How to Find Inspiration to Draw and Beat Art Block

How to Find Inspiration to Draw and Beat Art Block

If you feel like you’re stuck in an artistic rut and there’s no way out, it’s time to find inspiration to draw, and fast. This post will help you to break out of your art block and come up with some new drawing ideas.

Find inspiration to draw by looking at the work of other artists, searching for Pinterest boards, and reading lists of drawing prompts. Youtube and Instagram are also great sources of inspiration. Lastly Experiment with new drawing media, art materials, and drawing techniques

There are tons of great drawing ideas out there, I’ve picked a few of my favorites here, but the internet is full of them. Read on

(I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. However, I only promote products I like and recommend)

Inspiration for Drawings: Where to Begin?

If you are in a slump, just beginning, and you’re hitting a brick wall, you need a little inspiration to get your creative juices flowing.

It doesn’t matter where your at in your artistic journey, you’ll benefit from taking time out to look at the work of other artists and remind yourself what’s possible.

The idea is to reboot and kickstart your imagination.

Sometimes the most basic ideas are the best triggers: a simple line, a curve, and a shade of color can spark your imagination and bring fresh ideas to your work.

To coin a cliche it really is about practice. Keep the ball rolling whatever you do. Don’t allow yourself to stagnate, it’s important to progress and keep learning.

If you draw or paint for a living you certainly can’t afford to dry up and if you are a keen amateur artist you can’t put off projects forever, you have to get something done.

Dedicate time to your art every day, find a slot, even if it’s only for 30 mins, and use it to keep in the habit. Learn a new technique, or draw one picture little by little. This is how I get things done.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly a drawing develops. Don’t pressurize yourself to get it done quickly. That’s a surefire way to mess up. Take your time and enjoy the process.

I’ve compiled a list that will help you come up with some drawing inspiration ideas. Choose the ideas that resonate with you the most and start drawing.

If you need some structure why not grab a course and follow along?

If you’ve never heard of Domestika, read this: Is Domestika Worth It? The Pros and Cons for Artists and Designers

Drawing Inspiration Ideas: Draw From Life

Let’s start by looking at a few simple drawing ideas to warm you up. Nothing too challenging but useful practice to get you started.

Draw a Simple Landscape with Figures

Rapid sketching in the field is a great discipline. Drawing from life trains your eye into seeing only the most important lines and shapes and allows you to focus on the most important elements of a scene.

Add figures or animals within the landscape to bring your drawings to life. Even sketches benefit from a suggested storyline.

Limit Your Time and Draw Quickly

Another great exercise. Speed up you drawing process and limit your sketch to 30 mins. Not only will it help you to convey the scene with the fewest lines but it also forces you to free up your drawing style. Fast and loose.

This post will explain further: How to Draw Faster: 14 Expert Tips For Sketching at Speed

Make Thumbnail Sketches to Improve Your Compositions

If you want to create great compositions, the easiest way to free up your mind is to draw thumbnail sketches. Tiny sketches allow you to be bold. It removes the fear of failure. They are less intimidating.

Thumbnail sketches example
Jot down ideas in a thumbnail sketch

Thumbnails have no time investment, so you have nothing to lose. They are rapid-fire notes that can be discarded at will or saved for later.

Draw an Animal From Life

This might sound daunting but it will help your visual memory immeasurably. A moving animal is a snapshot and you only have moments to capture the pose. You are forced to rely on your mind’s eye to record the movement. You must record as much as you can before that image fades.

Take Inspiration From an Art Challenge

It doesn’t really matter if you join an organized art challenge or challenge yourself. The idea is to set a challenge that is out of your comfort zone and see how you get on.

There are various ways you can go about this for example you can challenge yourself to:

  • Draw with a new medium
  • Do a new drawing every day
  • Change your style completely
  • Try a limited Pallett
  • Try drawing bigger or smaller
  • Try tinted paper and different textures

Set yourself a time frame. A week is good enough for most people. Experimenting with new ideas can beat art block. It’s so easy to play safe and go stale.

This will help: Art Block: What is it? Its Causes, and How to Overcome it

It’s often useful to look through Pinterest for new ideas and challenges. Pinterest is a curious platform, it’s not social media, it’s an ideas board and search engine where people bookmark sites of interest to them.

It’s made for inspiration so check out a few boards and get some new ideas.

If Pinterest baffles you, and it does confuse many people, start looking on Instagram for some new ideas. Many artists hang out on Instagram. I get much of my inspiration to draw by following certain artists.

Simple Projects to Inspire Drawing

Why not set yourself a challenge to draw something new? It could be stepping outside your comfort zone, why not? it’s only for inspiration, who knows what you will discover?

Copy Your Favorite Artist

Ask yourself why you draw the way you do and why you started drawing in the first place. The chances are that you discovered an artist who blew you away and their work transported you into another world.

