It’s a feeling that we have all experienced when participating in creative pursuits; the sensation of not knowing where to go next – how to keep those creative juices flowing.
There are many ways of advancing past this point, some of which we are going to discuss here. Whilst these techniques have proven to be effective for me, there are undoubtedly countless more you can find on the web. So don’t despair if you still haven’t struck upon your next golden idea by the end of this article – keep searching, and you will find your inspiration.
First, Take a Break
Whether for half an hour or a month, taking a break from working is always effective in helping to consolidate new ideas. As artists, we draw from our experience in everyday life more than we realize, and your next “lightbulb moment” may well be just around the corner – you just haven’t realized it yet.
I have produced a lot of music over the past two decades, and a common feature of the music industry is that one person will often pay another to do parts of a job that they cannot complete themselves. Learning to play an instrument is a difficult skill, often requiring hundreds of hours of practice to become proficient.
Likewise, learning to draw or paint requires a huge level of commitment, which is why artists will often be commissioned to produce a piece on behalf of someone else. Not everyone is cut out to create their own original paintings collection – there is nothing wrong with using an intermediary to accomplish things that are outside the scope of your current ability.
Finding Inspiration Around You
When you are being paid to produce something on behalf of someone else, and you find yourself running out of ideas, it can seem particularly distressing. In these situations, I would often suggest going to grab some food, or just stepping out of the studio for a few minutes to reassess our goals. When taking a break, open your mind to incoming stimuli.
Gather your senses, focus on what is going on around you, and see what comes to mind; if this fails, cast your mind back to earlier in the day when things were coming to you much easier. What goals did you have in mind at that point? Have you incorporated all of the ideas you have already had into your latest piece yet? The answer will almost always be no, and you can draw upon those earlier sources of inspiration that you had managed to forget during the process of getting your ideas structured onto the paper or canvas.
If all else fails, sleep on it – our mind automatically orders our thoughts while we sleep, and it’s often amazing how obvious the next steps can seem once we have had a good night’s sleep.
Using Your Heroes for Inspiration
Let’s be realistic here; few of us can claim to be completely original in the modern era. We are all so completely overstimulated every day of our lives with social media, TV, online streaming, and even just the world outside, that we cannot help but be influenced by it.
There is nothing wrong with this – but, understandably, some artists feel as if they are somehow “cheating” if they take too obviously from others. Spend some time looking at artworks from a selection of artists whom you regard as being your “heroes” – the people you would like to emulate with your work.
Ask yourself, what were they thinking when they created this piece? What inspired them? What challenges were they facing that caused them to draw or paint this in the way that they did? There are so many answers which can be hiding in plain sight if you think to go looking for them.
Switch Medium, Switch Tools; Embrace the Unfamiliar
As an artist, you have a wealth of tools at your disposal with which to complete your piece. Mixed-media artwork has become a huge growth area in recent years, and just because you began by drawing something doesn’t mean you cannot finish it with paint, or vice-versa. Switch pencils, change brush sizes, change something that you wouldn’t normally think was “right” to change, and new inspiration will likely flow your way.
I hope this has given you a few ideas about where to turn next in your quest for inspiration. Good luck, and remember, there Is no right and wrong in the world of art.