Get Inspired!

Blocks to painting
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Do you enjoy painting and know that you WANT to paint, and yet STILL struggle to actually get those paints out and do it?

I’ve identified 5 common blocks that stop ALL of us in our tracks from time to time.

And I’ve also developed strategies for moving past them.

Contrary to how they FEEL to us, most of these blocks are actually INTERNAL and require a shift in mindset.

So I’ve made this fun little video (an expanded version of a PDF I used to give away on my website) to help you shift your mindset and get those paints out REGULARLY!

I’d love to hear YOUR experiences of these pesky blocks – please do join in the conversation in the comments below.

The more we’re honest about these blocks and share our experiences with each other, the less power they have over us!

Wishing you a mindset shift or two!

Anna x

112 Comments
  1. Carmen Fischer 10 months ago

    Thank you SO much for this video Anna. You touched on virtually everything I’ve felt at one time or another and this video was JUST what I needed. Thank you too for incorporating videos like these in your school. It’s NOT just about the instruction videos but the WHOLE journey of painting! I’m new to the school and also loved your quick start guide. I feel you are so passionate about making this experience for your students the very best it can be! THANK YOU!!

  2. Ros Steel 10 months ago

    Thanks Anna for your timely wisdom and the clever nudges to get me past my “blocks”!

  3. Author
    Anna Mason 10 months ago

    Glad to hear that, thanks Ros!

  4. Patricia Pushaw 10 months ago

    Thanks Anna. I spent 20 hours at least last week trying to work on a few paintings. I finished 2 tiny pieces. At times I feel I am regressing so I decided to work on your tutorials. I know this is temporary but because this is what I do and who I am it can be very discouraging. Time to start again today!!

  5. Alissa 10 months ago

    I really enjoyed this video! Thank you, Anna, for your encouragement and advice; it was just what I needed.

  6. Judy Jackson 10 months ago

    Thank you Anna. I am BLOCKED! Blocked blocked blocked to the point of artistic constipation. I used to be quite an accomplished artist, but for the last, oh, 10-12 years I just can’t seem to make myself sit down and actually ‘do it’. Saddest part is that I have my ‘studio’ all setup, reference photos out, paints out and ready to go, drawings on my drawing table ready to be painted, canvas on my easel with a painting I started last April…

    What IS this block and how can I get over it???

  7. tatjana 10 months ago

    dear anna, that’s all true! i’m painting all my life bit only with pencils, graphite. watercolour is a new expirience for me. sorry, my english not so … but i good unterstand. i’ m looking forward for the lessons!

    best wishes,

  8. Graham 10 months ago

    Great video on the 5 stumbling blocks, Anna. Myproblem is creating depth and giving my paintings a more three D look. Any suggestions would be welcome.

    Graham

  9. Julia 10 months ago

    I hate to draw and thats what keeps me from painting. Once I get something on paper I cant wait to paint.

  10. Viv 10 months ago

    All so very true Anna and laid out with suggestions in a very clear way. I sometimes have the opposite problem, I feel like I should paint but get in there and am just not in the mood but end up forcing myself to do some. More often though, I just want to see colour flow onto paper.

  11. Amen! I’ve had them all. Currently, I am enjoying studying new artists I’ve not seen or heard of before. And, I’m enjoying viewing their work and analyzing it; pulling out a review of what I recognize and I’ve been taught along my own journey to this point. I am curious as to how certain parts of their work was achieved. Awe, curiosity! So I’m not wasting time but it’s hard to believe it when you have nothing tangible to show. It has been exciting and inspiring and of course I want to paint today! “If I can get all my chores done and if I can find something suitable to wear” hmm, I’ve got too much Cinderella running through my head as a grandma! Thanks for the incite and encouragement Anna. You are doing a great job as our teacher!

  12. Lydia 10 months ago

    Thanks Anna for the encouragement. I’m enjoying your free class, your website and Craftsy class. Your paintings are beautiful. I have the motivation, I make the time– am comitted, but I am struggling — my paintings are awful. I’ll heed your advice and plod on. Perhaps some day I will have a painting worthy of posting on your site.

