Overcome Artist's Block in Art Challenges: Creatively Respond to Prompts | Marie-Noëlle Wurm | Skillshare

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Overcome Artist's Block in Art Challenges: Creatively Respond to Prompts

teacher avatar Marie-Noëlle Wurm, Artist, illustrator, HSP

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Ideation Introduction


    • 2.

      Supplies + Challenge choice


    • 3.

      Step 1 — Choose Your Prompt


    • 4.

      Step 2 — Look It Up


    • 5.

      Extra Tip: Abstraction + Big Picture/Small Picture


    • 6.

      Step 3 — Brainstorm


    • 7.

      Step 4 — Refine, Filter & Pick a winner


    • 8.

      Extra Tip: Anxiety + Stretching Your Comfort Zone


    • 9.

      Step 4.5 — Sketch It Out (OPTIONAL STEP)


    • 10.

      Extra Tip: Strange paradox


    • 11.

      Step 5 — Time To Fly


    • 12.

      Step 6 — Take It All In


    • 13.

      So Long & Thanks For All the Fish


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About This Class

If you've done any art challenges, you'll know that sometimes it's really easy to know what to create. Other times, it's really hard.
This class is about those moments— the moments where you are totally and utterly stuck in front of a prompt and have no idea how to come up with any good ideas. 

I'll be taking you through the process that I use when I'm faced with prompts I just don't know what to do with. We'll be covering little tips and tricks on how best to overcome artist's block and how you can tap into the creativity that's already inside of you. 

Step by step, I'll show you how to go from the prompt, to an in-depth brainstorm process, sketches and a finished piece. 

Hopefully, you'll leave this class equipped with more tools to tackle artist's block when you encounter it during your next art challenge. 




Art challenges you might want to check out: 


The official Inktober (31 prompts): check it out here

Incredible_Inktober (11 prompts): check it out here 


Folktale week: check it out here


The Fearless Art Challenge: check it out here

All music by Epidemic Sound

Meet Your Teacher

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Marie-Noëlle Wurm

Artist, illustrator, HSP

Top Teacher

I believe that every single one of us has a wealth of untapped creativity that lies within. Maybe there are brambles and thickets in the way so that it feels dark & scary or awakens the lurking beasts in the shadows. But it's there. I hope to lend a hand on this sometimes scary but beautiful journey of getting back in touch with your creativity, of expansion, exploration, of opening yourself up to the wealth of wisdom inside you--to help you gently brush away the brambles and the thickets, and clear away the path back to yourself & the creative fields that lie within.