This is related: Can You Copy Art and Sell a Painting of a Painting?

Revisit your old favorites and copy some of their work. It’s a great way to rekindle your interest and figure out how they did their work.

Over time your memory will improve and you will be able to draw the essence of an animal quickly enough to fill a sketchbook with notes in no time.

Draw a Simple Portrait Tryptic

A tryptic is a series of 3 related poses. It’s most commonly seen in portraiture and I’ve used it myself to delightful effect. Each image must present a different angle or perspective of the same subject. The format is hypnotic for the viewer. There is something magical about the number 3 that arrests the eye. Use that to your advantage.

Draw a Montage of 3 Images and Combine them

Taking the tryptic idea a step further, experiment with 3 images of the same subject and combine them into a new composition. This is one of the secrets to creating compelling imagery.

For more insight read: How to Plan and Compose Your Art: A Guide for Beginners

Artists have the license to play with images, don’t hold back with false notions of integrity, you’re not a documentary photographer. Use the references you have and juggle them together into new and interesting compositions.

Practice Creating Depth

Sticking with the rule of threes, experiment with creating depth with 3 subjects composed together and progressively reduced in size, focus, and intensity.

The foreground image must be strong and bold and the rear image lighter, softer, and possibly blurrier, and the middle image must be somewhere in between. This will add drama to an otherwise mediocre composition

Read this: How to Create Depth in Your Drawing: 7 Expert Techniques

Draw Both Eyes

Eyes are the windows to the soul and you’ve got to get them right or your drawing will fail. I cannot understand artists who draw the eyes last. They are the most important part of a portrait and they should be drawn first.

If there is one element that can ruin a drawing it’s badly drawn eyes. Get the eyes right and the rest will follow. Get them wrong and you can start again.

Practice drawing both eyes together. There is no point in drawing two fantastic eyes if they are not aligned or even the same size.

Draw Simple Shadows

A realistic drawing is all about getting the shadows right and fooling the viewer into believing that a 2D drawing is really 3D.

Read more here: How to Draw Realistic Shadows in Pencil (All The Best Secrets)

The drop shadow tool in a photo editor will take a flat shape and make it pop out of the page, or screen. You can use the same effect with a pencil.

Instead of drawing a boring shape, draw a butterfly resting on your paper and then draw the shadow beneath. Better still, draw it resting on an existing sketch to fool the eye.

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Drawing Nature for Inspiration

Speaking as a wildlife artist, my eyes are drawn to nature and the landscape in particular, but it’s a great starting point for beginners because nature is so forgiving.

There is no need to be exact or to perfect the detail, you have tremendous scope for playing around. Who cares if the tree is a little off or it wasn’t leaning that way?

Does it matter that you added a figure or a gate that wasn’t there? No one. All landscape artists romanticize the truth.

With that in mind let’s find some more inspiration to draw from nature.

Draw Reflections

Many artists freak out drawing reflections but there are some simple rules that can help to create the illusion of reality and they can be contrived.

Dark objects tend to reflect lighter, and light objects tend to reflect darker. When in doubt, follow that rule and your drawing will be okay.

Because it is so easy to contrive a reflection you can use it to add interest to an otherwise dull subject.

Draw Trees in Full-Leaf

Who is not inspired by a stately tree in full leaf? The key to drawing the foliage is not to try and draw each and every leaf. Draw the canopy as a whole and suggest the foliage.

Drawing inspiration idea for a roadside tree
Inspired by Nature.
A Pencil Drawing by Kevin Hayler

Use a kneadable eraser and dab at the graphite and use an eraser pen to create gaps where the light shines through. Add a few flicks to simulate bare branches and you will draw a decent tree.

Draw Winter Trees

Now flip seasons and draw the skeletal form of a bare winter tree. The key to drawing winter trees is not to draw every twig. Draw only the main structure and simplify the complexity.

Light shading will indicate the smaller branches and twigs.

Draw Tree Bark

You may think you know what tree bark looks like but it’s only when you study it that you realize the amazing diversity of shapes and forms that exist.

What I like about drawing tree bark close up is the ability to merge realism with abstract form. Robert Bateman is the master as far as I’m concerned. Check out his work.

Think twisted trees, gnarled trunks, and peeling bark. Think lichens and mosses, cracks, fissures, and holes. The shapes and textures are endless.

Draw Leaves

Once you get the hang of drawing leaves they become very simple. The trick is to draw them at different angles.

Vary the shapes and sizes, and look at how the light falls and where the shadows lie. Only new fresh leaves are perfect.

Drawing older leaves are more interesting. Notice the holes, tears, and blights. Add the seeds, nuts, and cones. Add a few insects, or webs.

Experiment with falling leaves and simplify the shapes. The possibilities are endless.

Draw Grass Realistically

One of the benefits of drawing foliage is that you can create a very realistic image without being too concerned about accuracy. There’s plenty of wiggle room, only major mistakes will be noticeable.

