Posts Tagged ‘block studies’

Artist’s Blocks

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

Have you ever suffered from artist’s block? It may be that you can’t seem to get motivated to paint or draw, or maybe you want to, but you can’t face that blank page or empty canvas. You’re afraid that it won’t be any good, or that it won’t be as good as your last success. Or maybe even that it will be so good that you’ll never again be able to live up to your own or your friends’ expectations.  Whatever the problem, whatever the cause, it can be just as enervating.

Try painting some studies of children’s simple toy blocks to get back on track.

That’s what I did when my momentum slacked off for a while this spring and I couldn’t seem to get rolling again. Block studies don’t involve any major undertaking. You can do as many or as few as time and energy permit. Give yourself permission to create a flop.  You’ll know from the very beginning that it will be a “throw-away job,” so there’s no pressure to get it perfect (or even “finished”).  Of course it’s also fine to do it well, if it comes to that!

Block study - warm colors under daylight bulb

Block study – warm colors under daylight bulb

Ostensibly, the primary purpose is to practice seeing colors and their variations in light and shadow and how they are influenced by reflected colors from nearby objects. But these studies have additional benefits, too. Those include providing practice in drawing and in using a particular medium (in my case, oil paint), practice in manipulating the brush or other tool such as a palette knife, and practice in mixing colors accurately.

Another side benefit, by some odd quirk of nature, is that it gets us painting again, which is often all we really need to get ourselves back into a creative mode.  Inertia can be a wonderful thing … once our bodies are back in motion so momentum can take over.

In the past, I have used both watercolor and acrylics to paint block studies, but as I delve more into oil painting, I’m finding that the practice I get through block studies is contributing to my confidence with this “new” medium I’ve set out to learn. Other exercises help familiarize me with oils, too. But I expect that practicing regularly on block studies will help promote more rapid progress than any other single exercise could.

And, arguably the best result of all, the simple paintings of all those little blocks got me past the biggest one — that dratted (and dreaded) artist’s block!