Artist Block During Shut-down – How to Overcome

So we are staying home to stop the spread and do our part to help the world heal from this awful virus.

Some of you may be out of work (I am, at least as an art instructor for senior retirement homes) and have many worries, anxiety and possibly fear that are affecting our lives as we knew them.

I for one have had many ups and downs, waves of anxiety, worry, etc.  What I usually do during times of stress is I turn to art.  Except…it didn’t work this time.

I have definitely had artist block!  Tried to put pencil to paper a week or so ago – and I literally felt a disconnect which only compounded everything.

This article is an attempt to reach out to those who struggling right now doing what we always loved to do – art. I will talk about the old proverbial artist block – and how to gradually overcome artist block during the pandemic.

Recognize Loss of Previous Motivators

I didn’t realize how my art instruction classes and the seniors I instruct motivated me! They were (and are) the electricity running through the cord which has just been unplugged from the wall! It’s a loss (albeit temporary) with no definitive end.

Without my classes and seniors to see, I suddenly and surprisingly found myself without inspiration and motivation.

Little did I realize to what extent the effect they had on my motivation!

After trying a few days to attempt art and failing, I became saddened and confused by this – thinking I lost the “fire in the belly” to create.

After a few days of moping about it, I decided this just couldn’t happen and wondered I was putting such pressure on myself to do art?

The more I fretted about it, the worse it got! It became apparent, this lockdown wasn’t going to end anytime soon so why the pressure??

[I also just read this opinion in the New York Times that lets us know we’re not alone]

So I took a deep breath and vowed to no longer worry about it. I talked myself into doing related things for motivation. Read on for some of the things I did.

1. Tidy Up Your Studio – For Calm and Pleasure.


One of the things I’ve been meaning to do since the first of the year – ya know the whole New Year’s resolution thing – was re-organize and tidy up my studio.

Of course, I never had time to do it prior to last month so it never got done.

I have learned through life experience how much looking at orderly and non-cluttered space can produce calmness and relaxation.

Just the ticket, I thought, to be conducive to the art zone!

So I took to the task of reorganizing my art supplies, class supplies, drawing tables, files, and labeling. Just the act of purging and getting things in order was so therapeutic!

Take Inventory and Research Supplies

When organizing my supplies, it was an opportunity to take inventory of what I had. And it became apparent where the “holes”were in my inventory.

So, I made a list of needed supplies. I spent some time researching where and what to purchase online.

You’ll Be Surprised At What You Forgot You Had

As I was organizing, I found my Faber Castell Polychromos 12-pack forgot I had and have wanted to try.

As some of you may know if you’ve read my review on Prismacolor, I am a big fan of them and have been perfectly content with wax-based pencils.

In fact, I use Crayola wax-based colored pencils in my art classes because they are decent for students and are economical.

So having gotten complacent, I just never had the incentive to try the Polychromos and render something. Well, I did try these oil-based pencils and discovered what a joy they are to work with! So smooth, highly pigmented and buttery soft.

[You can now see my review on them here.]

And another thing I noticed as I stare at the still life I rendered with them, the colors are just as vibrant as last week when I did them – wax-based pencils would have had to be sprayed with fixative to avoid wax-bloom.

I didn’t need to even worry about that using oil-based pencils!

I decided I love these pencils and really want more. They are very pricey so I know I’ll be acquiring them a little at a time.

Rearrange Furniture

This is another great way to literally change the scenery.

Move things around in your studio. Maybe face your easel or drawing table in another direction.

Move your shelves around and/or change things around on shelves.

This will give you a fresh perspective and increase interest as you enter your studio.

2. Motivate Through Other Artists

Art Videos and Tutorials

Goodness knows there are enough art videos and tutorials online to probably fill up every day of this lockdown!

So take advantage of this. This again is one of those things that we don’t often have a lot of time to do.

Try watching tutorials on using a medium you aren’t experienced in or familiar with. Now’s a great time!

And just watching other artists at work is very motivational! Trust me – it really works! (Note – this is my favorite motivational strategy 🙂 )

Read Art Blogs – Or Start Your Own

Reading art blogs is also very inspirational and may just give you information you needed or always wondered about.

(Like this article on overcoming artist block. Please do check out other articles on this blog from my home page – lots to read about!)

Or – How about starting your own art blog?

Now is the perfect time if you like to talk to people and help them with art.

Here is a link to a wonderful place where you can start a WordPress Blog like this one.

Engage Through Social Media – Join an Online Art Group

Now is the time to ramp up communication with other artists on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Just talking with other artists and seeing what they’re doing is helpful. Or even commiserating about artist block is comforting.

3. Photograph Your Artwork

Assuming you haven’t done so already, now would be a good time to photograph your artwork. Make sure you have great lighting when you do it.

Post some of your work on social media. The feedback you get can be very uplifting and inspirational!

4. Sign Up with Print on Demand Sites

Become a member of a Print on Demand Site, like Redbubble, Imagekind or Fine Art America. (There are many others as well).

It’s easy, free, and you never know, you may just sell something!  For more information on how to sell your art, you can check out my post, “How to Sell My Art

Upload all those wonderful photos you took of your artwork to those sites.

Just seeing them in an online gallery can be very uplifting!

5. Draft a Marketing Plan

As artists, we often complain we never have time to market ourselves as artists.

Well, no time like the present to plot out a marketing plan for after our lives return to normal.

Make a list of things you will do to market yourself as an artist.

Make a list of what you can do online now to market yourself.

Do you need updated business cards?

Now would be a great time to create a new one while you have time and order your supply.

So…Just Try One Thing

Even if reading this article didn’t inspire you, that’s OK – no pressure.

But I encourage you to take a deep breath and try just one thing I’ve suggested.

That may be all you need to get past artist block. If that doesn’t work, then try another or another.

But don’t worry… your art will come back. Like riding a bicycle – you never forget!

These are difficult, unprecedented times we’re in right now, for sure. So, please be patient with yourself and cut yourself a break!

Maybe you have other ideas to get over artist block.

If you do, please share them – we all can learn from each other. And please share this article if you liked it. (Your email will never be shared!)

Thank you so much for reading. Stay safe and be well. We will all get through this together.


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