Remember to figure out where the light is coming from and add the tiny shadows falling across the grass blades and stems.

Realistic grass does not grow in parallel lines. Criss-cross the lines and fill in some of the gaps with blacks to give the illusion of depth.

Draw Grass Out of Focus

Now you have learned to draw grass in sharp focus it’s time to draw it out of focus as if you were zooming in with a camera.

Depth of field can be contrived and the best part is you can add this hack to any scene without having to draw anything real. The blur contrasts with the sharpness of the subject and creates a stunning effect.

Contriving depth-of-field
‘Tiger in the Grass’ by Kevin Hayler

Use very soft gradients, and a soft brush or blending stump to smooth the transitions.

For a rough and ready effect try dabbing the pencil with BluTak or swiping with a kneadable eraser

Give Upright Trees and Posts a Slant

To add interest to your landscapes, pretend the wind has blown through and pushed all the uprights out of kilter. Vary the angles of fence posts, tilt the trees and lean the lamp posts.

Perfection is the death of character. It doesn’t matter that the scene was neat and tidy in real life. Aim for imperfection, leave rough edges, and break up clean lines. Your sketches will improve remarkably.

Practice Drawing Clouds

Nothing is more ephemeral than passing clouds. Constable spent a lifetime studying and sketching them, but you have the big advantage of having a smartphone and capturing that fleeting moment.

Clouds determine the drama in a landscape. Knowing how to draw clouds and adding them to otherwise bland scenery is crucial.

There is no such thing as a boring view, only boring light.

If you need some inspiration to draw, check out Sarah on Domestika

Expressive animal portraits in watercolor by Sarah Stokes on Domestika
You should check out the courses on Domestika

Get Inspired With New Drawing Techniques

We all need those HAHA moments to give us a boost and to keep up morale. There is only one way to get them and that’s to push yourself beyond your limits.

As an artist, it is important to experiment with new drawing techniques, find new drawing media, and explore new tools in order to keep your skills sharp and creative. It can lead to a breakthrough and feed you with renewed excitement for weeks afterward.

Try some of these tips: 7 Types of Contour Drawing Explained: Quick and Easy

I had that feeling when I first used mechanical pencils, and again when I bought a cheap Jakar battery eraser. They were game-changers for me at the time.

  • Experiment by drawing with new erasers (Battery, Eraser Pen, BluTak, Kneadable)
  • Try drawing in color (Pastels, Pencil Pastel, Colored Pencils, Pen and Ink)
  • Draw on a different paper (Bristol, tinted Pastel, Watercolor,)
  • Experiment with new blenders (Feather Brush, Make-up Blender, Foam, Cotton bud)
  • Use a different drawing medium (charcoal, dip pen, and sanguine/bistre sticks)

You can try out a few drawing exercises to get your hand and eye coordination up to scratch.

  • Try drawing an object with one continuous line
  • Try drawing without looking at your drawing paper
  • Practice drawing negative spaces (imagine the object as a silhouette and draw the outside spaces)
  • Try drawing without any lines at all, only tone and no edges (very hard)
  • Block in a shape and draw by lifting out with an eraser
  • Draw upright at an easel to loosen your drawing style
  • Experiment with ink washes by doing fast brush strokes

Need extra help? Try this course on Proko by Steven Zapata

Drawing exercises for beginners a Proko course

Are Proko courses new to you? Read this: Are Proko Courses Worth It? A Review – Pros and Cons

Add new drawing techniques and new art materials to your repertoire and experiment with the results. Don’t be afraid to fail; experimentation is the only way to find your way. You’ll be surprised at what you can create when you break out of your comfort zone.

If you like the way I draw and want to try things for yourself, this is my basic kit:

Finding Inspiration to Draw: Final Thoughts

Drawing is a skill that can take years to master. Even the most experienced will suffer from artist block from time to time. It’s insanely frustrating not being able to create anything for a period of time.

There is no shortage of things to draw if you have the right frame of mind, and that’s why you have to find a way to shake yourself out of your malaise and rekindle your interest.

Hopefully, these drawing prompts will help you get some inspiration to draw without being boring or too complicated.

It’s all about practice, like everything else. The more you draw, the better you’ll get, and the more ideas you’ll have. It’s a virtuous loop.

The one thing you must never have is a blank page. When the art block happens it’s more important than ever to draw. Do something, anything, you never know where it will lead.

Maybe one or two of these drawing ideas will work for you.

If you like the way I draw and want to try things for yourself, this is my basic kit:

If you want an alternative to Amazon, check out ARTEZA art supplies or BLICK

When inspiration kicks in and you have a body of work, you should sell them. If you want to know how I do it, read this guide.

Selling art made simple digital guide for starting a small art business

If You Want to Sell Your Art

Check this out!

Psst…it’s only $12.99!

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How to Find Inspiration to Draw and Beat Art Block