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  1. #1
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    Artists block; how do you guys get rid of this mortal enemy?

    Ive had this happen to me a few times before, but this week was just insane! I've been taking the best part of my summer vacations drawing as much as I can by looking over some loomis guides and fifillions of concept art tutorials, but I haven't been able to work rapidly or produce much this week. Highly unproductive! For the obvious reasons this annoys me a lot. It happens every once in a while and I find myself being pretty bad at getting over it. One week of no real productivity is something I will not be able to afford the day that I become professional and I want to start working on this issue from now.

    I've googled solutions on google but I dont really know the credentials of the people who write about artists' block, whereas I know that these forums are crammed with countless talented people who have definitely faced this before.

    Whenever I get artists block personally, I feel like I have a million ideas to work on for vehicles, characters, monsters, environments, etc. but I just don't know which one to work on. And then comes the next problem; just how loose or finished should I aim for it to be? I spend a lot of time figuring out what to pick, but once I do so I don't know how much time to spend on it. When I hit the 8 hour mark or so on something I don't know whether I should leave it as a sketch that conveys the main elements of the composition or if I should go in and try to render it further. And this week is a prime example of me being overloaded with all these variables and just not knowing what to do.

    So go ahead, ill take any advice that comes my way, and thanks in advance


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  3. #2
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    My advice is always the same; For now, you need to ditch the studies, lessons, tutorials, and skill building...and just do something fun.

    Your problem is that you are over-thinking everything. You say you have millions of ideas, but can't decide on any of them. And that you can't decide on what level of finish you want to do.

    SO.....do what I do.
    Look around the room, pick something and make a TOTALLY random character out of it (could be an object on the floor, a dvd, a commercial on tv...or even just something you recalled from earlier in the day). Take no longer than 5-10 minutes on it, but finish it as much as you possible can. The exercise is meant to be as fast as possible and rapidly get through as many drawings as you can. Once you finish one, add a title to it and move on to the next. Here's some examples of ones that I have done for myself:

    http://dustypeterson.squarespace.com...dustyverse.jpg
    http://dustypeterson.squarespace.com...styverse02.jpg
    http://dustypeterson.squarespace.com...styverse03.jpg

    The entire point is to NOT THINK ABOUT IT. Never once should you second-guess what you start. Just start drawing and what you end up with in 10 minutes is what you end up with. Does it suck? Probably...move on to the next. Occasionally you get something kinda neat.

    That's how I solve both artist's block as well as refreshing my mental palette a bit between larger projects. Think of it like biting a lemon after eating something spicy.

    If you actually stick to it and don't worry about what you draw, you'll find that over time the entire concept of artist's block just kinda fades away. It really helped me in being looser with my concepts and not sitting there staring at the paper.

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  5. #3
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    I had a lot of artists block over the last few years, it got to the point where I wouldn't draw things for months on end but I figured out something that works for me.

    What I do is:
    1. find something to draw, anything to draw.
    2. get something on the paper as fast as possible, I don't care what it is ( simple block in shapes like circles work for me). Gets me out of that state of mind where I'm thinking whatever I have to draw needs to look pretty.
    3. I no longer listen to music while I draw, I used to but after about an hour of it I started to become annoyed with it and that would stop me from drawing, now I put on a tv show or something. Comedy works best, anything that will give me a chuckle and keep me in a good mood while I'm drawing.

    Everyone is different and Ive only been doing this for about a month but since I started doing these things Ive never had a problem starting a drawing and I don't get frustrated mid way through anymore.
    "The whole point of practice is to do it until you can do it right." - dpaint

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  6. #4
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    It's never a block. It's always plain old procrastination.

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  8. #5
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    i do studies, of hot chicks if possible.
    as other said, the best way to avoid that "block" is stop thinking and just grab your pencil/brush/stylus and have fun.

  9. #6
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    Just fucking draw. Don't think about what you're drawing, just do it. Do that for several hours. You should have a bunch of ideas. Or do abstracts if that's not working for you.

  10. #7
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    But if by some chance you don´t end up drawing a masterpiece that is both technically perfect and absolutely original and ground breaking every single time your pencil touches the paper then you´ll force the illustration police to come over your house to throw you in art jail where they will remove your drawing hand and possibly your penis via rusty kitchen knife as an offering to the gods

    So, you know, be super careful about it.

  11. #8
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    If I have artistic block, I'm not in the mood for studies and my mind is completely blank then I draw stuff like this. Most of the time I really enjoy it. Very relaxing. Maybe one day I'll become carpet or scarf designer .

    Attachment 1515361
    Last edited by Farvus; July 8th, 2012 at 06:27 PM.

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  13. #9
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    First thing is to lose the term block from your vocabulary. We talk ourselves into things. Like, ooh, hands are so hard to draw. They're only harder because we make them harder in our heads. Read, look, swim, doesn't matter. At some point you'll realize that you don;t have the luxury of a "block",

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  15. #10
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    Never had that kind of block or any for that matter.

    If do not believe, you do not give power to your belief.

