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How to Deal With Bad Drawing Days (Tips for Art Frustration)

How to deal with bad drawing days….

We’ve all had bad drawings days. Days when you’re:

  • constantly erasing and starting over
  • unable to get the proportions right
  • unable to think of what to draw

It is quite frustrating when you want to draw but can’t seem to draw anything of substance and are stuck in what seems to be an endless stream of bad drawing days.

Many artists face this and don’t know how to deal with it. This leads to them dropping art for quite some time. Some go for days, weeks, months, and even years facing an art frustration. How do we deal with this? Some good options to consider when your stuck in a bad draw day are:

  1. Take a break
  2. Start over or move on from the drawing entirely
  3. Intentionally practice something that is giving you trouble
  4. Try to improve on your weaknesses
  5. Draw something you enjoy
  6. Start a new project
  7. Think about what motivated you to start drawing initially
  8. Focus on the positive
  9. Get inspired by other artists’ work
  10. Imagine that your next work may be your masterpiece*

The important thing to note is that it’s okay to take breaks when drawing, especially if all you do is draw.

If you’re taking a break from drawing, don’t beat yourself up as that will only be counterproductive.

Get back into drawing gradually by drawing quick sketches or taking inspiration from your favorite artists.

If a certain drawing has you frustrated:

  • stand up from your desk
  • take a quick walk

I recommend taking a walk outside, but if that makes you uncomfortable or if it’s impossible for you, take your headphones, listen to music, and walk around your house.

There are many ways you can try to beat an art block. But the most important thing you have to know is sometimes you just gotta rest.

To learn more about art frustration, keep reading!

Table of Contents

    What Are Bad Drawing Days and Art Frustration?

    The motivation to draw is there but you just can’t seem to find the inspiration.

    Bad drawing drawings are days when you can’t seem to find the inspiration or motivation to draw. Art frustration is when you’re unsatisfied with anything you draw.

    Many, if not all, artists go through this several times in their lives. It’s a very normal and natural occurrence. There are many things that could cause this, some are

    Fear of being imperfectChasing perfection may be what’s causing your frustration. The need to be perfect can be discouraging to artists as the art process involves making many mistakes.
    Burn outBurnout happens when you no longer have the energy To draw because you’ve exhausted that energy by drawing all that you can. When this happens, you should take a rest. Forcing yourself to draw Will only make the burnout even worse.  
    StressStress could also be the reason why you’re having a Bad drawing day. This could be caused by work, school, your current environment, or even drawing itself! When you’re stressed, your mind can’t think clearly so when this happens, Take a step back and do something relaxing.
    Constantly comparing yourself to other artistsConstantly comparing yourself to other artists may also be what’s Hindering you. When you compare yourself to other artists, you’ll become more critical of your art. You’ll start to nitpick your drawing simply because it does not look like the drawing of the artist you’re comparing yourself to.  
    Lack of motivationYour art frustration could just very well be caused by a lack of Motivation. To remedy this, you can watch YouTube videos or Join art challenges to get you to draw. Sometimes all you need is a supportive community to get your motivation back.  
    Reasons why you’re facing an art block

    What Do You Do on Bad Drawing Days?

    On days like these, shift your focus onto something else. It could still be in the realm of creativity that way you won’t feel like you’re wasting time. You could listen to music or watch a live stream of someone drawing.

    When you’re having a bad drawing day, try not to be so rough on yourself. If you really don’t feel like drawing then there’s no point in forcing yourself. You’ll only be making it worse.

    Personally, I recommend having an ‘art day off’, where you simply take a break from art and not do anything related to it.

    You can spend your day reading a book or playing video games, just don’t touch your pencils and sketchbook. Heck, if you have nothing planned for the whole day, take a long nap.

    By the next day, your mind will be refreshed and maybe you won’t feel so frustrated anymore. It’s the human equivalent of turning your computer off and then on again.

    Tips for Bad Drawing Days:

    1. Take a Break

    The first thing you should do when you hit that wall is to take a break.

    You may be facing burnout which is why you feel dissatisfied with everything you create. If you don’t know how to spot burnout, check out this video:

    Signs You’re Burnt Out

    To deal with this, take a step back and relax. Do something else, play a video game, or take a walk.

    Give your brain a refresher and avoid drawing anything for a few days. As much as we want to constantly be creating something, at the end of the day, we’re only humans. We get tired and we need to rest.

    Rest is just as important as actively doing something.

    Rest refuels your mind and body. Forcing yourself to keep going on empty fuel will only do you more harm than good.

    So rest for a bit then get back into drawing. You’ll be surprised by all the creative ideas that you’ll come up with by the time you draw again.

