inspiration headerAre you frustrated with finding inspiration for your next creative project? Grab your iPhone and sneakers and READ ON.

In this blog, I describe my process of finding inspiration on a five minute walk on the beach in Emerald Isle, North Carolina.

One of the complaints I hear from beginning artists is how it’s so difficult to find inspiration for their work. I understand how this can be a big stumbling block to starting a creative project. It seems there is either too much to choose from or your creative treasure box of ideas is completely empty.

So, what do you paint?

The answer lies just outside your door.

I’ll show you how a five minute walk on the beach (or wherever you may be) can supply you with enough creative inspiration to create one project or even a whole collection.


A cellular phone

One of the most useful tools for capturing inspiration is my iPhone. I use mine constantly to capture images that may one day become a painting.

SLR cameras work well too; however,  the iPhone allows me to not only see the image immediately, but zoom in and out to find that perfect crop. If I didn’t get the right shot, I’ll keep going until I get what works. Later, I can use my photo editing app to get the right composition.

A small notebook or the NOTES app 

It’s handy to keep a small notebook with you for jotting down painting ideas, the location where you took your photographs, and a list of materials you need to complete your project.

Again, I use my phone to keep all my notes in one place by using the NOTES app.


As you begin your walk, remember to look from many perspectives.

Look up — is the sky particularly beautiful or interesting today? I love the blue sky dominating this image.

Photo Jul 22, 11 52 00 AM

inspiration up above

Look down — could you focus on what’s under your feet for an unusual design? This will be a painting full of visual texture.


inspiration up close

Here’s an example of a painting inspired by the surf beneath my feet.

ocean surf 72

12″x12″x1.5″ encaustic on wood panel

Look around — train your eye to see what’s around you as a two-dimensional painting. For instance, when I look at an ocean scene of sky, surf and sand I see four bands of color — not sky, surf and sand.

Here’s an example of the scene right before me

Photo Jul 22, 11 45 17 AM

inspiration in bands of color

and a painting I did showing three distinct bands of color for a more contemporary feel.


16″x16″x2″ encaustic on wood panel



Okay, maybe the landscape is a bit boring. Can you find some unusual designs created by nature, man-made structures or shadows? Here’s an example of an interesting design made from a beach fence and shadow.

Photo Jul 22, 11 52 25 AM

contemporary design inspiration

Take a look at these grasses I found on my walk. Notice how the composition is off center to add interest.

Photo Jul 22, 11 50 08 AM

composition inspiration



Sometimes paintings of ordinary people living ordinary lives touches something inside the viewer. The scene shows the beauty of living in the day.

Notice in this photo I chose to give the woman a smaller presence in the scene to create a feeling that she is a small part in a bigger scene. The viewer feels a sense of comfort and peace in this gentle scene.

Photo Jul 22, 11 45 58 AM

slice-of-life inspiration

Well, five minutes is up and I have a whole selection of images to choose for my next painting. Stay tuned, I’ll post the finished product in an upcoming blog. To see more examples of using nature as an inspiration, visit my shop here. 

The next time you feel your creative reserves are low, pick up your phone and walk out your front door. The big, beautiful world is waiting to be expressed in your next project.

Do you have any other suggestions on using nature to inspire a creative project or have an example using these ideas? Please leave a comment below.

Have a great walk!