Hi, my name is Marie-Noelle Wurm, and I'm a French, American and German artist & illustrator living in the South of France. You'll often find me sipping good coffee in local cafes, reading a book, working or plann... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Ideation Introduction: Sometimes you're working on an art challenge and you come across a prompt that you find completely uninspiring. You completely pull a blank, have no idea where you're going to go with it, completely deflates your motivation, you decide, "Screw this art challenge, I'm done. I'm just going to go, not do anything." That's what I want to talk about in this class, those days and those prompts where you are completely and utterly stuck and you have no idea how to move forward and to come up with an idea that you're excited about. Hi, my name is Renee Worm, I'm an artist and illustrator based in the South of France. What I love most is talking about creativity. It's a fascinating and complex subject that sounds really vague and abstract. But then when you actually get down to it, there are very concrete real life steps that you can take in order to become more creative. To tap into your inner creativity, which is there, even if you've doubted it, like we all have. I'm going to share with you the process that I use when I'm confronted with a prompt that I find uninspiring. What are the different steps that you can take in order to find creative and personal ideas? I'm doing this class right now because it's October, which means it's also inctober. But this class can be applied to whatever art challenge it is that you're doing. We're not going to be talking about the basics of drawing or how to use the material that you're going to be using. If you're looking more for a class about developing those skills, I invite you to take a different class. For example, I have another class on how to complexify and diversify the types of lines, marks, textures that you can create with the brush pen. In this class, I'm going to assume that you have these skills in drawing and that you know how to use your materials. What do you do when you're stuck? That's what this class is about. Let's get started. 2. Supplies + Challenge choice: Thank you for joining my class I'm excited to get started. Let's talk supplies. They're going to be very simple for this class all you need is some paper for your finished pieces. A few sheets of paper also for the initial process, the brainstorming process, as well as whatever material it is that you're going to be using for the class. I've chosen to use ink because Inktober, so I thought it would be fitting, but feel free to use whatever medium it is that matches the art challenge that you're going to be working on. Another thing that we're going to need is an art challenge that you're actually going to be using for the class. I'm doing this class right now because it's October, which means it's also Inktober, if you're familiar with that. But this class can be applied to whatever art challenge it is that you're doing. If it's not October when you're taking this class or you have no interest in doing any Inktober challenge, that's absolutely fine, whatever art challenge it is. If you're needing some ideas, I'm going to put some links in the description to a few different challenges that you could do. For example, I have another sculpture class where I created an art challenge to get you out of your comfort zone and expand the possibilities of things that you can create called the fearless art challenge. So maybe it could be one of the prompts from that one. Right now I'm actually co-hosting an Inktober challenge with few other top teachers and we've prices so that's another one that you could check out if you're interested in that. In any case, I'm super excited about this class, the process of ideation that is coming up with ideas and honing in on what makes a creative, authentic, personal piece of artwork is something that I find super fascinating. That's what this class is about and I hope you take something away from the class, that you have a little fun, and yeah, let's get started. 3. Step 1 — Choose Your Prompt: Step 1, choose your prompt. Once you've found the art challenge that you're going to be using for this class, then you need to actually select the prompt that's going to be the starting point of this drawing. You could take any prompt off your list, but I would actually invite you to take one that you feel stuck on. One that when you look at it, it doesn't really bring up any inspiring ideas or you completely blank out, or you're just uninterested by the prompt and what it's reflecting back to you. That's the prompt that I want us to work with, because that's literally what this class is about. It's about those moments when you're not inspired. Pick one that matches that goal of starting out being uninspired. I chose a prompt from the official Inktober list, which I've done many times over the past few years. This year, I'm not actually doing the official Inktober challenge, but for the sake of the class, I thought it would be fun to use one from this official list. The prompt that I chose was Bait. When I read the word bait, the first idea that came to mind was a worm on a hook, a bait for fishing. Honestly, I found that excruciatingly boring. Not something that I would be interested in drawing. Don't get me wrong. That doesn't mean that it's an inherently bad idea. There are some artists who might see that and be like, "Oh, yeah. I'm going to make a worm on a hook, but I'm going to do it in a really interesting way and that's super fun." But that's not the case for me. That's the one that I started out with. 4. Step 2 — Look It Up: Step two, grab a dictionary. Not necessarily literally. You can also just use Google. This is a really important part of the process because even when you think you know what a word means, looking up the definition can actually bring you to places that you hadn't thought of, or help you associating different ideas in the brainstorming process, which we're going to get to next. Look up the definition and write it down each and every part of the definition. You can also look at different dictionaries because they'll have slightly different definitions for the word. There are sometimes even archaic definitions, that is definitions that we don't use today, but they used to be used back in the day. That can also create some really interesting ideas. That's your starting point with this prompt. Pick