Don’t know what to paint?

If you don’t know what to paint next, don’t spend too much time searching for the right subject.


A long search for the perfect subject can lead to (or be a sign of) procrastination. That’s normal, it happens to all of us.

When we want to paint, we just have to dive into it. That dive (no matter how much experience you may have) can be scary.

Other signs of procrastination can be: the search for the perfect brushes (or other materials), waiting for te right moment etc.

You’re surrounded by great subjects

Stop overthinking and just grab some random objects from your direct environment. Place them together and start sketching and painting. Soon you’ll learn that even the most simple scenes not only offer big challenges, but also are great fun to paint!

Maybe it looks boring, but it was great fun painting and it offered lot of challenges!

Also, keep in mind that even the greatest artists start their career painting and drawing things that surround them.

Painting and drawing from life offers a fantastic experience: you transfer a three dimensional world to a two dimensional world. When you paint from photographs, that part is already taken care of. However: if you prefer painting from photos, please go ahead, there’s nothing wrong with that!

Two other examples: you can learn a lot painting the simple looking still lifes

Collect photographs

Another thing you can do is start collecting photographs you find inspiring. Just store them in a folder. Do this at moments when you don’t want to paint.

When a moment arrives that you feel like painting, take a quick look at the collected pictures and take the one that inspires you most at that particular moment.

Then again: don’t overthink, just start. If you start thinking, you might see things in the picture that you think are too difficult, or too boring or whatever. Then you’re on the procrastination path again. Just pick the photo you like and go for it.

Note: you can use any photo for practicing purposes, but you can’t just use any photo if you’re going to put something out in the public domain (social media for instance), because of infringment on the photographer’s copyright.
If you use your own photographs, or have explicit permission to use a photo, then you’re free to do as you please.

The dive gets less scary

The more often you take the dive (by just starting to paint) the easier it gets! Everytime you just take the step, you’re adding to a new routine. Strangely enough, you might even start enjoying that first dive!

Below you’ll find a short demo of a study of some simple objects:

If you want to paint along, you can download this photo:

reference photo
reference photo
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