Stuck in a rut with depression where I'm unable to draw. Looking for advice, if possible

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Since Giles 1 month ago.

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    Depression's finally got to the point where it's made drawing tedious and near-impossible. I'm unable to pick up a pencil and draw; when I am able to, I'm not learning anything the way I used to. It's frustrating. I no longer find any joy in drawing and am stuck, which is difficult because it is something I have a deep passion for. I don't really know where to go from here. I love drawing, more than anything else, yet it's something that has become impossible to do. I get frustrated when I draw, and more often than not, it seems like I even get more depressed. Which is yet another thing that keeps me from drawing.

    I know this isn't a forum for mental health, but if anyone here has gone through roughly the same thing and can share advice, or their experience, I'd be more than grateful. Losing something I love to something I can't control is hard, especially when I'm at a time in my life where I need to use drawing as a method to cope.

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    Hello and good morning, S Uw Ucidal, and welcome to Line of Action, I'm Polyvios, and how are you doing today?

    Say, to answer your question, I think that you sound way too harder on yourself, but I feel that you could try loosening up your drawing basics again, if you really haven't already. How about trying out our interactive drawing tutorial on this website right here within a link.

    The reason why you should and would go ahead with this is because, if you wanted to learn and relearn the basics of gesture drawing, then bring it on!

    For even more than enough info, please be sure to download a free PDF of the Vilppu Drawing Manual, which, to my knowledge, is the more than foundational skill in life drawing and drawing in general. Good luck from all of us to you.;)


    Afraid I don't have much advice for you, but I'm also deeply frustrated due to a different underlying issue and really sympathize.

    Can you pinpoint where you're frustrated? Are you working mostly digitally or traditionally? If it's the former, it might help to just grab a sketchbook and go at it with whatever practices you can (though I also understand being too frustrated to practice, since that's where I've been) instead; allowing yourself to "waste" paper can be kind of hard to accept, but it does get you doing something, however small (I stopped when I got frustrated, as long as I had just one page done). Really quick, easy, no-energy-required exercises if you can, or watching people talk about art if you can't with videos / etc.

    You may also just be burned out and need a break, or to let those creative muscles stretch a different way (if you play games, I find ones like Minecraft or Animal Crossing where you're still generally pursuing creative endeavors can really help; if not, are there other things you can use to express what you want?). Which - full disclosure, I find "take a break" to be slightly exhausting advice myself, I went through art school and breaks were practically sacrilegious - but they do work.


    I've been going through something similar to you for a while now. A complete and utter block towards art and drawing that's not actually caused by something relating to art, but rather, mental health. I have had panic attacks when I've tried to draw a few times because of the intense, originless anxiety that would consume me. When art is a comfort, it's difficult when it feels like it's being taken away by something completely outside your control. If anything, it feeds into even more negative emotions and it becomes a self-feeding cycle.

    The best thing for this (that you can do by yourself, anyway) is self forgiveness, which I understand is easier said than done. It's easy to give grace and understanding to a friend struggling with this kind of thing, but it's not so easy to give that same kindness to yourself. Especially when dealing with a monster like depression that might be saying you don't deserve it or there's no point. Try to give yourself that kindness regardless though. You very clearly care about your art, otherwise you wouldn't be here seeking advice. You want to continue improving and creating despite what you're going through. That's admirable, and it's not your fault that you're struggling with it. It's the depression.

    However, if it has become this difficult, I think a form of self forgiveness you can give yourself is to let go of trying to improve right now, as hard as it is to do that. Not forever, just temporarily. If it feels like everything you draw right now sucks, then ok. If you're like me and a little bit of spite helps lift your mood, you can purposely draw art you think looks aweful. Basically, try to find a way to draw without any expectations. If it looks amazing, cool. If it looks like a five year old holding a pencil for the first time, cool. Just be proud that you picked up your pencil today (or whatever art implement you use). If you can't even do that today, that's cool too. You tried. Be proud of that, and understand that the fact you tried even when you feel like this is amazing in itself. When you feel a bit better, you'll be able to do more. Look forward to that.

    As I mentioned, I've been dealing with this myself. Actually, I've been struggling with coming to terms with the fact that I'm disabled and sometimes just can't do what I love or even need to because of it for a while now. It's infuriating to be staring my notebook with a pencil in hand and not even be able to lay a mark down because of reasons outside my control. It's infuriating to not be able to fill sketchbooks like I did in high school. It's difficult to not feel like "I'm just not trying hard enough" and "everyone else can do it, why can't I" even as I spend hours doing just that. Trying. That's why self forgiveness is so, so important when dealing with this. It's a skill that needs to be learned and built upon, just like how we build up our understanding of the human body with figure drawing. Keep working on it. I'll be here, working on it too.


    Mysty Nyx... thank you. I cried a little reading what you wrote. I.. really wish I could actually express how helpful your response was. I relate to so much of what you've described of your own struggles. And I wish you heartfelt luck in your own journey. Though I guess we both know it's not easy in the slighest, haha... I'll take your advice to heart. Thank you, again.

    And Polyvios, and icouldntthinkofaname, thank you for your responses and advice as well. Your advice is just as helpful, and I'll do everything i can to put what I can into practice. This has been an incredibly constructive thread for me. I honestly didn't think I'd get such kind, helpful responses when initially starting the thread. It truly means a lot.

