10 Tips to Shake Away the Creativity Burnout and Find Artistic Inspiration

Updated on June 20, 2017
Robie Benve profile image

Robie is an artist who believes in the power of positive thinking. She loves sharing art tips and bringing people joy through her paintings.

Tips on finding artistic inspiration and creative ideas. - Painting by © Robie Benve
Tips on finding artistic inspiration and creative ideas. - Painting by © Robie Benve | Source

Inspiration Is a Necessity for Artists

All artists have days when they feel uncreative or uninspired. Sometimes the days become weeks or even months.
Period of lack of artistic inspiration are common phases for every artist, however, all of us that love to be creative, suffer quite a bit from these stages. We feel like we’ll never be able to create anything good in our lives, ever again.
When that happens to me, I would like it to end immediately, but at the same time, I’m afraid to go back to my easel and face a potential failure.
I have developed some special “go to” activities that help get over the temporary impasse and go back to my art with renewed passion. Here are my 8 tricks to shake away the creativity burnout.

1. Keep Your Art Supplies and Tools Easily Accessible

If in order to do your art you have to dig into closets, rearrange furniture, move lights, and whatnot before you are ready to start, it takes a strong determination just to get started.
During a lower inspiration phase, that willpower may not come easily.

Keeping your supplies in one location and organized can make start and cleanup effortless. It also cuts down on the amount of time you need to spend doing non-creative things, before being able to start working on your art.

2. Just Show Up at Your Studio

When you don’t feel the inspiration coming, go to your art station anyway. Look at your sketchbook; start organizing your materials and tools; read art magazines or art books. Often this will be enough to stimulate your creativity.

Even better, say to yourself “I’ll work on my art for just 30 minutes”. Often you will end up enjoying it so much that a couple of hours go by and you don't even notice it.

3. Take Lots of Pictures of Things and Places You Like

When we see something we like, somehow we feel inspired. Don’t miss the opportunity and take a photo.
It is always better to use your own photos rather than someone else’s for reference. Definitely, you should not rely on magazines images for reference, because they are copyrighted. Also, google image search gives a lot of copyrighted material.
So, nothing is better than taking your own photos, The fast that you have seen it in person and experienced it will add to the value of the image.

4. Collect Reference Photos and Keep Them Organized

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous one.
Throughout the year, clip out and save any pictures that you like and that somehow inspire you. Store them in an organized way. I keep my digital files organized in folders on my laptop, and the hard copy ones in a binder, in sheet protectors.
A great resource for reference photos are free online photo databases, make sure the images are licensed to allow derivative work. You can bookmark them in a specific folder. or you can Pin them and create a reference board on Pinterest.

When you are lacking inspiration and ideas for new artwork, go through your photos and focus on what made you save them in the first place. Maybe you enjoyed the subject matter, maybe you loved the colors, or the composition/structure.

Looking at the photos and their features, you may find the spark that lights the missing artistic flame and the productive energy flowing once again.

The reference photo folder in my laptop has several sub-folders that keep images organized by subject.
The reference photo folder in my laptop has several sub-folders that keep images organized by subject. | Source

5. Start Doodling

Sit down with a pencil and a sketchbook and start doodling: draw, make sketches of what surrounds you, make plans for your next project, take visual notes, sketch from your reference photos.

When you are out of inspiration for your creations, drawing can be an effective icebreaker, and it is a great exercise anyway.

6. Try Something New

Networking with other artists and meeting to create together is a great source of positive energy.

Fellow artists are the best to understand your lack of inspiration, we all go through that in phases, and the advice and ideas you can get from other artists are priceless when it comes to getting out of a dull period.

Some groups are project driven; in that case seeing how others approach a certain problem, or how they simplify a difficult aspect, can really give you the push you were looking for.

