When I get Stuck What Can I Do?

Part of learning to draw and paint is usually frustration.  This is natural and we all experience it, learning to draw and paint isn’t that easy for many of us.  We have to learn so many things, how to observe, proportion, colours, shapes, tones…then there is all the materials to think about.

There are a few things that I recommend when you reach that stage of being stuck:

  • Take a break! You probably have been looking at your work for too long.  Fresh eyes are best for seeing, when you come back to your work you may see it differently.
  • Step back – You can see so much more when you step back from your artwork, you can see the adjustments you need to make much more clearly when you look at the ‘bigger picture’.
  • Turn it upside down – A little trick I was taught was to look at work upside down to see what needs adjusting, looking at work in a mirror can do the same job.
  • Start something else – Having more than one study on the go takes the pressure of and avoids perfectionism.
  • Be inspired – Are you inspired by the subject matter? Sometimes we aren’t and this leads to getting stuck because our heart isn’t in it.  Always draw and paint what  inspires you.
  • Break it down – Is this study just too complicated ? Try smaller, simpler studies like just drawing one object.  A few quick sketches usually helps before embarking on the final study.
  • ‘Warm up’ exercises – In my drawing classes we always have a short ‘warm up’ exercise to get us ready for drawing.  This involves simple tasks like mark-making (doodles) on a page, drawing fast, drawing with just line or just dots.  If you are stuck, just do some quick sketchpad sketches, doodles or mark-making.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself! – Don’t set yourself too big a goal, enjoy it and never beat yourself up about ‘mistakes’ as this will hold you back.

Also see my post What Should I Draw? for more ideas.


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