Coming up with ideas and finding inspiration for art projects

Although the other day, my breakfast – a sliced apple, inspired a new art project, ideas are not always so easy to come by. I sometimes get frustrated, when I want to work on a project, but don’t know what to do, or where to start. Here are some things that help me, when I have “artist’s block.”

  1. Take a walk. Whether it is a walk in a nature preserve, along the beach or through the neighborhood, walks can help you see things, you normally don’t have time, to notice. Take a picture! I’ve created several projects based on things I’ve seen on walks – a weathered fence, a zigzagging beach fence, a shell. On a route through the neighborhood, I see an old weathered garage, that reminds me of a barn. I’m often tempted to draw or paint it and add in a horse.
  2. Go to the library – an endless supply of art and how-to books, and magazines. I have to admit, the library is one of my favorite places. I often go there and sit down with my favorite magazine, “Country Living.” It definitely inspired me, during my “rooster” phase. Why else, would a girl, from the suburbs, paint and draw so many roosters!
  3. Find a photo. Look in magazines, catalogs, the internet or your own photo library. We can’t always photograph, every idea we have. Stock photography websites, allow you to “search” for photos of specific things. Tear out and keep photos, for future projects, when you see something that catches your eye.
  4. Read about other artists (in books, magazines and the internet). I love reading about other creative people, no matter how different their craft is. There is something inspiring about people, who focus and succeed at what they love. I aspire to be that type of person. I love learning about each artist’s creative process.
  5. Just start. Sometimes it helps, to just get started. Start doodling or painting and see what evolves.
  6. Keep a list of ideas. Without lists, I would forget all my ideas. I recently came across a list, that included the word “jellyfish.” It reminded me of the cool jellyfish I took photos of, at an aquarium, and wanted to paint.
    I make lists on scrap paper all the time, but now I’m trying to use a notebook. This way, all my lists are together and I won’t lose any great ideas. I often thumb through my notebook, to look back on what I’ve written. I feel very accomplished, when I can check off a project I’ve completed.
  7. Look through old sketchbooks. I try to keep everything, because I enjoy seeing the progress I have made through the years. Sometimes I find an incomplete project or an idea, that I never fully developed.
  8. Have coffee with friends. I am lucky enough to have two great neighbors. I always feel inspired after getting together with these special friends. I hope I inspire them, and encourage them, half as much as they do me! They give me the positive reinforcement, I sometimes need. (Anyone out there want to leave a comment? please? lol!) Find a creative friend, or two, and get together with them. When you share your ideas with others, you can get great feedback, from different points of view.
  9. Go shopping! Walking through a home store, art store, or even a garage sale can inspire me. Whether I get a specific project idea or just get excited to work on something, it feels good.
  10. Go outside. When the weather is nice, I often sit outside, and sketch leaves, flowers, etc.
  11. Keep your eyes open. Ideas can come, at any time, from unlikely places. While watching TV, I saw a painting of an orange slice, on Modern Family (in Gloria and Jay’s house) and was inspired. I decided to work on an orange slice of my own, which led to limes and, currently, an apple slice.

It’s funny, sometimes there isn’t enough time, for all the ideas and projects I want to work on! How do you come up with ideas?

6 thoughts on “Coming up with ideas and finding inspiration for art projects

  1. Great ideas for getting inspired and creative! I need to keep a notebook of ideas since I have scraps of paper and keep thinking since it is such a brilliant idea I will naturally remember. Which of course I don’t!

  2. I love all the above ideas. As a teacher of creative writing, I always have my students keep a journal. I tell them that you don’t have to have led an exotic life in order to write. You do, however, need to raise your level of perception above the ordinary. Writing is a process of becoming aware, of opening up the senses to ways of grasping the world. Often we take the world around us for granted, we are so immersed in habit. It is important to go about your daily business with your eyes open and all your senses alert. Of course, this is also applicable to the artist. Buy a sketch book; carry it with you wherever you go. Put on your artist’s antennae as you go about your daily life. This practice of hopeful, purposeful looking will sharpen your perception. Slow down. Observe. Sketch.

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