GET CREATIVE: A Monthly Starting Point for Original Works of Art

Presented at the Gadsden Art Association meeting each month. Sketches, preliminary studies, or finished work based on a challenge shared at subsequent meetings.

January/February: Recipe for Creativity

Discussion of creativity (see Creative Quotes).

Challenge: Base a still life on the ingredients in a recipe.

Source:  Workshop idea by artist John Morra.  His painting, Ingredients for an Apple Pie, 2009, oil, 22 X 30


1) Brainstorm as many words as possible associated with the word "recipe" in 5 minutes. Add each word to a list. Consider different ingredients, cusines, seasonal combinations, current or childhood favorites, and recipes other than for food.

2) Look for the most intriguing word on the list or for interesting combinations of words.

3) Sketch visual images to go with the words you've choosen.

4) Develop a work of art based on the words and images.


March/April : Words into Art

Make a list of words with strong visual or emotional associations under the following headings:

 1.  Choose a word.  Close your eyes and “write” the word as a series of marks that “feel like” the word.  Repeat until you have several pictographs.  

2.  Create a small (not larger than 9 X 12) project based on one of your words.  

Adapted from Nita Leland (1990).  The creative artist.  Cincinnati, OH:  North Light Books.


May: Many from One

Take any photo of a landscape or interior and use the cropping tool in Powerpoint, Photoshop, or other graphics software to see how many compositions you can make. Select one to use as a reference for a 2-D or 3-D work of art. Following is an example:


Original photograph taken at Twanna Springs, Hokes Bluff, Alabama. Below are four possible compositions based on cropping the image.

Copyright © 2010 Evelyn L. Brannon







springs2springs 3


springs 4springs 5


June: Trash to Treasure

In our world of clutter, packaging, recyclables, and trash, can you discover subjects for you artwork? 

For example:  An egg carton, the plastic wrap on fruit and veggies, a paperbag run over by a car, a bit of metal lying in the gutter from who knows what, a weathered board, paint peeling from a building, etc.

Assignment:  Start a collection of things you notice that are invisible to others.  Pick up what you can (and want to) and photograph the rest.

In your journal, make notes about why you are attracted to these items.  What themes emerge?  Try making up titles for work-to-come.

In your sketchbook, draw thumbnails for composition.  Consider how you will depict the items—representational, abstract, impressionistic, or some mixture of styles.  Think about different media including mixed media and collage.


Source:  Betsy Dillard Stroud (2010, April).  Scavenger Hunt.  Artist’s Magazine


July: Multiples

"You can travel the world and see nothing. To achieve understanding, it is necessary not to see many things but to look hard at what you do see."

--Giorgio Morandi (1889-1964)

"It isn't the object that you paint that communicates with the viewer; it's how you present it that counts."

--Nita Leland, The Creative Artists (1990)


Assignment: Find something common, ordinary, everyday. Paint it in muliples--3 times, 5 times, or many times. For examples, see Maceo Mitchell (


In your journal: Make notes about why you are attracted to this item. What remained the same and what changee with each repetition?


August: Take a Long Look

Source:  Courtney Jordan, editor of Artist Daily (online newsletter)

“A friend of mine gave me some good advice: ‘Look at a few works you love and really study them--I mean really study them—for a good, long period of time. Your mind can wander but don't look at anything else.’ I did! It was odd, like having blinders on, but in a good way. And once I settled down and just let my eyes rest on the work, I could see a lot of things I missed before."

Assignment:  In your current media or for a new media you want to try, find some examples by master artists and then look long and closely.  In your journal, make notes about what you see, what you learn, and what you want to emulate. Then, make art!