up your dictionary or grab your computer and type in Google the word for the prompt that you're going to be working on. 5. Extra Tip: Abstraction + Big Picture/Small Picture: There are two things that I want us to keep in mind before we move into the brainstorm process because it can participate in our brainstorm process. One of those is the idea of abstraction. Abstraction is the freedom from representational qualities in art. It means that your drawing doesn't need to look like any specific object or thing or person. It can also just be marks and lines and colors and shapes. I want you to keep this in mind because every single prompt that you come across could potentially have an abstract representation. You could try to find a way to represent this prompt in an abstract way. This is actually really good practice for learning what kinds of marks and lines and shapes can match a certain mood or atmosphere. How you can represent these things visually because we go from the realm of ideas and things into a 2-D plane. How is it that we can convey the different emotions or moods or atmospheres or things, just simply through the marks, the lines, the textures, the values, the colors. That's something that I want you to keep in mind. You could have a complete abstract version of your prompt, but you could also simply integrate abstract elements into your final piece and that can add a little bit more creativity or playfulness into your drawing. That's one option and when I say this, remember it's absolutely not a requirement, but it is something to keep in mind and if it's something that you've considered doing, but have been afraid to, or if you really want to practice developing this link between marks and moods, then that could be a really great way of going about this. The second thing that I'd like to talk about is the notion of big picture, small picture, or telescope versus microscope. Specifically telescope versus microscope vision. What do I mean by that? Sometimes, when we see a prompt, that is a thing like, let's say the prompt is house. Then of course, I immediately in my mind think, okay, I know what kind of a house looks like and it could even just be a simple square with a roof and some windows and a door, and then you could think, "Well, I'll just put that in the center of my page," and that's totally fine. But I want us to keep in mind whenever we're approaching any sort of prompt in an art challenge or even in our own personal work, is that we don't need to have the entire object in that space in the middle of our page. We can decide to zoom in or to zoom out. Your house could be the tiniest little element in the page, or you could zoom in and look just at the planks of the wood that the house is made of. Both of those would be absolutely valid interpretations of the prompt. I just want us to keep this notion of flexibility when we're going through our brainstorming process, when we're approaching the drawing, you don't necessarily need to stay with the first thing that comes to mind. Try to be flexible, look at it from a bunch of different angles. We're pretty lucky nowadays that we have access to so many different scales of images. We have images of nebulars and galaxies and stars, which are these vast, astronomically huge objects. Then we also have access to images of cells and what cells are made of and DNA and atomic structures. Just as in reality, we have this variety of things that we can use to observe different objects, we can apply that to our own drawings and we can play around within those realms. We don't always have to stay in the realm of where our human eyes are. Practise maintaining that flexibility of mind and a vision because the biggest hurdle to any sort of creative endeavor is arbitrary walls that restrict us and put us in a little box where we feel like we can't move. Relax a little, let it flow, let it move, and just try and experiment. Honestly, I think it's also just a super fun exercise to imagine, "Okay, well what if I looked at this as though I was a cloud in the sky and everything else was tiny, " or the opposite, if I was a tiny little aunt. We have this incredible brain as human beings, and we shouldn't limit it arbitrarily to random rules that we follow without even noticing it. So try to find more ways to expand the way that you approach a painting. 6. Step 3 — Brainstorm: Step 3, brainstorm. Let's take a quick minute to think about the word brainstorm. Brainstorm is composed of two parts, brain, which we all have, and the word storm. When you think of the word storm what you think of is a lot of loud noise, a lot of chaos, there's wind, and there's rain, and there's darkness, and it's a little wild. You might totally love it like I do. But there is notion of chaos. That is literally what we're going to be doing here during this brainstorm process, is inviting the chaos in. Inviting the storm into our brains, letting things fly around in whatever shape and form that they arise in. What we're going to be doing is basically we're giving freedom to our mind when we're doing a brainstorm process. When we talk about brainstorming, you're thinking about associations, associating ideas. Using the power of our brain, we're just constantly coming up with thoughts, random thoughts all the time. I read somewhere that it was 30,000 or maybe its even more than that, 300,000 thoughts a day, something like that. Our brain is the perfect machine to create chaos. We're going to be using the power your brain to invite this chaos as a form of honing in our new creativity. There is nothing too far fetched in this process. You can jot down words, feelings, colors, big picture, small picture, telescope to microscope. The main focus of your painting does not need to be the word. You can think of, abstraction, shapes, or memories. The word and technique of brainstorming was actually invented by this guy called Alex Osborn. There were four principles that Osborn said were crucial for this process to work well. We're going to go through each one of these one by one. The first one is very simple, go for quantity. What that means is you want as many ideas as possible written down during your brainstorm session. We're aiming for quantity, not quality. That is later. The greater number of ideas that you have, then the higher the probability that you'll find an interesting one. Number 2, withhold criticism. Obviously, sometimes that's easier said than done, especially if you've struggled with anxiety. Me? No, never. This