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

Responses: 44

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

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?

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!
—cording

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!
—lonlardner

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?
—Guest

The Brickwall Block Mode

Just get to it, get the paints out. Do not mess about thinking about it. Just get in with it. And let it just happen. You might be pleasantly surprised. But just to keep thinking and waiting will serve only the purpose of frustration. There's not better way then active action to all blocks. Even if if you don't like it. The thought of just doing. Without some plan. The actual jumping in. Throws all doubt and frustration to flight. Just do it! As they say.
—Guest Cimay

Change It Up

As an ex-graphic design major/photographer turned oil painter and ceramicist, I have learned in multiple mediums that the quickest way to overcome a creativity block happens in three steps: 1. Don't stress -- the worst thing to do is freak out over a blockage. That only makes it worse. 2. Change it up -- if you are sitting, stand. If you have sweater on, put on a dress shirt. A musician friend of mine swore that parting his hair the opposite way always did the trick for him. 3. Be open -- I draw a lot from literature and music, as well as film. So I will watch a film and focus on the imagery. Or I'll read Capote's or Lovecraft's short stories. Or, I will go to the internet, and look up other artforms or times in art history, like art nouveau. The most important thing to remember is that by stressing over it, you only exacerbate the problem. If you are musical, go sing or play the guitar. Just don't worry. It'll be fine.
—itastepaint

Books!

To beat my artist's block, I grab a "How to" book or find a cool simple picture online. I find that if I start out with something simple I can get the big stuff I want to get to.
—Guest *Phoenix*

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