So, during the years I've done art, I've thought quite a bit about motivation, and what it is etc, and where inspiration or "flow", fits into the picture.
My overall take on it is that they are words, more than anything, usually used as excuses "not" to do something, because it quite isn't there. I think, and this is something I've said before, that about 4-5% of people generally "make it" in their field. Some people have many fields, because they have dedicated personalities, and some people have to search for theirs for a long time before they "feel inspired" and can "put in the motivation" to find their "flow".
Now, if you don't have either of those...But you had it, felt it, acted on it, and then lost it...What do you do? Is that the sign you should just lay your pencil aside and take a break? Do you just need some "fresh air", or "inspiration"? Maybe it's time to do something else? Maybe you're in a slump?
If you've been un-able to draw, because "nothing worked" or "you just wasn't feeling it", then you know exactly what I mean. You start looking for excuses. But that's all it is. Excuses.
What if I told you that you can always draw? What if I told you that there are people who aren't even aware of these "mental motivation blocks"? Where does that put you? Into some new category, like the last one titled"mental blocks" that you were just sitting in and which wasn't doing you any good in the first place? So...Now you're in several categories. You haven't studied in days, or weeks, you haven't gotten any work done, you're putting yourself down because..well, you want to be professional and do it, but you don't because you feel you don't yet have to because you're not yet a professional. Wow. This is going down-hill quick. You're also not as ambitious as everyone else, and for god-sake, what will happen when you go pro, and this keeps happening?
What I'm getting to, is that ending up in one of those "mental block" mentalities means a lot more than just the time-frame you're not putting out any work that "fits your standards". What your standard is today, really doesn't matter. Nobody except for you gives a dime. And you shouldn't. You don't have to be worried about people judging you. The ones who do are already elitists enough to not care themselves. Really.
Lets turn those thoughts around, and instead of being in a position where we're "trying to get out of a mental-block". We're in a position where there are no mental-blocks what-so-ever. There is also no such thing as motivation. There is habit...Good and bad ones.. but that is about it.
Lets say that you want to unleash the true potential of yourself. And you want to get there in a fast tempo, because thats what everyone else that you're looking up to recently been doing, right?
Now, all those words doesn't exist...but we know that there are several things that we keep doing over and over as we start. These are our habits. Those are the ONLY things we need to play with, or change up in order to unleash that true inner potential thats just sitting around, waiting, patiently, for the day that you decide not to care anymore, and just start...doing....things.
What we can do with those habits is obviously to identify them. When you're in a "mental block stage" (I know, those words are supposed to be non existant) You repeat your habits...and lets presume they are your bad habits, for now. They might also be the only good habits you have, since they did get you drawing! This is something YOU HAVE TO identify and remember. Not down-play as a bad period filled by mental blocks.
Now unto what you can do with those habits...Lets say that the only thing you can draw, is the same'ish looking face, with the same'ish looking angle/perspective to it. You could be saying to yourself "Arghhhh I'm just drawing this same looking crappy face"..But the better solution, and what I've learnt to do, and many others have done for years, is just focusing on something else. Something that starts in the comfortzone, but goes way beyond it.
The easiest thing is to start changing up the things that are obvious to you. And be sophisticated about those things. The features...CAN you change them? Do you need reference to change them? Then get reference. There is nothing that is hindering you from following this path. There is no such thing as a mental block.. There might be the bad habit of impatience. However, that is the ONLY thing. If you're to unpatient, just get some coffee and get to it. Don't postpone it. All you need to do if you "can't do anyyyyyything" is just identify the habit that is keeping you distanced from your goal.
So...Now that we've changed a few features...It's still kinda looking like that face you drew 2 months ago right. So what can you do to it? Hopefully you've already corrected a few habits. Maybe you even learnt something from looking up the reference. "Hmmm...Skin can really be any color! That wasn't too helpful in my mental-blockiness, lets step back one step...The overall form isn't sitting to well... "
So...Now...we're not focusing on something super-special...but we're identifying our habits..be them good or bad...and changing them up. It's when you change them up that you're really only digging deeper. But it doesn't force you to be too specific..Which is a choice you have..and one you should make depending on if you need structure, or if the structure is too confusing.
