How to Get Creative Ideas for Oil Painting

Oil paints are the perfect medium for realistic paintings. However, when it comes time to put the brush to the canvas, you may find yourself hard-up for creative ideas. While not every painting you create needs to be a masterpiece, the more creative you are, the more original your work will become. First and foremost, do not become intimidated by the blank canvas. Creative ideas for oil painting are all around you. By following a few simple steps, you will have dozens of fresh ideas on hand each time you decide to paint.

Things You'll Need

  • Notebook, folder or journal
  • Photographs
  • Scissors
  • Magazines
  • Pencil
  • Art books
  • Clear tape
  • Music
  • Paper


  1. Creating and Inspiration File

    • 1

      Create an inspiration file using a notebook, journal or folder. This file will serve as your go-to place when you need creative ideas for an oil painting.

    • 2

      Fill your inspiration file with inspiring photographs, pictures you cut out from magazines and notes you’ve taken after thumbing through art books. Use clear tape to attach the photos to journal and notebook pages.

    • 3

      Keep your inspiration file with you as you go about your daily business. The trick is to add visuals and notes to the file whenever you see something that inspires you throughout the day. Before long, you will have a large collection of creative ideas.

    Getting Creative Ideas from you Surroundings

    • 4

      Put on your most comfortable pair of walking shoes and take a walk around your city or town. If the urban landscape does not inspire you, take a hike in nature to get creative ideas for oil painting.

    • 5

      Visit a museum or gallery in your area. Spend time looking at oil paintings. Seeing the work of another artist is inspiring, and can spark new and creative ideas.

    • 6

      Rent or go to see a visually striking movie. Choose a movie with a distinctive theme, and or one that is known for its visuals. Immersing yourself in something creative and visually intense can inspire new ideas that translate to the canvas.

    • 7

      Listen to an album in its entirety. As you listen, write down the words, feelings and emotions that the music evokes. You can later translate those words into a theme or idea for an oil painting.

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  • Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

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