So with my trip to Iceland coming up I'm pleased to report that my work has been pretty focused and is chugging along nicely. Since this is the first proper project I've ever had to prepare for, I want to make sure I make the most of my two month residency. I'm planning bits and pieces that I know I want to study and paint, reading about the country & its culture and above all - practicing techniques ( when I'm working in my lil Icelandic studio space I don't want to be panicking because I can't figure out the best way to paint a rock..)
However, amongst all this focus and excitement I got to thinking about all the times when I was stuck in the abyss of zero inspiration. Sometimes I've sat down with my paints and my sketchbook and had absolutely no idea what to paint. I just knew that I wanted to paint something. When you're producing work for yourself, trying to add to your portfolio or just find yourself without any projects, proposals or magazine submissions in the near future, it's easy to get frustrated. So with that in mind I've made a list of the four main aspects of my life that influence my work - hopefully in future I'll refer back to this and take my own advice..
~ skills ~ When things are a bit slow and I don't have a particular thing in mind that I'm desperate to create, I focus on developing skills and techniques. It sounds face-slappingly obvious but things like, painting shapes to figure out which colours work well together, shading in pen and drawing faces free hand (drawing in pen - no rubbing out mistakes!) are easy to pass up for more interesting things, but are essentially the foundation of art practice.
This is also a great way to fill time, when you don't have the energy for profound or thought-provoking work, and feel like sketching without an end goal or expectation in mind. You should also still include this on your Instagram page/portfolio. All work is valuable and it shows development of ideas!
~ trends ~ Although I do try my best not to be swayed by the work of others (mainly because I'm still figuring out what my personal style is), searching for trends on Instagram or Pinterest can be a really good way to stoke the fire of creativity. Challenges like #inktober are great for finding drawing prompts and joining in with a sense of online community. For a more practical aspect, browsing the notebooks and greetings cards in shops like Paperchase can really open your eyes to new illustration styles and colour combos - and you'll be itching to try some out for yourself!
~ nature ~ I'm very conscious of the fact that when I talk about how much I love nature I must come across as some sort of hippy who lives in a wigwam, but it's always a trusty jumping-off point for a huge portion of my work. If you pay attention to nature there's literally an infinite number of inspiration points. You could paint the sky, stones, water, leaves, flowers, flower petals, flower stems, flowers in a vase etc etc etc.
~ random shit ~ I always try to remind myself that art in itself is subjective and that means you can create pretty much anything you want - there are no set rules. You could paint a blob of black paint on the wall and call it art, and you don't have to justify it to anyone (however if you want to sell your work or live in a rented flat you might have to tweak this methodology).
So every once in a while I paint random shit like coffee cups, candles, fruit; because to me these still count as an exploration of my surroundings, and nothing I create is a waste of time.