When You Get Tired of Drawing Your Favorite Subjects

When You Get Tired of Drawing Your Favorite Subjects

Be honest. Have you ever gotten tired of drawing your favorite subjects?

Everybody has something they love drawing. That subject is their go-to subject. It comes above every other subject they might ever consider drawing.

Some artists love still life art and assembling the elements of a still life is as much fun as making the art.

Others are drawn to animals and prefer pet portraits or wildlife art.

Still others specialize in human portraits or landscapes or urban scenes.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone is born with special interests and everyone gains life experiences that sharpen those interests or introduce new interests.

But what happens when you grow tired of drawing your favorite subject?

When You Get Tired of Drawing Your Favorite Subjects

Don’t be like me when that happens! You’ll end up stifling your creativity!

You see, I’ve been doing horse portraits for forty years or more. For most of that time, I thought I’d never do anything else. I saw no need to. I loved the look of horses, their long manes and tails, the way they moved and even the way they smelled. What else did I need?

Then came my first look at the Flint Hills of Kansas and all of a sudden, the idea of doing landscape art leaped into my mind.

Tired of Drawing Your Favorite Subjects? You may be on the brink of discovering a new favorite.
This is one of my favorite views of the Flint Hills, and the one I’ve tried most often to capture in art. I have photos of it from almost every season. The only thing I lack is a thunderstorm shot and a snowy shot.

At first, I resisted it. I wasn’t a landscape artist; I was a horse artist.

Then I decided to pair my horses with landscapes. That made sense, after all. Horses are part of the landscape around here. A big part.

That idea produced a couple of nice colored pencil pieces, but no more.

Afternoon Graze is the best of two colored pencil pieces pairing my previous love (horses) with my new love (landscapes.) I haven’t given up on this idea, but I confess to being drawn more to the landscape than the horses these days.

Since then, I’ve struggled to draw anything.

Yes, there are lots of fun pieces resulting from experimenting with my first set of artist quality watercolor pencils or new papers. And there have demonstration pieces for blog posts and tutorials.

But what I call “serious art” has dwindled to the point that it’s now been nearly a year since my last finished piece!

So what’s going on?

I haven’t really given that much thought because I have been busy doing other things. Things that need doing like writing and designing tutorials and improving the weekly newsletter.

I’ve also started writing a book based on the best posts from this blog. So it’s not like I’ve been sitting on my thumbs waiting for inspiration.

But a few days ago, a radical thought popped into my awareness.

Why am I waiting for inspiration to make another horse drawing when what I really want to do is a landscape?

You know, when you’re an artist, that’s one of those thoughts that pretty much stops everything in its tracks! You cannot not give it serious consideration.

I look across the room as I write these words and I see the line drawing of Thomas clipped to the sample of Clairfontaine pastelmat.

The finished line drawing for a portrait of Thomas, our oldest cat, recently deceased.

I received the sample this summer but didn’t know what to do with it until after Thomas had passed to the other side.

Now, I have the following dialogue with myself every time I look at the drawing.

“I wonder how that paper would work with a landscape?”

“No. That paper’s meant for Thomas’ portrait!”

And then I remember that stunning thought from a few days ago.

Maybe it’s time to move on.

I still haven’t taken that line drawing off the Pastelmat, but the idea grows more appealing every day.

And yet, I waiver between wanting to keep doing what I’ve always done (because, well, that’s what I’ve always done) and doing something I want to do more right now. It’s difficult to let go of old habits even when there’s the possibility the letting go isn’t permanent.

I hope you’ll forgive my rambling this way, but I know that when I struggle this much with something, there are others out there wrestling with the same dilemma.

That’s perfectly all right! It’s part of the growth process in life and in art.

So what should you do when you get tired of drawing your favorite subjects?

If you’re torn between making another drawing of a subject that’s been a personal favorite for years (or decades) and doing something new, don’t fret. It’s not unnatural. It may instead be a sign of growth.

Let go of that old habit and try your hand at the new idea. Maybe it won’t go anywhere, but maybe it will.

Maybe you’ll discover a new Old Favorite.

At the very least, you may discover ways to improve on drawing that Old Favorite.

That’s what I’m going to do.

Let’s try it together and see what happens, shall we?

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  1. Gail Jones

    Carrie, I am so at this point too both in watercolors and colored pencils. I have been working with so many botanical subjects and still lifes but what I really want to do is scenery. I am still working on other tutorials but am increasingly drawn to scenery; particularly scenery with an ocean or lake. I want to do waves crashing on a beach or a lighthouse on a hill or a lake with birds or a boat on it and some really pretty lighting at sunset or sunrise. So… I too want to move forward and explore something different just like you.

  2. Gail Jones

    Sounds good. The push for me to try something new would be helpful. I tried something new in Oct. and did Johanna Basfords Inky Art school draw along. That was a different style of freehand drawing… just whimsical. This month…I want to do something scenery either with watercolors or CP. I have a Craftsy Watercolor class to still do and the CP scenery book to work out of, or a photo to work from on my own. What do you want to try specifically?

  3. Karin

    Sometimes art takes a back seat to life….. too much work in the summer….. a crippling life changing disabled spouse….. anxiety mixed with depression…… and the last thing I want to do is art or music. I need a reason or purpose or challenge to get back into it…. anyone have a word of advice or encouragement for me?

    1. Oh, Karin,

      I am so sorry to hear about all of your troubles.

      The best thing I can tell you is that there times when the things we want to do have to take a back seat to the things we must do.

      Don’t give up. Doodling and enjoying the art of others is one way to keep your hand in without having to devote time to finished pieces. You might purchase an art journal and record your thoughts with words and sketches.

