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How to Come Up With Creative Drawing Ideas

How to Come Up With Creative Drawing Ideas

September 5, 2021

 By Emily Becker

If you feel like you are in a creative rut and are not sure how to come up with creative drawing ideas, you are definitely not alone. Just like writers get writer’s block, artists often get stuck and have a difficult time thinking of new things to draw.

Luckily, there are plenty of techniques out there which can help artists come up with new, fresh ideas. Here are some of my favorites:

Get outside

Go outside for a walk or get into nature any way you can. Getting outdoors can help stimulate your creativity in a couple of ways. First of all, it will help you clear your head. Being surrounded by nature has a calming effect, allowing us to relax and take on the sensory stimulation of the natural world around us. Being able to relax this way helps us connect with our creativity.

Another reason why going outside is helpful for sparking creativity is that nature is full of inspiration, no matter what kind of artist you are. As you walk outside, pay close attention to everything around you. You’ll see a variety in color, light, texture, shape, and so on. This can spark creativity immediately so make sure you have your drawing materials close by!

Journaling

If you have never been the type of person to keep a journal, perhaps now is a great time to start. Keeping a daily journal and using it as a way to allow your consciousness to flow freely without judgment is a great way to stimulate creativity. It is also an excellent tool for processing emotions and even creative blockages.

The more you can identify where your creative blocks come from, the more you can find solutions and therefore come up with more creative drawing ideas. When you journal, write about how you are feeling 1) physically, 2) mentally, 3) emotionally, and 4) spiritually. Taking time to write these feelings down will help you get in touch with yourself. From there, you’ll be able to allow your creativity to flow freely.

Start a mood board

This is a fun way to keep those creative juices flowing and continue to spark different drawing ideas. Browse through magazines, newspapers, or any other print media that you can cut up. With some scissors, cut out images or words that stand out to you. Pin or glue them to a cork board or piece of poster board.

This exercise can be ongoing. You might start one day and then continue adding to your mood board as time goes on. Once it is full, you will see a collection of images and words that are uniquely inspiring to you. These will serve as a spark of creative energy whenever you need it and you can always mix it up, changing the mood board as your tastes change.

Browse Pinterest

Pinterest is a pretty underrated tool if you ask me. There are millions of images that can be easily curated with the site’s impressive algorithm. Create a board specifically for creative inspiration. Here are some easy steps to making the Pinterest board of your dreams:

  • Step 1: Create your board. Give it a fun name that embodies your creativity.
  • Step 2: To begin adding art to your board and kick start the algorithm to show you more of what you like, start by searching your favorite artists and adding their work to the board.
  • Step 3: Once you have a few pieces of art already on the board, scroll down on any one of the pins within the board to see more ideas like that pin. From there, you will start to see how the algorithm chooses more of what you may be interested in.

I AM NIKOM / Shutterstock.com

Now that you have an epic Pinterest board with all kinds of inspiration, you have plenty of ideas for your next drawing.

Go to a museum or gallery

Seeing artwork from other artists is a great way to get new ideas for your drawings. This does not mean copying someone else’s ideas, but rather taking inspiration from the creativity of others, which is an essential part of the creative process. See if there are any art museums or galleries in your area. Sometimes museums even have free admission days!

Galleries can often be in unexpected places, like restaurants or coffee shops. Keep an eye out next time you are out for a meal or cup of coffee. You never know where your next burst of inspiration will come from!

Take inventory of your favorite works

One way to come up with ideas of what to draw is to take inventory of the things you love about your favorite works of art by other artists. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • First, take note of what you see visually in the piece. What medium was used? What does it look like overall? If there are colors, what are they? How did the artist use light and shadow? How big is the piece?
  • Then, observe the content of the piece. What is the subject matter? What images are most present and what do they mean to you?
  • Last, and most importantly, how does the piece make you feel? What emotions come up when you look at this work of art?

Once you have written down the answers to each question, step away from the piece of art. What can you create now, which evokes emotion in your audience? Ask yourself what kind of art you want to create. This exercise can help you focus on what kind of art you would like to create. Watch the ideas flow from there!

Draw what you know

If coming up with creative drawing ideas is difficult, try starting with what you already know how to draw. Have you mastered the art of still life drawing? Give it another try, but this time see if there is a way to change your perspective. Maybe you’ll draw a couple of the items in your scene upside down, or with their shapes warped.

You can also try simply drawing what you see around you. Start with your cup of coffee, your breakfast, your dog, or a friend. From there, see where your imagination takes you. Perhaps you will add different elements around the initial drawing, or play with shadow and highlight to create a different image altogether.

Never underestimate where your imagination will take you, even if you are drawing the simplest of items around you.

Keep a list of ideas

One of the best ways to take advantage of creative ideas as they come is to make sure to write them down in the moment. Ideas can be fleeting and if we do not keep a record of our drawing ideas, we are not telling our brain that those ideas are important. 

You can keep a physical list in a small notebook that you take with you everywhere. An easier option, however, is to keep a note on your smartphone with all of your drawing ideas. Some people even keep voice notes in their phones with their ideas.

Challenge yourself

If you are an artist that tends to stick to the same style of art, perhaps a challenge will allow you to come up with more drawing ideas. The challenge is to choose a style of art that you have never tried before but have always wanted to. Has cubism grabbed your attention? Give it a try! You never know what will come out of trying a new style.

To begin your challenge, start browsing artists in your chosen style. Look for their use of line, shape, color, texture, and light. What inspires you? What different techniques would you like to try? Get to drawing!

Take a break

This might sound counter-intuitive, but sometimes we need to step away from our drawing in order to come up with creative drawing ideas. If you are feeling stuck before you begin or even after you have already started a drawing, it can be extremely helpful to take a break.

Your break does not have to be very long. Even five minutes of focusing on something else can be helpful to re-energize your creativity. Take a few deep breaths, eat or drink something, or go for a walk. This will help you recenter your ideas and continue your creative flow. After all, you should not feel like you are forcing yourself to draw. That will only end in creating resentment for your practice.

Conclusion

You now have the tools to be able to move past any creative blockages that are keeping you from creating the art you want to create. Remember to be patient with yourself. If it takes a few attempts at any of these exercises, that is okay! The most important thing is to continue to try new things and never give up completely.

Do you have any tried-and-true techniques for coming up with new ideas for drawing? Share them with us! As always, I cannot wait to see what you create.