Creativity Workshop: Inspiration at Your Feet

Color Blind by Heidi Lang Perinello, watercolor inspiration
Color Blind by Heidi Lang Parrinello

While looking for a new series of paintings to embark upon, my thoughts turned to the lovely fall leaves that had inspired some of my early painting endeavors. First, I finished a new painting of a beautiful yellow maple tree in my backyard. I was so inspired that I decided to tackle a large-scale painting of trees, but the effort left me feeling exhausted. With my interest in the subject waning, I took a walk with my camera in hopes of being reinvigorated. New material can sometimes prove elusive, but after taking all the usual pictures of pretty trees, I simply looked down and there at my feet were complex and interestingly scattered leaves that told a different story. It was almost by chance that I’d found a new perspective on fall foliage: Beautiful, fragile leaves coupled with hard, dirty sidewalks became my muse. The leaves had an almost human quality to them—you might even say they spoke to me. I quickly amassed all the material I needed to continue the series.

As it turns out, my discovery of a new perspective on a favorite subject also forced me to employ some new techniques. In the past, I had always resisted any help from traditional aids such as liquid frisket, preferring to paint directly in a very controlled manner, but I was forced to find new ways of working in order to depict all of the grit and rocks and pebbles in the backgrounds of these paintings. I experimented with using kosher salt to add texture to the slate sidewalks. This technique works best with a darker wash and can be toned down with subsequent washes if necessary.

The next time you go out in search of new subjects, remember that inspiration may be waiting right under your feet for you to find it.

HEIDI LANG PARRINELLO ( is a watercolor artist from Glen Ridge, New Jersey. To read the full text of her article, pick up your copy of the August 2010 issue of Watercolor Artist.


Try This At Home

Put your own creative spin on perspective by locating inspiration in unexpected places. As an added bonus, try using new techniques or tools to explore your new subject. Send a JPEG (with a resolution of 72 dpi) of your painting to with Creativity Work-shop in the subject line and tell us about your process. We’ll choose our favorite paintings and publish them on our website. One entrant will receive a six-month subscription to online video workshops, plus $50 worth of North Light art books. The deadline for entry is August 8, 2010. Happy painting!




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