    (I saw mystery men a few weeks back).
    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director

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  17. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty View Post
    My advice is always the same; For now, you need to ditch the studies, lessons, tutorials, and skill building...and just do something fun.

    Your problem is that you are over-thinking everything. You say you have millions of ideas, but can't decide on any of them. And that you can't decide on what level of finish you want to do.

    SO.....do what I do.
    Look around the room, pick something and make a TOTALLY random character out of it (could be an object on the floor, a dvd, a commercial on tv...or even just something you recalled from earlier in the day). Take no longer than 5-10 minutes on it, but finish it as much as you possible can. The exercise is meant to be as fast as possible and rapidly get through as many drawings as you can. Once you finish one, add a title to it and move on to the next. Here's some examples of ones that I have done for myself:

    http://dustypeterson.squarespace.com...dustyverse.jpg
    http://dustypeterson.squarespace.com...styverse02.jpg
    http://dustypeterson.squarespace.com...styverse03.jpg

    The entire point is to NOT THINK ABOUT IT. Never once should you second-guess what you start. Just start drawing and what you end up with in 10 minutes is what you end up with. Does it suck? Probably...move on to the next. Occasionally you get something kinda neat.

    That's how I solve both artist's block as well as refreshing my mental palette a bit between larger projects. Think of it like biting a lemon after eating something spicy.

    If you actually stick to it and don't worry about what you draw, you'll find that over time the entire concept of artist's block just kinda fades away. It really helped me in being looser with my concepts and not sitting there staring at the paper.
    My god, dusty.
    Ned and Scabclown made me chuckle, but Menstruos had me gasping for breath. Nice.

    Artist's block, for me, has always been not knowing what to draw. So I always go and draw something from reference or practice anatomy, because that doesn't require too much imagination. Usually, after about an hour, I've had an idea and I'm thinking about how I'm gonna draw it.
    I know this next bit might not be helpful, but when my hands wont do what they're told, I go and do something else. I'll go and write, or read something. I distance myself from art and I'll be able to go back to it within the day.

    This might only work for me though. I mean, Dusty is giving the opposite advice. Do what he says, he's a professional!

    First thing is to lose the term block from your vocabulary. We talk ourselves into things. Like, ooh, hands are so hard to draw. They're only harder because we make them harder in our heads. Read, look, swim, doesn't matter. At some point you'll realize that you don;t have the luxury of a "block",
    Maybe I'm just a stroppy git, but I kind of like sulking about not being able to do something, it makes it all the better when you come back to it.

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  19. #12
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    I don't think I've ever really gotten "artist's block"... As such...

    Sometimes I've had moments of "want to draw but don't know what to draw", and I have two sure-fire cures for that. One is to go draw something from life, doesn't matter what... This works because I don't have to think what to draw, all I have to do is draw what's there. (Drawing flowers and plants and trees seems to work best for this for some reason. I suppose because they're attractive, have interesting shapes, and don't move, so they make very low-stress drawing subjects.)

    The other thing that helps me in the "don't know what to draw" situation is to have several ongoing projects running at all times. Usually ludicrously long-form comics. Don't know what to draw? Draw another page of the comic. Works like a charm.

    Sometimes I do get the feeling of "OMG so many projects I want to do, I can't decide where to start!" There's one cure for that. PICK ONE. Then start on it. You may drop it partway through and switch to another, but hey, you started something. That's better than nothing. And if you stick with it and finish it and it turns out terrible? Well hey. It was version one. Now you know the mistakes to avoid in version two. The main thing is to START. Once you do that, it's easy to keep going.

    And if a project turns out to be a complete failure and a bad idea, chalk it up to experience. You can use what you learned from that project to do better on the next. As long as you're making something, it's almost never a complete waste of time.

  20. #13
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    @SandyMan:

    Ok. You can no longer reply to this thread with text. Drawings only, Go.

    Edit: Oh, and "It is in the doing that the idea comes"- Edmund Bacon.
    Last edited by Koudee; July 8th, 2012 at 10:55 PM.
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  21. #14
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    Never had artists block but I have had times when everything I do sucks. What do I do? I keep working anyway; so I use up some canvas and paint or waste time on a Photoshop painting that I scrap, it happens. Just work, in the end that's all that matters anyway.

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  23. #15
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    I've got two words for you: "boredom" and "deadlines". If you don't know what to draw, go someplace really boring with your sketchbook and nothing else. You'd be amazed at what your brain will come up with when it has no other options. If you have too many ideas to draw, set a deadline to produce something so you can't dick around with the picking and choosing.
    *** Sketchbook * Landscapes * Portfolio * Store***

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  25. #16
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    Agree with others...I simply refuse to have them.
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  27. #17
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    Every morning repeat the following mantra:
    "I want to be a creative artist and I don't want my ego to be in the way."

    Give it a go for a week, you have nothing to lose right? You'd be surprised how well this works.

    By large you are afraid to fuck up, because your ego tells you that you have to be so-and-so good. Stop it. Drop the ego. You reject ideas because you don't think they are "tasteful" or double guess yourself because "superstar-artist would never draw this". Just follow your guts, do the first thing that comes to mind. Draw. Iterate. Have fun. Drop the ego. THAT emotion, you want to memorize that and recall it every morning and before you start drawing.

