• malcolm jarvis

8 strategies to try when inspiration fails.

Updated: Jan 8

A line and colour doodle in my sketchbook
Playing with the negative spaces in the tree branches seen through my studio window.

Here are eight strategies to try in case inspiration just doesn’t want to strike.

  1. Go to your studio or work space anyway. Don’t talk yourself out of it. Show up, and see what happens.

  2. Do busy work: Wash brushes, gesso canvases, organize collage paper or simply clean up your studio space.

  3. Grab an old painting and paint over it. Slap paint around in ways you’ve never done before. After all, you've nothing to lose.

  4. Sit in your work space and look through inspirational art books or magazines. Put tags on anything that intrigues you.

  5. Take your sketchbook and doodle: shapes, lines, colours, whatever takes your fancy (see the sort of thing I do above).

  6. Turn on your favourite music. Put a blank canvas on the easel then dance around and throw paint on it.

  7. Pick one of your favourite Artist Heroes’ paintings and copy it. It’s good practice and quite an acceptable way to learn. Just don’t sign it and show it as your own!

  8. Try a technique you’ve never done before, like collage with junk mail, cutting up old drawings or paintings, origami from art magazines, etc. Just try anything!

Have fun,





I'm Malcolm, a painter, tutor, lecturer and workshop instructor living in South Norfolk.

My years of painting experience have taught me to loosen-up, let go of fear and paint spontaneously.

My philosophy is ‘less is more’.

  • Fewer brushes for livelier, quicker painting.

  • Fewer paints for easy, straightforward colour mixing.

  • Fewer techniques for optimal results.​

But that doesn’t mean I ignore the basic fundamentals and principles upon which I believe all good painting should be based: shape, value, colour, edges and centre of interest.

​These foundations underpin all my work. If you want to paint portraits, abstracts, still life or landscapes, the same foundations apply; they will give you a solid basis for anything you choose to paint, regardless of subject or medium.

It is my intention to talk about these fundamentals in a straight-forward, no-nonsense, jargon-free way in this blog and to encourage you incorporate them into your work.

Thank you for visiting!

© 2014 - 2020 by malcolm jarvis.  Proudly created with

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