you. DON'T COMPARE YOUR UNFINISHED WORK TO POLISHED COMPLETIONS! To many times have I did a rough sketch with blocked in colors and trashed it because it wasn't as cool as (inset favorite artist here) finish your work no matter what you think. There's no bad side to it. Every great artist looks at their work and only see mistakes.
—Guest Jay E.

Doodle and Chill

Always have a pencil in your hand, and doodle when something comes to mind. Sometimes those doodles spark a interest. I start out with a random sharpie drawing, and come out with a beautiful thing. Never has this failed me once.
—Guest frost

Mess the Wall with Paint

To be creative I splatter paint on a canvas or paper pinned on a wall, trying to be as messy as I can be. Then I relax and observe the "mess". That is always a great inspiration.
—Guest guest steve

Filling the Well

When we paint we draw from a well of stored images. As you use them the well can run dry so it needs to be restocked. Take time-out to go "play" doing something you love, something fun, magical, inspirational,...and then try again. There's a great book "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. It's a real eye opener as to what blocks our creativity and how to let the artist within out!
—Guest KathySue

Draw Just to Draw

When I'm on a huge art block I try to stop worrying about creating elaborate drawings or something to be proud of. That is kind of tough, but once I do I'm just drawing things to draw; not full ideas, but little doodles of people, animals, landscapes, shapes, and anything else I feel like. After a while I do begin to stop caring about drawing something 'great' and just have a lot of fun with the act of creating. Before I know it, the ideas start flowing back and I can focus on them all over again. Also, it never hurts to be happy. When I'm in block because I'm mopping, I get out of the house and do something to cheer me up. It helps heaps.
—Guest Autumn


Block? What block! Oh that one! Happened a couple times to me... my tip... I simply did wash after wash until something appeared.... usually does!

Seek Inspiration

If you get stuck, find what inspired you to paint in the first place. I always find that going to stumbleupon.com and picking painting, drawing, or fine art as a subject always gets me out of my painting block. Before I used to get really stuck, and I find that I draw inspiration or the "artistic urge to create" from seeing what others can accomplish when they're "in the zone," kind of like you do when you're hanging around other artists making art; you pick up the creative vibe. Whether you need to look back through your sketchbook, find a museum, read an art book, or surf the net, find what inspires you and keep it close at hand, you never know when you might need it.
—Guest Lindsey

Beating the Blank Canvas Block

I found that I had a hard time with a blank canvas. So when I buy a canvas I go put a few large strokes of paint on it. That means I cannot ruin it no matter what I do.
—Guest vetwif

Creative Collaboration

Easy ways to break the block: Creative Collaboration -- it can happen instantly -- just lose the ego!

Do Randomness

I am just a 16 year old but I love art! I want it to be my dreams, but I always get stuck. So I go out with friends and do random things! But if you're stuck by yourself, do something you would never do! Once I made a raft with friends, I drew this really cool looking one fighting the waves of the sea. Or take everyday things and put two together, I made my boss into a pig! Like just be random! Or if that doesn't help I try to get emotions to come out! Like love or anger?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.