5 Simple ways to get new ideas from your older works

5 Simple ways to get new ideas from your older works.

why be inspired by previous works?

Creating new works that are inspired by works previously created can be a good way to boost creativity whilst also creating a contiguous, cohesive body of works.

After a 10-month break from the studio to repair my home last year,  I returned to begin a year-long pursuit of creating abstract last 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
Creating Art Around Life

Please watch, “5 simple ways to make new works from old. Red Playground 8 and 9, first episode!”


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five simple ways to be inspired by older work.

1. pre-treat the paper or support

Simply soaking watercolour paper, wadding it up and then staining it with inktense sparked creativity in the first Red Playground work. The problems I needed to solve to use the manipulated support often took me into uncharted territory. This has been a game-changer for me.

Purposefully intensifying treatment for Red Playground 8 and 9 gave a delightful crunchiness and dimensionality to the paper. I recommend pushing the pre-treatment to allow 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 differently to that of the earlier work.

Working with a different paper orientation from an older work forces me to think of ways to emulate or diverge from the earlier design in order to  fit into the new. Working around the differences between the aspect ratio of the original and the new work helps birth new directions using a familiar theme.  Support pre-treatment also informs which way is up for the new work.

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, has a similar treatment. The change of viewpoint helps stimulate new ideas.

4. Set time limits

I’m committed to creating 52 works by May 2024. There is method in this madness. The constraint frees me to make marks and stop fretting over “mistakes”. They are part of the process 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 colour use to primary ones because I don’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’.

Can Red Come Out To Play Vii - Original Orientation
Original orientation of 'can red come out to play, vii'
Can Red Come Out To Play, Vii, Turned On Side
'can red come out to play, vii' turned on side
Bold Or Confronting
'red playground - finish what you started' inspired by the original turned on side.
Clock, Pocket Watch, Clockwork-2331699.Jpg
Set time limits

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.

Which of these ways to get new ideas from your older works do you like the best?  What other ways can you change up an older work to make new?  Please let me know in the comments below.

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Is there a better title?

‘Red Playground – Finish what you started’, is a working title. I’d appreciate your suggestions for a final title. Post them in the comments below or in the comment section on any of the videos of the series.

Red Playground - Finish What You Started, In Situ
"red playground - finish what you started' final.
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