There are times when work just flows, and times when self- consciousness or pressure paralyses you. It’s very much like having a case of nerves before a big match or performance of some sort. Thankfully there are ways to work your way out of the rut; practical, methodical steps that are guaranteed to revive confidence. It’s sort of like flexing a muscle mechanically until you reassure yourself that you’re still physically and mentally capable of performing at your peak.
It’s taken a lot of frustration and tears through school and university to discover the things that help me get back on track. There were long gaps in my late teens and early twenties (until now, I suppose, as I’ve not hit mid twenties yet) where I just couldn’t face drawing for fear that I’d lost touch with it. But I’ve been getting better, and ever since I started the storyboard course I’ve been much more disciplined with consistent practice, and that work ethic in itself is enormously helpful.
Otherwise, I go back to the things that got me interested in sketching in the first place. It’s not stuff you’d put in a portfolio. It’s Pokemon drawings (my first ever proper drawing was one of the Pokemon Scyther), and other silly stuff that’s relatively easy. But it’s essentially the same thing on a simplified, compressed level; analyzing shapes from reference images and sketching them out rapidly. Ink really does help make you bolder and better, and sketching with a fude brush pen especially is great for quick drawings. I use the Tombow and Zebra ones, very nice pens that are lovely to use and produce lively lines. Timing has been crucial in these sort of exercise sketches; spend too long on something and you lose the spontaneity. So I make sure not to spend more than a minute or so on each sketch, and even the little boost of self- confidence you get from this is worth it, even if the end result isn’t going to go anywhere (except perhaps as a part of my sketchbook on this blog).
Sketching absent-mindedly when watching something or talking to someone on the phone is also a relatively stress free way of getting some practice in. Even if it’s a trashy sort of sketch there was no pressure in the first place so there’s really no cons here.