Katie Rice occasionally blogs about the struggles she has when a drawing rut sets in and drags on for days at a time. She also blogs about the fun she has when she can break out, let it all go and draw in an unrestrained manner, reclaiming the joy of doodling. One of the issues that professional artists of any kind can face is this potential to be worn down by the daily pressures and limitations of their current project, or to be worn down by the internal pressures of the need to constantly improve, study and adhere to lofty aesthetic theories.
Visitors to Katie’s blog however would be hard pressed to pick out the difference between Katie’s fun-time doodles and pieces done even in her deepest drawing doldrums without the benefit of her accompanying text that explains the context of the drawing sessions. Katie is a pro after all, digging in the cartoon mines daily, producing 100% Hollywood animation quality no matter what the drawing mood, so all of her work is of the highest-grade cartoon stuff. These high standards that she sets for herself are the mark of the professional artist —and the very thing that can potentially drag a fun-doodler down.
Katie’s descriptions of her personal struggles to be the best cartoonist possible are a good illustration of what every artist goes through who has the same dedication to their work.
So what to do when you’re in a drawing rut and doodling isn’t as fun as it should be?
Besides simply ingesting a lot of hard intoxicants as many cartoonists do, a better solution is to acknowledge the drawing block when it arrives and then discover through trial and error what tools and settings personally allow you to crush it out of existence with your best mindless-doofus-doodles.
Challenging the drawing block directly is necessary. Changing your drawing instruments from pencils to cheap pens or brushes can make a difference. For some such as Katie, doodling on Post-its is a great relief from work pressure. I have known cartoonists who resisted sketchbooks at all costs because they represented their own set of pressures: a permanently bound record of what could potentially be your best, weirdest work, or your most spectacular failures. I would suggest that being fearless is how you must approach your drawing session that will truly break you free, so sitting down with a bound sketchbook and some markers or ink could be the very thing to do it.
Finally, check out these awesome Katie doodles above, some of what she calls her “wonky” work. Not surprisingly, she also calls it some of her favorite.
Katie’s doodles along with 34 other artist’s sketchbooks are on display in the new GO FOR THE GOLD! 3 anthology sketchbook. Preview it here and buy it here along with the last issue GO FOR THE GOLD! 2 which included a ton more drawings from cartoonist big-shots and Meathaus regulars alike.