Got Artist's Block?!?! What To Do When You Don't Know What To Paint

You’ve got your favorite mug filled with piping hot coffee.  Your new paints are all set up and wet, ready to go.  Your favorite brush is in your hand and you even have clean water cups.  You look down, and there it is, staring at you.  A blank page.


A painter's desk with a blank sheet of paper

I can’t tell you how many times I feel this enormous urge to paint but then once I get down to it, I don’t even know where to begin.

Our monthly challenge for November, 2022 is all about Making the Time To Paint but that can be hard if you don’t know what you want to put on the page.  

One thing I’ve heard a lot of people say is “I don’t want to use my good paper” or “I don’t want to waste my good supplies” or “what if I mess up?!?!?"  

Here is what I say to that

“Use the dang supplies!”

You’re not going to improve and grow unless you’re using the materials you intend to create with.  It’s all part of the journey.  There are tons of ways to get the most out of these expensive supplies. Click here to see how to get the most out of your tube paints.

But what if it isn’t the supplies holding you back, it’s the IDEAS!?!?!

You are certainly not the first person to encounter an art block and you absolutely won’t be the last. 

Here are my five favorite ways to combat art block! 


5 Things to Try When You Have Art Block

Kate splashing colorful paint on watercolor paper

Just play!

So often when we sit down it feels like it needs to be so polished, but if we never make time to play and explore, we’re never going to grow.  Instead of setting a goal like “I’m going to paint a duck” say “I’m going to explore wet-in-wet”.  just getting paint on the page helps me start to get ideas of my next big project.

Looking for a fun watercolor activity? Check out this fun and easy watercolor exercise.


Do something else!

Sometimes it helps to just do something that isn’t painting! Go for a walk, check out the arboretum, call your mom.  Give yourself a chance to get out of your head and into the world – who knows when inspiration will strike.  I have one friend who I always call when I need to feel inspired.  I always walk away from a chat with them feeling like I have a million ideas! Put that person on speed dial!


Be a lurker!

kate scrolling on her phone


A lot of people will say “don’t look at other artists, make your own art” and while this totally makes sense I will say that some of my best ideas come from scrolling TikTok.  My one suggestion for this would be to follow and look at people who do something different than what you do.   For example, I follow florists, gardeners, dried flower artists, textile artists, botanical accounts, and pattern designers.  None of these is something I make.  I am strictly a watercolor artist (professionally) but by watching these adjacent accounts, I am able to be inspired by things that I love. (Bonus points for telling these folks how awesome their content is!)


Be curious!

By asking yourself what you’re curious about and giving yourself permission to explore it, who knows where the wild world of watercolor will take you.  Are you curious about how roots form on Monstera plants? Are you wondering how photographers get a cool blurring effect? Do you want to know how to paint different skin tones using watercolor? Dig into these topics (watercolor related or not!) - by stretching your curiosity muscles, it can open up a whole world of possibilities.

Participate in a challenge!

Sometimes it can be hard to come up with an idea! It feels like a lot of pressure! I get it! There are always watercolor and art challenges happening all over the internet.  Find one that speaks to you! 

I do a monthly challenge that is meant to encourage your artist journey so you can get support, encouragement, and ideas.  You can join in the fun here and follow along on Instagram.

Niki from Nfinity Arts has great challenges every month in her “Call Your Calm” challenge.  Sign up for her email here. Annie Sieg, from @Anniemakesart also has some fun prompts from her “weekly random” challenges! Both of these artists share the works created by people participating in their challenges which can be a great way to share your work and make fun art connections!

So, which of these ideas feels like a good fit right now? If any of these have inspired you, I’d love it if you’d tag me on social media (@splatter.and.bloom on Instagram and @splatterandbloom everywhere else) so I can see what amazing things you’re creating! 

Happy painting!

November 19, 2022 — KATHERINE TALCOTT

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