As a professional artist, people ask me all the time where I get inspiration. What are my favorite art books? Favorite artists? Where do you find reference photos? …and more. Whether you’re painting florals, abstracts or landscapes, staying inspired is a key ingredient to always creating new work and discovering your own unique style.
3 places to find artistic inspiration
Get out in nature!
When I’m feeling stuck, in a rut, or need some inspiration for a new painting, I always go outside and do a little nature walk. I’ll bring my phone along, and take my own reference photos and videos of flowers I see, interesting color palettes in the sky or landscape. Taking your own reference photos is an amazing way to create work that is uniquely you. This will help you keep your eyes open while you’re outside and become more of a discoverer when it comes to colors, textures, and subject matter.
If there’s a particular subject I know I need to paint or some color inspiration I can’t find in my local area, I’ll hop on Pinterest and do some digging. And I’m not talking about looking at other artists in your medium and field and replicating what they paint. NO. I’m talking about finding travel photos, nature photos, photos of textiles, tile in cafes, etc. and creating mood boards that evoke a certain theme and color palette you’re going for. For example, I have specific boards dedicated to themes and color palettes on my Pinterest page that I’m always turning to for this type of inspiration! This step is huge for trend forecasting and creating work that’s truly inspired and not a recreation.
This might seem random, especially if you’re not familiar with painting or drawing human figures, but there’s so much to learn from figure drawing! One of my favorite books and educational resources for drawing the human figure is 9 Heads!* There are so many helpful tutorials in here and it will really help train your muscle memory for anything and everything you sketch or paint.
For flowers, I love referencing one of my favorites Flowers of the World.* This is a beautiful botanical book that’s opened my eyes to many species of plants that I’ve never even heard of!
*These are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if purchased through this link. This helps to pay the JR bills so I can keep giving you free content on this blog and YouTube!
And finally, my favorite book for digging yourself out of a creative rut and SO helpful for staying inspired is The Artist’s Way.* If you’ve never read this book, HIGHLY recommend it. It’s a game changer!
There’s so much to the process of artistic inspiration, and it’s way more complex than just scrolling on Instagram to find something to replicate. Do yourself a favor and start journaling about what inspires you! Is it music, textiles, things you find on nature walks? Make sure to incorporate that in your creative process! It’s so easy to get stuck in the scroll, but this is a fast track to boredom and feeling stuck in your creativity.