PE: Your Worst Enemy
|16 min read
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Art Block by ResoluteAssassin
Courtesy of ResoluteAssassin
Yeah... I guess you've heard of him...
And even if you haven't...
There was at least one time where you had him coming your way...
And he comes back over and over...

ART BLOCK!!


This is the most common name given to that certain time where artists just sit there and become unproductive against their own will. Yes... against their own will! Artists have art block and writers have writer's block... it's still the same thing, though. It must be avoided at all costs, but once it arrives, it doesn't leave until it is satisfied of seeing your misery. Minutes... Days... Weeks... Even up to months! Art block claims the productivity of thousands of artist at any given moment and there's no escaping its ensnaring tentacles.

Oh yes... search up "art block" on deviantART and you'll find some rage comics. I picked a few favorites for me to share that actually go hand-in-hand with this article! ^__^

Well....

Maybe I'm exaggerating just a tiny bit, but it's still awful to have art block and there will be a time when you'll experience this if you haven't just yet. Like the common cold, it incurable but its symptoms can be prevented.

This article bases on my opinion that art block comes in various ways. Soo... I decided to add in to countless articles on how to prevent it from coming. Remember that he will come back, but the main focus here is to stop him from coming back soon or sticking around for too long. I wrote it pointing out some "variations" of art block.

Onwards to face your worst enemy!

Idea Deficiency


Today you get up and progress through your morning just like you have yesterday and possibly that last two weeks, knowing that you have a drawing session planned. But what are you gonna draw? A car? Naw... You did that last week. How about your oc? You shake your head. Your oc as too much art already. Now... you are lost and it seems like you're going to have to cancel the drawing session because of it.


Courtesy of TerriblyTerrible

This could be the most common form of art block and is the definition most people think art block is.

With idea deficiency, you have no idea of what you're going to draw. Of course, you know there are endless possibilities when it comes to drawing stuff. However, you want the perfect idea for that time. If I told you to draw a flying 1954 Chevrolet Corvette on a the Great Salt Lake when you have art block, you're definitely not going to draw it. It's an idea, but it's not the one for you. If you did try drawing it, it may or may not come out nice.

This art block as the potential to actually last for weeks. However, most of that is because the more time you spend not drawing, the harder it is to get back onto drawing. Just like exercising. You stop exercising, your body will get used to it. If you're going on hiatus, you'll probably still want to continue drawing. It'll make your comeback from hiatus much easier.

To stop it from coming:
It's a good idea and you have a place where you have your ideas written down. I mean... have a notebook or a notepad file where you have a list of ideas that you want to draw, but now may not be the time you feel you can draw it. Not only would this little "idea bank" be useful for withdrawing an idea, but you might have some time to just sit back and enjoy reading the list. Ideas come and go, but with this bank, you'll garantee to see that idea again and possibly elaborate more on it.

Now... you will end up getting this art block some time. But to keep these periods as short as possible, try to draw on a regular basis that you feel comfortable. If you draw everyday, keep drawing everyday. If you draw once a week, keep drawing once a week. Even on hiatus. Once art block arrives, if your hand says "Do something now!" because you got used to its schedule, then it will try its hardest to do something and maybe you're art block will last up to that moment.

If it came:
If you have this art block, I suggest one of two things:
--Draw anything. Go to your favorite image search engine and draw a picture from there. Screw copyright and draw on your notebook. (Don't publish it, though.)
--Distract yourself. Maybe drawing isn't what you should do to get an idea. Do something else. Anything. Chances are... you could score an idea...

As a bonus, maybe you should draw a flying oldies Corvette over a water. Tell me how that goes if you do decide to take this challenge. ^__^

Satisfaction Not Guaranteed


You sit in front of your canvas and decide that now it's a good time to start with your drawing session. You begin with your first sketch, but it will never be completed as you feel dissatisfied with how it turned out. You try once more, only to fail once more. For some reason, nothing seems to be coming out right. Maybe you're just not in the right mood or something. Whatever it is, now is not the moment to draw anything.

Art Block by Antiiheld
Courtesy of Antiiheld

This kind of art block tends to sprout among new artists (like myself)... especially those that have friends who are so much better than they are (like myself) and want to be just like them (like myself).