Now....There is more to this.. Of course.... You shouldn't be following my path there...unless it works for you. You have more work to do.... You have to identify the bigger picture for whatever is slowing you down and putting you in those frustration modes.
There is also the other side of this... Which is drawing but " not caring about what you're drawing". This is the "trick" I see on the boards, all the time.. And to me it doesn't really solve anything. There is probably hundres of yoga methods and deep zen that will put your mind into creative mode. Unfortunately I don't know about those... And I try to "not care about what I'm drawing" Either way. I don't "save" that time until I happen to find myself in a "mental block".
Instead, I try to associate good emotions with good methods. Not drawing methods, but habit-methods.
These things become so apparent to me, the more I paint. And the more I'm building up my hours, the more I see the frequent patterns of " I can't make anything creative at all" while still keeping the studies and drawings coming. It's essential really, that you have ways to improve, even when your brain is on lockdown. And that you have ways to improve that feel fun and refreshing as well. Because that is exactly what taking some pain to get rid of your bad habits willl do to you. It will feel very refreshing, exciting and also fun as you start betting rid of your old bad habits, and start introducing new things which you had not thought about before, or ever used in a painting, etc. It's even better when you change up your fundamentals for something new, or you get the angle of something you've read about and thought you understood, a bit different.
Now, to get to some examples... Pretty poor ones, but again ,its probably only me who gives a shit. And I need to learn not to...So I might be better off not giving a shit about how poor my examples are... :) In my last "art" post, on here.. There are several 2-p perspective paintings. They all have the same widescreen format to them, they all have essentially the same angle, and they all have the focal points and main structures, placed in pretty much the exact same way. Now, this would be pretty cool, if they were based on the same painting, or belonged to a serie, or something like that....But they don't. They are done during a period of where I haven't gotten anything "practical" done that has met my "standards". They are quick and fast paintings designed to deal with smaller things (maybe color...Shapes....Value...Some material? Maybe some kind of lighting! ) And I didn't give a s**t about what the end result was... As long as I was doing something within them, that I didn't do in every other painting.
For example I worked out a couple of concepts in my head for the first one ( Red monoliths) A lot of digital techniques were used to make it, and I started it out to play with adjustmentlayers. Just to see how fast a lot of different variables could be adjusted if you took the time to set everything up nicely. This was something I had never done before, and even though I count the painting as a "fail" that was done during a "mental block" and which didn't "meet my standard". I still learnt a lot of things. Things that will be stuck with me for a long time to come. Things that will turn into good and bad habits rather soon, depending on how much I paint, and how much I use them.
The same is applied to the other two (or 3 even! if you want ) In the green monolith painting, I was painting with photoscraps, I was using photos from cgtextures.com and trying out a bunch of different tools again (So far pretty tool and technique focused, but it doesn't matter... ANYTHING GOES) . The techniques were things I had picked up from Craig Mullin's sijun posts. Nothing you haven't heard before.. But something I had not tried in a long time. The elements were placed similarily to the first one on purpose, as I realized they both had the same aspect ratio and persctive.. haha.
The Spike towers one also shares a lot in common with the other paintings. I didn't had anything special in mind, and I didn't intend it to look like the other two. It just so happened that I had a very very old speedpaint lying around. It had essentially the same perspective.. And after some cutting and moving things around... I had basically replicated (without paying any attention to it...really comfortzone/mentalblock excuse here*) the perspective of the first two ones. In this painting I referenced a bierstadt painting 90% through the speedpaint and hopefully picked up a few things on light (and rock). I also identified a number of problems I have rendering things too light, or with too low gamma.. ETC ETC ETC.
The list is long.. all I want to say is that you can always work. And it can always be fun. One thing always leads into another as long as you're open minded. If you still believe in bad blocks and not working hard enough etc.. You know what can happen. You just build bad circles from it.. And those circles are filled with bad habits. Thats all there is. No fancy words....just more or less habits. You decide when you want to change them..and how much. Don't wait for them to change for you. They won't.