Inspiration is whatever moves you to create a painting or artwork – and you can find it anywhere! If you are a person who is visually aware, you will constantly be taking in images and impressions from the outside world, ie outside yourself. Whatever you see that day may hold an image which impresses you, moves you, grabs you, inspires you.. this could be cloud formations, light effects on a landscape you drive past, an image on a television programme or in a magazine or book, flowers in a shop, an appealing child, your sleeping cat or dog, a holiday photograph…
What you need to do is become AWARE of these images, these moments, and record them quickly. You can do this by taking a photograph if possible, doing a quick sketch when you get home, cutting that image out of the magazine (or taking a photo of it on your phone if you’re in a waiting room!), or finding a similar image online before the memory fades.
Become a magpie, collecting a file (I have seven lever-arch files) of images which would make a good painting. Organize them so that you can find them – my files are: Flowers and Gardens, Animals and People, Spain/Italy/Morocco/Greece, Great Britain, Sky/Water/Sea, Snow, Doors/Windows/Balconies. Whatever your preferred subjects are. ( The attached image here is one I collected in Morocco decades ago and always meant to paint! )
You should also keep a folder on your computer of Photos to paint from, which you find on Pinterest, Google images or among your own photos. Again name them so that you can find them – I have Tigers, Horses, Flowers, Birds, Butterflies, Skies, The Sea 1,2,3,4 etc.
Then when you have that “What shall I paint?” moment you will be spoilt for choice – so you pick the one which most appeals to you at that moment. The rest will carry on working in your subconscious, waiting for their day to come. You will never be starting from scratch – the next image is always there waiting in your mind.
For a specific project collect suitable images, print the best off, lay them out on a table for a day or two and revisit them until a decision forms as to which is best ( or combination of two perhaps.) Try out some thumbnail sketches, preferably in colour, and again you will become aware of which appeals the most. A decision will have formed, inspiration and intuition will have guided you.