Art block of this kind is heavily influenced on how much confidence the person has on their own skills. It's obvious someone new to the medium is going to feel upset with results that don't look nice. Perfectionists would also feel the same way too. If you're not happy with your skills, then you're gonna find a time that you're not going to make anything because you'll just keep deleting all of them, silly.

Another factor that goes into this is your attitude. A person how has had a bad day is likely to keep having it is they're angry. If you win the lottery, you're gonna be happy, even though the money isn't due to come until two weeks later. Attitude definitely has an impact on performance. Distractions and fun activities will calm you down to the point where you're you again.

To stop it from coming:
Be proud of your artwork. That's pretty much all I have to say here. Maybe you aren't that great in making plushes, but someday, you'll be like that plush maker you've always wanted to be! Skills only improve if you want them to.

Also, try to stay positive. It's easier said than done and life is annoyingly good at making you mad, but if you see life in a more cheerful way, everything will be more tolerable to some extent.

If it came:
Stop drawing and do something else. Actually, if you keep trying to do something that brings bad results, you'll just make it worse. Try again later, but not now. Calm down, look at how "horrible" your first artworks were, feel better about yourself... then you can continue.

Remember... art is supposed to be enjoyable, both during the process and the results.

Inspiration Wave


Out of nowhere, a tsunami of happiness and stuff happens to hit you. TIME TO DO SOME SERIOUS DRAWING!! You scramble for your drawing supplies, your sewing machine, or that notebook and plop yourself, ready to make the magic happen before your eyes. However, just as the wave of inpiration came, it leaves you. The next thing you end up doing is putting everything away. So much for inspiration.

serious drawing session by snaximation
Courtesy of snaximation

Okay... this art block is strange. It happens on a moment basis, but if it keeps happening, it could evolve into one of the first two versions depending on the characteristic it is based upon. It's hard to figure out exactly why we get it specifically, but my guess is that it has its roots on motivation rather than inspiration.

Inspiration is the time where you get ideas whereas motivation is the reason that compels you to complete a task. You may have many ideas, but you may not feel like drawing in the first place. Something all of a sudden tells you, "This is not a good idea." For some reason, you feel that it's true and you know just sit there saying, "This is not a good idea."

Preventative Measures:
Maybe you could... uh... make your art sessions less boring? It can be hard to draw when you know that there are other fun things to do at the moment. Offer commissions. Find ways to compel yourself to draw more.

Art Block Medicine:
Try to remember why you wanted to draw, not what you wanted to draw. If that doesn't work, either draw something or give it because it could grow into something else.</b>

Again, since this happens the moment you finally are ready to make art, its the most benign forms of art block. It's not going to go on for weeks and weeks on end like all the others. If it feels like it happens everyday, then it isn't this kind. You have some other issue.

Retrieval Error


You don't know what happened, but math class (well... your math class daydreaming) gave you a lot of ideas. You can do a flying pony, a futuristic city, or a parody of that song you keep hearing on the radio! So many ideas float in your mind, it's time to let these things come to reality! First sketch comes in and this sketch turned out horrible! You try again and this time, you don't exactly understand what you found so cool in the ideas you had. It seems like the ideas are TOO HARD for you or something. You need to make the picture, but you can't to do it right.

Art block by BloodlineV
Courtesy of BloodlineV

You can say this is the combination of the first two forms of art block. Here... you're not happy with the results and you seem to run of ways to get that idea out of your head and into something else. What's up with that?

To reword it... Has it ever happened to you when someone asks you a question you know the answer to, but no matter how hard you try, you can't say the answer. You hop around and say, "I know this! Don't tell me!" while you're just thinking of how to say the answer. "It's on the tip of my tongue!" This is actually know as a retrieval error. You effectively get the answer, but part of it becomes lost in the process and you're left with something and you know should come out. It's only when you have enough information given back to you will you say it.

This is what is happening to you, but in a different way. Maybe you are soo awesomed by the idea you have, it's way to hard to draw it. When you draw it, you're like "This isn't what I imagined" and proceed to trash the picture because you don't like it. In reality, you just can't find a way to appropriately get this picture down. Sometimes, all it takes is a reference or a quick look at a tutorial will you say "Oh... that's how I draw noses!" with excitement.

