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Thread: The "Help me break artist's block" thread

  1. #1
    Fenn
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    The "Help me break artist's block" thread

    I'm making this for myself because I'm currently on a drawing drought but anyone else who needs motivation can jump in.

    It's been literally months since my last piece of work. I feel two things are blocking me: the busyness of my daily life is draining me and sapping my creative drive, and I am at a loss as to what to draw. The first isn't really in my control, but the second is because I've exhausted my favorite original characters to draw and I don't find realism or practice exercises (which I admittedly need) fun at all. Since I'm not pursuing art as a career I find it takes a back seat to everything else.

    Anyone have techniques to refill an empty inspiration tank?

  2. #2
    Senior Member PWhit's Avatar
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    You could always just doodle during class, just make sure it is a class you don't need to take seriously. I find that I make some pretty crazy ideas during my Marketing class.

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    It is worse when you don't know what to doodle... or EVEN WORSE when even your doodles look ugly.

  4. #4
    Your Friendly Ban Hammer-er Rio's Avatar
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    If you're really at a loss as to what to draw, why not enter a challenge or contest? They're usually specific as to what you should draw and enter. That may help you get a direction into what to draw and maybe even get your creativity going again.

  5. #5
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    Well... a challenge or contest sounds good, unless you're a newbie. To me it sounds like participating in olympic obstacle race without ever running before. Maybe it's not the best comparison, as not all participants of such contest have to be Da Vincis, and you don't necessarily have to win, but it still sounds kinda weird, and some guts to show your not-so-awesome-beginner's work are needed.

  6. #6
    Senior Member nisaren's Avatar
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    I agree with Rio. Enter a contest, ask friends or anyone for a request. Another alternative is to go look at all sorts of art, good and bad. I find just looking at art inspirational and motivational. The worst thing is to just stop drawing all together. I find it's sort of like working out, if you keep it up and maintain some sort of momentum it's easier than waiting for inspiration to hit. When I've been artblocked in the past, I think the main reason is because I was dissatisfied with the art that I was producing. I had all these great ideas but since my execution was poor I wasn't willing to sacrifice them by drawing them out.

    Your options are limitless in what you can draw. I'm sure you can think of at least ten cool ideas for scenes if you take a moment to sit down and write a little about them or maybe even make a thumbnail sketch or two. It may be painful at first but after a little while the ideas will come. After turning it on I find it hard to turn off. Don't save anything for later when you'll be able to do it justice because when you get to that point you'll have even more amazing ideas.

    Art block by nature is something that is completely in your mind. Professional artists are able to turn their creativity on and off at will and this is because they have practiced creating it regardless of their mental state. While you may not have any aspirations to be a professional artist, you can still train yourself to push through apathy and boredom. A well executed piece of art will look good regardless of whether the artist was inspired or not.

    If you are delaying because you are dissatisfied with the art you are producing, you are definitely not going to improve by waiting for the muse to come. If art is important to you then you should be able to find time for it regardless of what your career is. People can always make time for the things that are important to them.

  7. #7
    Fenn
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    Quote Originally Posted by nisaren View Post
    I agree with Rio. Enter a contest, ask friends or anyone for a request. Another alternative is to go look at all sorts of art, good and bad. I find just looking at art inspirational and motivational. The worst thing is to just stop drawing all together. I find it's sort of like working out, if you keep it up and maintain some sort of momentum it's easier than waiting for inspiration to hit. When I've been artblocked in the past, I think the main reason is because I was dissatisfied with the art that I was producing. I had all these great ideas but since my execution was poor I wasn't willing to sacrifice them by drawing them out.

    Your options are limitless in what you can draw. I'm sure you can think of at least ten cool ideas for scenes if you take a moment to sit down and write a little about them or maybe even make a thumbnail sketch or two. It may be painful at first but after a little while the ideas will come. After turning it on I find it hard to turn off. Don't save anything for later when you'll be able to do it justice because when you get to that point you'll have even more amazing ideas.

    Art block by nature is something that is completely in your mind. Professional artists are able to turn their creativity on and off at will and this is because they have practiced creating it regardless of their mental state. While you may not have any aspirations to be a professional artist, you can still train yourself to push through apathy and boredom. A well executed piece of art will look good regardless of whether the artist was inspired or not.

    If you are delaying because you are dissatisfied with the art you are producing, you are definitely not going to improve by waiting for the muse to come. If art is important to you then you should be able to find time for it regardless of what your career is. People can always make time for the things that are important to them.
    This is exactly what I am feeling like! Thank you! (and everyone else as well)

    Ironically, this thread helped me right away. After I posted it I said "well, I guess I'll go draw now..." so I did. Here is the breakdown:

    - Drew the head shape. Didn't like it. Erase, try again.
    - Finally get the head (shape) done. Tell myself I am going to roughly sketch the body.
    - Draw too meticulously and still don't like my design. Legs too long. Redo legs. Head too large, redo head.
    - Ta da! 1 hour later I have nothing but an incredibly basic body structure (which isn't too bad to be honest) and a face that is too young.

    This sort of thing frustrates me. I have trouble letting go, and try to get each line perfect before moving on. My art becomes more about trying to draw individual strait, clean lines of the right size than actual art. It's weird. When I started doing manga, even though I wasn't good, I had a lot of fun drawing. Also, even though the art was amateur and poorly done, I felt like I was getting exactly what was in my head on paper. Now, even though I feel more talented, my art is looking less and less like, well, my art!

    Oh, and what are thumbnails?
    Last edited by Fenn; 01-19-2011 at 05:09 PM.

  8. #8
    999 Knights Member Matt's Avatar
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    I found a thread on ConceptArt a few days ago that was all about "breaking artblock" and "staying motivated." (which are exactly the same thing)

    One user's method was this: "I look into the future. I see a cubicle. That scares the s--- out of me enough to start drawing."
    Another's: "I know that there are thousands of prodigies and geniuses who are really good at art, and they're practicing all the time. Unfortunately, they want the same jobs as I do. The only chance I have is to practice more, and better than they do."

    Sorry I can't find a direct link, but if you poke around ConceptArt for awhile, you'll definitely find something to motivate you.

    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/

    The most accepted method is just to let go of all your constraints: anatomy, line weight, first-time perfection, etc. and just draw whatever the heck comes to mind. It won't look good, usually, but it has a weird effect on your mind. USUALLY chases those pesky art blocks away.

  9. #9
    Senior Member nisaren's Avatar
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    I'm glad you found something worthwhile in this thread.

    Thumbnails are just small loose drawings that you can do quickly to get an overall sense for how a piece of art will look. In my past art classes we were required to have at least three thumbnail sketches (named their small size - like a thumbnail) before we started on the final piece. Keeping it small forces you to focus on the overall scene and not details and it also allows you to do them quickly so you can explore different ideas, views, poses. But I find myself really able to visualize scenes better if I take some time to write a small description.
    Last edited by nisaren; 01-24-2011 at 07:14 PM.

  10. #10
    Fenn
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    Quote Originally Posted by nisaren View Post
    I'm glad you found something worthwhile in this thread.

    Thumbnails are just small loose drawings that you can do quickly to get an overall sense for how a piece of art will look. In my past art classes we were required to have at least three thumbnail sketches (named their small size - like a thumbnail) before we started on the final piece. Keeping it small forces you to focus on the overall scene and not details and it also allows you to do them quickly so you can explore different ideas, views, poses. But I find myself really able to visual scenes better if I take some time to write a small description.
    Wow thumbnails sound fantastic. They're quicker and simpler so maybe they'll help me cure my perfectionist obsessiveness with every single line. Are they usually actually thumbnail size or just small?

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