Blank Canvas

11 Tips to Overcoming the Fear of a Blank Canvas

I went through a period of time when I hardly picked up a brush. I think at one time or another many artist may have the same problem. Maybe it is because you have gotten busy or maybe it is because you have the fear of the blank canvas or are not sure where to start or what to paint.

There can be many reasons why you may have a fear of a blank canvas, but there are also steps you can take to help to overcome the fear of the blank canvas. Some of the steps include just start painting, while also making it easy for you to paint while understanding your ideal painting conditions and finding ways to overcome the obstacles that may stop you from painting. But most of all be fearless and brave.

There can be many reasons why you may stop painting, or have fear of the blank canvas. Here are some of the possible reasons and ways you may stop painting and how you can overcome the reasons and continue painting.

A Very Painful Rejection

Rejection hurts. There is nothing at all easy about any kind of rejection in life. And sometimes it can hurt so bad that we may throw down our paintbrushes and stop painting.

To learn to deal with rejection of your art, you need to ensure you believe in yourself as an artist so that you do not let the rejection define your art and who you are. When you are rejected, try to acknowledge the pain and then learn to let that pain go. But most of all be kind to yourself.

For some ideas on some ways you can deal with rejection, you can read our blog 8 Ways to Handle Rejection As an Artist, by clicking here,

Getting Started Again After Something In Life Has Happened

Life can hurt and sometimes things happen. Maybe we get divorced, lose our job, get ill or experience the painful loss of a loved one. All of these things can stop us in our tracks and stop us by our throwing down our paintbrushes and stopping to painting.

When life like this happens and you have stopped painting, maybe you can look at the future and say, “OK I am going to take a break now but by this date, I will get back to painting. There is nothing wrong with taking a break, but have a plan to get back to painting, so that you do not look back 10 or 20 years from now and wonder where did my painting go?

Life just gets in the way

I know that this one has happened to me. I have not had a huge rejection, nor have I had something in life happen that caused me to stop painting, but simply life got in the way. I had a lot of things I was juggling and so many hours in the day. I was not able to paint as much as I usually did.

As I still work full time and like most of you have another life outside painting I was usually painting a lot on the weekend. But for me, it was the weekend after weekend after weekend I found myself not painting as I had some other pressing matters. it was not something that I wanted to happen but it just happened.

I also noticed something, at first not painting really started to bother me. I thought “Oh my I did not get in my painting as I should have,’ or I really wanted to start on this painting but it did not get done.”

But the truth is the longer I allowed it to keep on going, the easier it became not to worry about it and the easier it became not to paint. So again the best thing to do in this case is making sure that you have a plan in place,

Jon Huntsman, a businessman spoke about not giving up and each of us believing in our selves and what we can accomplish. Jon Huntsman said:

“Never quit believing that you can develop in life. Never give up. Don’t deny the inward spirit that provides the drive to accomplish great things in life.”

Jon huntsman, Sr

Never give up on your inward drive to be an artist and accomplish great things and great artwork in life. Do not give up on yourself and your artistic pursuits and dreams.

Here are 11 tips to help you overcome the fear of the blank canvas and getting started painting again:

Tip 1 – Make it Easy – Set Up A Painting Space

If you want to be sure that you will paint and overcome the blank canvas one of the best things you can do is to make sure you have a place set up to paint. But it should be easy to start painting since if it is complicated chances are you will not paint as much as you should.

If you only paint outside then have an easel and other paint supplies which are easy to carry and easy to set up. Try to make sure that no matter where you are painting to set up and get ready to paint will take you less than 10 minutes.

The reason why I say less than 10 minutes is because if you have only an hour and a half to paint and if it takes you 10 minutes to set up and get ready to paint and 15 minutes to clean up your painting including cleaning your brushes, then that means now you have barely one hour to actually paint. But if you only have one and a half hours to paint and your set up and clean time is each 30 minutes you will only have 30 minutes to paint.

Make sure that the setup and clean up for you to paint is as easy as possible. If it is too difficult and takes too much time, this will more than likely affect how much time you will be able to paint.

