I’ve been drawing since I was 3 years old.
I’d be lying if I said I’ve always been consistent and drew every single day.
No, life happens.
We mess up.
We prioritize other things over drawing.
It’s alright; it happens.
Sometimes the drawing rut continues for months.
And sometimes, it lasts for years.
No matter why you stopped drawing, there is always a way to get back into drawing.
In this post, I want to talk about how you can get back into drawing if you’ve taken a very long break and just don’t know where to start or how to start again.
But before I get into the post, please take a moment to subscribe to my weekly newsletter, where I send all kinds of drawing tutorials, drawing worksheets, and drawing resources like courses and books:
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How to Get Back into Drawing after Taking a Long Break? 7 Ways that Genuinely Worked for Me
1. Stop holding yourself to high expectations
The problem with most of us in the creative field is that we are perfectionists.
Have you ever tried to get fit?
Sometimes, you are able to stick to your plan for a whole week and then decide to have a cheat meal on Friday.
After Friday night, you decide, “To hell with it; I’m going to do a cheat weekend and start fresh on Monday instead.”
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve done this only to see all my hard not pay off on the weekdays.
Life isn’t a race.
Stop looking at the gap and thinking that you’ve messed up. Stop looking at your previous work and thinking that you won’t create something just as good.
It’s alright to take a few months off.
It’s even alright to take a few years off.
Life is full of topsy turvy moments.
I went through depression in college – I couldn’t draw much during that time.
I lost my mom to cancer in 2021. I found it hard to draw.
There were many months when absolutely nothing spectacular or horrendous happened in my life, but I still didn’t “feel” like drawing.
Please remember that drawing is supposed to be fun at the end of the day. Drawing has so many beautiful benefits.
It’s supposed to take your mind off the serious things in life and be your creative outlet.
Go easy on yourself and forgive yourself if you couldn’t commit.
You can always try again.
There is no hard and fast rule that you should give up drawing just because you took a long break – it’s okay to start again.
Loads of artists stop for months and years and pick up again.
2. Figure out if there is a bigger problem at play
Often when we can’t draw, it’s not the art itself or the lack of inspiration that is the problem.
Sometimes it’s just an effect of a much bigger underlying issue.
Check in with yourself and ask yourself what you are really afraid of.
- What is it that is really bothering you?
- What are you thinking or feeling?
Sometimes, we are more upset about something else that has nothing to do with drawing. Those unresolved feelings can manifest into an art block.
Maybe we just don’t feel well or want to do something completely new.
Perhaps we need to look into our physical or mental health.
Solving the bigger problem can help us get back into drawing.
3. Take a breather
If you are googling this question, chances are you are still feeling bad about not drawing and your guilt is overpowering your artblock.
Apart from forgiving yourself, you need to figure out what is stopping you from drawing.
Do something else.
- Go out for a walk.
Stop obsessing about art and drawing for a few moments and focus on another beautiful skill that has nothing to do with drawing.
This will help you get out your feelings and help you improve your mental health.
Most artists love creating.
And although it’s wonderful to remain consistent and draw as much as you can, you have to understand that we are not machines.
We need to refuel and recharge from time to time.
It is important to live a balanced life where we nourish ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.
We cannot sit and draw 24/7 and expect not to have some kind of breakdown eventually.
So, take a breather.
If you’ve tried everything and you still cannot sit down and draw, focus on doing a skill without thinking about drawing.
Remind yourself that this break is necessary for you to get back to drawing.
4. Get inspiration
When we take a long break from a hobby or skill, we need a little pick-me-up before getting into it again.
Look for inspiration.
I talk about the different things you can do when you have an art block in this post.
Instead of buying new tools and just trying to draw a huge piece that will take hours or days, just look for inspiration.
Shut your brain off and just admire art.
- You can read art magazines.
- Or just go to a store and look at beautiful stationery and art.
- Or you can watch an online course and just learn something simple.
For instance, let’s say you are a watercolor artist.
You can either:
- Watch someone on Youtube do some watercolor art
- Look at an online class that is teaching watercolor art
- Look at an online class that is completely unrelated – like someone making stickers and selling them
- Read a book on watercolor art
At this point, it is important to be surrounded by positive thoughts and feelings.
These are 2 of my favorite courses: Check them out.
1. Drawing female characters in Procreate
This course by Natalia is one of the best courses I’ve taken. She breaks down how to draw beautiful feminine characters in Procreate step by step. You just need drawing software, and you can begin. You can even use Photoshop. Check it out here.