  13. Ruth Cory 10 months ago

    I loved your video, Anna. Where did you find that wonderful actress to do your short
    shots of pure hysteria? She was great, too. I laughed a lot.
    I shall be thinking of you as I face the paper
    tomorrow morning! How I love that ugly duckling sitting on my table!

  14. Jana 10 months ago

    I love, love, love it! This was such a fun, fun video! The line “thoughts do not have to be believed” is my motto. ( and following what comes after thoughts, feelings do not have to be believed either).
    Block 1. I’m getting rid of the perfectionist mindset. I’m painting for me, not an art critic, and My paintings don’t have to look like everyone else’s.
    Block 2. Scheduling works.
    Block 3. Started my photo library.
    Block 4. Following Anna’s tutorials in the recommended order and learning the methods she uses well.
    Block 5. No criticism for the ugly duck stage. Just go on to the next stage and think positive.
    When I don’t feel particularly motivated, I take out Anna’s book and peruse it for inspiration, I watch a you tube of someone painting, or I look at some of the students paintings and comments. These tricks fire me up to get back to my desk.
    I so appreciate these tutorials!

  15. Eunice Miller 10 months ago

    As we are getting a huge snowstorm today time to go find my ugly ducklings and begin to finish them THANKS!

  16. Eunice Miller 10 months ago

    Thanks again Anna

  17. Mary Barnett 10 months ago

    Thank you again Anna that was helpful advice. I am setting aside time every day to paint. I must admit I do get frustrated that’s it’s never good enough but that is not stopping me watching your tutorials and having a go.

  18. Shelley reynolds 10 months ago

    I have a strange block once I get started painting I can’t tear myself away I wanted to do a painting for my daughter birthday and I ended up painting for eight hours. So because of other responsibilities I am afraid that once I start painting I won’t want to stop when I should .

  19. Gabriela Hajduk 10 months ago

    Thanks Anna, those are good points and your School definitely helps with those blocks too – I already miss the structure of the School, hope I can come back at some point.

    My main blocks are tiredness and, partially, time. Not is a sense that I can’t make *some* time, because I can, but I struggle to make *enough* time. As I have no dedicated painting space it takes ~15 mins to set up and the same to clean up. Having to spend that 30 mins on prep/clean up makes it feel like it’s “not worth it” unless the painting time in between is at least an hour, preferable more. Especially when I’m about to fall asleep with my head on the palette/plate! I hope that in the second half of this year I might be able to get a tiny-tiny dedicated painting space where I will be able to leave my on-to-go stuff.

  20. Manuela 10 months ago

    Hallo Anna, I´m watching your videos in germany and I´m always faszinated of helpful advices. And the kind of your presentation is really entertaining. I hope, you will understand, what I mean.

    Manuela

  21. Mary Ann Russo 10 months ago

    Thanks Anna for the inspiration. I’m loving watercolour painting, but my first block is finding the right time. I need a long period of uninterrupted time to process and begin. I’m a slow learner. I’ll be playing your video over several times, before I get going..

  22. Claudia Dobson 10 months ago

    Hi Anna..and fellow artists. I have been a member for close on a year now and was ill for most of that time. I am much better now and look forward to participating . I found this video very encouraging so I’m planning to get busy very soon. Thank you Anna.

  23. Kathy 10 months ago

    Like your video. Like your emphasis on the enjoyment the process brings; enjoyment is what keeps me doing. Desire to learn is the other motivator of course, and mistakes or my dissatisfaction with my results are great teachers. But also as you pointed out so is method and I am grateful to you for making your methofpd available – the painting of succulents I have watched a couple of times and plan on watching and doing sometime soon. Thank you Anna Mason for sharing your knowledge and showing your how to.

  24. MG 10 months ago

    You are a teacher so good … that I can believe I’ll learn!
    Thank you!

  25. Pauline 10 months ago

    Loved this video! As I watched it, I recognised myself. Every single block applied to me. I had to laugh as I recognised myself in Anna’s witty interpretation. It brightened up my evening. Thank you Anna.

  26. Carol Sapp 10 months ago

    Great advice Anna! It’s so hard to not be a perfectionist. You made very valid and helpful points.
    Thank you!

