Another Duel With Uninspiration – A Ramble

2016 Artwork Duelling with uninspiration

Whilst the art that is being posted on here at the moment was made during an “inspired” phase, some of the art that will be posted here in about a week’s time was made when I was feeling slightly uninspired. So, for today, I thought that I’d talk about how to handle uninspiration again.

Thankfully, the uninspired phase I was going through when I made these paintings was a relatively mild one. Although the uninspired phase has lasted for at least a few days, I’ve still been able to produce daily paintings/drawings using a few simple techniques (eg: by not drawing people and/or by making minimalist paintings where most of the picture is shrouded in darkness).

One of the largest problems with uninspired phases is that they can sap your confidence as an artist. If you’ve spent a couple of days producing rushed and sub-standard paintings, then it can be very easy to lose faith in yourself as an artist. Making art can feel like it’s gone from being something wonderful to being an annoying chore. Strange as it may sound, I’ve always found that the trick here is to just keep going.

Uninspired phases are just that, phases. Yes, they can be daunting if they haven’t happened to you very often before. But, if you make art every day, then you’ll soon get used to them. They’ll go from being a seriously problem to just being a routine annoyance. Most of the time, I’ve found that they usually don’t last longer than a week or so at most.

Although different things work for different people, the thing that I’ve always found useful during uninspired phases is just to keep going.

Yes, making art regularly when you’re uninspired might feel like a chore, but it’s also one of the best ways to limit the impact that uninspiration can have on you. If you “show up” at your sketchbook every day (and make sure that you paint or draw something, even if it isn’t any good) then the number of opportunities for inspiration to strike are increased significantly, compared to if you abandon your sketchbook until you’re “feeling inspired” again.

Likewise, even if you make terrible paintings or bad drawings when you’re uninspired, the fact that you’re still making art will work in your favour. It means that you won’t have lost any momentum when you start to feel inspired again.

Another way to think about it is that making art (even crappy or mediocre art) when you’re feeling uninspired is a way of rebelling against your lack of inspiration. It’s a way of showing yourself that you can still make art even when you aren’t feeling “inspired”. It’s a way of confirming to yourself that you’re like a “serious” artist, since you can still make art regardless of your inspiration levels. It’s a way of feeling like a badass. It’s a way of feeling like you take your art seriously.

This might be a slightly militaristic metaphor, but getting into the habit of making art when you’re uninspired is a way of “holding the line” against uninspiration. It’s a way of fortifying yourself against the capricious whims of “inspiration”.

Making art when you’re uninspired can be a battle but, once you’ve had a bit of practice at this (and learnt a few tricks – like re-making your old art, making still life paintings, making minimalist art, making simpler landscapes etc…) it goes from being an almost hopeless battle to being an enjoyable challenge. It becomes an enjoyably challenging duel with a familiar foe, rather than a hopeless fight against a larger adversary.

To use a retro gaming metaphor, uninspiration goes from being a nearly unsolvable “point and click” adventure game puzzle to being an enjoyably challenging set of levels for “Doom II“.

So, even if you don’t make good art when you’re uninspired, there’s still a lot to be said for making art regularly when you aren’t inspired.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂


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