6 Ways To Find Ideas For Paintings

Image by marlenekzio via Flickr

Are you fresh out of ideas of what to paint? Feel like a dog chasing its tail, turning in useless circles in a creative rut, but nothing is inspiring you? When this happens, skills no longer hold any importance for we first need inspiration with which to apply them.

In today’s Blog I am listing a few interesting and original ways to assist you in finding ideas for paintings, to get your creative juices flowing if you’re stuck or even as new inspiration if you just want a change from your usual and move in another direction or try something completely new?

1.) IDEAS IN OUR OWN LANGUAGE: Proverbs, Idioms and Metaphors

The English Language Grammar has a host of “Figures of Speech” which include Proverbs, Idioms and Metaphors – which in themselves can all be considered for painting ideas. Thinking a little laterally from the initial concept can lead to a wonderfully original painting.

 Examples of Proverbs:

  1. “All Your Eggs In One Basket.”
  2. “The Early Bird Catches The Worm.”
  3. “Let The Cat Out Of The Bag.”
  4. “A Stitch In Time, Saves Nine.”
  5. “Get All Your Ducks In A Row.”

Think of more and get your mind whirring!

Examples of Idioms: 

  1. “Bright As A Button.”
  2. “Get A Word In Edgeways.”
  3. “Cold Feet.”
  4. “Kick The Bucket.”
  5. “Fly By The Seat Of Your Pants.”
  6. “Spill The Beans.”

Examples of Metaphors: 

  1. “The Field is Like A Sea”
  2. “The City is a Bee Hive.”
  3. “The Sky is a Blanket.”
  4. “Love is a Game.”

Seek for Metaphors in novels or poetry, and for a complete list of Proverbs and Idioms, visit :


2.) IN THE BOOKS WE READ: – Use the words of Book Titles. Don’t try to create the illustration of the actual book but rather to use the words themselves to inspire new ideas or concepts.


  1. “Gone with the Wind.”
  2. “A Road Less Travelled.”

Visit your Library or use Google to come up with more.

3.) FROM OUR LIKES AND DISLIKES: – Divide a page into two columns and write things you love in the one and things you don’t like in the next.

Now, select one from anywhere in the left column and one from anywhere in the right. Write them down and imagine them together in a painting. This can be the germ of an idea of an interesting picture.

4.) FROM CROSSWORDS: – Take any cryptic crossword puzzle from a magazine or newspaper or search for crosswords online. Select the clues only: these words or sentences make for interesting concepts – NOT the answer to the clues, we’re not interested in that in this instance, but purely the words themselves.


  1. “Still to come or already gone?”
  2. “Compass indicates a parallel”
  3. “Time for breakfast”

When we first glance at these cryptic clues we force our brains to imagine a situation or concept pertaining to them alone and this can indeed inspire a new notion of something you may never have thought up any other way. Take the challenge and be imaginative! You’ll surprise yourself and soon be excited!

5.) CREATE A COLLAGE: – One can create an interesting piece of art from an original collage. Find pictures in a magazine and cut them out. Place them in an interesting way on a sheet of paper, juxtaposing or cutting away parts of each picture to join them in an interesting so that they can become something surreal. You can add scraps of tissue paper over sections to create transparencies or add other objects such as ribbon, buttons etc to embellish or add interest to your picture. Don’t make it too busy – keep it simple but effective. Assess the picture: does it say anything? Is it well-balanced in composition? Is there something that is arbitrary and should be removed? Does it lack something to make it more powerful?

The completed collage would then be drawn onto paper of canvas to scale, as you desire and painted.

6.) IDEAS IN THE UGLY THINGS: – Why not change from creating pretty pictures of flowers or attractive household objects and look for subjects that in themselves are ugly or at the very least basic and just functional, like a parking lot, a dustbin or as simple as a dog’s leash on a door. Look around you for subjects such as these. Items as simple as an ironing board or the washing on the line can send a strong message in its simplicity.

There you have a few to be going on with! Just remember that having too many options at the beginning can hinder you just as much as having none, so try to narrow down your list to a few favourites and make a selection or a series using that theme. Get excited about new ideas and follow your intuition – even if the initial ideas seem absurd! It’s these that stop people in their tracks in wonder! You can show everyone your genius by doing the unexpected – this I promise you!

Let me know what you come up with or send me a picture of your finished work! Happy painting!!


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