There’s nothing more frustrating than looking down at your sketchbook and feeling a wave of frustration pass through you towards the page you just completed. Maybe the proportions are wrong, maybe the colors you chose don’t work together, or maybe the vision you have in your head just doesn’t match what’s on the page.
This happened to me just the other day when I sat down to break in a brand new sketchbook. I couldn’t think of any ideas that I really liked, and even when I did I absolutely hated the three pages I filled. My frustration grew from the idea that I had “wasted” pages in my sketchbook, that I wasn’t a “good enough” artist to draw the things I wanted to, that my ideas weren’t “interesting enough”, etc. etc.
I knew I wasn’t the first or only person to feel this way, so I tried to find a way to work through it with a quick Google search to see if anyone had good advice. I was disappointed to see that most of what I found was “work through it so you can get better! just keep practicing! you’ll become a better artist…maybe…probably!” It’s true that practice does make perfect, but it’s hard to stay motivated to draw and get those practice hours under your belt when you’re honestly ashamed of the things you’re producing.
So, what’s a person to do?
GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD
The curse of over thinking can ruin even a great piece of art. I personally feel I make some of my best work when I have a show of podcast playing in the background to split my attention.
I know it sounds weird to recommend getting distracted to make better art, but I find that being hyper-focused on your work leads to nitpicking and dissatisfaction. Having your attention divided can encourage you to experiment more and acts as a source of easy inspiration if you feel stuck. I recently made an entire mini art book while binge watching Stranger Things!
And most of all, remember that hating your work is completely natural for an artist, especially one just starting out or trying something new. Remember the frustration you feel now and work towards strengthening your weak spots next time you sit down to draw.
Adding certain restrictions to your work is a good way to create a version of your idea that often times is an even more interesting piece that your original vision. Limit your color palette to only 2 or 3 colors, or make it into a contour drawing. Change the scale of your drawing to be really small and find a creative way to frame it within the page.
Putting interesting restrictions on your work challenges you in a fun way and breaks your loyalty to your head vision, making the experience more of an experiment than an endeavor to capture this one idea.
Similarly to the point above, sometimes switching the tools you’re using can change your approach to a drawing.
Maybe you got new fancy markers and are trying to use them for the first time. Frustrations are bound to come up, so instead of calling it quits for the day when it isn’t going the way you want it to, switch to an easier to handle medium like pencil to map out the rest of your drawing.
Once you’ve got the basics down on the page you can look into finding some tutorials for your original medium.
Maybe the idea in your head is proving a bit beyond your capacities at the moment. Instead of doggedly perusing that one vision, take a step back and gain some fresh inspiration.
Doubling down in times of frustration is when silly mistakes can happen, because now you’re so determined to prove yourself wrong that you’re not actually focusing on your movements.
I personally always love a quick scroll through Pinterest to find sketchbook inspiration, but use whatever works for you!
At the end of the day, a creative block is a mental block – only you can break through it.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you look at your process and progress in a different light and get you re-inspired to keep on making art.
Comment below your methods for getting through art frustration or creative lulls, and let me know if any of these tips help!
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