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How do you deal with "Artist's Block?"

I don't care who you are, or how well you draw, one of these days, the Art Block Fairy is going to pay you a little visit. When that day comes, ideas will be scarcer than possums driving pickup trucks. Despite the randomness of that metaphor, how you handle artist's block will decide when you'll get those creative juices flowing again. 
Some of you will decide to pause and have a snack. I can tell you from experience that this doesn't do much to kick-start the imagination. When that doesn't work, there's always the option of getting a second snack. But eventually, you'll get too frustrated and too full to keep doing that. There's got to be another solution. So you decide to follow the prevailing wisdom, which is to go for a walk to refresh yourself, in the hopes that inspiration might return. The walk is pleasant, but almost mythical in its fecklessness. If walks worked, the beach would be teaming with cartoonists and writers.

 

Watch TV? Won't help. Do a chore you've been putting off? Gawd no. I can't stand to see you suffering like this, so I'm going to tell you the little secret, which is totally counterintuitive. Here we go:The problem with the popular wisdom about taking a break is that it removes you from the "productive" mode and puts you in a "reflective" mode, which I also refer to as the "What's the meaning of it all"-time waster mode. Think about it. You go for a walk along the water, with plans to return to work rejuvenated.  Who the heck wants to return to work after a walk on the beach anyway? The key is to stay in the " productive" mode, but to switch the material you've been working on. While it's true that you need to put some distance between you and the drawing that's been giving you fits, you don't have to take a mini-sabbatical in order to do it.

 

This is what I recommend: Keep drawing. But switch subjects. Draw something you're enthusiastic about, for example, a personal project, or something that you haven't had time to complete, or maybe a picture of a possum driving a pickup truck. Lose yourself in it for an hour or more.  Now you can transfer your rejuvenated creativity back on the drawing that's been disobeying your efforts to brazenly. And because you didn't take a break to wind down, you don't need to waste any time winding up. You're ready to go.

 

But here's the last hint: when you return top the original drawing, attack it from a different angle. In other words, to get fresh perspective, draw from a different perspective. So if it was a side view, try drawing that character in a view. If it was a full shot, try drawing the character in a medium shot. And don't be surprised if you get the drawing right this time, on your first try back. And let me know how it works for you!

Your Cartooning Sherpa,

Chris Hart

*See what's cookin' on my Facebook Fan Page*

www.facebook.com/LEARN.TO.DRAW…

Add a Comment:
 
:iconshinylugiagirl:
shinylugiagirl Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I never got an art block...it could be that I have too many ideas and not enough time to put them all on paper...
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:iconlace-and-metal:
Lace-and-Metal Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
^ This journal => Why I work on multiple sculptures at a time.
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:iconskriy:
skriy Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2013  Student Filmographer
Your journal just helped me out of an art block :D :hug: now I have started concepting and storyboarding an art block fairy short:squee:.
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:iconchristopher-hart:
Christopher-Hart Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2013  Professional General Artist
Glad to hear it. Thanks for writing.
Reply
:iconryotsu-san:
Ryotsu-san Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2013  Student General Artist
Playing video games also helps owo
Reply
:iconravenheartcomics:
RavenheartComics Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I inadvertently do that. I have several comic book stories in the works and when I get stuck working on one, I immediately work on another. If I don't feel like drawing, I write the script of another (or its sequel). Knowing this actually work, I'll keep doing that :)
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:iconkiwi-tan:
Kiwi-tan Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2013  Student
Usually when I get into frequent artist blocks it means I need to switch the medium. Example: I got tired of drawing so I did SCULPTURE! It was awesome.
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:iconasharani:
AsharaNi Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013  Student General Artist
Thank you! :handshake: I'll have it in mind!
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:iconemperorkirkwall:
emperorkirkwall Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
huh I should try that sometime:| had one for the past month.
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:iconchristopher-hart:
Christopher-Hart Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013  Professional General Artist
A month? If you keep drawing, maybe at a lesser pace, when you have an extended block, and you look back at the file of drawings you did, I bet you'll see that some of them were pretty darn good.... give it a try!
Reply
:iconemperorkirkwall:
emperorkirkwall Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Sure will, plus my friends are trying to help me with my anatomy ^^
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:iconfjolliff:
FJolliff Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You're totally right about this! If I go to a totally different activity, my imagination ends up six-foot under and hates the idea of waking up. When writing, I switch to haiku. When drawing... I either draw a random chibi, or simply let my pencil move to draw a new portrait of someone my dead imagination might have visited in the afterlife. Of course, I end up liking the new drawing so much that the old one ends up forgotten... for a week... or more... ^^;
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:iconchristopher-hart:
Christopher-Hart Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2013  Professional General Artist
I've been there! Thanks for writing.
Reply
:iconfyrepyromaniac:
Fyrepyromaniac Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013
That's very good advice. Works for writers block as well. And for many other things. =) Switching it up works!
Reply
:iconkagaminelink:
KagamineLink Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you SO much for this! I can't tell you how many times I get art block.
Reply
:icondemonsixx:
DemonSixx Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Student Filmographer
Cool!
This really helped!
Reply
:iconrubyheart3:
RubyHeart3 Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm not sure about most people out there, but artist block is a scary thing to me. This is because there are two worlds in my head, a world of logic, and a creative wolrd (my wonderland) where anything can happen. To be cut off from that wonderland is the most terrifying thing that can ever happen to me or anyone as a matter of fact. When you really think about it, how terrifying is it when you don't have any means to escape into your wonderland?