    Sorry, hope this doesn't come across as grossly over-emotional, lol. I just really appreciate the help.


    hi. i'm suffering from depression on and off my whole life. And usually it's the negative emotion feed into itself and your brain will do anything to make you belive that what you want to do is to hard, be it getting up etc. Usually what i try to do to get out of it is to try as hard as i can to not listen to my brain. You'll find that if you can get something done, anything at all....iven something simple it will give you some kind of mental victory over your brain. then i repeat and try again and again...until i finnally manage to do something that makes me proud of myself....usually getting your self esteem and realising that what your brain says is bullshit gets me out of it. But i also often fail...and that's ok. your brain will use that failure to make you feel like shit...but you have to understand that as long as you don't give up...and try again you didn't loose. if you tried...then you did something and that's a win. it's ok to fail, just don't give up and try again...the next day until it works.

    then there is also sometimes outside worry that feed my depression. I have to accomplish something, i have responsablity. But the best way is to just let it go. What if i don't accomplish anything...and waste my life. try to not think about it and just try to do something small. Maybe a push up...maybe going outside. set a goal and try very hard to find a way to feel good about yourself again. It's hard...especially since my depression is usually aided by a lot of anxiety too.

    If nothing else work, go see a specialist. antidepression medecine can help to. just don't give up on yourself.


    I'm going to be a little more pragmatic than the other replies, I'm sorry I won't provide much emotional support.

    But I suggest that you also look at the logical side of things. I've never been diagnosed with depression, but I'm super emotional. I've gotten around the many times I've been "depressed," mostly by thinking a bit more logically. Every point I'm going to make is from my personal experience, so take all of this with a grain of salt.

    I. Source of the problem

    You have to solve the problem at its source. I don't know you, but it is very likely that:

    a) You should get help from professionals who can help with your mental health.

    b) Something in your life is currently the cause of your depression. Is it because of society or the country you live in? Family problems? Physical health? Social life? Work conditions? Noisy neighbors? etc. I suggest you look into that first.

    II. Other hobbies and passions

    Again, I don't know you. But by reading your posts, you seem to only have one hobby: drawing. I honestly think this is not a situation you want to get stuck in for an extended period of time.

    Having multiple hobbies doesn't hurt. There was a period in high school when I was in a similar situation, but with music. It really felt like I was banging my head against a wall all day whenever I wasn't satisfied with a track I created or when I couldn't play my instruments as well as usual. This is because it was the only thing that I was doing back then.

    And then, as time went on, I picked up new interests. As of now, art, music, and bodybuilding are my main hobbies, with other "secondary interests" that I don't invest that much time in: fashion, hairstyling, anime, cooking, Olympic weightlifting, and twitch streamers (sadly lol).

    Something important: my passion for music didn't die or get weaker; it was rather the opposite. Each hobby you have feeds into each other. A few personal examples:

    a) Bodybuilding taught me that taking breaks is important to avoid burnouts. I applied this to art and music.

    b) Art taught me that the building blocks (the sketch) are crucial for any piece. I applied that to music composition (making mini-tracks before composing) and practice (playing with a slow metronome first).

    c) Music taught me that using reference tracks (fully fleshed-out songs from other people that are in the same style of music) is crucial for checking the overall feel and mix. I applied that to art, when I pull up pieces from other artists, just to give me a reference for what I want my piece to feel like.

    d) Hairstyling introduced me to the concept of sculpting.

    e) Fashion and anime/manga give me endless inspiration for both art and music.

    And needless to say, each hobby inspires me to an extent to be creative.

    Don't be afraid to discover new passions and hobbies; always be curious about things. You might find that maybe drawing is not your only passion. It is okay to stop doing art from time to time when you feel the need to. Your passion for art won't die.

    III. Art skills

    You're also probably not happy with your art skills.

    I know that, compared to music, art takes way more patience to be gratified with your own work. In music, just play a chord on the keys or play a riff on the guitar; you get a nice, entertaining sound.

    But with art, you have to make the thumbnail, the sketch, and then the inking, the rendering, etc. It is way more tedious to get a result, and the amount of gratification heavily depends on the skill of the artist.

    If that is the case, I suggest you look into what you should improve and try to find the resources that suit you the best.

    Literally make a list of every aspect of art that interests you (gesture, composition, colors, values, human anatomy, animal anatomy, perspective, inking, technique, etc.), evaluate your skills, and try to find the best courses or instructors that suit each of these aspects.

    And one last thing, something I wish I was aware of when I first started doing art: don't try to reinvent the wheel. This is very tempting to do when you are self-taught. But people have already figured this all out. There are a ton of structured courses for art for you to delve into, and some of them are even free.

    Hoped that helped, don't give up.



    Oh wait, I just realized how old this topic is. Well, I hope you found appropriate help during those 2 last months and things got at least a bit better.


    One thing that's helped me is breaking things down into baby steps. Sometimes, just doodling random lines or shapes can get the juices flowing. No pressure to create a masterpiece – just let your hand move. Think of it as stretching before a workout. And hey, even if you don't feel like drawing at all, that’s okay too. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to take a break and focus on self-care.

    Another idea is to change your scenery. If you usually draw at a desk, try sketching outside or in a different room. A new environment can spark fresh ideas and help shake off that creative block. And don't forget the power of community. Engaging with other artists, even if it’s just to share your struggles, can be incredibly uplifting. You might find that others have been in the same boat and can offer some great advice.

    Also, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Talking to a therapist or counselor can work wonders. And if you’re feeling really low, there’s always a hotline for mental health that you can call for immediate support.

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