Alliac, France 2015
City of light 2012
Not the content of today’s blog post, but it certainly gets more attention than talking about painting. Or maybe we should discuss politics in America instead!
Wait: it *is* better to talk about painting!
I find myself in a bit of a painting slump right now. Coming back from painting and teaching on Cape Ann MA I have a lot of new references to paint. I took lots of pictures in Gloucester and surrounding areas. It’s just that I don’t feel inspired to paint them. Quaint boats in harbors. What normally sounds great just makes me yawn. Maybe it’s the heat, I don’t know..
How do you find new, inspiring subject matter? You have painted the same things over and over. You need something else! One of the biggest things in painting is the continued inspiration to keep it up. Being able to be inspired over the years.
Below are my thoughts on this topic. Feel free to pipe in what works for you. I would certainly want to hear it! Thanks.
Travel to a new place
Arguably, this one should always work, except it didn’t for me this time. A new place – new inspiration!
Paint something you’ve never painted before
This is harder than it sounds. If you’re like me, painting a still life might not be something that sounds so interesting but it is definitely worth a try.
Start sketching with pencil or charcoal
If you just draw, you get into the mood. I do this quite a bit in my sketch book. It usually works to get new ideas for painting. Even if it doesn’t work out, you’re still sketching and therefore honing your artistic skills!
Look through art books
Very good for inspiration! We all have books with high quality prints of artist’s work we like. Internet can work too but pictures are usually not high resolution and often distorted. Colors also look different on every screen.
Experiment within your medium
When painting in my studio, I always try to do something new. Well, almost always. It can be something really small like experimenting with new pigments, white paint, or some new technique. It can lead to new discoveries and bring freshness in your work Take risks you normally wouldn’t take, even if you ruin it…that’s how new styles are discovered!
When I don’t feel like painting in watercolor I paint oils. It’s usually so much easier and more relaxing, so a very nice change.
Go paint outside
That one almost always works for me. Meet with some friends and go paint. Even if you don’t feel like it, you have no choice. Once on location I usually get into it.
Pick a picture and just do it
That is another good tip. I just pick any reference and just start without thinking much. The motto is, better to paint than not to paint..
Visit a museum or a gallery exhibit.
Great for inspiration. Nothing like seeing new work or paintings of artists you admire in person. Makes you want to go home and paint!
Do something completely unrelated to art and painting
Taking yourself away from the whole thing form time to time is important. There is a whole world out there and if you’re like me you have other interests as well: hiking, playing a musical instrument, researching the next gun you’re gonna buy etc. (I do live in the wild west, it hasn’t changed)
Spend time in your head
You need to be alone for that one. It helps to zone out sometimes, clear your head
Listen to music!
Doesn’t have to be classical, can be anything
Work out your body
Another unrelated activity that can recharge the creative juices. A run or workout in the gym etc. can make us feel like new
Some artists do drugs or drink when they want to write songs or paint. I’ve never tried it and wouldn’t know what drugs to get, but it’s no secret that many experimented with LSD, Cocaine or even just Marijuana. Probably not a good tip!
Play with your dog, cat or your kids!
Less harmful than the drugs!
I am sure everyone goes through creative slumps every now and then. To get out of it will be a different process for every one of us. I will most likely just paint portraits for a while. Something I am not that known for but love doing. That will get me back into watercolor landscapes eventually.
On another note: my 2019 workshop dates are up on my site! Consider joining us!!