is when you get to practice giving your inner child a huge freaking hug. That's honestly what a lot of anxiety stems from. It's your inner child that's terrified and just needs reassurance. We're not going to get into the details of mental health because that's not what this class is about, but let me just say this moment is an opportunity to practice withholding criticism. Anything goes. Your brainstorm piece of paper can go in the trash once you're done with it. Nobody is going to look at it unless you decide to share it, which would be fun. Do that in the project section if you do decide to share. I wouldn't mind seeing it. But if you don't want to share it, that's totally fine. All your terrible, worst ideas that you've ever had, they can all go in the trash later. Now let them come out because they don't often get the chance to come out. You might as well use this moment to let them, have a little fun. Number 3, welcome wild ideas. Just like I was saying in the beginning, a brainstorm process is chaotic and joyfully chaotic, hopefully. Welcome the wildest, weirdest, strangest, whatever ideas that you can come up with. Again, there's no pressure if you don't come up with tons of weird, wild ideas, that's fine too. It's not a big deal, but simply don't censor yourself at this point of the process. Suspend all your beliefs and assumptions and just go for it. Number 4, combine and improve ideas. Yes, you can have many different ideas, but they don't need to be taken in isolation either. You can take one and then take another and mingle them and see what that creates. Sometimes it creates really weird metamorphic creature babies that you never would have wanted to imagine coming to life. Then other times it'll make some really fun stuff. There's something that you may have noticed, as I've been trying to describe the four principles of a good brainstorm session. I've tried to add a little bit of playfulness and humor within that. What you don't think I'm funny. My funniness aside, the reason that I'm doing this is also because that is part of what this process is supposed to be. A good brainstorm session injects playfulness into it. Playfulness goes hand in hand with divergent thinking, which is one of the keystones of increased creativity. Maybe that's also why I talk about play over and over and over again in all of my sculpture classes. Because when we're playing as human beings, that's when we learn the most. Learn and have fun. That's actually the best way of learning. I'll take it. I mean, who wouldn't? Make it playful. You want to be able to inject a little bit of spontaneity and joy and absurdity. Being silly is one of the most fun things to do. If you don't agree with me, have a talk with who you were as a three-year-old and I'm sure that you'd disagree. Keywords here for this brainstorm, process, spontaneity, joy, freedom of association, wildness of ideas, combine, improve, explore, experiment. What other words can I add in here? Enjoy, sing, dance, anything and everything that will help you delve into the process of coming up with a huge variety of ideas. 7. Step 4 — Refine, Filter & Pick a winner: Step 4, refine, filter and pick a winner. So in order to show you this fourth step, I actually am going to be demoing the brainstorm process that I used. The reason I'm doing this is because this step is not separate from the brainstorm process, but rather it emerges out of that process. I'm to bring you through my process and show you how this works. The technique that we're going to use is the mind map technique. Some of you might have heard of this before or at the very least seen it. In any case. What you'll notice is that, I immediately write down the prompt of the art challenge that I'm working on in the center of my page. I actually chose a smaller size of page, something more like A5, but if you would want to go on a very big sheet of paper, that would be absolutely fine. As you'll see as I move forward through my process, I ended up using four or five different sheets of paper because my initial one was not big enough and that's absolutely fine too. It's not that there's one right or wrong way to go about it. The only important thing here is that your first step is placing the word in the center of your page. All the ideas are going to be radiating from the central point and this is where your definitions become useful. As you can see, I have my computer on the right side, and after looking up the definitions, I started jotting down these definitions, connecting them to the word in the center. We're basically creating a web relationship which facilitates the brainstorm process and actually mimics the way that our brains work. Our brains don't work in a linear fashion. When you think of someone, it's not like suddenly you can bring up all the facts that you know about that person. You may be have a collection of different impressions, and feelings, and memories that you have attached to this person. This mind map technique mimics this very natural organic process that our brain uses all the time. Once I've written down the definitions through simple key words, I can immediately start writing Synonyms of some of those words. By finding these synonyms, you're actually diversifying and expanding the number of reference points from which your thoughts can emerge. But obviously, I'm not going to be only looking at synonyms. I'm also just going to be dropping downwards that it makes me think of maybe memories, feelings, subjects, things, objects, whatever it is that seems to come to mind, I'm going to be writing those down. One word once it's written down, doesn't mean that it can't appear in another place either. As you can see, I have a few words that appear at different points across my mind map and that's totally fine because those words are just different thought paths, that I followed and the evoke different things depending on the line that I'm radiating down. Again at this point, it's very open-ended and free-flowing, and I'm not censoring myself. But I am already starting to think about maybe images or ideas and you'll see that sometimes I'll have entire sentences that start emerging. That's something that's important to if you have an idea of an illustration that comes up, that's fine, right it down. Included in your mind-map technique, however, you're not yet selecting, but as you're moving through the brainstorm process, pay attention to which ideas seem to capture you more. Which ones get you more intrigued, or