Three ways to overcome the fear of a blank canvas

Three ways to overcome the fear of a blank canvas

There’s nothing like opening a brand new canvas, placing it carefully on the easel and…feeling totally lost. The artist’s version of writer’s block goes something along the lines of, “Where do I begin? What if I mess up the painting? What if I don’t like what I create? Should I paint a landscape, a portrait, an abstract? Maybe I should change my style? What is my style? Is now the time to experiment with oils?”…and on and on and on.

We can get stuck in our heads, asking ourselves a million and one questions and getting in our own way instead of actually putting paintbrush to canvas and creating the artwork.

Here are three ways to beat the blues of a blank canvas and start your work with confidence.


Remember, this is just the beginning of the journey and the first layer of what might be several. There’s no pressure to get ANYTHING right at this stage so indulge in that. Make wild marks to refine later or simply cover up the whole canvas.

I like to mix lots of different colours straight from the tube and add water at this stage to stop myself from getting too neat and overthinking things but you could add thick layers of paint and create an impasto effect to inspire you at a later stage.


Working on multiple paintings at the same time takes the pressure off. Instead of focusing on one artwork and all of its perceived problems, have a few pieces to work on and move between them frequently.

If you’re feeling stuck with one canvas, move onto the next and give yourself some breathing space. When making art, we can easily fixate on the desired result (a perfect painting) rather than enjoying the process of creating.


Pour some coffee, put on your favourite playlist and mix up some paint. As part of my routine, I like to play the same song at the start of every painting to get me in the zone. It reminds me of everything I have worked on in the past and I feel the energy of all those paintings. This is a routine that works for me and you have to find one that works for you.

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