One way to spark your imagination is to experiment with a new texture on your painting surface itself. Begin by applying either gel medium (gloss or matte, any thickness) or acrylic gesso to your paper or board with a putty scraper or other flat-edged tool. As the liquid dries, drag any of a number of tools, such as a serrated adhesive spreader (available at wallpaper or hardware stores) or a paint brush, over the surface. You can vary the thickness of the surface by adjusting the amount of gesso or gel you apply. Let the paper or board dry overnight, and you’ll have a completely unique painting surface to work with.
Even if you don’t make any changes in your painting style and subject matter, you’ll notice an immediate change in the outcome. The new surface may even prompt you to follow a new direction and open your mind to a stronger, more expressive image.