004: Overcoming Artist's Block

Artist's block plagues almost every artist, and those who say they've never felt it, are lying.

It's a natural part of the creative process. It happens when the brain is burned out, when you're tired, when you "just want to draw but don't know what to draw."

My method of overcoming artist's block is simple.

First realize, Not Everything You Create Is a Masterpiece.

Then sit down with all your supplies (whether its graphite, paint, clay, whatever). Find an inspiring reference image or fanart or set up a still life in front of yourself.

Then draw [paint/write/sculpt].

You might be scoffing right now, like "OH GEE THANKS SARAH THAT WAS HELPFUL!" 

However I am 100% serious. You have to look at your set of skills as something that will always need improving. You are never done learning.
Think about why you enjoy creating anything in the first place. Is it that rush when you finish a piece and it looks great? Is it the idea of sharing it on social media and having everyone praise it? Is it the intimate internal process of exploring your artistic voice?

Plein Air Painting at Denver Botanic Gardens, 2016.

Plein Air Painting at Denver Botanic Gardens, 2016.

Regardless, there is one truth: if you want to progress as an artist, you need to put in the time / the practice. This means, take advantage of those artist's blocks and use it as a chance to study. Paint that reference photo or that still life, knowing every stroke is solidifying a new connection between your mind and the canvas. None of it is wasted. Then, later when inspiration suddenly hits you, and you have a brilliant idea for a painting, you've already got some of that legwork done, and your painting will be that much better.

You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. 

My personal favorite way to overcome Artist's Block is to change my scenery. I love painting outside, so I will go for a walk or hike with my sketchbook and paints, and spend a few hours sketching. In the winter, this can easily be done at a coffee shop.

So the next time you sit down and think, "ugh...I don't know what to make." Before you push the paper away and turn on Netflix, remember, you are the only one standing in your way.