One of my happy doodles

Pen on paper doodle.
Pen on paper doodle. | Source

7. Get Out, Meet Artists, See Art

Network Within the Art Community

Artists have the tendency to work in isolation, alone in their studio, and this solitude can make a temporary lack of inspiration may seem impossible to circumvent.
Get out, meet other artists, join local art leagues, go to gallery openings, talk art, and breathe art. Each conversation will give you food for thought, and stimulate your creativity in some way.
Attend local Arts and Crafts fairs. Seeing what other artists are doing and chatting with the vendors can be great sources of inspiration.

You can also meet other artists online, visiting art blogs, leaving comments, signing up for their newsletters.

Sometimes an online relationship can grow into real artistic mutual support, especially if you find someone with whom you have a lot in common, artistically and/or personally.

8. Read Books that Inspire Your Creative Genius

When I am looking for ideas, I go to my local library and check out the shelf of the non-fiction in the 700 range. All the stuff about art is there.
I always find some inspiring book to check out.
When I really love a book, I buy it. I love to read some books again and again. One of my favorites: “The Art Spirit" by Robert Henri. The first time I read it I underlined several passages. Now I just pick it up and randomly open to read those inspiring parts.
Find the books that may teach you new techniques, or inspire you to create something new. Reading a book is like taking a class, you can learn so much, and you can get lots of new ideas.

9. Participate in Art Challenges

There are several online websites that have monthly or weekly art challenges. This is particularly true for painting and drawing.

If you google for it, you will find a lot of artists posting reference pictures or themes, and inviting other artists to make a representation within a certain deadline.

Once you have completed your artwork you need to take a good quality picture of it and submit it. It will be posted on the website, often with the opportunity for artists to write reciprocal comments and constructive.

10. Create for the Sake of Creating

The Fun Is in the Journey

Making art just because you enjoy the process, without worrying about anyone else seeing the final product, can be very liberating.
Try focusing on a technique, of on a specific medium. Experiment, try new things, or just go with the flow of and create art because you enjoy it, without worrying about the outcome.
One of the main challenges for beginner artists is that the artwork does not come out looking like what you had in your head. How our imagination envisions of the final piece is often very different from the results.
Don’t get discouraged if the artwork takes a different turn during execution, and come out different. It takes a lot of practice to be able to plan knowing exactly how to render a certain effect.
Keep creating and don’t forget the most important thing: in art making the fun is in the journey, not the destination. Enjoy every step of it, even the mistakes, because they teach you a lot.

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Robie Benve


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      • Robie Benve profile image

        Robie Benve 16 months ago from Ohio

        Hi Jane Jones, I hope that you'll get to finish your tryptic soon, oh boy, I sure understand the frustration with a dragging art project! Here is a tip for you, inspired by Feng Shui, that can be very beneficial to get out of stagnant situations. Reorganize your space. Clean up clutter; throw away broken things; clear up walkways; clear your desk. Move things around, re-arranging according to purpose and convenience. This can truly change the energy and feel of the space. Great luck and happy painting!

      • profile image

        Jane Jones 16 months ago

        Thanks for the great ideas hopefully they will help my lack of motivation to finish a lage tryptic piece thats been driving me insane for over 15 months

      • Robie Benve profile image

        Robie Benve 3 years ago from Ohio

        Thanks Rizz!

      • profile image

        Rizz Wilson 3 years ago

        Great Hub:)

      • Robie Benve profile image

        Robie Benve 5 years ago from Ohio

        :D Glad to be useful Dbro. Happy painting!

      • Dbro profile image

        Dbro 5 years ago from Texas, USA

        Great Hub, Robie! I wish I'd have thought of this subject! I enjoyed your ideas about finding inspiration. I've tried a few of them myself over the years. Thanks again for a great article. Now I think I'll go paint....

      • Robie Benve profile image

        Robie Benve 6 years ago from Ohio

        Thank you Little Light for your insightful comment! I checked out your profile and loved your writings. :)

      • Little Light profile image

        Lilly May Rose 6 years ago from Australia

        These are fantastic ideas. I so often get caught feeling uninspired and it drives me nuts. I feel so unproductive when that happens. These are some great ways to get motivated again. Thank you for sharing your inspirational thoughts.