How to Determine What to Create

Determining what to paint can be extremely difficult. While you’re pondering what to create, you’re probably also thinking about what medium or method you’ll use.

Art is about what you create more than the materials or techniques. With that in mind, I’d like to offer you some simple exercises to help you uncover the creativity inside you. These activities can help you find your style. In turn, you’ll see ideas about what to create unfold before your very eyes.

Determine Your Patterns

Go through magazines to uncover the types of patterns you like. There are certain colors, shapes, interiors, and even landscapes we’re naturally drawn towards. As you see something you like, mark the page so you can come back to them later.

Once you’ve stopped going through the magazine, go back and review what you marked. Make a note of the things that drew you in. Look for the patterns in what you’ve discovered. What appeals to you most? Are you drawn to particular colors, objects, or shapes?

Create Your Pattern Vision Board

A vision board is a visual tool that pulls together a collage of images and ideas that represent the goal you’re trying to reach.

In this case, you can use your vision board to post the various shapes, colors, and patterns you want to incorporate into your paintings. You can create a different vision board for each set of patterns you encounter. You may have one board dedicated to the color red or various shapes. While you have another vision board dedicated to flowers. Each one you create can inspire you to focus on painting the types of patterns you love.

Explore Your Surroundings


Take a walk around your neighborhood, city block, local farmers’ market, or someplace in the countryside. Take your phone or camera along so you can take photos as you discover items you enjoy.

As you explore, pick up random things you find that are pleasing to your eye. Perhaps you’re drawn to a shell or leaf. Maybe you see a gate, wall, door, or landscape that appeals to you.

The goal is for you to gather ideas as a springboard for something you can create. As you collect things, think about the various ways you can use these items to compose your next painting.

Challenge Yourself with Questions

The art of creating something evolves over time. You don’t have to plan out what you’re going to do.

Remember inspiration comes from doing. The more you take action to create something, the more you strengthen your intuition about what to create.

Once you put a mark on a blank canvas, you will evoke an immediate response and emotion that leads you through your creative process. Your response to the color or shape you’re working with can take you down a path.

You can create more when you know what questions to ask yourself. Here are a few you may want to start with:

  • Do you like this color?
  • Is this color the right shade?
  • Is your creation too light, too dark, or too strong?
  • Are the dark and light areas balanced?
  • Are the shapes you are using too big or too small?

There are no right or wrong answers. The key is to make a mental checklist to help you evaluate what you’re creating and propel you forward through the creation process.

Determining what to create and paint is a process that occurs outside the art studio. Try these exercises to explore the artistry within yourself. When you do, you are guaranteed to unleash your creative potential and no longer wonder about what to create.