Getting out doors or taking an art class are a couple of surefire ways to overcome artist’s block.

Getting out doors or taking an art class are a couple of surefire ways to overcome artist’s block.

Change habits to shake off artist’s block

From time to time, it happens to all artists — we walk into a creative block and feel as if we have lost our inspiration.

I’ve had periods in my life where I stopped painting for months, once for a whole year. It’s not that I lost my artistic ability; it just happened that the act of living got in the way of the art of living.

Once I picked up a pencil and started drawing again it was as if I had never stopped.

Here are a few tips to overcome artist’s block.

1. Get over the fear: Sometimes just being afraid of not being able to do something or failing at something can be paralyzing. Suck it up and approach your painting as if it were a job and just do it.

2. Set a goal: If you force yourself to paint a number of paintings in a certain frame time, it will get you working again. Who cares about the subject matter, paint your shoes, the furniture, your kitchen, your yard . . . a half devoured apple makes a remarkably interesting subject matter, particularly if you’re the one eating the fruit.

3. Change your media: Sometimes moving out of your comfort zone will do it. If you’re painting in acrylic, move to watercolour, if you’re bored of watercolour try sculpture and so on.

4. Look at art: Go to art galleries, look on line or buy some art books. Generally you will find something inspirational that will make you think, “I like that, I wonder what would happen if I did it this way?”

5. Go explore: Going for a walk somewhere you have never been with a sketchpad and a camera can do wonders.

Painting outdoors is one of my greatest joys. It’s not the painting that matters but the experience.

6. Keep a journal: Writing down ideas or collecting doodles and short sketches can be instructive on how our mind works. It can come in handy later when looking for ideas or personal language.

7. If all else fails take an art class. Working in a structured environment with other artists will guarantee to move you forward.

Along with that you generally will learn at a much faster rate than working alone, which in its self can be incredibly inspiring.


Artist Karla Pearce returns to the Times with her column, the Creative Edge. The Creative Edge will run on the second and fourth Monday of each month.