Advice for bringing back the flow?

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Oregon, US
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    Unhappy Advice for bringing back the flow?

    Hey there, all you spiffy people here at CA.
    I have come to this forum in hopes of receiving some advice.

    When I was in high school, I used to draw all the time.
    Looking back on those drawings is a humorous experience, as you can imagine.
    That is where most of my improvement happened. It's also when I loved to draw most.
    I've made a few connections from this.

    First of all, I was never drawing because I wanted to become great.
    I was never drawing because I wanted my drawings to look great;
    I drew to make jokes about the characters I created or liked from games/shows.
    I am nowhere NEAR as carefree as I was back then, and I want to change that.

    I drew a lot, without getting hung up on the outcome,
    and I improved a lot because of it, without even noticing.
    But since then, I feel as though I've stagnated.
    I'm pretty sure it's because I draw maybe once or twice a week.
    It's taken me a year to fill up a sketchbook that would have been gone in a month.

    The part that frustrates me is that I am really slow when it comes to drawing.
    I know this will also improve when things start flowing again,
    but I'm always reluctant because I get this nervous feeling in my stomach
    that tells me I won't finish it, I'll get frustrated and give up.
    I can't get rid of that feeling; when I try to push past it, it gets stronger.

    I want to go back to the way I was when I was in high school,
    where I had a lot of "drawing stamina" and it never became frustrating.
    Not only that, but my drawings now are so lifeless;
    What I've gained in technique I've sacrificed in feeling.
    My bubbly little art stream is now full of thick mud.

    I want to know if any of you have any advice for slaying this atrocious beast.
    I've tried the "just start drawing" thing but it turns into that sour taste in my mouth.
    Maybe some good exercises that will help break into the habit?
    What do you guys do when you feel that jerkface pulling on your legs?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Scandinavian - Denmark
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    I think I'm helping much. but my advice would be to find a subject to draw. you write in the past draw funny figure, maybe you should try making caricatures of politicians or celebrities. could be a fun topic plus you get trained you in the drawing.

    That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stranger
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  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Thanked 192 Times in 162 Posts

    How to get flow back

    Get rid of the sad avatar. Don't identify with sad or fragile or embarassed. Choose a happy or fearless character, even if you feel it's not quite you yet.

    Sometimes, I find myself missing my nursery years and this toy where I banged colorful pins through holes. That was so exciting! I could turn it over and start all over again! Except, I don't really miss it. And you shouldn't be missing your high school years either because you were drawing tons of bad animu without any care to learn the basics. You're a better person now. Rejoice!

    Forget carefree. Carefree is for people who make stamps out of celery stalks. This is CA, where only those who fall in love with conscious effort, hard work and honest criticism prevail.

    Read the recommended books. There's a list posted here on CA.

    Lurk sketchbooks of awesome people who went from nothing to professionals. Learn from their attitude.

    Open a sketchbook and link to signature.

    Remember: It doesn't matter how much you draw but how much you learn each time you draw.

    As for the bad feeling in your stomach, these two articles might be helpful:

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Alberta, Canada
    Thanked 2,356 Times in 1,211 Posts
    I think that the key to that sort of flow is boredom. When you were in high school, there were long periods of time when you weren't free to do much except draw. You were stuck in class, you were stuck at home, you didn't have much to do except amuse yourself and your friends by making stuff. But then you grew up and got more control over what you get to do and drawing was the victim. Now you don't really draw unless it's a production.

    If you want to be able to draw freely again, be bored again. Go somewhere boring. Bring the sketchbook. Leave every other form of distraction at home. Go there for an hour or 1.5 hours and draw. You are not going to produce a masterpiece in a coffee shop or on a park bench. You will not be drawing a thing that will become finished. You will feel like you are crazy with boredom and doodle. Eventually after nothing particularly awful has happened to you by filling a sketchbook with crappy doodles, you will not have that sour feeling when starting to draw, because you'll know that it doesn't need to be awesome, it just needs to fill some time.

    I find it's best to go someplace where you can't leave conveniently and you don't want to disturb people around you. Because for the first little while your brain will think "WHY AM I DOING THIS I could be doing something useful right now oh look a magazine let me read it... I wonder if we're out of cheese at home I'll just walk over to this grocery store... is there something interesting to draw around this next corner I should go and look" and you will go pursue distractions.

