Art Inspiration for Beginners 

If you are just getting started, art inspiration can be very difficult. It is hard to come up with ideas that inspire you to draw or paint every day.

Guess what, this is true for any artist both new and experienced!

Here are some questions that help me come up with inspiration for paintings and drawings every time:

Questions To Help You Find Art Inspiration:

What makes you feel awe?

I think that all inspiration comes from allowing ourselves to feel awe. And that awe is the realization that there are things that are bigger than ones-self. That can be nature, God, the achievements of humanity. Anything that makes you feel awe.

Go ahead and make a list of things that are greater than yourself. Try to explore why you think the events, people, places, or things that you write down are so grand and important. Write those feelings down as well.

If you follow this course you will find that you come up with a chain of topics that you can paint or draw. Some of your ideas may even be abstract or conceptual in nature. If this is the case, write down how you think you can best express the abstract concept of principle. Do you use symbolism? Splashes of Color? Or odd textures? It could be anything.

So take the time to think about what makes you feel awe.

Awe Art and Inspiration for Acrylic Painting
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Awe by Seth Keller

What makes you happy?

This question can be replaced with any of the basic emotions: sad, angry, scared, disgusted, or happy. Remember the Pixar movie Inside Out?

Inspiration from emotions.
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This one can be a little difficult. I’ve made lists before of things that make me happy, however just because somethings makes you happy, or sad doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a good source of inspiration for your art.

What I found was that as I was writing my list of things that make me happy, I couldn’t connect it to my art in a way that would be more meaningful. It just seem trite to write down cheesecake on my list. How on earth can I depict cheesecake in a way that makes it seem less simple and trite than it is.

While sometimes we can draw inspiration from the simple things in life, I believe we are more likely to get the best quality inspiration from deeper forms of an emotion.

Focus on happiness in a deeper spiritual or abstract way. Focus on the concept of what brings true happiness, or lasting happiness. Or the question what is happiness to you.

Of course this applies to all the other emotions.

What are You Reading Right Now?

Other forms of art, such as literature, is a great way to find art inspiration. Take some time to figure out what your interests are. What are your favorite books? What are your favorite types of books? Make yet another list.

While reading books that you are familiar with is a great way to generate inspiration, sometimes you need to think outside the box. Visit the library, and make it a point to borrow a book on a topic that you wouldn’t normally read.

Before I became obsessed with the Renaissance the only thing I would commonly read were fantasy books. Now I love to read books by Paul Strathern. I would never have started studying humanism had I never picked up his book about The Medici. Inspiration flows from new topics and new neural connections as you learn new things.

ArtStation - Giuliano de' Medici, Fantasy Huang
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I continue to study humanism and the imagery found in The Stanze by Poliziano. In the painting that I’ve been planning featuring Giuliano as Mars, I’m considering leaving a blank space with flowered footprints where Venus just got up and left. There is a passage in The Stanze that draws heavily from the story of Narcissus, I think that perhaps the painting should include imagery, such as the narcissus flower, and imagery that suggests why Venus might have left. 

I want to explore why love may have left us as a society.

Where was Your Last Vacation?

I Visited Grand Canyon National Park. Take some time to write down your thoughts and impressions about your last vacation to glean some art inspiration. Be as descriptive as possible and recount how you felt during your trip. Take pictures so you can use them later for photo reference. As I’ve mentioned before you should always be using photo reference!

Here is what I wrote:

We visited the Grand Canyon. Words somehow seem to fall short in describing the vastness of that fissure. It was so deep and multifaceted that it was difficult to see the bottom without some outcropping of cliff jutting out to block the view of the Colorado River like a thin ribbon below. 

Inspiration for Art
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Something that struck me as I stood at the edge along various lookout points along the cliff face was how small and insignificant everything seems in comparison to these enormous rock formations. And there was once again a feeling that a great amount of time has passed that makes the world feel ancient. 

Inspiration for artwork Grand Canyon
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I was surprised that about 300 Anasazi settlements have been discovered both in the depths of the canyon, and up on the plateaus. While we don’t know as much as we’d like about what they believed, I like to imagine that they chose to live there partly because of the natural beauty found there. Every year, according to the information on site, the Anasazi would make the journey from on top of the plateau all the way down to a delta at the bottom of the canyon. A dangerous and long journey for sure. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t choose to live in just one location, unless the journey were somehow significant to them. 

Of course this is just idle speculation on my part. But speculation and imagination go hand in hand. I have several ideas for paintings just by thinking about and writing about these fascinating landscapes, and the people who lived there.

Where Does Your Art Need Improvement?

Often times if I need art inspiration, I’ll critically look at my work and decide where I need to improve. Do I need to practice drawing hands? How do my feet look? I could need to practice my architecture. Whatever it may be, take the time to figure it out, there is always room for improvement.

Once you have written down several ideas that you need to work on. You come up with some projects that could help you practice. Doing a project is different than doing a sketch or a quick drawing. A project is something that you will likely show to other people, and perhaps include in your portfolio. Having the mindset that this project is something that you are going to show to other people increases your accountability. The pressure is on to do a good job and to make some serious improvements!

Inspiration for Acrylic Painting
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I love to get on Pinterest and just type in the subjects that I need to improve. Then I just look at the things that other artists have drawn or painted. You will find that if you start collecting ideas on Pinterest inspiration will soon start to flow. You’ll probably come up with several ideas almost immediately that you can first sketch, and then turn into a full project.

Art and Inspiration Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to read about art and inspiration. Please feel free to write about what inspires you in the comments. If you enjoyed it please share with your family and friends on Facebook and Twitter. Make sure to subscribe to get updates on new articles and my paintings. And check out my portfolio of other works.

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