Updated: Dec 14, 2021
Inspiration is often thought of as something like a lightning bolt that hits you in the middle of the night, but often I find that inspiration is something that I have to seek out for myself.
Of course the internet is a great resource and I spend plenty of time on Pinterest (sometimes too much time) seeking out inspirational images, but often I feel like I get the most inspired from things that I can see, experience and touch with my own hands. Nothing makes me more inspired than a walk during late spring looking at all the newly emerged flowers, or the scenery changes of early autumn.
So, here are some ways that I find inspiration and some tips along the way!
Add a Twist on Everyday Scenes:
One of my favorite pieces of advice from a fantasy art book that I bought a few years ago said to find inspiration in ordinary every day objects and "twist" it around a little bit to tell your own story.
For example: this photo below that I took on a walk in summer is a beautiful image in itself, but what happens when I change the sky color? Or the time of day?
The result is the painting that you see below, titled: "Tranquil Summer's Eve". As you can see, I changed quite a few things around and made the painting into a completely different scene.
You can take this advice and apply it to anything and everything! Try changing colors, or adding in some mountains or other features to make the scene more your own. Like Bob Ross always says, "it is your world, you can do whatever you want with it".
Collect Things That Inspire You:
Whether it is books, art from your favorite artist, or a folder of photography that inspires you, I find that having tangible, physical inspiration around always is helpful and gives me something beautiful to look at everyday.
On a trip out to the Olympic Peninsula, I bought some printed post cards with photography of the Olympic Peninsula and hung a few of the photos around my home. They are a beautiful reminder to me everyday when I see them hung up on the wall!
I also love to collect other objects of inspiration like crystals, flowers and plants. They not only make my home and studio look and feel nice, but can also provide a reference for flower anatomy if I am in need. I think that having a space that "feels inspiring" really helps me to feel like spending more time in that space, which is really important for artists as we tend to spend a lot of time in one spot painting.
Keep A Digital Photo Library:
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have access to beautiful scenery, maybe you live in the city, or in my case right now it is the dead of winter in Washington State and everything is wet and gray outside.
One of the first things that I do when I have a new idea for a painting is to start searching for reference material. So, to save myself some time and to have some ideas on hand when I don't know what I want to paint, I like to keep a digital photo library on my phone. Some images are my own from walks outside, but others are from across the internet.
One site that I love to go to when I am looking for space reference photos is the NASA photo library, or the Hubble image gallery. There are tons and tons of images to look through, and they are real images directly from the Hubble/ NASA telescopes.
Above: Photo reference from a walk outside of Puget Sound, WA
Follow Other Artists:
I have found loads of great advice, learned new techniques and discovered so many different ways of painting things from following other artists online and I owe a huge percentage of my inspiration gathering to other artists. Unlike in the days before the internet, you don't have to go to a gallery if you want to see art and artists now have a way of sharing not just the art, but the processes and techniques behind creating the artwork.
Following other's work can be a double edged sword though, and it is easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, especially on social media. So for me personally, I limit the amount of time I spend online and if I am looking up a tutorial, try to only view one or two videos at a time. Otherwise I end up endlessly scrolling and watching and not doing very much painting!
Anyway, these are just a few of the ways that I find inspiration. I hope this was helpful, and sparks some ideas!