I am in a bit of a slump right now - one of those times when I am pretty frustrated with my work, feeling like I can't get it right, not making progress and so on.  I have been trying to work through it for the past 2 weeks but can't seem to get beyond it.

I have read that it is a normal thing for artists to experience this from time to time - but still, it is not very much fun.

So I thought I would put it out there to this supportive group and ask:

Have you experienced periods like this?  If so, do you have any advice for moving forward?  I would love to be painting happily again....

Thanks for anything you have to share.....


Views: 112

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

hi Sarah! well, that sucks! maybe you could try painting something you have never tried before. or try a different medium? or even do a follow along painting online, just to get moving. try doing a few quick studies. you don't have time to screw around with em :) and cant be disappointed!  maybe try one of Karen's challenges? even if you have done them all. Sorry for the slump!  i have been doing so many things, that have to be done before snow flies again, i haven't had enough time for painting. not as much as i want t any way.

Thanks for the feedback, Wenda. I like your ideas of trying something different. I am not sure what will work. I have been under a bit of stress lately, which probably doesn't help. I am thinking i need something playful, where the outcome doesn't matter, but for now I think I'm just gonna take a break from painting. I appreciate hearing from you!

If you read bios of "really big" artists, most have had the same issue at one time or another.  I think Dali would be the exception. .   .  In it's own way, probably is a mild form of "burnout" that just needs to be overcome in a circuitous manner, whether by new media, new subjects, or temporary abstinence.  One's creative side does not seem to respond well to forced work sessions.

Perhaps a time for searching is appropriate.  Armed with camera and/or sketchbook, one can search out beauty, form, colour and design, leaving the interpretation and application to a more creative time.  The senses are still being honed and fine tuned, but without the pressure "to perform".  Without continually developing the ability to see, one cannot hope to enlighten.  Without looking further and a deeper understanding of what we see, we can only portray what we saw yesterday with skills that we had yesterday.  If today we feel bogged down, perhaps we need only refresh our database of memories, of things experienced, seen, questioned, and maybe even understood. 

Reworking the same piece numerous times begs the question: did I really have a vision for this, or am I pushing to find a vision?  When we don't know what we seek, it is impossible to find it.  Perhaps other factors are getting in the way.  Any emotional cloud can dampen our outlook, and stress is adept in this regard.  It's all about perspective; sometimes the world presses in upon us, other times it opens up in front of us, full of wonder and delight.  If we try focus on the wonder and delight, the more pressing moments are a bit easier to endure and overcome.

Hi Charles. Thanks for the words of advice. I find it so hard right now to adequately paint the beauty around me. When I try to capture it, I feel so limited by my current ability and get frustrated and negative about ny work. I don't feel like I am progressing. Sketching is a great idea, just trying to capture line, light shadow without having to get it right, which I think is what I need right now.
It might also help if it stopped raining every single day in the northeast:)
Thanks, again, Charles for your listening and understanding.

Excellent advice Charles and Wenda!

I do find this to be inevitable in creative work. Just the ebbs and flows of life. The important part is not to feel bad about it, or take it to mean something more than it does. It's not proof that you shouldn't be painting or aren't gaining in skill. Just know that it is a normal cycle and it will pass. Don't try to force your way out of it.

Sometimes when this happens to me I try experimental things. Just put a canvas up with no thought at all and start slinging paint around. Sometimes I just do something else! Knit or practice the drums or go for long walks. Sometimes I just push through and keep working. But in every case it will pass, so just do whatever feels right :)

And stopping by here, reading books or magazines on art, writing in a journal about art or how you're feeling about art. All these things will help your understanding and skills grow, even if you don't pick up a brush!

Thanks for you words of wisdom, Karen. I certainly have had periods of self doubt before, but this is the longest period I have had. I keep trying to figure out what the problem is, but that hasn't been helping. I like the idea of just putting paint on canvas and see what happens.
Thanks for the reassurance that others have these periods. While I know it's true, it certainly helps to hear you say it:)
Thanks for all you do, Karen. I appreciate it.

I also try to do something totally different, such as, going outside and drawing with pen/pencil. I always carry a small pad with me. By doing something related, but different from what you're used to doing, helps free me up.

HTH, Tony

Thanks, Tony. That sounds like a good idea. I haven't been sketching much lately, so I'm going to try. Thanks for weighing in on this.


Although I am pretty new to painting, I want to offer something I tried last year. I decided to attempt to paint something I love to look at, but that does not lend itself to my style. I watched a quick tutorial on youtube for painting an impressionistic painting. I love to look at them, but I like to paint shadows and light and detail. While I had fun, I will never hang the painting, but made me look forward to my next painting in my style. There is an artist, P.J. Cook whose work I love, very soft beach scenes etc. Not my style, but I am looking forward to attempting his style to see what I can make of it.

I also like to paint just to create something beautiful to give as a gift. It changes my focus. Humbling. Hope you get out of your slump soon. 

Thanks for this idea, Micki. I do like the idea. I am taking a break from painting until after my daughter's wedding. Hopefully I will come back with some fresh energy.

Hi Sarah! I'm happy to learn I'm not alone :)

In that case I like to experiment other subjects (portrait, seascape, landscape...) or other way of painting (for ex. begining with a grisaille), other formats, paint only with a knife... The result is not always wonderful bit it's always instructive.

Take care


I have taken a break from painting for a small amount of time due to life events.  I am wanting to try something different and hope to get back to it soon.  Thanks for the encouragement....


What's new?

Need some extra help?

The Personal Tutor

Yes, you CAN help!


Become a Patron of the Arts!

Join me on my Patreon page. Pledge a small monthly donation and get rewards!

  • Discounts on Classes in my Online School
  • Discounts in my Etsy Shop
  • Free Personal Tutor Sessions
  • Patron Only video chat/demos
  • and more!



Or you can use the button below for a one time contribution in any amount - Thank you!

© 2018   Created by Karen Ilari.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service