A look at some places to find inspiration for paintings that are unusual or unexpected.


When you’ve been regularly exploring your creativity for a while – and in particular for the purposes of this post, your artist self – you start to see the world as one big palette of inspiration.


mixing your media :: the fabric of a friend’s skirt I borrowed to photograph: i loved the colour combination, the stitching, the texture and the irregular pattern. these are all aspects I can use in painting, although not necessarily all at once.


The strangest things start to give you ideas for paintings or colour combinations to try, or things to try making yourself, perhaps with your own unique spin.  I thought I’d share some that I’ve picked up along the way.


Mermaid on the seat_Tara_Leaver

finding images in abstraction :: when I was travelling round New Zealand I spent a lot of time on buses with various patterned fabrics in front of me on the backs of seats. can you see the mermaid in this image? I thought it would make the basis of a great abstract.


I haven’t necessarily used them all {yet}, but I capture everything I see with my phone camera and store it in a file on my computer called {very imaginatively} ‘Inspiration’ for possible later use.

Periodically I’ll go back into this folder, especially if I’ve suddenly remembered an image I have and want to use it, or if I’m a bit low on inspiration and need a little nudge.


art in the kitchen :: You know me and circles…bubbles in the bottom of a saucepan of boiling water. I tinted it blue in Picmonkey.


The beauty of this approach is that not only do you always have a ready bank of ideas to hand, but with everything you notice you are honing your creative skills by seeing the world through this filter of ‘how can I use this?’. Plus it’s fun, so you know, wins all round.

burnt beach hut door_by_Tara_Leaver

neglect can be beautiful :: this is the burnt and bubbled door of a beach hut on the seafront where I live. Amazing potential for transferring to a painting here I think.


I don’t know if this is a ‘normal’ way to see the world; if it isn’t for you then I hope it’ll give you inspiration to look with fresh eyes on the world around you!

And of course it doesn’t just have to be about painting.

Ideas for anything can come from anywhere, if you keep your eyes open and your mind curious.

If you’re a painter, or indeed an artist/creator of any kind, what strange places have you found inspiration for your work? I’d love to know!