Finding Inspiration for New Art: 9 Free & Easy Ideas
Artist's Block is real and experiencing artist's block can put you in a difficult position as you need a constant flow of creative juices to create new art. Finding inspiration to encourage you to create these new pieces can often seem impossible, but here are nine of my favourite creative ideas that might just help you overcome your issues and get back on the groove. So, if you would like to find out more, read on to uncover 9 useful concepts that you can try today to find easy inspiration for your artwork.
No 1: Explore A New Location
One of the best things that you can do to find inspiration is to explore a completely new location. This could be an area of natural beauty, an abandoned building or a bustling city street, the choice is all yours! Getting the chance to explore uncharted territory will help you to visualize different concepts and ideas that you may not have thought of from the comfort of your studio. Often people can find creative inspiration from architecture, nature, landscapes, cityscapes, and people. Sometimes even looking at a familiar place or thing from a different perspective (up high, down low, close up, or even out of focus) can spark new exciting ideas. Write down your ideas, keep a journal, create some sketches - start the art! This photo is of Kelowna, Canada in 2019 taken on one of the very few holidays I've ever been on - it was breathtaking and over 18 months later, I'm still feeling inspired to capture or create based on moments from our time there.
No 2: Create a Mood Board
A Mood Board can be digital or paper-based, it can consist of colors, images, textures, themes, quotes - whatever you find useful. You can go all out and create something fancy or keep it a little more simple - the idea is to create a reference that inspires you! I have what is essentially a mood board book, I call it an inspiration book and I love flipping through the pages and looking for something that is speaking to me at that exact time. Some pages have images, others color swatches, some are a very random eclectic mix - but it works for me. You need to create something that works for you.
No 3: Visit Galleries
Every artist has experienced a creative block at some point in their lifetime, yet to be successful they must have found a way to overcome this barrier and move forward. Visiting an art gallery allows you to view the most successful of all artists who clearly knew or know how to encourage new ideas to thrive, so what better place to find a wealth of inspiration?
Way back in 2008 (note the very youthful face in the photo) I visited the Art Gallery of NSW and loved every moment, have a look at your local galleries, see what's out there. I walked in and out of every single room and found things that I never knew I liked - there were some fabulous carvings and sculptures on loan from another museum and I was mesmerized!
Now thanks to Covid we can't all go and visit galleries in person right now (if you can please go in person and show your support), but there are also some wonderful virtual Gallery tours available and these are a few of my favorites from around the world:
- The Smithsonian
- The National Gallery (UK)
- Uffizi Gallery, Florence
- Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York
- Australian virtual tours (yes I'm an Aussie)
If you know of any other virtual tours that you think are inspiring please leave the link to the tour web site in the comments oxox
Now inspiration takes many forms, you may try a new medium, a new technique, a certain color palette or style or art - inspiration does not mean copying the work of other artists (we all know how hard they worked on that piece of art and stealing their ideas is just not cool!). BUT why not try combining what you see and learn with your own style and skills in a new and creative way - pop art Mona Lisa or a watercolor study of David. Think outside the box a bit, take notes about what inspires you - use this later for reference.
No 4: Research Artists
Researching artists online is likely opening up a can of worms, as you can find so much information and opportunity when you take the time to really explore. It’s common for successful artists to take part in interviews where topics such as overcoming a creative block are discussed, so it’s a great way to find out how others might tackle such a situation. To add to this, some artists host events in studios or galleries (and sometimes in other locations eg: hotels as the Resident Artist) in which you can view their work whilst gaining the opportunity to speak with them face to face and can ask them personally how they find inspiration for their pieces. Look for local events where you can connect with other artists, like those hosted by the Pro Hart artist foundation, these are a great opportunity. So get online, Google, FaceBook the online version of your local paper, everywhere, to get an idea of what’s on in your area, you never know what you will find.
No 5: Look at Advertising
I know sounds weird huh - since we often try and block out advertising. But just for now flip through a magazine, look at those TV or billboard advertisements and take note, what catches your eye, are there shapes or color combinations you love, themes or images that really capture your heart or imagination? Grab your phone and take a photo of that cool poster, billboard, sign and note what you like about it.
How can you capture the color, or feel of what you like in your art?
No 6: Try a creative prompt
Now many creative prompts are designed for writers, but there is no reason that as an artist you can't represent these ideas visually - give these a try for some fun art ideas! I have a few more creative prompts for you and while they are aimed at journaling as with everything I share take what appeals to you for the art you make and leave the rest oxox
No 7: Copy with a Twist
Copying in art is often used as a learning or training tool, but copying and passing it off as your own it's pretty uncool - unless it's your own previous artwork that you are copying. Why not try a take on something you created previously, many famous artists have painted the same thing over and over with a slightly different take on each piece, why not give it a go - you can create a series of works, or even the same piece in different mediums. Just think about Monet's waterlilies series or even this new interpretation of the Mona Lisa. How cool would this be if you reimagined a piece of your own previous art!
No 8: Have some fun
It doesn't all need to be so serious - Seriously! Try a few of these fun activities (or something not on the list that you love and find fun):
- Go outside
- Play with the kids or the dog or cat (or goldfish), you can even gain inspiration from animals
- Watch a movie (there are even a bunch of art-related movies that you might find inspiring)
- Listen to music - you know the embarrassing stuff you pretend isn't on your playlist!!! My guilty favorite is Rainbow Connection by Kermit the frog. What's a song you love - even if you might deny it later?
- Have fun with friends
- You could even take a fun quizz to find art inspiration!
Sometimes you just need to get out of your own head for a while and stop trying so hard, I think most people know that putting pressure on ourselves is one of the fastest ways to kill creativity. So loosen up, go and do something you enjoy and come back to the table or easel refreshed and perhaps with a new perspective! I bet you can all guess what movie inspired this piece of art....
No 9: Some Thrive on Routine
I know not everyone finds schedules sexy, but you might just be one of those people who thrive on a routine - have you tried it yet. I'm not talking about planning every 5 mins but perhaps setting time aside for specific things to help both minimize wasted time (surfing the web) and maximize the time you have. Start by asking yourself honestly what time do I work well? When do I feel like working the most (or the least)? Then plan your day with the most important things when you feel most like working: Your day may look something like this:
- 7 am Breakfast and light stretching
- 9 am Reply to email and check social media, research or look for subject matter or reference photos
- 10 am Add a layer to a background in progress or start a new background (I always find that blank page the hardest)
- 12 Lunch (and check email and phone messages - yes I'm attached to the computer)
- 1 pm Sketch objects or faces, or prep canvas or project base
- 3 pm Add finishing touches to work in progress (or flip this with 9 am if you are more productive in the morning)
- 5 pm Check email and go for a walk
Give a schedule a chance, you may find a little structure is something that helps keep you on track and reduces stress and procrastination.
It can be tricky to find inspiration (she can be as elusive as a fragrance on the summer breeze), and it’s often very disheartening to feel stuck without any ideas, but these tips and tricks should make it easier to find your groove. They sure have helped me a time or two.