Is it normal to suddenly forget how to draw?

Home Forums Practice & Advice Is it normal to suddenly forget how to draw?

This topic contains 6 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Muffin Machine 2 years ago.

  • Subscribe Favorite
  • #27689

    I don't get why this is happening to me, one day I can draw pretty well. Then for the next few months there's a sudden quality drop.

    Students get 33% off full memberships to Line of Action

    Support us to remove this


    I think it's because of pauses. If you don't draw in couple of weeks, it becomes more difficult. In my case, at least.


    In my case, it happened many times, the quality of my drawings fluctuates quite often, it depends on the day, some days, I'm more sluggish than others or I'm not 100% focused and that's normal, we all have times like this. Even though it is pretty frustrating at times, I would suggest to acknowledge you're having bad days when you're drawing, and refocus slowly on getting things right (by going back to basics) then building up on that base! Sometimes you'll even learn new things this way too!


    Part of it is creating your drawing environment.

    Things like the kind of music or podcast you listen to while you draw can change your line quality. You can use this to your advantage as if you need to be hard with your pencil listen to something that is heavy like death metal but doesn't use the same music if you are working with delicate work, try lofi beats.

    How distraction-free is your work environment?

    Do you need to talk out your movements? Are you suppressing your natural dawing ways for others in the same room?

    How do you fit your drawing sessions into everyday life?

    Do you need to change your goals to keep yourself interested in what you're studying, so you stay in the studio?

    You can use classical conditioning on yourself to aid your drawing process to excel. For example, every time you prepare your drawing area with no distractions you get a cookie at the end of your drawing session. Or at 11 am = drawing time.

    Small things like this will change your drawing sessions a lot! And if you do the same routine, your memory will improve because your brain loves these types of condoning because they are associated with the feeling of comfort.

    I hope this helps.

    All the best,

    JCML Fine Art



    Drawing has been a lifelong love of mine, and there have definitely been times that I felt my skill had suddenly slipped a fair bit.

    I have gotten to know myself better as an artist, and now feel more aware of the quality at each step with my work. For me personally, issues with my work arise with either:

    1. Mechanical skill - I haven't drawn as often as I'd like and I am feeling a bit rusty.

    Usually I notice that my lines don't look quite right, or feel a bit uncoordinated. I fix this by doing a lot of quick, non-committal drawings, such as 30 second (or as long as you need to get the basic form down) gestures to get back into the flow. Don't focus too hard on getting one drawing perfect, but instead on the flow of your lines and placing major landmarks in the correct place. Use your entire arm to draw quick, expressive lines. Work your way up to longer, more detailed drawing sessions as you feel more comfortable! Even when I am feeling comfortable with my drawing skill, I like to start each day with ten or so 30 second gestures and a few longer sketches. It gets your hand (and brain!) warmed up and gets the sloppy/warmup sketches out of the way before you work on something that is more important to you.


    2. Fundamental knowledge - I need to review my fundamentals.

    Having a strong understanding of fundamentals helps you look at your work with a more logical eye: do things look objectively correct, and if not what should I adjust? Brushing up on anatomy, lighting, perspective, etc. usually helps a lot and helps with improvement overall. Fundamentals are your power source as an artist! I keep some cheap anatomical models off of amazon on my desk (plastic skull and mini skeleton) for reference and have some domestika courses purchased that I can review when I feel I need it. Doing some quick studies of images that show off fundamentals you're interested in helps, or for anatomy it helps a lot to study the different muscles and bones in the body.

    The above comment from JCML is also great! Having a cozy work environment can help a ton. I like some natural light, a scented candle, a blanket, and some music while I work. Drawing is a good time to get in-tune with yourself and your work environment is important. Take time to get to know yourself and observe what helps you work and what interferes with your creative process. Everyone-even professionals-have bad days, and one very useful skill as an artist is recognizing that you are under-performing and figuring out how to get back into the flow of things. You're already halfway there!

    Hope this helps at least a little bit!


    Lot's of great advice above this. Especially in regards to getting back to fundamentals.

    I find that the most important part of drawing is the voice that I use to talk to myself while drawing. Therefore, as others suggest, warming up with some fast gesture drawing is a great way to get started because...

    a) you don't have time to think anything other than constructive questions like "is the elbow overlapping the knee? is the head horizontally aligned with the hand?" and then answer these questions with your drawing and...

    b) it's not a finished drawing, it's just practice. Baseball players don't get to "keep" the homerun they got during practice. It's all building up to the big game and getting your brain aligned with your body to make the play when it's needed. And the play is all about how you speak to yourself while drawing.

    Drawing is as much about seeing, whether in reference or in your own mind, as it is about the act of drawing itself. Thoughts like "I'm bad at drawing. Everyone else is better than me at drawing. This drawing is the worst drawing I've ever done. Am I suddenly bad at drawing for no reason?" are like walls in front of your eyes. They stop the process completely. The statements are subjective and yet absolute, the questions are not objectively answerable. Ask yourself questions that are related to what you are wishing to translate into art. Ask yourself questions that are objectively answerable. Answer those questions with the drawing.

    Another factor that frequently occurs as you learn to draw better is that your idea of "better" changes. As your skill increases you hardly notice that the bar of quality increases with it. There is usually only a brief window where you are drawing objectively better and also subjectively better. These two are always in a race. You can get frustrated when you hit the point where your taste gets ahead of your skill, or you can rejoice in the fact that you now have somewhere new to get to. As Snump said, when you're here "you're already halfway there!"

    And on that note, when you practice drawing try to have a clear goal in mind. I recommend looking into Sycra Yasin's videos regarding his ideas on Iterative Drawing. Decide something you want to work on, for instance today I am working on simplifying poses. I find some pose I like and then I just draw it over and over from scratch. I'm not trying to create a finished drawing. I'm trying to practice the movement, and in so doing I find that around the 5th repitition I gain a new understanding of the pose because I see where I am slowing down and getting stuck over and over.

    Good work!

Login or create an account to participate on the forums.