    *** Sketchbook * Landscapes * Portfolio * Store***

    "There are two kinds of students: the self-taught and the hopeless."
    - Dr. Piotr Rudnicki
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  8. #5
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    Jun 2007
    Thanked 1,229 Times in 790 Posts
    You could also try having a sketchbook that is just for doodling. It's a space reserved for creative experimentation and is not to be critiqued or over-analyzed because the material inside is not finished work in its own right. You can take interesting ideas that are created there and develop them further into more refined works later on, but the sketchbook itself is free from judgement. That might help you feel free to explore and play with random ideas that you've had without the fear of 'oh no, what if it doesn't look good' or 'what if I screw up the anatomy, then I'll be so disappointed in myself'. Just draw. It doesn't have to be good as long as it's fun. Those doodles can also come in handy later when you need ideas for your more finished works.

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  9. #6
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    Oct 2012
    Canada, ON, Toronto
    Thanked 167 Times in 156 Posts
    Well whenever I started the day drawing, I just simply warm up. Scribble ellipses, straight lines and what not till I am in the mood to get serious. I guess this is also a crutch but I am one to get distracted way to easily and end up not finishing anything and moving onto something else so I just listen to any kind of music without lyrics on loop and some how that works. I don't know although it sounds weird but I think the workflow in approaching a "finished" drawing helps, starting from loose to tightened that is why I like to start with a gesture because it's really fun and it allows you to be a little more impulsive and you get to go with what you feel is rhythmic then I just set down my dark lines and work away at it in a way where I just build up confidence as I go with the artwork.

    CHECK OUT MY FRIEND'S SB OVAH HERE >> deer's sketchbook

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  10. #7
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    May 2013
    La Vernia, Texas, USA
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    I 2nd what others are saying here. Whenever I get in a 'muck', I always think of things that interest me and than draw them. I don't worry about technique because it comes naturally to me. The other day I started drawing original characters and it felt great to do something artistic. One thing I learned about creating art is you have to be flexible. You can have idea on what how the art piece will look when you finish, but never plan out exactly how it will look. I always have idea on what I want to draw and even which drawing techniques I will use, but how I want it to look in the end, I never plan that. All works of art change and as you mess with them. So don't afraid to be flexible. Hope this helps.

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  11. #8
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    Feb 2011
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    I think vineris just hit the nail on the head.

    I'm studying illustration right now and I stay at school to do all the assignments. Why? Because there are simply too many distractions at home between video games and the internet. Not to mention any family you might have at home. Drawing stems from isolation and boredom as he described. I also started going to this coffee shop in a book store and nowhere else do I not only draw the most but enjoy drawing. Once you get past that initial hump of: "Aww man I don't feel like drawing, I don't want to force myself." And you actually just DO, the experience is rather enjoyable, reminiscent to our days in high school when drawing WAS the distraction Hope that helps.

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  12. #9
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    May 2013
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    Im currently writing (for myself) a bit about lacking motivation/creativity/art-depression and how to get over it.

    Inspiration is needed to get new impulses and as Stephane Perez mentioned boredom will not bring up new ideas.
    From too much isolation you will get no new impulses, and from too much information (distraction by daily
    life routine, playing too much video games and stuff) your head will be too full to filter out what you would
    like to create and what not.

    I have a lot of ideas (but lack some skills to draw them atm.), and those ideas are overflowing me
    when i look at my records how to work them out.

    Funny thing that inspired me last was the movie "Life of Pi". Where the Actor tells a story of animals on a boat, at the end
    it turns out that those animals were humans he was along with (not new to me but it seemed i forgot how to use it).
    Abstraction is a great eyeopener when you take this into your work. Take the story into picture and transform the
    root-concept aside (but still keeping the basic feel) from the first picture that you linked it to in your head,
    which is often not well thought out enough to make yourself happy. You can sometimes even abstract/push the whole
    idea a little notch to the side and that makes a totally new perspective, even small changes can make it
    "wonderful", so its NOT MUCH of brain-work what someone could be afraid of.

    For example you want to draw an old man on a bank feeding ducks (ugh, clichee).
    You have felt before that this scene should transport a sad lonely moody atmosphere.
    So you go on and draw it. It turns out its just an old man on a bank, feeding ducks, uh.
    Abstract that idea before you even start drawing and rearrange elements. Exchange the old man,
    exchance the ducks, the pond. Write the basic idea "man feeding ducks" down in case/fear you could
    forget it, and add or transform the elements. Maybe you want to add a political or whatever idea into
    it, like the old man is wearing buisness cloth, throwing money at starving ducks.
    You get the message....

    Dont start before you have enough clarity of your concept. Write it down first until you are happy
    with the idea, then begin drawing it.

    People tend to forget, over the massive amount of requirements (composition, shading, perspective...)
    that are needed to create a picture, what they really want to draw/create, THEN the fun flows again
    and you dont get a dirty feeling about what you do because you have fun in what you draw and
    it lacks not of drawing skills and the idea.

    Hope this helps a bit too, to get some "life" in the drawings.

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