  27. June Mitchell 10 months ago

    Hi Anna
    I’ve dabbled with all sorts of medium over the last four years posting them on Facebook. I always felt that my paintings were bland. Last year I didn’t paint for 6 months … painters block and started again after Christmas. I decided to join your school two weeks ago. I have not only amazed my Facebook friends with my seven paintings …I can’t quite believe I actually painted them and I can’t stop …I’m hooked …It is the best move I’ve done in my 50 years of painting ….BIG THANK YOU

  28. Geraldine 10 months ago

    Hi Anna
    Thank you so much for your video. I find it so difficult to get started again at painting. My bedroom is where I have my paint & painting stuff. Its really becoming very cluttered.
    I dont know where to start. Then I change my mind & say to myself
    I will try & paint tomorrow.
    Tiredness is a common problem for me as I am a carer.
    Every one of the blocks apply to me.
    Thanks for them
    Regards
    Geraldine

  29. Natalia Belonozhko 10 months ago

    I LOVE painting but always scared to spoil what i have and as soon as i put brush down. To pick it up again is a MASSIVE issue.

  30. Deborah Cole 10 months ago

    It’s like you are reading my mind…got this notification in my email, stunned at the timing.. I’ve been struggling with getting past this block. I’m oh so grateful to finally have a very good sized craft room where I can leave all my paints, crafts, etc. out, so this block is not enabled by an “out of sight, out of mind” excuse. I even have your Craftsy watercolor class tab open still that I signed up for 3+ weeks ago. I’ve done all the prep work…and nothing more. I’m intimidated. I’ve picked up card making during this time because I don’t think I have what it takes to make a painting; a bigger more obvious version of my fledgling painting skills, yikes! I’m a detail oriented person and it cracks me up that I’ve picked watercolor as my favorite artistic expression to learn. Finding art and my talent (again) this late in life has been wonderful and daunting at the same time. Oh sure I can make pretty awesome cards, of which I receive very positive feedback for, but those are temporary “works” and most will likely go in the garbage at some point. Ahhh, irony. Yes, this watercolor on canvas spotlight thing is scary. (*eyes roll* grander scheme…world’s woes, this is most certainly trivial, at best.) I know it takes lots of practice for me to become my own sense of noteworthy. It’s mostly an age related fear-too much time needed to get good when I don’t have a lot of time left (OK, it’s about 30 years left… I am a stereo typical artist, so dramatic, haha!), While I don’t think my woes can be solved on your website blog comment section, it is therapeutic to at least put it down in black and white. 🙂 So there it is. This is my attempt at working through my block. Apologies in advance for the length of this post. 😀 My admiration of your talent is, at the very least, palatable! Thank you very much!

  31. Maureen 10 months ago

    Loved this video! It was understandable and straight to the point in 5 steps. Also, enjoyed the lively manner in which it was presented. Thank you!

  32. Nancy Lovitz 10 months ago

    Hi Anna – I laughed as I watched this as I knew what you were going to say before you said them, and they are right on. I have all 5 of those blocks — and somewhat of inertia on top of it. Thanks for creating this, it was a great reminder.

  33. Tanya Adams 10 months ago

    When I first started with the school I went headlong into painting with a passion, picking up where I left off many years ago. I had done 24 or so subjects from Anna’s library with all the ugly duckling to swan attributes. I often leave s painting at the ugly duckling stage for days, even weeks and finally bring it to completion. Then iI got to the owl. … really wanted to do the eyes but wasn’t really that keen on the subject (well wanted to get to the next one fast) I loved the eyes and was so happy with the deep reflective pool effect! But my attitude to the rest was not good, so I procrastinated to the point I left it several months. Finally I decided I needed to paint, but just not this one. I’ve happily put it aside and gone onto the orchid. I decided that my mindset needs to be really positive toward the subject, so my attitude is on track. I started the orchid with back ground, disliked the background I did, so started again – This time no background- attitude? Much happier. 🙂