    2. It’s Okay to Start Over or Leave the Drawing Entirely

    When you’re drawing and you find that a certain piece just isn’t working out for you, remember that it’s okay to start over or leave the drawing entirely.

    Sometimes an idea just won’t work no matter how much we try. When this happens, start over. Maybe you missed something along the way and a restart is all you need.

    Try to look at it through a different lens this time or maybe draw it from a different angle.

    If that doesn’t work and you find yourself starting over and over again, maybe it’s time to call time of death and leave the drawing entirely.

    Forcing a piece to work when it’s not coming out the way you want it to despite the many attempts you did to save it is only going to frustrate you. This frustration can build up and affect your future artwork.

    Know when to quit and give up. It won’t make you any less of an artist if you can’t complete a drawing.

    3. Practice with Intention

    Art frustration can sometimes come from drawing with no purpose. Because you’re just drawing for the sake of drawing, you don’t really know what standards you’re trying to achieve. This may cause you to strive for perfection which, as an artist, is a detrimental thing to do.

    So practice with intention instead and draw with a purpose.

    • Draw nature sceneries with the intent to improve drawing landscapes
    • Work on your shading with the intent to learn more about contrast and highlights
    • Draw a portrait with the intent to study and memorize facial features.

    Not only does this practice set some sort of guideline for you to follow, but it also enables you to find the fun in learning art! The more you do this, the more you learn, and the more you get used to making mistakes.

    Once you’ve broken past the barrier of drawing to be perfect and have made your way onto the path of drawing to learn, you’ll be a lot less frustrated with art.

    4. Focus on Improving Your Weaknesses

    On the note of practicing with intention, you can take it a step further and focus on improving your weaknesses.

    Frustration can also come from you not being satisfied with how you draw a certain thing. For me, drawing hands is frustrating, so whenever I have to draw hands, I lose spirit and put off the drawing.

    The only remedy for this is to work on improving the weaknesses of your drawings until you’re satisfied.

    Once you’ve reached the point of satisfaction, you can move on to your next weakness.

    Try not to practice on all of your weak points all at once as this can be overwhelming, and sometimes even disheartening. Take it one step at a time.

    Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find yourself improving immediately. The goal is to know where you’re wrong and to learn how to correct it. So if you’re making more mistakes than you’d like then you’re on the right road and there’s nothing to worry about.

    5. Draw Something You Enjoy

    On bad drawing days where you feel like anything you make is a stain on your portfolio then I recommend you draw something you enjoy!

    As vague as this advice sounds, it’s not. When we draw, usually our first instinct is to draw something other people can appreciate or something that’ll look good on our portfolio. And I get it. It’s the natural need of an artist to seek external validation.

    However, if you pause everything for a second and focus on drawing what you want to draw and what you enjoy, you may be able to stop this frustration you have for your art.

    Maybe instead of drawing a portrait, you want to draw fan art of a show that’s been dead for years (but you still keep waiting).

    Maybe you want to go for something different than your usual art style. Maybe you want to try a different tone on your drawings and do a complete one-sixty.

    All of this is valid. You don’t always have to draw for other people or draw based on what’s popular, you can simply just draw what you want.

    6. Start a New Project

    When all else fails, don’t be afraid to start a new project.

    If you’re not currently working on one, starting a project may help you with your art frustration. Instead of just mindlessly drawing and hoping for a spark, starting a new project can get you to focus your energy on the project instead of trying to achieve a certain perfection in your drawings.

    By project, I mean something like a really big art piece or something that’ll take you more than one sitting to finish. To do this:

    1. Think of something you’ve always been interested in.
    2. Do your research (even if you already know a lot about it, it doesn’t hurt to be extra prepared)
    3. Make a really simple outline for this project, just so you’ll have something to follow along
    4. Set a time and day for you to work on it

    For me, it was a comic. I hit an art block and was really frustrated at everything I drew so I decided to write a comic. It worked tremendously as I was able to shift my focus from my terrible drawings to making character sheets, writing, making playlists, and eventually drawing.

    If you’re only looking for something short-term then I don’t recommend doing a comic as it takes quite a bit of time (and not to mention commitment). You can do something else like a big drawing of all your favorite anime characters or a sketchbook just filled entirely with flowers.

    7. Think About Why You Started Drawing

    When you’re going through an art block, it doesn’t hurt to start introspecting. Think about you started drawing.

    What was it that drew you to the practice? Was it passion? Were you only doing it for fun? Were you hoping to rise to fame with your artwork?

    It’s important to dig deep down and find out why you do what you do as it may play a part in why you’re feeling frustrated.

    If you started drawing because you were passionate about it and you really love to create, then perhaps this frustration is linked to something bigger than you know.

    There’s nothing sadder than losing interest in something you’re so passionate about.