more excited, or seem like something that you might want to explore. I have made these more visible by putting little lines around the key ideas that I thought, there's something really intriguing about this and might want to do this in the end. But yet again, I'm not making any decisions yet and I'm still continuing this brainstorm process even if I've identified an idea that I like. The point here is not to stop at the first idea that you like, but rather give yourself the opportunity to explore many different ideas and hone in and refine on the one that you want to do most little by little. On the bottom, you can see that I wrote down the archaic definition for this word because like I said, that can also trigger interesting paths of thought. Though it's not directly connected to the mind map that I drew, it's still a part of this mind map. You'll notice that when I move on to my other sheets of paper, I'm kind of moving away from this radiating mind map technique, and I'm honing in more specifically on the ideas that I thought were most interesting. Even though I'm doing this and it looks more like a linear thought process, I'm still in my brainstorm process. I'm not deciding on any one of these ideas, I'm just deciding that I want to explore each one of these intriguing ideas a little bit more in depth. At this point, I'm also starting to integrate ideas of what kind of mood I want to convey in the piece that I'm doing and what those specific ideas, what mood or atmosphere would work best in order to evoke those. In this step, I'm already starting the refining and filtering process. I've honed in on several ideas that I like. I'm exploring them more in depth and seeing which one ignites more curiosity and interest. I want to make one thing clear here while we're moving through this process. When you're coming up with a lot of different ideas, there's a trap that you can sometimes fall into, especially if you're looking for something creative, is to simply pick the weirdest idea that you can come up with. Well, that's not inherently a bad thing. I would actually suggest that you choose authenticity over originality. What I mean by that is that you don't have to have the weirdest idea possible for your drawing to be successful. On the contrary, I would say that your most successful pieces are the ones that are going to be the most personal and authentic to you. What is it that interests you within this drawing? Creativity is a form of authentic curiosity, and I hope that you'll keep this in mind as the driving force behind each and every one of your paintings. Don't do something because you hope that others will find it original. Don't do it because it's a trendy topic or because you think, oh, it'll sell well or get a 1,000 likes. Don't do it with the idea that you have to share it with the world. You don't. Do it because you're curious about this specific drawing. Do it because you think it'll be a fun thing to explore. The bottom line is that any creative endeavor is first and foremost, a personal experience, so do this drawing for you. Another common hurdle that you might encounter in your brainstorm process is possibly having too many ideas and not knowing which one to go for. In that case, just give yourself a very specific limit. First, pick three or four of them, explore those in depth, and then decide which one of those is going to be the one you choose. Then again, you're also allowed to go back to your initial mind map and look at some other idea that you might think is interesting, or that you might want to explore. It's not because you've chosen a few that you think would be interesting that it blocks you from going back and changing your mind. I don't know if you're familiar with Marie Kondo and her cleaning technique, where you have to choose items that spark joy. The way that I see this brainstorm process is actually very similar to that. In that, when I'm looking at my different prompts, my different ideas, I'm looking for that kind of little feeling of butterflies in my stomach or like, little bit of excitement. In the beginning it can be a little tough to maybe recognize that, but as you keep working on brainstorming in your creative process, then you're going to become more familiar with that sensation and knowing when you've hit on something that you're authentically interested and curious to continue exploring. You might also at this point start thinking visually and creating little thumbnails in order to help your brainstorm process. This isn't yet the sketching. Again, these are brainstormed thumbnails, they are not finished ideas. You can just use these as opportunities to start thinking visually about the different ideas that you've set up. Eventually you might start to notice that there's one idea that you keep coming back to. That's at least how I refine my process and how I filter out the one that I think is more interesting. Even if there are tons of interesting drawings that could emerge from some of these ideas and some of them I might want to explore in the future, at that current moment, I noticed that there's one in particular that I keep wanting to go back to and explore and starts becoming a little bit more clear in my mind. That's the one that you want to be going for. If you don't have any clarity in that sense, then simply pick one. Your decision to pick one is not the be all, end all. No matter what you choose, that's the right decision, and even if you don't end up liking the result, the result is not the important thing. What's important is the process that got you there and what you've learned along the way. One thing that you can do to help your brainstorm process is to set a time limit. Experts often we'll say that a good brainstorm session can last between 15 minutes and an hour, but usually that's when it's a group brainstorm session. I would recommend something slightly on the lower end of that spectrum. Something maybe around a half-hour, maybe up to 45 minutes. But honestly, it can be a very organic process where you simply see how things move forward. Therefore, it can be really useful to have a time limit is if you're having too many ideas and really struggling to make decisions. In that case, set a time limit for yourself and decide that at the end of that time limit, you need to have found a decision, and if you haven't, then pick it at the end, and remember that you can do all of the other options at some later point in time. Keeping that in mind, set a time limit for yourself, if you think that's a helpful thing. I hope this is illuminated you a little bit on the process of brainstorming and given you some food for thought for your own brainstorm process. I'd love to hear about how your brainstorm process went and what things you discovered as you were doing this brainstorm process. Feel free to share your one paper or multiple papers that you used during this step in the project section. Let's move on to getting our hands dirty. 