2. Drawing appealing characters with personality
Another beautiful course by Magdalina – this course goes more in-depth with drawing characters and poses and just infusing lovely personalities in them so that your drawings don’t look so stiff and forced. I love how easy this course is for beginners. Check it out here.
5. Start small
Like I said earlier, you can’t just get into drawing if you’ve not done it for a long time.
Now, that you’ve taken a break and then taken some time to mull over drawing and be inspired, it’s time to do something that you are actually excited about.
So, start a passion project.
Even if it has nothing to do with your skill, do something new that makes your heart sing.
The idea is to fall in love with art again.
Let’s say you are a serious pencil sketcher. You work with graphite pencils.
But of late you’ve been in a rut and just can’t work with pencils. You’re unable to even focus on finishing a piece.
Take a break and try something new.
Try digital art.
Do something that’s different.
Experiment with new tools or do something very small.
- Work on a small doodle
- Make a small art project
- Try origami
- Get an adult coloring book and just color
- Work on a clay sculpting project
- Draw some stickers
- Make a cute illustrated CV or Resume for yourself or design some cute business cards
The idea behind this is to fall in love with creating. Once you ignite that spark and do something very close to your field, you will slowly be drawn to working with your tools again.
It’s all about balance.
6. Know your why
Often we feel like we don’t know why we’re doing what we’re doing.
For every single person, drawing has a different meaning.
- Some people do it because it is the one thing that helps them express themselves.
- Some draw because it gives them freedom.
- Some draw because they love the way they feel when they create.
- Some have a fire inside of them they need to get out
- Some draw because it’s something they genuinely enjoy doing.
- Some draw for financial freedom – they want to make money doing something they love.
Ask yourself why you draw.
Understand why drawing is so important to you.
Unless you know your why, you can’t get out of the drawing rut and start drawing again.
The reason you love to draw doesn’t matter. If you have 3 or 4 reasons, that’s okay.
Write them all down and circle the one that means the most to you.
Keep it as a reminder every day that this is why you draw.
Remind yourself why you’re doing this and want to become consistent with drawing.
What matters is you own your reason and learn to respect it.
Your reason for drawing is going to be your biggest motivator, and it will also help you get back into drawing. This will help you stay consistent with drawing every day or every week.
7. Take it one day at a time
Stop trying to climb a mountain.
Getting in and out of drawing ruts is not a 1-day process.
You can’t just take some magic potion and become a drawing wiz.
It’s not how we work as human beings.
We aren’t switches that can be turned on and off whenever we want.
Sometimes, we need time to get back. We need time to process what’s happening.
It’s alright to be mentally exhausted and take a break.
A break can do an artist wonders.
Many people start questioning their integrity as an artist if they take a small or long break.
My only answer is, why are you doing that to yourself?
Always ask yourself if that thought will help you or drag you down.
If it is going to help you in any way become better, then continue thinking about it. If not, then don’t let that thought control you.
Push past it and try drawing again.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t hold yourself accountable. Of course, we should.
But at the same time, it is important to be forgiving and kind to ourselves.
We have so much to deal with mentally to create good art.
So if we are not kind to ourselves, who else will be?
Additionally, remember to take it one day at a time.
Don’t try to climb a mountain in one day.
Sometimes getting back involves taking tiny steps.
Today, you can focus on being inspired or meditating.
Tomorrow you can start with 1 sketch – it doesn’t have to be anything special. It just has to be a sketch of something you want to sketch.
The day after that you can do something else.
Try to get closer to your destination every single day.
This will produce a compound effect and eventually, you will be drawing every day.
The idea is to do it at a pace that won’t burn you out.
Just take it one step at a time.
This mantra has helped me stay consistent with blogging and drawing for many years.
Once you build the habit of drawing, slowly set a schedule or calendar to help you stay on track.
I only draw on the weekdays and not on the weekends. I can choose to do that, but I know it will burn me out.
So, set a pace that works for you.
Here are a few more posts you might find helpful:
- How to respond to compliments as an artist
- Does drawing increase creativity? Explained
- How to draw when you don’t feel like drawing – 13 easy ways
- How to draw without a reference
- How to get better at drawing (for beginners)
- How to find your art style when you’re a beginner artist
- 13 signs you were meant to be an artist
- How long does it take to learn how to draw? (Explained)
- How to become a full-time artist without a degree
- 13 drawing mistakes most beginner artists make
- 9 drawing books for beginners
- Fun drawing gifts for children under 10 years old
- 13 easy ways to make money online as an artist
- 13 reasons why people like drawing + drawing benefits!
- 13 Ways to be a more Confident Artist