Staying Motivated

As artists, we’ve all had moments of self-doubt. Sometimes that doubt can be so consuming that it causes you to stop creating altogether. While it’s normal to feel have moments of uncertainty, being in a perpetual state of creative paralysis is a whole other thing. If you’re having trouble staying motivated with your art, there are a few things you can do to keep pushing forward.

Sometimes lack of motivation is coming from frustration with the current medium you are working in. Certain mediums can be a little trickier than others to become proficient at so switching to a medium you are comfortable with can sometimes take the pressure off of the learning curve and let you just focus on creating.

Changing things up could also mean trying to draw a new subject matter or even experimenting with a different style. It’s can sometimes be hard to identify but lack of motivation can come from boredom with a particular subject matter you have been focusing on for a long time.

Many artists create work that is a reflection of what inspires them. If you’re not sure what that is for you, try taking a trip to your local museum or even a short trip somewhere you’ve never been before. Take the time to really observe your surroundings. Take a camera and sketchbook along with you so that you can document or make notes about things you see that you find interesting.

If traveling isn’t an option, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home. Use an app like Pinterest to create a board that is just for things that you find inspiring. It could be the colors within a photo or something about how the subject matter is lit. Really take the time to analyze what it is about that image that is resonating with you and build your inspiration catalog around that.

I mean this in two senses of the saying. The first to actually give yourself a break from art. A lack of motivation can sometimes come after a period of intense work. Sometimes your brain and body are telling you they are tired and it’s important to listen to that to avoid burn out entirely. We are not machines. If you feel you need to take an extended hiatus and are worried about the consequences, let your followers know through a post on your various channels. You may feel guilty for not keeping up with a regular posting schedule but the people who care about you and are following your art will understand. You can’t create art with any authenticity if you are forcing yourself to do it, and eventually, it will show in your work.

Secondly, don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s so easy to compare yourself to other artists, especially now when we are all constantly looking at each other’s highlight reels. Patience and practice go a really long way. The process may seem long but the reward is definitely worth it. Everyone wants to be good at something, and chances are you are already. There’s always someone else who is further behind you as well as ahead of you, but none of that matters. Art, for the most part, is a self-directed journey. There’s no competition unless you put yourself in the position to be in one, and even that is subjective.

Everyone experiences doubt from time to time, but it doesn’t have to be a long-term state of mind. Get your creative inspiration flowing again by seeking out new places or subject matter. You never know what experience might completely become a game changer for you. Above all, don’t let frustration with learning a medium get you down. Reconnect with what made you want to try it to begin with and if that has changed for you, don’t be afraid to move on to something else.

An important thing to note is that sometimes lack of motivation can come from a legitimate mental health issue. If you think you may be experiencing signs of depression, don’t be afraid to seek the advice of a medical professional.

Barb Sotiropoulos

Barb Sotiropoulos

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

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Hey, I'm Barb!

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

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