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How to Get Through Art Block

A Guide for Frustrated Artists

As artists, we feel like there’s a constant need to create. We thrive off of it. Most of our lives revolve around it. But, what happens when we feel like we’ve run out of ideas? When, no matter how hard we try, our paint brush or pencil feels useless in our hand and you begin to worry you won’t ever feel inspired again?

My friends, that is what we call… artist block.

As much as we may feel like the fountain of ideas and inspiration has run dry, this is a normal part of artists’ lives.

What Causes Art Block?

For a lot of people, artist block pops up when they strive for perfection. In art, there's no such thing as perfect artwork, so striving for it can feel like an impossible task because, well, it is. Artists might feel like they need to create something better than the last thing they created and are in a race with themselves. This can become overwhelming and can make you feel lost in your art. It can also come when you’re mentally drained, tired, or going through personal struggles. The main thing to remember is that this is normal, and even though you might feel like you’ll never create again, you will. Some (if not all) of the greatest artists in history experienced artist block. Pablo Picasso stopped painting for a time in 1935, to the point where “the mere sight of his pictures and drawings infuriated him.” Claude Monet stopped painting for a full two years and often destroyed his paintings. Even Georgia O’Keefe developed anxiety and fear of public failure so she moved to New Mexico for inspiration. If they could get through it, so can you.

How to Stimulate Creativity

When some people experience artist block, the first thing they do is run to social media—like Instagram and Pinterest—to search for inspiration. At first this might seem helpful, but the amount of content thrown at you can become overwhelming. Sometimes, viewing other people’s art, especially so much at one time, can make you compare yourself to their work. Instead of being inspired by their art, you might just want to recreate something they made or battle with how you can make something just as ‘good’ as theirs. All this does is push you deeper into the artist block you’re stuck in. So, what can you do instead?

Find Creative Prompts

There’s a wealth of knowledge online that can help you feel inspired to make art. Find artistic prompts on websites and stick to one of them. This can help you create art even when you have no idea of what you want to make. Participate in large prompts like Inktober, where you can create spooky inspired art through all of October. You can even purchase an art prompt journal to sketch in during your free time!

Experience a Different Art Form

There are so many different types of art that can inspire you without intimidating you. Books, music, and films can help you enter into a creative space without feeling like you’re competing with the artists. Instead, you can be inspired by the world they create, the mood, or even the way they capture reality.

Try a New Medium

Sometimes, artists feel limited by their medium. They feel like once they’ve started using one medium, they can't move between other ones, but that’s not true! Working with other mediums can help inspire you. The different textures and effects they can make can help you look at your art differently. If you paint, experiment with photography, or if you draw, try clay! This won’t just inspire you, but it will also give you a break from the medium that you’re stuck in so that when you return to it, you’ll feel refreshed!

Join a Creative Community

Speaking and interacting with other artists is a great source of inspiration. It offers you a chance to learn from artists at the same stage as you and bond over mutual interests. Being around people in the same field as you helps to encourage you and pushes you to continue in the arts, even when it seems impossible. Are you looking to join a community of artists? Join a creative online community like Winged Canvas on Discord to share your experiences and learn from others!

Visit Museums

Almost every artist in history studied the art that came before it. They used it to be inspired and to learn from the Greats. You can do the same! Visit your local art museum and view art from history. Pay attention to which ones stand out to you, what your favourite pieces are, and if any resonate with the type of art you want to create. Bring a sketchbook with you in case you want to reference some of the art you see!

Don’t Think, Just Do!

Easier said than done, I know. But really, overthinking tends to turn off the creative part of our brain. One way to pull yourself out of your thoughts is to doodle. Put on a timer and challenge yourself to create 10 doodles with 30 seconds for each. Don’t worry about what they end up looking like, they can be scribbles, faces, swirls, anything! Sometimes just getting back to creating art, no matter what it looks like, is exactly what you need.

Spend Time Outdoors

This is one of the most useful tips you’ll learn to break through the artist block. Nature is full of beauty and has so many different features that can inspire you. It also offers you a change of environment, since sometimes your art space might be contributing to your block. Go on a walk and explore your neighbourhood, or go somewhere you’ve never been before. Fresh air is a great tool to help you clear your mind. If you want, bring along some art supplies and draw or paint anything that inspires you.

Take an Art Class

Similar to art prompts, art classes can help guide you through assigned projects so that you can create art even when ideas are hard to come by. Art instructors can give you a sense of accountability and encourage you to create with the help of step by step techniques, constructive feedback and support from your classmates. If you’re interested in taking a virtual art class, visit our course selection to choose what works best for you.

Artist block is not just a normal part of an artist’s life, but is expected. The only thing we can do is push through it and strive for creativity. The next idea will come, it just might take some time to get there. The key is to make sure you don’t give up or get intimidated by the artist block, because it definitely can feel frustrating and overwhelming. But remember, there is an idea at the end of the tunnel, and you never know when inspiration will spark!

Looking for Art Classes to Stimulate Creativity?

Check out our selection of art classes, camps, and mentorships to receive feedback and build your community of artists!

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