Artist blocks · Beginner Art

When I get Stuck What Can I Do?

Frustration is usually part of learning to draw and paint.  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… overload!

Sharpening a pencil
Don’t procrastinate

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.  If necessary leave it a week and come back to it.
  • Step back – You can see so much more when you step back from your artwork (physically take a step away from your work). 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.
  • Stay in your Sketchpad– There is something about working in a sketchpad that feels a bit less pressurised and more playful.
  • 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.
  • Ink on paper
    Playing is okay in art, enjoy it!

2 thoughts on “When I get Stuck What Can I Do?

  1. I’m can get so focused on a drawing I forget to take a break or step away, and I often put off doing work until I can commit a big chunk of time. I’m pleased you wrote this post as even non-newbies like me need to be reminded that anyone can get stuck and the remedies are simple but effective.

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