If you’re not sure what art to make, take inspiration from what you love, or what you’re most curious about. You don’t have to look far to see something you can draw, copy or recycle. Use a source and tools you enjoy and make something today. Here’s some ideas to get you thinking…
- Art materials: paper, ink, pencil, paints, wool or unconventional materials like food dye, coffee, nail polish.
- Tools: paintbrush, biro, compass, ruler, sharpie pens, felt tips, stickers, sticks, potato, your fingers.
- Colours/shapes: use only your favourite colour, only draw circles, repeat the same pattern you enjoy making in different sizes.
- Reading: draw a scene from a favourite fiction book, make a diagram of info from an interesting non-fiction book, copy a drawing from your favourite children’s book, choose a page number and draw the first noun or verb on that page, draw or paint over a magazine article.
- Watching: pause the screen and draw what you see, draw doodles while watching media, draw your favourite or movie character.
- Random: currently fascinated by zombies? Draw one. Love listening to the same track over and over? Scribble while you listen. Love visiting the beach? Take some paper and make art while you’re there.
- Loved ones: draw a cartoon of someone close to you, draw your pets while they sleep (they are the best models), draw yourself using a mirror, use the blind drawing method.
Mine your life for your loves and use them as inspiration to make something today.
If you’re the kind of person who has thinks 6 impossible creative things before breakfast Alice in Wonderland style, having multiple ideas floating around all the time can be energising and exhausting simultaneously. It’s energising because the fizz of a new idea full of potential and possibility feels so great. But with multiple ideas it can also feel exhausting and, in a way, disheartening, because there’s not enough time (or mental energy) to do everything. If the desire to do it all is strong, remember you’re not a machine and it’s not about churning out a pile of completed art.
Ideas seem to come and go as they please, as though they have a life of their own. If you are attuned and open to them, it may seem like some set up camp in the garden, noisily clanging about every morning until you ask them to join you inside. It’s hard to ignore them so you may as well take action on them in order to get some peace! Others will knock at your door but either leave on their own almost immediately as though they suddenly realise they’ve got the wrong address, or will leave because you don’t answer. Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic talks similarity about ideas: “When an idea thinks it’s found somebody—say, you—who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit. Mostly you will not notice. This is likely because you’re so consumed by your own dramas, anxieties, distractions, insecurities, and duties that you aren’t receptive to inspiration… The idea will try to wave you down (perhaps for a few moments; perhaps for a few months; perhaps even for a few years), but when it finally realizes that you’re oblivious to its message, it will move on to someone else.”
The trick is be on the lookout for ideas and immediately pounce on the ones you feel most excitement about. Don’t wait to start them, even if you haven’t finished all your other projects or to-do daily chore lists (note: you will NEVER be done with your to-dos). Choose the ones that you feel most uplifted by. That energy of excitement is an indicator of what your heart wants to be creating. Don’t worry about doing ALL the ideas, just pick the best-feeling ones and if the others fall away, so be it. There’ll be new ideas to act on in the future… if you keep your eyes peeled for them.
The thing about writing ideas down is they move from being a thought, to physically existing. It becomes tangible, held down on paper and unable to escape (unless of loose the paper). What if you wrote down every interesting idea the moment it appeared? What if you sat down for a moment during each day and actively thought of new ideas and then wrote those down? Would the capturing of ideas down on paper help inspire your art-making? Absolutely – intentionally creating ideas gets the brain thinking creatively which helps feed inspiration and enthusiasm.
In the Art For All Podcast, Danny Gregory talks about intentionally creating ideas helps him get unstuck: “When I get stuck, I spend my personal project time making lists of ideas. Take half an hour early in the morning to just sit and brainstorm. Write down 10 ideas and then have breakfast. In a week I have 70 ideas. In the following week I have lots of things to start with. I have my big list of ideas.”
The list becomes a future mine of inspiration to pick from. One tiny thought could eventually grow into a bigger project. But in order to remember them, you must write ideas down asap because, like the wind, they can disappear as quickly as they arrive. Carry a small notebook (or make note on a phone) to collect every idea. It’s better to use a notebook compared to loose paper because everything will be automatically chronological and in one place, which will make it much easier for your future self.