As I live in a small apartment, and I have set up a small painting corner in my living room area. It may not be ideal but at the same time, anyone that comes to visit knows that I paint. I will put my painting away when I am not painting, but I can also easily pull out my painting when I want to paint. I have a balcony that I can easily take my painting outside on the balcony to paint. But all of this takes me no more than 10 minutes to set up and get ready to paint.

I have found that the key to my painting, especially to start to paint again after I have been absent from it for whatever reason, is to make sure that setting up my painting materials and getting ready to paint is as easy as possible and not complicated. The easier you can make it for you to start painting, the more likely you will be that you will start painting again. This can be really important especially when you have the fear of the blank canvas.

Tip 2 – Just Start Painting

if you just put one stroke on the blank canvas then that canvas is no longer blank. It just takes one single brush stroke to turn a blank canvas into the start of a work of art.

I know that sometimes I am sitting there staring at the blank canvas and thinking, well I am going to look at this until I feel in the mood or inspiration comes. And when it does not come, my canvas remains blank.

But the truth is that at least for me, painting is a process. Sometimes I can see how the entire painting will turn out but normally I will not and the painting and colors and other things will come as I go along with my painting. It is a creative process.

I believe that many artists are also this way. Painting is a process. And though we may plan things out in our mind, but also many times inspiration or ideas come as we only after we have gotten started or as we go along. Many times for me it comes bit by bit. So if you are not sure what to do with the blank canvas, just get started. Paint that first stroke and then keep on painting.

Tip 3 – Focus On the Process of Painting

As you pick up that paintbrush again, then start to focus on the process of painting. As most artists start to do this, they will find their creativity starts to come back. Do not worry about how the finished product will look but instead just focus on that you are painting.

That is why I suggest you can use a smaller canvas unless you are like me and you work in oil so I can paint over anything. But the main focus here should be for you to get started painting.

One of the main reasons for you to just get started is to focus on the process, not the finished product as that most artists will find that as they start to paint their creative juices will also start to flow and to just starting painting will help their inspiration and creative juices along the way.

Even this one canvas does not work out but it may help to lead you to a great masterpiece.

Tip 4 – Understand Your Ideal Working Conditions

Most artists have some ideal working conditions. Here are some things to think about with your ideal painting conditions:

  • Is there a certain time you like to paint? Do you paint better in the morning or in the evening? Maybe it is on the weekends? Is there a time that is better for you than another time?
  • Is there a certain place you like to paint? Some people like to paint outdoors and others may like to paint indoors. Is there a certain place that helps you paint or gives you inspiration? Then find that place.
  • Are there certain conditions you need to paint as well? Some artists may find that if it is too hot they cannot paint well and for some others it maybe if it is too cold. Understand more of what your ideal conditions are.

Try to understand your idea conditions and then find a way to make sure you try to paint in these conditions. The painting process should be something you enjoy and love to do. Not just an exercise in endurance or work. It should be pleasurable.

Tip 5 – Reignite Your Inspiration

Sometimes we may find that we are really just stuck. No matter what we do we feel we are lacking in inspiration and we just feel stuck and so that canvas remains blank.

Here are something you can do to try to reignite your inspiration:

  • Visit an Art Museum – Go do as what artists have done for centuries. Go visit an art museum. Spend some time there studying the art that you see. Take a sketch pad with you and start to jot down ideas or draw them out as they come to you.
  • Go to the Art Exhibition of an Artist you admire – Go to an art exhibition of an artist that you admire and want to be like. Find inspiration in their art. There is nothing wrong with finding inspiration from other artists.
  • Go out in nature with your sketchbook – Nature can give us some great ideas and I know many times just the process of exercising without any headphones on or listening to anything but just thinking can help me to get inspiration that I need. It is those quiet times that help me get inspiration.
  • Go to a library or bookstore – Many libraries and bookstores have some great artist sections with a lot of art books. Leafing through the pages of inspiring books can help to give you inspiration
  • Roam the Internet – The internet can be a great source for inspiration especially websites as Pinterest where people have set up boards of things that inspire them. You can find a lot of great inspiration online.

Tip 6 – Find a Painting Buddy

Sometimes having a fellow artist to work with can help you to not only reignite your inspiration but it can also help you find inspiration and get started again after you have been away from painting for a while.

