Ideas for Drawing and Painting

Stuck for Ideas? Try one of these!

Italy, Tuscany, Maremma, woman painting sunset in rural landscape
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Sometimes when you look at a blank page, your mind goes blank too. You want to draw or paint, but what? Here are six sources of inspiration to get you started drawing, painting, or even scrapbooking. Once you get started, you'll find that one idea leads to another. The main thing is to get that pencil into your hand and start creating. 

When you find yourself in a creative slump, try picking just one theme to explore consistently over several days or even weeks. Gather creative input by checking out the work of other artists and writers, and make written notes about your thoughts and feelings in your sketchbook. While 'something different' can be good, this doesn't mean you need to do a subject that doesn't interest you - just find a fresh perspective on one that does.

Creativity in Everyday Objects

Some of the most beautiful works of art focus on the everyday. A simple mug or a piece of fruit can be an inspiration for a simple and beautiful drawing. You can concentrate on accurate shapes and values, or explore expressive line and atmospheric tone. Try drawing and painting one object in various ways and with different mediums. Do a scrapbook or sketchbook page with a sketch of your favorite mug on your kitchen table, a photo and a note about why you love it.

People Who Matter: Draw Yourself, Family and Friends

Forget trying to draw portraits from washed-out, glossy-magazine celebrity photos. Draw real people. People you care about. Self-portraits guarantee you a willing model and are a time-honored way for artists to express their deepest feelings. Friends and family can be sketched as they go about their day, or drawn in detail posing. These drawings can become treasured mementos, even family heirlooms.

Inspiration from the Garden and Nature

Complex natural forms can offer pleasantly forgiving subjects for drawing and painting -nobody knows if it's a wobbly line or the shape of the leaf. And they can also be challenging and complex. It's up to you. You can explore nature up close, drawing leaves and pinecones, or on a grand scale, sketching scenes.

Amazing Animals and Furry Friends

Draw your pet sleeping by the hearth, or sketch them at play. Or draw from a photograph taken in natural light, at pet's eye-level. Have a day sketching at the zoo. Zoo animals offer a range of interesting challenges - how do you draw a crocodile's skin or a leopard's spots? Create a series of scrapbook or sketchbook pages with zoo sketches. Draw the entrance with a wall or fence along the bottom of a page, and sketch the visitors looking at the exhibits.

Fantasy Flights of Imagination

Look at paintings in books and online for inspiration. See how artists have interpreted these themes. Do you agree with them? Bring traditional ideas into the21st century. Get friends to model for reference photos - accurate anatomy and correct fall of light and shadow is important in creating a believable fantasy. Create scrapbook or sketchbook pages that suggest a story. Stain pages with tea or diluted ink, draw decorative borders and imagine a day in the life of your dragon or witch.

Inspiration from Literature and Film

Have you ever read a description of a character or scene in a book that comes to life in your mind so clearly, that you can see it like a movie in your head? Try drawing it! If you love a book that's been made into a movie, try to get the movie version out of your head, and read it afresh. Or try re-casting the scene with different actors.