You have just finished putting together an interesting still life. You placed a couple of apples, a vase of flowers, and some grapes on a beautiful piece of cloth, carefully making a few folds here and there. You have arranged your still life in front of a very dark background. Since you placed a light source coming from one direction, there is an interesting pattern of shadows and highlights. Her palette is loaded with colors and all of her supplies are on hand. You have chosen the correct size canvas for your painting and it is properly prepared and placed on your easel. Now, sit down to paint and draw a blank space. You are faced with this vast white canvas that stares back at you. You respond with a blank look at the canvas.

Now what? At one point or another, all artists are faced with this artistic version of “writer’s block.” Almost all beginners face it out the door. The wiring in our brain that has evolved from prehistoric times that protected us from predators and from each other triggers our “fight or flight” response when faced with fear. And fear is the root cause of artistic or creative mental block.

Many questions go through your mind when you first sit in front of that blank canvas and are faced with that vast white nothing. A beginner may think “What if I screw this up?” “What if I make a mistake?” or “What if people don’t like it?” An experienced painter — and this happens to them occasionally — might ask, “Will this painting be better or worse than the previous one?” or “What happens if the selection committee rejects it?” or “Will this be sold?” Sudden fear can set in if it is related to success or failure.

There are some strategies that can help you overcome this fear, whatever the cause. Step away from your canvas, grab an 18 “x 24” newspaper notebook and some soft pencils (4B or 6B) or soft charcoal, and start outlining your subject with very loose gestures. Put aside any thought of careful drawing of shapes and details. This is an exercise to relax you and force yourself to not only see the general form of the subject, but also the relationships of the internal forms and the intermediate forms (negative forms). Spend no more than 1-2 minutes on a series of quick thesis studies. You are not trying to capture an “image” of what you see, but rather the essence of what you see. Keep your strokes fluid and move freely across the page. After some of these quick studies, start having positive thoughts about what can happen when you start painting, such as “Creating is so much fun!” or “I love making art, making something out of nothing!”

Once you feel fully involved in the process, sit back in front of your canvas and, using a number 4 or 6 round brush, mix in a lighter blue, green or gray color and start drawing freely in your nature arrangement. dead. on your canvas in an interesting way. There are no rules that say it has to look exactly like what you see. This approach should make you focus more on the viewing and composing process. Later, you will have time to think about the finished product while painting in areas and arranging the colors so they make sense to you.

Meanwhile, you may notice that your fear has turned to joy!

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