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How to Overcome Art Anxiety: Art For the Sheer Joy of Creating

 

Art anxiety. Whether you’re a seasoned pro, or like me, you’re just creating art for the sheer joy of it, we all can suffer from that agonizing fear that stops us from putting pen, or paint, to paper. We start of with a lovely picture in mind, and our art materials laid out before us, but suddenly the whole day has gone by. Whilst the cupboards under your sink look shinier than ever, your paper still remains blank.

The thing is – we spend too much time asking ourselves are we good enough. And the answer is yes. Even if right now all you can draw is a giant circle head with a little stick body, the very fact that you have the urge to create nestled within you means you are already good enough.

So now that you have me telling you you’re a great artist, you feel ready to pick up that paint brush and go right? Not quite. If you’re still suffering from the inspiration vampire that is art anxiety here are a few tips and tricks to get the ink flowing.

Keep an Art Journal

Keeping an art journal or sketchbook on you at all times is the best way to overcome art anxiety, because it allows you to draw whenever and wherever inspiration hits you.

If you carry your inspiration around with you all day until you finally have a quiet moment to sit down with it, it’s more likely to fade, and you’re more likely to over think it. However, if you catch your drawing as soon as you have an idea, before you have the chance to think about it, you’re going to be able to draw something wonderful even if it starts as just a few rough lines. Your art journal doesn’t have to be perfect, some of the best art journals are filled with scribbles, it just has to be yours.

Make Something for Yourself

Half the time a lot of the anxiety we feel around art comes from worrying about how other people will receive our work.  Maybe you’re worried that your tutor won’t like the brush work, or your grandma will think your subject is too crass. When we worry too much about how other people will receive our art work, it’s no longer something that we do for ourselves, and that takes the joy out of it. So make some art, not to show anyone, but because you like it. Make some art purely for the fun of doing it. If it helps, draw over things, doodle on the covers of sketchbooks and note books, paint on your old clothes, or colour in an adult colouring book. Get back in touch with the sheer joy of painting, just for the selfish reason that it makes you happy, and don’t worry about whether anyone else will like your art work. Do it for you.

Do Some Silly Drawing Challenges

Art challenges are probably the most fun and liberating way to overcome art anxiety, because they allow you to just create something, without worrying about it being good. They also allow you to experiment with new materials and new techniques that you might usually never try. Just get silly and creative without worrying about how your page will turn out.

Challenge Ideas

• Drawing in a moving vehicle (Not if you’re the one driving folks)

• Drawing without using an eraser

• Drawing in continuous line

• Drawing using mud

• Drawing using makeup.

• Drawing using coffee, tea, spices, or whatever else you find in your cupboard that can possibly make a mark.

A lot of the time your art work may end up looking well, pretty avant-garde, but you may learn new techniques and new mediums that you can incorporate into other art works. Either way, at least you’ll be drawing something.   

Learn, Don’t Compare

The world is full of lessons and inspiration and there are so many amazing artists out there who share their work and make incredible tutorials and workshops. However, often when we are feeling insecure about our own work it can be a bit too tempting to compare our progress with others. We look at all these amazing artists and instead of learning from them, we start to beat ourselves up over the fact that our art work doesn’t look like theirs.

Even the artists that you look up to the most are still constantly learning, so instead of making yourself feel bad, explore what it is you like about someone else’s work and how you can learn to incorporate that in your own. Maybe it’s the way they use light or how they draw eyes. Also bear in mind that a lot of the time when we look at art work on Instagram, we are taking someone else’s finished project and comparing it to our behind the scenes. Your art journey is your own, it’s beautiful and unique and you are on your own path, so rather than keep comparing your path to someone else’s and wondering if you’re on the wrong one, see what you can learn from them, and apply it to the journey you’re on.

Make Bad Art

The only way you are ever going to get better as an artist is if you make bad art. Our mistakes teach us what to do differently next time. It’s through making art every day, even if we think it’s terrible, that we actually start to create work we like.

If we always try to make perfect art we are never going to create anything. Instead we should just make art and throw it out there, even if it’s terrible, simply for the sheer joy of creating, because that’s the way we become good artists.


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Judith Allen
Hi I’m Judith. I’m an artist, blogger and seemingly eternal student, currently studying social anthropology, with the hopes of becoming an art therapist. I write a lot about overcoming anxiety, and spend a good deal of my time daydreaming about pandas and covered in paint.

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  • Thank you for writing such an inspiring post! Although I like to consider myself a creative person, I definitely get anxiety about creating. I like your tip about creating bad art because sometimes you just need to make something, whether good or bad, to get those creative juices flowing.

    -Helen
    http://www.sweethelengrace.com

  • Cyn

    Thanks for this post, I am a highly creative person, and an artist, and I do have “art anxiety”, people don’t always realise that the struggle inside me is real at time. As good as I am (I know I am, learned to give myself credit) I still am often paralysed with fear of launching myself on paper. I give myself those doodling challenges on a regular basis, it helps a ton