Do you find yourself wondering where to find inspiration for your next painting, next collection/series of work, or just inspiration to “keep at it”? Over the years, there have been times when I’ve struggled as an artist, where I needed inspiration to pick up a pencil or paint brush. That’s when it’s helpful to be able to run through a list of things which brings motivation and momentum.to my creativity. Here are a few ideas for you:
1. REFERENCE PHOTOS
Take lots of photos everywhere you go: busy streets, cafes, in your home, of your pets, of people in different lighting, different poses - wherever you are, take pictures. When you are searching for your next idea for a painting, go through those photos. Group them into categories like people, pets, architecture, trees, flowers, etc. One of the categories will be of interest to you, and within that group you may find the perfect subject to paint. If you don’t have the perfect shot for what you want to do, there are websites online which offer free reference photos that may have a better picture of the subject you want to work with.
Get out of your house and go- for a walk, for a drive, for a hike in nature, to a museum, to an art gallery, to a library, to meet friends for a coffee, for a vacation, or for a trip. Just leaving your home, meeting with others, having conversations, seeing new places, being in nature - all these things will bring new energy to your soul, and fill your sails with fresh energy and inspiration. Seeing artworks in a gallery or a museum will remind you of how wonderful and noble the pursuit of being creative truly is - and inspire you to reach further and give more effort to your creativity.
3. APPROACH OTHERS
If you are hoping to get into a gallery, then go to that gallery (physically if possible) and talk to the representative there. Find out what it will take for you to be represented by them, and use that as inspiration to work toward the goal.
If you love another artist’s work, approach that artist, either in person or online. Most artists are very willing to answer questions as they have also experienced the struggle for inspiration.
Approach other artists you know and see if you can create a group to meet regularly to learn from and encourage one another. Creating art is often a solitary pursuit, so getting together with other creatives and discussing highs, lows, what everyone is working on, etc. is really inspiring.
4. LEARN FROM OTHERS
One piece of advice you will see over and over is to learn from the Old Masters. There are so many resources where you can access the work of the greats like Bouguereau, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Velázquez, Caravaggio, etc. and other less known but great artists like Fortuny and Lawrence Alma-Tadema., and more moderns like Wyeth. Investigating the old masters will give you many insights and perhaps lead you to a new path of creativity. You can buy reference books from websites like Art Renewal Centre, or dvd’s and instruction videos from artists who are considered modern masters like Scott Burdick, David Kassan, Susan Lyons and others. Investing in a course could also give you fresh inspiration, and may give you new ideas to incorporate into your work. There are a number of pay-per-month websites you can buy memberships in - like Patreon, Skillshare and others. These sites offer you the opportunity to see how another artist thinks and what their process for creativity is, and to participate in projects they teach.
5. TRY SOMETHING NEW
Get a sketchbook, and just try to draw/sketch what you see in ink, or in pencil, or in crayon, or in paint…something you are not normally inclined to do. Take instruction books out of your local library, and try one or two of the artist’s projects. Try a different medium - charcoal, pastels, inks, or do something on a different surface - paper instead of canvas, cardboard, wood panel, yupo, collage instead of realism, abstract instead of representational. You never know what will happen when you change things up!
I hope you can see there are so many ways to become inspired. Take time every day to be creatively encouraged in some way - with podcasts, meditation, a quiet time of reflection, a slow walk in a near by park, coffee with a friend, reading a book, sketching, journaling or some other meaningful activity you enjoy. Soon you will have many ideas for future projects - just make sure you write them where you can find them again!