Art block

  • Hey everyone. I haven't posted in a while because I've been in a major slump. I've been beating myself up so much that I have even told myself that I should give up because I don't have what it takes. I signed with an agency and after that I started putting so much pressure on myself to crank out majestic portfolio pieces every time I sit down. It didn't help when I had a chat with them and was told my portfolio is "light". It's even to the point that I think I'd be relieved if I was cut. I don't know what my problem is. I'm going to ruin everything for myself. Even motivational podcasts don't help. All I do is second guess everything I do, get unbearably frustrated, and then I can't draw. I hate that I'm posting this but I don't know what else to do right now.

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    @Lydia-M I have been there. I even stopped painting for fear of not wanting to create something bad. I am going to share with you what someone told me that helped and pulled me out of that slump- She said "give yourself permission to create crap" Just create. It took away a lot of the pressure I had been putting on my self. Don't quit, maybe just draw/paint for yourself for a while, do what makes you happy without the pressure of creating that perfect piece-find the joy again- I hope this helps a little

  • I'm in a somewhat similar slump. After finishing art school, I actually needed a rest from creating art. I had invested almost all my time to class assignments, and I used up all my creative energy towards those assignments. So once I completed school, I had already found new hobbies to replace my old hobby of drawing all the time. I just got so tired of producing class projects that I needed another outlet, but that's was when I lost the enjoyment of drawing for myself. It had become all about getting recognition for my work; I became a people pleaser to my fellow students and my professors. Now almost 4 years out of art school, I'm striving to regain my past enjoyment of doing art for myself and not for others. I've recently doubt myself alot, but once I get myself drawing, I get reminded that I'm still a good artist. I hope what I said helped even a little bit or even to let you know that your not alone in the struggle. 🙂

  • Pro SVS OG

    This situation is so common, there is not a single artist who does not go through it multiple times (if there are, I have never met one....). There is a book that has helped me a lot to minimize the impact of these thoughts. It is called "The war of art" by Steven Pressfield. It is a very short book, and I have read and re-read it already 3 or 4 times. To put it in a nutshell, it says that the artist faces innumerable enemies to creating art, and that the largest and most menacing are the inner demons (he calls it "the resistance"). So, if you get into the frame of mind that doing art is a war with yourself, and that you are sitting in your studio to do battle every day you will be able to keep moving forward.
    It is a bit extreme in a world where the artist is depicted as joyfully enjoying his calling and following his dreams of self-expression - yet I feel it is much closer to the truth than this rosy vision....
    Definitely, you are not alone in this struggle...

  • A view things to hold on to:

    2. Look back and see where you came from
    3. Be proud of the art you've made today, and believe that the art you make tomorrow is better cause you've learned some today.
    4. the journey of art is endless.

    when you don't believe me listen to this pro:

    Wish you lots of inspiration !

  • Pro SVS OG

    @Leontine I love the look back and see where you have come from part- thanks for the link

  • SVS OG

    Everyone has been there! You have to decide what is best for you. As was mentioned, giving yourself permission to create crap is important. For me, this is my sketchbook--I don't let people look through it when they ask, because that is my safe space for putting all my bad drawings.

    I'm attaching a quote that I've found extremely helpful, though it may not be what you need/want to hear right now:0_1486391449163_quote.png

    Sometimes, you've been putting out too much for too long and your "creative bank account" (as @Jake-Parker would say) is empty. You need to take a break and fill it up. Do something totally not art related. Take a walk. Eat out at a restaurant you've never been to. Wander the library shelves and flip through any book that catches your eye. Whatever. Give yourself a break from creating and just observe the world.

    I find that I also get really frustrated with my art when I'm at the cusp of a great surge in productivity and skill leveling-up. I think this is because our knowledge/understanding of how to create great art and our actual ability to do so do not progress at the same rate--one grows, then the other, back and forth. So what could be happening is that you have been working and seeing great art and learning a whole lot of new stuff, and you're at that really uncomfortable point in the cycle where your understanding and knowledge about what makes a great piece is far ahead of your actual skill level. Fear not! It is a cycle. Keep working and your skill level will catch up.

