Art Projects for Adults

10 Art Projects To Fuel Your Creativity

Personal art projects can fuel your creativity. But finding those projects can be tough. Here are 10 projects for adults that can ignite your creativity and sense of fun, and give you direction and accomplishment!

When the idea of painting or working in the studio fills you with performance anxiety or feelings of being overwhelmed, pull out this list. You’ll get your art on the right track in no time.

A red one-color wonder from Danielle Donaldson, featured in her book, The Art of Creative Watercolor.
A red one-color wonder from Danielle Donaldson, featured in her book, The Art of Creative Watercolor.

#1 Pick a Color and Fill a Page

It’s as easy as that. For this art project, it might be easiest to cover the page with objects outlined in black pen or marker and filled in with color (colored pencil, marker, watercolor, collage papers — what else?).

The point is to discover how many red, blue, green or purple things you can think of and how creative you can be when it comes to incorporating your chosen color.

Put them all together in an artful collage, and then fill them in with the color that unites them all. This kind of project is great to give as a gift!!

#2 Make a Copy of a Famous Painting on the Small Scale

What’s an artwork that you love that lives in a museum? Wouldn’t it be great to have a version for yourself? Note, this is NOT a call for the start of your forging career, but if you are going to be staring a source photo for your next round of painting, why not make it a work you love and emulate? Choose a famous Impressionist work or AbEx painting and make a smaller version of it.

You’ll learn more than you think about how that master worked and discover where you might have created the masterpiece a little differently.

If you draw cars as your "favorites" theme, here's an inspiring start! Photo by Cayton Heath on Unsplash
If you draw cars as your “favorites” theme, here’s a beat-up beauty that could make an inspiring start. Photo by Cayton Heath on Unsplash

#3 Favorites Grid

This adult art project is one I riffed off of from artist and author Danny Gregory. It works best in a sketchbook, which is great because you can do it in bed, in front of the TV or the park or even in your (safely parked) car. Start by thinking of your favorite breakfast foods, cars, book characters, hats, footwear or type of flower.

Make a grid in your sketchbook. Lines of neat boxes outlined in black marker that are waiting to be filled. Now draw a little thumbnail sketch in each box according to the theme.

Adult art projects; Photo by Peter Feghali on Unsplash
Photo by Peter Feghali on Unsplash

#4 Three 20-Minute Bursts

Do you remember how fun relay races were when you were a kid? Bring that sense of ready-set-go with an art project that you take on in three 20-minute bursts.

+First, spend no more than a minute (!) picking your subject, putting in your horizon line and massing in big shapes and roughly marking shadow shapes. Be loose, be gestural, be experimental. And set a timer for 20 minutes!

+Second burst: Color! Bridge your forms from dark to light (or light to dark if that works better for your composition!) and bring in texture and marks that give your objects visual interest–make it your own!

+ Third and final burst: You’ve only got 20 minutes, but first put your art implement or tool down. Step away. What do you want this art piece to have more of? Less of? What do you want to feel when you look at it? Keep that in mind and then take the rest of the time making it happen.

For all the dynamic ways we can use drawing to fill pages and pages of our sketchbooks, enjoy this video from the dynamo instructor herself, Gigi Chen. It is the perfect way to kick off a studio session.

#5 Have Collaborative, Creative Party

Invite a handful or more friends to come over and bring a creative project with them. Knitters, novelists, scrapbookers, artists — bring them all together for a weekend afternoon or workday evening and just make together in the same place.

If it goes well, why not talk collaborations? How can you put your creative energy together and make something fun and meaningful?

With adult art projects like this, you might embark on making something you’d never have conceived of on your own and you can start to expand on another crucial part of creativity — sharing it with others and expanding your artist’s network.

Adult art projects: pointillism. Getty Images
Getty Images

#6 Pointillist Painting

Why should Seurat (or Yayoi Kusama) have all the fun? Take a still life or landscape composition and turn it into a dot extravaganza. You can definitely use a paintbrush to make the dots, but it can be too tempting to resist changing up your strokes if you use a conventional brush. Solution? Use a handful of old pencils with intact erasers.

Let the music be your guide. Getty Images
Let the music be your guide. Getty Images

#7 Mixed Tape Paint Along

This is all about experimenting and having fun so don’t use any precious materials. Fit for the sketchbook or small pieces of paper.

Whether you listen to vinyl, cassettes or digital tunes, assemble five to eight of your favorite tunes. As each song plays, make marks and shapes and use colors that reflect what you hear and what you feel about the song.

Play your greatest hits list through two or three times. Move from song (and page) to song over an hour or so. In the end, you’ll have a collection of small sketches that give visual life to your favorite music.

Adult art projects #8: Grab a pencil or pen and make a stray mark all across your paper or canvas. That mark is your starting point for what you create next! Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
Grab a pencil or pen and make a stray mark across your paper or canvas. That becomes your starting point for what you create next! Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

#8 Start with a Stray Mark

Grab a pen or colored pencil and make a mark across your paper or canvas. Even better, ask someone in your household or nearby to make the mark for you!

That mark is the kickoff to … what? A person’s profile? A vase of flowers? A meandering river? Use your imagination and go with your gut. What do you see? Use this as an opportunity to let your inner eye drive you.

Gladioli by Claude Monet
Gladioli by Claude Monet

#9 Spring, Winter, Summer, Fall

This is a great project to do at the start of each season or when you say to yourself, “It really feels like___.”

The whole idea is to make a quartet of works all the same size that practically sing out the glories of the season. Mix media or stay true to one — it is this seasonal idea coming together as a whole that counts most.

For spring, it could be a garden, a vase of flowers, a rain shower and a still life of a bright yellow umbrella.

Summer? That could be a convertible on Highway 66, sunrise on the beach, a opalescent seashell still life and a tropical oasis landscape.

Fall might be trees showing the changing foliage; pumpkin patches, kiddos on their way to school with colorful backpacks and a yellow bus on the road.

Winter? Ice skaters in colorful scarves, footprints in the snow, a holiday-themed still life and a cozy interior with crackling fire.

Acrylic abstract paintings are great because you can layer quickly as the surface dries fast.
Acrylic abstract paintings are great because you can layer quickly as the surface dries fast.

#10 Make an Abstract Painting

Is it something you do often or have never done before? Working abstract is great as a warm up with big, unhindered gestures and lots of movement in and around your surface. It can also lead you to discover something about combining materials, unusual marks and effects, and that realism doesn’t have to be your aim.

2 thoughts on “Art Projects for Adults

  1. Linda O says:

    Wild about that turquoise car photographed by Cayton Heath. Question: what are my restrictions if I paint from this photo? I don’t plan on selling it, but just thought it wise to know ahead.
    Linda O.

    • Courtney Jordan says:

      Linda, so glad that image caught your eye. You can paint from this without restriction. There just may be restrictions on things like entering it into competitions (you would have to inquire on a case by case basis depending on their rules), and perhaps selling or posting the image to your website, although even those would most likely be fine. But to be safe and to get into the details, we always suggest the option of consulting legal council.

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