Many non-artistic people may think that art comes easily to artists. If you’re a sketch artist, you must always want to draw!
But as most (if not all) artists know, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the inspiration well runs dry. Although we enjoy the art we do, we can’t always find the motivation to actually do it.
So, how can you find motivation to draw? To find motivation to draw, you can try a few different things, including looking up images and art for inspiration, making a creative schedule, doing warm-up doodles, finishing your art in increments, experimenting with different mediums or subjects, and more.
Regardless of your natural talent, practiced skill level, or years spent in your art, finding motivation can be hard. In this article, we will provide you with helpful tips for finding inspiration and motivation to get you drawing again.
Let’s Talk About Artist Block
Running into an artistic block or getting stuck in an art slump is more common than people may think.
Interestingly, one of the top ways artists get blocked is by drawing too much. If you draw all day every day for several days, you can quickly get burnt out and find yourself not wanting to draw anymore.
The opposite is also true. If you haven’t picked up your pencil in several months, it can be hard to figure out where to start again. A long dry spell in art can lead to an artist feeling stuck, not knowing what to do first to get back in the artistic groove.
It can also be difficult to find motivation when your art is assigned. Feeling the pressure of a due date and grade has the potential to squash any free inspiration you may have had.
Sometimes, artists even get blocked simply by distractions. With so many screens offering so many different forms of entertainment, it can be difficult to want to sit in front of a blank page and just draw.
If any of this sounds like you, don’t worry. We’ve got some great motivation tips below to help get you out of your artistic slump and back to filling those pages in your sketchbook.
When reviewing the different activities below, it’s important to remember that not all of these will work for everyone.
Some people don’t respond well to certain things, like committing publicly to their artwork. The pressure of producing can be more of a block than a motivation.
Read through the options below and see if one piques your interest. Try it out, and if it doesn’t work, try a different one! We’ve provided several ideas so that you can figure out which works best for you.
1. Find New Inspiration
One of the quickest ways to gain new motivation to draw is by finding new things that spark your imagination, creativity, and passion for art. A low-effort way to get your brain going is looking up images online, on sites like Pinterest or free photo sites.
For example, if you love to draw human portraits, looking up new and interesting faces may give you new ideas and you might find someone who reminds you of your favorite book character, someone who has an interesting smile, etc. Even music, books, and other media can serve as artistic inspiration!
Soon, you won’t just know what to draw, you’ll be excited to get to work in order to turn your idea into a work of art.
2. A Creative Schedule
If art is an important part of your life but you keep finding yourself putting it off, a creative schedule might do the trick. Set aside a specific time every day or on a few days of the week to draw.
Even if you really don’t feel like drawing, when this time comes around, at least put down a few doodles onto the paper. Draw anything. Look around your space and see if you can draw an object or person that’s right in front of you, like a cup of coffee or a potted plant. Don’t worry about them being good; the act is all that matters.
If you keep up with the schedule, eventually you can train your brain to wake up and get into the creative zone when the time comes. You won’t feel like you’re forcing yourself to draw every time.
With that said, one of the simplest ways to bring yourself out of an artistic slump is to simply sit down and force yourself to do it. Of course, this doesn’t work for everyone, but it does work for many people. Even the act of gathering your art supplies, turning to a blank page, and picking up your chosen medium can be enough to get something flowing.
Often, this initial drawing can inspire you to draw something else. Art tends to spiral once you get going, so all you need to do is start.
3. Warm Up Doodles And Thumbnails
Sometimes you already have a great idea of what you’d like to draw, but you just can’t seem to work up the motivation to bring it into reality. We’ve all been there.
Don’t feel like you have to hop right in and create an instant masterpiece. Instead, get out your pencil and paper and start with some warm-up doodles. These can be as loose, messy, and vague as you’d like; you’re just getting your brain in the right space to draw.
If you’re still not ready to move on to a bigger project, try thumbnailing. Create small thumb-sized boxes on your paper and sketch in a rough draft of your design. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect – you’re just working out details like the overall composition, lighting, perspective, and form.
Sketching a few of these thumbnails can help you decide exactly where you want to go with your final project and give you an easy place to start.
4. Incremental Art
If sitting down for hours finishing your big project sounds like a huge undertaking, we’re with you. While the final product is always worth it, drawing certainly takes a lot of hard work and patience.