It can be nice to spend the day painting with someone else and you can talk about your painting and compare notes on your paintings or ask their opinion. This can help you to get your painting juices flowing again, especially if you have been away from painting for a while. .

Some artists may work best alone and others may work best with others If you work best with others having someone else that you paint with may really help you with your creative process. Not sure what works best for you? Then you can try to have a painting buddy and then try to work alone and then see what works best for you.

Tip 7 – Establish a Regular Painting Routine

Most people do better when they have a regular routine. This is true of most artists. They need to set time aside to work on their craft.

I know it can be tempting to think “well I will just wait for the inspiration to come to me and then I will paint.” But the truth is that if you have set up a time and place the chances are that you will get more done with your painting than someone who does not have a time or place set up and does not have a regular painting routine.

Tip 8 – Identify and then Manager Your Distractions

Most of us lead very busy lives and we have others that may depend upon on. We all have some distractions in life that can take us away from our painting.

Maybe you really want to paint and you have ideas and inspiration bubbling over in your head. You also have a place all set up to paint but you find each time you start to paint you get distracted. One of the first things you can do then is to first try to identify your main distractions.

Take a pen and paper and write them all down. Then look at them one-by-one and then try to figure out ways that you can try to manage or eliminate them. Maybe you get distracted by looking through art books and so you never quite get to the process of painting. If that is a problem then maybe you can put your art books away when you are painting.

There are of course some distractions you cannot eliminate such as a small child that needs you. Or a loved one who is ill or sick and needs your help. In those situations maybe you can find a way to manage distractions such as you find a way to paint when your child is taking a nap.

Whatever the distractions are then first identified them and then second look at ways that you can try to manage or if possible eliminate them.

Tip 9 – Make It Simple

So many times in life we want to make things so complicated and difficult, but in reality, if we can make it simple we have a better chance that we will stick with our painting.

Here are some ways we try to make our painting more simple:

  • Do not overthink things– Just paint and try not to overthink your painting. Just enjoy it and the rest will come.
  • Be organized – Organization can help to simplify your life.
  • Don’t worry – Sometimes we worry so much about things that never happen. Try not to worry.
  • Focus on what is important – Learn to focus on what is important with your art. Things like I love to paint, or painting helps me reduce stress, etc. It is those things that are important not if everyone loves your painting or your artistic style.

Tip 10 – Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

No one likes failure. We all want to be successful in life. But if we are so afraid of failure we may never do anything with our painting. We can sit there for a long time and stare at the blank canvas if we are afraid to get started or take the first brush stroke.

For some more ideas on this how to deal with failure or deal with people who may be critical of your art, you can read our blog Not Everyone Will Like Your Art, And Why That Is OK by clicking here.

Tip 11 – Be Brave – Be Fearless

It can take a lot of guts to be an artist. You put your heart and soul out there on a canvas for everyone to see and for people to look at and for people to in many cases also criticize. So being an artist requires that you be brave and be fearless.

Be Brave and Be Fearless, as you are the only one that can limit yourself and your artistic potential. Haruki Murakami reminds us all:

“Be fearless, be brave, be bold, love yourself.”

 Haruki Murakami

Most artists will have a time when they will look at that blank canvas and they are not sure what they should do or how they should get started to paint again. But what is most important is that you get started and you keep on painting. Remember just one brush stroke means that the canvas is no longer blank.

What Are Some Ways I Can Find Artistic Inspiration Through Travel?

One of the ways that travel can help you find some artistic observation is by seeing new colors and color combinations through your travel. It will also open your eyes to new patterns. Through people watching you will find new subjects to paint. You will also see new shapes and objects. Travel helps to train you to be more observant.

You can read more this by reading our blog 5 Tips to Find Artistic Inspiration through Travel by clicking here

Should Every Artist Have A Website?

Having a website can seem like a lot of work and a lot of time that many artists do not want to take away from their painting. Every artist today needs to have a website. Some of the reasons are that an artist is essentially running a small business, so in running the small business they need to have a website like any other business owner.

To find out more about why every artist should have a website you can read our blog 11 Reasons Every Artist Should Have a Website by clicking here.