It's inevitable, at some point you feel stuck, unmotivated
and like your muse has gone on vacation. Below are a collection of what
I call creative recipes. These are great exercises for your creative muscles
and can be used as promts for an art or visual journal or even just as
a jumping off point for a piece on canvas or paper as well. There are
an infinite number of combinations that can be created by combining or
changing these recipes as well.
Many of these recipes have been sparked by projects shared
by others on various yahoogroups. Thank you to all who share your projects
and results on these wonderful lists!
Please use these exercises as you need or wish and be
sure to share your
results with me to be posted here if you'd like.
Color | Exploring Your
Environment | Using Up Junk |
Tap into Your Inner
Child | Learn Something New
| Work on Sketching
- Choose a color. Then choose 3 random, unrelated magazines or color
catalogs. Take the first magazine and open it randomly. Take the first
element you see that is the color you chose. If you don't have anything
on that double page spread, then repeat until you do. Repeat this process
for each magazine or catalog. Then, choose one medium and use the chosen
color and it's complementary color to add to the collage of magazine
images you collected.
- Grab a camera, choose a color and go for a walk. Take a photo of anything
you see that is the chosen color. If using a digital camera, print out
the images, or take your film to be developed. Use all the photos in
a collage. You may also add actual items that you photographed if it
is not illegal to remove them.
- Chose a color, gather any mediums you have of that color. Play with
them - doodle, sketch, smear etc. Then, make note of what the color
makes you think of, feel and even taste.
Exploring your Environment
- Get out of the studio and go for a walk around your neighborhood.
Collect anything that catches your eye and use the items to create a
- Using only items and supplies out on your desk, create a piece of
- Grab three of your most recent acquisitions you have not used yet.
Use them! You may use up to 3 more previously used items such as paper,
paint etc. Though if using a medium as one of those three, each color
counts as 1.
- Record the events of your day by keeping anything that indicates where
you have been and what you have done that day. Collect take out menus
from restaurants you ate at, receipts from shopping trips, ticket stubs
from a movie or play, a quote from a book or magazine you read etc.
Now, use all of these items in a collage. Add up to 4 colors of any
1 medium plus a pen if you have quotes from the day to use.
Using up Junk
- Grab 3 unrelated magazines. Open magazine 1 randomly and choose one
graphic element. Randomly open magazine 2 and choose up to 2 graphic
elements. Open magazine 3 and choose up to 5 words. Now, pick any three
colors of any 1 medium plus one textural or dimensional item such as
a bottle cap, piece of lace, button etc. Using these items create a
- Grab 5 random pieces of junk mail. From piece 1 choose up to 2 graphic
elements. From piece 2 choose 1 word. Choose up to 2 graphics from piece
3. From piece 4 choose up to 2 words and from piece 5 choose 1 graphic
element. Next, pick any 1 color. Use it and it's values/tones in any
combination of mediums.
- Grab 1 old/unwanted/damaged book. Randomly open it and cut out the
first word that grabs your attention. Repeat this 20 times. Combine
these words with any three colors of any 1 medium. You can write in
up to 5 generic words such as a, the, an, it etc.
- Use one graphic element or word from each piece of junk mail you got
today. If you don't get much junk mail you can extend that to up to
a week's worth of junk mail. Add 3 colors of any 1 medium.
- Randomly draw up to 6 pieces from your scrap box. Without using scissors
(you can tear to reshape/resize pieces) create a collage. Do not use
any additional items or mediums. Make it work with these 6 pieces of
- Choose 2 magazines and 1 book. Randomly open each magazine and pick
up to 2 graphic elements from each. Randomly open the book and pick
up to 5 words and repeat. Use these 4 graphic elements and 10 words,
plus any 4 colors of 1 medium, plus one found object or dimensional
piece to create a collage.
- Using only office supplies readily available, create a collage that
represents your feelings about your current job.
Tap into Your Inner Child
- Randomly grab 4 colors of paint. Take note of the first childhood
memory that comes to your mind. Now, using your fingers and only the
4 randomly chosen colors paint that memory.
- Pick 4 colors of your favorite medium when you were a kid - fat crayons,
markers, finger paints etc. Using only these 4 colors, draw 10, 2-minute
sketches of yourself.
- Pretend you are a young child at a restaurant with your parents. Using
only a pen from your purse/pocket and a placemat, create a masterpiece
Learn Something New
- Pick a new technique you have recently heard of or read about and
try it. If you don't have all the materials on hand, improvise! Experiment!
- Take a technique book off of your bookshelf and randomly open it to
a page. Follow the steps for that technique. Make adjustments as needed
if you do not have all the required supplies.
- Do a search on the Internet about personal mandalas. Using only the
supplies you have out and within arms reach, create one of your own
that expresses where you are right now/today. Repeating this exercise
periodically can be very eye opening!
- Study a great masterpiece! Blow the dust off of an art book on your
shelf. Open it randomly and try to recreate your own rendition of one
of the pieces of artwork on that page. This can be a wonderful challenge
if you recreate a piece with a different medium, such as an old oil
painting redone in collage.
Work on Sketching
- Create a grid of 20 squares or rectangles. In each section draw a
1-minute sketch of yourself or an object. Explore various colors and
mediums during this exercise.
- With eyes closed, randomly choose 4 colors of your favorite medium.
Using only these four colors and whatever medium you need to create
values, tones and blend, draw something. Take no more than 20 minutes.
- Turn the radio to a random station. Listen to the first full song
and take notes, if needed, of the lyrics that strike you and the overall
feeling of the song. Now, illustrate these notes by sketching, painting
or collaging. Take no more than 30 minutes total for this exercise.
- Take a virtual trip. Pick a destination you would like to go and do
a little research on the magical location on the Internet or at your
local library. Then, pretend you've made the journey. Draw some of the
sights from your trip using your preferred medium.