  34. Benedicte Boulingrin 10 months ago

    Thank you Anna for this video. Your courses are great. 🙂

  35. Sally Ragusa 10 months ago

    Thank you so much for creating this video. I wish I could hug you. Everything you said is so very true and I have felt all of those obstacles. I must carry on and keep trying and learning the process. Again…thank you

  36. Virginia Sharpe 10 months ago

    You’ve given me the inspiration I need to make time and keep going! I get frustrated when I see a technique that is made to look so easy and yet I can’t quite get it! Wet in wet is one thing I’m trying to master along with knowing when to stop and not carry on tweaking until I’ve overdone things!
    Understanding paint colours is a problem I have, knowing which colours are grainy and which are transparent! I have a new empty palette I would like to fill with the colours I feel I would use the most, but don’t want to buy tubes of paint until I have my list compiled. So I watch your videos with interest to see what colours you use.
    I now realise that little practice sessions are just as important as painting a whole picture from beginning to end! I am lucky in that I do have a room I call my own for painting so I can leave a painting and pop in to do a bit now and again! Your videos are invaluable as you just seem to know how to explain and demonstrate the very techniques I’m trying to learn! Thank You!

  37. June Addicott 10 months ago

    Thanks for a humorous presentation, it was fun to see and great for reinforcement. I am now encouraged to use your method to try out some of my photo inspiration . My block is thar I tend not to think I can draw or paint but I feel more challenged now. Thsnks again

  38. Virginia Sharpe 10 months ago

    I’ve just watched half a dozen of your short videos on setting up a palette and what paints, paper and brushes to use and I think it’s helped me decide what and how I want to paint! I had thought it was wet in wet but I just love your technique and am going to practice more detailed style painting! Having your video advice will help immensely as fine art is usually where I’m happiest!

  39. Sharon Shipman 10 months ago

    Thank you! This was very helpful.

  40. Carol 10 months ago

    I found I was pursuing the wrong goal : watercolour landscape. So as my teacher’s main criticism was my photorealism, ( Stop trying to paint every leaf !) I tried botanicals and those are improving. I then tried animals…even in the first month people want these (some being auctioned for a charity) …so my message is to try lots of different stuff.

  41. Sally 10 months ago

    Hi Anna,
    My block is other people treating my interest in art like it’s unimportant. Like I should be spending my time the way they do. A family member thinks is not important unless it earning money and even my pastor treats it as unimportant because they don’t have an art department and even quotes commandments at me. Other people who are not artistic can be so discouraging. But Art is the first thing I think of so I trudge along despite their comments. I could get so much farther with encouragement so I guess that why I like your website so much.

  42. Sally Buchanan 10 months ago

    Hi Anna.
    My biggest block is thinking what I produce isn’t perfect. Block No. 1. My hubby constantly says…just paint for fun, enjoy it and do it for yourself – it’s a hobby. Sounds remarkably familiar!! Trouble is, I’ve always felt that way about lots of things…if it’s not done properly, then it’s not worth doing. However, the fact that I am still painting a year after commencing is a testament to how much I really do enjoy it – I would have thrown everything in the bin otherwise! It’s also testament to the fact that this is an excellent environment in which to learn.

  43. Donna Maloney 10 months ago

    Hi Anna,
    I joined your school last year but was so busy painting for my solo exhibition I didn’t get time to do your course. Now that I’m free I can start. Since Christmas I have just been painting gum leaves and the pandanus leaves. So now I’m very excited to start painting and learn a new technique. You are such an inspiration.

  44. Elizabeth 10 months ago

    Thank you for your helpful video.I am the worst perfectionest so I will keep the video close on hand so I never need to be so bogged down. Kind regards from South Africa. Elizabeth

  45. Jim Calpin 10 months ago

    Thank you for a very good video.

  46. jeannie ferdinande 10 months ago

    great video, it helps to remind me what I paint for and to enjoy a day with a brush in my hand…thank you!

  47. Eddie Sang 10 months ago

    Enjoyed your as usual. I’m actually a pastel artist but as the dust is begining to cause me problems l’m looking for a new medium. At the minute l’m teaching myself coloured pencil techniques plus looking at watercolours l quite enjoy looking at yours

  48. Sherry Hammond 10 months ago

    Thanks Anna! Great tips!

