Three Tips For Making Art When You Are Tired


I’m not sure if I’ve written about this subject before, but I thought that I’d take a look at how you can make art when you are feeling tired. This is mostly because I ended up pulling an all-nighter a couple of nights before writing this article and, like with previous all-nighters, still somehow managed to keep up my art practice the following day.

So, here are some tips for making art when you are really tired.

1) Fascinations: The last thing you need is to feel uninspired when you are also feeling tired. So, ask yourself what fascinates you right now and then use it as the basis for your drawing or painting. If nothing fascinates you at the moment, then think about things that have fascinated you in the past. Fascination is the key to staying inspired and motivated when you are tired.

For example, during the all-nighter I mentioned earlier, I’d become briefly fascinated by 1930s fashions after re-watching part of an old “Poirot” DVD. So, when it came to making a painting the next morning, my first idea was “it’ll be set in the 1930s”. After all, since this was what interested me at the time, it was an obvious source of inspiration.

Although the final painting ended up going in a much more random direction, if you look at the people on the right-hand side of this reduced-size preview, you can probably see that they look at least slightly old-fashioned:

The full-size painting will be posted here on the 16th August.

The full-size painting will be posted here on the 16th August.

2) Practice: One of the best ways to make vaguely ok art when you are very tired is to keep a regular practice schedule.

If you practice regularly, then sticking to your practice schedule can end up becoming an almost automatic thing over time. The feeling of “I’ve got to practice” can be a very good way to get motivated to make art when you are tired.

Likewise, if you practice regularly, then this will also improve the art that you make when you are tired. Yes, tired art usually isn’t as good as “normal” art and can sometimes be the equivalent of making art with 6-12 fewer months of practice than you already have. However, the more practice you have and the more that you’ve learnt, the less noticeable this effect will be.

3) Randomness and/or minimalism: This varies from artist to artist, but two ways to actually finish a painting that you start making when you’re tired is to either make the painting as minimalist as possible and/or as random as possible.

The advantage of minimalism is that you only have to focus on adding detail to a small amount of the painting – whilst leaving the rest of the picture shrouded in darkness. As such, there’s less to do and you’ll still end up with a dramatic-looking painting if you can get the lighting right. This approach can also come in handy when you are feeling uninspired too.

The advantage of randomness is that you can just focus on drawing or painting things, without having to worry too much about things like visual storytelling, historical accuracy or consistency.

For example, although the preview painting that I showed you earlier was originally going to be a painting set in the 1930s, I knew that trying to research art deco architecture and create original examples of it would be too much to do when I was extremely tired.

So, I just started adding random pillars, trees and buildings to the background instead (which were probably more inspired by a 1990s TV show called “Twin Peaks” that I’d watched on DVD a few days earlier). Yes, it made the painting look kind of strange, but it also meant that I was able to finish it.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂


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