Sometimes I sit for long minutes in my studio, feeling stuck and I don’t know where to start. Rather than spending hours staring at a blank wall, it seemed imperative to start an “idea generator” file of some kind.  My first inclination is to define a “process” or rules first then just go with it. Hopefully I’ll have a whole bag of “idea generators” soon, just in case artist’s block ever strikes again!

A great way to generate creative ideas – just put pen to paper and let it happen

For this one, I started with my birthday (why not?) and the idea is to take a random book off my shelf, turn to page of the year, count day lines down, and then count to the month word. The next step is to artistically respond to that word.

Image courtesy website.
Image courtesy website.

My first book that caught my eye was “raiding the icebox” (it’s purple), page ZZ, X lines down on the page, Y’th word from the beginning of that line. The word I came up with is “automatism” (or surrealist automatism). Now what?

After thinking a bit, I did what anyone would do in this position: looked up the word on Google, found Wikipedia’s article on “surrealist automatism” and a few of the well-known names who employed this device: Miro, Dali, Jean Arp, and Breton. Even Picasso in later years used this technique to jump start ideas.

And then, thought, why not? I can make hundreds of these so easily with the use of an iPad and an app called Sketchy (since I’m in a pub at the moment, and only a small sketchbook).

Here’s a few on my Iphone that got me started:

I just realised I’ve made about 10 drawings in as many minutes, and would you look at that, I’ve got bags of new ideas and my artist block is gone!

More links about automatic drawing