8. Extra Tip: Anxiety + Stretching Your Comfort Zone: Jump out of your comfort zone. It's something that we hear over and over again. That's because it's actually really useful. Growth happens just outside of your comfort zone. It's like your comfort zone is here. If you try to go way over here, then you might get overwhelmed and completely flustered and have no idea. Then that might kick in the intense self-criticism and hating of whatever it is that you're doing. However, if you reach right here just outside of that comfort zone, then you start to stretch the boundaries of your comfort zone. You start to realize, oh, this is something that I can test out. These are waters that I can become familiar with. Then you're more and more willing to try to stretch that comfort zone and learn more and more each day that you end up creating a drawing. When you're confronted with a lot of anxiety around the piece that you're creating. Ask yourself this, what's the worst that can happen? The worst that can happen is you end up with a terrible drawing. That is literally the worst thing that could happen. You could have suddenly an earthquake would happen and your whole house breaks down, you die, surrounded by your art supplies. Maybe that could be the worst that could happen. Is that realistic? Not really. The worst could actually maybe realistically happen is that you end up with a terrible, terrible drawing, something that you're so ashamed of that you just want to throw it away and pretend like it never existed. You never went through that process and you never want to do it again. Now I have another question for you. Does not say anything about you? If you've created a terrible drawing that you hate and want to throw away in the garbage can. Does that saying anything about you? Like really? Does it mean that you are a terrible artist? If I showed you one of my worst drawings, does that mean that I am not an artist? I hope you've said no to that, because that would hurt my feelings if you thought that. I'm joking, but that's one way that you can envision it. How would you see it if somebody else did that? So answer me this, think about it again. Does that say anything about you? I hope that your answer is actually yes. The question is, what is it that it says about you? Does it say that you are a terrible artist? Does it save that you are doomed to never create anything beautiful in your entire life? Maybe not. What it does say is that you're trying, is that your learning, is that you're being brave to sit down in front of a blank piece of paper and create something out of nothing, and that's something. No pun intended, but maybe just a little. It shows that you are learning. It shows that you're growing, that you're stretching outside of your comfort zone, then you're a warrior. A desk worrier, fair enough, but still a warrior. Most of all, what it says is that you're practicing a mindset of growth and expansion of the self, your opening up possibilities for yourself and that you're the person that doesn't give up even in the face of terrible anxiety. If you do today and decide, screw this, I'm done with art. That's fine too. Maybe you can just try again tomorrow. 9. Step 4.5 — Sketch It Out (OPTIONAL STEP): Step 4.5, sketching. The reason I called this the step 4.5 and not a step five is because this step is completely optional. Sometimes I will end up sketching before working on my finalized piece, and sometimes I won't at all. The brainstorming process would have been sufficient enough to get me excited. I'm not nervous about it and I'm just going to dive right in. But sometimes you might want to sketch out your idea. Perhaps, if you're nervous about the drawing that you're about to make. But also simply if you want to flesh out your idea little more and want to dive in with a clear idea of how you're going to move forward. The reason that I decided to sketch when I create my painting was because I knew I wanted to be working with ink and free-flowing shapes. I wanted to experiment with where I was adding the ink with the water and how it was reacting. It had been a long time since I touched my ink. I felt a little nervous and didn't quite remember how they were working together. That's why I decided to make these little thumbnail sketches exploring also different compositions and different lighting. Where did I want my lights and darks to go in this image? Of course, I'm keeping in mind, especially with this wet on wet technique that when you work at a very small scale with ink, it's not the same as when you work on a bigger scale with ink. But it was still giving me a good opportunity to see how they were reacting to each other and how I would move forward in the final piece. Of course, I'm sketching here directly with ink because that was specifically the problem that arose with the prompt that I chose. Sometimes your sketching process is simply going to be using pencil and deciding where your different elements are going to go. I already determined that in my mind map brainstorm technique, so that wasn't something that I was looking to find in my sketches. A sketching process is always going to be adapted to what it is that you are looking to solve in your drawing. The question to ask yourself is, are there any things that you'd like to clarify before moving forward with your finished piece? Second of all, if there are, what are those problems that you're wanting to solve and what is the best means for you to arrive at a solution in your sketching process? Then again, you could also decide, screw that, I'm just going to jump right in and have fun with my materials. I would absolutely recommend that. It's one of my favorite things to do. Remember, it's not about the result. It's about the process and staying motivated, joyful, and curious. 