However, you don’t have to do it all at once. For some, just the idea of finishing the project is motivation enough to get the whole drawing done in one day. But for others, taking a slow and meticulous approach is more their speed. You can start with the thumbnails and sketch one day, sharpen the lines the next, shade and crosshatch afterward, and so on.
This way, you won’t have to sit down all day at your drawing desk, but you’ll also have a set goal to reach, which can serve as a motivating factor.
5. Be Okay With “Bad” Art
It’s hard to find even one artist who isn’t a perfectionist to some degree. While this can sometimes serve as motivation by itself, it can also be a hinderance to artists who want to improve their skills but don’t want to go through the disheartening process of making mistakes before achieving the results they want.
We totally understand that feeling, but trust us, the mistakes are how you learn what works and what doesn’t. Don’t abandon your ideas because you’re afraid they won’t turn out the way you envisioned. You may produce some “bad art” that you don’t like along the way, but if you keep up with drawing regularly, eventually you may find that your art turns out even better than you imagined.
6. Drawing Prompts
Similar to writing prompts, drawing prompts can offer a wealth of inspiration. Not all prompts are helpful, but sometimes prompts can be the spark you need to get started. There are some helpful drawing prompt books out there, with two specifically that we want to highlight for your use.
642 Things to Draw is one of the most popular drawing prompt books. It gives you space and prompts you to draw everything, from beetles to water jugs, a jungle, or a rolling pin.
Some of these objects or prompts may not be your normal subject. If you’re used to drawing portraits, it may feel strange to draw a hammock. We encourage you to try anyway, because drawing new things can unlock ideas for your usual subjects and allow you to create more cohesive compositions.
With the hammock, for example, you can draw it with a person in it. You can include your usual subject of people with the prompt’s recommended object of the hammock. And who knows, this drawing may inspire you to draw a whole nature scene full of people.
Another fantastic drawing prompt book is 500 Drawing Prompts by Piccadilly Sketchbook. It has the same format as 642 Things to Draw with blank pages and designated spaces to draw the prompt.
Some of the prompts in the Piccadilly book are a jellyfish, wizard’s staff, alien, and what’s under your bed. These are only 4 out of the 500 possibilities of drawing subjects for you to choose from.
What we love about 500 Drawing Prompts is that it also lays completely flat, so you won’t have to fight the pages at the binding to keep them down for you to draw comfortably.
Both of these books, and any other drawing prompts you can find, can be incredibly helpful. Don’t feel confined to go page by page, prompt by prompt. Feel free to flip around, draw a prompt towards the back of the book one day, and move to the middle the next day.
Keeping your drawings in these books is a fun way to track your progress over time, but feel free to also flip through for inspiration and then sketch in your usual drawing pad.
7. Social Media Challenges
If inspiration is your main problem with working up motivation, another way to get your creative juices flowing is by looking up artist challenges. Many communities on various social media platforms are constantly coming up with challenges for other artists to participate in.
For example, the Draw This In Your Style Challenge has artists creating their own unique versions of other artists’ work, with permission from the original artist. Mermay is another fun one where artists draw a different mermaid every day of May.
There are endless challenges out there, so we’re sure you can find something that suits you!
8. Experiment With New Subjects Or Mediums
Another great way to find motivation to draw is by changing things up. Try experimenting with either a new subject, or a new medium.
After years of drawing, artists tend to find specific subjects they enjoy drawing the most. Whether it’s plants, animals, people, landscapes, cityscapes, or something else, there are often niches when it comes to drawing.
If you’re in a rut, your usual subject may have gotten stale in your mind. Even if you typically only draw landscapes, have a go at drawing something different, like food.
Drawing a bowl of ramen is about as far as it gets from mountain landscapes, but it could be a fun way to switch it up and exercise drawing muscles you haven’t used before.
You could also try changing to a new medium. If you typically draw with pencils, try using charcoal, colored pencil, or chalk.
If you really want to step outside of your comfort zone, try switching to a whole new art. Get a set of watercolors or acrylic paints and see if you find more inspiration through painting than you have in drawing.
Art is a fluid thing. Changing to painting for a while doesn’t make you less of a sketch artist, and it doesn’t mean you can’t go right back to drawing. You could even start a painting, then find yourself wanting to draw something in the painting. Mixed media tends to turn out more interesting anyway!
A great way to find motivation to draw is not to limit yourself. Open your mind to all the possibilities that art has to offer and see where the inspiration takes you.
