Five Things To Do When Your Art Feels Lifeless

2015 Artwork Lifeless art sketch

Well, a while before I wrote this article – I tried to make a painting… and I failed miserably. I began with a blank page and I ended with a blank page. If you make art regularly, you probably know that this kind of thing can happen from time to time.

It wasn’t that I didn’t do anything, it’s just that I’d start sketching something in pencil – only to think “this is boring” or “this is crap” before erasing it and starting again. After a few failed attempts, I gave up and decided to write this article instead.

In short, my art just felt – for want of a better word – lifeless. It felt generic and pointless. So, whilst I’ve still got to work out a way to solve this problem this time, I thought that I’d briefly list a few ways that I’ve solved it in the past, in case they’re useful to you.

1) Add a story: Thinking of a backstory for literally every piece of art you create can be mentally exhausting and can make the process of creating art stressful rather than enjoyable.

But, on the other hand, if you never think of stories for the events or characters shown in your art then – after a while, making art can seem kind of pointless, meaningless and/or generic.

So, if your art starts to look or feel slightly lifeless, then try to think of a story (or, rather, a single moment from a longer story) before you make your next drawing or painting. Then try to capture that fragment of your story in your next picture. This doesn’t always work but, when it does, it can certainly make your art more lively and meaningful.

2) Make a comic: This takes quite a bit of effort, but if you’re just making paintings or drawings of random characters, then one way of adding some life to your art is to actually bring those characters to life in a comic of some kind or another. This can be anything from a full-length comic to just a single-panel comic with one line of dialogue in it.

But, you’d be surprised at how doing something as simple as adding dialogue or using multiple panels can revitalise your art. So, don’t be afraid to make comics when your art starts to feel a bit “dull” or “lifeless”.

3) Try something new: This one is probably fairly self-explanatory, but trying something different can be a great way to add some life to your art again.

It can be very easy to fall into a routine and produce the same type of art again and again, or to use the same compositions again and again. So, working in a different genre (eg: still life painting, landscape painting, comics etc…) can make creating art feel new and interesting again.

4) Start a series: One relatively easy way to make your art feel interesting again is to produce a short art series. This is a series of paintings, drawings, sculptures etc… that all share a common theme.

I’ve done this at least twice during the past month or so (I made a few dystopic sci-fi paintings, I made a few B&W drawings set in the late 19th/early 20th century [Edit: and I was finally able to get out of this uninspired mood by making some still life paintings]) and, both times, it has made making art feel interesting again for a few days.

Don’t ask me why, but making several pieces of art that have a connection to each other just kind of makes art interesting again.

5) Make something topical: Finally, one good way to put some life back into your art is to make something that is highly topical and/or opinionated. If you’re worried about how people might react to it, then you don’t have to show it to anyone else.

But, the experience of making something that has a strong connection to the world around you can be a suprisingly good way to re-ignite your interest in making art. At the very least, it reminds you that art can be a powerful thing when it comes to shaping people’s opinions and/or expressing yourself.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful šŸ™‚

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