    (Or maybe you’re just going through a simple temporary art block and you just need a break.)

    If you started drawing because it was fun then maybe you no longer find the activity all that stimulating and you need to move on to something else.

    If you drew for fame and money then chances are, your frustration is caused by not yet achieving those things (if you’re an artist then you know how difficult it can be to gain a name and even earn from your artwork).

    Once you’re able to pinpoint what’s causing your art block by tracing back to why started drawing in the first place, then it’s easy for you to find a remedy.

    Maybe you just needed to talk to someone or take a break, maybe you just needed to find something more fun before you can get back into art again, or maybe you just need to accept that relying on art to pay your bills when you’ve barely cracked the surface is a bit unrealistic.   

    All these things are valid. We all started drawing for different reasons and sometimes we lose those reasons along the way and we just need a quick revisit.

    8. Focus on the Positive

    All this frustration can lead you to resent art. In this case, try to focus on the positive.

    Look at your art and appreciate all the things that make it beautiful. If you can’t think of any (as you’ve already started to antagonize it) then start with the fact that you made it.

    Think of how great it is that you were able to create something. This is your mark on the universe and although it’s a very microscopic mark in the grand scheme of things, the fact that it’s there and you made it deserves appreciation.

    It’s not beautiful because it fits the criteria of what makes are beautiful, it’s beautiful because it’s yours and no one can take that away from you (except for art thieves, but there’s a special place in hell reserved for them).

    Another thing you can focus on is your progress. Think of when you first started and the quality of your art to where you are now and how much you’ve improved. Focusing on this can be so rewarding as you’ll be reminded of how far you’ve come and how far you’ve yet to go.

    I’m still not done, I’m only halfway there. I’m a million miles ahead of where I’m from, but I still have another million miles to go.

    – Avicii

    9. Get Inspired by Other Artist’s Work

    Another thing that may help you with art block is taking inspiration from your fellow artists. Try to get inspired by other artists’ work.

    Now, this doesn’t mean finding an artist, taking their work, and recreating it completely. This means going through your favorite artist’s works, finding what you love about them, and creating art based on that.

    Even if you don’t exactly list what you like about your favorite artist’s work, you can still be inspired just by merely looking at them.

    Try not to compare yourself to them as this will only lead to even more frustration, instead think of them as your mentors. Someone to look up to and someone you can try to be.

    10. Your Next Artwork May be your Masterpiece

    This leads to my last tip which is more so a motivating thought than it is a tip.

    Your next artwork may be your masterpiece.

    What makes a masterpiece is subjective, especially in the area of art, so don’t bother trying to pin down one definition of ‘masterpiece’. Instead, think of a masterpiece as something that you’ll be really proud of.

    Regardless of whether it lands museums and skyrockets you to artistic fame, your masterpiece should be something that you’ll never get tired of seeing.

    This can be motivating as you never really know when you’ll create your ‘masterpiece’. This can lead you to keep creating and creating until eventually you look back and find that all your artwork put together is your masterpiece.

    Is it Normal to Have Bad Art Days?

    Yes, it is normal to have bad art days. In fact, bad art days are very frequent among artists. If you meet an artist who has never had a bad day then they may be lying or they may be God.

    Frustration, despondency, and bad days are something everyone goes through. It’s not something unique only to artists. Even accountants have days when they want to chuck their calculator at a wall and rip apart their balance sheets.

    So why should you beat yourself up for having a day where you want to break your pencils and never look at a drawing again?

    The important thing is to remind yourself that this feeling is temporary and a good art day is just around the corner. You just need to take a step back and breathe.

    Is it OK to Take a Day off from Drawing?

    Yes! It’s definitely okay to take a day off from drawing.

    Even gods had their day offs and they’re supposed to be gods. So don’t feel bad about taking a vacation from art and doing something else instead. In fact, I encourage you to do that, even if you’re not going through an art block. As long as you don’t abandon drawing completely, taking a break is normal and fine.

    How Do You Get Over Art Frustration?

    There are many ways to get over art frustration but the most effective way is to take a break.

    As I said, it’s important to take breaks from doing something you love instead of constantly forcing yourself on the activity. Drawing while you’re frustrated will only cause you to resent drawing, which is something you don’t want to do.

    If you really want to get over art frustration immediately, then follow my previous tips and advice which were:

    • Take a break
    • Start over or move on from the drawing entirely
    • Intentionally practice something that is giving you trouble
    • Try to improve on your weaknesses
    • Draw something you enjoy
    • Start a new project
    • Think about what motivated you to start drawing initially
    • Focus on the positive
    • Get inspired by other artists’ work
    • Imagine that your next work may be your masterpiece*

    That’s all! I hope these tips helped and I hope you get over your art frustration soon! Thanks for reading!

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