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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Artist's Block?

    Hey all. I'm curious--what strategies do you guys have for overcoming "artist's block"? Please be more specific than "just keep drawing/painting, no matter what." That's extremely good advice. However, it's much easier said than done. What are some things you guys do to get the creative juices flowing? Thanks a bunch!

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    well usually you'd be specific on what is actually the problem then something might happen

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    I'm not quite sure I understand. Are you saying I need to be more specific about my problem in order to get responses? If so...

    My problem is this. I greatly enjoy drawing and I've now started digital painting. But there are those days when the ideas just don't seem to come. Perhaps my approach is too cerebral; I'm not really sure. Sketching whatever pops into my mind helps, but I'd much rather be creating something I'm really interested in. Can anyone offer any techniques for approaching the art differently? Some people have suggested working upside down, or switching media. I was just wondering what techniques you guys use on those days when your imagination decides to go bankrupt.

    In any case, drawing random junk daily is better than drawing nothing except the occasional masterpiece. It's pretty impossible to create a masterpiece without that daily practice, anyway.

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    When I cant think of anything to draw, I just study other stuff, like Anatomy, Perspective, etc. Why dont you do that instead???? It keeps you moving and improving! Dont stop drawing cuz you cant think of anything...You'll go nowhere with that kind of approach.

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    As part of your job - assuming you were to chase a concept design career, its part of your tools to overcome mental blocks - if you work purely for your own enjoyment, or have freedom of unlimited time limits, its fine to go do something else when yo get a block.

    But if its your job, you need to find the best ways of overcoming it.

    Mental blocks are more often than not, a result of you emptying your mental imagery bank, so that all you are left with is reused material, since if you go to the well too many times, the bucket will eventually come back dry.

    The best things that work for me are either researching more of what you are designing, seeing new designs will make your mind shoot off into new directions, or use a more abstract approach for finding interesting compositions, such as creating random value marks and finding form within their shades of grey - a "pick forms from the clouds" approach.

    These two should give you more than enough ammunition to keep going.

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    One of the things I noticed that happens is that a change in location provides the proper kick in the ass needed to get going again. I'll go down to this 24 hour diner down the road from me, or sometimes I'll take the fire escape up and sit on the roof. If I sit up there long enough, I'm bound to get bored and start doodling, which usually leads to something big enough to post.

    Mah Sketchbook <-- I like him.
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    you can check out art that inspires you as a start. what i do for random ideas in digi is just to randomly scribble and see the shapes it makes and work from there.

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    I umm, come here and get inspired most of the time.

    Or sometimes I start with random lines or shapes and go from there.

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    Work on anything just to get moving. What writers call a pot boiler. Since you mentioned that this answer is too vague, here's some suggestions:

    go do some life observation (ie. landscapes, still lifes, interiors, people at the mall, animals at the zoo, etc)

    do some studies of other work you admire

    select a scene from one of your favorite books and illustrate it as though it were a cover/interior illustration

    participate in one of the many CA activities such as the Daily Sketch Group, C.O.W., Word a Month, or Thunderdome callenges

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    Good advice, here, guys...if anyone else has any, keep it coming...

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    I have this comic book video that talks about some tips to get into the comic industry.

    There are some very interesting ideas presented, one of them by Marc Silvestri (Top Cow founder and reknowned penciller).

    One of them seems pretty accurate and it has helped me a ton.

    he says:
    The process of creativity is usually very difficult to find and you essentially have no control over it. The process of creativity begins with the process of work. Maybe only 10% of the time you draw are you creative. When you are creative, everything flows and things come easy. No questions asked and no answers needed. However, 90% of the time drawing can be actual work - regardless of whether you enjoy it or not. So 90% of the time you just have to sit and start working. Keep working and the creativity part takes care of itself.

    I know you are looking for more of an answer than the Nike approach but the Just Do It concept may not be the simplest approach but in the end, it is certainly the most accurate.

    However, here are some other ideas. When your 'artists block' keeps you discouraged and keeps you from actually drawing, just sit at your desk or wherever you draw and just sit there and stare at your sketchpad. Tell yourself that you don't have to draw if you don't want to BUT you also cannot do ANYTHING else. Out of sheer boredom you will start sketching something. From that point, you have begun the process of work and the rest starts to take care of itself. Momentum is one of the most powerful things in the world. To gain it, all you have to do is start. Never worry about the outcome - at least not in the very beginning. That is one of the greatest disadvantages adults have. They worry about the outcome before starting and that leads to fear, disgust, impatience, etc. My daughter doesn't even understand that concept yet and when she tries to stand and walk she doesn't know that she is supposed to FALL because she CAN'T walk. All she knows is to START TRYING to walk. Its a wonder why almost everyone in the world can walk.

    Also another reason you may have the block is your thought process ahead of time. I have read and heard of many ideas and spent more time searching for reasons WHY I get the block rather than how to fix it. I find that when I spend a lot of time thinking about the outcome or worrying that my current work will never live up to the amazing piece I did 2 days earlier, I am reluctant to get started. Don't worry about creating a masterpiece when you begin drawing. Just work and the masterpiece part takes care of itself.

    Also, dont worry about being good, great or amazing. Just try and suck a bit less each day. Its less daunting that way.

    In short (although to late for that) its not easy to overcome for everyone. I have written all of this and I know it by heart, but even after that I still have problems following this advice myself. That shows its hard.

    Just keep at it. Think about the alternative of quitting and it puts things in perspective for you.

    Either way - Good luck!

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    Mentler said something recently that really got me going and I thought I'd share it here as I think it helps a lot in regards to artist's block. Sometimes I find the concepts and philosophies behind art to be a bigger inspiration than anything visual. Anyways here it is:

    "This is just to loosen your thinking a bit and may seem a little trite but I think it helps me!

    When you think of a car you tend to think of the shape, make, model, color, year etc.
    That is not the most important thing about a car however!

    The thing that is important about a car is that it will take your places.
    It will take you from point A to point B ‡ we need to thing about where we are and where we want to end up ‡ where we need to turn, how fast we want to go, when we need to speed up, slow down and stop.

    Sure we are doing this in a vehicle but the vehicle itself is not the important part.

    The same is true of drawing the figure or anything else ‡ we need to not think of the vehicle/figure but of the journey we want are drawing instrument to take ‡ where we want it to start and where we want it to end up ‡ taking into account the ins and outs, ups and downs, twists and turns and all the bumps along the way ‡ don't just feel the bumps, think about why that bump is there, talk yourself through every turn, every change in direction the change in the weight of the line etc. Drawing is not about the thing you are drawing it is about the journey, the act of drawing itself <> DRAWING IS THE THING

    Hope this is as helpful to you as it has been to me!"

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    I like that

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    Very good advice here, guys. Thanks a lot for all the input. Creatix, what you said is very true, which is somewhat unfortunate. The creative process is so mysterious, even as it transpires before your very eyes. I like that idea of sitting before the sketchpad and forbidding yourself to do anything else...

    Some_guy, you make a very good point as well. Particularly when the creative juices run low, I tend to get so focused on the "what" and the "how" in my art that I totally forget the "why." That's a problem that I imagine most artists contend with. That's what truly makes interesting art...an imaginative "why."

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