by Megan Sterling
Creating art work is a lifelong passion. Inspiration is essential in order to sustain a flow of ideas for painting, drawing, and sketches. There are times when new ideas do not seem to come of their own accord, and repetition sets in within the themes or style of art work. The practices that follow will refresh thought processes, generate images within the imagination, and suggest new creative projects.
Altering your ordinary driving route around town will bring new ideas to mind. If you begin to drive through neighborhoods you ordinarily ignore, inevitably, new and different sights will appear. There will be glimpses of views you have never seen before. The colors of nearby gardens and the arrangements of trees and other plantings may inspire your research on a particular plant species with a beautiful branching pattern, or unusual buds or berries, which can become the subject for a new work of art later on. Distant views can lead to starting a new landscape painting.
During such a drive, you will also catch sight of people taking part in their natural daily activities. They easily fall into postures and attitudes that can suggest a portrait. An image from such a momentary sight may linger in the mind. This idea can be sketched out soon afterward, with the details added later, either as remembered from life, or partly from imagination. From an initial sketch of this kind, more portraits that are variants of it can be developed and added, over time. A child on a bicycle, a woman beside a gate, and other typical human sights all have the potential to be translated into portrait work.
Animals and birds, too, as seen in yards, trees, and the sky, will provide ideas you may not have had before. Seeing a species that is not ordinarily a subject for your thoughts can suggest all kinds of new projects, from realistic portraits in natural settings, to abstracts based on the colors or patterns visible in the feathers, markings, or fur of the animal.
Spending a few hours in the local public library can also spark many new projects. A review of some biographies of artists will be fruitful. As you browse books on well-known artists, if you pay particular attention to artists who focus on different themes than yours, whole new categories of work can come to mind. Examine biographies of other notable people as well, if you wish to generate more new ideas. Their pursuits, surroundings, and homes, when pictured, can influence you to branch out in different directions with themes and subject matter.
For inspiration with still life, it is refreshing to take a trip to visit friends or family. Spending time in a different location, in the neighborhood and home of another person, will offer numerous interior views of everyday life. Each home is unique, so the interior and garden arrangements around you during your visit may remain in your memory for weeks or months, providing inspiration for still life and landscape paintings and drawings. Table settings, front doors, windows, bookcases, and other home features will provide plentiful ideas when you are alert and notice their details.
Making it a habit to follow these practices on a regular basis, perhaps once every few weeks, can ensure that invigorating new ideas flow into your creative work constantly. When you reach the point where you have more ideas for projects occurring to you than you can actually create, the results are occurring as they should. You will then see many new themes and directions surfacing in your output of art work, increasing the vitality and interest of your creations.