Why Artists Get Stuck

I wish I had the answer.

I drew up the neatlines for this map in my Gamma sketchbook in August. It is now October. Why am I stuck? It’s not like I have one precious page in a sketchbook and it has to be perfect. I can mess this up and go on to make 30 more if I want. It’s a sketchbook, you are supposed to work out ideas, some good and some bad. Not every page has to be perfect or finished.


I even have a word, a word of place and place names. I have books and samples of maps for inspiration. I do not have to choose just one idea, I can incorporate two into one map and then go on to create other maps with other ideas and forms and angles of view and subject and colour themes.

I will be buying the large 8.5 x 11 inch Zeta sketchbook for doing maps and illustrations incorporating parts of maps. It will have this general map theme. I have reserved a sketchbook at the store, and when the stock comes in they will call me, hopefully in the next two weeks. I do not want to lose this opportunity. I don’t want to lose all the drawings and ideas, I don’t want to look back in five years and say “I should have done that, it would have been great.”

Why am I stuck? Why do I feel I can’t sit down and create this?

I get really, really tired of having good ideas for drawings and then getting anxious about bringing them to fruition. This has gone on for years. I still remember the good ideas that got away because I wouldn’t draw them.

Part of the problem is that I often put too many things in one picture, too many objects and ideas. So some editing in the mind would help before drawing.

Perfectionism is also part of the problem. Perhaps part of it is a lack of confidence, a desire for instant, easy things. Drawing is much like writing. If you do a bit each day it gets easier, you are able to flow into it more easily, you develop habits and a routine of work.

I choose not to develop the habit.

There is an essential truth in that of why people get stuck at anything.


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2 Comments on “Why Artists Get Stuck”

  1. Roseanne Dix Says:

    oh this rings so true – when I get stuck like this, I draw on old newspaper or envelopes (and invariably the drawings are gorgeous!!!). Ithink its fear of that blank page and of having only one chance. Maybe its how we were brought up – not to mess up our chances…iM sure there is a deep explanation hidden in our tucked away selves. Im told that if one does a thumbnail then it removes the fear – but this doesnt work for me – I ‘think’on the page itself, but am sure it does have merit….

    • JJ ColourArt Says:

      I have a similar feeling with thumbnails–I see several artists working things out that way–but for me I use all my energy on the thumbnails and then have none left for the actual picture. Pre-planning so rigidly doesn’t work for me. I like to get something down and then add to it, or see what fits in the space left.

      I often do writing on envelopes but then I lose them so I like a page, preferably in a book. These Stillman and Birn sketchbooks are really nice, I really, really like working in them.

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