I recently completed a decorative project for a friend. They had purchased a wooden cutout of a beach shoreline and palm trees that hangs on the wall and wanted it painted accordingly. The scent of acrylic paint reminded me of when my mother and grandmother were always painting ceramics and firing greenware, and as they worked on their elaborate Christmas scenes, figures and wildlife, I was sitting at the table painting butterflies and ducklings. It was certainly influenced my interests in art and design, and remains a fond memory.
There’s no right or wrong way to conjure up a little inspiration for creative projects. The following are my favorite ways to get the ideas flowing.
1. Visiting a museum. Being that I live relatively close to DC and Baltimore, I like to visit the many historic landmarks, museums and parks for inspiration. Each visit can inspire a different style or feeling that turns into a unique idea that can be put to paper. During my most recent visit to DC, the hotel room had an amazing view of a historic public library, roofed with copper patina and ornamented with beautiful sculpture.
2. Gardening. Being able to apply my creativity in a different environment and working with my hands helps expand my perspective. Plus, after the gardening is done, I have a lovely composition for a new sketch!
3. Browsing the web. This may be an obvious one, nonetheless, it is a helpful avenue to incur a desire to create something new. Sites like Behance, Etsy, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. have an amazing amount of images and original designs made by other creative people. It’s a good way to come up with new ideas and finding out what’s trending.
4. Doodling. Sometimes I just have to sit myself down, tell myself I am going to draw something, and then draw it. Usually, I try to start with at least a general concept and narrow it down once I get going. For me, this results in a wider selection of visual themes that I can explore and illustrate, and it makes it easy to break up my broad concept into multiple works. Before I know it, hours go by and I wonder where my day had gone.
5. Asking my friends. I value my friends’ and family’s thoughts on themes for my artwork. They know my skills and personality which helps in suggesting ideas that are compatible with my interests and style. It also helps me get out of my own head and listen to another person’s point of view that is honest and objective.