    I feel like I'm giving conflicting pieces of advice here. I'm just hoping that maybe ONE of them will ring true, and you'll think , YES! Thats my problem. 🙂

  • I agree with what's been said here but I will add something else: I constantly tell myself that one of the differences between a professional artist and myself is that a pro gets up and does this job on a schedule, not when inspiration strikes.

    As the author Herman Wouk quotes Faulkner and says "I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning."

    If your wall is "what do I draw"? Then search out sample artist briefs or maybe re-do scenes from books you love.

    If your wall is "I don't WANT to draw" then you just have to have a conversation with yourself. There are any number of days "normal" people don't want to get up and go to work. But they do it.

    Yes, being creative is different. And you don't want to hate your job because what would be the point then? But at the same time: I don't think any pro artist has NOT gone through what you are describing.

    Another thing to consider: I don't know what your process is but you can also give yourself "breaks" from creating portfolio pieces and doing client work and instead do studies (figure drawing, lighting, color, etc.). Yes, you are still "painting" but you are changing things up while also strengthening your skills so has to make the "hard" part faster, better, and more effortless.

  • What is "light" about your portfolio? Are they talking about the amount of pieces you have posted on your site, or is it content? Did they give you any clue as to what they want you to be posting on your site?

    I guess I am wondering if it has haulted your ability to get work through them or not, and if this is somehow their answer as to why they haven't given you anything.

  • SVS OG

    @Lydia-M Some lovely and really sensible responses already. I don't know if I can add anything that hasn't been said already, but I do want to say don't give up!!! - you CAN do it, and we know you can - we've seen your work, your 3rd-Thursday-winning, beautifully textured artwork. If you've done it before, you can do it again.

    I used to do commissioning back when I worked in magazines (usually crafters rather than illustrators, but the process of dealing with arty people in general is similar), and it was noticeable sometimes, when you commissioned a new person, who had shown amazing promise in their previous work 'for fun' - but once you gave them a specific, "professional" job - being paid to do it - it was like they froze up creatively and you didn't quite get the same work. Like a rabbit in headlights, they now had the job they had dreamed of, but didn't quite know what to do once they got there. I can only theorise that the pressure of responding to the brief, made them think differently.

    Now, you are going to hope that I have a solution to this! ...unfortunately I don't, but I don't think it's an insurmountable problem. Normally our response (in the commissioning role) is to guide them a bit more specifically next time, make the art direction really clear, and try and choose something that they will really like doing, that they connect with. Hopefully then they will warm up and do a better job - and then feel more relaxed, realise 'yes I CAN do it' and go from there.

    I agree with @lmrush's advice to give yourself permission to 'create crap', take the pressure off. Is there something, some vision - that you always wanted to draw but never got round to yet? Something not for your portfolio but something 'for you' make you feel again like you enjoy making art.

    Or - look at your favourite piece so far. Could you make a companion piece to it? Something where you can copy your own style, and previous characters, just in a new piece. Again just to get back in the groove.

    Create things, even if you hate it - it's okay, you're allowed to make art that you don't like - and you'll be learning along the way. Some of my worst pieces, I learnt the most from..because it was the process of making them where I made all the mistakes/dead ends that I then didn't make on the next piece 🙂

    As @Sarah-LuAnn said, you might be in that groove where you're about to level up and EVERYTHING you make looks terrible to your eyes. You have to push through that wall and just keep creating - you'll look back later and realise you've come a really long way. Keep us posted 🙂

  • The only thing I can say is I am someone who did give up on art for a long time(years) never picked up a pencil and now I really regret the lost time and experience. I feel like giving up all the time but I enjoy art to much now.

  • @smceccarelli This book is fantastic!

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