When you’re an artist, who takes his work seriously, you know that point in time when you stare at your work and don’t know how to continue. Making an artwork means to solve visual problems, and sometimes you just don’t immediately have the solution. That is a normal thing, we’re only human. But it can be frustrating, because continuing and finishing the work feels much better than to have to stop. So, what to do next?!
I have written down 7 tips for you that might help you to get unstuck sooner. All these ideas come from my own experience and from artist friends. I hope they will do something for you too. Here we go!
- 1. Ask advice from both an artist and a non-artist. I have found that asking for an opinion at this point can be very helpful. You need a fresh look on your work. Normally I only ask for feedback when I consider the artwork to be finished. But when I get stuck, I like to ask the opinion from both artists and non-artists. Artists have the knowledge and experience to help you find the solution you’re looking for. Non-artists tend to have a down-to-earth view that is unhindered by artistic ‘rules and judgements’. And that might be just what we need.
- 2. Go on Pinterest and look for similar artworks. A good artist knows how to steal good ideas correctly: He knows how to gather ideas from many different sources and how to combine them in such a way that he ends up with his own personal work. (Want to know more about this? Then check out: ‘Steal like an Artist’ – Austin Kleon) So, go on Pinterest and try to find artists who have had the same challenges. Perhaps you will find that one detail, colour, perspective or layout that was lacking in your work.
- 3. Let it rest. Walk away, do some chores and come back when you have forgotten about your artwork for a while. Taking a break will help you to see your work in a different light and sometimes the problem solves itself.
- 4. Work on two projects at a time. Switching back and forth between two artworks can help you not to fixate on one and get stuck. When you work on one, you take a break from the other. I find this an ideal way to work when I want to keep seeing my work with a fresh look.
- 5. Switch to a different medium. Yes, you heard it right. Just because you started your painting with acrylics, doesn’t mean you can’t add another medium. Break the ‘rules’ and take your crayon, pencils or ink and get a bit more playful. Getting stuck just means you have to shake things loose again.
- 6. Look at your work upside down. Lay your artwork down on the floor and look at it from a ‘wrong’ angle. This will help you to un-see the image. Part of your problem is that you can’t see neutrally anymore; this way you can discover the visual problem. Is your work too busy? Are the proportions okay? Does it need another colour or another layer? Is it interesting enough? Does it tell too much or too little?
- 7. Look at the visual solutions in your previous work. I bet you have made a similar artwork before. We usually like to work with recurring subjects, colours and mediums. So look back on how you solved your problems in the past. Sometimes older work is better than new work and it is interesting to discover why that is. You can learn a great deal from taking some time to dissect what makes your own work good or bad and to apply that in your current work.
That was it! Good luck on the project you’re working on! If you have any additional ideas, questions or comments, then please don’t hesitate to comment below! Stay safe and Merry Christmas!
Eva Mout, Ursus Art
Did you enjoy this? Then please like
my post and follow my blog!