Watching the people around you as you go about your daily routine can certainly inspire the figurative artist to go above and beyond to create anything but a “routine” painting. If you think you have to go to a studio or artists’ group where they have hired a professional model to become motivated toward an interesting figure drawing or portrait, you are wrong. Just check out all of the interesting people you encounter every day! By carrying a small sketchbook with you, you just might capture the seed for your next great masterpiece in the form of a small gesture drawing. You don’t necessarily need to plot and plan out the composition for that painting if you have a collection of sketches in your book to use as the spark for inspiration.
As an artist you need to always have an open mind receptive to that new idea. Sometimes a stimulant to create a stunning work can be something as simple as viewing a stand of aspen trees (ones you have possible passed a hundred times before) with brilliant autumn light shifting through the leaves. If you aren’t receptive to the thought of a possible painting, or aren’t looking to see the beauty of the moment, you are missing the opportunity of the idea being handed to you “on a silver platter.” These seeds present themselves to you daily and you don’t even have to struggle to come up with a great painting idea.
You might have noticed that I earlier mentioned dreams. Yes, I do get some of my very best ideas there and I have spoken with other artists, so I know I am not the only one this happens to. You do have to open up your mind to this and really listen to your dreams (both at night and during the day) watching for the clues that are right there for you to pick up on. If you relax your body and subconscious enough and practice this for awhile it DOES become easier! But, it is especially impotant during the night to keep a notepad handy to jot down your painting ideas before you fall back asleep.
My pastel painting titled, “Plumage”, (http://www.hughbanksart.com/) is a perfect example of a work that came to me during a night time dream.
Some final suggestions that I would like to make for making the most of random ideas and painting inspirations that may come your way are: carry a sketchbook and/or notebook with you for quick sketches and notes on colors, atmosphere and even your feelings at the moment; keep a camera with you for documenting the moment further and capturing a particularly interesting scene, detail or person; and most importantly – keep your open and accepting mind with you at all times. Remember, inspiration surrounds you everywhere!