• Susan Klinger, Artist

Gotta refill the tank!


Is the creative well running dry? Some folks think artists have a never ending supply of ideas. We just sit down or stand at the easel and like magic, there is an idea and we simply execute it. There might be some artists out there who can do this, but I venture to say that most of us, at

one time or another, just simply run out of ideas.

So now what? We are artists, so creating new art is what we do, but what do we do when we are just stumped for the next great idea? For me, it is get out of the studio, get out of the house, get out into the world. Just the morning of writing this, I needed to travel to a show venue to retrieve my work from a show that had just ended. I actually have some vague ideas for my next work, but I needed to get out anyway, so I called a friend to see if she could go with me and we could grab some lunch along the way. Walking along the street in a town I had never walked before, everything was a new visual experience. Sure, it was a small college town and things were similar to other small college towns, yet it was still a different town. I was not seeking to find the next great image. I was just out of the studio enjoying the day with a friend.

Then it happened. Bam! We walked by a small alley between two buildings and I stopped in my tracks. My friend can attest to this! The building along one side of the alley had large windows with a profusion of flowers cascading along the sides. Each window had a set of shutters in a different cheery color from the one next to it. There were these incredible iron gates. And the best part, the angle of the sun on this particular day, at this particular time, created the most intriguing shadows on the wall from the cascading flowers. Thank goodness for cellphones with good photo capability. I had not planned to go on a photo shoot, so did not have my good camera with me, but I did have my cellphone. I immediately began snapping photos from every angle I could, trying not to disturb the diners seated outside the building.

Will any of these photos be the subject of my next painting? Perhaps, perhaps not. But I have images that grabbed my attention. Images that got me thinking about color. Images that contain patterns of light and shadow, an element that is important in my work. Images that I never would have encountered had I not gotten out of the studio and into the world around me.

Is there a way that you find helpful to refill your creative well? Let me know by leaving a comment.

#travel