How to Spark Creative Inspiration

How to Spark Creative Inspiration

Artists seem to fall into one of two categories: (1) those who have challenges getting inspired to create, and (2) those who are inspired by so many ideas that they seem to get stuck in knowing which to focus on at any moment.  In both cases, the result is often a lack of creating anything on a consistent basis.


CRITIC:  Critic will keep you stuck in the mundane activities of day-to-day life, blocking your mind from feeling inspired to embrace a creative mindset.

MUSE:  Muse chooses to open his or her mind to seeing inspiration everywhere.  From a leaf on the ground to random people walking by, s/he sees anything or everything with a creative view. In quiet moments, s/he envisions creative ideas and future drawings, paintings, or projects.


For those artists who most often find themselves lacking inspiration, here are some ideas to spark creativity.  (For those in the second category, having too many ideas and getting stuck in a lack of focus mindset, you may be interested in this post about focusing your artistic ideas for greater productivity.)



View work by other artists

One way to do this is to do a Google search on anything that seems of interest (the list below may help with this), hit “search,” and then choose “images” from the top menu.  For example, you could choose “bird paintings,” hit enter to “search,” then choose “images” from the menu so that only bird painting images will appear in your search results.  By browsing these, you can get an idea of types of birds that may work with the medium you most gravitate toward, or color schemes you like, general styles of painting you may want to try, or anything else that inspires you by viewing the images.

Visit eBay.com and search original drawings or paintings. By trying different types of searches, you can also see what prices other artists are using for their work and try and match a style or level of professionalism to your own work to give you an idea of the market for various types of works.

Visit local art galleries and shops that carry original art.  Seeing what other artists are producing can help inspire you in many ways, from framing options, work surface, painting or drawing styles, subject matter, color schemes, and more.


Subject matter ideas


Farm animals – cows, horses, chickens, roosters, pigs, goats

Pets – dogs, cats, guinea pigs, snakes, frogs, chameleons, lizards, mice

Sea creatures – sea turtles, manta rays, sea horses, jelly fish, sharks, whales, fish, dolphins

Birds – owl, falcon, dove, parrot, flamingo, crow, finch


A single tree, forest, mushrooms, leaves, flowers, gardens, ponds, ocean and/or beach, sunrise or sunset


Figurative nudes, portraits, full body poses, a single person or group, choose various ages to focus on, different ethnicity, different poses and styles, casual or formal, or a random body part (a hand or foot or mouth as examples)


Interesting houses or buildings, lantern, candle, wine bottle or vase, clock, staircase, books, statue, piece of furniture, fence, hat or clothing


Dragon, fairy or forest nymph, gnome, Viking, dinosaur, winged creatures, angels, cupids, demons, gargoyles


Narrow your focus

Once you are considering an idea, get specific.  If you’re thinking about drawing or painting a cow, for example, think about what pose would be interesting…standing in a field, or just its face, or lying down in some type of shelter.

What expression would it have?  Would it be realistic, comical, or whimsical?

What would the tone of the painting be?  Happy and colorful or dark and moody?  Or just “day in the life” kind of tone?

Would it be a brownish color, or black and white, taupe, or some other color?

Spend some time visualizing what you want to create, and then let the project take on a life of its own as you’re working.

Choose a reference

Depending on where you live, you could photograph a cow and use that for reference, or sit and draw in the moment using a “live model” cow.

Alternatively, you could search online for a photo reference (though being certain to make enough changes to the resulting work that it’s not copying someone else’s image, especially if you’re using someone else’s drawing or painting as a reference – I encourage using an actual photo as a reference whenever possible).



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