  28. #18
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    Watch a movie. Read. Write. Draw.

  29. #19
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    I will advise the opposite of what most people are commenting. I don't think you need to force yourself to draw, that's not what I do.
    If you don't feel like drawing or can't think of anything, then leave it, do something else for a while, drink, travel, hangout with friends, get a part time job. sleep, masturbate. doesn't matter. I find my best ideas come when I'm not thinking about drawing, when I'm not starng at a page forcing myself to think. The only problem is when you get the brain spark in the middle of the forest while you are drunk, you have to hang on to it long enough and remember it for when you're back at the drawing table.

    As for Artist block at work, I wouldn't worry about it. It's a job - You have deadlines, and a list of things that need to be done, you don't have time to think about not drawing. Plus you are normally surrounded by people that are vocal with ideas, and you can always take a walk around the office conversing with others. I think in the few years I've been working I've only had a handful of 'off days' at the studio. compare to many off days at home.

  30. #20
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    Thumbs up

    I haven't had an art block in some time--mostly due to the fact school keeps me on my toes at all hours of the day and night! :p

    Anyway, the last time I had an art block I just let it stay for a little while. I took a break from doing any serious art work and just doodled or made drawings that were relaxing for me. I also took time to go outside or do something different to get away from making art. Some times it is best to take a break and let your ideas just wander a little while without putting anything to paper.

    I think the best advice I can give to you is to continue drawing, but only in small bursts--because you might be feeling a little burnt out. I tend to get this way when I have been working with a particular piece for awhile--extensive planning/sketching/thumb nailing for some pieces can make me really tired mentally so I usually work on something that is just spur of the moment at the same time so I don't get bored.

    This is my attempt at being helpful. Good luck!
    [~*jeweledelephant.deviantart.com]
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  31. #21
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Sorry to bump this..but I wrote quite a long post on this yesterday. A lot of the things said in here covers bits and pieces of it, but perhaps the whole message is good.

http://thevfxartist.blogspot.se/2012...otivation.html

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  • #22
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    Just one thing I'd like to add.

    There is "artists block" but there is also "creative burnout" and I got the impression these are sometimes treated here as the same thing. In case of artistic block which can experienced at any moment you just need to stop thinking too much let the ideation be the part of the process. On the other hand forcing yourself to draw when you go through burnout after many weeks/months of hard work won't do any good and it will just make things worse. Taking break for a while and doing something else will be better solution.

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  • #23
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    @Dile_

    This needs to be posted and stickied, or put into one of the series of " get your butt in gear" or inspirational posts I don't know how everyone else sees it but I found it helpfull.

  • #24
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    Just don't think of yourself as an artist; then it'll be pretty difficult for you to get blocked...

  • #25
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    I distinguish between artist block and creative block. Artist block = lazy, since that for me its the technical side of things, and there are ALWAYS tons of things to do to improve that side. Its the toil so to speak.

    "Inspiration is for amateurs, I just get to work" Chuck Close

    Creative block if s a bit more difficult than that, but all I need is a spark and Im up and going full steam. I found what really helps is a long ass walk with some music in a place ive never been before. Or read a few book by your favourite authors, I for example love love love the collected short stories of Philip K dick, Im re reading them all now. I love watching eps of the Twilight zone or any other fantastice shows like that, AH presents, Monsters, Amazing Stories, Outer Limits. Another great thing to kickstart the urge to create is to watch a good DVD with extras about The making of. Really gets the juices flowing.
    [url=http://galleryonefone.blogspot.com[/url] This would be my gallery in Sweden

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  • #26
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    What usually works for me is
    1. Listening to some good music, usually instrumental that gets my imagination flowing.
    2. Browsing through good artwork and art books makes me usually feel like doing something as well.
    3. Just taking a piece of paper and start doodling something without any purpose or idea beforehand, just to draw something.
    4. Finding some old pictures I've drawn and work further on them or colour some sketches I haven't coloured before.
    5. Just make yourself keep working what you were working on and for example watch a tv show with the other eye. I usually don't work as fast that way, but I feel like I'm also doing something else so I have more patience for drawing.
    Does the walker choose the path or the path choose the walker?

  • #27
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    Just draw boobs, yo.
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  • #28
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    Yeah, less studies and more drawing from your imagination. Studies are great but can get boring after awhile. Never underestimate the value of drawing from the imagination.
    "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
    --- Frank Herbert, Dune - Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

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  • #29
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    If I've got art block when I actually need to produce art (for my coursework, commissions, or for my webcomic which I try my best to update weekly), then I have a couple of tactics that help.

    1. Listen to my favourite music while I draw. That may sound really simple, but it is quite effective, since once I get into the music I forget I even have artist's block haha.

    2. My favourite and most reliable tactic; pretend to be motivated. I sit there telling myself 'I'm so excited to draw this page. Look at all these dynamic poses I get to draw! And this part of the story is such a turning point!' etc. After a while of really cheesily telling myself how cool my comic is going to be, and pretending to be motivated, I actually feel genuinely motivated and my art block is gone

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