Flex Your Creative Muscles: 5 Creative Prompts for Artists

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Drawing, Painting |


Even the most creative of artists could use a little prompting every now and again.

Whether you’re a portrait painter, a whimsical picture book illustrator or you prefer drawing flowers, you can benefit from creative prompts. These simple exercises will inspire your work in various ways: by shifting your point of view, letting you chill out and have some lighthearted artistic fun, and by flexing your cleverness in visual form. These fun creative prompts are meant for all levels of artistry, and are bound to leave you feeling refreshed, smiling, and ready to create something great.

Let’s get to it and make some art!

Exercise #1: Create a lesson

Art prompt

 Illustrations via CakeSpy

Sometimes, by evaluating how you do things, you can expand your skill set.

Step 1:

Choose something you’re really well practiced at drawing. The writer of this post chose, well, a smiling cupcake.

Step 2:

Try to create a tutorial on how to draw it, as if making it for someone who had never drawn before. You’ll be surprised at all of the minute steps it takes to create what has become second nature to you. Not only is this a fun way to evaluate your own process, but this prompt can also serve as a powerful reminder that things that may seem difficult to you now will become easier with practice.

Exercise #2: Crazy combos

Combine unlikely things for creative fun like this punk unicorn

This fun prompt will get your mind working, creating connections in the mind and testing your cleverness.

Step 1:

Make two short lists of equal length: one of nouns, and one of adjectives or verbs. You can make the choices more random by choosing the first, say, five nouns and verbs, respectively, that you find in a book.

Step 2:

Try to create an illustration pairing one word from each list. Say the words are “cat” and “jump,” for instance, how could you illustrate that? Or if they’re “lollipop” and “persuasive,” or “punk-rock” and “unicorn”…how do you navigate these combinations?

Exercise #3: List fun

Creative list prompt

Look no further than your old grocery list for a fun creative prompt. Really!

Step 1:

Grab an old grocery list. Or to-do list. Or your brother’s to-do list. Really, any list (handwritten is most fun!)

Step 2:

Set to that list, and see how many spots inspire you to create little drawings. Could the “s” in “mushrooms” become a slinking snake? Or could the “o” in avocado become a whimsical balloon? You’ll be surprised by how many different opportunities to create art you’ll find in this simple little project.

Exercise #4: I second that emotion!

I second that emotion prompt

This is a fantastic prompt that will help you capture emotions, and have a lot of fun.

Step 1:

Create rows and rows of blank faces on a sheet of illustration paper.

Step 2:

Have a friend call out different emotions, and try to illustrate the faces with the appropriate expression. Have fun, and see how many crazy emotions you can capture! Progress from “angry” to “super angry because someone took the last cookie from the jar” and enjoy. You can also make a list of emotions and do this prompt on your own.

Exercise #5: Don’t be so dominant

Left and right hand drawing

Sometimes it’s good to take yourself less seriously. Switching the pen or pencil to your non-dominant hand is an easy way to make things lighthearted, fast.

Step 1:

If you’re a righty, grab a pencil or pen with your left hand; if you’re a lefty, do it in reverse.

Step 2:

Try to draw some of the things you’re normally good at drawing, or the things that you draw commonly enough that you don’t have to think about it anymore. You’ll be surprised by how much you notice when you’re drawing with your non-dominant hand. It’s a good exercise in letting go of control and thinking lightly!

For more great tips, exercises and tutorials, check out our (free!) drawing the face eGuide!