Overcoming Artist’s Block: 8 Ways for Finding Your Artsy Groove Again

By Milan Art Institute on May 5, 2021
Overcoming Artist’s Block: 8 Ways for Finding Your Artsy Groove Again

Photo caption: When you are experiencing artist’s block, it seems like those golden “aha” moments come few and far between. Image by mohamed ramzee from Pixabay.

Everything was ready. The brushes were laid out in order. The paints had been selected and squeezed onto the palette. The crisp, clean canvas was placed perfectly on the easel. Inspirational instrumental music played quietly in the background. Yes, everything was ready.

Then, blank. No movement. No thought. Just staring blankly at the crisp, white canvas.

You’ve been there. Maybe your music choice was different. Maybe you were sitting at the potter’s wheel instead of the easel. 

Or you may have been sitting staring at a blank pad of paper or blank word doc on the computer screen. 

Whatever your art of choice, you’ve had moments when you simply did not know what to do next.

You’ve run into the dreaded artist’s block, the killer of your artistic momentum!

Unfortunately, some artists don’t have the determination nor the know-how to power through their creative blocks. This stalls their work, and if the condition isn’t corrected, begins to demoralize them.

That’s why the heroic artists of today fight so hard against their blocks. 

If you’re on this page, then chances are you’re experiencing your own share of blocks. This short guide on breaking through your creative blocks covers what they are and offers you a few tips for pushing past them and on to artistic victory. 

What Is Artist’s Block? 

Also known as creative block, an artist’s block is a period of time when an artist is unable to create. Your mind is just blank. You don’t have any ideas bursting from your soul, waiting to be brought to life on your canvas or through whatever medium you use.

Sometimes you can just “push through” the block and get moving again. But there are other times when you’re weighed down with life and all that goes with it, and it just piles up like bricks forming a huge wall that blocks you from creating. There are times you need to dig deep and find out why you’re blocked.

Video caption: Creative block often manifests as resistance. This MAI video talks about how to overcome resistance and get your creative juices flowing again. 

Why Do You Get Artist’s Block?

Actually, there could be a variety of reasons why you have a creative block. Step away, grab a cup of coffee or tea, take a sketchbook, pen or pencil, and settle into a comfy place. 

Then just sit quietly for a few moments. Don’t panic. Just sit quietly and let thoughts drift into your mind. Write down or sketch out your thoughts. 

Do NOT analyze anything at this point. Simply let the thoughts flow into the creativity of your hands putting words or drawings down on paper. 

When you come to a pausing point, then you can start figuring out what may be causing the block. Here are some possible groups your thoughts may fall into.

  • Fear. Let’s face it. That’s an emotion that slams into everyone at one time or another. Do you have some huge life changes coming up soon? Are you afraid of what others think? Or afraid if people will like your art?
  • Boredom. Have you been shut away in your studio for weeks on end, plugging away at your art? Have you been creating the same type of art over and over again? Has life’s day-to-day doldrums gotten the best of you?
  • Over-thinking. Wow! Creatives don’t over think, do they? Yeah, remember, let’s be honest. Do you pull out some colors, stop, then switch them out, only to do that again, and again?
  • Not Trusting the Process. In the Mastery Program, we teach students that the creative process is just exactly that… a process. This idea is so fundamental to the design of this and other Milan Art Institute programs. Sometimes, the reason you lack new ideas is because you’re getting ahead of the process. 

These are just a few possibilities. You may have grouped your thoughts into other areas. But knowing the “why” behind the block is important. It will help you pick up the right tool to tear that wall down and to kick your creative work up a notch.

How Can You Get Past Your Creative Blocks?

Once you know what’s been the cause of your block, you can do something to bolster your creative thinking. You can pick up the tool that works best for each creative block. 

If you’re bored, maybe just getting up and going for a nature walk will get inspiration flowing again. If you’re fearful, you may have to face those fears and push through. For the over-thinkers, well, you just might need to give yourself permission to have fun! 

Here are a few ideas for helping your resolve artist’s block:

    1. Create a movie poster. Take that blank piece of paper, some drawing tools and begin creating a poster for your favorite movie in your own unique style.
    2. Pick a song and play it on loop. As you listen to it, paint an abstract from the thoughts and feelings you get as you listen.
    3. Take a black and white image and color it. Don’t let your left brain take over—just color.
    4. Get outside and do something active. Try activities, like bike riding, hiking, skating, or jumping on a trampoline.
    5. Get on the floor with your kids and build something with their LEGO bricks. You’ll tap into that childlike creative part of yourself.
    6. Say NO to any additional work and enjoy fewer tasks. Often, we involve ourselves in busywork to avoid facing the things that challenge us and that require us to change on a deep level.
    7. Do some right-brain activities. The right-side of our brain is an infinite well-spring of knowledge and power, just waiting to be tapped into. If you’re experiencing a creative block, then chances are good that you’re spending too much time in your left brain. 
    8. Just work through it. This might sound like the most difficult option, but it’s also the most effective. Pablo Picasso is quoted saying “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. Elli and Dimitra Milan take this sentiment to heart and often teach students to paint even when there’s nothing in your head. Once you begin to put paint to canvas, the creativity and inspiration will flow. So if when all else fails, just paint something. The rest will take care of itself. 

Final Thoughts About How to Overcome Artist’s Block

If we’re really being honest here, there are also times when you just need to shut up, show up, and create. It’s true! Becoming a professional artist means that this is your choice of work. Yes, it’s work you love. 

But it’s also work. That means you must treat it like a job and be willing to troubleshoot issues, including artist’s block, in order to work at the highest levels possible. If you’d like more tips on how to overcome your creative blocks, then think about joining our interactive Milan Art Community. Each month, you’ll have access to professional art workshops that will help you push past your creative blocks and on to becoming the culture warrior you’ve always dreamed of becoming.

Need More Ideas for Pushing Past Artist’s Block? Read On!

How Artists Create Powerful Symbols in Their Work

3 Tips for Creating Painting Sources from Dreams

3 Reasons Why Goal-Setting Is Important to Pro Artists

Milan Art Institute
Milan Art Institute

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