Artist's Block?

"Lil' Goat" 5 x 7 Mixed Media on Watercolor Card
Original Sold

It's been a while since I've posted, although I've been painting most of the time since the last post.

I'm familiar with writer's block. The way I got around it was to force myself to write for a set amount of time each day, which was easier to do if I already had a story in progress.

Artist's block is different for me: there are plenty of things I want to paint, but I have trouble deciding which projects to devote myself to, because I hate to start paintings and not finish them. Daily painting still keeps me in practice, but if I don't find the finished product particularly inspiring, it makes it harder to start a new piece the next day.

Here are some ways I've found to get around this particular brand of artist's block:

Play with media-- the goat painting above actually features pomegranate juice as the purple in the background. (I actually squeezed a fresh pomegranate over the card out of curiosity, then let it sit for a while until I decided what to put on it.) Even if you don't make a masterpiece, experimenting can unlock your creativity for the next project. Trying a new surface can work too (canvas vs. paper, board, etc.)

Simplify your subject matter--focus on a single subject piece (as opposed to, say, a crowd piece or detailed landscape). Narrowing your focus can help tune out all of those critics in your head as you work.

Work in monochrome, focusing only on lights and darks with your chosen color.

Look around you and capture what you see:

"Fallbrook Garden" 9 x 12 Chalk Pastel on Flat Canvas
Email if interested in purchasing

In the piece above, I looked out my window on a wet winter day for something to paint. I liked the colors of the red earth and bright oranges I could see across the street in my neighbor's yard, so I worked from that view as a painting exercise.

Another way to beat artist's block is to "paint what you know." If you're pretty well-versed in a subject, there's nothing wrong with revisiting or continuing that subject. It's not a very groundbreaking concept, I know. A little success, however, goes a long way toward re-instilling your confidence in yourself as a painter, and may give you some new ideas for future works. Sometimes that good feeling that comes after what feels like a successful effort can spill over into a batch of new paintings, as you get back into working mode.

Got a tipof your own for artist's block? Share it in the comments!

To see more of my original paintings for sale on Etsy, click here:

Or, click here to see more Fallbrook inspired works:


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