What to Paint When You’ve Got Nothing to Paint!!

Amanda Brett artist, Writer's Block
Writer’s Block, copyright 2014 Amanda Brett, all rights reserved

I painted with a tutor for many years as a serious-hobby watercolourist while I continued to work in my corporate career. The great thing was, I would turn up to art class and she would have the subject all prepared for us: real-life objects, photographs, magazines,  warm-up materials and ideas. We would have a big discussion about the subject and view it from several perspectives – she did a tonne of research and put many hours of thought into every session – how grateful I am!!

Although this was a fantastic resource at the time, this reliance became a burden I was not aware of. I found I could make time to paint but when I actually got to my studio time, I HAD NOTHING TO PAINT! I was so reliant on someone else providing my subject that I didn’t know what to do to sort myself out. I hadn’t given time to subject selection so I would be completely stumped!! Now I know why artists spend time drawing and painting their own hands and feet – because they’re there and they’re handy!!

This ‘problem’ hit me again later when I studied with another tutor who had a completely different style. I was on my own having to bring my own subject matter. I had no-one to rely on but me … this was how ‘writer’s block‘ came about, I had nothing to paint but I did have my painting gear right in front of me, lol!!


If you really are stuck for time and the provision of inspiration from your tutor is imperative, make sure you get plenty of resource material to take home with you and develop this subject into a series of artworks.

Schedule time for researching: read magazines of your chosen subject; research online; spend time out in the field with your camera and drawing gear. Cut out images from magazines and newspapers that feed your creativity, it might be colours or styles that attract your attention, keep them in folders with clear pockets, flick thru them from time to time to get inspired!

Always carry a sketchbook and pencil and draw everyday. Don’t wait for your subject to appear, draw and paint whatever presents itself to you, every subject you draw and paint prepares you for your next artwork.

The more I look for subjects the sooner they appear. The more I paint the more ideas I get.

have fun!!




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Copyright 2009-2015 All images and text on Amanda’s blog and website are the legal property of Amanda Brett and may not be reproduced without express permission, thanks for respecting my art and creativity.


4 thoughts on “What to Paint When You’ve Got Nothing to Paint!!

    1. hello Robert thank you so much for your kind words and thanks for sharing with your students, I hope they get something new from it!! i first saw your negatively painted autumn leaves and fell i love with it – deceptively simple!! glad we’ve connected, i’m new to wordpress so I think I’ve saved/followed only to find out later i haven’t! love your work!!/


      1. Hi Amanda…my students last night were raving about the site and loved this article on finding subjects. I love it as well.

        I have a second WordPress blog , Watercolor etc., that I was suggesting you take a look at as well as the one you are following, Le Sketchbook.

        Take care and I will continue to explore your wonderful blog.

        Liked by 1 person

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