Preventative Measures:
Practice on your current skills. You'll never know when the day will come where you come up with an idea and will blow your mind. It's best to be prepared.

Art Block Medicine:
If you happen to get this... try looking through your past art, your tutorials or explore some images on Google. Maybe you finally have info coming back to you that you'll finally continue.

Remember... it's on the tip of your tongue. You know it, you just need to retrace your step backwards to know where you're heading to. x3



And those are the four main types of art block occurences, how they come at you, what you can do to avoid them, or just find a way to get out of it should you happen to get it. Art block is intense, isn't it?

Now I invite you to share your experiences with art block.


What solutions do you have?
How do you behave when you have art block?
Do you agree with the article or do you have other ideas?
Whatever you have that deals with art block...
SHARE IT!



Just remember:
Art block is one story...
Laziness is something totally different!





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Creating Space in Traditional Art
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Comments68
anonymous's avatar
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Tora-chan123's avatar
Tora-chan123Hobbyist General Artist
Actually my art blocks are completely different and last up to half a year!
When I get this nasty and absolutely trolling brock I'm just like: nah... I can't draw grey hair, there has been a character with grey hair before from another artist... Same goes with eyecolour, height, clothes and even gender of this character i want to draw!
The problem is that I don't know what to do about this so I am concentrating on Gijinkas, thogh I really want to draw my own characters...
rckspiritwilly's avatar
looks pretty good , i apprecite the tips    cool beans
rebma97's avatar
rebma97Student Traditional Artist
I tend to get art block for months at a time, occasionally producing minor doodles that I'm not very happy with, or they're too insignificant to post at all. Worst time I've ever had it was a year or so ago. I was sitting at my desk for about an hour and a half, staring at a piece of blank paper intensely, and then literally flipped my desk and started throwing pencils around my room in a fit of rage before plopping down on my bed and playing Pokémon and The Legend of Zelda for a few hours.
goldnretriever's avatar
goldnretrieverHobbyist General Artist
That's some intense staring you did to get such rage. x3 Video games usually do help in distracting your mind for a bit.
Just trying drawing and change your mood as far as your sketches go.
The-Lost-Hope's avatar
The-Lost-HopeStudent General Artist
Nicely written and well conveyed. I'm stuck in an art block right now. I know I have art to make for a couple people (gift/requests) but I can't find any motivation to do them. :( Normally these art blocks break in around a week if not less but I'm having trouble breaking this one. I just know how hard it'll be to fail again at anatomy. 
goldnretriever's avatar
goldnretrieverHobbyist General Artist
When drawing, anatomy can be one of the biggest challenges for an artist, no matter what the subject is. However, anatomy is different from person to person. Some will find it perfect while others will mention that you have proportion issues. My suggestion to break the art block you might have is to draw sketches. Draw all kinds of sketches and see where that takes you. If you have issues knowing where to start, just find some pictures on the internet to copy from (relating to what you can draw, of course).

I'm glad you liked the article! ^__^
The-Lost-Hope's avatar
The-Lost-HopeStudent General Artist
Thanks for the tips and no problem, you wrote a good article. :)
goldnretriever's avatar
goldnretrieverHobbyist General Artist
It was my pleasure helping deviants. ^__^
The-Lost-Hope's avatar
The-Lost-HopeStudent General Artist
Good to hear :) Keep it up ;)
goldnretriever's avatar
goldnretrieverHobbyist General Artist
Thanks!
The-Lost-Hope's avatar
The-Lost-HopeStudent General Artist
You're welcome :)
Tianura's avatar
TianuraHobbyist Traditional Artist
Whenever I get artblock, I draw some modern art. Whether they're copies, or just something, somewhere behind there in my mind... believe it or not- modern art makes it go away.

