One Essential Thing That Will Stop You Being Uninspired When You Make Art Every Day (With Art Preview)

2016 Artwork Backup Ideas article sketch

Well, for today, I thought that I’d talk about something essential that all artists who produce art regularly should have. I’ve probably mentioned this subject before but, in the week before I originally wrote this article, I found myself relying on this essential thing once again. I am, of course, talking about backup ideas.

Backup ideas are, quite simply, types of art that you can pretty much make in your sleep. These are types of paintings or drawings that require very little actual inspiration – but which still look like they’re at least slightly inspired.

What each artist’s supply of backup ideas looks like will vary significantly from artist to artist. Your backup ideas will probably look very different to mine, but my backup ideas include things like cyberpunk cityscapes, landscape paintings, new versions of my old paintings, still life paintings, Sherlock Holmes, silhouette paintings, vintage fashion, sunsets, deserts, minimalist art and horror-themed art.

If I’m completely uninspired, or even slightly uninspired, then I can just use one of these ideas in order to come up with an idea for a painting. If it wasn’t for backup ideas, I probably wouldn’t be able to produce one painting a day. They are one of the things that stops me from throwing my arms in the air theatrically and saying “I’m uninspired!” and missing a day’s artwork.

So, how do you find these ideas? There are several ways. The first is simply to know yourself. If you know which subjects fascinate and inspire you, then these are often good things to use as backup ideas (as well as for when you’re actually feeling inspired) for the simple reason that you find them inherently interesting.

To other way to build up a supply of backup ideas is through experience and practice. Once you’ve made art regularly for a while, you’ll probably begin to get a sense of which types of art are “easier” to make (and/or more fun to make).

This might surprise you sometimes though. For example, before I got serious about practicing regularly, I always assumed that realisitic still life paintings were ridiculously difficult to make. However, after a fair amount of general art practice, I finally realised that they’re one of the easiest types of art to make – for the simple reason that you’re just copying the things in front of you. There’s very little inspiration required.

Finally, another good way to find backup ideas is through research. Look at as much art (old, new, digital, traditional, comics, art from other parts of the world etc…) as you can and, if you see an artistic technique that either looks cool or looks like it would be easy to recreate, then try it out. It might take a bit of practice, some careful observation and a few mistakes before you learn the technique in question. But, once you know how to use it, then it can become one of your backup ideas.

Not only that, you don’t just have to use one of these ideas at a time. In fact, you can make easier (and more creative) art by combining a few of them.

For example, on the day that I was making one of the daily paintings that will be posted here in early July, I was having a terrible day. It was one of those days where everything seemed to be going wrong. When I finally got round to making some art, I really wasn’t in the mood. But, it was near the end of the day and I had to make some art. So, what did I do?

I relied on two or three of my backup ideas in order to provide inspiration. I first decided to make a painting of Sherlock Holmes but, to keep things quick and easy, I decided to make the most minimslist silhouette of Sherlock Holmes that I could get away with.

In the end, I made a digitally-edited painting of Sherlock Holmes sitting in front of a window in a darkened room. It took me about twenty minutes at the most. It was quick and it was probably a bit lazy, but it meant that I actually made a painting on a day when I really couldn’t be bothered.

Here’s a small preview of what the painting looked like:

"221B (Preview)" By C. A. Brown

“221B (Preview)” By C. A. Brown

So, yes, a good supply of backup ideas is essential for any artist who makes art regularly.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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