9. Commit Publicly
While this strategy may not work for some people, it can be incredibly helpful for others. If you commit publicly to producing a specific piece or series of artwork, the commitment on its own can be enough to motivate you.
This doesn’t have to be anything big. You can share on social media that you will be posting a picture of a new drawing in a week and only share it with friends.
Sometimes sharing artwork with family or friends can be more stressful than sharing it with strangers. If you’re more comfortable with strangers, try setting up a new blog on a platform like Tumblr and sharing your artwork there.
If you don’t feel comfortable committing publicly but want some form of accountability, find a drawing buddy. This can be a family member, close friend, or someone you met via social media.
Tell your drawing buddy that you will share a new art piece with them in a set amount of time. Remember to allow yourself whatever time you think you need.
If you give yourself a time window of just a few hours or even a day, it can be setting yourself up for failure if life gets in the way. Try giving yourself more time than you need, like a week, to allow for flexibility in case other responsibilities come up.
The main point of this motivation strategy is to give yourself accountability to another person that you will draw. By sharing this commitment with someone else, it can help motivate you to produce something beautiful that you want to share with them.
10. View Other Artwork
When all else fails, simply take a moment, and look at art. Find some artist blogs or social media accounts that speak to you and scroll through the artwork they have posted. Visit an art museum and view famous works of art. Remember to take your sketchpad in case inspiration strikes!
Sometimes viewing other people’s artwork can motivate us to produce our own. Seeing other people be successful and create beautiful art inspires us in our own abilities and motivates us to try and reach our artistic potential too.
This should not be a comparison. Viewing other people’s art should come from a place of inspiration and appreciation. Rather than thinking, “They’re so much better than me,” think more along the lines of, “They’re great, and I could be too!” What do they do right that you could implement into your own art? Once you figure that out, try it!
Don’t let yourself get discouraged by other people’s talent. Let it inspire you to grow your own skills and keep drawing! And guess what? That artist that you think is so amazing? They were in your shoes once.
Still Having Trouble?
If you’ve tried some or all of the suggestions above and are still having trouble working up motivation, there are tons of helpful videos on YouTube. Here’s one by DrawingWiffWaffles on YouTube that we found particularly helpful:
You could also try going for a walk. Taking a walk outside and looking around your neighborhood, nature, or the people around you can be refreshing.
A change of environment or scenery is often all someone needs to find new inspiration. Just don’t forget to take your sketchpad and medium of choice for when you find that motivation!
How Do You Actually Finish Art?
Once you get started on a larger drawing, it may take several hours to finish. Sometimes we have to step away from our art to take care of other responsibilities like cooking, childcare, and work.
For some people with busy lives, the key to finishing an art piece is to work in segments of time, allowing yourself to finish your art over time. You can break it down by sections of the full piece, or components such as outlines, coloring, shading, etc.
If you don’t want to worry about taking several days to finish a drawing, choose something small that you can finish in one sitting.
Set yourself up for success. By this, we mean put yourself in a space that encourages your artistic interests. Schedule your drawing session for a time when you work the best, with tons of inspiration and no distractions.
Choose a space to draw that motivates you. This could be your bed, your couch, at a desk or table, or even sitting outside and enjoying the view.
How Can I Learn Art By Myself?
If you’re interested in learning to draw or want to expand some of your drawing skills, it can be daunting trying to do it alone.
Fortunately, in modern society we have the advantage of the Internet. There’s a wealth of information, from articles that include drawing tutorials on shading, perspective, lighting, particular mediums, and more, to videos that walk you through a picture step-by-step.
The most important thing to know about learning art by yourself is that you will be your own worst critic. When you’re sitting at home alone comparing your amateur drawing to the professional on your screen, it can be easy to get discouraged.
Give yourself time to grow. No one becomes a master at a new skill overnight. Even if you’ve been drawing for years, but you’ve never attempted to draw a person before, it’s a whole new skillset that will take time to develop.
A great way to keep yourself motivated as you learn art on your own is to keep all of your old sketches. It can be tempting to throw away the embarrassing bad drawings of your beginning days, but this is also the best way to check your progress.
You can go back and look at the first thing you ever drew, then draw it again three months later and see how much you’ve grown.
If you’re feeling stuck or discouraged, try one of our recommended activities to find motivation listed above. These are designed to help any artist, regardless of skill level, find the motivation and inspiration to start drawing again.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a pencil and paper and get to drawing!