  49. Judith Bareham 10 months ago

    I get stuck in my own ruts and think, ” I couldn’t possibly do…”. I love to watercolor cards which are small and detailed so painting on a large sheet and painting an expansive wash freaks me out!
    Perfectionism can rob me of appreciating my work too which I have to overcome frequently.
    I tried the Strawberry painting and it looked awful so I will be tackling that again!! But I do think painting what you love makes a difference – I don’t like still life much so I do landscapes, trees and animals. Knowing your strengths and likes is a big help in moving forward with painting. There are no “have to’s or absolutes” right?
    Thanks for the continued instructionals – I am Brit from Sussex living in the US and so I miss those English accents 🙂

  50. Nigel Rumble 10 months ago

    Love the videos and the messages. Ive been a member of the school a year or so and I’m retired so I get loads of time. I get my inspiration from all the fab pics from the school members and the videos. I like painting different subjects so lalways got something to paint.

  51. Tari Loomis-Trapenard 10 months ago

    I find that the place where I have set up to paint is everything. I must not feel crowded or in a dark room. That for me is a start. When I feel free around me, a room that has room to put my paints around me, and a lot of light or go outside then I find my blocks are not as pronounced. I can start a painting and enjoy doing it.

  52. Dot Thompson 10 months ago

    Thank you Anna I have experienced all these blocks I also find I set everything up ready to start paining then I make any excuse not to start it seem Like I am afraid to put the first mark. Having watched the videos I will take on board your advice regards Dot

  53. Sophie Messenger 10 months ago

    Love this video. Right now I am feeling “BLOCKED” In fact, all the five blocks you mentioned in this video. Thank you for waking me up. Have a wonderful day.

  54. Darja 10 months ago

    Thank you Anna! It’s so about me! I am currently in the process of overcoming my blocks. So far I discovered that making quick ink&watervolour sketches of the same subject for 7 days works for me. I did 7 days of food and now doing 7 days of flowers, this way I know what I’m painting, I have to keep myself motivated for short periods of time, I think of it only as a sketch, so if it’s not perfect it’s not the end of the world. So far it worked for 11 days. But every evening before painting I still have that block moments when I feel that I don’t know where to start and it will most probably look terrible and may be it’s better to give up on it. Hopefully it will disappear with time and practice,

  55. Eileen Fenwick 10 months ago

    Thank you Anna thank you for the reminders, like Nigel I have been a member of the school since day one and I’m really pleased with the work I have accomplished but however like now I am stuck. My friend emailed me a beautiful flower picture she knew I would want to paint. I got three quarters to be finished and was so I happy with it so I painstakingly started again and now I am half way through and still I am disappointed it’s so hard to get through that ugly duckling and I CANT DO THIS stage but when you do it’s such a lovely feeling then when you post it to the online members and they give you such feed back you say yes I CAN DO THIS……….thank you Anna, god bless Eileen

  56. Gloria Ayres 10 months ago

    Thank you so much for this video Anna. I seem to spin from ‘block 1’ to ‘block 5’ and back again. I don’t have much experience in painting, but your eye for detail captured me. I tried a couple of you easier tutorials, then went on to the field mouse (which was OK) and the robin (which although nowhere near perfect I quite liked).
    I have a problem in that I want to do the complex stuff NOW. I have started a picture of a Kingfisher, but have got about half way through and every time I go back to it I just back away. As you said in your video – I want it perfect and don’t think I will ever get there. I cannot use the excuse that I don’t have time, but every time I go to start I found something else to do.
    I will try really hard to stop looking for perfection and just see what comes. You other members will probably think I am either an idiot, or have far too much ego (to want to produce the best straight away), but that really is not the case. I think I am just scared of failure – something that has been with me for most of my life.
    Anyway, thank you again for your inspiration.
    Gloria

  57. Caroline 10 months ago

    Thank you, Anna, for expressing exactly what I’m feeling as a new watercolor artist (#1 and #5 particularly). I can easily spend 4-8 hours every weekend working on my painting (watching videos, practicing techniques, working on a picture), so I know I’ve finally found “my” hobby! However, I am a perfectionist and the learning process has been a little stressful/frustrating at times. I KNOW it’s supposed to be FUN and relaxing/stress-reducing, so it’s a great mental exercise for me. It’s nice to know that others are experiencing the same issues and great to hear your advice on how to tackle them. I love all of your videos and really appreciate the time and effort you put into them. Now, back to my tulips!

