How to find Inspiration to Paint – A Journey of Self Discovery

Inspiration to paint

Knowing how to paint and having all the tools and supplies is only the first part of painting. Now you must figure out what you will paint. Inspiration comes from all kinds of sources. What inspires me is not necessarily what inspires you. You will ultimately have to figure out how to find inspiration to paint in your own way, but here are some ways that help me.

Existing Nature

I have spent countless hours on the road over the years. I have driven many of western and northern Canada’s highways. I have even driven from my home in Edmonton to Cabo San Lucas. On every one of these journeys I have witnessed nature’s stunning beauty. Occasionally I have taken photos. More often I just admire as cruse on down the road. Since I started painting I try to snap a quick picture just to remind myself of magnificence of what I have seen. Mountains in fall

There are many very specific spots and views that I have in mind to recreate on canvas. Different landscapes and colors. The time of year can change the way an area looks not necessarily for better or worse, but beautiful in a unique way. Summer greens, fall yellows and reds, winter snow. Depending on the time of year it could be completely different.

So, take a drive, bring a camera, or even bring your paints. What better place to relax and paint than in nature. I promise you won’t have to go far to find a nice scene, especially when you are looking for it.

Photos and Paintings

Just looking at someone else’s art can inspire you to create. I am not saying to copy someone else, but if you did it would still be your painting. You probably won’t turn out something identical. It may be the same general image, but your style and tiny little variations will make it yours.

Deer in the woodsMaybe seeing someone else’s images will spark a memory or dream in your own mind and you can create from that. There are no rules here. National Geographic and other magazines have images from around the globe. The internet is full of beautiful scenes that would be a treat to paint.

I have been inspired by my own painting. Amid completing one of my paintings I had an image in my head of what I thought would be a great project. It was too late to add to or change what I had already done in that painting. But I was fired up to start the vision I had in my mind. When the vision was finally laid onto the canvas it became one of my favorites. I sometimes even think about recreating it with a few twists.

Dreams and Memories

Perhaps there is a place you remember, or a dream you had. Some of the best paintings come from these places. If you can find inspiration from a dream or memory, it is all you. There is nothing purer to me that inspiration that comes from within yourself.

How do you get there? It may be as simple as sharing a dream with someone. Or writing it down before you forget. Talking about it or writing it down will make you think about some of the details and it can turn from a dream into almost a memory.

Have a discussion with someone you have known for some time. Talk about the past, laugh about the good old days. Your parents, or siblings can help to bring back memories of your childhood. Just try to visualize the places and the images as well as the situation. These things will give far greater meaning to a painting.

Just let it flow

Sometimes if you just get into it and start painting, a vision of what you want begins to develop in front of you. You don’t need a plan. All you need is imagination, memory, and dreams. Once you start, you may find that the painting tells you what it needs.

Even when trying to paint an image of something that I am looking at, I let the subtle things from my mind fill some space. These are the things that make the painting yours. Be brave, and try something new. Even if it doesn’t turn out how you wanted or expected its just a painting. You can always paint another one.


I hope you enjoyed reading this. If you did, let me know. If you have comments or questions, feel free to leave them below.

Thanks for reading,


21 Comments on “How to find Inspiration to Paint – A Journey of Self Discovery”

  1. Hello there! I really love painting but sometimes I ran out of ideas on what should I paint. Right now I’m working on a nature painting but after this I don’t have any. Luckily I read your article on how to find inspiration to paint. I’ll try to do abstract painting now instead of places or beautiful scenes. Thank you for sharing this information.

    1. I am glad this could help.  Feel free to come back and share any finished projects he have.  I would love to see them.  Thanks for the comment, and keep painting!

  2. Great article. My girlfriend does a lot of artwork, she started it after her parents died and it’s been a way to deal with that. Much of what you said about dreams as inspiration sounds just like her. Lots of emotional memories that found an expression through her artwork. And she developed an interest in studying a few great painters, too, which boosted inspiration when she found that her paintings are actually quite good. Finding similarities with the masters and seeing how they did things helps to add some inspiration and creative ideas.
    I used to paint myself, I’d like to start again. Personally, for me, I liked to paint and draw photos, as well as free-flowing. Or a combination of the two, with a photo or image being the starting point or the framework.
    Your post is inspiring, thanks for sharing.

    1. I am sorry to hear about her parents.  It is good that she has found an outlet for some of that pain.  I hear a lot of people say, “I used to paint”.  I was the same.  I highly recommend getting back into it.  As your girlfriend has proven, it is a great way to get some stress out.  I hope you get back into it.  Please feel free to share any projects you might do in the future, and tell your girlfriend I would love to show off some of her art here if she were so incline.  

      Thanks for your comments

  3. Painting reminds you to look at what’s around you. There is beauty in everything but we often are to busy to see what is right in front of us. Keep watching, the light reflecting off the curve in a window can spark an idea. We live in a beautiful place!

  4. I am not a painter but I love the beauty of nature whether in pictures, paintings or in person and I can see how nature could be a great inspiration as well as the other things that you have mentioned. This was a great article.

    1. Thanks Arkita,
      HAve you ever painted? Maybe you might like it. It is really easy to to e=get started and I find it very relaxing. Perhaps you should give it a try. Thanks for you comments.

  5. Hi
    Great article. I don’t paint at all, but always have a camera to catch that unusual sunrise or sunset. When I get the perfect picture I will have to look at painting it.
    I will follow with interest & get some tips on maybe starting to paint?

    1. I would love to see it if you do paint something. Let me know if you get that photo. I will have a crack at painting it. Thanks for the comment, and I hope you find some inspiration. By the way, painting is where I am starting here, but art is subjective and comes in all forms. If you have photos you want to share, feel free to post them here.
      thanks Paul!

  6. Hey Jason !!! Great site brother. I to am a painter, just on commercial or residential property. lol But it is something I really enjoy doing as well. As long as I’m not stressed out or pressured about the job, I love the beautifying process. Keep up the good work sir. God Bless. Sincerely, Isaiah Israel Sr. / Premium member of Wealthy Affiliate.

    1. Thanks Isaiah! Maybe you could try painting art to relieve the stress. I find I a great way to relax. I just finished a new post with a tutorial and walk through of a very simple painting that anyone can do. Check it out here.

  7. I do enjoy painting and drawing. Unfortunately I am not blessed with the talent to be an artist. What I can see with my imagination does not appear on the canvas when I am trying to create something. It’s like my brain is not co-operating with my hands movement. Sometimes I feel this sort of inspiration and I just need to take a piece of paper and start drawing – “go with the flow” is what works for me. But it’s as I am saying. It’s a way to release emotions only. No fine piece of art is gonna be ever created by me.

  8. Enjoyable read Jason.
    I agree with just getting into into, get started if it feels right or not. Pushing yourself to begin is the best way to start your flow.
    Some of my favorite things that help with my creativity are:
    -Shocking my senses like cold showers, hot saunas, walking bare foot, etc
    -Reading War of Art by Steven Pressfield
    Thanks for sharing your tips

  9. Love the article. My sister is really into painting but a problem with a lot of painters, she doesn’t know what to paint. After reading this, I can give her some great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Hi Jason,
    I am a photographer and I capture many images and I have often thought that I wish to paint them but I do not have the talent to do so.
    I have just recently been asked by a painter friend of mine for permission to paint one of my photographs, I was delighted.
    So with that said I may begin to pick up a paint brush and paint my photographs sometime down the road.
    Great read great inspiration.

      1. Super I will definitely take a deeper look through your site.
        I feel that painting can be very relaxing once you know some tricks to help you achieve your image.

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