      You might also find a good art magazine and subscribe to that. You’ll quickly find you’re not the only one who has endured times such as this.

      Above all, take care of yourself. Do what must be done, get lots of rest, and be patient. The dawn will break.

      Best wishes,


    2. Gail Jones

      Karin, I don’t know if this will help you with your depression… but I have gone thru some depression too because of life changes at different times recently. Of course we can’t always change the circumstances but sometimes something as simple as up ping the amount of vitamin D one takes can make a difference in how the world looks to us. It helped me a lot just to do that. I also use two all natural herbal remedies. One is called “Sunny Mood” and the other one is called “Stress Defy”. Both are put out by Irwin Naturals and they help with stress and mood with natural vitamins and minerals. Hope this is okay to post. I also read the book of Psalms in the Bible and that gives me comfort too.

    3. Richard Steffens

      I’ve been through a lot of depressing issues myself, losing several good friends & family, becoming disabled with permanemt nerve damages throughout my lower extremeties, etc., etc. But I thank God that my son inspired me to get back into drawing like I did when I was much younger. I never had much formal art education but I’ve always had a little passion for it & believe I have a little talent too. These days I make a little money on the side doing local town history drawings & requests from others around town of pretty much whatever they’d like drawn. Some want portraits of their family, themselves or even their homes. Art helps keep my mind off of the pain I endure everyday and not being able to do much anything else like when I was younger & healthier. Good luck with your troubles. You’ll come out of this OK. God Bless!

    4. Karin, it is okay to rest. You don’t have to be producing all the time. If making art isn’t your livelihood, then just let it go for awhile. “Be still and know that I am God”, and “Come to me, you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” are words of comfort for all, but especially to those in your particular season of life.

      1. I second everything Jana said here.

        When we started taking in orphan kittens that were one or two weeks old, they needed to be fed everything three hours around the clock. Some of them also needed to be medicated because they came into the house in sad condition. When you’re up to feed every three hours and it takes up to an hour to feed, burp, and clean all of them, there isn’t much time for anything else.

        My situation wasn’t that much like yours, Karin, but I did have to learn the same lesson. There is a time for everything under the sun, and sometimes creativity isn’t “in season.”

        I still sometimes need to be reminded (grins).

        Keep up your good work and when the time is right, you will find your stride again. Just like Jana says!

  4. Karin

    Thank you so much for your kind words. Winter is coming to my corner of the world and that means slowing down and having more time for the artistic pleasures in life. I will begin by making my “art room” more enticing and inviting….. then pick up a pencil and see…..
    I know the One who has so generously given us our gifts and abilities and know that He will walk through this valley with me….. Thank you again for your kind encouragement.

    1. Gail Jones

      Hi Karin, I too follow The One who has said that He will never leave us. I will be praying for you. I know how debilitating depression can be. I went thru it for months with chronic neck and shoulder pain that kept me sleep deprived. Then a Christian friend told me about Chiropractors and I found a good one that literally gave me my life back. God is so good!
      In Christ,
      Gail J.

    2. Winter approaches here, as well. We’ve had our first snow too.

      Sometimes the best way to get started with art is to clean the studio. I know that has worked for me more than once!

      You’re welcome. I’m always glad to offer what encouragement I can. And you are absolutely right. The Great Gift Giver will walk with us through every trial!


    Carrie, I have followed your work for years and can’t begin to tell you how much you have helped me with my equine art. I was so honored that you recently asked me to use a question on your blog that I had submitted to you. You provided me with so much information. Thank you. I hesitantly decided to take a very demanding job a few years ago, thinking I needed to better prepare for retirement. I love my work, though not art related and was grateful for the opportunity. However, it has resulted in so much less time to devote to my art. I haven’t produced anything meaningful for over a year. The upside of this has me thinking that maybe I need to change subjects. Maybe venture into a medium that pushes me to work loose, not so technical and not “overthink” my subject. I tend to get bogged down in the detail work of colored pencils and drawing my subjects. So I have been researching watercolor, maybe oils and landscapes, gathering supplies, etc. I haven’t worked in those mediums in many years and think this may be the answer to my limited time and force me to work on something different and re-learn some basics, find new inspiration to get me started again. It is easy to “let life get in the way” but I find art healing and many times that is when I am most productive and happiest with my work.

    1. Cassandra,

      Thank you for your very kind words! I’m honored to have been of some help to you in your artwork. That’s probably the highest compliment any artist can receive.

      I hear you about demanding jobs and lack of time. Life does often get in the way.

      If you decide to take up oils, I hope you’ll feel free to ask me any questions you might have. I was an oil painter for over 40 years and although it’s been some time since I did any oil painting, I do still have all my supplies!


  6. Karin

    Thank you all again for sharing….. you have been such an encouragement to me. I probably live hundreds of miles from you but you feel like family. All the best in your artistic ventures.

  7. Carrie, I feel your pain. I love to draw architectural subjects in graphite, but that isn’t what sells best (except for commissions). So I draw other things and also oil paint.

    When art is the way we make our livings, there are 2 great difficulties: 1. No one is telling us what to do so we have to make our best guesses based on past experience, intuition, and listening to the market. 2. We have to make what sells instead of what we feeeel like (oh, those lucky hobbyists).

    Often I don’t feeeel like painting landscapes but I do it anyway, because I certainly don’t feel like job-hunting.

    1. Thank you, Jana, for the encouragement.

      I’ve ended up totally setting art aside for the time being. I have too many other things taking place right now that there’s just no time or energy for drawing. One more tutorial to launch next week. Questions to answer for December (what a fantastic response I’ve had!) and a surprise or two for next year.

      If I can draw something new this year, great! But I expect it will be 2020 before I can get my pencils out for anything except blog post illustrations!

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