How to Overcome Artist's Block

Four Parts:Changing Your RoutineBe Inspired By Places, People and EventsDealing with Emotional BlockageJust Do It

Imagination and creativity can dry up leaving an artist with a blank canvas. Here are some tips to get you motivated and eager to get back into the studio.

Part 1
Changing Your Routine

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    Shake it up. Stop and slow down. Feeling hurried and pressured does not help the creativity process. Take the time and go somewhere. Get outside and in nature and relax. Inspiration will find you when you are ready.
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    Create a few projects at a time. If you get stuck or bored with one, you can change to something different. Put challenges in your work to keep you interested. Juggle your projects to keep you busy.
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    Change mediums. If you paint, start working with clay. If you create collages, try pen and ink. Explore with new materials and use new tools. Look at shapes, rhythms and color in your life and outside your studio walls. Take a camera and just shoot what you find appealing.

Part 2
Be Inspired By Places, People and Events

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    Visit a garden, a favorite place or have a picnic. Go hear live music. Plan on taking a few days off if needed. Sometimes just a shower or a good book can do it. The idea is to walk away and close it down.
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    Research intensely on a subject that you want to create. Go to the library or book store.
    • Visit a big book store and go to the art or photography books section. Sit on the floor and peruse to your heart's content.
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    Seek out other exhibits of art that really interest you.
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    Enroll in an art workshop. Paint, draw and create with other people around you. Ask other painters what they think of your current work but in moderation. It just might be what you need. Look for another way if you feel there is a design problem.
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    Find something in your daily life that you want to draw or sculpt. Take photos of everyday things around you. Then go back through them and perhaps doodle aspects of those photographs.
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    Find a muse. It can be a person or an animal. Whatever inspires you.

Part 3
Dealing with Emotional Blockage

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    Understand that you might be feeling intimidated with a difficult design problem. If this is the case, step back, study it and try to work through it slowly.
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    Take more care of your personal health. Neglecting your bodily, emotional and spiritual needs cramps creativity. Spend a little more time on the masterpiece of you.
    • Work-out at a gym or take a run at a park. Go for a very long walk. Get good and sweaty.
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    • Eat some carbohydrates and protein. It can give you some much needed energy. Lots of people exist on coffee and sugar when working, which is stupid. You need to feed yourself in a healthy fashion.
    • Sleep and you may wake up to find yourself working again. Try getting up earlier than normal; for some artists it seems to work.
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    Deny that fear that your project has to be perfect or not exist at all. It does not need to be perfect––which is what exactly anyway? Give yourself permission to do "bad art" which is better than no art at all. Much art comes from persevering and learning, not from thinking. Start dabbling with that canvas.
    • The fear of making "bad" art can come from comparing your art to others. Instead of doing this, compare your art to previous projects to see how much you have improved. Little by little, you will improve and make the changes that feel right for you, not hemmed in by what you think others want your art to be.

Part 4
Just Do It

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    Throw some paint on a canvas. Release any emotional stress that might be in you. The important thing is to wake up in the morning and jump into something. Start cutting paper in designs or prep a canvas. Get out of a rut by doodling or combining ideas. Look at some of your past projects.
    • Just draw or doodle for a bit. Swirls, clouds, bubbles, word pairings. Eventually, you may find you've created a masterpiece without even trying!


  • Most painters and creative people go through some blocks. This is normal. It does feel scary at times! Don't compare yourself to other artists. Many artists consider blocks as very important in the creative process. Some artists just say hard work and heavy research on the subject helps them but everyone is different.
  • Don't over-think a project. It can cause undue stress. If you are feeling tension in your neck and shoulders, then get a massage.
  • Listen to new music. Try something you never heard before.
  • Get more social. Bringing people into your life can add a spark you might need.
  • Go see a slew of movies but only on big screen. The visual pictures might trigger something. You need to get your brain firing again.
  • If nothing is working for you, try to list your habits that are making it harder for you to work. Do you procrastinate until the last minute? Do you have an underlying source of depression? Work it out with therapy or even medication if needed.
  • Listen to music as it can give you so much inspiration!


  • Don't start thinking about whether a piece will sell or not. Just do it for yourself.

  • Don't start drinking/doing drugs to regain your abilities. It just makes you feel depressed and uncreative.
  • Don't tell anyone your struggles at first. Just let it go.Talking about it to people can make it "real". You may also get much unwanted, unhelpful advice that can cause you to feel worse rather than reassured. Embrace your blockage instead!

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Categories: Ideas and Inspiration | Visual & Written Media