A dozen sips of cool inspiration.
Having a problem coming up with an idea for your next artwork? No matter what your medium is, these prompts should have you working in no time.
- Color exploration. Choose a color you love or a color you don’t use very often. Try it as pastel as you can make it, then gradually deepen it until it’s at its most intense.
- Food. In different styles: an advertising graphic, a traditional still life, an Instagram post.
- Children. A formal portrait or a cartoon.
- Make a collage. Use found items, or snippets of fabric, or magazine photographs, or bits of newspaper painted different colors.
- Create a character. It could be a favorite character from a book or cartoon series; it could be a historical personage, or it could be someone you make up. Draw or paint your character doing different things: planting a garden, going for a walk, playing the accordion, rowing a boat.
- Take a walk with your sketchbook and draw different types of trees you see, or different flowers.
- Take a walk with your camera and photograph everything that meets predetermined criteria: the color yellow, or mailboxes, or fences, or rocks.
- Go to the supermarket and buy an inexpensive bundle of flowers. Arrange them in a vase and draw and/or paint them in different ways—colored pencils, fountain pen, crayons.
- A still life with random found objects.
- Buy clay, wire, and rubber bands, and create a sculpture with them.
- Choose a particularly unique or charming building near your house and photograph it from multiple angles. Then reproduce it either as a drawing, a painting, or a model. If building a model, experiment with traditional and non-traditional materials: sugar cubes, toothpicks, playing cards, candy hearts, plastic cut from packaging, or random stuff you find around the house.
- Make a cartoon of a public figure who is just begging to be mocked.
- If it’s not considered objectionable in your culture, make a representation of God.
- Draw a creature: bird, butterfly, dog, cat, horse, fish, unicorn, dragon.
- Draw a picture of a different art; for example, draw a picture of a statue, or of an embroidery sampler, or of a quilt.
- Make something inspired by a holiday: a valentine, or an Easter basket, or a Christmas stocking, or a birthday cake.
- Draw a fashion illustration.
- Draw something that won’t exist for another hundred years.
- Draw a picture of your childhood home.
- Draw a picture of a place you’ve never been. Maybe a place you’ve only seen pictures of but would like to visit.
- Choose a category for a series: flowers, boots, jewelry, cows, cars. Photograph or draw or paint or sculpt as many as you can in a week, or a month, or a year.
- Doodle. I love zentangle. The internet is full of designs. I have lots of favorites on my Pinterest board.
- Look up folk art of a culture you like, and copy some examples; then make up your own.
- Draw/paint/make something that was popular years ago: pudding pops, videotapes, Boy George.
- Design a building.
- Draw/paint/make a mode of transportation: stagecoach, airplane, Segway.
- Draw or build an elaborate frame.
- Draw or build an elaborate machine or Rube Goldberg device.
- Get some colored chalk and make a design on the sidewalk. Let your kids do it, too.
- Buy an inexpensive pair of white sneakers and design them with fabric ink or fabric paints or dyes.
- Design a new superhero with a fabulous costume and unique powers.
These ideas are just meant to be an inspiration suggestion. Alter them any way you wish. If you make something from one of these ideas, please post it somewhere online (your blog, Instagram, Flickr, whatever), and leave a link in the comments below so we can see.
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A baker’s dozen of beautiful things to inspire you: