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Do We Need to ‘Deal’ with Art-Blocks?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Art blocks, despised by all artists alike, looks somewhat like this: you are staring at a piece of paper with a disappointing sketch. You try extremely hard to draw some inspiration that might lead you to produce the art you once were able to. But your brain giving you the big ol’ blank. It feels like you are stuck in a cocoon that will just not open up. You just don’t want to deal with this right now. It used to come easily before, like a flow, what happened now?

You type ‘art block’ on the search box and press the enter key. Thousands of results show up, describing how to ‘cure’ an art block or how to ‘deal’ with it. But what does it actually mean to be going through an art block? Yes, we know the basics, art block is an inability to produce the desired artwork. But doesn’t this definition sound too vague? So, I browsed away on the internet for hours in the quest of finding what art block means. And guess what I observed: every artist had described what it means to them differently. Because why not? Art is a form of expression and each artist has a different way around it. So, it makes complete sense that an art block can have different causes and solutions for different people.

Now when it comes to me, I have faced art block stages hundreds of times in my art journey. One incident I very clearly remember is when I tried using watercolors. I kept trying and trying but it seemed too hard and the art looked like a five-year-old painted it. I started to doubt myself and my abilities. I have created some very impressive art before, why is not working anymore? Turns out, I was just overthinking. Watercolors just aren’t my jam. I can not be an all rounder of all art mediums. There are some mediums I excel at and at some I don’t and it is important to accept that. Moral of the story: when you face minor setbacks, give yourself some time to introspect before jumping into the self-loathing stage.

So, it is established that introspection is important while you are trying to tackle an art block. Making art is a deep and personal process. While doing so, you feel a deep and indescribable connection with the art. It is portrayed very well in the movie ‘Soul’ when Joe Gardner enters a flow state while he plays the piano. If you can’t enter this state, or feel like even the effort to start the process is too much, then you must think about what might be the issue. This could be anything, maybe some diversity is missing in your work, because you might be bored of working in the same style. Maybe you are sick of the routine or the work ethic you have established. Or maybe the routine works perfectly fine but you are tired and just need a break. Listen to your body and mind.

Another important thing to consider is your art related content consumption on social media platforms and its influence on you. The content available online ranges from tutorials, simple posts to time lapse videos and so on. You can use them to grow in your respective field of art, in this way the content becomes extremely helpful. But sometimes refraining to compare with the art you see online is hard to resist. You might feel compelled to produce more and better art to be accepted as a ‘professional’ in the community.

This can steal the pleasure of the process of creating art. Unhealthy competition is one of the main causes of art block. In that case, you must remind yourself that sometimes what you see online is not the entire picture. The person on the other side might have been practicing religiously for years to achieve the level of creativity. Or you might be undervaluing your own art. While other people look in awe at your work, you might be dismissing their complements. But please remember, art is subjective. Your art is just as pretty as the ones online. It’s the effort that counts, not the number of ‘likes’ you get.

Remember to be patient with yourself, no matter how unbearably annoying going through an art block is. You don’t need to be harsh on yourself or force yourself to create art. If you feel any strong emotions developing, like anger, sadness or guilt, by all means let them out and let them be. A good rant always helps! Take baby steps and have faith. I hope this article was helpful for you to get over your art block.

Anoushka Patni

Delhi South '24

Quirky and versatile artist with a passion for writing.