Blank Canvas Terror

Myra Naito
4 min readJan 19

It Happens to the Best of Us

Photo credit: Unknown

Have you ever been paralyzed by the blank canvas terror?

Oh, it’s real. It’s very real.

I’m a huge fan of all things paranormal, but the blank canvas terror still gets me sometimes when I least expect it.

What is the blank canvas terror?

In a nutshell, it’s the irrational fear that is induced by the pristine blankness of a new canvas or sketchbook. It’s the fear of making that first mark that would forever change that perfect empty surface.

Yes, I’m being a little overly dramatic. But when you’re in the moment, that’s exactly what it feels like.

Even after 40+ years that I’ve been drawing and perfecting my craft, why do I still get nervous when starting a new project? Why do any of us have this reaction at all?

(Photo credit: Image: 45863185 vadymvdrobot)

The blank canvas terror is a strange experience. On one hand, there’s nothing quite like the joy and excitement of a brand new canvas. White, clean, and so full of possibilities. You have special plans for this canvas. There’s nothing quite as exciting as embarking on a new artistic adventure. You can practically envision the whole process from beginning to end.

But when the moment actually comes, you stand there with a pencil, marker, or brush in hand and you hover, holding your breath, hesitant to lay down that first mark. That first mark would destroy that perfect blankness. (still being overly dramatic)

The blank canvas both beckons and taunts. It both invites you and dares you to do what you came to do.

Can you do it?

Do you dare?

Do you have what it takes to accept the challenge and face the blank canvas terror?

Can you defeat the blank canvas terror? (Photo credit: Image: 50296964 luismolinero)

As artists, eventually, we do dare. Even if that fear still grips us because that’s just…

Myra Naito

Freelance copywriter who is passionate about art and fitness. Check out my art blog at or follow me @mnaito_fineart .