Have you ever experienced something I call the end of project blues?
That happens when you’ve worked on a piece for a long time, and put a lot of effort into it? Sweated over it to make sure everything’s just right.
It feels great to finish it, doesn’t it? Time to celebrate.
But then what?
A lot of big projects come with a hidden problem. Something that doesn’t show up until the project is finished.
What is it?
Apathy about starting the next project.
How to Handle End of Project Blues
End of project blues takes many forms. Maybe no new subject really inspires you, so nothing looks appealing. You feel dissatisfied or unfulfilled by the masterpiece you just finished.
Or maybe you just need a break.
I’ve been in each place many times. Some of my “breaks” have lasted months, rather than days. One time, I walked away from the easel for two years!
We all need a break now and again, but not for weeks, months, or years (most of the time.)
So how do you keep moving forward after finishing a big project (or any project)?
Following are three things I’ve done in the past that keep me creating. Not all of them will work for everyone, but I hope they at least get you thinking about ways you can curb the end of project blues!
Always Have Something New in the Works
It’s a lot easier for me to go from one project to the next if I already have something in progress. Sometimes it’s just a collection of photos in a folder. Sometimes I’ve cropped some of those photos, and sometimes I’ve already started the line drawing.
It doesn’t matter how far along the piece is as long as I have something already started when I sign the current piece.
You might also try working on two things at once. That way, you already have something else well started when you finish the current piece. That’s also a great way to combat boredom with a project. Just work on the backup piece!
Batch Work Basic Things
Batch work is what happens when you do a batch of similar tasks at the same time.
With art, that might be sorting and preparing reference photos. What I sometimes do after finishing a project is go through all the photos in my Potential Projects folder and sort out half a dozen or more that look promising.
Then I spend an afternoon cropping them in various ways to find the best compositions. Sometimes I combine photos.
Technically, I’m not drawing, but I am preparing to draw, and that’s the first step in the process.
Try Something New
Perhaps the best suggestion for overcoming end-of-project blues is doing something completely outside your usual work.
For example, if you do human portraits, try a landscape.
If you work in a realistic style, give surrealism a try. Or maybe an abstract.
Getting outside and drawing is also a good way to cure the end of project blues.
You might also try something that’s just, plain fun. I like to play around with watercolors and watercolor pencils. They’re more spontaneous, and even if I don’t get a masterpiece out of it, I’m almost always motivated to get back to the serious work.
Beating the End of Project Blues
These are just a few ideas to get you started. As I mentioned earlier, not all of them will work for everyone.
But if they get you started on the right path to what works for you, then they’ve done their job!
And so have I. Happy penciling!