How I Cope with Artist’s Block

  • -

How I Cope with Artist’s Block

We’ve heard of writer’s block, but have you heard about artist’s block?

How I cope with artist's block

Frightening as it may seem, the phrase is essentially the absence of creativity; something no artist wants in his life. Although it is not an unusual experience for an artist’s imagination to dry up – which can be frustrating, particularly if you are meeting a deadline or have to produce a piece for an occasion. The process of bringing back inspiration into your craft can be demanding but is well worthwhile.

I am also a writer (business books) but have never experienced ‘writer’s block’ but on occasion, I have experienced artist’s block, or perhaps it was simply lack of motivation? I had the ideas, but not the motivation (at the time) to keep the momentum. Being exceedingly busy in other aspects of my life (and business) didn’t help either. However, to keep my momentum as an artist, I have to overcome that block and push myself to get going. No one but myself could make the push.

Motivation to work and to find that creative way is something we can consciously bring back into our lives. When it comes to motivation, taking action and doing what needs to be done, it comes back to self-discipline and making that decision that TODAY I will paint/sculpt/write or whatever you do. Often in this case, it comes back to just starting. A bit like going to the gym; the hardest part is just getting there. Stop (like I was) making excuses why you are not painting/sculpting/writing and accept responsibility and make a conscious decision to get back on track.

If you factor out the time issue and motivation and you are keen and able to work, but your creative side has gone walkabout with no soon ETA, then it’s time to change that. Sure, you could sit around waiting for inspiration to hit you, or you could go looking for inspiration. Ditch any reluctance. Sometimes we have to create our own inspiration. There are a lot of ways and activities to do to beat creative block. The most difficult part will be how to get started. However, once you are already there, everything will be easy and achievable.

Here are a few suggestions for some activities to help you get over artist’s block and which I am happy to be sharing with you:


1. Carve out time and give yourself time to work, be creative and even just to doodle.

I love working with a scrapbook and just pencil sketching ideas. I do this all the time and sometimes even just flicking through these ideas, I remember an idea and feel stimulated and motivated. Often, just that act of sketching is akin to opening a window … you get a breath of fresh air and feel motivated to take a step out. Sometimes getting creative is setting the scene; music, good light and perhaps a scented candle. A little like romance, you want to set the mood.

2. Check out other art – go looking online at what others create.

If your subject is landscapes, then look at photos of landscapes. If your subject is dogs, look at images online of dogs. Visually stimulating yourself, I believe, is the first step. A colour may inspire you, or a shape or an emotion.

3. Warm up if you need to.

Just grab some paper, or old canvas and ‘play around’. No pressure, no commitment, just play with your medium, practice, trial something, or give something new a go. Who knows, you might even “discover’ something awesome.

4. Remember when you join any workshops or seminars, the facilitators at the beginning of the session typically come out with questions such as what are your expectations and visions when the workshop is through?

You can also ask yourself some questions that can activate your goals in life. I usually ponder on questions such as why do I paint? How did I feel when I finished a piece? These questions become my gentle reminder of how I am able to get to where I am and what is important to get you going.

5. I also find it positive to change and discover new environments.

Most of my time is spent inside my studio so that may have triggered the void sometimes. In order to find new insights, I take a walk around streets and places that I am not used to. It doesn’t have to be far, just a new exposure or road trip would do. With the world’s current advanced state, reconnecting with nature is also one way that guided me through the process very well.

6. It is also a good step to spend time with people with different perspectives.

Perhaps it would be good to talk to a fellow artists (stranger or friend) and just chat. Share perceptions, experiences and open yourself up to other ideas.

7. While there is a medium where we artists are definitely comfortable with, sometimes, it is best to try different ones too.

Exploring with new materials and tools may be a slow process at first but it will help you think thoroughly. You may develop new techniques from your new discovered medium that you can apply to your old expertise. Alternatively, you may discover something you can import into what you do.

8. Even if you have been in the creative industry for many years now, it is still not too late to take classes.

Oftentimes, a pre-arranged environment may just be the one you need to keep pushing. Assignments and real deadlines became my ultimate push to become creative in a limited time. It is also a good way to chat with people around. Seeing how they are doing and getting an opinion from them can provide you with real insights and healthy feedbacks. You may also even learn a new technique, try a new product, or open yourself up to something different and fresh.

9. Moreover, if there is one specific subject matter that you badly want to express in your medium but lacks the inspiration to do so, research it deeply.

It is important to be fully informed about what you are creating. It is essential to know how your subject matter will be significant for all types of people and for different time periods. Try searching the library instead of the internet as something different.

10. Do not forget to have fun along the way.

Most artists experience the block because of the pressure they put on themselves. Paint like a child using your hands on the canvass. Make sure to put some life and colour into your studio and avoid running it like a prison so you avoid the feeling of being imprisoned. In addition, grab some “me” time. Take a break from your work and make time for yourself. I have found out that if you are happy and healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually, then creativity will just flow naturally.

Read What I Love About the Art I Do.

Written by Donna Stone – Artist & Blogger

Donna Stone is a business coach with three decades of experience. She grew her own business from a garage to be a multi-award-winning operation that spanned five locations nationally. She shares this knowledge and expertise with clients to guide them in their own success. Donna works with business owners to help them build up their business with the view to selling it in – whether that be in 3 months’ time or 3 years’ time. Donna is a prolific blog writer, offering her blog writing services to business owners. She is also a five-times published author. Visit