And so unto you, I present a couple of possums in a pickup truck.

[link]
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:iconprincesspretty919:
PrincessPretty919 Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Not only I get a artist block, I also get writer block. Because every time I start a comic in the beginning, everything goes in smokes. But I like the idea taking a long walk on the beach. I hope I get to go before the summer is over.
Reply
:iconserget2:
serget2 Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013
I think because drawing for me is a hobby, i don't have to deal with the stress off having something finished within a certain deadline. If I suffer from being at a point, where I can't continue, I stop and do something else. Surf the internet, play with my kid, or just do a chore I've been putting off. Maybe I'll even watch TV as you suggested won't work BUT as I told you there is a difference, I do not have the stress a real artist has telling him it shoul be finished by monday or else, therefore I can completely shut it out of my mind and when I begin again I'm rested and my head is filled with Idea's which may have come indirectly from all those other activities. Sometimes an idea pops out during those activities in that case i'll try to get back to the drawingboard as soon as possible.

And maybe that's the trick behind it, it's stress that blocks thoughts and therefore creativity, maybe a good way to deal with block is to learn how to de-stress, try some simple breathing techniques and empty your mind. I know it sound like a generation X mumbo jumbo but it really helps, if you give it a try. I tought my son how to fall asleep if he has trouble, just by simply breathing and relaxing every muscle.

Here's the quick instruction list: Tailorsit or better yet lie down, Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth, try stomache breathing instead of lung breathing, relax your muscles in this order; toes, feet, ankles, lowerlegs, knees, upperlegs, hips, stomach and lowerback, hands, lowerarms, elbows, upperarms, shoulders,chest, neck, jaw and finally relax your mind. Pause at every part and really feel them relaxing. Continue to breathe as told before through the whole process. Concentrate only breathing and relaxing and don't worry if you fall asleep, if that happens you'll need it, when you wake or after a 10-15 min session you should be well rested and have a clear mind. (not clear of ideas just clear off stress and anxietys which cause block)

I'm also a martial artist, we do this before practice to clear our minds off the daily stress, it's been done by millions off martial artists all over the world and for centuries, so if that isn't a sign that it works, then I don't know what does :-)
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:iconjmralls2001:
jmralls2001 Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013   General Artist
I've had artist's block. I did a comic strip about it because I had it.
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:iconizzy1213:
izzy1213 Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Student General Artist
I usually just keep calm when the art block monster attacks, it can't hurt you if you don't show fear right xD, so I put in my headphones and think of little animated music videos in my head to go with the song and bam! Instant inspiration~!! Either that or if I'm in a car or a bus or just any vehicle, I'll stare out the window while I'm listening to the music. :3 that's just what I do and it usually works very well. But Christopher's method works well too!! :D
Reply
:iconhawkheart29:
Hawkheart29 Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
The problem for me isn't artist block, but the inspiration/muse leaves me before I've finished whatever it is I'm working on and as a result I have half-finished pics everywhere.
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:iconspiceprincess:
SpicePrincess Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Student General Artist
Same here.

You get the idea, you get motivated, you start the art....
Then like 10 or so minutes in after sketching and planning, you loose fire fuel and burn out.

The real question isn't 'How to deal with art block' so much as 'How to make it go away and stay away'.
Reply
:iconhawkheart29:
Hawkheart29 Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It's nice to know I'm not the only one with this problem.^^
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:iconspiceprincess:
SpicePrincess Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Student General Artist
Totally not xD
I'm actually having this problem a lot lately.
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:iconartagedden:
Artagedden Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013
In a word Chris,"Yes"!!!!!
Reply
:icondweebzilla:
dweebzilla Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Student Digital Artist
When I have art block, I usually personify the art block and make art of it. You're beating it by using it as material.
Reply
:icongokuschichi4818:
gokuschichi4818 Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wonderful advice as always...I was wondering if you could critique a piece or two of mine to help me find my flaws and try to correct them if you have the time. It doesn't matter which one,but seeing as you are a very talented professional artist,I would love your feedback. Thank you.
Reply
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