Where Do Good Art Ideas Come From?
Steven Johnson illustrates the sequence leading to the birth of a Good Idea in the video below.
He focuses – perhaps not surprisingly – on creating spaces conducive to creativity. But the evolution of your good idea might start with a chain of little hunches over a long period of time.
Seemingly disparate notions over time that eventually merge into a greater whole could be the impetus to create a beautiful piece of art.
Chance favors the connected mind. ~Steven Johnson
We Are Noticers
I think we – as artists – are always scanning the horizon for beauty. We are noticers.
We watch dappled sunlight drape over a glass on a window sill. Have you ever stopped, mid-stride, to catch the upside down reflection of a tree against blue sky in a puddle?
Even when we feel blocked, and it’s been weeks or months since we made art, we’re mentally collecting visuals.
According to Steven’s video above, a crucial germination point for our basket-of-notices and creative hunches is connection to community.
Reading art blogs, going to art museums, participating in art-related social media and joining regional art groups all works in the background to propagate creativity. Each of those activities works to connect the dots on our hunches, and sprout new art projects.
Put Your Plan in Motion
Artists germinate good ideas from inspiration. We get our inspiration muscles super-charged when we make a regular practice of looking at other artists’ work, visiting other artists’ studios, reading books by artists, and talking to artists.
SIDE NOTE: It’s helpful – perhaps even required – to toss into a trunk and lock down your comparison/envy impulses first.
When I was an artist, I used to walk around feeling sorry for myself, always. Looked at every loft, every apartment. Hated everyone I saw. Everyone. Hated you if you had a better apartment. Hated you if you had more hair. Hated this one for being tall. Hated that one. Everybody had it better than poor me. They had more money. Oh, I was cynical. I knew why she was getting what she got and he got what he got, and I was eaten alive by this envy. Eaten alive, and now I tell young artists and writers: “You must make an enemy of envy today. Today. By tonight, because it will eat you alive.Jerry Saltz
Good Ideas for Drawing
Have you ever notice how time, noise and fretfulness dissolves while you’re drawing?
I started this drawing below in a deep dive of quietude, but had to pause while attending to Life-ish things.
I propped her against a wall in my studio, where she must have been bumped. She repelled between the table and the wall to the floor. In my world – out of sight-out of mind is an understatement. I completely forgot about the drawing.
Finding Drawing Ideas
Here are some tasty resources for drawing ideas…
- Folks have been looking for good ideas to draw for centuries, so you’re in good company. And there are plenty of generous sketchers who’ve created graphic lists of art prompts. You can even save your favorite art-prompts on a board in Pinterest to access later, like this.
- If you’re interested in shining up your portrait skills, the fine folks at Sktchy have a whole lot of treasures for you. Take a look at their drawing faces challenge, or sign up for a 30-day watercolor and gouache exercise, with a new instructor every day.
- I wrote a blog post about arranging single flowers in a vase, and snapping photos with your cell phone to use in still life watercolor paintings here. You can use the same imagery in the post to do some sketching and drawing.
Finishing Abandoned Drawings
Months after loosing sight of the portrait drawing above, I dropped a paintbrush and it rolled under the table.
While crawling underneath to retrieve the brush, there was my sweet girl, suspended at an angle in power cords.
She looked right at me, with her little palms pressed together in a pleading gesture; Won’t you please finish me? So I did.
Find Drawing Ideas at Home
If you’re new around here, you might not have considered my favorite source for drawing fodder – family photos. Pull out your family’s vintage photo albums, and snap close up photos of your favorite scenes with your phone.
Or pull out your photo albums from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s – and look for compelling compositions, interesting negative space, fun architectural angles in street scenes, or familiar faces to sketch.
Either way, have fun perusing your own family history for adventures in drawing. And don’t be afraid to use your cell phone camera to artfully crop a photo with too many details.
Thanks for stopping by today, and I’ll see you in the next post –
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The act of painting is about one heart telling another heart where he found salvation.Ai Weiwei