Blank canvas syndrome.
Is it as bad as a case of the Mondays?
No. It’s WORSE. Especially when you have to create something for an art class you’re taking, you have only so much hobby time to work with, or you are on deadline.
If you are sick (and tired!) of wasting your limited free time just staring at a blank page, here are 5 things I do to get the creative juices flowing again. -And you can do these too.
DRAW HOW YOU FEEL
First, this one here is how I got into abstract art in the first place. Art begins with emotion and feeling. We create to inspire. To evoke an emotion. Fire people up, or soothe them. Whether you are designing, sculpting, painting, or of course, drawing, we aim to stir or steer emotion.
Starting with your feelings is the very BEST way to keep your work authentic. Drawing from where you are is never a bad idea, even if your work ends up taking you somewhere you didn’t intend to go. And if working in this way is just the starting point to warm you up in your sketchbook, those things you create randomly when you don’t know what to draw will always be there for future fuel of a different work.
Once you get rolling on your sketch work, if you have parameters for a project you need to stay within, which means changing up what you are drawing, it is way easier to keep drawing and pivot than to come up with winning work going in cold.
Try going abstract if you are used to doing realistic, representational work. Or, if abstract is what you normally do, try getting really detailed. Work from your mood. See where it goes….
DRAW WHAT YOU SEE
If you are looking for things to draw, then draw what you see. The idea is just getting that pencil to move and fill in that sketchbook. Just get something drawn.
As you work, not only will you relax a little but you will also get more practice, and I don’t think there is an artist alive that doesn’t need more practice.
A great way to jumpstart your creativity is to take something ordinary and twist it on its head. Take any animal, bug, inanimate object, or mythical creature and re-invent it.
- Draw it to do something it couldn’t do before. Maybe a sloth with wings? A table with rotating tank wheels?
- Draw the inanimate to be alive and the alive to be inanimate.
- Create non-human things with human attributes.
- Mash up objects that are typically never put together.
- Create a house full of things you would never want to own.
The key here is again, not to create a masterpiece but to get yourself to thinking differently. If are thinking creatively, you are drawing creatively.
Perspective exercises are perfect for getting you to think outside the box and I don’t know about you but drudging through my perspective drawing exercises in college, I can always use the practice.
Drawing perspective when you are short on things to draw helps you get out of your own head as you think through the perspective exercise. Just drawing makes me feel better and perspective drawing always feels like I accomplish something.
DRAW WHAT YOU LOVE
Finally, try to make art less like work. We spend enough time doing things we have to do. Drawing, unless you are doing commission work, or it’s your 9 to 5, should NOT be one of those times. I make lists in the back of my sketchbook that I carry around because I always tend to think of cool things to draw when I am driving, or cleaning or doing something not anywhere in the same headspace I am in when I am drawing.
If you keep a list – or even a few – handy, you will have something to access during those times when creativity escapes you.
I keep a notebook in my bag, one downstairs, one upstairs and one in my car. It’s definitely kept my blank canvas downtime to a minimum. Once you get into the habit – “they” say 21 days – (although it actually can take much longer ) jotting your flashes of insight will be a no-brainer.
To summarize, if you take a proactive approach to your drawing practice and work in steps to counteract creative blocks you will be better able to head them off at the pass and get through the initial blank canvas hurdle PDQ.
Good luck and happy drawing!