Inspiration is a tricky beast.
We have all experienced a loss of inspiration at some point in our artistic journey. You remember sitting down and excited about your drawing session. Now, you've managed to lose all inspiration. You no longer feel excited about what you are about to draw, so you feel dull. Nothing jumps out at you. You feel scared.
This is typical artist's block. It's by far the most daunting thing to experience as an artist. Lucky for you, there is still hope.
Here are some easy ways to get around your art block. Find drawing inspiration once more!
1. Study Other Works of Art
When you feel like you need drawing inspiration, study other works of art. Absorb what makes an artist’s work great and what they can improve on. Doing this will develop your sense of what makes good art and give you some ideas to use for the next time you sit down to draw.
- Don’t restrict yourself to one type of art, either. Even if you only sketch realistic drawings, you could find inspiration in caricatures. Or, if you are a cartoonist, feel free to look at semi-realistic paintings. Sample ideas from all artistic mediums, and you will develop unique, original concepts.
If you begin to feel envious, stop.
The point of this exercise is not to feel inferior. If you find yourself getting down, move on to another technique. Art block occurs when we set expectations for ourselves that we cannot reach. Any sort of jealousy increases these expectations, making the art block worse. Do yourself a favor and try something else.
- If you want to go one step further with this trick, find a speed-drawing or drawing study on YouTube. Oftentimes, the person in the video will talk about their thought process while drawing. Listen to what they have to say, and try to put what they say into place the next time you draw. If they choose not to talk in their video, still look at how they draw and try to mimic their process.
2. Challenge Yourself
If looking at other pieces of art isn't getting your creative juices flowing, maybe you need a challenge.
Some of the greatest creative innovations are created through restrictions. Content on websites like Twitter and Vine can attest to this: sometimes inspiration takes place when you have less to work with.
So think of things to draw randomly while having one fundamental rule in place.
Try some of these challenges:
- Never take your pencil/pen off the paper.
- Draw random scribbles until you begin to "see" a form take shape.
- Draw an object in front of you upside-down.
- Draw something in front of you without looking down at your paper.
You may also want to use a random drawing prompt generator. If you enjoy making sense out of hardly related words, then this might be for you. But, if you are looking for something more serious, then this might not be the best option for you.
Or, you can take part in one of the many drawing challenges across the web. Commit yourself to however long the challenge is. Generally they last for 30 days, but some last as long as a full year. These drawing challenges simply want you to draw things that are the most meaningful to you. The idea is that, after getting you to draw anything, from a self-portrait to your favorite TV show, you'll have no problem sketching your ideas.
- Drawing Idea Generator
This is my favorite idea generator. Are you looking to make something completely unique and out-of-the-box? This idea generator will give you just that.
- Drawing Challenges on Pinterest
This board has a ton of cool drawing challenges to participate in. These drawing challenges typically last between 20 and 30 days, and cover a wide range of topics. Try one of these and get your creative juices flowing.
3. Get Silly
Perfectionism kills creativity. Having high expectations of your drawing skills can make you feel uninspired. This is because you are actively criticizing yourself before you even begin drawing. Even if you know this, it still may be hard to let go and let your imagination run wild.
One of the ways I combat this is to get weird.
No idea is a bad idea. The fact that you are having ideas is a good thing. Don't let your brain criticize you now. You need as many ideas as possible. This is so when you do sit down and narrow down your ideas, you have a lot to choose from.
- Draw something you've never drawn before. Have you ever drawn a highly-realistic drawing of a goat before? No? Try it.
- Don't judge yourself as you're going through the drawing process. That's counterproductive and will keep you stuck in your art block. You never know, you might even find a new favorite thing to draw.
- If the blank page is bothering you, make a mark or three. Give your brain some lines to work around. MaryDoodles on YouTube is the Queen of this, with her "What Will I Draw?" series. Draw a random scribble on a piece of paper and try to incorporate it into your drawing. It might turn out better than you had expected.
4. Ditch the Paper
Even after letting go of expectations, do you still not know what to draw? Never fear! There are still countless resources of inspiration outside of you. All you have to do is find them.
Go ahead and ditch the paper. You'll need to change your scenery for this.
Now, what you need to do is absorb any creative medium (other than drawing) and try to use those ideas in your next piece. There are many things you could try.
- Draw the People You See: Figure drawing is a great way to sharpen your art skills while finding your inspiration. The people around you have so many interesting quirks-try to capture their personalities on paper.
- Create an Online Vision Board: Use a site like Pinterest to pin as many interesting pictures as you'd like on a "vision board". When you feel like you are stuck inspiration-wise, you can always go back to it and become inspired!
- Go to a Museum: Museums offer a more comprehensive historical look at art in the past. Learn from what you see in a museum and try to implement stylistic elements in your next piece.
- Go Outside: Change your scenery and go outside for a bit. Sketching nature may provide you with new ideas for what to sketch once you get home. You'll find it to be simple and enjoyable.
- Watch a Movie: Watching movies is a great way to get inspired. Try to think of ideas to capture in your next piece, or make fan art and expand on the film's universe!
- Read a Book: Books are a great way to seek out inspiration. Try drawing what you imagine a character looks like, or what a scene looks like. Since books usually have very little images, everything you draw is entirely from your imagination!
5. Don't Force It
If all else fails, don't force it any more than you already are.
The worst thing you can do is associate these negative emotions with your art. If this is done, you may never find inspiration again. Take a break! It's okay to have an off-day. Come around when you feel more optimistic, and drawing will be more enjoyable.
Finding inspiration is a matter of lowering your expectations, and letting your thoughts run wild with ideas. If you do these things successfully, you should be filled with creativity. If not, we all have bad days. Just pick yourself up tomorrow and start anew with a clean slate.
© 2015 Nicole Grizzle
Kerryn on September 15, 2020:
I honestly cannot draw to save my granny and boy oh boy does she need saving.
Bob on November 12, 2019:
Why can’t I draw even a circle?
Yo yo yo on July 15, 2019:
Yo yo yo This is coolio why why why bro, why you no think I'm coolio?
Pikuhana on July 14, 2019:
I absolutely love drawing but ive had artists block for over a year now, I usually like drawing things from media i view or listen to but i have not found ANYTHING lately lol ill try some of the tips but idrk if i can find anything :b
Rae Bowman on December 31, 2018:
I love drawing, it's just that sometimes I can't find any inspiration. I mostly draw realistic people and have taken in sketching. I just need some good ideas.
to Brian on December 23, 2018:
you can carry it if you want to. artists ussualy do it so they can draw when they want to draw and dont miss out on ny strokes of insparation.
Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on May 04, 2015:
I can't draw but have heard that those who can draw should carry a notepad and pencil. I do carry scratch paper on which to write.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on April 16, 2015:
I love drawing but not objects. I am not talented in drawing objects at all. I can draw cartoons pretty well