10. Extra Tip: Strange paradox: So there's this strange paradox that I'd like to talk about. Though your art is a reflection of who you are, your art is not you. It's this really strange paradox in art because of that, simultaneously making powerful art is very linked to making art that is authentic. Which is a reflection of your authentic self and who you are and what fascinates you and what interests you and your personal self-expression. Even though that's the case, if you tie in your identity too closely with the art that you create, then that's when a lot of anxiety can arise. If you link those to your art and you too closely, then you start venturing into the dangerous waters of every single drawing is a reflection of who you are. Which means that if you make a terrible drawing, it means that you're a terrible artist and thus your disappointment and you're a failure and it's not a good place to be. Many of you might be familiar with this sort of spiraling downwards of criticism of your own art that descends into a criticism of who you are as an artist and thus of who you are. It's this really interesting balance that we kind of want to be striving for when we make art a part of our lives. That is to try to make art as authentic and as personal as possible so that it can be powerful and true but also not to get so attached to the idea that our art is us to the point where it brings you into these downward spirals. The way that I like to do that is by reminding myself that each drawing is a teacher and that there is something to be learned every time that I sit down in front of my desk with my tools and decide to apply paint, or ink, or watercolor onto my paper. Those are opportunities to learn more about myself and learn what areas still need work. Just remember that your art does not define you even as you strive for authenticity in your art, it teaches you, you just need to be opened to the lessons that your art is wanting to teach you. 11. Step 5 — Time To Fly: Step 5, time to fly. Whether you've arrived at this step immediately after your brainstorm session or after having sketched out a few of your ideas. This is the moment when we really get our hands dirty. Take the paper that you're going to be creating your final piece on and dive right in. This step can often be the scariest one. Because suddenly you're face-to-face with the fact that you're going to be making this piece and you might not know exactly how you're going to go bad it or you're nervous about how it's going to come out and whether it's going to look good whether you could be happy with it. There's a lot of ways that we find to become anxious with this step. Again, there are always things that you can do in order to help alleviate that nervous flutter when you're about to paint the final piece. One good way of doing this is to remember that it's not the be-all, end-all of all things. For example, if you really don't like it, you can try it again at another point in time. As you'll see in my example, I decided to actually create two pieces simultaneously. The reason that I was doing that is because I knew I was working with a wet on wet technique, which even though you can guide it, is very linked to randomness and how wet or dry your paper is at that specific moment, I use two pieces of paper in order to give myself a little bit of leeway. Honestly, I was really nervous about this piece because I was doing it for this skill share class and having the knowledge that I had two backgrounds to choose from helped me reduce that anxiety so that I was more confident with okay well, if I don't like this one, then I can maybe use the other one. Once I let my background dry, I was very quickly able to identify which one of the two I thought was more fitting for the piece that I had in mind. Of course, using my wet on wet technique means that there are a lot of these random shapes and that's something that I was interested in and wanted to exploit in my piece. I wanted these shapes to participate in the mood of the drawing that I was creating. Of course, in my brainstorm and sketching process, I had determined that I wanted the little house to be this bright little element in my page surrounded by a dark forest. Originally I had gotten this idea through the archaic definition of the word bates, which meant to stop for food and rest when traveling, which made me think of a travelers in and helped me hone in on the idea that kept coming back to me during my brainstorm process, which was to envision bate as a place. Connecting that with a nightmare that I had had, I think a few weeks prior, with a house that looked inviting, it was actually a dangerous place. That's how I came about this idea for my piece of wanting something nightmarish and misty, but with this tiny house that is very bright and light. Since in my peace I was envisioning something that had a nightmarish, dreamlike quality to it, I also wanted the path to reflect that. That's why I made the flagstone of the path to look almost like they were floating rather than being grounded. Since my background was this very inky free-flowing forms. I knew that I wanted my house to be very detailed and minute. I always have had a love for Victorian houses and the architecture of that period. I initially went on Google and did a search for Victorian houses. When you use reference pictures online, it's very important to not simply copy photograph that you find. Because that can create a lot of copyright issues and you're also taking away some of your agency as an artist. It can also be detrimental for the creators of these photographs. It's important to remember when you're using reference pictures to not copy it exactly as is and rather in the words of Austin crayon, "To steal from many rather than just from one". That's what we can do as artists. We can take inspiration from many different places and mingle them in order to create our own unique vision. That not only is empowering and gives us a sense of agency over our art, but it also protects other artists and creators. I took a few elements, a few images that I've found in order to create my own little house. Keeping in mind that I wanted it to look inviting but maybe slightly haunting. While creating your final piece, it's a good idea to try to maintain the openness that you practice during the brainstorm session. Let's say that you're painting and suddenly you get a new idea that you're interested in exploring. It doesn't match the initial idea that you set out to actually draw. That's absolutely fine. If that's suddenly something that you're more interested in exploring, then go with it or you could also jot it down for a future drawing. Somehow while I was working on the details of the house, a