I guess it's because modern art doesn't show us reality as we know it, but more as we perceive it. If we can perceive our world in our own way, art block is just an hour of maths class (or any class you may hate).
goldnretriever's avatar
goldnretrieverHobbyist General Artist
Yes. I've heard that modern art tends to be very expressive when compared to other forms of art. You are right about the fact that modern art is a perception-based view of the world, but it also forces you to try something that is completely new. When I think about things (like what the next story will be or what I'm going to draw, I end up doodling on notebooks. It's kinda like some "abstract way" of making my hands do some jogging while I think. x3

It's nice to know you have a way to make art block seem like a boring school class. It isn't easy getting rid of art block, but I guess if you have had art block plenty of times, you'll know how to defeat it. ^__^
Vikavilewell's avatar
VikavilewellHobbyist General Artist
I like to write and draw. But I'm shy about showing anything I do. 
  When I got art block, I used to get so angry with my own hands... *sigh*. Now I just sketch random lines and take a look on the lines, trying to see if I can get an idea out of them... The shape... Something crazy always comes out. 
Lately, I've done only sketches. Didn't finish anything: I've had all these types of art block! I'm not happy with my skills. I want to show people something good. I want to hide in the shadows and train, train, and develop my skills until I can come with a masterpiece. (I've lost hope now, eh...) I look at the sketches and say 'Nah. I'll just store these in my computer and finish it later.'' And I never open that canvas again. Sweating a little... 
   It is a bit different if writer's block... I usually have ideas, but they look like shadows to me. Or I'm too lazy to write them down. Well, when the writer's block come, I just go do something else, I don't try to force. I'm not obsessed with writing as I'm with drawing. Um 

Sorry for bad English.
goldnretriever's avatar
goldnretrieverHobbyist General Artist
Well... My suggestion to you is actually to not be afraid to show off your talent. Maybe it may not be the best and maybe you might not be too happy with what you make, but it will sure be appreciated by someone. It's a really great experience when you have people praise your work that you initially thought would be stupid. I even had my terrible moments where I thought I wasn't going to be able please anyone, but that's because I felt I didn't have a lot of watchers. x3

Again, show off your creativity. Hiding it will just make it worse because deep down you'll always have the urge to show off. Suppressing the urge with negativity tends to impact your own drawing skills.

Thanks for reading! ^__^ Don't worry about your grammar. I have bad English when I'm not at my very best. x3
Vikavilewell's avatar
VikavilewellHobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the advice :D
goldnretriever's avatar
goldnretrieverHobbyist General Artist
I'm glad I could be of help.
MarcoEmma's avatar
Walking, looking at art (especially art of my characters!) and listening to music help a lot for me. I have had writer's block a few times, but it was easily cured by one or more of the remedies that work for me. :)

As for drawing block... I guess there was one time when I had an art block for months. I have no idea what caused or how it went away, and I guess I didn't care much since I still had writing to keep me entertained. :o Well, even though I am out of art block for now, I don't draw that much. I have plenty ideas, but I spend all my time writing and browsing dA. :XD:
goldnretriever's avatar
goldnretrieverHobbyist General Artist
It's nice to have a number of remedies up your sleeves in case art block arrives to terrorize once more. It's recommendable and even I have some myself.

Oh yes... I do have a couple deviations I know I should post, but I don't because I get carried away with replying to a lot of comments and replies. I guess you could say that comments serve as a distraction from getting more work out. x3 But I just can't help but reach out to the commenters. ^__^
MarcoEmma's avatar
:nod:

Haha! :XD: I love talking to the people who comment on my stuff! You become friends with them it just get to know them better. :) 
FreakieGeekie's avatar
FreakieGeekieHobbyist General Artist
There's one good thing about being a jack-of-all-trades: if I can't come up with an idea to draw, I crochet, sew, or write. Very rarely do I have a block for all of them at once. Though sometimes I have ideas for all of those at once. That's when things get interesting.
goldnretriever's avatar
goldnretrieverHobbyist General Artist
Yes... even though you may not be excellent (as a jack-of-all-trades), but there's always something fun happening when you find that one skill got a bit boring for a moment. x3 I have that happen to me with drawing, writing, and some fiddling around with a DAW. ^__^
FreakieGeekie's avatar
FreakieGeekieHobbyist General Artist
Well, I'm excellent in two of my skills, sewing and crochet. But only because I've been at them a long time.
BlueTreeKoBird's avatar
BlueTreeKoBirdHobbyist Photographer
I always use to suffer from art block, or just lack of inspiration sometimes. But I've started to draw every day now and have been doing so the past 30 days or so =) But these suggestions are really helpful in case the block ever appears again! Thank you! :la:
anonymous's avatar
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