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9 Sources of Inspiration for Photography & Painting

Lately, I have had several people ask me what inspires me to paint and take photographs. This really got me to thinking about what makes me do what I do when it comes to my artwork. It led me to sit down and make a list of things that inspire my creativity. In the process of clarifying my sources of inspiration, I realized this might be helpful to others when they are lost for ideas on how to stimulate that creative streak I believe we all have.

1. Take a drive.

We were driving through the prairie recently, on the way back from a family visit, when all of a sudden it came to me as I watched the fields and farms go by outside the car window. I had an overwhelming urge to stop the vehicle and take some photos. I wanted to to go back, sit beside the road, and paint those farm scenes.

“Wheat Farm” captured by Earl Heister (Click image to see more from Heister.)

2. Play with the features of your camera.

I recently purchased a Nikon D7000. It has a few features that I was not used to, and I am enjoying trying new things while learning the new camera.

3. Look at old vacation photos.

Viewing photos taken on past vacations always brings back memories that make me want to paint a new painting or visit that place again. They also make me see how an even better photograph could be made by visiting the same place or even one similar to it.

“Vacation” captured by Trek (Click image to see more from Trek.)

4. Visit a park.

There are boundless, intriguing subjects in parks. Photographing and painting people playing, flowers in bloom, trees, water, birds, and other wildlife can be very interesting and exciting.

“293 of 365 Sunrise” captured by Linda L. (Click image to see more from Linda.)

5. Look around your house.

There are many things we look at every day but no longer really see. The textures of fabrics, wood, walls, grasses, weeds, and even items of glassware, and dishes can be interesting subjects. After you explore the inside of your house, go outside around your neighborhood. Look at the rocks, walls of buildings, the bark of trees; they all have interesting textures and colors.

6. Take stock of your kitchen.

The kitchen can be inspirational, as well. Setting up still-life sets with fruits and vegetables from your refrigerator will make for some very nice photos and paintings. Cups, glasses, and dishes can make wonderful still-life subjects. You can add a bottle of wine and a houseplant and make it even better. It is also fun to take your camera to the local farmer’s market and photograph the bins of fruits and vegetables with different light and angles. Sometimes there are even old rusted farm implements and equipment to photograph.

“Peppers” captured by AJ (Click image to see more than AJ.)

7. Go to garage sales and flea markets.

Found objects can sometimes be fun to arrange and rearrange, to shoot from different angles and in different combinations. I even combine some of the old found objects with some new things for interesting combinations to paint or photograph.

8. Watch an old movie (any movie, really).

While watching old movies, I have spotted some great scenery that has inspired me to pay more attention to composition. The old spaghetti westerns that made Clint Eastwood a star and many of John Wayne’s western classics have some amazing scenery that can’t help but inspire any painter or photographer.

“Central Garnder, Garden of the Gods” captured by Mark Feliciano (Click image to see more from Feliciano.)

9. Enter a photo contest.

If you are hesitant to put yourself out there, so to speak, enter some photos or paintings in a county fair or exposition. The contests are open to anyone, and entering will give you the opportunity to check out what others are producing. You’ll get some useful feedback on your creations, as well. Hopefully, this will inspire some of you to get out there and create. I know it has me in the mood to pick up my camera and head for the car; I saw an old barn I want to photograph at sunset tonight!

About the Author:
Written and submitted by Marsha Thornton ( She is an artist and self-taught photographer.

[via PictureCorrect Photography Tips]

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