mark appeared on the bottom and the middle of the path that I had created. This is a perfect example of the thing that will often happen when you're painting, which is mistakes. Mistakes are inherently part of the creative process and it's really important to learn to cultivate a good relationship with these mistakes. Of course, it's always a little frustrating when you've made something and it doesn't go as planned because suddenly your ink spilled or your tea spilled or something else happened. This is also an opportunity to try to see where that mistake can bring you. When I saw this mark that was in the middle of my path, I had to go through another new brainstorm process to try to figure out what I was going to do with this mark. In the end, I settled on the idea of using it as a some strange lamp post. The lives in this nightmarish half cloud, half tree world. My lamp post, of course, is not going to be perfectly realistic. Following the creation of that, I also had to keep in mind how was I going to integrate it better with the rest of my image. In order to do that, I added more points of light within my image. Some mark that you didn't want It happened at a place that you absolutely didn't want. That can be really frustrating. Use that as an opportunity for transformation, shift you're drawing in order to integrate that mistake, transform it, give yourself the permission to feel the frustration of this mistake, but then move on. Allow it to transform your painting. Sometimes that'll create a completely different drawing that is also just as good as the one that you had initially thought of. It might even be better. That's not always the case, but it can be. Cultivating a healthier relationship with mistakes when they arise can be very useful in your future creative endeavors. I hope that during this final piece, you will keep that exploration, experimentation, and authentic curiosity in mind. I really look forward to seeing what you've made in the project section if you feel like sharing. Let's move on to the final step which I think is also one of the most important. 12. Step 6 — Take It All In: Once you have your finished piece, the work is not entirely done. Now is the time where you need to evaluate what you made. A lot of people skip over this phase because of how anxiety ridden it can be. But one way of approaching it is reminding yourself that each painting or drawing that you do is a teacher. There's a lesson to be learned from each single piece of artwork that you create. Now is the time to see what the artwork that you've made can teach you. You can ask yourself what parts you like, what parts you don't like, what part of the process that you enjoyed more, what you struggled with, what did you learn from making this specific painting. As an example, I can give you a little sense of what it is that I learned in my piece. As you saw, I was experimenting with trying to use water and ink and seeing how it would flow. I felt that as I was working through the little thumbnails and then the two possibly final pieces, I was getting a better sense of how the water and the ink were reacting to each other. That's something that I really enjoyed and created this really fun shape over here that's almost abstract, but also could be a strange tree or a storm. That's something that I really enjoyed with this piece. Something else that I really liked was making the little house, and that was very detail-oriented and super fun. I really liked working out the little shadows, and that detail work. Some of the things that I struggled with was anxiety about making the piece look good, because that arises no matter what stage of your art career you're in. Something that I don't really like was the way that I managed this mistake that I had. I think there is a good idea, but I'm not entirely happy with how prominent this has become in my final image. Then again, it's not a big deal and I'm pretty happy with the fact that I added one here, and I could maybe even emphasize this. I did think that it was interesting to try to integrate these more abstract elements in the end. Even though the way that I transformed my painting to integrate is not the best that I could have come up with, I'm reasonably satisfied with it. Most of all what you want to do is check in with yourself and celebrate the fact that you put in the work. This was your moment that you took for yourself to create something out of nothing, and that's pretty special in itself. Putting in the work is the best thing that you can do for your art, for your art career, and for inspiring others. I really hope that you'll continue on this journey, and continue exploring more prompts and more art challenges. 13. So Long & Thanks For All the Fish: Thank you so much for joining this class. I hope that you enjoyed it and I hope that at least there are a few little takeaways that you'll be able to use in the future when you're confronted with an art prompt that you're stuck on. If you haven't already, please share the drawing that you created in the project section along with the definition, the brainstorm process, perhaps the sketches that you did if you did those and the finished piece because art is not just about the finished result, it's really about that process. If you're able to share a little bit of your process and what challenges you had, what parts you enjoyed, what parts you struggled with, then that can be really valuable information and most of all, it's great practice on reminding ourselves that art is about the journey and not the destination. If you're curious to know when my next class is out then be sure to click the follow button in my profile over here. I also have a bunch of other art classes which all have some angle of creativity, which is, like I said, the subject that I'm most passionate about so please feel free to check out any of those, I have seven of them already. Drawing plants and leaves, getting better at color mixing, delving deep into your creativity, little tips and tricks to help you find your voice. Also, if you want to be Insta buddies, I'm on Instagram, I'm on YouTube, I'm on Patreon where I do live drawing sessions with my patrons, which is super fun. I'm on Etsy as well, all the things. Let's connect here in the class or over there as well. All of the above are awesome. I hope that you enjoyed the class and I look forward to seeing you on another day with another blank piece of paper just waiting to be painted by you. All right, I'll see you soon.