Look, it’s no secret that we all want to enjoy the art we make. But all too often artists are mired with thoughts of inadequacy, fear, self-doubt, destructive criticism, and just plain lack of inspiration and low energy.
I could go on and on. There are literally thousands of ways that we as creatives sabotage our efforts to create the work we want to create.
How do we defeat these “creativity killers” and actually let our work shine like it’s meant to?
I believe that all we need to do is shift the way we think, and thus the way we feel, act, and draw.
Leonardo Da Vinci said it best “There can be no smaller or greater mastery than the mastery of oneself.”
And with that, I want to share with you 5 ways that I’ve discovered that have been positively pivotal for me in my artistic development.
I’ve made a living through my art and freelancing for over 2.5 years now, and I continue to grow my income and abilities year after year. I say this not to impress you, but you impress upon you that what I’m about to give you works.
I’ve taken these techniques from books, other artists, videos, articles, deep meditation, and a bevvy of other sources. I’ve found them to be so effective that I feel obliged to do my part and share them with artists like yourself.
So give these an earnest attempt, and tweak them to your liking. Over time you’ll likely develop your own, but please allow me the honor of giving you a basis to work with:
1. Breathe deeply, calmly, and slowly before and during the creative process.
Take a minute to gather yourself before beginning. Stop any irrelevant thoughts that may have been floating about in your consciousness prior. Shift your attention toward your breathing and calm yourself with each deep breath.
Allow tension to release in your jaw, chest, stomach, neck, or wherever you’re holding it. You can use your mind to ease this tension with every breath.
Finally, simply smile — You’re about to embark on yet another creative journey, and whether it’s a quick doodle or the beginning of a 40-hour painting, you’re now in a state that will permit you to access more of your creative faculties.
2. Take frequent breaks, step backwards from the monitor/easel/sketchbook and assess the “impact” of the work from afar.
Taking breaks every 25–35 minutes will prevent you from cultivating Repetitive stress injuries, which will detract from your joy when it comes to drawing.
I like to use breaks as an opportunity to stand up and zoom out. In today’s day and age people see thumbnail-sized images before they ever take a look at the work in detail. It’s up to you to make sure that the thumbnail version of the work is interesting and well-designed enough to merit a longer look.
If it isn’t, then worry not, because these frequent breaks allow you to correct your course before investing too much time in the details.
3. Direct your thoughts into positive (or at least neutral) territory
As you’re working, keep your mind on things that are relevant to the piece by asking yourself questions regarding where you want to take it. Don’t allow the inner-critic to berate you or your creation whatsoever.
Shove such thoughts aside, as they are mostly destructive in nature. Destruction is diametrically opposed to creation, so we want to immerse ourselves in as much positivity as possible.
This is especially helpful when it comes to spotting and correcting mistakes, which brings me to the next point.
4. Profit from Failure
Part of being human is failure. From the greatest artists you’ve ever heard of down to the humble child learning to walk. Each has failed innumerable times in their endeavors.
We largely have a stigma when it comes to failure. We think that it means we’re inadequate or broken in some way, when really the opposite is true.
We are perfect in our failures, because they’re leading us to where the next success is.
Life is a series of cycles, ebbs and flows. Success cannot exist without failure.
So befriend failure, profit from it. Even if you make the same mistake a couple of times, there’s not need to fret. Clear your mind and probe the dirt of failure until your find the seed of success within.
I always recommend planting that seed as soon as possible.
5. Use every tool at your disposal
We are fortunate to have a plethora of tools in our ever-growing artistic arsenals.
These are things like process, references, programs, tutorials, and the like. Everything you need to improve your work rests both within you and outside of you, and they exist in the present.
It’s comforting knowing that the wells of your potential are as deep as the ocean, so long as you acknowledge them as such.
Many artists treat themselves and their work like they’re hardly more than a pothole filled with debris and muddy water. Shallow, unwanted, and inhabited with less than desirable materials.
But this is only true as the fulfillment of one’s own perceptions.
No one outside of you can dictate the way you feel about your art, that administration is yours and your alone. Remember that you can always tap more of your potential and find the solutions to every problem you face.
I offer an 8-week Beginner Drawing Course to help you (re)discover your artistic tools and wield them more thoroughly.
And there you have the 5 key steps.
I can guarantee that these techniques will be of great use to you if you’re willing to implement them with earnest effort.
It also bears reminding that your journey is purely unique, and it does you no good to compare your life or development with that of another.
Keep digging deeper into the wells of your potential — breathing deeply and letting creativity and joy flow forth from your works. It’s never-ending and ever-expanding development with you as the centerpiece.
To master your own thoughts, feelings, and emotions, means that mastery cascades into your works as well.
I recommend that you re-read this post daily and practice at least 1–3 of these techniques every time you find yourself gifted with the opportunity to do so, as they all unfold deeper and work better with persistent application.
If you want a more solid grasp on basic drawing concepts so that you can express yourself even further and expand your artistic arsenal, I have several courses and tutorials on the matter.
I sincerely wish you the best of luck and fortune in all of your endeavors, creative or otherwise.