June 13, 2024


Life is art

Overcoming the Artist’s Equivalent of Writer’s Block

It is so easy to get into a rut with painting and drawing and even easier to fall into the trap Picasso so aptly described: ‘Success is dangerous, one begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others – it leads to sterility.’ So if your painting and drawing has hit the doldrums, perhaps it is time to adopt a completely new approach to the way you work and force yourself out of your comfort zone.

Why not have a go at some of the following ideas:

If you normally sit down in front of a beautiful landscape, still life or even a life model and draw what you see very carefully and then apply the paint by ‘filling in the shapes you have created, perhaps it is time be more radical. Why not stare at the scene, still life, life model for about five minutes; note in your mind the things that are important, tones, colours, shapes even the feel or emotion the image evokes. Walk away from the scene, hide away the still life or let the model have a break and just stare at your black paper or canvas for a moment or two. Imagine what you have seen is on the paper and draw what you ‘see’, feel and remember. You won’t be able to put in all the detail, but what you will draw is what is really important about what you have seen and that will be much more interesting.

Why not try to do the opposite of what you would normally do when starting to draw or paint. For example; if you start drawing objects from the top down, reverse it. If you normally paint the background first in a landscape, i.e. you start with the sky, then the background hills etc. Try painting the foreground first and working backwards, filling in the distant hills and sky in between the foreground shapes. This method produces a quite different feel to your painting and can be very liberating.

Try breaking one of the habits that you have got into with your drawing and painting. Be honest with yourself. Do you rely on drawing only things seen, do you rely on photographs, do you always draw out your idea before painting, and do you always use the same colours / colour scheme? Why not ditch the habit; it can be quite a liberating experience.

One final idea, get hold of a piece of graphite and tape it to a three feet long cane. Place a large sheet of drawing paper on a board on the floor. Stand in front of the board hold the cane right at the opposite end to the graphite; now draw the scene, the still life or your model. Wow, what great lines you’ve drawn.