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  • Writer's pictureGarrett

3 Best Practices for Brainstorming Before Painting


Have you ever set up your studio with the full intention of creating art. Your area is clean. Your canvas is ready. And then all you see is a plain white abyss.

Next thing you know you're scrolling through Facebook or Instagram trying to find inspiration, but yet we find ourselves down a rabbit hole of watching nonsense videos before you know it, two hours has passed by and that canvas is still empty.

This was me every time I sat down to try to create something special. I would just get frustrated at the fact that I wasted all that time. And I couldn't get inspired to create. I take that back I can get inspired, but it's always at the wrong time. Not when I need it to happen. So today we're gonna work through three best practices to enhance your brainstorming and overcome that lost feeling to help you come up with your next masterpiece.

Gather Inspiration from Diverse Sources:

Successful brainstorming starts with inspiration. Look beyond traditional art forms and explore a diverse range of sources. Nature, literature, music or even Pinterest and Instagram can serve as catalysts for creativity. Yes as I mentioned before we can get in a stuck cycle of scrolling. But if used correctly these sites, and these things can become useful tools, to move forward and to create.

One possible option that you could do is to consider creating a mood board with images, colors, and textures that resonate with you. I use Canva to put together these ideas to formulate a mood board.

This visual compilation can spark fresh ideas and help you define the mood and theme of your painting. This is where we put a plan to action. We must walk first in order to run.

When you find the images that you’re looking for and that is appealing to your emotions at that time, go over to Canva search for mood board. From there, you can insert your images to put them all in one place for free when these images are all in one place, you can remove you could add and you can alter these images to help you put your thoughts together.

In all honesty, this step is the most crucial. It comes down to actually putting pin to paper, if you will. Taking the first step. In other words, just starting. Remember it doesn't have to be perfect that first time around. Just start.

Free Your Mind With Mind Mapping:

Mind mapping is a powerful technique to break free from from the mainstream line of our thinking process. Begin with one main idea. That can be anything a shape, a color, an object, a person or an emotion.

Once something is taking form, branch out. Expand on the idea itself. If it is an object, let’s say a blade of grass. Expand on the thought of that blade of grass. You never find one blade of grass there’s always many. Think of the color that is involved with a blade of grass. And how it varies from each blade. How the shapes and size differ from one another. Imagine how each blade of grass goes in its own direction while standing still or being blown in the wind.

This visual representation not only organizes your thoughts but also reveals unexpected connections, leading to a richer and more nuanced painting concept. Can you see your painting developing? Do you have a direction? It’s all coming together.

Experiment with Thumbnails and sketches:

Before diving into the canvas, experiment with small thumbnails and sketches. How many times have you started a painting or a work of art and not had a sense of direction? before you realized it, it was too late.

This practice allows you to quickly explore different compositions, perspectives, and design elements. Play with proportions, experiment with lighting, and refine your ideas on a smaller scale. One great option to help you thumbnail is a sketchbook. And specifically a thumbnail sketchbook.

This 106 page thumbnail sketchbook will allow you to separate your thoughts and organize them. you don’t need the fanciest or the most expensive thing to start creating. The idea is just to start. And with thumbnails, you are able to envision the idea and actually put together a physical view of your idea.

Thumbnails serve as a visual brainstorming tool, enabling you to identify what works and what doesn't before committing to a larger canvas. This process can save you time and frustration by helping you refine and formulate your vision onto canvas.


In the realm of painting, brainstorming is the gateway to creativity. By gathering inspiration from diverse sources, employing mind mapping techniques, and experimenting with thumbnails, you can elevate your brainstorming process and lay the groundwork for a painting that not only captures your vision but also resonates with your audience. Embrace the journey of exploration and discovery, and watch as your artistic ideas flourish on the canvas.

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Garrett Hofmann

I am an Oklahoma Artist that has has a passion to create. Whether it be painting, building or even writing. As long as I create, I am happy. I hope you enjoy!

Love what you do & JustCREATE

-Garrett Hofmann

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