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How To Find Inspiration As An Artist

Occasionally you need a little help to find inspiration as an artist. Some days you just don’t have the vision or inspiration to paint or draw.

You want to create. Your fingers itch with the need to hold a pencil or brush.

You stare at your canvas hoping something will miraculously pop into your head.  You arrange your work space comfortably, fiddle around with the placement of your tools, stare out the window but your mind remains blank. 

Those are the days you need to dig a little deeper and search for inspiration to get past the artist’s block. Here are some ideas to help you find inspiration as an artist. 

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acrylic painting of a purple pansy with dew drops
Get painting inspiration from nature.

Focus On The Reason You Are Painting

Ask yourself a few questions. Are you painting for fun? Will this be a gift, part of an art show, or something you want to sell? Are you practicing a particular technique?

Focusing on the purpose of your painting can lead you to an idea. For example, if you are painting a gift, thinking about the person you are painting for can lead you to a subject. What kinds of things do they like, what is their favorite color, what is their occupation or hobby are all questions that can give you inspiration for a painting.

Use Inspirational Music As Motivation

Listening to music sets a mood in your studio and can get the creative juices flowing.  Anything from Mozart to Metallica can be the trigger to find inspiration as an artist. 

If your usual playlist isn’t doing it for you, try something new to you such as music your teenager enjoys.

If you play an instrument, a session with your guitar or piano can often clear your mind and let inspiration in.

View Other Art to Find Inspiration

Looking at other works of art online or in books or magazines can trigger an inspiring idea.  It doesn’t have to be in your genre. 

Any art work can be inspiring. From painting to sculpture to architecture to preschool finger painting, viewing others creativity can jump start the creative process in you and help you find inspiration as an artist.

Take Pictures

Take lots of pictures where ever you go.  Most people have phones with cameras these days so taking pictures is easy.  They may not always be the best quality for reference photos, but they can provide inspiration and new ideas. 

Try taking photos from unusual angles or very close up.  A different perspective on an everyday object can help you find inspiration and inspire a masterpiece.

artwork hanging on a gallery wall
Look at other artwork for inspiration

Reference Photos for Painting Inspiration

Having a file of reference photos can be a font of ideas for the artist.  There are many royalty free sites that provide free reference photos for artists. 

Check out my post on where to find free reference photos.

Make sure the photos you use are royalty free and are free for commercial use.

Photos you google or cut from magazines are not generally free to use and are the property of the photographer. 

There are also many sites that have reference photos for artists for a small fee or yearly subscription. Browsing through photos can help you find inspiration. 

Take a Hike!

Many artists find walking in nature, no matter what the weather, can be very inspiring.  The landscape, colors, wildlife and fresh air can calm, relax and relieve stress.  

This combination can leave the mind open to inspiration. Artists can find inspiration in the simple, natural things in life.

Doodle

Doodling is not only fun and relaxing, it can provide you with new creative ideas. 

Just pick up a pencil and start drawing.  Don’t concern yourself with form and subject, just let your pencil go wherever your hand takes it. 

You never know what piece of art lurks inside your subconscious. Read my post on How To Start A Sketchbook for some tips.

Watch Painting Videos for Inspiration

Watching video tutorials by other artists on YouTube can inspire you to create your own art.   There are thousands of videos ranging from beginner to advanced available on line. 

Watching someone else create can motivate and inspire you to make your own piece of art. Check out this post to see some of my favorite tutorials.

Cheat on Your Genre

Sometimes you just need a change. Maybe you’re are a little bored with your medium. It may be time to try something new. 

If you are a painter, for example, you may like to try sculpting or drawing with colored pencils.

Combining several mediums together to produce a mixed media piece may be something that gets your creativity going.  Just using a different combination of colors and textures can be very inspiring.

Take Inspiration From Your Favorite Book, Movie or
Fairy Tale

Think about a certain topic and then go do research on it online. For example, if you want to paint something related to your favorite book, read the synopsis of the story and see how that might translate into an interesting painting idea!

Childhood fairy tales or dreams you remember are always a good inspiration for a surreal or abstract painting.

Create a Vision Board

A vision board is a great creative tool.  You can use a virtual one such as a file on your computer, or a board on Pinterest or you can make a hard copy and hang it on your studio wall. 

Just pin or paste color combinations you like, geometric shapes, unusual photos or anything that catches your eye.  These little snippets can be the basis for a future piece.

Having them accessible and visible during a period of artist’s block can trigger a great idea for a new piece of work.

acrylic painting of a purple flower with dew drops
Pin for Later

Try A Different Painting Surface

You can actually paint on anything! I prefer to use canvas, but you can paint on almost anything. Sometimes you just need a different surface to provide inspiration for a painting.

This is a list of some things that you can paint on. For a more in-depth discussion of other painting surfaces, see my post on unique painting surfaces.

– paper such as watercolor paper, poster board, any heavy paper

– wood boards, masonite, old shelving

– rocks are a very popular item to paint on theses days. They look great in your garden.

– card stock or postcards

-flower pots

– old CD’s

– dried leaves. I have seen some beautiful paintings done on these.

– miniature canvases are also becoming very popular.

– pages of an old book or dictionary

– fabric/clothing

What To Do When You Are Really Stuck For Inspiration

Sometimes you just have to walk away and come back later with a fresh perspective. Take a break for an hour or two and do something totally unrelated to painting. Often, our creativity is stuck because we have other unfinished tasks on our minds.

Finishing that load of laundry, clearing up some paperwork or getting some shopping done is sometimes all we need to make room for inspiration to return.

If you still need a little nudge, here is a short list of ideas you can download and print.

painting inspiration list on white background with red paint streak
Click the photo to download or print this painting inspiration list

I hope you find these suggestions helpful in motivating you to create art when you out of ideas or don’t feel like painting.

If you have questions you can leave them in the comments below. You can also join our free Facebook group, Trembeling Art Creative Corner, where you can ask questions, post your work and get to know some fantastic artists from all genres and skill levels. 😊

Have any other ideas to get past artist’s block? I would love to hear about them in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.

Digital signature Marilyn with butterfly

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