Just for the Fun of It

Some days, inspiration just isn’t there. That’s how it was for me yesterday.

It’s understandable, I think. When I began oil painting, I seemed to be off on a stroke of “beginner’s luck”, and I quickly made a lot of progress. As often happens, I soon learned that the more I knew about oil painting — or thought I knew — the more challenging it actually became.

Now, I find myself standing at the easel contemplating different possibilities. Should I use my fan brush? Or maybe it would be better to grab that stubby little brush with the broken handle? Is my paint too thick? Too thin? Should I use a bit of Payne’s gray or mix my own?

What’s happening is that instead of having fun, I’m worrying about every little aspect of my painting. And that’s no fun at all! Worrying, of course, makes it all but impossible to paint, and as a result, I’ve hated everything I’ve done over the past few days.

Is it any wonder I feel uninspired?

I do feel it’s important for me to keep painting, even when my heart might not be in it. I still need practice, and even though I might start off uninspired, I know inspiration is most apt to come while I’m at my easel, not away from it.

So I gathered my wits about me yesterday and headed to my little corner studio wondering what in the world I was going to paint. I’m tired of painting mountains. I don’t want to paint any more mountains for a long time. I have a set of 2 small paintings planned, and I considered making a few sketches for the project, but with my mood as it was, I figured I’d be wasting my time.

I glanced around and saw a painting I’d started last week. I had finished the underpainting and had done a bit of the background. Yes. That’s what I would work on. Or, actually, I should say that’s what I would play on. Like my weird lunar picture — Blame It On the Moon — this one was done using the old hard back of an Arches Watercolor block. It’s an interesting surface to work on. I never know quite what to expect.

Path to the Water by Judith Kraus – Oil

I had a reference photo, and while the finished painting is similar, it’s also much different. After painting in a few trees, I just decided to have fun with the painting, to play around with colors and brush strokes, and most of all, to not worry about the results.

In the end, I had a fun time painting, and in my eyes, the finished painting has a fun look about it. Or maybe I’m the only one who sees it that way. It’s certainly no great work of art, but I like the painting. I like my little path leading down to the water. I like the colors. I like the sky. I enjoyed this little painting, and while I’m not yet feeling inspired and excited again, that’s all right, too. I can just keep playing around, trying new things, and having fun.

What do you do when inspiration seems hard to find? Do you “paint through” those difficult days, or do you take a break? What little tricks or tips do you use to help you through?


  1. Your painting does look fun and not labored at all. I know exactly what you are saying, when I get down and dirty and desire to get to a certain level, that is when I start nit picking and fretting. There is absolutely no fun in that. I have been trying to take a different approach and first of all treat it as a fun adventure and not allow myself to pick and worry. Inspiration is much better nowadays because the trick now for me is to paint what moves me, what I dearly love. Before I would search frantically for a photo or subject because I have to paint and I was looking more for the end product. I am focusing more on the experience and the love of that subject or feeling. Great job Judith! Keep going….it is quite normal to start the stage of being really serious or nit picky….just means that you have taken it to a higher level. The trick is handling it well without it coming along and robbing your joy or perspective. Oh and by the way thank you for your encouragement on my latest post, I truly needed that. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Margaret, for the words of wisdom. I want to approach oil painting as an adventure and have fun with it instead of focusing all my attention on the end result. I’m doing more sketching now “on the side” so that I’m not spending all my art time at the easel, and that takes some of the “paint, paint, paint” pressure off. I also want to spend more time just “practicing” and trying different things instead of trying to create a “perfect landscape painting” — as if there were such a thing. I’ve been feeling a bit rushed lately because of the holidays, and that’s added to my frustration. Time to step away from the easel now and relax. Time to enjoy friends and family and then come back to oil painting with a fresh perspective and an excited attitude.

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  2. What do you think about painting from life ? There might be so much to learn from painting still lifes as studies !

    I’m not currently in a phase where I’m drawing or painting daily , but when I am, I’ll head to the garden and draw plants and flowers regardless of inspiration . .. it’s more like a daily practice at those times .

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    1. That’s so true, Judi. Right now I think my inner child is screaming, “No, don’t make me paint any more mountains!” Definitely time for a little holiday break.


  3. Sometimes playing with paint on sketch paper (for watercolor) or making random unusual mixes of oil paint can help a little. Think of it like a musician warming up. Switching subject matter is definitely good. It keeps things interesting, just like sometimes people want to eat something different.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions. Yes, I think I will grab a canvas pad and “warm up” a bit with my oil paints. I’ve been looking at works by my favorite landscape artists, and that alone has given me tremendous enthusiasm and inspiration again. I often feel that landscapes are just a bit boring — and the way I paint them, that’s true. But to see what a landscape painting can be! It’s awesome, and I hope to improve my skills so that I can create the beautiful works of art I so love. Thank you for visiting my blog and sharing your thoughts πŸ™‚


    1. Yes, enjoying what we do is important. I was really stressing out lately about painting, so I had to step back and just do something fun without worrying about the outcome…and as a result, I actually like the painting, only if it’s because it’s a good reminder not to take myself too seriously.

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