As artists, we tend to stick to what we know. We gravitate to what feels natural, and we take comfort in the familiar. But what about the practice of trying new things? What about the exploration and the experimentation? What about the growing and stretching that gets us thinking creatively?
It’s easy to become stagnant in our art explorations, but attempting something new is often difficult. We tend to push it aside to work on things that come easy, things that we have mastered, things that make more sense to us. To help me overcome the fear of the hard stuff, I have learned to dedicate time to the straightforward tasks of both practicing what I enjoy and digging in and doing more difficult work.
I am committed to growing and stretching as an artist, and sometimes that means taking my craft and turning it inside out. It means examining it under a microscope. It means breaking it down and building it back up again to be different and better and unique. This can be a fun and easy exercise in keeping your artwork fresh and unique—if you know how to begin. I like to use a simple series of prompts to keep me motivated when it comes to getting out my creative comfort zone.
5 Art Prompts for Staying Inspired
1. Create With Your Eyes Closed
This can mean drawing, sketching or doodling, making marks, or filling in areas with color. The sole purpose of this exercise is to just put marks to paper and let go. By challenging myself to work with my eyes closed, I am able to get creative without fear of following set rules. This practice usually yields results that are interesting, if not childlike, but I am always surprised at how much I am able to see without really seeing.
2. Let Color Be Your Guide
The stress of always having a plan before I sit down to create can be paralyzing. To help loosen up, I like to let color be my creative guide. Surrounding myself with paints, inks, and mark-making tools in all of my favorite hues is sometimes the only inspiration I need to get started. My favorite way to get going is to add big, loose washes of color to sheet after sheet of paper. Not only do I relax my creative muscles this way, but I also build up my collage paper stash in the process.
3. Revisit Your Own Art
We tend to look outside of ourselves when it comes to searching for inspiration, but to create pieces we love, we should be taking another look at our own work. As a rule, I am my own worst critic. Maybe we all are, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I might be tough on myself in the creative moment, but when I revisit my art, I realize that my own work has the power to inspire me over and over again. Instead of scrolling through digital art boards or watching countless hours of videos, I have trained myself to flip through my own art journals, to study my own paintings, and to explore new ideas through simple art exercises. Getting to know your own art better can be a huge catalyst for inspiration.
4. Consider a Change of Scenery
My art studio is the best place for me to create, but that doesn’t mean I always feel inspired when I sit down to work. When I feel unproductive, my first instinct is to blame the art or the tools. But the truth is that our surroundings can play a big part in our creative mood. And while I love my studio, getting out of it sometimes is the best recipe for renewed energy. Even a simple change, like stepping outdoors or moving to a favorite chair near a window, can elevate my thoughts and help new ideas swim to the surface of that ever-elusive inspiration pool.
5. Repetition Is Your Best Friend
If you love something you’ve done, do it again. I tell myself this at least a dozen times a day. I think we all question our creative efforts when we see the wide world of art around us. We seem to think that we need to be constantly shifting and changing our work to stay present in the art world, but I have learned that the more I try to change my work, the less it reflects who I am as an artist. When I repeat what I love, I am happy. That doesn’t mean I can’t learn new things, it just means I need to repeat the parts of my art that complete me as an artist, no matter what medium I explore.
Download some of Rae’s colorful original artwork that you can use in your own art!
Rae Missigman, mixed-media artist, author, and instructor, is known for her vivid colors, intricate layering, and signature repetitive art marks. She believes that creativity can be accomplished in bite-size pieces during even the busiest of days, and she strongly encourages all artists to fearlessly do what they love. Rae lives in central Florida, sharing her love of all things handmade. See more of Rae’s work at RaeMissigman.com.