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 ideas out there, I’ve picked some of the best ways here, but the internet is full of them. Read on

(I get commissions for purchases made through affiliate 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, maybe just beginning, and you’re hitting a brick wall, you’ll need some artistic inspiration to get your creative ideas flowing.

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

The idea is to reboot and kickstart your creative imagination.

Sometimes the most basic ideas are the best triggers: a simple line, a curve, and a shade of color can be the creative spark that fires your imagination, inspire fresh ideas, and get your creative juices going.

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 new techniques, or try drawing 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.

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 an ideas list that will help you come up with some creative inspiration. Choose the ideas that resonate with you the most and start drawing.

If you need some creative flow why not grab a course and follow along? This course by Sorie Kim is a bestseller on Domestika

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. Jotting down ideas when you are inspired.
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.

Over time your memory will improve and you will be able to draw the essence of the animal quickly enough to fill a sketchbook with notes.

It’s frustrating and a lot of fun at the same time!

Take Inspiration From an Art Challenge

It doesn’t really matter if you join some organized art challenges or challenge yourself. The idea is to set an art 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 different mediums
  • Do a new drawing every day
  • Draw in different styles
  • Try using limited color palettes
  • 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 get stale.

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

It’s useful to look through Pinterest for new ideas and challenges. Pinterest is a curious platform, it’s not social media as such, it’s a search engine where people search for interesting things, pin them to boards, and bookmark them for later.

Pinterest is a huge source of inspiration, check out a few boards and get some cool drawing ideas.

If Pinterest baffles you, and it does confuse many people, look on Instagram for some new ideas. Many artists hang out on Instagram. I get much of my inspiration to draw from 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 were inspired by an artist who blew you away and their work transported you into another world.

Stephen Bauman inspires me with his amazing draughtsmanship. As you can see in the video below, he’s, in turn, inspired by John Singer-Sargeant.

Studying With Sargeant. A course on Proko With Stephen Bauman

Stephen’s 9-hour masterclass is on Proko

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 get you inspired to figure out how they did their work.

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 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.

3 Giraffes montage portrait drawing
“Eyelashes” A Pencil Drawing by Kevin Hayler

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 Engine Shed” A Pencil Drawing by Kevin Hayler

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 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.

Jaguar pencil drawing by wildlife artist Kevin Hayler
“Eye Contact” A Pencil Drawing by Kevin Hayler

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.

Drawing Nature for Inspiration

Speaking as a wildlife artist, my eyes are drawn to the natural world and landscapes, and nature is a great starting point for beginners because it’s so forgiving.

There’s no need to draw perfectly, 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 cares. All landscape artists romanticize the truth.

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

Draw Water 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 uninspiring 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 different 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

This post goes into detail: Drawing Realistic Grass The Easy Way: For Beginners

Draw Trees and Posts With 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. John 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

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.

Find some inspiration experimenting with these ideas:

  • 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 type of 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 everyday objects 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

If you need more help with drawing, then I urge you to check out
Dorian Iten on Proko. His course is reasonably priced and inspiring

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

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

Finding Inspiration to Draw: Final Thoughts

Drawing is a skill that can take years to master. Even the most experienced artist will suffer from artist’s 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 inspire you to get a fresh perspective and give you the inspiration to draw.

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 circle.

The one thing you must never have is a blank page. When the creative block happens it’s more important than ever to draw. Do something, anything, to force your way out of it, 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

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.

If You Want to Sell Your Art

Check this out!

Psst…it’s only $12.99!

For more tips and tricks of the trade, check these out:

Plus find an ONLINE COURSE that suits you.

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How to Find Inspiration to Draw and Beat Art Block
The artist and Author Kevin Hayler

Hi, my name’s Kevin and I’m a real person!
I’ve been selling my wildlife art and traveling the world for over 20 years, and if that sounds too good to be true, I’ve done it all without social media, art school, or galleries!
I can show you how to do it. You’ll find a wealth of info on my site, about selling art, drawing tips, lifestyle, reviews, travel, my portfolio, and more. Enjoy