Artist Block: What Is It and How To Get Past It

Do not be discouraged and do not give up – everything we do provides us more knowledge, which is more power that moves us a step closer to where we need to be.

Artist Ponders His Work; Looking For Inspiration

Suffering from artist’s block does not mean you have lost your artistic ability and I promise, you will eventually find a way to overcome it. For now, sit back, relax, and listen to some music. I'm currently listening to Johnny Cash's, "Folsom Prison Blues." while enjoying my morning cup-of-joe. Discover why at the end of this intriguing and helpful article.

What is artist block?

Artist’s block is a common temporary stage you are experiencing when you have come to the end of a strain of inspiration. Creatively your soul is ready to move on to something new, but not sure how?

We have all been there – standing in front of a blank, perhaps sometimes intimidating canvas on our easels baffled by the non-existence of paint as the uncooperatively sub-straight stares back at us, taunting us with lack of ideas on how they should be covered.

It can sneak up on us out of the blue and most likely develop for no reason, undoubtedly leaving you in a state of confusion and perhaps frustration. The agony doubles down if you happen to be working on a commission and you find yourself up against an impending deadline.

Unfortunately, it is a devastating reality for most artists to feel that they have lost their inspiration. I will say, most likely it is anxiety that is making you feel lost.

So, what is an artist to do?

When seeking inspiration to paint I would suggest that you keep an open mind. Anything at all can be the starting point for your next direction – including things you come across in daily life which have no obvious connection to art, or any themes you have touched on before.

For example, when you’re scouring the internet, watching TV, talking to friends, or family, eating, and going about your normal daily life, there should always be a little sub-conscious awareness of what you’re seeing and doing, staying alert for something to intrigue you while in this funky phase. It is also a good opportunity to experiment and explore new concepts and techniques. Perhaps you normally work in acrylics but have always wanted to try oils.

I probably would not invest too much time, or money into a whole painting during this daunting phase, unless it was just clicking. Instead use this opportunity to self-reflect, explore and study your craft.

Sketching is always a good method to get the ideas brewing freely. Carrying a small sketchbook with you everywhere. This will allow you to jot down fresh ideas and creative visions while you are out of the studio and these can then be reviewed during an all imposing "artist block" moment.

Perhaps be spontaneous and go somewhere new.

Take a trip, go explore. Even if it is only a daytrip to a local town. Change your perspective, sometimes getting out of our normal routines will open your mind and allow you to see things without blinders. The horizon can be endless if we allow them to be.

"The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."

- Christopher McCandless

Be inspired by other artists. "think outside the box" try to find an artist who's doing something that appeals to you, something that the voice inside you says, "I could do that" or "I'd like to be able to do that." For me, I'm intrigued by artist, Jennifer Janesko. She made a name for herself by painting sexy, dream-like pinup girls with the airbrush back in the mid '90s. She has since transitioned into more abstract work, but still has a focus on figurative work painted traditionally. You can learn more about her and her work by visiting her site at

Sometimes, riding out this unwanted phase will be your best solution. Remember that everyone has uncultivated periods. Do not consider them unrefined, it is just your subconscious taking a breather and getting ready to take you in another direction.

I personally find listening to music a great recourse to combating the struggles of "artist block." I have an eclectic playlist on my Spotify, everything from Johnny Cash to Guns 'n Roses. In fact, I am currently painting Johnny Cash's portrait, "Cocaine Country" for my "Famous Faces" series. If you don't already know, my "Famous Faces" series depicts twenty-one iconic portraits from the sixties, seventies, and eighties in a contemporary abstract style known as, "Spontaneous Realism."

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The Savvy Artist

Starting my artistic journey in 1997, the desire to create art that I attained soon became an unyielding obligation to myself to explore the inner mechanism of my creative consciousness.


From small sketches to large scale projects, my art is a highly-personal reflection of myself.

I’ve been lucky enough to have participated in many collaborative projects, as well as exhibiting in a solo capacity, which has solidified my reputation in the art world.


If you would like to find out more about my process, get in touch.

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