  58. Lynnae 10 months ago

    Hello Anna, I have really enjoyed learning from you. I’ve painted with watercolors before but never with such realism. It’s lovely to have some of the clues you give to make my work better, even though I’m still at the stage of “I can’t believe how I’ve messed this up”, especially when it comes to your online class painting the Rose. What I’m finding is one, I’m using Daniel Smith paints and they don’t always equate to the same colors as Windsor Newton. I already have these paints so I best use them! I purchased your book and want to try some of the step by step paintings you’ve included. What I’m finding is that I draw and see much better from my own photographs or life. I’m thinking that if it at all possible to include some of your photos with the lessons you teach that would be very helpful for me to get a better feel for what I’m aiming at. Actually if at all possible to send me the “viola” photos I’d totally appreciate that. I have a rose I’m painting from my own photo collection that I have an emotional connection to, but I have had some trouble with violas/pansies…..

    Thank you so much for all your lovely helpfulness,
    Lynnae

  59. Ellis 10 months ago

    Great advise, delivered in a wonderful enthusiastic manner.

  60. laura hawranko 10 months ago

    I really needed this Anna!…you are such a doll to make and share this encouragement with us ♡

  61. Barbara Jenkins 10 months ago

    This video was so good. It covered everything I was thinking lol. I laughed out loud several times as I thought “this is so me”. I am a real perfectionist and want my painting to look like yours and I have never painted before. This has given me so much inspiration. Thank you.

  62. Stephen Wilson 10 months ago

    Dear Anna,
    Thank you for your sensible advice. I am currently enjoying your school tutorials at the beginner stage. I know that I am guilty of watching too many videos on ‘how to paint’. As a perfectionist I know that I am too critical of my work, and have a tendency to watch multiple videos in the expectation that more and more knowledge will make me a better painter. Of course it doesn’t. I have decided not to watch any more, but to work through the tutorials in the school, and enjoy the process more.
    many thanks. I think that the ‘school’ is wonderful.
    stephen

  63. Janet Kyle 10 months ago

    Hi Anna, I see acting in your future 😉 I thoroughly enjoyed these 5 blocks because I unfortunately have all of them and maybe more. I will probably look at this video many times for encouragement from you as I absolutely love your work. Believe it or not, I now just brought out the strawberry to finish from Craftsy that I started last year. Things got very complicated in a good way for me and I am now settled again and ready to go forward hesitantly. Your video will have the much needed inspiration I need to get back at it. Thank you so much.

  64. shirley.wittering 10 months ago

    A well known artist once said when faced with a frightening white sheet of paper, ‘Let’s go and ruin a sheet of paper’, this relaxed him and took away the fear that was stopping him start.

    • Kerry 8 months ago

      Love this! I have a lot of ruined paper!

  65. Amy Johnson 10 months ago

    Thank you, Anna! You are an amazing encourager.
    For the past 6-7 months, I’ve taken a break from watercolor to learn to paint loose florals in oil. What I’ve learned in the process is that realistic watercolor is my one true love.
    Can’t wait to get started on some of your pretty spring flowers. Think I’ll try the daffodil since they’re already blooming here in Atlanta.
    You’re the best!

  66. Dwight 10 months ago

    Thank you anna for inspiring people who loves to paint especially me

  67. Kerry 8 months ago

    Great video! You could be an actress as well – I loved those little “block” bits!

  68. Nataliya Kozlova 6 months ago

    Thank you, Anna, for the inspiration, encouragement, and advice! I recognized myself. Your courses are great!

  69. Deniserj 3 months ago

    Thanks for your tips ! Its amazing be in pratice with your help!

  70. Rabea 3 months ago

    Thank you very much, You encourage your students, I try to do my best.
    Merci .

    • Rabea 3 months ago

      Your courses are great!

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