Three tips for developing artwork ideas.

If you're an artist struggling with 'artist's block' then here are three tips that may help you get an idea or two out of your sketch book.

Keep it simple.

Many artists fall into the trap of thinking that art needs to be complex and thought provoking. Don't get me wrong it's great when it is but don't try to be complex when you're struggling just to get one idea (save the complex work for when you're on a roll).

Don't over think it.

Just like my first point but even over thinking a simple idea can cause you to abandon it. An idea doesn't need to be perfect it just needs potential. If you look at my previous post, The Creativity of Imagining Dragons, the Blue Dragon artwork may not have happened if I'd spent hours refining my sketch. To complete that artwork I did one partially resolved sketch and worked out the rest as I painted it onto the canvas.

Choose a recurring theme.

If there is one theme that really interests you then keep revisiting and reinterpreting it in new ways. Sticking with a theme narrows your choices down from 'everything' to just the parameters of that theme. Since I started painting cats as a recurring theme (more than 50 paintings and still going) I've almost never been stuck for new paintings. Use your recurring theme when nothing else comes to mind.


These three simple tips are intended to remind you that curing artists block usually means going back to basics. Starting again and working towards the more complex themes and ideas that you can really flow your creativity into.

4 comments:

  1. I could probably apply this to my poetry writing too, or story writing, but I tend to just write about true stories, as it's easier. I'm not really into fiction writing, but can write a story if called upon.

    At my Writer's Circle we are given a topic for a story or a poem, or Free Choice if you don't want to do the topic.

    I haven't been coming up with any poetry for the topic yet for the last three meetings, though there are plenty of true articles that are waiting to be written - suitable for the blogs too, but there is always so much to be seen to on my comp, that I can't get to it to write with any regularity!

    I just do it on the spur of the moment, and at the last minute usually, such as sitting up in bed at 2am or before I go to bed, or in the shower!

    Amazingly, I seem to write things with more inspiration when I want to do something quickly, just to say that I have produced something for the meeting, instead of taking the two weeks that I have before the next one! You don't have to write something for every meeting.

    I thought I couldn't write under pressure, and don't particularly like it, but that is when I can write a poem quite well - it usually just begins to roll when I get going!

    My first poem (of four verses)written on my return to the Writer's Circle since '86 about the four seasons of the year was written in 4mns flat during an exercise to do a story or poem on that theme in 5mns! You could do just one season if you wanted, but I took the hard way and did a verse about each one. (which you will get to see eventually!)

    I never knew I could write a poem in that amount of time - I've never done it before - and finish before the time as well, considering about 2mns was thinking time!

    I'll try to apply the method!

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  2. Just like my last tip about choosing a theme, I've found setting a deadline from just 'whenever' to 'I have to do something by [insert date] or it'll be another two weeks before I can list on ebay', has been helpful too. A little bit of pressure does help to make sure you do something.

    Writing is not much different. I've been trying to write more often for this blog and for Helium.com but failing because of not setting a deadline, or discounting ideas as being either not good enough or too complex.

    Perhaps I should take some of my own advice and apply it to my writing too?

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  3. This was REALLY helpful..thank you so much!

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  4. Glad you got something from it Phoenix.

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