Monday, 4 February 2008

Fighting Artist block 1: Experimentation

Everyone goes through periods where things just don't go right. When you're an artist, it's called artist block. Some artists say their 'muse has flown'. I call it a pain in the neck!

There is nothing more frustrating than needing to paint, and not being able to draw a stick figure, let alone finishing that painting that's half finished. One tool I've found for avoiding the frustration of artist block is experimentation. It's a chance for you to create something that you don't care about, something that doesn't matter if you screw up, and who knows - you may find a technique that works brilliantly.

Have a list of things you'd like to try. Keep them near your art space so that if you feel like doing art, but have the inspiration or technique of a brick on that day, you've got something to try:

  • Speedpainting: it's a technique mainly for digital artists, where you force yourself to spend a limited painting time on a single topic. This can be great if you don't have a lot of spare time. Join up with a forum like,, or anywhere that has daily/ weekly or monthly challenges if you want a topic. Set a stop watch, and start laying colour.
  • taking a tool you've never used before and attempting to make as many different lines as possible. Some media you may like to try:
  • Follow a tutorial. It's even better if they've done all the line work or preparatory files so you don't have to think beyond what the tutorial is teaching you. It doesn't matter what the tutorial is on, sometimes the easier ones are more fun! Try lightning effects in Photoshop, or 'Sepia toning photographs', or tin foil hats. Anything creative is better than nothing at all!

  • Digital artists - trawl through many of the free brush sites and download a whole stack of photoshop brushes, textures, shapes and patterns. Then go wild! Do some photo manipulations, just bring together everything and anything.

  • Make avatars or icons of you art. Follow tutorials, hunt for icon 'stock', and have fun with them. Try and come up with silly slogans, make them gloriously tacky, add sparkles and frames and neon lighting! No one is going to see them but you so it doesn't matter how gorgeous or hideous they turn out.
Hopefully I've given you a few ideas so that the next time you feel stuck, you can still get rid of some of that creative energy.


April said...

These are all wonderful ideas! Thanks for the great article. :)