Art Expressions is a new show on my YouTube channel where I (and hopefully some guests in the future) discuss art related topics. I thought it would be appropriate to start the series with the theme of inspiration. In the first video (here) I talk about where I find inspiration and talk a little about how to overcome a creative block (think writers block but for anyone creative). As promised I am continuing the discussion here because this is certainly a topic one can have much to say about.
Where can I find inspiration?
The answer for this is going to sound a bit like I am taking the easy road but it is the truth; everywhere. You can potentially find inspiration in anything, that is the beauty of it. It is not something you can just plan on happening, it will come but it will often be unexpected. It is your creative side being sparked by something but that something could literally be anything.I am sure that sounds a tad overwhelming. So, let us break it down. Since inspiration could potentially strike at any moment ( I make it sound like an incredibly exciting grand event) it is a good idea to have some sort of place to get it out with you. Carrying a small sketchbook or notebook in your bag or purse is a good example of this. I cannot tell you how many times I have been inspired by or thought of something just to have forgotten it by the time I get home. It might not be totally gone but the concept gets scrapped because I cannot completely remember the whole thought. So many wasted creative opportunities. Had I had something to put them down in, I would not have had that issue; definitely take it into consideration.
Perhaps you are not creatively blocked but just new to the creative world and you are not quite sure where to draw that inspiration from. My suggestion would be to start with carving some time out everyday, this does not have to be a large amount of time it could be five minutes, to draw or write. Both exercises are beneficial to both camps; just because you are a visual artist does not mean you cannot write and vice versa. Taking the time to sit down and just do will be the most beneficial act for you. You can take that five minutes or however long you want to draw or describe an object in your home, work from life - tangible, physical objects until something else inspires you. You will get the hang of it.
How can I overcome a block?
I think that the first thing you need to do is see if you know the reason you are having a problem with this. There can be many reasons this happens, some as simple as something bothering you. Sometimes it can be simply fixed by solving whatever you have determined is bothering you or stressing you out. I know that is often not the case but it is at least worth a shot. We, or at least I, often do not know why or it perhaps is not something that can be fixed easily.
So, what do you do? As I mentioned in the video there are two sides to this. You can either A) leave it alone, let it ride out without pushing through it. or B) work through it, make yourself draw, paint, write, etc.
I believe they are both valid options and there have been times in my life where I have used both of these strategies. The good thing is if one does not work you can try something else. In the latter options there are countless activities and ways to go about it. Let's talk about some of those ways.
Ways to work through a block
I am numbering these but they are not in any particular order.
1. Scribble - close your eyes and put some marks on a page in your sketch book or on a piece of paper, canvas, whatever you want. What do you see? Use that scribble to create a drawing; turn it into something.
2. Pick a Word- write or type out some words, cut them into strips of paper, fold them, place them in a bowl. Draw one to three words and use them to create a drawing. I would not go over three for this, that is a lot to take on and can overwhelm you. Generally one word is enough to work from. If you are a writer this is an interesting exercise as well. You can use whatever kind of words you would like but abstract nouns are probably your best bet. Things that are not actual objects- they cannot be sensed in a traditional way. I have some words here that you can start off with, take some time to add to them so you have a good variety to randomly pick. You are able to just right click and save this file to print when you want to use it.
3. Go somewhere or do something new- this does not have to be something grand, exotic, or expensive. You could simply go to a new area in your city you have never been to before, go to a park, a cafe, anything. You do not have to do it alone or make it solely a trip thinking it will inspire you. The whole point is to expose yourself to something new and let loose, relax and enjoy. It won't hurt to bring a camera, capture some cool things or just some great moments.
4. Use other artists- I am certainly not telling you to rip off another artist or their work, just so we are clear on that. I am saying that looking at other's work can be a source of information, even if just a fun thing to see what is going on or popular in the world of art. Perhaps there is a technique or an interesting colour pallet you have seen. Why not give it a shot? With that being said there are a lot of artists who purposely create work and tutorials for you to copy and learn from. There are plenty follow along tutorials on YouTube and they are free! You can just go in and search something along the lines of "art tutorial", "Painting tutorial". Obviously these have to specifically be tutorials otherwise you are just copying someone else's work, infringing on their copyright.
5. Set aside time- I talked about this above but it is a good point and needs to be mentioned here as well. Schedule time to sit down and just create. It does not have to be a masterpiece. It does not even have to be good. It can take two minutes or two hours, just do it. If you are stuck and have absolutely no ideas than draw an object or a person in your home. The important thing here is to be creating, to be doing.
6. Illustrate- Take your favourite quote or lyrics from a song and illustrate them. Illustration is a great way to keep yourself going. Music often has a deeper meaning for us, you may be pleasantly surprised what you end up with. This way you have a project, you have something to work from (the lyric), and you are doing.
7. People watching- Yes, it sounds a little creepy. Do not stare people down or stalk them or anything of the sort, people do not appreciate that. What I mean by this is go to a public place like a busy coffee shop. Get a good spot where you can watch people out the window or where you can see a good amount of people. When you notice something interesting, quickly get it down. This could be a super quick gesture sketch or a specific small short sketch of a feature. Maybe someone carries themselves in an interesting way, etc. Perhaps you witness a situation that you'd like to illustrate later. There is some debate on how appropriate this is to do, which is why I am saying keep it short, respectful. I have certainly seen artists do this on the subway during rush hour. I watched a man quickly sketch out in a beautiful cartoon style a man sitting in front of him a few months ago. He had a whole little sketchbook filled with faces. This is an interesting way to build up your skills drawing regular people from all walks of life.
8. Reinvent something- Have you ever heard of the "Draw it Again" Art challenge? It was a challenge I came across on Youtube (Here is my video). The challenge is to take a drawing you have done and redo it. I would suggest doing one that is a bit older. At least half a year, if not more. This way you have your source to work from and you can see how far you have come. That can be a great sense of accomplishment and inspiration to push yourself harder.
9. Use a new product- Use a product you have never used before or are not completely familiar with. You can certainly look up a tutorial if you need to. This is just a way to get your creative juices flowing. A new product is a new way to work. For example, if you normally draw maybe it is time to pick up some paint?
10. At least Ten different ways- This is yet another tip inspired by homework, you would think I would want to forget about homework at this point in my life but alas, it is always with me. Take an object you are comfortable drawing. It could be anything; say a flower. It should be something you can look at whenever you need to; you will either need it in front of you or use a reference picture. Draw this object at least ten different ways. You do not need to do it all in one sitting, you can do one a day if you like. Also, you can bump up the challenge by making it 20, 30, etc different ways.
I hope you found this helpful! Let me know in the comments how you overcome a block. What are your tips for people searching for inspiration?