Fear of starting

  • Whatever your level of skill, when starting a new project, do you ever feel like you're useless at drawing, like you know nothing, you couldn't even draw a simple flower?
    This happens to me almost every time, especially if I don't have a clear idea of what I want to draw. And it can hinder me a lot... I have to fight to overcome it, find the right motivation and courage to actually sit down and start drawing. and then it's ok
    Please tell me it's not just me!
    What do you do about it? Does it get better with time?

  • Yes. This happens to me all the time. It can be very frustrating. Whenever I feel like that, it helps to do a few things that get me motivated and inspired.

    1. Watch someone else draw. Youtube is great for that. It seems to loosen me up mentally and get me excited to draw something.

    2. If I'm feeling uninspired sometimes I'll just make marks on a piece of paper until I start to see something.

    3. Recreate someone else's art.

    I'm sure there are a lot more good ideas but those were a few I thought of off the top of my head.

  • @Jonathon-B Your advice is spot on. I have a couple of tips that have helped me get past that block.

    1 Start drawing on a page, this just can be squiggles, squares and circles, or even tone and color. The act of doing something can help you get over the fear of starting something.

    2 Look at something you have drawn that your proud of. Look at it and tell yourself thats just the beginning of what you can do.

    3 Pick up any magazine or book, at random (this is important). Open a page at random, and draw what you see on either page. Dont just copy it, draw it from a different angle or lighting condition, This single exercise can be good for unblocking your fear. What you draw or paint does not need to be impressive its just practice and to motivate you to start.

    4 Ask yourself why you love to draw and paint, look at your blank page, and draw the something from you past that you really enjoyed. A day out, meeting someone you like or a scene from one of your holidays.

    5 This is my best all round tip, and always works for me. Get yourself a illustrated a-z dictionary or history. Something that has a list of visual things in them. This could be a cook book, book on thailand or france, It can be a book about anything. Then when every you have a block. open the first page, and draw what you see on the next page ( Don't just copy it, draw it from a different angle or lighting condition). after you have finished the drawing, mark the page. Then the next time your stuck. open the book to the next page and draw what's there, and continue. Not only does this help break your block, it gives you vital practices. It help builds your visual library.


  • SVS OG

    It does get better! It used to happen to me all the time, open to a blank page in a sketchbook and just stare at it forever. It still happens quite often, but it doesn't last as long 🙂 Jonathon and Steve have excellent ways to get past this, and i have just a few things to add that help me.

    1. Youtube is awesome for getting over this! The instructors here have great drawing videos, and a few others are Bobby Chiu, Sketchy Trav, Wylie Beckart, and Chris Oatly to name a few of my favorites.

    2. PINTREST!!! Yes, the hoarders of the net website is always loaded with amazing artists and inspiration. Here are a couple of my boards - https://www.pinterest.com/lirila/color-play-and-inspiration/, https://www.pinterest.com/lirila/works-of-art/, https://www.pinterest.com/lirila/sketchbook-inspiration/ (hope those work lol)

    3. Do studies - Don't try to copy a piece, try to break it down to the simplest form to still communicate the idea, without getting lost in the details. Pick paintings that you love, figure out what makes it special, or powerful, or why it speaks to you.

    One last thing...always always ALWAYS have a sketch book/blank paper close at hand. You never know when inspiration will hit. Have something that you can do a quick sketch, or written notes, or whatever will help you remember and get started!

  • SVS OG

    I feel like I battle this exact same thing all the time.

  • SVS OG

    I feel like this used to happen to me a lot more than it does now--though I am certainly not immune. I believe it helps when you get to know your process, and you become OK with the fact that it may be messy to start. I like to start with VERY loose thumbnails, and I know that they don't have to make sense to anyone but me. So working from the very general idea to the actual piece, I feel like I don't get overwhelmed about not being able to draw. Divide your process into reasonable small chunks, and then just do one manageable piece at a time.

    Another thing I do is I have a board on Pinterest where I collect interesting pictures I'd like to sketch--not just things from pinterest, but pictures I've come across on tumblr or facebook or while doing research. When ever I see a picture on the internet that I'd like to understand more--has great shapes, values, whatever--I pin it there. Then, when I have time where I'm thinking, "I want to sketch something, but I don't know what!" I open up that board and draw from the images I've collected. Once I've drawn them, I move them to another board so I always have new stuff on that board.

  • You are definitely not alone, when starting something new I almost always feel that way like I forgot everything I've learned. Some of the things that help me are:

    1. Watch some youtube videos of people I find inspiring
    2. Study something I'm weak at so that I am at least bettering my craft
    3. Copy another artists work to see how they identify forms and create character
    4. What I find myself doing a lot is doodling in my sketchpad and creating faces of people, this usually helps me relax and unwind so that I can think about what I would like to work on or what project I could create next.

  • It's a constant feeling I deal with, too. I find that if I have a personal project to work on it's a lot easier for me to sit down and work. Sometimes having every option open for me to do is overwhelming, but if I have some idea of what I'm working towards it's a lot easier. 3rd Thursday, Illustration Friday, and the "Of the Week" prompts at Conceptart.org are all really great ways to jumpstart a piece.

    Also, working on the basics, technical stuff, motor skills training stuff, etc., is a nice way for me to warm up and get my art juices flowing. That, and just making a habit of doing art regularly as well.

  • Wow, I thought I was the only one. I have seven books to illustrate and I've been on a severe artist block for months and seem to have doubts whether I should continue to be an illustrator. And when I do draw it's takes hours and hours just to be happy with my drawings. When I draw, its like I'm in a trance, time just stands still and then you realise you just spent 8 hours on doing just one character model sheet.

    My editor is starting to get impatient with me and my reputation is on the line for future work. My solution is just draw, draw and don't think too much, that has worked for me.

    I like what Jake Parker suggested in the 'children's book illustration videos' of finding an artist you admire and copy their work. Fill a whole sketch book of all the works that inspires you and then put it away. That has worked for me and I want to thank Jake for that. I hope that helps.

  • It's a common thing. I would say, just toss something down as a thumbnail. Random scribbles sometimes help. See what you can pull out of that. I also like tossing tracing paper over my drawings, and redrawing things. Sometimes I can add new things, get a tighter pose, etc. Just keep drawing. 😃

  • Back in 2013 I wrote a story for a picture book. Looking back on it now the story was only so so but I was bound and determined to make it into a Kindle book. I did the illustrations and figured out how to publish the book to the Kindle store using fixed position HTML code. It worked and the book went on to make a very small amount of money. Does the artwork look that great to me now...No! But the I did something which lead to something else, which lead to something else. Just start something, give yourself a deadline and meet that deadline. Working for yourself is very rewarding.

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