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Where does inspiration for painting come from? How to use that Inspiration to make a painting. Being inspired by autumn, Oak leaf acrylic painting

Art Blog autumn leaves autumn tree Background painting Building a daily art habit how to improve your painting painting advice personal art journey

Inspiration can come from many places. Something as small as a reflection on a muddy puddle or as big as full-on mountain scenery.

Fantail reflections painting by Goldstarwork, Artist Laura Wilson from blog where does inspiration come from and how to use it for painting.

Fantail Reflections was inspired by the reflections in a muddy puddle I walked past.

Lucky for me I have been inspired by both.

Mountain paintings in acrylic paint. Art blog where does inspiration come from and how to use it. By Goldstarwork, Artist Laura Wilson

Mountain-inspired paintings from the view at Pukeora vineyard.

Walk the dog here and see this view nearly every day.

Not hard to be inspired by this!


The great thing about painting is the more you paint the more you will be inspired. You will start to look at the world differently and nearly everything you see will make you think of how you can paint that. Of cause, it also works the other way as well. The less you paint the less inspired you will feel and the fewer ideas you will see around you.  

One great tip I have for you, which I have mentioned before, is when you are going through that exciting time of everything you look at gives you ideas and you have so many you can't keep up with them. Make sure you write those ideas down with enough detail so you know what you were thinking of for that painting. This way when you are going through those times of being less inspired and can't think of what to paint, all you need to do is go to your list and pick an idea that speaks to you at this time.

You may be interested in this blog for more ideas. 21 ideas on what to paint

This is what I did for my autumn oak leaf painting. I had started my building a daily art habit series as health issues at home meant I had really gotten out of the habit of painting regularly and was struggling to get back into it.

I looked back at my list of ideas of what to paint and had several on my list that I thought would be good to start on in this building a daily art habit. This included doing my fruit paintings and this oak leaf painting. Both these ideas were for more than one painting. A series of paintings in fact.

Grapes acrylic painting by Goldstarwork, Artist Laura Wilson

Grapes, part of my fruit series.

My idea was that I could make a start on these and get inspired by the ideas again, then when I had finished my building a daily art habit videos I would start one of these series. That way I wasn't left after finishing my building a daily art habit with a letdown feeling and not knowing where to go from there. 

Well, it's taking me a bit longer than I had planned to get back to this series of paintings. Life keeps getting in the way of my painting time! But this autumn leaf painting really inspired me while I was painting it and it was really hard for me to stop painting it, to carry on with the daily art habit series at the time. 

Autumn oak leaf painting by Goldstarwork, Artist Laura Wilson

Painting before I adjusted it the final time.

Second painting in the series.

Where did this idea first come from? 

I first saw a photo on Pinterest that took my fancy and from that image, in my mind, I developed this painting. I didn't copy the photo, it was just the idea of it that sparked my imagination.

Bright waters blue autumn leaf acrylic painting by Goldstarwork , Artist Laura Wilson. Art blog on how to use inspiration to make a painting.

Bright Waters Blue

The painting that started the series and is one of my favourites. 

This painting was so much fun to paint. That free-form abstract background and then the contrast of the more realistic leaves in front suited my painting style perfectly. Once I had finished this painting I had the idea that a series of paintings like this would be a good idea. So I wrote that idea down. Noting that different coloured backgrounds and contrasting coloured leaves and different types of leaves could be included in this series.

This way when I went back to the idea of doing another of these paintings I had an idea of the direction I wanted to take this idea.

So the birth of the second painting in this series was born.

Autumn is always an inspiring time of year for me. Like spring is with all its flowers. The colours of those autumn leaves are the flowers of autumn. This first painting I did in this series was done without a reference. This time I wanted to use reference material for those leaves. I felt it would add to the development of this series. The goal of any series of paintings for me, apart from having a related body of artwork, is to improve my painting skills and develop as an artist as I work through the series.

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So the starting point was the painting I did last year, then as autumn came along this year and the big oak tree outside our house started to lose its leaves I decided it was the perfect time to try another for this series.

 As I was already doing my building a daily art habit series my approach to this series is a little different from what I have recommended in my previous blog.

Here is a blog you may be interested in if you want to know more about painting a series of paintings. 10 steps to create a series of paintings.

I knew I wouldn't get around to carrying on with this series until I had finished my filming for my current series. So I treated this picture a bit more like a one-off painting. The idea being, that when I came back to this series I now had two paintings to start building my inspiration for the rest of the series. I could also then see if this type of painting would be likely to hold my interest and spark my imagination enough for a series of paintings. 

Think I can say that it is going to!

I started off with a colour scheme in mind and make my background with more greens than the last painting. I knew I wanted to do the leaves more brown/orange than the reds of the last one. 

Abstract background in acrylic paint for oak leaf autumn acrylic painting. By Goldstarwork, Artist Laura Wilson

Background for oak leaf autumn painting.

See video here for how I painted this background.

This is where my lack of planning tripped me up with this painting. Because I hadn't planned out my series properly and done my research first, I ended up having to change the shape of these leaves after I painted them. I had changed my mind half way through and wanted to do oak leaves instead of the maple leaves I had started with. This is because I decided that I want to use a bright red maple leaf on a different painting in this series as I was painting it. The background colour for this was wrong and it was easier to change the leaves at this stage. If I had planned out this series beforehand I wouldn't have had this issue.

But honestly, I was happy just to be painting again.

If you have been followed my building a daily art habit series you will have already seen how I started this painting. If not here's a link to a video with a time lapse on how this painting started it's life. Autumn Oak Leaf Painting PT 1 

After I had finished my building a daily art habit series I went back and finished work I had started there but not finished. This included sealing, painting edges and varnishing any paintings I want to keep for selling.

So then I was ready to finish this oak leaf painting. 

I went back and made a few changes to improve the composition and colours of this painting.  I also did daily painting exercises on painting oak leaves and the lighting I wanted on them. Here is a link to one of the daily painting videos on how to paint an oak leaf.

In the video below, I talk you through what changes I made to this oak leaf painting and why I made those changes.


I am now ready to start planning this series out properly.  I will be going back to the planning stage like I talked about in my 10 steps to creating a series of paintings and working through those steps. I will then have a very clear idea of where I am going and just what I am painting. Can't wait to get started!

                                                                             Autumn Oak leaves

Before and after I adjusted this painting.

Hope you enjoyed this blog and it's inspired you to look at your painting and consider doing a series.

Happy Painting Everyone.





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