Strategies on Getting Out of a Rut

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).

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This one was a doodle reworked relentlessly with pen, markers, and white gel ink until I was reasonably satisfied with it. 

 

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This is Swampert, and he was my first ever Pokemon- I got him as a baby Mudkip when I started playing Pokemon Sapphire on my 10th birthday.

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.

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Then when you’ve built up some confidence with something simpler, it’s nice to stretch a bit further and try something a bit more complex, but still at the same rapid speed.
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And this is Typhlosion, and his baby form Cyndaquil, who was also one of my stalwarts when playing Soul Silver. He used to follow the player around and I could speak to him and he would do very cute things.
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Just another couple of sketches with my Tombow brush pen- the woman with the short hair smoking a cigarette is my ex partner and the two men to the right are my twin uncles at a family party. The street is somewhere in southern France, can’t remember where exactly, and to the right of it is a sculpture in the Galleria dell’ Accadamia, Firenze.

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