Pre-treated watercolour paper for the newest works, Red Playground VIII and IX

5 Simple ways to get new ideas from older works

get new ideas from older works

Getting new ideas from older works  is a good way to boost creativity whilst creating a contiguous, cohesive body of works.

After a 10-month break from the studio in 2022 to repair my home last year,  I returned to begin a year-long pursuit of creating abstract in February 2023. As a long-time narrative realist this seemed a huge challenge.

Embracing the advice from my mentor, the late Allie Eagle, my abstract journey commenced.  Click here to read my tribute to Allie to find out why I’m looking back to former works to create new.

Pre-treated watercolour paper for the newest works, Red Playground VIII and IX
Pre-treated watercolour paper for the newest works, Red Playground VIII and IX

five simple ways Get new ideas from older works.

1. pre-treat the paper or support

Soaking watercolour paper, followed by wadding it up, and then staining it with inktense sparked creativity my first Red Playground work because of the problems I had to solve.  This has been a game-changer for me.

Purposefully intensifying pre-treatment for Red Playground 8 and 9 with its delightful crunchiness and dimensionality to the paper gave great opportunity for  creative problem solving.

You can watch my pretreatment of watercolour paper at the beginning of the latest video of me creating the newest works, Red Playground 8 & 9, by clicking here.

2. Change the orientation of the paper/support from that of the earlier work.

Working with a different paper orientation from an older work forced me to think of ways to emulate or diverge from the earlier design in order to  fit onto the surface. Working around the differences between the aspect ratio of the original and the new work helped birth new directions while using a familiar theme.  Marks made in the pre-treatment also informed which way was up for the new work.

Can Red Come Out to Play VII - Original Orientation
Original orientation of 'Can Red Come Out to Play, VII'
Bold or Confronting
'Red Playground - Finish what you started' inspired by the original turned on side.

3. Change the viewpoint of the earlier work

‘Red Playground-Finish what you started’ sprang from studying the original, ‘Can Red Come Out to Play, VII’, turned 90 degrees counter-clockwise. Red Playground 8 and 9, both having square originals, had a similar treatment. The change of viewpoint helped stimulate new ideas.

4. Set time limits

I’m committed to creating 52 works by May 2024. There was method in this madness. The constraint has freed me from the fear of “mistakes”. I’ve learnt to embrace them as part of working through new ideas. I recommend setting time limits to free up your thinking.

5. Limit your choices

One limit I imposed for this series of work is to limit my colours  to primary ones because I didn’t want to overthink mixing.  It’s been fun to see the beautiful results of layering the primary Inktense colours. You can read about my other limits or guidelines and their purpose by clicking and reading, ‘How to analyse your artwork’.

Just choose one

To begin to get new ideas from your older works, I recommend trying one “rule”  at a time. Take note of the problems and the results; and how you solved the problems.  Most importantly have fun experimenting.  Then, on following works, try out more of the suggestions, either singly or together.  Take notes.  Have fun.  

You’ll soon have a collection of interesting works and have more ideas to use in future artwork.

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