When I was really young, Bob Ross was an amazing inspiration to me. I used to watch him paint all the time on public television. His demeanor and confidence in how he approached painting would always leave me feeling as if I could paint as easily as him.

Another artist I’ve followed for a long time is Alex Niño. He was a comic book artist I discovered when I was still in high school. I got the chance to hear a lecture by him that left an impression on me ever since.

What has stood out the most about these two artist was that they both let go of the notion of making art that pleased others and only thought of what pleased them. They didn’t care whether or not anyone else thought it looked cool. It was cool because they liked it.

While I was in college learning how to be all I could be. I would totally stress out about my art and especially about my drawing. After I graduated, it took me a while before I remembered that making art used to be fun for me. It relaxed me. It inspired me. It made me feel productive and challenged me.

When you’re starting out , it’s good to remember why you wanted to learn in the first place. I seriously doubt it was because you wanted to be an industry professional and make 100k a year. We all started because we were inspired by the imaginations of other artists, by the movies we watched, the books we read, or games we played.

There’s a lot of science and anecdotes about how playing affects how fast you learn. Animals play fight, kittens pretend they’re staking their prey, people play at all kinds of things. All the while we’re learning about ourselves, our likes and dislikes

Learning to create art is really hard. It takes a really long time and you only ever see the reward of satisfaction when you feel like you’re making the kind of art that you want to make. So, it’s important to remember to have fun while learning. If you can relax more in the making you will learn faster. If you can feel joy in every creative act you’ll never feel frustrated, bored, or burned out.

Right now you struggling to learn and none of it seems fun. It’s so hard, that it’s hard for it to be fun. Well here’s my tips and advice.

  • Stop trying to make great art. The harder you try, the more self conscious and analytical you become which means that you’re playing.
  • Get out for a walk or a drive and don’t worry about where you’re going. Turn left instead of turning right. The point here is to get some fresh air and maybe see something that inspires you.
  • Once you’re ready, whether you’re sitting or standing, take out your tools— reference if you’re using any— and take a moment to reflect on the thing you’re gonna draw. Is there something that inspires you about what you’re seeing or thinking about. Maybe it’s a color, shape or texture. Maybe it’s a kind of make believe story in you head. Hold onto that feeling and just start drawing. Whether it’s slow or quick don’t judge yourself. Just draw.
  • Meet up with friends and do drawing collaborations. Where each of you adds something to the drawing. This can be really fun and eye opening because nobody knows where the drawing is going and the results will be surprising.
    You can always join an art community and do art hangouts. Live stream yourself. For some this might be nerve racking but if you go in with the notion of just hanging out and doodling then it’s no big deal.
  • A personal favorite of mine is to throw away my drawings. WTF! It’s true. Because I’m not precious about what I’m drawing and I’m just learning, it frees me up from the pressure of making something “great”. I can focus on just the thing I’m trying to learn. Whether it’s line quality, tone, shape language ( aka design ) or any one of the many drawing fundamentals.

These are just a few off the top of my head of things that have helped me in the past. I hope it helps you as well.