Finding Inspiration as an Artist

Something I hear a lot from friends and acquaintances that are just getting into art is, “I want to create but I just have no idea WHAT to create.” This can be a stumbling block for even the most skilled artists and is commonly known as “artist’s block.”

No matter what type of creative venture you pursue, whether it’s painting, wood working, collaging, photographing, or something else, finding inspiration is key to driving your process. And if you’re saying to yourself right now, “I’m not an artist. I just like to dabble in things for fun,” then have no fear: this post is intended for everyone—artists, crafters, and dabblers.

Please don’t expect this list to be comprehensive. I’m still learning about this myself, but these tips are based on my personal experience. With that being said, here is my advice for finding inspiration:

  1. EXPLORE – The number one way I find inspiration is to explore the world around me and take note of the things that draw me in. This exploration can occur in nature, in your backyard, at a friend’s house, in a thrift store, at Target, on the internet, etc… Inspiration is everywhere and getting out of your house is the easiest way to notice it.
  2. TRY  A VARIETY OF MEDIUMS – If you aren’t sure where your creative energy resides, this is the best way to find out! Try painting, try drawing, or try photographing your kids in the great outdoors. The only real way to find out what suits you is to try different things. Maybe you’ll discover that you like multiple mediums. There are no hard and fast rules to follow, but it’s important to have fun! Some of you out there may already know which mediums you enjoy; for example, maybe you are a watercolor artist and have no interest in trying other types of paint. I totally understand and praise you for knowing yourself so well. On the other hand, maybe it’s worth it to get outside your comfort zone. Trying something new is sometimes the best thing you can do for your art because it can enhance your process.
  3. FIND ROLE MODELS – If you are really struggling with finding a starting place, it can sometimes be helpful to look for inspiration in others. For example, if you’re into wood working, find other wood workers that you admire and see what projects they are coming up with. I’m not suggesting plagiarism(!), but rather, trying to see what they’re creating with their own inspiration.
  4. GIVE YOURSELF A CHALLENGE – Whether you are a writer, a crafter, or an illustrator, coming up with a challenge can really get your creative juices flowing. Possible challenges can include drawing something every day/week/month or creating a theme for the work you make over a selected period of time. You won’t only obtain a lot of inspiration from an activity like this, but you will also learn lot about yourself and your process.
  5. BRAINSTORM WITH OTHERS – Friends and family can be a great source of insight and inspiration, since they will have different perspectives from you. I often have people request things that I have never even thought of creating, and it leads me down an unexpectedly pleasant path when I decide to pursue it.
  6. TAKE A CLASS – This is similar to trying new mediums. You may find that by taking a class, you will be exposed to new ideas and concepts that can fuel your next creative endeavor. Instructors and other students often provide feedback as well, so this is an opportunity for you to get input from other people about your art.
  7. CREATE, CREATE, CREATE – Sometimes, the biggest problem you can face is a stalemate with yourself. Just jump in and start making! You will likely find that inspiration will come as you keep yourself busy creating.

In summary, I would like to cite an example from my own life that will hopefully illustrate some of my points more clearly. The photo above shows some illustrations I created based upon some eclectic ornaments I found at a thrift store. These purchases were completely random, but something about their design, colors, and craftsmanship caught my eye. They were likely made by hand for a craft project by someone I’ve never met and they’re starting to fall apart. When he first saw them, my husband said, “Why did you buy those ratty things?” Haha… But I thought something about them was really cute. I’ve been holding onto them for a couple of years and this week, I finally decided to pursue a project with them. They remind me of Mexican Folk Art because of how vibrant they are and the animals they represent. They have inspired me to create not only one Mexican Folk Art study, but a whole series of Folk Art pieces. Stay tuned for that series to unfold!

I hope that some part of this blog post was helpful to someone else out there. And if any of you have any thoughts on this topic, I’d love to hear your insights in the comments section below.

Weekly Landscape Challenge

During my studies I remember my sculpture professor telling me that one thing he loved most about being a professional artist was that he is constantly learning, whether that is fine tuning his craft, learning a new skill to enhance his message, or studying scientific principles to better represent them in an art form.

I have found this to be completely true for myself as well. Whether I am painting butterflies and learning about their structure or picking up a new medium for the first time I find myself always challenged and I love it.

As I have been developing my skills as an illustrator I am aware that some things come easier to me than others. For example I am easily drawn to still life objects and animals and plants. Most times when I paint them I can get it right the first try and feel their form fly easily off of my paintbrush. Whereas painting certain subjects, such as landscapes, take more time and effort on my part to achieve something that I’m proud of.

So what’s my solution to this quandary? The old saying “practice makes perfect,” my friend. I’m initiating a challenge to myself to create one landscape a week in my sketchbook. Will I miss some weeks? Likely. When will this challenge end? I have no idea. Probably when I’m feeling more comfortable in my “landscape skin” and am ready to face another artistic challenge. Will any of these be for sale? Maybe. If you see something you like and want, send me a message and I’ll see what I can do for you! And finally, will I regret the pressure that I am about to put upon myself? I would say that there’s a 99.9% chance that some weeks I will ask myself, “Why Trina? Why?!!” Haha…. But in the end I believe it’ll be worth it cuz’ it always is.

In any case, the above painting is my first one! It’s inspired by other artwork I have seen and I imagine over the coming weeks you will notice a development of my own voice in this area. That’s the hope anyhow.

So if you’re interested in following along and seeing this develop I’ll be sharing my weekly drawings on my Instagram feeds @tenderfolkco and @trinayoungfieldart! Let me know what you think and what you are working on getting better at in your own life. I’d love to hear about it!

Favorite Art Supplies

This is one of the posts that I’ve been most excited to write about since I get questions about this all the time. Personally I love to receive tips from other artists on what works for them and what they like. Trying new supplies is such a joy for me and I am constantly mixing it up but here are some of my favorites that I use most often in the art that I sell.

If you are interested in hearing more detailed commentary on these items, I will be posting a Youtube video on this same topic sometime in the coming weeks.

I have linked the items to Amazon for reference but please be aware that sometimes you can find cheaper prices for these same items by shopping around at local arts & crafts stores and by using coupons.

-Winsor & Newton watercolors & gouache
Koi Watercolors
Ecoline Watercolors
Holbein gouache
Golden acrylic paint

-Copic markers & pens
Micron pens
Water based white Sharpie marker

Neocolor II watersoluble pastels

Pencils & Related Items:
Prismacolor Verithin color pencils
Prismacolor soft core color pencils
Prismacolor premier graphite sketching pencils
-Mechanical pencils
-Kneaded erasers
Staedtler erasers
Bullet sharpener

Brushes & Related Items:
-Winsor & Newton fine tip watercolor brushes (sizes 000, 00, & 0)
-Watercolor paint brushes (sizes 4 & 6)
The Masters Brush Cleaner & Preserver
Glass Palette
Scraper to clean palette